dimanche 19 février 2017

Choo Choo TRAIN (Eng)

After seeing the presentations of EXILE and ZOO, the most informed have probably guessed that I was soon going to speak about Choo Choo TRAIN and its famous choreography 😏. Here is indeed the article on this railway-lover winter song which is making a living for these 2 bands, and also for the advertisers and otakus for more than 25 years !

Choo Choo TRAIN

Snow "D." Train...


1st publication: 18/02/2017
Last updated: 31/03/2018

J-Music Hits: Choo Choo Train ZOO


Menu
Story
Music Video
Lyrics
Personal translation
Anecdotes, posterity
Main performers


Story


This song is the 4th single of the band ZOO, born from a Japanese TV show about modern dance, and it is written by Satô Alice (佐藤ありす), lyrics writer for Idols and Anison in the 80s-90s (animation movies Sailor Moon...), and composed like some other tracks of them by the young Nakanishi Keizou (中西 圭三) who participates sometimes to the backvocals. The arrangement is done by  Iwasaki Yasunori (岩崎文紀), who generally works in Anison (anime movies One Piece...). The result is a very dynamique tune, full of party celebrations slogans on a groovy background.
The title quite childish comes simply from the fact that it was an order for a TV commercial campaign for the national railways company of Japan, the Japan Railways (JR), of which all the tourists know the famous JR Pass, and more precisely of his East branch. This campaign called 「JR東日本 SKI SKI」 (JR Higashi Nihon Ski Ski) was made in order to make the Japanese to enjoy the (rare) winter holidays to go to ski by train. The 1st time in 1990, the goal was to introduce the brand new Shinkansen station (Japanese bullet train) GALA - Yuzawa, joining this ski resort located in Niigata prefecture to Tokyo in less than 1h30! The 2nd year, the campaign is more general and is tied-up for the 1st time by a J-Pop song with an explicit title then, Choo Choo TRAIN. Afterward, the campaign would be remade several time, taking advantage of, as well as amplifying, numerous J-Pop and J-Rock hits (Globe - Departures, GLAY - Winter, again, Man With A Mission - Memories...) !
The campaign which interests us here begins in October 1991, and the single is released on the 7th of November 1991. It reaches 3rd place of the weekly Oricon and exceeds the million sales. If the title is a reference to the JR, it is also one to the American duet then solo disco-dub D. TRAIN whose song Keep on is sampled in the track on an idea of Konishi Takao (小西貴雄), another young composer-songwriter for ZOO who will then make hits for SMAP, AAA, the Hello! Project (Matsuura Aya, Morning Musume...), Hirose Kômi...

J-Music Hits: Choo Choo Train ZOO

It's in the ad spot, filmed in the snow and before the ZOO Music Video that one could already see the most stricking part of the single: the members align one behind another in fornt of the camera and start moving the superior part of the body in circle, with a slight delay. They obtain thus a quite hypnotical figuration of a steam locomotive's wheels, or of a musical canon ! But let's have a look...

Music Video:

Curiously this choreography is not always displayed in the TV version of the ZOO's MV, shot in an urban landscape, a club and a theme park... (cf. screenshots). You can easily find on the web some versions where the commercial spot and its making-of are stuck in intro of the MV itself. Same for the 2008 TV clip of their direct inheritors of EXILE; you can see it briefly at the start on YouTube. To really enjoy it with a good quality and an official channel, here is a live of EXILE (EXILE PERFECT LIVE 2008). While ZOO rotates like a watch (from front view), EXILE turns in the inverse direction and adds a reel of the arm:


Lyrics and romaji :

