Tuesday, January 03, 2012

Decisive Battle (of Musical Trivia)

Fellow nerds, help me out.

So I like Pink Lady, the Japanese duo who scored big in the late 70s and early 80s and, as I noted in a now-years-old post, ultimately wound up on a variety show on NBC despite the fact that neither member spoke English. (It’s quite the story, actually. Do click through to the original post, if you value from truly bizarre east-meets-west pop culture fusion.) And I recently happened upon a cache of Pink Lady videos on YouTube and caught the follwing rendition of “Southpaw.”

The music at the beginning — from 0:07 onward especially — reminded me of a Final Fantasy battle theme, but I can’t remember which. I can hear it in my head, but I just can’t place the game it came from. I poked around some more on YouTube and ended up with what seems to be a remade, hyped-up version of one of the original NES Final Fantasy tracks.

And this is pretty close, I guess, but the thing is I never played this glossy version of the original Final Fantasy. So is this it? Or is it a different battle theme I’m thinking of? If it is, in fact, this Final Fantasy 1 song, I’m guessing that the game music was a tribute to Pink Lady, since “Southpaw” came out in 1978, nine years before Final Fantasy taught the world about Red Mages and Bahamut. I eagerly await your thoughtful responses on this most urgent matter.

In testament to the greatness of Pink Lady, I’ll point out that they’re one of only two Japanese artists to ever appear on the American Billboard Top 40, the other being Kyu Sakamoto, whose 1961 globe-spanning hit found considerable success in the U.S. as “Sukiyaki.” (The song’s path from a tearful Japanese song to an American hit about a stewed beef dish made for another previous post on this blog, by the way.) Here’s that one American-approved Pink Lady song, “Kiss in the Dark”:

Clearly, it did well with the disco crowd. It’s all the more impressive to me because the Pink Lady singers were singing the translated, English lyrics phonetically. Truthfully, they hadn’t a clue what they were saying, not that their performance reflects this.

But yes — nerds? What say you?

Video games and pop music, previously:


  1. I was hoping to find some great Japanese language interview by Nobuo Uematsu (the guy who wrote the Final Fantasy music) saying that he was inspired by Pink Lady, but sadly I could not. I did however find a couple of Japanese forum posters who agree with you, and Nobuo Uematsu says that he was inspired by '70s Jpop, so it's likely that this is the case.

  2. Man, that's pretty close! And if Uematsu loved 70s J-pop, maybe Pepper Keibu is some long lost Rad Racer song.

    It bugs me most when one game song sounds like another that I just can't place. My most recent issue has been trying to identify which Zelda song Grace and Glory from JSRF sounds like: http://bit.ly/zyiPOw The closest I could get was this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CqZXoRdQsGY

  3. Godaigamer: I actually know very little about Uematsu's contemporary music influences. Konjo Kondo and Keiichi Suzuki, sure. But I feel like I've never read anything extensive on what newer stuff Uematsu uses.

  4. Ian: The only think I'm getting is something vaguely like the music you hear when Link reads the Book of Mudora in the desert. But that's just a melodic similarity.

  5. That FF track is pretty close, but at the 7-second mark, the first thing that came to my mind was the Ghouls 'n Ghosts theme. Try listening to this Genesis version starting around the 18-second mark: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PqgUuL87ziM

    It starts off sounding about right, but the melody falls out after a few seconds.

  6. Brad: I totally hear it. Interesting. However, Final Fantasy 1 predates Ghouls 'n Ghosts. Isn't that weird? I would have sworn that the latter would be older. Still, that's maybe the closest yet.