August 8, 2010

Karaoke: The Ventures Actually Are Perfect for This

I don't know if anybody follows the karaoke posts, but I love to entertain and challenge myself with them, while providing little discoveries about Japanese pop culture. In fact, I really like the karaoke posts the best of all the nonsense I put out on the interbone. For instance, remember the time I discovered The Nolans were big here? The freaking Nolans. And Webster! We've just pulled into awesome city.

For a long time, I've been wanting to find a way to tell y'all about how ridiculously popular The Ventures are over here in Japan. You probably don't know their name off the top of your head because they never sing in their songs and are thus easily forgotten, but you know this song even if you think you don't, Walk Don't Run:

They also do the Wipe Out! song. But alas, as The Ventures never have vocals in their songs, even when they do songs that should have them, I thought I would never be able to pull off a karaoke post on them. But Japan has foreseen my problem and taken care of it! I give you The Ventures... plus Chiyo Okumura in Kitaguni no Aoi Sora (titled Hokkaido Skies in English): EDIT youtube nerfs karaoke vids all the time, so I'm embedding a new one. It happens to have 3 songs instead of just the one originally told of in this post.

That's The Ventures playing along with her, but it feels pretty different from most of their hits here (maybe the band's instrumental, non-enkaized version will be better for some). Turns out that The Ventures's songs, which were actually catering to Japanese listeners, were sometimes released with Japanese vocals over here. Wikipedia has a bit to say about why:
The Ventures became one of the most popular groups worldwide thanks in large part to their instrumental approach—there were no language barriers to overcome. The Ventures are still the most popular American rock group in Japan, the world's second largest record market. One oft-quoted statistic is that the Ventures outsold The Beatles 2-to-1 in Japan.[1] They produced dozens of albums exclusively for the Japanese and European markets, and have regularly toured Japan from the 1960s through to the present. According to a January 1966 Billboard Magazine article, The Ventures had five of 1965's top 10 singles in Japan.
Note that Wikipedia's picture of The Ventures also has them in Japanese garb. From the J wiki, I learned that their song Ginza Lights was released with words as Futari no Ginza. Here it is:

Much more venturesish. Up for one more? Kyoto Doll became Kyoto no Koi in the hands of Yuko Nagisa. You can actually hear the announcer and the see credits both mention The Ventures in this vid:

The Ventures received the prestigious Order of the Rising Sun (an honor second only to that chrysanthemum prize thing) this year. Seeing as they've played their songs like a billion times by now I'd say that award is well earned.

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