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Music Picks

Japan's Iconic Teen Song

Blue Hearts' 'Linda Linda.'

By Thom Wong 17 Jan 2008 | TheTyee.ca

Thom Wong regularly writes about music for The Tyee.

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These boys, and their hair, have come to rock you.

The year is 2006. A six-foot, six-inch Polish-Canadian law student is crouching near a complicated machine, punching in a series of numbers. He wears a wide grin. From out of a wall of speakers comes the quiet strum of an acoustic guitar, and he begins to sing a Japanese song in a voice so soft it seems not to be coming from him. And then:

Rinda Rinda! Rinda Rinda Riiiinddaaaaa!

As introductions go, there have been few more memorable to me than this one to The Blue Hearts, a punk band from Japan that, in "Linda Linda," produced the "Sweet Caroline" (Neil Diamond) of the Japanese teen set. The song is so iconic that the entire plot of Linda Linda Linda involves little more than a group of girls learning to play the song, and the movie is absolutely brilliant. And how can you not fall for a song that begins with an ode to the lowly sewer rat?

I want to be beautiful like a sewer rat
Because in pictures, there is beauty that is not captured

Linda Linda's appeal for me is probably heavily influenced by that initial, alcohol-assisted karaoke binge, but even if I hadn't been watching a giant man pogo around a tiny room, the simple chords and undeniable chorus would have found their way into my heart.

Here's an indication of how much A&B Sound has declined as a music store. Two weeks after the album had been released, this once proud Canadian retailer still didn't have the Once soundtrack, but eight years ago I was able to walk in and pick up the Zoobombs' Let it Bomb in the regular Rock/Pop section. At the time I was admittedly looking for a Japanese Radiohead (don't ask), but what I found was a funky garage band that was unafraid to declare itself, repeatedly, numbah one.

Someone from legal must have gotten to YouTube, because most of the great Zoobombs videos have been taken down, and almost all that remains is their live performance at POP Montreal. This is a tragedy, because as good as the Zoobombs are, their videos are even better. Of the 12 or so that were once available, only "Funky Movin'," featuring Bootsy Collins himself, and "Superman" are left.

Buy Let it Bomb and hope that whoever is in charge of the 'Bomb's intellectual property loosens up.

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