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Saturday, January 12, 2013

Song of the Week! 12 January 2013

Besides the Anime genre, the other licensed genre to receive more DLC songs than included in the original songlist was the J-Pop genre. And lots of licensed treats we have to feature here to, however we're doing just one this time.

Egao ni Kanpai! (笑顔にカンパイ!) Hiromi Go
All consolex4 (99)x5 (169) x6 (297)x6 (397)
Taiko 0 x3 (99)x4 (169) x6 (297)x6 (397)
Taiko 0 to 0 M, Taiko PSP DX, Taiko Wii 4

Today's guest of this weekly feature is the current speed champion of the 6* Oni ballpark, topping even Dodododo-Donderful!!. Egao ni Kanpai! (literally, "A Toast to Smiles!") is - as shown on its subtitle in Taiko - one of the theme songs of the Japanese TV series Salary Man NEO (サラリーマンNEO), which has been used both for its sixth season and for the first feature film. The series is long so a synopsis is very difficult to write in a few sentences here, but it is about the life of a working-class man, and is light-hearted with many comedic moments, differing from dramas and soap operas in that tense scenes are not the norm here. So who made the song then?

The singer is an oldie on Taiko; Hiromi Go, whose real name is Hiromi Haratake (裕美原武). His career started in the 70's as a background dancer for a group called The Four Leaves, founded by Johnny Kitagawa (ジャニー喜多川). Even back then, Hiromi gained a lot of popularity (especially from the female audience), which resulted in everyone welcoming him during the Four Leaves' later performances, even without taking any lead roles! When he began his solo career, Hiromi literally became the Japanese answer to international pop-singer artist Ricky Martin, after his 1999 Japanese version of "Livin' la Vida Loca", which was called GOLDFINGER '99. For the record, this song also appeared in the first Taiko arcade game ever made!

The composer is someone different, and just as experienced. Tomoyasu Hotei (布袋寅泰), solo musician and song-writer of world fame. Like Hitomi Go, Hotei started his musical career as part of an 80's rock band named Boøwy, one of Japan's most popular bands before the new millenium. He then started his successful solo career, and was ranked number 70 on HMV Japan's list of the 100 most influential Japanese pop artists in 2003. Some of his works are heard overseas as part of both movies and videogames, like the song "Battle Without Honor or Humanity", made famous by Kill Bill (a large part of this film takes place in Japan) and also on videogames like Dance Dance Revolution, pop'n music and even Gran Turismo!

Now back to the song. Egao ni Kanpai was released in 2011 as a single by Hiromi Go together with Ii Kaken de Ikou!, another song from the Salaryman NEO series, and instrumental versions of both songs so you could sing along. The single was released in conjunction with Go's 40th anniversary as a vocalist. A very long and satisfying career, isn't it?

As for the Taiko chart, Egao ni Kanpai is based on a super-fast march rhythm, similar to Soba Kazu and on a higher tier, Ra Moreena Kumonai, with mostly 1/12 division beat clusters. There are many drumtolls along all difficulties too, allowing for some pretty high scores to be obtained even as a 6* song!

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