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Music / Pizzicato Five

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A Japanese pop group active from 1986 to 2001, Pizzicato Five (known in a beginning as "Pizzicato V" and often known simply by the initials P5) was best known to audiences in the West in their later incarnation as a duo of Maki Nomiya and Yasuharu Konishi. The group, widely credited (along with Flipper's Guitar) with spearheading the Shibuya-kei movement of Tokyo in the 1990s, was influenced by genres as distinct as Bossa Nova, Soul, Yé-Yé, Chanson, Funk and 60's English pop music.

    Partial Discography 
  • Pizzicatomania! (1987, a compilation of early E Ps and singles)
  • Couples (1987)
  • Bellissima! (1988)
  • By Her Majesty's Request (1989)
  • Soft Landing on the Moon (1990, a compilation of sorts featuring mostly unreleased songs and alternate versions)
  • Hi Guys! Let Me Teach You (1991)
  • This Year's Girl (1991)
  • Sweet Pizzicato Five (1992)
  • Bossa Nova 2001 (1993)
  • Overdose (1994)
  • Romantique 96 (1995)
  • Happy End of the World (1997)
  • The International Playboy & Playgirl Record (1998, released in the US in 1999 as Playboy & Playgirl)
  • Pizzicato Five™ (1999, released in the US in 2000 as The Fifth Release from Matador)
  • Çà et là du Japon (2001)


  • Lover's Rock EP (1990)
  • This Year's Model EP (1991)
  • Readymade Records EP (1991)
  • London-Paris-Tokyo (1991)
  • A Television's Workshop EP (1994)
  • Sister Freedom Tapes (フリーダムのピチカート・ファイヴ freedom no Pizzicato Five?) (1997)
  • A Message Song EP (1996)
  • Darlin' of Discothèque EP (1999)
  • Nonstop to Tokyo EP (1999)
  • A Perfect World EP (1999)
  • Voyage á Tokyo EP (2000)

Remix Albums

  • Pizzicato Free Soul (1992)
  • Expo 2001 (1993)
  • Pizzicato Free Soul 2001 (1993)
  • Happy End of You (1998)
  • Pizzicato Five Remixis 2000 (2000)
  • Pizzicato Five in the Mix (2001)


  • Pizzicato V in "The Audrey Hepburn Complex" (1985)
  • Pizzicato V in "Action" (1986)
  • Sweet Soul Revue (1993)
  • The Night Is Still Young - 7:00pm Tokyo (1993)
  • Happy Sad (1994)
  • Triste (1995)
  • Twiggy Twiggy (1995)
  • Baby Portable Rock (1996)
  • Mon Amour Tokyo (1997)
  • I Hear a Symphony (1997)
  • La Règle du Jeu (1998)
  • Such A Beautiful Girl Like You (1998)
  • Week-End (1998)
  • Playboy Playgirl (1998)

Matador exclusive releases

  • Five by Five (1994)
  • Made in USA (1994)
  • Quickie EP (1995)
  • Unzipped EP (1995)
  • The Sound of Music by Pizzicato Five (1995)
  • Trailer Music (1997)

A new stereophonic Pizzicato Five tropes spectacular:

