Akina Singles Review – 少女A

 

This section was always going to be revived during Akina “low period” seasons – aka no news period. Since Patrick requested for it, and I had been thinking of it for some time, here is the second installment. I was debating whether to do an album review first because プロローグ<序幕> was released before 少女A but since I have not listened to the album for yonkers, I thought I might do this first.

The other reason why I wanted to cover 少女Afirst, was also to show how her popularity was rising at this stage, which had an impact on 「プロローグ<序幕>」’s debut on Oricon. I will share that information later, but it is interesting to note that when 「少女A」 entered Oricon charts around the 40th – 50th position on its first week, her debut single 「スロ-モ-ション」 had exited the charts but when 「少女A」 became a big hit, 「スロ-モ-ション」 returned to the Top 100, and eventually reached No. 30 and stayed for 39 weeks altogether. If you calculated the weeks, it is very possible that the first 3 Akina’s singles were in the Top 100 at the same time.

If 「スロ-モ-ション」 introduced Akina to the mass market, it was 「少女A」 that helped her break ground. The similarity between the 3 main 歌姫s in Japanese Pop history is that they all made a major impact with their second singles. 松田聖子 scored the best results amongst the three with a runner up position for her mega hit 「青い珊瑚礁」 selling a whopping 602,000 copies while 山口百恵 scored her first Top 10 hit with 「青い果実」, peaking at No. 9 with 196,000 copies sold.

The main similarity between Akina and Momoe is that both singles were infamous for their suggestive lyrics. In 「青い果実」, Momoe sings “If you want, I will give it all to you” at 16, while Akina sings about flirting at 17. Both songs created a slight furore, and thus thrusted their careers into the spotlight. It was evident from this move that the marketing company wanted to groom Akina as “Momoe No. 2” and carve a niche for herself in the mass market. They succeeded and Akina flew from there … achieving creativity unsurpassed by Japanese pop artistes.

「少女A」 continued its amazing run to No. 5, scoring her debut TV performance in most musical programs and was her first entry into charting TV, like 「ザ・ベストテン」 and 「ザ・トップテン」 . Akina’s debut on 「ザ・ベストテン」 was on 16.9.1982, entering at No.9, eventually bowing at No. 3 for a total of 11 weeks. It was also No. 12 on the 1982 year end tabulations on the program.

少女A

1982年7月28日発売

作詞:売野雅勇 

作曲:折澤廣明 

編曲:萩田光雄

C/W. 夢判断

作詞:中里綴 

作曲:三室のぼる 

編曲:船山基紀

最高位=5位 売り上げ=39.6万枚 登場週数 = 29 (Total sales from another source: 653,767 枚)

There was also a history chart by an analyst about the most influential songs of the century, and Akina scored only one song 「少女A」 sharing the same honours that year with the only Seiko song 「赤いスイートピー」. If anyone is interested to know why 「赤いスイートピー」 is termed as Seiko’s signature song, it is because up to that point in her career, an overwhelming majority of her fans were male and it was only after this 9th single that females started liking Seiko. It’s a breakthrough of sorts for her. As for Akina, it has been noted that she has more female fans than male, though this blog seem to differ in opinion …

Overall, 「少女A」 was a major success on the sales and awards front as well, grabbing many Best Newcomer awards that year, though losing at the two majors 日本レコード大賞 and 日本歌謡大賞, to Shibugaki Tai and Matsumoto Iyo. For a list of the awards, you can see Akina Fun Site.

Jamez’ Review

 「少女A」 has never been a fave of mine and if it wasn’t the suggestive lyrics, I don’t think the song would have fared very well for someone who pays more attention to the melody. There is no doubt that it is a catchy number and it is interesting for fans to notice that Akina does use her signature lower vocals on this song than her debut 「スロ-モ-ション」, showing off her versatility. As Hamu pointed out once, it was the marketing department’s strategy to release a ballad followed by an uptempo number, thankfully ceased when she started singing her more mature works and having more creative control.

