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Birth name Mary Sandeman
Born (1954-11-20) 20 November 1954 (age 61)
Origin Scotland, United Kingdom
Genres Pop, Folk
Occupation(s) Singer
Years active 1981–1984
Labels Hansa International

Aneka /əˈnkə/ (born Mary Sandeman, 20 November 1954) is a Scottish singer.

In 1981, she hit number one in the UK Singles Chart with her song, "Japanese Boy". She was well known for the Oriental image she adopted for the song. After her brief foray into pop she reverted to her real name and established herself as an accomplished singer of Scottish traditional music.


Mary Sandeman recorded the song "Japanese Boy" in 1981. Impressed with the results, her record company, Hansa decided to release it as a single with full promotion. Arriving at the name 'Aneka' in a telephone directory, Sandeman fashioned a suitable image for the song. Released in summer 1981, "Japanese Boy" made an impressive leap in the charts and reached No.1 for one week in August.[1]

Buoyed by this level of success, the record company commissioned an album and looked to find a follow-up single. The song "Little Lady" was chosen, but caused some concern as to what her image would be now, as it was felt that a Japanese look would be inappropriate for the song as well as giving the artist a limited lifespan. In the event, Sandeman adopted a 19th Century lady image, but retained the same high-pitched voice as used for her hit. The song failed to chart highly in the UK, reaching only No.50 - securing her the label of 'one-hit wonder'.[2]

Sandeman's debut album "Aneka" was released at the same time and featured a mix of upbeat pop tracks in the vein of "Japanese Boy" and a selection of slow-paced numbers, sung in her 'true' singing voice. The album however failed to chart.

A third and final single was released in early 1982. This was "Ooh Shooby Doo Doo Lang", which told a light-hearted tale of a singer bemoaning the fact that she is relegated to backing vocals, but goes on to mention Paul McCartney and Stevie Wonder as well referencing both "Japanese Boy" and "Little Lady". The song missed the UK Chart and this effectively saw the end of Aneka. In Europe however, it gave her a third hit and was followed there by the release of another album track, "I Was Free".[3]

Two further singles were released over the next two years, "Heart to Beat" in 1983 and "Rose, Rose, I Love You" in 1984, but neither of these found success.[4] Sandeman then dropped the Aneka title and continued with the folk-singing career she had begun before her fame.

Aneka has had a modest revival in recent years, when "Japanese Boy" was featured in the videogame Grand Theft Auto: Vice City on Flash FM.[5]

Sandeman featured in a 2006 Channel 4 documentary titled 'Bring Back The One Hit Wonders'. Justin Lee Collins attempted to organise a one-off performance of as many 'one hit wonders' as possible but despite getting in touch with Sandeman, she declined to take part as she did not want to travel to London from her home in Scotland, and had 'no desire' to perform the hit that made her place in pop history. She revealed though that "Japanese Boy" sold five million copies around the world.

She has since confirmed her retirement, and was last known to be working as a part-time tour guide for the Scottish city of Stirling.[6]

Mary Sandeman[edit]

After the hits dried up, Sandeman dropped the Aneka name and returned to her Scottish folk roots and continued to perform under her real name. A mezzo soprano[citation needed], she has appeared with the Scottish Fiddle Orchestra[7] in concert and on record. In 1994, she made a documentary entitled Aite Mo Ghaoil: Mary Sandeman and Islay.[8] She has also appeared on STV music series such as Thingummyjig and Hogmanay celebrations.


Year Month Title Chart Positions
UK[9] Australia Austria Canada Germany Norway Sweden Switz. US Dance
1981 July "Japanese Boy" #1 #57 #4 #42 #3 #4 #1 #1 #15
October "Little Lady" #50 - #7 - #10 - #14 - -
1982 February "Ooh Shooby Doo Doo Lang" - - #8 - #18 - - - -
October "I Was Free" - - - - - - - - -
1983 "Heart to Beat" - - - - - - - - -
1984 November "Rose, Rose, I Love You" - - - - - - - - -


Year Month Title Chart Positions
UK Switz
1981 October Aneka - #19[10]


  1. ^ No. 1 UK Hit Singles of 1981
  2. ^ Chart Stats - Aneka - Little Lady
  3. ^ Aneka Biography and European Discography Archived 17 October 2009 at the Wayback Machine
  4. ^ "Albums by Aneka". Rate Your Music. Retrieved 2012-05-01. 
  5. ^ GameFAQs: Grand Theft Auto: Vice City (PS2) Flash FM Script by ElementX
  6. ^ Global popstar turned tour guide Gran, Aneka relives her days of stardom: website. Accessed on January 11, 2014.
  7. ^
  8. ^ "BFI | Film & TV Database | MARY SANDEMAN AND ISLAY (1994)". 16 April 2009. Retrieved 2012-05-01. 
  9. ^ Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 24. ISBN 1-904994-10-5. 
  10. ^ Swiss charts - entered 9 February 1982, 3 weeks on chart