Let’s start today’s post with a question…
Some of you may have caught the connection right away, just by looking at the pictures of the artists. But for those who may not be familiar with, or fans of, some of the artists in this picture, you still might find this pretty interesting…
It’s hard for me to pass up a perfectly good chance for karaoke. Fairly recently I went to my good friend Gareth’s farewell pretty (the Nintendo music, piano dude) and we all went to karaoke. I sang my usual songs, Michael Jackson’s “Rock With You,” Stevie Wonder’s “I Just Called to Say I Love You,” “A Whole New World” (yes, I sing Jasmine’s part, lol) etc.. That’s pretty standard with karaoke, people always have their favorites that they like to sing. However, one of the students sang a song that instantly caught my ear because the tune was soooo familiar. The name of the song was Ue wo Muite Arukou. I have also heard this song simply called Sukiyaki (I think Sukiyaki was the name of the album here in Japan, but don’t quote me on that).
When I heard the tune, I immediately thought to myself “Hey! That’s Slick Rick’s song! That’s La Di Da Di!” My brain started clicking. Though it was a rather slow epiphanic process, it was really interested to search my brain for the source of this song. I knew Slick Rick had sampled the song from this lady; I could hear her voice in my head but couldn’t put a name to it. I wanted to say she was from a group in the late 70s or early 80s. For the longest time I was thinking that this lady’s song was the original version. But as I looked at the karaoke display of a young Kyu Sakamoto, and the video looked like something from the 60’s…it was even in black and white. Then it all hit me…I was looking at the original version!!
As I rode home, that song was SO stuck in my head that I couldn’t stop humming it to myself. Then my brain started connecting that same hook to other artists and songs (Mary J. Blige and Will Smith for example). The song is simple and extremely catchy, not to mention the Japanese lyrics are pretty easy to follow, too. Here’s the 1961 Kyu Sakamoto song:
See if you can find the same hook in this 1985 La Di Da Di Song by Slick Rick and Doug E Fresh…
This was the song I though was the original, but it was actually one of the first covers (1981) I remember hearing of the Japanese, Kyu Sakamato song by the group “A Taste of Honey.”
or how about 1997 song “Everything” by Mary J. Blige?
or the 1999 “So Fresh” by DJ Jazzy Jeff and The Fresh Prince (Will Smith)
The original tune performed by Kyu Sakamoto (written by Rokusuke Ei) has been covered quite a few times in hip-hop and R&B and will continue to be. The ones that stick in my head most are the ones above (La Di Da Di by Slick Rick, by Slick Rick again in the Will Smith Song “So Fresh,” and Mary J. Blige’s Everything). As far as rap is concerned, Slick Rick’s La Di Da Di is considered a true classic; it’s good to finally know what the source is. Kyu Sakamoto links all of these artists together.
If the song gets stuck in your head the way it did for me, I sincerely apologize in advance 😀
See you next time!