Like Akina who doesn’t like to sing this song very much, it is funny to note that fate does play a cruel part in a singer’s life sometimes, providing them fame with one of their least favourite songs, ensuring that they have to sing it in public due to demand. Another notable example is HK singer, Faye Wong (王菲), who absolutely detests her breakthrough hit “容易受伤的女人” and had to argue with management who would insist that she sing it to please the fans. Likewise, Momoe would also refuse to sing her earlier hits in the latter part of her career.

It is definitely another mature number as compared with the other singers at that time, concentrating on the “cuteness” factor. She sang and moved like Momoe with a maturity well beyond her young years. You could see that Akina had a vision and she captivated audiences and fans enough. Instead of posing for the single cover with a cute smile, she chose to tilt it and acted a little confused or maybe her “mature” look then. It is definitely different and not something that she would cringe at 10 years down the road.

That said, I am still not terribly fond of the cover, though I like the Hawaiian summery feel. On the coupling song, its style is not surprisingly similar to 「条件反射」 because it is written by the same team. A rather forgettable number destined to be hidden on the B-side. She hasn’t covered 「少女A」 many times, which really shows her opinion on the song, but I have to say that my favourite version is the rockish cover on 「歌姫-Double Decade-」. It was a more refreshing update and I really enjoyed her making it a lot more fun to listen to. Even though 「セカンド・ラブ」 really aced it for Akina in the popularity stakes, it was 「少女A」 that paved for that to happen.

Cover – ***

「少女A」 – ***1/2

「夢判断」 – **1/2

I have selected this video from 「ザ・トップテン」 because it was her debut on the program and it showed a longer interview with the compares. Hope you will like it too.

 

Special Note: For those of you who are interested in great English translation, our fellow VAMPire, Hamu chan, has very kindly and expertly translated them, so you can now understand what Akina is singing about. Please visit this site: Nakamori Akina ~ Jpop Queen of the 80s

dannybunny

Akina fanboy since 14. Still undecided which are his top ten favourite Akina tracks as it's mission impossible. Digs "Everlasting Love" a whole lot more than the average Akina fan.

10 thoughts on “Akina Singles Review – 少女A

  1. Thanks u Jamez, ive researched for some exhaustive notes about her releases, I always hear the reasons why Akina became so popular at that time, and I remember my exgf telling me some similar stuff u said. But now I have this review. I will copy em and keep as a future reference. Havent knew she had 3 singles on the charts at same time. Now I have one reason to tell the ppl why Akina is the JPop Goddess. Again, thanks for the review!!

  2. You are most welcome, Unsadistigoth. That is a deduction but if you count the number of weeks, I think it is true.

    The reason for this review is also because there hasn’t been a single by single, album by album review by her fans, so I am starting it here as a special exclusive on VAMP.

    Like my review for "Slow Motion", everyone is most encouraged to give their five cents worth as well. We would like to hear what you think of each single. If you can find the entry for "Slow Motion", I know it’s a 5 star (max) review since it is your fave song of all time.

  3. About the cover…. Akina revealed (think few years back in a TV programme) that she didn’t know how to pose. When the crew told her to get ready, she actually was smiling at the camera… But the light from the reflecting board was too strong and Akina squinted. The photographer snaped just when she was shifting her head and squinting. That’s the little story behind the jacket cover ^^

  4. wow that heck of a vivisection, James! THANKS!!! =))

    pardon me, but i personally feel she’s a bit spastic looking on the cover. but memorable nonetheless. and i like the song! and like James, i LOVE the DD version.

  5. Shojo A moment is something that most artists wish to have.

    In order to be a super star, one needs not only good songs but also the combination of right place and right time. I believe that’s the case of Shojo A.

