Daily Archives: May 23, 2012

AKB48 Rule the Roost

AKB48, Akimoto Yasushi

A couple of stories today that prove just how dominant a commercial force AKB48 are. Their latest single, “Manatsu no Sounds Good!” has not only entered the Oricon charts at No.1 as expected but has set a new record for release-day sales. The single sold a whopping 1.171 million copies on its first day alone, beating the group’s own record of 1.046 million sold by “Kaze wa Fuiteiru.” It is also their seventh straight million-selling single. One gimmick that helped boost sales of the new single is that every copy entitles the owner to one vote in the upcoming “election” to choose members for the next project. That event will be held at Nippon Budokan on June 6.

And the Japanese Society for Rights of Authors, Composers and Publishers (JASRAC) today published its annual ranking of the most successful royalty-generating hits of last year. The figures are based on revenues generated not only by music sales but also from karaoke and other commercial uses. And not surprisingly the girl group with the ever-changing lineup claimed all the top spots and had five of the top 10 places. The biggest money spinner of last year was the appropriately titled “Heavy Rotation,” followed by “Ponytail to Shushu,” “Beginner” and “Everyday no Kachusha.” Pop rock band Ikimono-gakari grabbed a bit of the limelight with “Arigatou” in 5th place, followed by AKB48 again in 6th with “Aitakatta.” The guru behind the group, Akimoto Yasushi (56, photo center), is also the producer and lyricist for all five of those major hits, meaning he is making some very serious Yen indeed.

Meanwhile, the top 10 most commercially successful Japanese songs overseas were all from popular anime, led by “Doraemon BGM.”

Stars Bid Farewell to their Don

Nagara Jun

Just about every major Japanese celebrity turned out yesterday for a memorial service for Nagara Jun, who died in an accident on a Hawaii golf course on May 2 at the age of 74. Known as the “Don” of the entertainment world, he was the chairman of the Nagara Productions talent management agency. He is credited with building some of the best-known showbiz careers of the last half-century, particularly in the world of enka music. Some 5,000 people made their way to Aoyama Sougisho funeral home in central Tokyo.

Born in the downtown Tokyo district of Asakusa in 1938 the son of a traditional naniwabushi storyteller, Nagara’s real name was Kanbayashi Yoshitada. He entered the world of showbiz in 1958 and became manager of some of the major stars of the day, setting up his own agency in 1964. He went on to groom a great many celebrities who would become household names, such as enka singers Mizumori Kaori and Hikawa Kiyoshi, and actors Umemiya Tatsuo, Nakamura Tamao and Gucchi Yuzo. He also produced many hits by A teary-eyed Hikawa (34) said yesterday, “The chairman’s spirit will live on in my heart forever. I will strive to repay my debt to him and become a fully developed singer.”