Back in the summer of 2018, a song was released by Japanese musician Kenshi Yonezu, who was already enjoying a string of hits at the time. This song, titled “Pakrika,” was performed by a group of peppy kids as a representative song of the upcoming Olympics and Paralympics in Tokyo.
However, little did we know the song would infect our kids with an earworm the likes of which hadn’t been seen since Piko Taro.
Paprika would get continuous airplay among Japanese public broadcaster NHK’s regular kid’s line-up as the performers, a team of varying-age kids known as Foorin, vigorously danced their way through an eclectic array of moves both professionally and cleverly just sloppily enough to encourage kids at home to dance along.
About a year and a half later, the official video racked up about 145 million views on YouTube, 265,892 of which I’m pretty sure are from my kids alone. It also spawned a self-cover by the song’s original writer and composer Yonezu with a more mature flavor, which netted an additional 59 million views in the span of only a few months.
The Paprika boom had gotten so large that the powers that be decided to take it to the entire world (fitting, as it’s an official Olympic hype song too). In doing so they’ve also translated it into the global lingua franca of English and recast the video with Foorin Team E, in which I’m guessing the “E” stands for “English.”
Aside from the recasting which consists of vocalists Jasmine (10), Corban (8), and dancers Len (12), Evangeline (12), and Clara (6), and relocating the shoot to the foot of Mt. Fuji, they wisely decided if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, and kept both the song and video largely intact.
Even the slightly confusing title of “Paprika”–which in Japanese refers to the bell pepper plant rather than the spice blend that it’s known as in English–was kept intact, because ironically “bell pepper” just doesn’t have the same ring to it.
It was a formula that paid off. Only a couple days since it hit YouTube, the English “Paprika” has already netted about 200,000 views and glowing reviews both from Japan and overseas.
“That’s really well done. I think it will catch on in the world.”
“It’s cute when the kimono children come in the background.”
“The lyrics are in English but it feels like a direct translation.”
“I don’t know why, but this song reminds me of the good old days…”
“Wow! What a wonderful message! Let’s celebrate and grow together!”
“Im 8 years old my dad want me to learn japanese. i sing this japan little but when i watch i can finally teach my friends and i know”
“I wonder if Kenshi Yonezu would make a self-cover [for] the English version just like the original :0”
A Yonezu English version might actually be in the cards if this video is any indication. If you listen carefully the last time the chorus is sung, you can hear an older man’s voice join in which, if I were a betting man, I’d say belongs to Yonezu himself.
With all these iterations of the same song, the more cynical among us might think that it’s just a cash grab. However, as is the case with the original “Paprika,” Yonezu will donate all of his royalties from the song to the Japan Sport Council’s Sports Promotion Fund which enhances and expands the number of sports practiced by young people in Japan.
So feel free to watch “Pakrika” on YouTube or stream it to your heart’s content on your favorite service.
Source: YouTube/Foorin, Oricon News, My Game News Flash
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