Sukiyaki (song)

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"Ue o Muite Arukō (Sukiyaki)"
Single by Kyu Sakamoto
from the album Sukiyaki and Other Japanese Hits (US)
B-side"Anoko No Namaewa Nantenkana"
Released1961 (Japan)
1963 (US, UK)
GenrePop, Kayōkyoku, Japanese pop
Length3:05
LabelToshiba-EMI (Japan)
Capitol (US and Canada)
HMV/EMI (UK)
Writer(s)Rokusuke Ei (lyrics)
Hachidai Nakamura (music)
 
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"Ue o Muite Arukō (Sukiyaki)"
Single by Kyu Sakamoto
from the album Sukiyaki and Other Japanese Hits (US)
B-side"Anoko No Namaewa Nantenkana"
Released1961 (Japan)
1963 (US, UK)
GenrePop, Kayōkyoku, Japanese pop
Length3:05
LabelToshiba-EMI (Japan)
Capitol (US and Canada)
HMV/EMI (UK)
Writer(s)Rokusuke Ei (lyrics)
Hachidai Nakamura (music)

"Ue o Muite Arukō" (上を向いて歩こう?, literally "[I] Will Walk Looking Up") is a Japanese-language song that was performed by Japanese crooner Kyu Sakamoto, and written by lyricist Rokusuke Ei and composer Hachidai Nakamura. It is best known under the alternative title "Sukiyaki" in Anglophone countries. The song reached the top of the Billboard Hot 100 charts in the United States in 1963, and remains the only Japanese-language song ever to have done so. In addition, it was and still is one of the few non-English songs, other than French and Spanish, to have reached the top of the US charts. It is one of the best-selling singles of all time, having sold over 13 million copies worldwide.[1][2] The original Kyu Sakamoto recording also went to number eighteen on the R&B chart.[3] In addition, the single spent five weeks at number one on the Middle of the Road charts.[4] The recording was originally released in Japan by Toshiba in 1961. It topped the Popular Music Selling Record chart in the Japanese magazine Music Life for three months, and was ranked as the number one song of 1961 in Japan.

Well-known English-language cover versions with altogether different lyrics include "My First Lonely Night" by Jewel Akens in 1966 and "Sukiyaki" by both A Taste of Honey in 1980 and by 4 P.M. in 1994. There are many other language versions of the song as well.

Contents

Lyrics

The lyrics tell the story of a man who looks up and whistles while he is walking so that his tears will not fall. The verses of the song describe his memories and feelings. Rokusuke Ei wrote this song while coming back from a protest against the Treaty of Mutual Cooperation and Security between the United States and Japan and feeling dejected about the failure of the protest movement, but the lyrics were rendered purposefully generic so that they might refer to any lost love.[5] The English-language lyrics of the version recorded by A Taste of Honey are not a translation of the original Japanese lyrics, but instead a completely different set of lyrics arranged to the same basic melody.

The title Sukiyaki, a Japanese hot pot dish, actually has nothing to do with the lyrics or the meaning of the song; the word served the purpose only because it was short, catchy, recognizably Japanese, and more familiar to most English speakers. A Newsweek Magazine columnist noted that the re-titling was like issuing "Moon River" in Japan under the title "Beef Stew."[6]

Covers and variations

In 1963, the British record label Pye Records released an instrumental cover version of the song by Kenny Ball and his Jazzmen. They were concerned that English-speaking audiences might find the original title too difficult to remember/pronounce, so they gave it the new title of "Sukiyaki". This title was retained when Capitol Records in the United States, and His Master's Voice (HMV) in the UK, released Kyu Sakamoto's original version a few months later. Sakamoto's follow-up to "Sukiyaki", "China Nights (Shina no Yoru)", charted in 1963 at number 58. That was the last song by an artist from Japan to reach the U.S. pop charts for 16 years, until the female duo Pink Lady had a top-40 hit in 1979 with its English-language song "Kiss in the Dark".[citation needed]

