Wednesday, December 9, 2009

december 10

Couldn't resist writing about 60's pop star Kyu Sakamoto, one of the all-time great crooners in Japan, but a one-hit wonder in the USA. In fact, he sang the only #1 US hit with all-Japanese lyrics. The song "Ue o muite arukĊ", which literally translates to "I look up when I walk", was retitled "Sukiyaki" in the US, to give American audiences a Japanese word they might recognize, or at least pronounce. Whether it was the beautiful melody or the hunger-inducing title, "Sukiyaki" was a #1 hit for 3 weeks in 1963. Sakamoto did a world tour, hit the charts one more time with the song "China Skies", and settled down to be a star in his native Japan.

In 1985, Kyu Sakamoto was aboard Japan Airlines Flight 123, when it crashed into a mountainside less than one hour into the flight; over 500 people died in the crash, including Sakamoto. Violinist Diana Yukawa, whose father also died on that flight, performed "Sukiyaki" on the mountainside crash site, in tribute to the crash victims.

"Sukiyaki" has been performed by lots of artists, in several languages, but it's kind of an unofficial Japanese anthem; Japan even issued a postage stamp for the song. So here's Kyu Sakamoto's rendition of "I look up when I walk":

No comments:

Post a Comment