(Karaoke version from M-ON TV of EXILE 2008)
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J-Music Hits: Choo Choo Train ZOO
Fun Fun We hit the step step
Fun ! Fun ! We hit the step ! Step !
同じ風の中, We know We love Oh
Onaji kaze no naka, we know, we love, Oh !
Heat Heat (The) beat’s like a skip skip
Heat ! Heat ! Th'beat’s like a skip ! Skip !
ときめきを運ぶよ Choo Choo TRAIN
Tokimeki wo hakobu yo, Choo Choo TRAIN
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まだ知らない Zone めざすよ tonight
Mada shiranai zone mezasu yo, tonight...
リアルな時が止まる edge of time
REAL na toki ga tomaru, edge of time...
誰も cry or smile
Dare mo cry or smile
昨日 I forget
Kinô, I forget
脱ぎ捨てて
Nugisutete
自由になる good trip
Jiyû ni naru, good trip !
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月明かりに freak 誘えば my bro.
Tsukiakari ni freak sasoeba, my brothe'...
みんな巻きこみ急ぐ edge of time
Minna makikomi isogu, edge of time...
胸に Who's that guy
Mune ni: Who's that guy ?
届く I don't care
Todoku ? I don't care
merry sympathy
merry sympathy
一つになる just now
Hitotsu ni naru, just now !
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Fun Fun We hit the step step
Fun ! Fun ! We hit the step ! Step !
So don't keep yourself to yourself, We know We love Oh
So don't keep yourself to yourself, we know, we love, Oh !
Heat Heat, (The) beat’s like a skip skip
Heat ! Heat ! Th'beat’s like a skip ! Skip !
To the Paradise, Take me please Oh Choo Choo TRAIN
To the Paradise, take me please, Ô Choo Choo TRAIN
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変わりそうな scene 追いかけ one night
Kawarisou na scene oikake, one night...
出かけようこのドアに Say good-bye
Dekake you, kono DOOR ni say good-bye...
ビルの up side down
BIRU* no up side down
森を round and round
Mori wo round and round
抜け出して
Nukedashite

始めるのさ good trip
Hajimeru no sa, good trip !
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Fun Fun We hit the step step
Fun ! Fun ! We hit the step ! Step !
肩を抱き合えば, We know We love Oh
Kata wo dakiaeba, we know, we love, Oh !
Heat Heat (The) beat’s like a skip skip
Heat ! Heat ! Th'beat’s like a skip ! Skip !
駆け出して跳び乗る Choo Choo TRAIN
Kakedashite, tobinoru Choo Choo TRAIN
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Fun Fun We hit the step step
同じ風の中, We know We love Oh
Heat Heat (The) beat’s like a skip skip
Heat ! Heat ! Th'beat’s like a skip ! Skip !
ときめきを運ぶよ Choo Choo TRAIN
Tokimeki wo hakobu yo, Choo Choo TRAIN
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Fun Fun We hit the step step
肩を抱き合えば, We know We love Oh
Kata wo dakiaeba, We know We love Oh
Heat Heat (The) beat’s like a skip skip
Heat ! Heat ! Th'beat’s like a skip ! Skip !
駆け出して跳び乗る Choo Choo TRAIN
Kakedashite, tobinoru Choo Choo TRAIN
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La la la...
Wowowo...
La la la...
2x

Personal Translation:

Fun ! Fun ! We hit the step, step !
In the same wind, we know, we love, Oh !
Heat ! Heat ! Th'beat’s like a skip, skip !
Bring us good vibes, Choo Choo TRAIN
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J-Music Hits: Choo Choo Train ZOOLet's go to a still unknown zone, tonight...
The real time got frozen, edge of time...
Everybody cry or smile
(But) I forget yesterday
I get ride of it
I get free, good trip !
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Under the moon's influence, what about becoming freak, my bro'...
Everybody, hurry up and ride on, edge of time...
In my heart : Who's that guy ?
Reaching him ? I don't care
Merry sympathy
Become one, just now !
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Fun ! Fun ! We hit the step, step !
So don't keep yourself to yourself, we know, we love, oh !
Heat ! Heat ! Th'beat’s like a skip, skip !
To the Paradise, Take me please, Ô Choo Choo TRAIN
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Let's chase this ever changing scene, one night...
Let's go out ! To that door, say good-bye...
Buildings* upside down
The forest, round and round
let's escape
C'mon, let's start, good trip !
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Fun ! Fun ! We hit the step, step !
What if we hold each others' shoulders, we know, we love, oh !
Heat ! Heat ! Th'beat’s like a skip, skip !
Let's run away, let's jump in the Choo Choo TRAIN
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Fun ! Fun ! We hit the step, step !
In the same wind, we know, we love, Oh !
Heat ! Heat ! Th'beat’s like a skip, skip !
Bring us good vibes, Choo Choo TRAIN
|
Fun ! Fun ! We hit the step, step !
What if we hold each others' shoulders, we know, we love, oh !
Heat ! Heat ! Th'beat’s like a skip, skip !
Let's run away, let's jump in the Choo Choo TRAIN
|
La la la...
Wowowo...
La la la...
2x

