jeudi 15 juin 2017

ZARD (Eng)

J-Pop band more or less informal and quickly reduced to its beautiful singer Sakai Izumi, ZARD shined across the 1990-2000 years surrounded by an aura as mysterious as sweet, delighting millions of fans of all ages through her hits for animes (Dragon Ball, Détective Conan, Slam Dunk...) and dramas (Kekkon no Risou, Shiratori Reiko de gozaimasu...), before brutally fainting away in 2007, 10 years before I create this article. 

ZARD

The Hidden Star of J-Pop




1st publication : 2017/06/15
Last update: 2017/06/15

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Presentation


The project "ZARD" is formed in 1991 around Sakai Izumi, a 24-year-old model who had just passed an audition for the Major Being, who immediately chooses her to sing the theme song of a drama it was co-producing: Kekkon no Risou to Kenjitsu. This song, Good-bye my loneliness, is released in February 1991 and reaches the weekly Oricon Top 10. This career start is so sudden that it is not yet sure she can perform in solo. Being's musicians are commissioned to follow her first steps and they are finally credited as band members from the 2nd album until the start of 1993, when ZARD becomes officially a solo project, and she will then work with different support members. The name of ZARD is chosen for its numerous occurences in English and for the sound and originality of having a name starting with Z. The other official members were thus:

  • Machida Fumihito (町田文人), guitars, credited until 1993. He goes on a career in support, composition and arrangement. In 2017 particularly, he participates to the Japanese version of Rock of Ages.

  • Hoshi Hiroyasu (星弘泰), bass, credited until 1992. In the 2010s, he appears in an indies band, Taneoka band.
  • Michikura Kôsuke (道倉康介), drums, credited until 1992. In the 2010s, he appears in an indies jazz-oriented band, Yasuda Takashi TRIO.
  • Ikezawa Kimitaka (池澤公隆), keyboards, credited until 1993.


  • Sakai Izumi (坂井泉水) was born Kamachi Sachiko (蒲池 幸子) on the 6th of February 1967 in Kurume, in the prefecture of Fukuoka, north of Kyûshû island, and lives a normal life in family. She starts learning piano at 4 and gets interested in different forms of art. After graduating from a university in Atsugi, near Yokohama, she starts as an office lady before being scouted by a "talento" agency as a model. As her dream was to become a singer, she takes this opportunity, which allows her to make a campaign for a karaoke company for instance. It seems however that her simple and shy nature can hardly stand the glamorous and sexy image of the mannequin world. Hopefully just 2 years later, she is introduced by her agency to the president of the Major Being (B'z, TUBE...) for the audition of a band they are creating for a quite simple anime... Chibi Maruko-chan ! She is not selected for this band, B.B. Queens, but retains attention. When she is proposed the project ZARD, she changes her name for Izumi, takes a far more natural look and will even hardly appear in the media once her success launched.



As a matter of fact, Sakai Izumi gets more and more confidence and receives her 1st successes in 1993, first with Makenaide (負けないで) in January, then Yureru Omoi (揺れる想い) in May, which both reach the 1st place of the weekly Top Single Oricon and the million of sales ! The album Yureru Omoi released by the end of that year and gathering these 2 hits among others gets itself sold to more than 2 millions. She becomes the best-selling artist of the year. Indeed far from being contented to sing what is given to her, Sakai Izumi appears to be a very prolific and gifted songwriter, writing even for other artists such as WandsDeenField of View in particula for another DB GT song: Dan Dan Kokoro Hikareteku, or also for the famous Taiwanese singer Teresa Teng ! She totalizes more than 150 songs and several poems collections.

Although, very discreet, ZARD barely performed live, all her following singles ranked in the Top 5 until 2000. Among them, the song My Friend, a track of the basket anime Slam Dunk, reaches also the million. The album Oh my love reaches 2 millions and several other the million sales ! But the singer must take a rest during 1 year due to her 1st health problems, refusing an invitation to the Kouhaku of the NHK at the end of 2000. Then she starts again to release singles in 2002 with nearly as much success, in spite of the rising of big rivals (Hamasaki Ayumi, Utada Hikaru, Amuro Namie...), until... 2007 with a last posthume original single, Glorious Mind.

