Thursday, 1 December 2016

Miyamoto Karin loves 80s idol songs and ballads!! (Top Yell Sept 2016)

Miyamoto Karin has talked passionately about her own perspective and thoughts on 80s idols at events and on radio shows, and frequently makes blog posts spelling out the 80s idols songs that she loves to listen to, particularly focusing on Matsuda Seiko whom she respects. Why is a girl born in the 10th year of the Heisei era captivated by 80s idols? And how has she herself been influenced by 80s idols?

Matsuda Seiko-san was where I started
At her first Budokan concert experience
She let out a Seiko-chan call

Miyamoto-san, I heard that your respect towards Matsuda Seiko-san stemmed from your mother's influence, but roughly how old were you when you started to consciously listen to her?

Miyamoto: It was pretty much when I was in my second year of primary school, as my mother would always play Seiko-san's albums. That's why I like a lot of her album songs. When I was in my third year, using a karaoke machine that could record my voice, I made a CD of 'Jikan no Kuni no Alice' (laughs).

Have you been to any of Matsuda Seiko-san's concerts?

Miyamoto: I have. The very first time I started hearing 'Seiko-chan Kawaii!' was when I was brought along to a Nippon Budokan concert, which was also my very first concert. I still go to her concerts now, but as it's also work, I watch calmly. But back then, I genuinely went to Seiko-chan's concerts because she was cute, and the cheers of the guys next to me were so amazing that I got pulled in and I'd really scream out (laughs). When I asked my mother about it, I apparently even did the calls, what a truly wonderful memory.


Well, that was a story of how you got an early peek into the trappings of an idol. We'll ask you plenty about your stories of Matsuda Seiko-san after this, but when did your itch for 80s idols begin?

Miyamoto: Since I was in middle school. At that point in time, I was also starting to perform, and I watched lots of Seiko-san's videos for research, and I also ended up watching a lot of 80s idols as well. The idols of that age were wonderful, they were exceptionally brilliant, so I gradually came to like them. But Seiko-san was definitely where I started, so she's my favourite.

At an event (1) and a radio show (2), you've announced your top ten 80s idol songs, but you seem to concentrate on songs from the early-to-mid eighties.

Miyamoto: That's partly due to me starting off with Seiko-san, and I also like Hana no 82 Nen Gumi (3).

Miyamoto-san, it's a surprise to hear the phrase Hana no 82 Nen Gumi coming from someone of your age (laughs). Before, you had given us the names of three 80s idols you liked besides Matsuda Seiko-san, but Koizumi Kyoko-san and Ishikawa Hidemi-san are from Hana no 82 Nen Gumi, and the other person is Kawai Naoko-san, who made her debut in '80, the same time as Matsuda Seiko-san. Please tell us the reasons that you like them.

Miyamoto: Their singing was what led me to like them. Even amongst 80s idols, Ishikawa Hidemi-san had a cool singing voice that stood out. I also like the way she forms her smiles, and Ishikawa Hidemi-san will match her facial expressions to the song.

Of her songs, her 4th single 'Namida no Paper Moon' is her song that you particularly like, right?

Miyamoto: I like how cute it is, even from the intro itself, but when I tried singing it myself for the first time, I got a shock at how high the key was. It happens many times within the song, but she sings it like it was nothing. I was surprised by how amazing Ishikawa Hidemi-san was.

Did you also watch her videos back then, to try and copy her way of singing and the moves?

Miyamoto: I did try to copy her a bit, but since the basic idea is to make use of it in my own performances, I watch things like how she sings, how she inserts a bit of nuance, how she expresses herself using her face. Ishikawa Hidemi-san has a characteristic way of making steps. While Seiko-san puts her shoulders into her steps, Ishikawa Hidemi-san often moves starting from her back. That's a part that I like as well.


Continuing on, we have Koizumi Kyoko-san, and the song of hers that you particularly like is 'Kogarashi ni Dakarete', right?

Miyamoto: I like Takamizawa Toshihiko-san's (4) songs, he wrote that song and 'The Stardust Memory'. It's nice how Takamizawa-san's songs and Koizumi Kyoko-san's voice match up so well.