  • Artifact Title: Yes, they did have five members to begin with. One of them left almost immediately after their first recording, but the band name stuck—even as they were whittled down to a duo by the time of their biggest international success.
  • Author Catchphrase: "A new stereophonic sound spectacular!"
  • Back for the Finale: Takao Tajima, after being out of the band for about a decade, returned to sing a few songs for P5's farewell live show.
  • The Band Minus the Face: Not completely minus the face, but for Çà et là du Japon, Maki Nomiya only appeared on a few songs. The rest of the album featured a bunch of guest singers and songwriters. P5 broke up not long after.
  • Advertisement:
  • Beehive Hairdo: Maki has one in the music video for "Happy Sad".
  • Bookends:
    • On Bossa Nova 2001 the first song ("Rock'N'Roll") and last one ("Cleopatra 2001") are both bossa novas, while most of the songs in between are different genres.
    • On Pizzicato Five™ the first track ("Love Again") opens with a brief snippet of the final track ("Goodbye Baby & Amem"). On the American version of the album (The Fifth Release from Matador) the opening track is "A Perfect World (Single Version)" instead, but the snippet from "Goodbye Baby & Amen" is inserted into that song to preserve the Book Ends.
  • Chekhov's Gunman: On Her Majesty's Request features Maki Nomiya as the guest singer on one track, "Satellite Hour"—two years before she'd officially join the band as the full-time vocalist and wind up as the Face of the Band.
  • Advertisement:
  • Chromosome Casting: In the formation with Takao Tajima as the only male singer in the history of the group, the only time all the group was male only.
  • Cover Version:
    • Their Signature Song "Twiggy Twiggy" was a cover—of a Maki Nomiya song from before she joined Pizzicato Five, off her 1981 album ピンクの心 (Kokoro no Pink or Pink Heart).
    • They covered the Bossa Nova classic "The Girl from Ipanema" (the English version) for the Lounge-a-Palooza compilation.
    • "Tout, Tout Pour Ma Cherie", originally by Michel Polnareff, appears on the Darlin' of Discotheque EP (and The Fifth Release from Matador).
    • Çà et là du Japon featured a cover of the Pokémon anime theme, slightly retitled "Gatta Call'em All".
    • Not quite Pizzicato Five, but after P5 broke up, Yasuharu Konishi put out a whole album of Disney's movie songs, titled Readymade Loves Disney.
    • And of course, they made a cover of Lupin III opening theme, and later Konishi participated in the Remix Album Punch the Monkey! with various remixed songs from the anime.
    • During a radio live in 1995, Konishi and Nomiya performed a live version of Kyu Sakamoto's "Sukiyaki".
  • Cross-Referenced Titles: "Mon Amour Tokyo" and Tokyo Mon Amour", which are unrelated other than the titles.
  • Dance Sensation: Various of their songs, especially Tout va bien (which comes the image of the page).
  • Decade-Themed Filter: Various of their music videos have filters as if they were recorded in The '60s, The '70s or The '80s, depending of the song.
  • Epic Instrumental Opener: The original 11 and a half minute version of Darlin' of Discotheque is instrumental for the first seven and a half minutes. The radio edit reduces this to about 30 seconds.
  • Epic Rocking:
    • On the House Music-influenced Sweet Pizzicato Five, all but two of the songs are over 6 minutes long.
    • The original single version of "Darlin' of Discothèque" is 11:26. It was heavily edited and rearranged for inclusion on Pizzicato Five™, and this version still clocks in at 7:41.
  • Gratuitous Foreign Language: With plenty titles or snippets of lyrics in Gratuitous English, Gratuitous French (some of their early videos even credit them as "Les Pizzicato V"), Gratuitous Spanish, and even Gratuitous Portuguese in a few songs like Nonstop to Tokyo or Loudland!
  • Gratuitous Disco Sequence: Tout va bien videoclip.
  • Hidden Track:
    • Played straight on Happy End of the World. After "Happy Ending", there's about a minute of silence, then a short drum-n-bass track.
    • Played for Laughs in Playboy & Playgirl. The hidden track is barely hidden at all, as it begins immediately after the end of "Stars". The narrator introduces the track with an announcement to the effect of, "And now here's the bonus track as all our other albums." And then that bonus song is just a snippet of the first track, with the singing replaced by "Nanananana..."