Indeed in 2006 at first, for a tumor in the neck bones and again at her 40 in 2007, Saki Izumi is hospitalized for a lung metastase. She keeps on working on her future songs and even plans a tour, but she is found unconscious at the bottom of an outdoor stair of the hospital and dies from a head injury in the block on the 27th of May. This sudden and unwitnessed death adds tragically another touch of mystery to her myth; more simply, one still ignore if she sliped on a still wet step, or if she had vertigo because of her treatment.

At her death, ZARD was estimed as the 8th best disc seller in Japan of all times with more than 36 millions units. 40 out of her 42 singles arrived in the Top 10 Oricon; she was also holding the record for the singles sales until the coming of Hamasaki Ayumi. With her 1st posthume album reaching charts n°1 in 2008, she reached too the record of female vocal along with the J-pop / nu-soul duet Dreams Come True (11 albums n°1) !


Chibi-review


ZARD is a surprising anti-example of star-system. Aiming rather at running away from a model period, the singer Sakai Izumi doesn't bet much on her body to succeed and on the contrary reveals a rather shy personality, barely appearing in lives (one cruise concert and only one national tour), even on TV (7 interviews in all). Her outfits are generally very simple, often in the Amercan casual look of this era (T-shirt and large shirt, or wide sweater), like Puffy AmiYumi for example, and she rarely put make up. This look of "girl next door" associated to her discretion give her probably a romantic and mysterious, yet familiar, aura. She found her place in her own way through a musical landscape of the 90s quite empty regarding Idols, but soon to be conquered by her opposite, the extrovert Hamasaki Ayumi.

If her voice has no particularly noticeable point, it contributes to this general feeling of sweetness. Her fans praise rather her melody and lyrics. She attracted fans of all ages thanks to the production work of her Major Being: animes (Dragon Ball GT, Slam Dunk, Detective Conan, Yawara...), dramas (Kekkon no Risou to Kenjitsu, Gakkô ga abunai, Shiratori Reiko de Gozaimasu!...), ads...
Musically speaking, ZARD highlights the transition from the beginning of J-Pop, inspired from the New-Wave rock using widely synthesizers and rythm boxes (TM Network...), to the pop-rock ballads oriented J-Pop of nowadays' bands like Ikimonogakariback number... using a more classical instrumentation.

ZARD is so loved that since the very year of her death, 2 "posthume" lives take place in Osaka and at the famous Budokan with real musicians and unpublished videos and recordings of Sakai Izumi. Called What a Beautiful Memory in reference to the name of the sole national tour in 2004 (What a beautiful moment tour), they took place again the following year i the whle country and then for the 20th and 25th debut anniversaries ! A part of the profits was given to a cancer-related association.

 Similars Artists:

Japan: Garnet Crow, Every Little Thing, Kuraki Mai, Hirose Kohmi, Rebecca...
World: Roch Voisine, France Gall-Michel Berger...

Great Standards:

First performer:

- Makenaide
- Yureru Omoi
- My Friend
...

Discography (selection) :

Affiliated links to CD Japan; please activate your cookies if you please m(_ _)m.

1993/07: 1st big hit of ZARD, sold to more than 2 millions units; includes Makenaide (drama Shiratori Reiko de gozaimasu!)Yureru OmoiIn my arms tonight (drama Gakkô ga abunai)...

1994/06 : sold to more than 2 millions units; includes Kitto wasurenai (drama Shiratori Reiko de gozaimasu!), Mou sukoshi ato sukoshi (drama Lullaby keiji '93)...

TODAY IS ANOTHER DAY / ZARD
1996/07: includes the eponym song theme of an OAV of Yawara, the million hit My Friend (anime Slam Dunk), a cover of Dan Dan Kokoro Hikareteku (anime Dragon Ball GT)...

2016/02: Best of released for the 25th debut anniversary of ZARD; includes the previously cited hits and Glorious Mind, her posthum single, theme of Detective ConanDon't you see (Dragon Ball GT and OAV of Yawara)...

Links


Autres sources: wikipedia JP, TV reports, blog live Yasuda Taka TRIOTaneoka channel...

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