As an idol, where do you think Koizumi Kyoko-san's charms lie?

Miyamoto: If anything, she had a cute smile. It seems to ask you, 'I'm cute, aren't I?' I also like her smile that's like 'I'm laughing. Ahaha' (laughs). Just seeing that soothes the heart.

Next is Kawai Naoko-san, what are her charms?

Miyamoto: When I watched videos of her television appearances, she seemed really prim and quiet. But at concerts, the strength of her eyes would get more powerful, and she was amazing at livening things up. I particularly like how she looked when she says 'Suki desu' in 'Love Letter'! You might not think it when just listening to the song, and I only realised it when I watched live videos of 'Love Letter'. Also, Kawai Naoko-san does things like casually include a bit of nuance to her songs, like she'll pull off a vibrato - not at a part where you'd expect it to sound good, but at places that surprise you.

Going against the grain.

Miyamoto: I also like when she's singing with proper vocalisation, perhaps because of her thick voice.

Miyamoto-san, the names that you've raised have very steady singing voices, don't they.

Miyamoto: That's right. I like singing voices that reverberate in my core.

I'm very much influenced by Seiko-san's way of singing

At long last, we'd like to ask about Matsuda Seiko-san. Firstly, tell us about the charms of her singing.

Miyamoto: At the early stages, she had a sweet, nasal voice, perhaps because she had quite a muffled voice. From there, her voice changed to become a sweet, clear voice, but in the midst of that, she'd occasionally go into her muffled voice, and I also liked it when she sang like that.

At which era do you feel that her voice changed?

Miyamoto: From when she was being produced by Matsumoto Takashi-san (5). For me, the tag team of Seiko-san and Matsumoto Takashi-san was the best, and Matsumoto Takashi-san's choice of words were wonderful. For example, there's a part in the lyrics of 'Glass no Prism' where it's just the names of colours, one after the other. I think it's amazing how that part grabs the heart. The lyrics of 'Lemonade no Natsu' also make you expand your imagination, just looking at them makes my heart skip a beat. Amongst her songs, I also love it when Ohmura Masaaki-san's (6) arrangements are combined with Matsumoto Takashi-san's lyrics.

Their close relationship with the writers were a good quality of 80s idols
Once I was in the position of doing performances
I discovered the magnificence of 80s idols

When did you start paying attention to lyricists, composers, and arrangers?

Miyamoto: To begin with, I'm the type of person who, when singing, I like to think about the lyrics, like what sort of emotion would I like to put into those words, or if there's some sort of nuance I could insert. When I was singing Seiko-san's songs, I found the lyrics to be lovely, and that's how I learnt Matsumoto Takashi-san's name. And since then, I started getting interested in composers and arrangers as well. Even among the lyrics written by Matsumoto Takashi-san, the songs that I particularly like are often the ones arranged by Ohmura Masaaki-san.

What's the main thing that attracts you to songs that were arranged by Ohmura Masaaki-san?

Miyamoto: I'm amazed by how the intros grab me. Seiko-san's songs have intros that leave an impression, so I think that they're important. Normally, people remember songs from their chorus, right? But I often remember Seiko-san's songs based on their intros. Though I remember 'Glass no Ringo' from it's A-melody, the intro, how the melody leads to an entryway for the lyrics, the sense of rhythm. I'm impressed by how wonderful it is.

Sadly, Ohmura Masaaki passed away at the young age of 46, the year before you were born.

Miyamoto: Seiko-san made comments about Ohmura-san, and I knew all sorts of things about him, so I really cry when I listen to Sakura no Sono (7)...... At this age, we don't really have much opportunities to directly hear stories from composers and arrangers, so I think that was also a unique aspect of the 80s era. I think that there were things that the idols could convey to the listeners precisely because of the close relationships they had built up with the writers.

At both your event and your radio show, you brought up 'Heart no Earring' as your number one song, but what about it fascinates you?

