Large scale musical events around the holidays in Japan are a pretty commonplace occurrence, but one in particular piqued my interest this year. Right at the New Year NHK aired a program titled “E Uta: Kokoro no Daibouken”, a family-focused special that featured covers of nostalgic children’s songs meant to please all ages. One particular featured song is likely somewhat obscure to the younger generation in Japan but appreciated by children of the ’80s and fans of synthesizer music pioneer Ryuichi Sakamoto. And that’s where my interest in the program lies.
In 1981 Ryuichi Sakamoto composed a song entitled “Computer Obaachan” for NHK Radio’s “Sound Street” program. The adorable song features a young girl, Shuuko Sakai, singing about her love for her “computer grandma”, who is regarded as such for being so knowledgable and worldly. In addition to the unbelievably cute concept, Sakamoto’s synthpop composition brings the track together in a way that music lovers of any age or nationality should likely find it hard not to enjoy.
Now that you have a bit of background, let’s get back to the program and where Perfume comes into the story. As one of the performers on the program, the trio covers Sakamoto’s classic track, and frankly, it might be one of the most appropriate covers I’ve ever encountered in my years. If there’s any one children’s song that would be perfect for A~chan, Kashiyuka, and Nocchi to perform it would be this one. See for yourself:
As a group who’s also known for their expertly crafted dance routines and elaborate stage visuals, this short and sweet live performance hits all of the right marks. Their vocals suit the song perfectly, and their dance moves are sharp and perfectly timed with the key elements of the song in a way that ties the whole package together. But Perfume isn’t the first Japanese act with notoriety in the United States to cover “Computer Obaachan”, that title belongs to Hiroyuki Hayashi and his band, POLYSICS.
Their cover of the tune has long been one of my favorite songs they perform, and is thankfully available as a studio recording as they originally performed this for a children’s album in Japan titled “Rock for Baby”. Fans of Konami’s BEMANI title “pop’n music” may also recognize the song, as it was covered by Seiya Murai for the 9th installment of the game back in 2002 with a full version featured on his “0/1 ANGEL” album. Here’s hoping that Perfume follows suit and releases a studio recording of their cover in some way because although the other covers are fantastic in their own right, theirs has easily trumped them and quickly become my personal favorite.