4pm - Sukiyaki
Back in the early 60’s a Japanese song by Kyu Sakamoto broke the barriers into North America and took it by storm. Reaching #1 across the globe, ‘Sukiyaki’ became a rare phenomenon where a foreign language song hit it big. Because American audiences weren't interested in the true name of the song (Ue o Muite Arukō), it was renamed Sukiyaki. As you may know, Sukiyaki is the name of a Japanese hot pot meal, so it's clear that the new label was culturally insensitive at the very least.
The first cover of the song was by Jewels Akens in 1966, and again by Janice Johnson for her band A Taste of Honey. Originally written by Rokusuke Ei about a political protest, the song was left purposely vague so that it could be interpreted in many different ways.
Fast forwarding many years later into the 90s, R&B groups were huge and groups like Boys 2 Men and Color Me Badd ruled the charts. This also gave rise to 4pm (For Positive Music), a 4-man R&B group aiming to release positive music that avoided explicit lyrics or degradation of women. 4pm went on to do a cover of the classic Sukiyaki song using the translation provided by 'A Taste of Honey', becoming their biggest hit. A cappella was a big part of the 90s R&B scene, and so 4pm's cover was a stripped down version that I absolutely adore. I don’t go karaoke as often as I used to, but this is high up on my list when I get a chance. The lyrics are heartfelt and the song is deceptively easy to sing. You can pretty much guarantee that if this song comes plays I will be singing along with it.