Music To My Ears…

An innocent quest through Apple Music led me to a surprising discovery. As I’ve stated before, I love music! Oldies, classic rock, R&B, hip hop and so on. Big shout out to my homies Karmen and Marcus. They told me to get on Apple Music a few months ago but I was living that iPhone 4s life and wasn’t really thinking about that. But now that I have this young 6s, I’m exploring all of the luxuries that come with it. One of the luxuries is Apple Music. I’m not here to tell you that it’s better than any other music streaming platform or anything like that. I like it and that’s all that matters to me…you rock with what you like.

Earlier today I was sitting at work and suddenly got the urge to hear the song “Rock The Boat” by Hues Corporation. I typed in the name of the song on Apple Music and the first song that popped up wasn’t the version I wanted (they sent me to the Midnight Star version of the song which I wasn’t feeling). So I had to search Google to find the name of the group, Hues Corporation. After the name search, I punched in the name of the song and jammed to the music for 3 minutes and some change. After it ended, I continued to listen to other songs on Jukebox Hits, Vol. 1. I skimmed through a few songs and made a surprising discovery. Song 22 on this volume of the hits is titled “Sukiyaki” by Kyu Sakamoto. The name of the song in Japanese is “Ue o Muite Aruko” – which means “I Look Up As I Walk” – reached the number 1 spot on the Billboard 100 in 1963. Sakamoto was the first Asian recording artist to top the charts.

As the song played it immediately stuck out in my mind but I couldn’t figure out what it was. Then as I listened on, it hit me. The whistling of the chorus on “Sukiyaki” reminded me of a few lines from the song “La Di Da Di” by Doug E Fresh and MC Ricky D (bka Slick Rick).

“It’s all because of you, I’m feeling sad and blue.
You went away, and now my life is filled with rainy days.
I love you so, how much you’ll never know,
Cause you took your love away from me”  1.

So my next step was to find the song that “La Di Da Di” sampled. My search led me to the band – A Taste of Honey – most famously known for their 1978 number 1 hit “Boogie Oogie Oogie.” In 1981 the band decided to cover “Sukiyaki” in English. “Sukiyaki” has also been covered and/or sampled by various artists including the likes of Mexican-American sensation Selena (A Taste of Honey version), the R&B group 4 P.M. (Sakamoto version), singer Jewel Akens (Sakamoto version), and rap legend Snoop Dogg (he used the “Sukiyaki” theme from the A Taste of Honey version for his song “Lodi Dodi”; which is also a sample of Doug E Fresh and Slick Rick’s version of “La Di Da Di”).

After all of the searching was completed I found out that Doug E Fresh and Slick Rick’s use of the lyrics from A Touch of Honey’s version of “Sukiyaki” can only be found on an original version of their song “La Di Da Di” due to lack of sample clearances. How funny is that? “La Di Da Di” is a highly quoted/sampled song in its own right. A number of artists from different genres have covered or sampled portions of the hit song. Doug E Fresh who is known as the “Human Beat Box” released the song in 1985 with his more popular hit song “The Show.” All Jackson State fans should be very familiar with that tune. “La Di Da Di” is still a fan favorite to this day as it is requested when Doug E Fresh takes the stage to perform.

The start and ending of my musical conquest is amazing for a few reasons. The first reason is because of the number of languages the song “Sukiyaki” has been recorded in. I don’t know what is being said in the original version recorded by Sakamoto but I can feel the depth that makes it a great song. From the sound of Sakamoto’s voice to the melody of the music. The second reason is the popularity and success of the songs related to “Sukiyaki.” This adds to how great the original version is. It also shows that talented artists with “good ears” have been able to piggyback the original versions of these songs and make great versions themselves. That’s not always the case when it comes to samples and remakes. Lastly it shows how regardless of language or genre, music can span the world. A song from Japan was able to influence a R&B group in America almost 20 years later to do a remake.  That remake not only influenced many other artists to put their own spin on the song but added lyrics to one of the best rap songs in history. “Cause we like to party“…sound familiar?





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