Several other artists have recorded cover versions of the song, while others have written and/or performed songs based on the melody:

A Taste of Honey version

"Sukiyaki"
Single by A Taste of Honey
from the album Twice As Sweet
Released1981
Recorded1980
Length3:41
LabelCapitol B-4953
Writer(s)Hachidai Nakamura
Janice Marie Johnson (English lyrics)
A Taste of Honey singles chronology
"Rescue Me"
(1980)
"Sukiyaki"
(1981)
"I'll Try Something New"
(1982)
Music video
"Sukiyaki" on YouTube

The cover version by A Taste of Honey reached number three on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 chart.[7] It also went to number 1 on Billboard's Adult Contemporary chart and Soul chart).[8]

A Taste of Honey version used English-language lyrics, written by A Taste of Honey group member Janice Marie Johnson, who was given permission by the original song's copyright holders to write the English-language lyrics on the understanding that she receive neither official credit nor remuneration.[citation needed] Johnson is quoted in The Billboard Book of Number One R&B Hits by Fred Bronson as saying that when she translated the original Japanese lyrics into English, she found out that the lyrics could be interpreted in three ways: as a man on his way to his execution; as someone trying to be optimistic despite life's trials; or as the story of an ended love affair. She explained: "Me being the hopeless romantic that I am, I decided to write about a love gone bad."[citation needed]

A Taste Of Honey's version of "Sukiyaki" first appeared on their 1980 album "Twice As Sweet". It was released as a single in 1981.[citation needed]

Chart (1981)Peak
position
Billboard Soul Chart1
Billboard Adult Contemporary1
Billboard Hot 100 Chart3

4 P.M. version

"Sukiyaki"
Single by 4 P.M.
from the album Now's the Time
ReleasedSeptember 6, 1994
FormatCD and cassette single
Recorded1994
Length2:42
LabelLondon Records (UK)
Writer(s)Hachidai Nakamura
Janice Marie Johnson (English lyrics)
4 P.M. singles chronology
"Sukiyaki"
(1995)
"Lay Down Your Love"
(1995)
Music video
"Sukiyaki" on YouTube

4 P.M.'s 1994 version reached number 8 on the Billboard 100 charts. The 4 P.M. version also uses the same English-language lyrics written by Janice Marie Johnson. The 4 P.M. version was a chart success in Australia, reaching number 3, and in New Zealand, reaching number 5.[citation needed]

Chart (1994-1995)Peak
position
Australia (ARIA)[9]3
New Zealand (RIANZ)[10]5
Billboard Hot 100[11]8
Billboard Pop Songs[11]5
Billboard Adult Contemporary[11]17

Selena version

"Sukiyaki"
Single by Selena
from the album Selena
ReleasedSeptember 14, 1989
FormatCD 7" single
Recorded1988
GenreLatin
Length3:11
LabelEMI
Writer(s)Hachidai Nakamura
ProducerA.B. Quintanilla III
Selena singles chronology
"Amame, Quiereme"
(1989)
"Sukiyaki"
(1989)
"Besitos"
(1989)
Music sample

"Sukiyaki" (English: I Shall Walk Looking Up), (Spanish: Caminaré Mirando Arriba), was a single released by Selena in 1990, which was released as the fourth single from the 1989 self-titled album Selena. The song received much airplay at the time of release. It was a Spanish-language version of the song (featuring the lyrics written by Janice Marie Johnson translated into Spanish).[citation needed]

It was released as a single in the United States and Japan. It was included in several of Selena's greatest hits packages before and after her death.[citation needed]

Other uses

Legacy

On March 16, 1999, Japan Post issued a stamp that commemorated the song.[17] The stamp is listed in the Scott Standard Postage Stamp Catalogue as Japan number 2666 with a face value of 50 yen.

