aka: The Tigers
Sir Loreal Julie of Peacock Hill, ladies and gents.
Kenji Sawada as of 2013 at the first Tigers Reunion Concert, performing "Love Only For You" with the audience swooning like teenagers no doubt.Kenji "Julie" Sawada
(born 1948) is a Japanese musician, actor and composer, best known to Americans for being in Mishima A Life In Four Chapters
. His claim to fame among Japanese is perhaps, according to many, such as SMAP
, with planting the seeds of the Visual Kei
movement. His manner of dress when he performed, his heavy use of makeup, and his tendency to not seperate his stage personality from his real one are all traits later adopted by most Visual Kei
groups. His band, the Tigers, were one of many attempts to cash in on the Beatles by Japanese record labels, his was the most successful, with composer Koichi Sugiyama (yes,that one
) giving much of their songs a very classical feel.. After the breakup of The Tigers, Sawada formed the Super Group
PYG, bringing together many of his former rivals as musicians and churning out three albums. He later began a very successful solo career and became apt to a Japanese David Bowie
, acting in many roles to this day.Probably not related to
of X and Loudness.
Tropes describing Kenji Sawada
- Alter Ego Acting: Somewhat of a type 3.
- Anti-Love Song: "Toki No Sugi Yuku Mama Ni" can be interpreted as the singer lamenting over an extremely toxic relationship.
- Badass Beard: Sports one as of 2013.
- Badass Baritone: In his older age, his speaking voice is nearly one.
- Bishōnen: Pretty much the one of the Ur Example of the androgynous lead singer in Japanese music.
- Breakup Breakout: After the Tigers broke up, Sawada launched a successful solo career, acted in many movies, picking up the moniker "Japan's David Bowie", and pretty much singlehandedly began what became the Visual Kei movement of music/fashion. Not bad huh?
- Breakup Song: LONELY WOLF, Forbidden Love(About longing for a woman who has long left him), Pari ni Hitori
- BSOD Song: "The 6th Melancholy", an angry rant on fame and the toll it takes on an individual.
- Camp Straight
- Cast Incest: Currently married to a fellow actress from the set of Tora-san: The Professional.
- Concept Album: The Tigers 1968 album "Human Renascence" was the first use of the trope in Japan. Julie's solo career had him have more than one has well, with Onnatachiyo being a Rock Opera retelling The Tale of Genji and JULIE II being themed around sea travel.
- Creative Differences: The reason PYG disbanded. Hagiwara's bad boy lawbreaker personality is well known in Japan to not be a mere act, and this clashed with Kenji Sawada's extremely "boy-next-door" image he had at the time.
- Creator Breakdown: A lot of Sawada's early 80s material can be interpreted as this, with Rokubanne no Yuutsu, his BSOD song, seemingly being a rant on his feelings about fame, and seemingly having a much more eccentric manner of dress and stage persona.
- Crucified Hero Shot: Most performances of Ikutusuka no Bamen.
- Cunning Linguist: Speaks Japanese, French, Italian and English fluently.
- Dude Looks Like a Lady: ESPECIALLY in the early 80s.
- Dye Hard: His hair has ranged from hot pink, to blonde, to orange. However his hair greyed very early(in his late 40s, early 50s) from dying it so much.
- Early-Installment Weirdness: JULIE I and Julie II are about as far away from the proto-Visual Kei pop rock and New Wave Sawada is mainly known for, having a sound one can liken to Barry Manilow or other easy listening, and almost none of the songs in these two albums have been included in Sawada's later years, with Yurusenai Ai being rearranged to fit more with Sawada's later style in The Eighties then dropped from his setlist after 1991, and almost all of the other songs from these two albums being forgotten.
- Fountain of Expies: Unlike the numerous hide clones however, the trend of Kenji Sawada emulators in the late 70s quickly died overnight.
- Genre Shift: Went thru many. Like David Bowie, his shifts reflect that of popular music in the country he came from as a whole was like at the time. Going by the Julie Special Greatest Hits alone, he went thru Easy Listening, Power Pop, Synth Pop, New Wave, and in the late seventies, early eighties thru a proto Visual Kei period, with the album S/T/R/I/P/P/E/R featuring heavily distorted, blazing guitar and bass and very sexualized lyrics, and after the 90s, his output almost became Bruce Springsteen like, with a greater focus on traditional pop-rock anthems, and a much more tame, almost socially aware feel to the lyrics.
- Germans Love David Hasselhoff: Both Sawada and The Tigers have a significant following in Europe, China, and to a much lesser extent North America.