Miyamoto: Firstly, the composer is credited as Holland Rose, so I thought that it was a foreigner, but when I looked it up, I was surprised that it was Sano Motoharu-san. Just listening to how it sounds like, the timbre of this song immediately brings to mind a scene of 'Sitting in a fashionable cafe as the snow falls'. Normally, even for Juice=Juice's songs, I have put some thought into visualising them at first or I can't sing them. But for 'Heart no Earring', thanks to the lyrics and the music, I can visualise it without thinking about it. I got to sing it at my birthday event last year, and for me, it's not going to budge from its number one spot.


Have any of Matsuda Seiko-san's other songs that influenced you in a similar way? Are there any that come to mind?

Miyamoto: Though it's an album song, I love 'Denwa de Date' that comes in 'Candy' (8). Songs by that song's composer, Minami Yoshitaka-san, also make me imagine that I'm floating. It's so clear in my head that I could immediately plan a music video for it right now (laughs).

Of Matsuda Seiko-san's albums, I hear that you love listening to 'Candy' and 'The 9th Wave' (9), so please tell us what you like about each of them.

Miyamoto: As you can tell from the title, 'Candy' is a series of sweet songs. It feels like you're constantly sucking on a sweet candy, yet it doesn't turn bad. Something like that (laughs). I listen to it on endless repeat when I'm in the middle of doing things like cleaning.

'The 9th Wave' was the very first album that didn't involve Matsumoto Takashi-san, so I feel that it's unexpected.

Miyamoto: It's my mother's favourite album, so it's played in my ears ever since I was small, but at first, I did think that there was something different about it. I like the perspective of Ozaki Amii-san (10), who provided the compositions, but since I do like Matsumoto Takashi, I'd listen to nothing but 'Candy'. And then my mother told me that she didn't like it at first, but the more she listened to it, the better she found it. I thought she was lying though (laughs). However, at some point, I when I gave 'Natsu no Scene' another listen, I was charmed. As I listened through the whole album, I felt that it was really lovely. What's more, Ohmura Masaaki-san was in charge of arranging and producing all of the songs on this album, so it was a given that I would like it.

What do you find captivating about Ozaki Amii's songs?

Miyamoto: She brings a different perspective from Matsumoto Takashi-san's lyrics, she depicts emotions that I can relate to as a woman. I tried listening to Ozaki Amii singing 'Natsuiro no Scene', it was seductive and impressive.


Learning by watching Matsuda Seiko-san
By getting into the feelings of the song's protagonist
She increases her expressiveness

From a performance aspect, what was great about Matsuda Seiko-san?

Miyamoto: All her gestures were cute, and depending on the song, her facial expressions would change, she'd use her facial muscles differently. You can tell that she really likes to sing, and she always gets across these extremely girlish emotions. It always puzzled me how she did that, but in an interview, she said that she can't sing until she embraces the feelings of the girl represented in the lyrics, which really impressed me. Up to then, if there were words in the lyrics that I didn't know, I'd just leave them be. I never thought about them deeply, I only felt that I just had to memorise them. But having heard Seiko-san's words, I felt that I had to learn from her example. In practice, having embraced the feelings of the girl depicted in the lyrics, I would naturally understand how to include some nuance. On the singing aspect as well, for cute songs in particular, the way I fish them out and how I use my nose to sing has a lot to do with how much Seiko-san has influenced my singing.

Are there any other 80s idols that you use as a reference from the singing aspect?

Miyamoto: Kawai Naoko-san had a steady voice, so I'll give her a re-listen whenever I'm at a loss on how to hit low notes. I watch her videos to see her facial expressions and how she uses her hands, and I try singing while imagining and mimicking what sort of voice I want to let out. Also, when Nakamori Akina-san lets out her vibrato, I watch and learn from how she positions her chin, how she brings out her power.

Is there an 80s idol who amazes you with how she captures the rhythm?

Miyamoto: Nakayama Miho-san's steps when she sings 'Tsuiterune Notterune' are complex, they're pretty intense. So I thought that she did them freely, but when I watched her singing it on a different programme, her steps were the same, which made me think that she had a wonderful sense of rhythm.

Finally, this summer, which Matsuda Seiko-san song would you like to cover?

Miyamoto: Eh~! Seiko-san has lots of summery songs, so it's hard to pick..... I'd like to sing 'Pink no Mozart', but what's strongly coming to mind is 'Peach Sherbet' (11).