    Although Shojo A has been dated a little bit now, it was a very catchy and up to date with a little edge at that time. It has a slightly dark and rock sound for a teenage female idol. The sound has the same quality of many male artists at the time such as Matchy and Shibungaki Tai.

    To compare this Shojo A with Slow Motion, Slow Motion has prettier melody but Shojo A was her second punch that knocked all the audiences.

    However, Shojo A did set the tone and the career direction for Akina, which I love. It did give Akina a direction to the lower tone and edgy image instead of teen little voice kind of idol. Her later concert with rearranging more pop-rock sounds with even lower tone made this song even better.

    For the cover, I still don’t get it. I did not like it then and still don’t like it now. It gave me a feeling of the creative just took one from her photo collection and put on the cover. The bright side is that it was my least favorite single cover so there was only up and up from now.

    Coupling(夢判断) is weaker than her first coupling(条件反射). 条件反射 has a good strong rhythm openning. I have been listened to her couplings more often during this time and I started to like条件反射 more and more.

    少女A – ****
    夢判断 – **

    Thanks for the inside story. I love those. As much as I love Akina, I did not have her information much at the beginning of her career. I truly only known her though songs with no news or event.

  6. I really like this song.Love all the good information that I was never able to get before. Also LOVE the lyrics translation!!!!!!!
    Thanks everyone!

  7. Thanks for another wonderful write-up, Jamez! As always, a great read!

    Akina’s up-tempo numbers have always gone over well with me, and Shojo A is no exception.

    It’s a perfect example of how a young Akina stood out from the rest of her JPop idol contemporaries at the time.

    The jacket cover and B-side song are less compelling, but that’s not so unusual for a single of the early ’80s.

    Given the lyrics, the song is one a mature Akina would likely only revisit while in a nostalgic mood. Still, she usually seems to have fun when she does perform it.

    Cover: ***
    Shojo A: ****
    Yume Handan: ** 1/2

  8. You are all most welcome. It was fun reminiscing. Thanks for all the additional tidbits as well. It was certainly an enriching experience.

    That said, there doesn’t seem to be star ratings from a few of you … Maybe you can make it up later. 😉

  9. Thanks Jamez.. if i have the chance to give some reviews id be glad to write!
    But i have a limitation : as im a italian guy who lives in Latin America, i dont have sources to read about Akina, except this forum and some other sites. At that time i had the only chance with my ex who told me everything from the magazines.
    And well.. the far i could tell that at first time i listened her 17 years ago. I liked 少女A, cuz of her melody and voice tunes.I remember i used to listen this so much from the tape i have, but i listened Slow Motion so much. All because of the musical style and some melancholic sounds from her voice,i imagined her singing with some feeling (and i confirmed that from the video i saw weeks ago!!!)
    I just have a question: what about some songs i like.. were they popular too? i mean.. so popular as 少女A and Slow Motion was… see the link below.. here is my tape.. and the songs i meant are: Side A: 6, 7 Side B 1, 6 & 7

    http://www.slibe.com/image/418fdf77-Akina_-_Second_L/

    Thanks!

  10. Hi Unsadistigoth,

    Of course you can give a review. This is the entire point of the exercise, which is to see what everyone thinks in terms of star ratings. As you can see, CJ and Patrick have given their star ratings and everyone has offered their views.

    As for the songs on the cassette, they are mostly album songs from her 1st 2 albums. When we proceed onto the album reviews, they would be most welcome.

    These are the songs from her debut:

    A6 – Tシャツ・サンセット
    A7 – 銀河伝説
    B1 – あなたのポ-トレ-ト
    B6 – ダウンタウンすと~り~

    This is from her second album – Variation

    B7 – 咲きほこる花に・・・

    B1 and B7 are my favourite songs from her debut and 2nd album. As for popularity, "あなたのポ-トレ-ト" was probably the most famous as it was considered at the time to be the 2nd Akina single, but they eventually decided on Shojo A.

    So, maybe we can hear from you about Shojo A here. 😉

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