References

  1. ^ "坂本九さん 〜心のふるさと・笠間〜" (in Japanese). Kasama Tourist Association. Archived from the original on 2006-07-10. http://web.archive.org/web/20060710082300/http://www.intio.or.jp/kasama/sakamoto.htm. Retrieved 2008-02-20.  (Translation)
  2. ^ "【85年8月12日】日航ジャンボ機墜落事故…坂本九さん死去" (in Japanese). Sports Nippon. http://www.sponichi.co.jp/entertainment/special/calender/calender_09august/KFullNormal20090812124.html. Retrieved 2009-12-27. [dead link]
  3. ^ Whitburn, Joel (2004). Top R&B/Hip-Hop Singles: 1942-2004. Record Research. p. 509. 
  4. ^ Whitburn, Joel (2002). Top Adult Contemporary: 1961-2001. Record Research. p. 213. 
  5. ^ 笹本恒子 「恒子の昭和: 日本初の女性報道写真家が撮影した人と出来事」 ISBN 4096820660
  6. ^ Fred Bronson (2003). "Sukiyaki". The Billboard Book of Number 1 Hits. Billboard Books. ISBN 0-8230-7677-6. http://books.google.com/books?id=PgGqNrqfrsoC&pg=PT140&dq=moon.river+beef.stew&ei=NAg4R5DNLKK8pgLxnumRAg&sig=0MpNdej5lXalx25DtEFs8gPMHZg. 
  7. ^ "Billboard Hot 100 - June 20, 1981". Billboard.com. 2011-11-19. http://www.billboard.com/charts/hot-100#/charts/hot-100?chartDate=1981-06-20. Retrieved 2011-11-24. 
  8. ^ Whitburn, Joel (2004). Top R&B/Hip-Hop Singles: 1942-2004. Record Research. p. 566. 
  9. ^ "Australian-charts.com – 4 P.M. – Sukiyaki". ARIA Top 50 Singles. Hung Medien.
  10. ^ "Charts.org.nz – 4 P.M. – Sukiyaki". Top 40 Singles. Hung Medien. Retrieved 2010-12-21.
  11. ^ a b c Billboard: Page for "Sukiyaki" by 4 P.M. For Positive Music
  12. ^ Jun 15, 1963: Kyu Sakamoto tops the charts with "Sukiyaki", History.com
  13. ^ Salt-n-pepa - Hot, Cool & Vicious review, Agnes Torres, The Orlando Sentinel, January 31, 1988
  14. ^ Wii Music’s Licensed Songs, Jean Snow, Wired GameLife, October 16, 2008
  15. ^ "『上を向いて歩こう』、『見上げてごらん夜の星を』篇の公開は終了しました。 サントリーチャンネル サントリーCM・動画ポータルサイト". Suntory.co.jp. http://www.suntory.co.jp/enjoy/movie/l_s/corp.html. Retrieved 2011-11-24. 
  16. ^ http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0205000/soundtrack
  17. ^ "わたしの愛唱歌シリーズ第9集郵便切手". Japan Post. 1999-03-16. http://www.post.japanpost.jp/kitte_hagaki/stamp/tokusyu/1999/0316/index.html. Retrieved 2008-06-03. 

External links


Preceded by
"It's My Party" by Lesley Gore
Billboard Hot 100 number-one single
(Kyu Sakamoto version)

June 15, 1963 (3 weeks)
Succeeded by
"Easier Said Than Done" by The Essex
Preceded by
"I Love Because" by Al Martino
"Billboard" Middle-Road number-one single
by Kyu Sakomoto

June 8, 1963 (5 weeks)
Succeeded by
"Tie Me Kangaroo Down Sport" by Rolf Harris
Preceded by
"Being with You" by Smokey Robinson
Billboard Hot Soul Singles number-one single
(A Taste of Honey version)

May 9, 1981
Succeeded by
"A Woman Needs Love (Just Like You Do)" by Ray Parker, Jr. & Raydio
Preceded by
"9 to 5" by Sheena Easton
Billboard Adult Contemporary (chart) number-one single
(A Taste of Honey version)

May 16, 1981 (2 weeks)
Succeeded by
"How 'Bout Us" by Champaign