Thursday, July 19, 2007

Kyū Sakamoto - Sukiyaki (1961)

坂本九 - 上を向いて歩こう

With our first MP3 posting, we head straight to the classics...

Better known by its title in America, "Sukiyaki", Kyū Sakamoto's 1961 hit "Ue O Muite Arukō" took two years to hit the West after its debut in Japan. It was covered in the U.K. by Kenny Ball & His Jazzmen under the altered title and was so-named when the original version was released by Captiol Records in the States.

Sakamoto was an influential singer and songwriter in the late 50s and 60s, and served as a young voice for a generation of Japanese pop musicians. He was only 43 when he died in a plane crash in Gunma Prefecture on August 12th, 1985.

"Sukiyaki" remains the first and only Japanese-language song to ever hit #1 on the U.S. Billboard Top 100, as it did so June 15th, 1963. Since then, the song has become a standard in and outside of Japan and has been covered by hundreds of artists, most notably in America by A Taste Of Honey (1981) and 4 P.M. (1995), whose versions both made it to the Billboard Top 10.

Though its cheerful marimba work and upbeat whistling solo may deceive the English-speaking listener, "Ue O Muite Arukō", which literally translates to "look up while walking", is a ballad of heartbreak and loss. The lyrics describe a lonely protagonist who looks to the sky so that tears will not fall from his eyes.

Kyū Sakamoto - Ue O Muite Arukō (a.k.a. "Sukiyaki")
坂本九 - 上を向いて歩こう

And here's an early music video of "Ue O Muite Arukō" found on YouTube:

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Blogger Ayako said...

I love this song!
This song remids me my very first year in the U.S. One of my friend always sang this song... he is an American though...haha.

July 25, 2007 at 7:49 PM  

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