Idols of the 80s #2: Okada Yukiko and Yamaguchi Momoe

By Michael Diana

Welcome back to Mediabug Music! It’s me, Michael! Yes, I’m still here gurl, and I’m also still talking about idols from 30-plus years ago in my second installment of my 80s idols series. I’m calling today’s edition “careers cut short,” and I’ll bet you’ll be shocked when I tell you why.

First, we have . . .

okada yukiko 001

Okada Yukiko (stage name)
Debut: “First Date,” 84/04/21 after winning “Star Tanjo!”

Yes, you saw that correctly. Okada Yukiko did, in fact, have her career cut short when she died suddenly, but more on that in a minute. Born in Aichi prefecture, she first appeared in the Nagoya area preliminaries for “Star Tanjo!” in October, 1982. Her third single, “Dreaming Girl ~Koi, Hajimemashite~,” was her first top ten single and also garnered her the award for Rookie of the Year at the 26th Japan Record Awards. After that, all of her singles were in the top ten, with her final single “Kuchibiru Network” being her first/only number 1. While her career only lasted for two years, she managed to release eight singles and four albums, which were generally commercially successful, though perhaps not on par with the likes of Matsuda Seiko and Nakamori Akina. On April 8th, 1986, someone who lived in the same building as Yukiko smelled gas coming from her apartment and called 110. When they found her with her wrists cut, she was still alive and was taken to the nearest hospital, where she was treated. Shortly thereafter, having been taken to the building where her agency was located, she jumped from the roof and died, as you probably inferred. She didn’t leave a note or talk to anyone between when she was found and when she died, so no one knows what she was struggling with in her personal life. A sad end to a young girl’s life.

Songs of Note

First Date

Dreaming Girl ~Koi, Hajimemashite~ (Dreaming Girl ~Hello, Love~)

Kanashii Yokan (Sad Premonition)

Kuchibiru Network (Lips Network)

Our next story has a happier ending.

yamaguchi momoe 001

Yamaguchi Momoe
b. 59/01/17
Debut: “Toshigoro,”  73/05/21 after coming in second on “Star Tanjo!”

Although she wasn’t actually active for the majority of the 80s- her last single was released in November of 1980- I’m including her in this series because she influenced a lot of what happened in the 80s as far as idols were concerned.  Notably, she was a big influence on Nakamori Akina, and in a way was the mold in which Akina was set as an idol. Momoe’s earlier songs also had that sort of provocative quality Akina’s  songs had. In particular, her second single “Aoi Kajitsu”/”Unripe Fruit” had suggestive lyrics such as, “If you wish it/You can do anything you want to me/I don’t care if there are rumors/that I’m a bad girl,”  which got plenty of media attention (always a good thing, right?). The majority of her singles and albums were very successful, and she was perhaps the most successful, popular idol of her day. However, at the height of her career in 1980, she got engaged to Miura Tomokazu, with whom she shared numerous on-screen romances and one real-life romance, and decided to retire from the music industry. This was possibly also because she was bored singing the same songs over and over, but that wasn’t necessarily the impetus for her retirement. While her career as a singer did end in 1980, she wrote a handful of lyrics for other singers and a memoir, and she was also often featured in tabloids throughout the 80s.  True to form, her popularity still holds out today, and her most iconic songs are still being covered. I personally really enjoy her oeuvre (well, I enjoyed the single collection I rented from Tsutaya), so choosing songs to have you all listen to was kind of tough.

Songs of Note

Aoi Kajitsu (Unripe Fruit)

Imitation Gold

Cosmos [the flower]

Sayonara no Mukougawa (The other side of Goodbye)

On a final note, I’d like to apologize for a lot of the videos I chose last time being deleted pretty much immediately. It happens sometimes, but hopefully from here on it won’t happen as often (I don’t think it’ll be an issue after this series on idols is over, but please bear with me for now).

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One thought on “Idols of the 80s #2: Okada Yukiko and Yamaguchi Momoe

  1. Pingback: April 2015, Vol. 2 | Good Morning Aomori produced by Aomori AJET

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