- Grief Song: From PYG, "Flower, Sun, Rain", "The Days Already Past" (grief over past loves) "No Longer On The Earth" and "Jeff" the latter a grief song directed towards a dog.
- Ho Yay: Had a very subtext-laden photoshoot with Kazuya Yoshi of Yellow Monkey.
- I Am the Band: He largely carried his band The Tigers's success on his shoulders.
- Intercourse with You: STRIPPER, the title is self-explanatory, and the first live of it actually moved to watershed hours for NHK's 1981 New Years Eve show.
- International Coproduction: JULIE, JULIE II, JULIE III, JULIE VI: ARU SEISHUN were all coproductions between Kenji Sawada & Takayuki Inoue Band (Japan) and Olympic Sound Studios(UK).
- Impossibly Cool Clothes: Sawada is a master of this. Look at his 2008 concert where he performs in an Indian chief outfit, for instance, or his outfit in the PV for "The 6th Melancholy"!
- Keep Circulating the Tapes: Julie III: Julie Recital, Sawada's first live album is out of print and sells at very high premiums, as do all three of Julie's AOR albums done with Co-Colo, and to add insult to injury, virtually no songs from the album are floating around in digital form minus the single "Coal and diamonds" and a live performance of "Adagio of Sorrow" and "Namimuto"
- Lead Bassist: Again, Ittoku Kishibe, who is lifelong friends with Sawada, and composed numerous songs for him as well as writing lyrics, and his bassplaying under PYG was noticed by John Paul Jones when PYG covered "Babe I'm Gonna Leave You"
- Large Ham: He ALWAYS chews the scenery, just watch him in Samurai Reincarnation for a great example.
- Long Runner: First solo album was released in April 1969, his latest solo single was released spring 2013, and his latest studio album was released March '14.
- Mr. Fanservice: And how! Had several nude photoshoots in the 80s....
- New Wave Music: Sawada's main genre from the mid-late 1970s until the 1990s.
- New Romantic: His mid-late 80s output, with his androgyny Up to Eleven, and a new backing band, Co-Colo, who included rather dark sounding string passages in addition to the synthesizers and guitar-drum-bass Sawada had become so accustomed to.
- New Sound Album: A better list, in chronological order:
- Easy listening in the vein of Barry Manilow(Julie-Julie III)
- A revisitation of the psychedelic rock sound PYG had done with the original members of that band (Julie IV)
- Symphonic Rock(Julie VI)
- Glam Rock(Jewel Julie, Itsukana no Baman, And Now I Feast On A Grand Banquet, The Fugitive Ai No Troubador)
- New Wave(Bad Tuning, TOKIO, STRIPPER)
- Synthpop/New Romantic(NON-POLICY, MISCAST, Onna-tachiyo, A WONDERFUL TIME)
- AOR-(A Grand Ballet With Co-COLO)
- Tin Pan Alley (A Saint In The Night)
- Hard Rock- His late 90s output with Jazzmaster.
- Alt Rock- His 2000s-The New Tens albums mostly have shades of poppier alt-rock.
- Periphery Demographic: Ever since Visual Kei became more popular internationally, he seems to have gained a significant fanbase crossing over from bands like Buck-Tick, GLAY and X Japan, all of which have members who have professed to have Sawada as one of their influences(Sakurai Atsushi even covered two of Julie's songs and seems to style his vocal mannerisms after him, and GLA Ys vocalist has covered "Toki no Sugiyuku Mama ni")
- Power Ballad: Ikutsuka no bamen is the most prominent example of sawadas ballads
- Putting on the Reich: like Gackt and Malice Mizer, has been photographed in Third Reichesque outfits.
- Protest Song: "F.A.P.P" against nuclear power.
- Revolving Door Lineup: Most of Julies backing bands have been replaced within 5 years.
- Self-Titled Album: Several.
- Seinfeld Is Unfunny: To most people today, Kenji "Julie" Sawada's antics onstage seem mundane in the age of artists like Malice Mizer, Dir En Grey and the like, but at the time he was in his prime years(1975-1982), Sawada's onstage antics on songs like STRIPPER were considered darlingly sexual and flamboyant, and producer/bandmate Kunihiko Kase's invention of the term "Visual" to describe Sawada's onstage costuming and persona. This later was taken by Atsushi Sakurai and Yoshiki Hayashi and turned further into the Visual Kei movement.
- Sexy Grandpa: Still has legions of fangirls to this day despite advanced age.
- Singer Namedrop: "Julie My Love" in Hoshizora no Romance
- Singer Songwriter
- Shout-Out: Jules "Julie" Deane in Neuromancer, an effete, androgynous smuggler in Japan who seems to be based on Kenji's persona.
