My latest MTV 81 piece is up, and it’s a sort of contrast to my last, grinchlike post about Christmas songs. I spent some time last week going through dozens of Christmas songs by J-Pop artists and whittling them down to ten songs that I felt had something I liked about them. I mention in the introduction that there have been some popular songs by other artists, and nothing in particular against Mika Nakashima or B’z, but they’re shite so I didn’t include them. Anyway, what I’m saying is that it was a personal list so take that for what you will.
One thing I learned when putting it together was that I have a weakness for a certain type of bombastic 80s soft rock, and so while I know that by all rights I should absolutely hate Shogo Hamada, I can’t quite let myself.
The other thing I learned was that almost without exception, all Japanese Christmas songs are songs about being depressed and lonely, which is always a sign that a country is doing a festival wrong. As I said in my last post, Christmas in overwhelmingly atheist Japan is basically a shit Valentine’s Day with fewer chocolates and more Kentucky Fried Chicken (guess which bit the MTV smile police cut out of my article! — Yeah, how d’ya like that, The Man?) Anyway, the truth is that a lot of Japanese Christmas songs make for pretty grim, melodramatic listening, and I by and large tried to avoid the more suicidally melancholy numbers. Still, some of those songs really are quite good.
Generally, where possible I went for the more upbeat tracks, although even those are still mostly boy-obsessed and brimming with rampaging hormones. The Princess Princess song Ding Dong is an interesting one in that she dumped the boy for being an alcoholic and she’s basically saying good riddance, which puts an interesting twist on the whole “Lonely This Christmas” theme. It also has that great thing where the guitarist and bassist back up on either side of the singer and they all rock out together. Yeah, you go, sisters!
If I was basing it on sheer, overwhelming, mass saturation festive dominance, Tatsuya Yoshida would have won by a mile, and it really is a good song, but I went with Yumi Matsutoya because she’s just fucking awesome. It’s interesting that both of them had greatest hits albums in the top ten best selling albums of the year in Japan this year, so they obviously have a lot of lasting appeal. The only clips I could find of Yuming’s song were one cheesy photo montage and this kind of brilliant scene from the 1987 movie and all-round bubble-era time capsule Watashi wo Ski ni Tsuretette.