  • Homage: The "Message Song" music video is modeled after the hitchhiking scene from Five Easy Pieces. The credits at the start of the video even dedicate it to Bob Rafelson and Jack Nicolson (the director and lead actor of Five Easy Pieces, respectively).
  • I Am the Band: Yasuharu Konishi, who was one of the initial members and the only one to stay in the band until the end. Even more overtly, after the end of P5 he started a new project called Pizzicato One, and the cover of the debut album declared "Konishi Yasuharu Is Pizzicato One".
  • Iconic Song Request: Twiggy Twiggy and Sweet Soul Revue.
  • Idiosyncratic Cover Art:
    • In 2000, Readymade Records, Tokyo, reissued a bunch of their classic albums (This Year's Girl, Sweet Pizzicato Five, Bossa Nova 2001, Overdose, and Romantique 96) with redesigned, matching packaging. The CD jewel cases were oriented vertically, with an outer cardboard sleeve covered by four lines of large, bold text: "PIZZI / CATO / FIVET / OKYO". A monochrome photo of Maki was visible through the text, with each album having a different color scheme.
    • In 2006, Columbia*readymade reissued several of their albums again (This Year's Girl, Sweet Pizzicato Five, Bossa Nova 2001, Overdose, Happy End of the World, and Çà et Là Du Japon ), with another themed graphic design overhaul. The jewel cases were vertically oriented, again, and flipped so the back of the case served as the cover. The covers were each a photo of Maki, with the only text being "pizzicato" written along the bottom in all-lowercase Helvetica Bold. (In fact, the picture at the top of this article is the cover art from this edition of Sweet Pizzicato Five.)
  • Last Chorus Slowdown: "Goodbye Baby & Amen" ends with a slowed-down version of the chorus repeating several times.
  • Leitmotif: All what Pizzicato Five represents can be seen and listened in these 6 minutes.
  • Location Song: A lot, especially from... you know, like Mon Amour Tokyo, Á Tokyo, Nonstop to Tokyo, Tokyo's Coolest Sound and Tokyo, Mon Amour.
    • Also, songs from some other places like London-Paris, Statue of Liberty and Roma.
  • Male Band, Female Singer: Most of the formations in the history of the group have a sole female as the singer, originally with Mamiko Sasaki in the first formation in The '80s, then more famously with Maki Nomiya in The '90s.
  • Market-Based Title:
    • The International Playboy & Playgirl Record was reissued in the US by Matador Records as just Playboy & Playgirl.
    • The same happened for Pizzicato Five™, which was renamed The Fifth Release from Matador.
  • Match Cut: Used throughout the music video for "La Règle du Jeu". Maki and the other dancers change costumes and locations multiple times, but the dance choreography stays consistent across (most) cuts, creating an illusion of continuity. For the final chorus, it's just their costumes changing while they continue dancing without missing a beat.
  • Meaningful Name: "Pizzicato" is referred to a playing technique that involves plucking the strings of a string instrument, used in various music genres, like jazz. And "Five" is because that's how many members initially were in the band.
  • Miniscule Rocking:
    • Couples has "Party Joke" (1:58).
    • On Her Majesty's Request has "Holiday for Audrey H" (1:28), "Introduction 'J.B. et Vietnam'" (just 6 seconds), "Swedish Girl" (1:48), and "Top 40" (1:19).
    • This Year's Girl has "This Year's Girl #4" (1:00), "I (All About Me)" (1:51), "This Year's Girl #5" (14 seconds), and "Twiggy Vs. James Bond" (1:15).
    • Hi, Guys! Let Me Teach You has "Sunshine, Lollipops, and Rainbow" (1:57).
    • Sweet Pizzicato Five has "CDJ" (1:21).
    • Bossa Nova 2001 has "Playback 2001" (29 seconds).
    • Overdose has "Overture" (17 seconds) and "Readymade FM" (1:24).
    • Romantique 96 has "Potpourri" (1:30), the title track (37 seconds), "Variation" (21 seconds), and "Coda" (59 seconds).
    • Happy End of the World has "Trailer Music" (1:49).
    • Çà et là du Japon has "1 Janvier" (1:14), "Kimigayo" (31 seconds), and "Grand Bazar" (19 seconds).
  • Never Trust a Title: The album Bossa Nova 2001 has a few Bossa Nova songs, but the majority of the songs are other pop genres. One of the actual bossas is ironically named "Rock'N'Roll".
  • Out-of-Genre Experience: Sister Freedom Tapes used only live instruments, no electronics, for a garage rock sound.
