Karaoke Mama

It’s January, and everyone, everywhere is still sure they’re about to become bigger, well not bigger, but better and just awesomer over the next twelve months. After all – we’ve blogged our resolutions. Where could it possibly go wrong?

In my case, the answer is on the ski fields of Japan. With our trip only two months away and me still sporting the physical fitness levels of the average boiled noodle, it occurs to me that the time to get active is now.

The only problem is, I hate exercise. Humans evolved in a world where exercise was unavoidable for anyone who wanted to eat, shelter, or not be killed by predators, and for generations, nature rewarded us for doing these things as efficiently as possible. I’m – how shall we say this? – extraordinarily well-evolved.

Here I am on the very pinnacle of human evolution. Unfortunately, this is no fit condition for actual pinnacles.

Here I am on the very pinnacle of human evolution. Unfortunately, this is no fit condition for actual pinnacles.

So I racked my brains trying to decide which type of exercise would suck the least, and then I remembered there’s a type of exercise which doesn’t suck at all, and it’s called dancing, and as a special bonus you can do it whilst becoming culturally enriched and maybe even a little less monolingual.

Plus – here’s the real genius – the Japanese are the proud name-givers to a whole culture of amateur song and dance. That’s right. In order to get ready for our Japanese holiday, I’m taking up karaoke, and if I’m doing it, the kids are going to get roped in, too.

This is where you come in. I need to choose our karaoke set.

Now, my go-to classroom TEFL song is Frente’s Accidentally Kelly Street. It has an upbeat vibe and a range of everyday vocab, delivered with clear enunciation at a steady tempo. Plus it hints that sloth is unsatisfying, if not immoral under everyday circumstances.

It seems that we’re on holiday
and sleeping in is not a sin.
All the house work’s done by tea time!
I’m feeling good about the way I’ve been.

Perfect for every parent or teacher! Here’s the complete lyrics and the music video. (As an aside, A’s go-to TEFL song is the Hoodoo Guru’s Waking Up Tired {video} {and lyrics} which makes him hip with the teens, or something.)

A brief search of Japanese pop songs reveals the closest fit to be Konbini by Briefs and Trunk. (Know Your Meme gives us some background on the song and the Japanese Convenience Store culture surrounding it.)

I like the idea that “mischief” might amount to paying for a small purchase with a large note and not, for example, laying somebody low with a flying side-kick, even if the kick is delivered in a manner not only courteous and respectful, but also harmonious.

Courtesy. Respect. Harmony. And kicking people.

Courtesy. Respect. Harmony. And flying side-kicks.

I’m a little worried about some of the lyrics, though. I think we can gloss over the bra taunts in the first verse, given that they’re delivered by the chorus line rather than the lead singer, but I would need a bit of help replacing the adjective for “dirty” magazine with something that will lead to fewer questions. Perhaps the man could be reading an ornithological piece? Something of the avian variety? There must be a few people left who haven’t heard.

And then there’s the fact that the main character gets “pissed” at the clerk, and I’m not sure how that translation’s been handled. Obviously we’re okay with appropriate expressions of anger (in fact, we spend a lot of time encouraging P to express his anger appropriately) but we like to promote the use of polite words in polite company.

I need a J-pop expert. Can this song be salvaged for use by three and five year olds or will people across Japan cringe to hear them launch into the first line?

If you know any schoolroom-suitable Japanese pop songs (and especially if you want to see me make an idiot of myself performing karaoke on youtube) please name them! Songs should have clean, everyday vocab, a moderate tempo and clear pronunciation. Links to lyrics and videos much appreciated.

And if you’re not a J-Pop expert but you know a suitable pop song in a different language, list it off. It might help us at a future port of call, or it might help somebody reading, or at the very least it might allow me to procrastinate on my exercise regime by compiling a child-friendly and language-learner-suitable list of international pop music.

P.S. I’ll get back to Tasmania soon – but I wanted to join in with the Multicultural Kids Bloggers in their Music And Arts blog carnival hosted by The Squishable Baby. Check it out!

P.P.S. This is working already. I can’t get the chorus of the Konbini song out of my head. Now all I need to do is start dancing…