- Atsushi Sakurai of Buck Tick cites Kenji Sawada as an influence upon the band's look.
- Something Completely Different: The Broken Earth, a Psychedelic Rock song on a Baroque Pop concept album which had little to do with the rest of the album's theme.
- Sympathy for the Devil: A LOT of the characters he plays tend to be evil guys with tragic pasts and bishie looks, Ryo from Akuma no Youna Aitsu, Shiro Amakusa....
- Spiritual Successor: His modern equivalent could be considered Gackt, who like Sawada, found more sucess after the band he debuted in broke up, and has a gigantic acting resume.
- Synth Pop: His early eighties work, specifically Onnatachiyo and Non-Policy which had Sawada in full on Mr. Fanservice mode once again on the cover and featured mostly synthezied instruments and Sawada's voice reverberating through layers of synthesizers.
- The Band Minus the Face: Sort of. After PYG split, most of the members including Tigers bassist Ittoku "Sally" Kishibe became Julie's backing band, the Takayuki Inoue Band until 1977, when he replaced them.
- Unbuilt Trope: Not only the costuming and makeup, but the very onstage act of Visual Kei vocalists can be traced to Sawada. Just watch any of his live performances and you'll see the same type of behavior later made famous internationally by vocalists such as Toshimitsu Deyama of X Japan, such as wildly expressive gesticulating and even outright showing sadness or other emotions onstage.
- Villain Protagonist: Tends to play these, and his natural charisma and good looks result in his characters becoming a Draco in Leather Pants more often than not.
- Vocal Evolution: Over time, his vocal register has deepened significantly, but not to the point where his older hits are unsingable.
- Visual Kei: Essentially went into the territory fashionwise in the 90s, with his makeup and clothing in the mid-90s making him resemble Hideto Matsumoto to some degree.
Tropes describing The Tigers:
- Ascended Extra: Shiro Kishibe was originally musical advisor to Watanabe Productions, The Tigers's production company, and specifically told them to disband around the time Heavy Metal and Psychedelic Rock became big in the US, but ended up as the replacement for Katsumi "Toppo" Kahashi, ironically.
- The Bee Gees: Covered a large amount of their library, and Barry Gibb wrote "Smile For Me" and starred in one of their Jukebox Musicals.
- Baroque Pop:A lot of their later stuff, ESPECIALLY 1968's Human Renascence can be seen as this, with most tracks especially the ones composed by Koichi Sugiyama, having elaborate orchestration almost to the point of being egregious. This had consequences for the band. The songs proved to be a nightmare to perform live coherently, and critics bashed the album for being far too pretentious.
- Band of Relatives: On bass and vocals, Itou Kishibe. Later, on lead guitar and vocals, Shiro Kishibe, a New-Age Retro Hippie with a knack for American culture, and Itou's brother, would replace Toppo.
- Basso Profundo: Ittoku "Sally" Kishibe
- Breakup Song: Solitude In The City, sung by Julie about him walking alone in a crowded metropolis reflecting on a lost love.
- Crowning Moment of Heartwarming/ Tear Jerker: In 2011 the band had a reunion at Kenji's solo concert. Guitarist Taro returned, and midway thru the show, a wheelchair bound Shiro Kishibe was brought out to sing a song. Shiro, despite looking old and sickly from a brain aneurysm that he managed to recover from miraculously, managed to pull off an incredibly effective vocal performance.
- Happened again 2013, this time with both Taro and Toppo, making all six tigers on stage for the first time ever.
- Cover Version: Have covered The Zombies "Time Of The Season" and several Rolling Stones, BeeGees, and The Beatles standards, with Ittoku singing "Tell Me", and Julie singing "Nowhere Man".
- Replacement Flat Character: Although Kishibe Shiro possessed almost as much prowess vocally as Toppo, his guitar playing skills weren't nearly up to par, and most of the guitar parts he played on the two albums were rhythm picking, and actual melody playing was left up to Morimoto Taro.
- Face of the Band: The band actually passed this designation around during the sixties. When the band was first formed, Sally was the leader, then passed it on to Toppo, and Julie ended up being the defacto face.
- Genre-Killer: Despite popularising GS, they can also be blamed for killing it. 1968's Human Renascence proved to be a disaster for Watanabe Productions, with the orchestral compositions being so complex it made most of the album next to impossible to perform live. That and the critics bashed the album for being too pretentious.
