Pink Lady (band): Wikis

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Pink Lady
Origin Shizuoka Prefecture, Japan
Genres Dance, Pop, Disco
Years active 1976–1981
Labels Victor Entertainment, Vivid Sound, VAP Records, Elektra Records, Curb Records
Associated acts Animetal
Website Pink Lady America
Former members
Mitsuyo Nemoto (1976–1981)
Keiko Masuda (1976–1981)

Pink Lady (ピンク・レディー Pinku Redī?) was a Japanese female pop music duo of the late 1970s and early 1980s, featuring Mitsuyo Nemoto ("Mie" - pronounced "Me-ay") and Keiko Masuda ("Kei"). In Japan, they are remembered for a run of pop-chart hits from roughly 1976 to 1979, but in the United States, they are best known for their short-lived 1980 NBC TV variety show Pink Lady, later released on DVD under the title Pink Lady and Jeff.

Pink Lady is one of only two Japanese artists to have reached the Billboard Top 40, hitting #37 with the single "Kiss in the Dark;" the other was Kyu Sakamoto with "Sukyaki."

Contents

Biography

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Early history

Mie and Kei were childhood friends who grew up and attended school together in Japan's Shizuoka Prefecture. They first appeared in March 1976 on a prime-time TV talent show called Star Tanjō! ("A Star Is Born") (similar to America's Star Search). They were showcased as a cute, fresh-faced folk duo dressed in bib overalls. By the time the girls re-appeared on the show a few months later, their image had completely changed - they were now dressed in slinky, beaded, short-skirted white dresses, performing upbeat pop tunes. A few years later, they capitalised on the disco trend, with songs like "Monday Mona Lisa Club".

Peak of popularity

Nemoto and Masuda epitomize the Japanese concept of the aidoru or pop-star "idol," singing catchy, hook-filled pop songs, often with a disco flavor (in later years especially), and performing almost perfectly-synchronized dances to accompany their songs. During the late 1970s, they had streak of nine No.1 hits, five of which were consecutive million-selling singles, including "Peppa Keibu" ("Inspector Pepper", their debut single in 1976), "Wanted," "UFO" (their biggest-selling single, with 1.95 million copies sold), "Chameleon Army" (a term co-opted by the duo's fan base around the world[citation needed]), and "SOS" (not the ABBA hit of the same name). The duo became commercial pitchwomen for various products, ranging from shampoo to radios to children's books to ramen noodles. Just about every product Mie and Kei endorsed enjoyed a massive uptick in sales.[citation needed]

1978 was Pink Lady's peak year, during which they made their first concert appearance in the United States (in Las Vegas), starred in their first major full-length motion picture, and released their first song in English ("Love Showdown"). That year, the two also became cartoon stars with the airing of Pink Lady Monogatari: Eiko no Tenshitachi (The Story of Pink Lady: Angels of Splendid Fame), a 35-episode TV anime series directed by Katsuhiko Taguchi and aired on Tokyo 12 Channel (now TV Tokyo). The series was commissioned by T&C (Trust and Confidence), the duo's managing firm, with animation production by Toei Animation. (the singers did not play themselves in the anime; their voices were provided by other actresses.)

However, New Year's Eve 1978 represented the beginning of a downturn for Pink Lady. Nemoto and Masuda turned down an invitation to perform on the long-running annual New Year's Eve television music program Kohaku Uta Gassen (Red-and-White Song Contest), to host their own TV special on another network. It backfired, as Kohaku garnered ratings nine times higher than Pink Lady. In addition, the women's managers announced that they had invited students from a school for the blind to the studio for the taping of the show, but the school denied that any such arrangement had been made. Critics accused Pink Lady of using blind children to promote their own TV special. They were not invited to perform again on Kohaku the following year, and in fact didn't perform on the annual special until 1988 - well after the duo had disbanded.

Pink Lady in the USA

With their record sales in Japan in decline, Pink Lady focused on the American market. Nemoto and Masuda appeared as guest stars on a Leif Garrett TV special in the spring of 1979, performing what was to be their first American single, a disco tune called "Kiss In The Dark," recorded phonetically in English and released by Curb Records, followed by an entire English-language album (a collection of disco tunes and ballads, including a cover of the 1966 Left Banke classic "Walk Away Renee"). When "Kiss in the Dark" debuted on the Billboard charts that summer, Pink Lady became the first Japanese recording act to chart in America since Kyu Sakamoto ("Sukiyaki") 16 years earlier. "Kiss In The Dark" reached #37 on Billboard magazine's top 40, (#49 on the Cash Box magazine chart).

Afterwards, the duo appeared with comedian Jeff Altman in Pink Lady and Jeff, a mixture of musical numbers and sketch comedy. The fact that Mie and Kei knew very little English limited their potential as comediennes, and also caused them a great amount of stress, since they were essentially forced to memorize dialogue they couldn't understand. On top of that, they weren't allowed to perform any of their Japanese hits until late in the show's run, being forced to struggle through English-language disco and pop hits such as "Yesterday" and "Knock on Wood." The show lasted only six weeks in prime time on NBC before being pulled off the air, and to this day is celebrated by many as one of the worst television shows in history, as well as single-handedly killing off the variety show format that had been a staple of American television since its early days.[citation needed] The singers went home to Japan afterwards and never again attempted a run at the U.S. market. The albums and singles they released in America are now out of print, and one of the only ways for U.S. fans to get hold of Pink Lady's music is through Japanese imports.

Pink Lady today

Pink Lady's lack of visibility at home while they were filming the show in Hollywood, as well as the decline of disco music, hurt their record sales even in Japan, and in 1981, after making an unsuccessful attempt to update their sound to appeal more to adults, Pink Lady disbanded. The two have reunited a few times since for concerts and new recordings, and have also kept busy with successful solo careers as singers and actresses.

In 2005, the duo gave their final tour in Japan called the UFO tour (Unforgettable Final Ovation). The same year, they released a choreography DVD for all their singles up to Chameleon Army.

Pink Lady's music has been used as background music in several anime series (aside from the aforementioned Angels of Splendid Fame biographical series), including Majokko Tickle and His and Her Circumstances.

Discography

Pink Lady singles

Singles after disbandment

Albums

Live albums

Compilations

External links

Bibliography

  • Schilling, Mark (1997). "Pink Lady". The Encyclopedia of Japanese Pop Culture. New York: Weatherhill. pp. 186–189. ISBN 0-834803-80-1. 

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