Cornelius (musician)

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Oyamada in 2007
Oyamada in 2007
Background information
Birth nameKeigo Oyamada
Born (1969-01-27) January 27, 1969 (age 54)
Setagaya, Tokyo, Japan
  • Musician
  • producer
  • vocalist
  • Guitar
  • vocals
  • multi-instrumentalist
Years active1987–present
Spouse(s)Takako Minekawa (2000–2012)

Keigo Oyamada (小山田 圭吾, Oyamada Keigo, born January 27, 1969), also known by his moniker Cornelius (CORNELIUS(コーネリアス), Kōneriasu), is a Japanese musician and producer who co-founded Flipper's Guitar, an influential Shibuya-kei band, and subsequently embarked on a solo career. In 1997, he released the album Fantasma, which landed him praise from American music critics, who called him a "modern-day Brian Wilson" or the "Japanese Beck".[2] In 2007, Rolling Stone Japan named two of Oyamada's albums amongst the "100 Greatest Japanese Rock Albums of All Time", with Fantasma ranking in 10th place and Camera Talk by Flipper's Guitar ranking in 35th place.

Life and career[edit]

Cornelius at the 2007 Moers Festival

Oyamada was born in Setagaya, Tokyo, Japan. His first claim to fame was as a member of the pop duo Flipper's Guitar, one of the key groups of the Tokyo Shibuya-kei scene. Following the disbandment of Flipper's Guitar in 1991, Oyamada donned the "Cornelius" moniker and embarked on a successful solo career. He chose his pseudonym in tribute to the character of the same name from the film Planet of the Apes. He commissioned a song, about himself, on Momus' 1999 album Stars Forever.

In 2005, the Spinto Band referenced him in their song "Japan Is an Island" on their album Nice and Nicely Done.

As of September 2006, he was no longer signed to Matador Records.[3]

In 2006 and 2007 respectively, the song "The Micro Disneycal World Tour" from the Fantasma album, was used for Nick Park's Creature Comforts and Sky television's "Surf, Speak, See" advertisements in the UK. It had also been used several years earlier in an ironic NFL television commercial in the US, which juxtaposed the song's relaxing qualities with video clips showing rapid, aggressive football playmaking.

In 2010, he contributed the song "Katayanagi Twins vs. Sex Bob-Omb" to the film soundtrack of Scott Pilgrim vs. the World.

In 2013, he participated with Taku Satoh and Yugo Nakamura directing the music for the exhibition Design Ah! at 21_21 Design Sight in Tokyo.[4]

Musical style[edit]

Cornelius was a pioneer of the Shibuya-kei style of music in Japan.[5] The music of Cornelius could be described as experimental and exploratory, and often incorporates dissonant elements alongside more familiar harmonically "pleasing" sounds. This tension, plus his practice of bringing in sounds and samples from mass culture, pure electronic tones, and sounds from nature (such as on his Point album), lead him to being sometimes characterized as an "acquired taste".[citation needed] American music journalists often describe Cornelius' musical style as being similar to Beck's, whom he acknowledges as an influence along with the Beach Boys, the Jesus and Mary Chain, Primal Scream and the Brazilian band Kassin + 2, among others.[citation needed]

Personal life[edit]

Oyamada married musician and collaborator Takako Minekawa in 2000 and they have one child, Milo, named after the son of Cornelius in Planet of the Apes.[citation needed] They divorced in 2012.[6] Since before the pandemic he has been in a long term relationship with Minami Yamaguchi, the owner of a fashion shop in Setagaya, Tokyo.[7] He is a second cousin of Joi Ito and Miki Berenyi,[8] the latter who appears on the song "The Spell of a Vanishing Loveliness" from Mellow Waves.[9]

Bullying controversy[edit]

In interviews in 1994 and 1995, Oyamada said that he had bullied and assaulted several students with disabilities in school.[10] In one interview, Oyamada dismissed the incidents with a laugh.[11] In a 1995 interview for Quick Japan [ja],[12] Oyamada said he was involved with a group of bullies who had locked a disabled student in a vaulting box,[13] wrapped another student in gymnastics mattresses and kicked them,[14] forced a student to eat their excrement,[14] taped a cardboard box around a student's head and poured chalk inside,[13] made fun of a disabled student running a long-distance race,[13] and forced a student to masturbate in front of other students.[14] A dialogue between Oyamada and the victims was planned by the magazine Rockin'On Japan, but all of the victims refused to meet him. One of the victims' mothers picked up the phone and told the interviewer that her son had considered suicide.[15]