- Grief Song: Nageki(Grief)
- God-Is-Love Songs: Love, love, love seems to be this judging from the rather spirtual lyrics
- Hidden Depths: Shiro Kishibe, despite being the least musically fluent of The Tigers, having been taught guitar by Taro rather than learning himself and playing tamborine and singing before actually being able to play guitar like he was brought in to do, is the most English proficient of the band, a very talented writer, and a seiyuu, voicing Mammoth Nishi in Ashita no Joe.
- Impossibly Cool Clothes: The white jumpsuits the band wears on stage, and the knightly robes they wore in some photoshoots and lives.
- Kansai Regional Accent: Sally sings in an exaggerated one in "The World Goes Round" and "The Train For freedom"
- Keep Circulating the Tapes: Good luck finding the Tigers pre-Kenji Sawada material from when they were an instrumental band.
- Last Note Nightmare: "The Broken Earth" has Julie letting out a guttural wail as the song fades out.
- Lead Bassist: Sally is a type A & B, singing lead on quite a few songs as well as being admired for his rather strong bassklines by even John Paul Jones of Led Zeppelin.
- Long Runner: First debuted in 1966, disbanded in 1971, reunited in 1981, disbanded again in 1983, had a mini=reunion in 2011, are reuniting again December of 2013.
- Metal Scream: Toppo pulled off a few of these doing the band's cover of "I Put A Spell On You"
- Mohs Scale of Rock and Metal Hardness: Ranges from 1-2 generally, with a few songs off their later albums going into 4-7, particularly the Jimi Hendrix esque "The Broken Earth" which has vocalist Sawada screaming throughout.
- Misogyny Song: Covered UNDER MY THUMB....
- My Real Daddy: Though record producer and percussionist Yuya Uchida discovered the band, it was largely Koichi Sugiyama and Kunihiko Murai who propeeled the band into bigger success, along with extroverted drummer Minoru "Pea" Hitomi.
- New Sound Album: Human Renascence was the most ambitious effort by the Tigers, shifting them into total Baroque Pop territory. Their next three albums led by new guitarist/vocalist Shiro Kishibe took the band in a more Psychedelic Rock direction, with a bit of dabbling in Baroque Pop still. Their reunion album in 1981 had a very New Wave feel too it similar to Sawada's solo material at the time.
- Stage Names: In addidtion to the Visual Kei Unbuilt Trope of costuming, the Tigers also used stage names most of the time(Which most Vis Kei bands also do), with Kenji Sawada going by Julie, and guitarist Katsumi Kahashi going by Toppo.
- Surprisingly Good English: Kenji Sawada and Toppo, both fluent in English, managed to sing the band's few English songs with very careful pronounciation.
- Although the crowning award of best English of the4 group goes to Shiro Kishibe, who lived in America for years before becoming Toppo's replacement, and you can see what an impact his studies had, as his English is relatively free of any accent on most songs he sings, especially "Lalena".
- Step Up to the Microphone: Shiro Kishibe, brother of Itou "Sally" Kishibe, eventually became the bands new lead guitarist after Toppo left the band.
- Take That: In a meta sense. "The Blue Bird" was written by lead guitarist Morimoto Taro as a counter to the claims by rival bands' fans that The Tigers were purely a manufactured band.
- Troubled Production: Human Renascence was originally meant for another band entirely, but they quickly said no to the project, and Watanabe Pro gave it to the Tigers. The album sold well, but reportedly according to various accounts, the album proved near impossible to do live. The fallout from everything caused Toppo to leave the band in annoyance.
- True Art Is Incomprehensible: Largely the negative reception of Human Renascence was due to the rather "out there" lyrics.
- Uncommon Time: Love, Love, Love's intro and verses switch time signatures, and the outro is 6/7 live.
- Vocal Tag Team: Usually rhythm guitarist Katsumi "Toppo" Kahashi or Kenji Sawada would be on lead, but occasionally bassist Ittou Kishibe would Step Up to the Mic.
- The Voiceless: Lead guitarist Taro Morimoto, who never sang lead on a studio album song but lots of backing, and Minrou Hitomi has only a few vocal interjections on "Seaside Bound" as far as studio cuts.
- The Woobie: Kishibe Shiro, the Tigers second rhythm guitarist and tag vocalist and Osami "Sally" Kishibe's younger brother. His life story is a real tear jerker. His first wife divorced him after he went bankrupt, and when he was 52, his second wife of 7 years died at the age of 43 without warning, causing him to be in a catatonic state for many days. In 2011, he had a brain aneurysm, and like Taiji Sawada, it ended up changing his appearance, making him appear much more frail than he actually is, and he needed a wheelchair for a while Although the good thing is, like Taiji, his skill never faded, as his voice is still almost as powerful as it was in the 1980s and 1970s.