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A」first, 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.
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.
「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