[blog] I fangirl an ojisan

Meet my idol of the moment, Keisuke Kuwata. He is 59 this year, desu.

 

keisuke kuwata

 

Whenever I watch a music show, I come out of it with a new discovery most of the time. Not exactly a “discovery” because most of these artists have been around and I have most likely seen them but it’s only that moment I paid attention for one reason or the other.

And this time, for KOHAKU 2014, it’s Southern All Stars, where Kuwata-san is the lead vocalist. He is quite a controversial figure in Japan because one of the band’s songs is deemed critical of the current administration of Shinzo Abe. In fact, their performance at KOHAKU got mixed reviews. The song, Peace and Hi-Lite, is seen as a criticism of the Abe administration’s defence policy (though it was released in 2013 before PM Abe started his campaign for constitutional reform).

Perhaps it’s the political journalist in me that gets tickled when it comes to artists I admire and any connection with politics (like Arashi joining hands with PM Abe at the Tokyo International Film Festival or Jung Yonghwa shaking hands with Park Geunhye). How much more when they use their music for their advocacy, in Kuwata-san’s case, peace activism.

It’s a rather thorny subject so I’d rather not go there but to illustrate how SAS incorporates political activism in their music, this is a screen capture from one of their concerts when they sang Peace and Hi-Lite (the video had Xi Jinping, Abe, Obama and Park in dancing caricatures).

 

 

sas peace&hilite

 

Watch the performance below:

 

 

For drama fans, Kuwata-san may be familiar because he sang Ashita Hareru Kana, one of the songs from PROPOSAL DAISAKUSEN. (This drama certainly has a very nice OST, including Mongol 800’s Chiisana Koi no Uta.)

 

 

Some random facts about one of Japan’s rock legends:

  • He first formed a band in 1975 when he was a student at the Aoyama Gakuin University but they changed their names several times until they settled for SAS in 1978.
  • He is married to Yuko Hara, who he met while in college and had the same circle of musician friends. She plays the keyboards; they have two sons.
  • In 2010, Kuwata-san was diagnosed with esophageal cancer, which prompted him to take a hiatus. After his surgery and recovery, he returned to the stage in 2011.

Since his illness, Kuwata-san has become more civic-minded. SAS’ performance at KOHAKU (live from their Yokohama concert) was the first in 31 years (I have no idea why they did not perform at the year-end show for three decades. Maybe not invited for their provocative music from before? Provocative in the sense they were “sexually suggestive” and one can just imagine how that sat with the conservatives 30 years ago, and with NHK at that.)

Their KOHAKU 2014 performance below (with what many said was his Hitler mustache) with Peace & Hi-Lite and 東京VICTORY:

 

 

It’s really amusing to see a nearly-60-year-old man rocking it out onstage (one has to see that performance of him wearing Bermuda shorts) but he really looks like he is enjoying himself. Musicians will always be musicians, age, politics and cancer aside.

I’m adding SAS (together with Mongol 800) to my live concert bucket list.

Oh and I really love their 東京VICTORY.

“TOKYO, the world is one!”

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4 thoughts on “[blog] I fangirl an ojisan

  1. PRODAI! Sorry, can’t help it.. xD And SAS is Yamapi’s fave band! LOL! I just can’t imagine his feeling when Kuwata Keisuke sang prodai’s OST.. And and andd.. Yonghwa loves Buzzer Beat, which was starred by Pi! I’m sooo sorry, this is totally unrelated to the post, but I just have to let it out.. ><

    These Japanese artists are just really good in squeezing money out of us, even for people who are not really fans. I also have plans to watch other concerts of Japanese artists outside of my fandom, whom I happen to enjoy their music. I even buy their original albums and some concert DVDs 🙂

    Before this post, I did not bother about SAS, even though I know that Yamapi really loves them. But, I have interest in singers who compose music with certain cause. I'm curious about the lyrics. I might probably start with your recommendation up there, and try to find their best albums.. LOL..

    Thanks for sharing this! 🙂

    • I thought no one would be interested in me fangirling an ojisan hahahaha

      too bad I couldn’t find a translation of the songs especially Peace & Hi-lite but some of the lines are mentioned in the Asahi article I linked.

      I’m thinking of buying a compilation album but Peace & Hi-Lite and Tokyo Victory are some of their more recent songs though.

      thanks for reading!

  2. Southern All-Stars is already a legend. 🙂 I also fangirl ojisans like Tatsuro Yamashita, Senri Oe, and Oda Kazumasa. My brother, who is also a J-Pop freak like me, used to stream Japanese FM stations when he was still at home, and some stations played old stuff which were usually from these guys. I love them for being great composers, multi-instrumentalists, and singers.

    There are “relatively young” ojisans that I have been fangirling for. The members of SMAP, Hyde of L’arc-en-ciel, and Fukuyama Masaharu are already ojisans since they are already in their forties, and in Hyde and Masha’s case, they are already in their mid-forties, though they don’t really look like it.

    After reading this entry, I thought about the five bakas reaching the ojisan stage. I am sure, they’re still be hilarious, handsome, and awesome even if they can’t do backflips and other stunts anymore come their golden years! 🙂

    • oh I love Tatsuro Yamashita too! and I’m glad we get to discover some of Japan’s awesome ojisans… mostly through watching Arashi too. I also love TM Network, whose keyboardist coined the “digitalian” term in Japan.

      I’m hoping though that the five bakas won’t be dancing like trying to be young onstage when they’re full ojisans. but I think they’re aware of that and want to evolve XD

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