Had to be an album song, huh (laughs)? We should have expected no less!


(1) Event: 2015/7/7 Hello! Project Official Shop Tokyo Akihabara store event 'HaroSho 1001 Nights 21st Night Miyamoto Karin' where she talked passionately about 80s idols. Below are her top ten.
1st place: Matsuda Seiko 'Heart no Earring' (84)
2nd place: Koizumi Kyoko 'Kogarashi ni Dakarete' (86)
3rd place: Nakamori Akina 'Second Love' (82)
4th place: Ishikawa Hidemi 'Namida no Paper Moon' (83)
5th place: Kawai Naoko 'Love Letter' (81)
6th place: Matsumoto Iyo 'TV no Kuni Kara Kira Kira' (82)
7th place: Nakayama Miho 'BE-BOP-HIGHSCHOOL' (85)
8th place: Hori Chiemi 'Inazuma Paradise' (84)
9th place: Kashiwabara Yoshie 'Karin' (82)
10th place: Kikuchi Momoko 'Broken Sunset' (86)

(2) Radio: 2016/2/24 broadcast of 'Bazooka Yamadera to Okada Robin Shoko no The BAY☆LINE' She talked about it passionately with the two MCs. Below are her top five.
1st place: Matsuda Seiko 'Heart no Earring' (84)
2nd place: Kawai Naoko 'Love Letter' (81)
3rd place: Ishikawa Hidemi 'Namida no Paper Moon' (83)
4th place: Nakamori Akina 'Slow Motion' (82)
5th place: Koizumi Kyoko 'Kogarashi ni Dakarete' (86)

(3) Hana no 82 Nen Gumi: Ishikawa Hidemi, Koizumi Kyoko, Nakamori Akina, Hayami Yu, Hori Chiemi, Mita Hiroko, and others. The name given to a bumper harvest of idols that made their debut in 1982.

(4) Takamizawa Toshihiko: As everyone knows, leader as well as guitarist of The Alfee. Generally does composition and lyrics for the group. Has also provided songs for numerous artistes

(5) Matsumoto Takashi: An exemplary Japanese lyricist who flourished from the 70s. Even now, provide huge hits to the world. The first song he provided to Matsuda Seiko was her 6th single 'Shiroi Parasol' ('81). Since then, tag teaming with numerous composers in the 80s, he has provided numerous hit songs to Matsuda Seiko .

(6) Ohmura Masaaki: Arranger. Handled numerous arrangements of idol songs from the 70s. Also a person who well understood Matsuda Seiko from when she made her debut. Passed away in 1997 at the young age of 46.

(7) 'Sakura no Sono': Ohmura Masaaki's posthumous work that he wanted Matsuda Seiko to sing, entrusted to Matsumoto Takashi. That promise was carried out in Matsuda Seiko's 32nd album 'Eien no Shoujo' (1999).

(8) 'Candy': Matsuda Seiko's 6th album ('82). Started by Matsumoto Takashi and members from his original rock band Happy End, Hosono Haruomi and Ohtaki Eiichi. Provided songs for wonderful artistes such as Zaitsu Kazuo, Harada Shinji, Minami Yoshitaka.

(9) 'The 9th Wave': Matsuda Seiko's 11th album ('85). With the withdrawal of Matsumoto Takashi, who had been providing her lyrics since her 4th album 'Kaze Tachinu' ('81), it marked a turning point for the proactive promotion of female artistes such as Ozaki Amii, Yoshida Minako, Yano Akiko. All the arrangements were done by Ohmura Masaaki who also produced the album.

(10) Ozaki Amii: Singer-songwriter. Made her debut in 1976, and released hits such as 'My Pure Lady'. Provided many compositions for 80s idols.

(11) 'Peach Sherbet': A summer tune composed by Sugi Masamichi, starting off Matsuda Seiko's 7th album 'Utopia'.

Dream Road - Kokoro ga Odoridashiteru - / KEEP ON Josho Shiko / Ashita Yaro wa Baka Yaro / Juice=JuiceJuice=Juice Miyamoto Karin Photo Book "Sunflower" / LUCKMAN

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