  • Pop-Star Composer: Hi, Guys! Let Me Teach You was their soundtrack for a Japanese TV drama. Hence it's a bit more subdued than their other albums, and consists entirely of instrumentals, songs with wordless singing, and one spoken word track.
  • Rearrange the Song: Mostly seen in concerts, in which Nomiya sung songs from old formations before her, like The Audrey Hepburn Complex, all rearranged by Konishi, of course.
  • Re-Cut:
    • The 1995 reissue of On Her Majesty's Request cut two songs ("The African Queen" and "Her Majesty Au Go-Go") and lengthened "Top Secret" by 10 seconds. The 2018 vinyl edition cut two more tracks ("Introduction 'J.B. et Vietnam'" and "You'll Never Get to Heaven"), shortened a few other songs to bring the total album length down to 47 minutes, and moved the song "Top 40" to immediately follow "Feint Operation", making it the last track on Side A.
    • Happy End of the World was the only P5 album to get imported to the US identically to its Japanese release. Previous albums weren't released in the US at all, and the later ones had their names changed and their track listing altered:
      • Playboy & Playgirl dropped "The International Pizzicato Five Mansion", inserted the single "La Règle du Jeu", and altered the mixing and length of several other tracks.
      • The Fifth Release from Matador dropped "Love Again", and inserted "Room Service", "Tout, Tout Pour Ma Cherie", and the original single version of "A Perfect World".
  • Record Producer: Yasuharu Konishi has sprinkled his magic on numerous other Japanese acts.
  • Repurposed Pop Song: Various of Pizzicato Five songs are most known for being used in TV advertising (not just in Japan) and even in various TV shows, being live programs as well series (again, not just in Japan.) As example, Futurama's Leela's Homeworld episode used P5's Baby Love Child.
  • Retraux: Their music, videos, artwork, and outfits were inspired by styles from the '50s, '60s, and '70s.
  • Sampling: Shows up all over their discography, especially in their 90s heyday. WhoSampled lists 354 samples from their various songs, and it's not even an exhaustive list.
  • Self-Titled Album: Pizzicatomania, Sweet Pizzicato Five, and Pizzicato Five™.
  • Shout-Out:
    • References to "readymades" pop up a bunch: For example, the Readymade Recordings EP, the song "Readymade FM", and their record label Columbia*readymade. These were nods to Marcel Duchamp from the Dada movement. Duchamp would buy ordinary, mass-produced objects from a store, then submit them to museums as works of art with only minor (if any) modifications; he called these pieces readymades.
    • "La Règle du Jeu" was co-written with veteran pop composer Tsutsumi Kyouhei, and the lyrics name-drop prior songs of his like "Weakness of Love" and "Walking in Tears".
  • Siamese Twin Songs:
    • On This Year's Girl, "Twiggy Twiggy" flows directly into "Twiggy Vs. James Bond", and they basically function as two halves of a single song. Some compilations (like Made in USA) just index them together as a single track, even.
    • On Bossa Nova 2001, "Groovy Is My Name" fades into "Sophisticated Catchy", which serves as an extended coda.
    • On Happy End of the World, "Love's Prelude" segues seamlessly into "Love's Theme". As the titles imply, the former is an instrumental intro rather than a standalone song.
  • The Smurfette Principle: The first formation with female lead singers like Mamiko Sasaki (first formation) and Maki Nomiya, in which they were the only female in the group.
  • Spoken Word in Music: Used in various songs by Maki Nomiya, usually non-singles like This Year's Girl #2.
  • Tokyo Is the Center of the Universe: Naturally, since they happen to be from Tokyo.
  • Two Guys and a Girl: The formation consisting of Yasuharu Konichi, Keitaro Takanami (the only other founding member of the group still remaining by this point), and Maki Nomiya. This trio recorded the albums This Year's Girl, Sweet Pizzicato Five, and Bossa Nova 2001.
  • Wearing a Flag on Your Head: Maki wears a Union Jack-patterned dress for several photos in the Playboy & Playgirl liner notes.
  • Widget Series
  • A Wild Rapper Appears!:
    • "Statue of Liberty" features a guest verse by rapper Takagi Kan.
    • "Icecream Meltin' Mellow" has an appearance by the female rapper Triip.
    • In Á Tokyo, there's the Japanese rapper YOU THE ROCK★.


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