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Saturday, September 24, 2016

Song of the Week! 24 September 2016

For this week's feature, you're about to hear the very same song twice! (... kinda... sorta... not really)

 Oklahoma Mixer (オクラホマミキサー)
Allx2 (81)x3 (148)x5 (239/224/206)x5 (322)
 Taiko Ps2 6, Taiko Wii 4, Medal 2

In order of Taiko appearance, this console-exclusive Variety pick comes first, being also the closest rendition to the original source material from which this and the next song are coming from.

With the name Oklahoma Mixer, we're referring to a popular song/dance combination that has become popular in the Southern United states (and later on in Japan) starting from the late 40ies. Taught first by Reverend Larry Eisenberg at the Pacific Recreation Laboratory School in Asilowar, California, this dance was originally known as the Texas Schottische and became popular for one of the many kind of dances that involved people of opposite sexes dancing together in a 4/4 rhythm, under the notes of American folk song Turkey in the Straw, whose origins are commonly appointed with the debut of the American ballad 'My Grandmother Lived on Yonder Little Green'. The Oklahoma Mixer got its more-known name by American music teacher Henry "Buzz" Glass, who learnt the dance from Larry Eisenberg in Norman, one of the cities in Oklahoma.

The Taiko rendition of the popular song/dance combo closely follows the original version, up to its ending which is instead coming from another piece of American pop culture: the Shave and a Haircut jingle. Originated from the 1899 song 'At a Darktown Cakewalk' by Charles Dale, this riff refers to the response that a barber in the song gives to a customer asking for a shave and a haircut, retorting with 'two bits', an archaism for 25 cents in old American money value. Nowadays, this 7-note jingle is mostly intended in everyday occurrences and media in general as a comic relief-y finishing touch to a call or a song/scene with national variations for the same comedic meaning (often with different contexts from the original barber scenario) for countries such as England, Italy and Spain, while also being used for highly-offensive purposes in Mexico instead!

Very true to the Oklahoma Mixer's country nature, the song's notecharts follow the swing vibes with 1/12 and 1/24 cluster formations, often resulting in a note density which matches the commonplace 1/16 clusters density in faster songs like Black Rose Apostle. Not to shabby for a 6* Oni, isn't it? Being a tune from the Ps2 era, the Oklahoma Mixer also comes with a forked-path Muzukashii chart and 2P charts for all modes where the notecounts are the same but the ceiling score for player 2 is slightly higher due to the presence of Yam notes.

 Minna ga Minna Eiyuu (みんながみんな英雄)
Allx2 (117)x3 (144)x4 (228)x6 (242)
 Taiko 0 R, Taiko 3DS 3

Fast-forward to more current times, Turkey in the Straw and the Oklahoma Mixer dance as a whole have received a new coat of musical paint for the Japanese audience, as the popular American folk song has been the basis for the second of the CM songs featured in au's Santaro (三太郎, lit. 'Three Taros') commercial series.

Being broadcast on au's online music store LIZMO on January 5th, 2016 and distributed for purchase on Jaunary 18th of the same year, Minna ga Minna Eiyuu (lit. 'Everyone is Everyone's Hero') is the work of love from born-American Japanese singer/songwriter Ai Carina Uemura (植村 愛 カリーナ) who is simply known in the musical scene as either Ai or AI (in full caps). Born in November 2, 1981, she spent her childhood between the American city and the Japanese prefecture of Kagoshima, both of which have helped the artist to create her own musical style. Ai's musical debut is dated to the year 2000, boasting (as of now) a never-interrupted musical career which currently consists of 10 albums, dozens of singles and a number of award nominations for song/music video contests such as Space Station and MTV Japan's.

For her contribution to the Santaro CM series, Ai has composed and sung a track that she herself was really fond to listen to in her American-influenced childhood, now modernized by a series of lyrics that have been written by Japanese composer Makoto Shinohara (篠原眞). Originally a 100-seconds song, its high launch popularity on music services such as iTunes has made a fruitful occasion for the song to be physically released in a longer version the month later.

Charted for Taiko games by Sasaoka (ササオカ), the playable cut for this CM-spawn song barely passes the 1-minute mark, but its Oni mode makes it to the modern 6* status thanks to a note-packed chart mostly made of 1/16 cluster rhythms, in stark contrast with the earlier-released Oklahoma Mixer's 1/12 and 1/124 charting.

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