By Michael Diana
Welcome back from Golden Week! I’m sure all of you, like me, are less than thrilled! Anyway, I went to Okinawa recently, so I thought I would introduce an Okinawan singer to all of you! Of course, there are plenty of Okinawan singers in Japan, ranging from the very commercial Amuro Namie and Gackt, to the very… Okinawan, like the band BEGIN (they wrote/performed that song Urashimataro from the au commercials sang in one of them, and appeared with him on Music Station for those of you paying attention to that kind of thing). Naturally, between two extremes you have the . . . in-between.
Debut: “COCKO” single (indies) 1996.11.21 “Countdown” 1997.3.21 (major debut)
Cocco is a Japanese singer who was born in Okinawa, as you may have guessed from my preface-like statement at the beginning of this article. She rose to popularity with her third single “Tsuyoku Hakanai Monotachi,” which is still her best known song with the highest sales of any of her other singles. It’s (hashtag)iconic.
As a child, her dream apparently was not to be a singer, but to be a dancer. She was very active in pursuing ballet auditions, but one day her sister told her about a singing audition in Tokyo. She said, “Hey if you do this you can probably go to even more ballet auditions for FREE” or something to similar effect. She didn’t pass the vocal audition, but she made enough of an impact to get a call a little while later, and thus began her music career. Her style is pop, but more of a relaxed sort of pop-rock, and her lyrics are . . . not super upbeat in general, but are influenced by the ocean and Okinawa (see: “Nirai Kanai,” which in Okinawan myth is the land of the gods and also where the souls of the deceased go; it’s located far across the ocean, which is why most graves in Okinawa are facing the ocean).
In 2001, she took a break from music and released a picture book in 2002. She officially came back in 2006, when she also began living in the UK and going to university to study photography. She remains somewhat active now, but she doesn’t release music with the regularity of AKB or anything.
Tsuyoku Hakanai Monotachi
Panda ni Banana
Hoshi ni Negai wo