Interpretations Notes:

*ビル (BIRU): abreviation of building, is often used in the buildings names ("tatemono" in Japanese normally). Not to mistake with ビール (BIIRU for beer) ^^ !

Anecdotes, posterity :

The dance scenes in black and white of the Music Video remind of, and are probably were inspired by, the clip of Straight up, by the singer and choreographer Paula Abdul, directed by David Fincher (Fight Club...), released a bit more than 1 year before and which won a lot of prizes. 
The choregraphy used for Choo Choo Train has become a meme of the otaku and Japanese pop culture, used in numerous ads, animes, video games... !! Here are some examples:

  • A jingle of the 4th channel, MBS, starring its mascot Lion-chan (yon=4 😉)
J-Music Hits: Choo Choo Train MBS

  • The heroines of Joshi-raku in their opening (an humorous anime in the world of the Rakugo)
J-Music Hits: Choo Choo Train Joshiraku
  • the game Dragon Quest IX
  • the series Ressha Sentai Toqger
  • a TV ad of Softbank in 2016 (with members of EXILE TRIBE)
  • the 6th Ending of Bleach with the Mod Souls
J-Music Hits: Choo Choo Train Bleach
  • the game Dance Dance Revolution (2013)
  • fans of EXILE make it in the PV Believe in yourself
  • The clip Ichigo by Yuzu
  • The clip Ikuze! Kaitô Shôjo by Momoiro Clover Z
  • ...

Following the success of Choo Choo TRAIN, the East JR signs ZOO band for the 3 following winter campaigns, until their disband in 1995 !
In Japanese, the equivalent for choo choo would be ぽっぽ "poppo" 😉.
The song was covered in 1998 by 中西 圭三 (Nakanishi Keizou), his original composer. This work and his own single Woman, had granted him an invitation to the Kouhaku of 1992 !
As well, the 1st cover by EXILE in 2003 allowed them a 1st appearance to the famous NHK New Year's Eve (see Main Perfomers section).
The song is present in the catalogs of the rythme games Beatmania IIDX and Reflec beat under more or less remixed versions.

Main Performers

Affiliated links to CD Japan with audio samples.
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Choo Choo TRAIN - JR ski ski campaign song / ZOO
ZOO : first performers in 1991; présentation ici.
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Annie Yi (aka Inô Shizuka) : the Taiwanese actress and singer, whose father-in-law is Japanese, performed it in 1993.
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Band of Gypsies et Miriam Stockley : the dance duet and the British singer released (only ? in Japan, by Avex) an album of ZOO remix called Song of ZOO Meets House Style in 1993 too, which includes of course Choo Choo TRAIN.
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All Time Best - Keizo's 25th Anniversary / Keizo Nakanishi
中西 圭三 (Nakanishi Keizou) : the composer of the song, who has too a singer career, covers it in 1998.
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Vlidge: this duo released it as a single in 2002, with a rap part and a different lyrics order.
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EXILE ENTERTAINMENT / EXILE
EXILE / EXILE Tribe : founded by an ex-ZOO, the band (see présentation ici) covers it naturally in 2003 with 5 members, then again through a 6-member Music Video in 2008 (in a post-apocalyptic Mad Max / Hokuto no Ken style). In 2003, it was used as a theme for a TV Asahi show, which had renewed the interest for the song, in particular in karaoke, so that nowadays their version, of high fidelity, is at least as famous as the original.
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J-Music Hits: Choo Choo Train EXILE


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Sources: Wikipedia JP, diverse TV shows, kanji : karaoke subtitles of EXILE's MV on M-on TV

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