Song of the Day: Kyo Sakomoto, “Ue o Muite Arukou (Sukiyaki)”

Japanese singer Kyu Sakamoto would have turned 80 years old today. His record "Ue o Muite Arukou," renamed "Sukiyaki" in English-speaking markets, reached #1 on the Hot 100 in 1963, the first #1 by an Asian artist on that chart. Sakamoto died in the Japan Airlines flight 123 crash in August 1985 when he was just 43 years old.

9 thoughts on “Song of the Day: Kyo Sakomoto, “Ue o Muite Arukou (Sukiyaki)”

  1. He had such a great breakout song with this and for good reason, itโ€™s such a great song. He can whistle really well. I believe I just watched a Mayday episode about this plane crash, it is such a tragedy.

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  2. This is such a lovely song. Always loved it even though I didn’t know what it meant. From the music, I always thought it was upbeat, but the lyrics are sad. Love it even more now that I’ve read them.

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    1. Your experience touches on deep questions of how (or if ) music should represent emotions, and whether a song/movement that sounds “upbeat” only if you don’t understand the lyrics, which are sad, or vice versa, can be considered an artistic success. I know a New Year’s chorale prelude by Bach, a basically happy text, whose profound sadness has baffled commentators for centuries, and a joyous, bouncy alto aria in Pergolesi’s Stabat Mater (about the grieving of the Virgin at the foot of the Cross) which falls into the same bin as the present song.

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