Aneka – Japanese Boy
A distinguished Scottish lady with a mezzo-soprano voice, the 80s and Japan. What do they have in common? How do you go from lavender and heather cliffs to kimons and paper umbrellas?
We should ask Mary Sandeman, a Scottish strong-tempered singer who one day told her authors that she wanted to try her hand at the world of pop. The authors didn’t give importance to the thing, until one day she declared that she had booked the recording studio and so everything was ready to record her pop song.
The authors were completely surprised: they had not taken his request seriously and had nothing ready. So they put together a catchy melody and some music from other songs they were writing. And let’s say the song was ready at this point, and it was released in the UK but it didn’t get much interest.
Mary had also found a stage name: by browsing the Edinburgh phone book she had found the name Anika, and decided to adopt it, but changed it to Aneka to avoid discussion and claims.
The song then arrived on the tables of a German record company that launched it in Germany, where the success exploded and the song climbed the charts in August 1981.
At this point, however, there was another problem: the good Mary had a look and a bearing that did not get along very well with pop: she was a sophisticated lady in her mid 30s, rather tall and solemn in her movements, and she used to dress according to her standing, as a mother of two married to a famous Scottish gentleman. In short: the furthest from the image of unbridled teenagers like Lio, for example.
Luckily someone from the production came with a kimono and a wig and so the Aneka we know and love was born! Actually, the song was not distributed in Japan, where it was considered sounding “too Chinese”.
After “Japanese Boy”, Aneka performed other pop songs, but never found the same success. She probably remained chained to Aneka’s image, which was fine for this song, but it definitely required other changes of look for later songs.
End of the story: after a few years Mary Sandeman decided to close with Aneka’s experience, and returned to her beloved Scottish folk music. Since she is a resolute person, in recent years she refused to participate in a tv show about the 80s, because she didn’t want to go to London, and have to play the role of Aneka again. Then, years ago, she decided to close with music in general, and retire to private life. And today it seems that she works part-time as a tour guide in the Scottish town of Stirling.
Finally, if you are under 30 and wondering where you heard this song, you most likely heard it while playing GTA Vice City on Flash FM radio.
Aneka on Wikipedia