UUM Strategy for the 90’s classic hit “The Last Rain” by Yasushi Nakanishi | FRIDAY DIGITAL

UUM Strategy for the 90’s classic hit “The Last Rain” by Yasushi Nakanishi

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Yasushi Nakanishi performed live this year to commemorate the 30th anniversary of his debut (Photo: Kyodo News)

This is a series of articles tracing hit songs from exactly 30 years ago. In this issue, we would like to explain, mainly for the younger generation, about the “UUM hit” that suddenly occurred 30 years ago in the downtown area at night.

Have you heard of “UUM”? U-UM? I think many of you read the Roman alphabet and think “UUM”. I am sorry. It should be. It’s a word I coined.

A “UUM hit” is a song that was a hit because it was sung by people who were popular because they were good singers and popular (= UUM). It refers to a form of hit song that originated in the karaoke box about 30 years ago, and which would never have been possible in the Japanese pop music world until then.

I will explain the details of such “UUM” later, but first, let me introduce Yasushi Nakanishi’s “The Last Rain,” which I will feature in this issue.

Please listen to the full chorus of the song on a subscribe. I am sure that there are a certain number of young people who have heard the song before, even if the name of the singer and the title of the song did not ring a bell.

Even if you listen to “The Last Rain” now, or perhaps it is precisely because you listen to it now, that the skill of Yasushi Nakanishi as a singer shines through once again. It is indeed worthy of the name “UUM Hit.

It was released on August 10, 1992, and reached No. 16 on the Oricon chart, but what is surprising is the number of weeks it appeared on the chart: 55 weeks (in other words, more than one year). In other words, it sold slowly and steadily to reach No. 16, just like an enka (traditional Japanese folk song). The number of copies sold was 737,000.

Yasushi Nakanishi was born in Nara Prefecture. After graduating from Doshisha University, he once got a job at a department store, but soon quit and became a teacher at a tutoring school. At the same time, he has a strange background: he has been good at imitating Stevie Wonder’s singing since his school days, and was scouted after appearing on several TV programs.

Even so, the fact that he can imitate Stevie Wonder, a genius singer, already predisposes him to become a “UUM hit.

Since the song sold slowly, it was not until 1993, the year after its release, that it became a full-fledged hit. On June 1 of the same year, Nikkan Sports reported enthusiastically that “Yasushi Nakanishi’s ‘The Last Rain,’ which music insiders look at with respect and amazement beyond their respective speculations, ‘shows no signs of stalling,’ rose from No. 24 the previous week to No. 16.

Now, we find another “UUM hit” in the Oricon chart introduced in that article, where “The Last Rain” reached its highest position of No. 16.

— No. 7: “Get Along Together” by Yasuhiro Yamane.

This one was released in 1993 and sold better than “The Last Rain,” reaching a high of No. 5 and selling 1,211,000 copies (remake version). The Last Rain” and “Get Along Together” became hits about 30 years ago when they were sung in karaoke boxes and even at weddings as a test of skill, or rather a throat test, for the sarcastically good “UUM guys”.

The structure of the song was such that “songs you want to sing” became a hit rather than “songs you want to listen to. In retrospect, this was a major structural shift in the history of Japanese pop music.

A “UUM Hit” Generated by Telecommunication Karaoke

If you look at the “Karaoke History Chronology” on the official website of the National Karaoke Business Association, you will find the very important eight words in the column for 1992, the year “The Last Rain” was released – “The advent of correspondence karaoke.

The karaoke boxes before that time, which used laser disks and other equipment, had an image of being somewhat like an extension of a snack bar for old men. Perhaps because of this, newspaper articles from the 1990s and 1991s were often touting the need to “protect youths from karaoke boxes.

As a result, karaoke became a healthy pastime for young people, rather than an extension of an old man’s snack bar, and the level of young people’s singing ability soared.

It was on such soil that the “UUM guys” appeared. At a karaoke box for the after-party of a blind date party, the guys sang one difficult song after another, quickly reversing their inferiority at the first meeting, and (in the style of the time) “taking home” the ladies.

The “UUM hit” was a favorite of the “UUM guys,” a new group of singers who were popular not because they were “cool” (KIM) or “KMM” (popular because they had money) but because they were “good singers” (UUM).

The Last Rain” is a difficult piece with a wide range of notes. It uses almost two octaves. The highest note is the chorus  “I wouldn’t love you so much I could cry if I really wanted to forget you. The highest note is the “â-i” of “â-i” (love) in the chorus. It is a very high note, A (la) in real sound. This is the “UUM point.

However, in the “UUM Hit Chart” (created by me in my mind) around me at that time, the two songs “The Last Rain” and “Get Along Together” were No. 2 and No. 3, respectively, and the unquestionable No. 1 was another song.

That is – Toshinobu Kubota’s “Missing” (1986).

The “UUM point” is, of course, the “♪Oh~” of the big chorus. Â “Just breathe in the twilight as best you can and close your eyes Oh~ I love you.” ♪Oh~” in the big chorus. Even now, when I recall it, I can hear the women cheering “Caw” after the “♪Oh~” here.

Lastly, on a personal note, although I played a brass instrument in the orchestra club in high school and college, my singing was of a vague pitch and I had no vibrato, so many times in late-night karaoke boxes, I was beaten to death alone and lonely by the “UUM bastard.

I still recall the hallway of a karaoke box about 30 years ago, when the “UUM bastard” prevented me from getting Along Together with the ladies, and I ended up Missing them, and the last rain kept falling from my eyes. Hmmm.

The author’s new book, which went into overprint immediately after its release ( click here to purchase! )
  • Text Susie Suzuki

    Music critic, born in Higashiosaka City, Osaka in 1966, currently appearing on bayfm's "9 no Oto Iki" Mondays. His books include "80's Ongaku Kaitai Shinsho" (80's Music Kaitai Shinsho) (Sairyusha), "Checkers' Music and Its Era" (Bookman-sha), "Intro's Law 80's" (Bungeishunju), "Southern All Stars 1978-1985" (Shincho Shinsho), and "Koisuru Radio" (Bookman-sha). He is a regular contributor to Toyo Keizai Online, Tokyo Sports, Weekly Baseball, and other publications. His new book, "EPIC Sony and the Era" (Shueisha Shinsho) and "Keisuke Kuwata Theory" (Shincho Shinsho) will be released on June 17.

  • Photo Kyodo Photo

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