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Song Parodies -> "On Me You Eat, Eh?"

Original Song Title:

"Sukiyaki"

Original Performer:

Kyu Sakamoto

Parody Song Title:

"On Me You Eat, Eh?"

Parody Written by:

Lifeliver

The Lyrics

In 1963, the impossible happened. A Japanese pop song made No. 1 on the US Cashbox top 100. None of the hundreds of singles produced every year on the virulent J-pop scene have managed to even chart before or since. The song, 'Ue O Muite Aruko' (Look upwards as you walk) was astutely renamed 'Sukiyaki' for pronunciation reasons, though it has nothing to do with that popular hot-pot dish.

Everybody loved it but nobody had a clue what it was about. Uninspiring translations have been made over the years. Japanese pop diva Hikaru Utada had a hit with an English version a couple of years back. Here for the first time, exclusive to AIR, is an accurate translation.

Not many people realize that the original song was not in Japanese at all, but actually sung in English. The problem was the shocking pronunciation of the vocalist, Kyu Sakamoto. As far as I know, nobody has bothered to transcribe what he was actually singing, so here it is. For full enjoyment, I strongly recommend following the link to the original recording here.

The story concerns the tribulations of a low-rent Tokyo call-girl ('yellow cab') and her gaijin pimp 'Cowboy Ray'. She is a struggling mother of two, who is being steadily put out of business by the demand for 'ladyboys'/'shemales', or as the Japanese call them 'Nyuu Hafu' (New Halves). I'm pleased to inform that language stereotyping abounds.

Sadly, Kyu Sakamoto was killed in a major plane crash on the slopes of Mt Fuji in the 1980s.

SUKIYAKI (Ue o Muite Aruko)

'Ooh 'ey, on me you eat, eh?
Are you co-o-old?'

'Nah! Me dat? Gaah! Cowboy Ray nigh, he o - o ownie.'
Homo-y dat's you! How you know he?
He tol' me ball chick no' your route.'

'Ooh, 'ey, on me you eat, eh?
Aah! You Yoko Ono!
Me GI Dan!'
'Oh!', She: 'Oh cuss! Ol' Ra-a -ay say:
'Homo-y dat's you!' Nuts! You no he!
Hit on me - ball chick, no? Your room?'

She are wha' she were, come on: 'Oh! Ooh!' when he
See her, wha' she were, so ran off! 'Ooh!' wen' he.

'Ooh, wai'!' Oh mea-ea-eathead!
Are you ko-o-o-ko?
Nyah! Me! Dat guy! Cowboy Ray ni', he o-o-ownie!
Lucky no' care, ah? Ah, room cool!
Meet only boy-chick - know your route.'

(Sakamoto trademark whistling)

'Homo-y dat's you! Aah. Key no' here!
He tol' me ball chick not your route!'

Cannot she be warm 'ho, she? No - can't get near
Cannot she be warm - two kids! No car get near

'Oh where you me-ee - eat, eh?
Are you Yoko Ono?'
'Naah! Me dat girl?
Cool beret? Naah. It Ono only.
Lucky not her, uh? Aaah, you cool!
Hit on me. Ball chick, no? Your room?
Hit on me. Ball chick, no? Your room?'

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User Comments

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Peregrin - October 09, 2012 - Report this comment
OMG! Great stuff! But, what a co-inky-denky! Now, to demonstrate I am not making this up (as I have posted this only a few minutes after today's entries came out), I have to advise that M&P have an already finished parody using exactly the same OS, except ours follows no story. It was, between us, an amalgamation of the best parts of what we THOUGHT we were hearing (if it was English)! It is entitled "Hobbityaki (The Ballad Of Gina And Yuri)". I shall see that it gets released tomorrow, as an accompaniment to this fine effort :)

Back to yours though, great lines, particularly laughed at "Are you Yoko Ono?", heh heh!
Lifeliver - October 09, 2012 - Report this comment
Hi Pip. I just checked in early to see if this made it through the editors (I had my doubts). It was quite difficult, actually, but I'm conversational in Japanese, which helped with the syllable matching. Glad you liked it and looking forward to seeing yours - sounds interesting.
Meriadoc - October 09, 2012 - Report this comment
LL - this was fantastic, and hilarious. I had to read it several times to get the full appreciation of it, like fine sake.
AFW - October 09, 2012 - Report this comment
Cleverly crazy...very well done
Lifeliver - October 10, 2012 - Report this comment
@ AFW: Thanks. Sometimes I wish I were clever at other things ...

@ Merry: Domo arigato gozaimasu. O susume michi wa yominagara kyoku o kiku; sore hodo motto okashi wa, to omoimasu. Mochiron, sore o dekita, ka na?
(Loosely) Thank you so much. The best way is to listen as you read. It's much funnier that way, I think. Of course you could do that?
Sorry, showing off! It's interesting how you say it sustains repeated readings, or rather listenings. I think that's one of the best things about phonetic matching. Normally, once you have the tune, a parody stands without repeated listenings, unless you're analyzing the pacing, syllable count etc. But I've found myself repeatedly replaying and following this. Wotta wanker, as Pippin might say.

@ Pippin: 'Yoko Ono' was really the only part that didn't really match up phonetically, but I thought it was too funny to leave out. Thanks for proving me right. Poor Yoko. She lost her John too! (SICK!)
Meriadoc - October 11, 2012 - Report this comment
When I read this the other day I was hearing the OS from memory. So today I read again while playing the song. This really IS a masterpiece - one of the finest things I've seen on here in quite awhile. Some of the best lines: "Me GI Dan", "Key no' here" and of course the last line.
Lifeliver - October 11, 2012 - Report this comment
@ Merry: Shiawase wa (It is happiness). You made my day. I was very pleased with it, says he modestly, and thinking about another go at it. I could try other Japanese songs but they're too little known outside Japan.

Glad you got my hint - in my (longwinded) intro, I did strongly recommend following the OS as you read, even if you know the melody, especially in cases like this. Another one of mine a while back that really needs the link is 'The Calvary Hillbilly' (which you kindly commented on). To get it, you really need to go to the version I used, so if you didn't do so ...

Syllable-matching Japanese to English is very tricky, as every consonant is followed by a vowel. For example, they use the borrowed word 'sleeping bag' (3): su-ri-pi-n-gu-ba-gu (7). The Japanese English accent is nothing like the Asian stereotype in the parody. Every word or sentence must end in a vowel, except for 'n'. So 'My name is David' becomes 'Ma-i ne-mu i-zu De-i-bi-do'

But like other Asian languages, there is no distinction between 'l' and 'r' (brilliant British humorist Stephen Fry pointed out you'd think they'd get it 50 per cent right instead of the usual zero. So you get cool stuff like the sign at the arrivals lounge at Kansai airport: 'We hope you enjoyed your fright' (long since removed), or the promo poster at a HMV store: 'Ayumi Hamasaki: Check out her bland new album.'

There are lots of other anomalies. The sounds 'too' and 'tee' don't exist, approximated by 'tsu' and 'chi'. They can't distinguish between 'see' and 'she', or 'bee' and vee', and the schwa, the most common sound in English, is well nigh impossible even for advanced Japanese speakers of English.

Anyway, as you mentioned elsewhere I've picked up enough bad influences here without going the route of unsolicited didactism (joke TT). So thanks for reading if you got this far.

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