A Taste of Honey – “Sukiyaki” (classic)

“Sukiyaki,” the cover version by “A Taste of Honey” reached number three on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 chart.[9] It also went to number one on Billboard’s Adult Contemporary chart and Soul chart.[10]

While driving around Los Angeles, Janice–Marie Johnson of A Taste of Honey had heard Linda Ronstadt‘s hit remake of Smokey Robinson & the Miracles‘ “Ooo Baby Baby” play on the car radio with Johnson resultantly concluding that A Taste of Honey should remake a classic hit.[11] Johnson focused on Kyu Sakamoto’s “Sukiyaki” which she first learned in the original Japanese. According to The Billboard Book of Number One R&B Hits by Fred Bronson, Johnson learned that the Japanese lyrics when translated to English had three possible interpretations — as the mindset of a man facing execution; as someone trying to be optimistic despite life’s trials; or as the story of an ended love affair, with Johnson quoted as saying: “Me being the hopeless romantic that I am, I decided to write about a love gone bad.”[citation needed] Johnson was given permission by the original song’s copyright holders to write the English-language lyrics on the understanding that she receive neither official credit nor remuneration.[citation needed] This version used a koto played by Hazel Payne.[12]

A Taste of Honey’s version of “Sukiyaki” first appeared on their 1980 album, Twice As Sweet. It was released as a single in 1981.[citation needed] It is the group’s single of greatest U.S. chart longevity at 24 weeks, surpassing their earlier hit, “Boogie Oogie Oogie” by one week.


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