Monday, 7 December 2009


Last night we went to Karaoke.  I used to go from time to time, usually in Ikebukuro or Shinjuku, when we had Lonely Planet Thorn Tree gatherings but haven't been for ages, and never with Hiro.  Karaoke is part of my speaking better Japanese campaign - it's good for reading and pronunciation practice.  I don't know that many songs in Japanese, but songs here do seem to be designed for karaoke.... something like Bob Dylan or even Bruce Springsteen very definitely is not.   To sing a song at karaoke you actually need to know the tune quite well, since they don't necessarily play the melody line.... fortunately I know a couple reasonably mostly because at  the last school I was at, the staff had to sing at the end of year assembly.   (My first year I assumed we had to memorise the song so spent several hours by myself at Sugamo karaoke place trying to remember the words - cringe... even more cringe worthy... - I felt like such a doofus when everyone carried the song sheets on stage....)

Karaoke-kan (karoke places) are not like Australian karaoke where it is really drunk extroverts / narcissists/ attention seekers competing at the local pub for the microphone and everyone unconnected with the singer rolling their eyes or trying to grab the mic....   Japanese karaoke you have your own little room, own tv set, own microphones (2 per room), you can order food and drinks. (or hmmm. hmm. hmmm whisper.... smuggle your own in.....)

The song I know best in Japanese is tsubasa o kudasai  which probably translates literally as 'I'd like some wings please'. (the one I tried to memorise)...  It was a hit here in the early 70s but has remained a solid favourite - the kind of song everyone knows.  I was surprised to hear Susan Boyle singing an English version of it, Wings to Fly,  on the radio the other day, though apparently the song is only on the Japanese version of the CD.    I have pasted tsubasa wo kudasai below.   I looked for a version with subtitles, for the benefit of anyone who can read Japanese.  The video clip is of the Japanese soccer team and their effort to get to the last world cup.
The singing doesn't actually start till about 35 seconds into the clip.
(The youtube censors got to it, this is a non subtitled version.)
The English version by Susan Boyle (the one I had embedded originally has been taken down from youtube, if it has gone again you can probably find it with a search of Susan Boyle Wings to Fly on youtube)

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