On July 14, 2021, the Tokyo Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games (TOCOG) announced that Oyamada would be a composer of the 2020 Summer Olympics opening ceremony, with the concept being "the ability to celebrate differences, to empathise, and to live side by side with compassion for one another".[16][17] The announcement caused a social media backlash due to Oyamada's personal history.[10] Two days later, Oyamada tweeted an apology,[13] but also said articles had contained exaggerations or mistakes that he had not corrected.[18] On the same day, the TOCOG issued a statement stating they were unaware of the interviews[19] and that while Oyamada's actions were "very inappropriate", they had not dismissed him from the ceremony.[13][20] Toshirō Mutō, the chief executive of the Organising Committee and ex-chairman of Kaisei Academy, said he wanted Oyamada to remain.[14] On July 19, four days before the ceremony, Oyamada decided to leave the creative team for the Tokyo Olympics on his own terms.[21]

In September 2021, Oyamada appeared in a two-hour interview with Shūkan Bunshun addressing why[further explanation needed] he took so many years to address his past actions.[22] He made an additional statement which stated how a blog post that circulated online edited information from past interviews to describe Oyamada as the perpetrator, even though the original Quick Japan interview stated that he did not commit the acts in question.[23] There is a statement on Oyamada's official Cornelius website, from the artist himself, that addresses these matters in depth.[24]


Cornelius discography
Studio albums6
Video albums7
Soundtrack albums3
Remix albums8

The discography of Cornelius consists of six studio albums, three soundtracks, eight remix albums, three extended plays, fourteen singles and seven video albums.

Studio albums[edit]

Year Information Chart positions
US Elec.
US Indie
1994 The First Question Award 4
1995 69/96
  • Labels: Trattoria, Polystar
  • Released: June 9, 1995
1997 Fantasma
  • Labels: Trattoria, Polystar, Matador, Lefse Records
  • Released: August 6, 1997
2001 Point
  • Labels: Trattoria, Polystar, Matador
  • Released: October 24, 2001
4 124 17 47
2006 Sensuous 8 18
2017 Mellow Waves 10 10
2023 Dream in Dream
  • Labels: Warner Music Japan
  • Released: June 28, 2023


Remix albums[edit]

Year Information JP chart
1996 96/69
  • Labels: Trattoria, Polystar
  • Released: June 9, 1996
  • Remix LP of 69/96
1998 FM – Fantasma Remixes
  • Released: November 26, 1998
  • Labels: Trattoria, Polystar, Matador
CM – Cornelius Remixes
  • Labels: Trattoria, Polystar, Matador
  • Released: November 26, 1998
2003 CM2 – Interpretation by Cornelius
  • Labels: Warner Music Japan
  • Released: June 25, 2003
2004 PM by Humans
  • Labels: Matador
  • Released: January 20, 2004
  • Various artists' remixes of Point.
  • Released together with the 5.1 DVD-Audio of Point as Five Point One + PM by Humans
2009 CM3 – Interpretation Remixed by Cornelius
  • Labels: Warner Music Japan
  • Released: May 13, 2009
2012 CM4
  • Labels: Warner Music Japan
  • Released: September 5, 2012
2015 Constellations of Music
  • Labels: Warner Music Japan
  • Released: August 19, 2015

Extended plays[edit]

  • Holidays in the Sun (September 10, 1993) JP #12[25]
  • Cornelius Works 1999 (1999), rare CD-R promo from 3-D Corporation Ltd. (Japan)
  • Gum EP (2008)


Year Title Chart positions Album
1993 "The Sun Is My Enemy" 15 The First Question Award
"Perfect Rainbow" 29
1994 "(You Can't Always Get) What You Want" 27
"Moon Light Story" 40
1995 "Moon Walk" (cassette only) 30 69/96
1997 "Star Fruits Surf Rider" 17 142 Fantasma
"Freefall" (UK only) N/R
"Chapter 8 – Seashore and Horizon –" (UK only) N/R
2001 "Point of View Point" 16 142 Point
"Drop" 12 82
2006 "Music" 17 Sensuous
"Breezin'" 20
2017 "あなたがいるなら" ("If You're Here") 31 Mellow Waves
"いつか / どこか" ("Sometime/Someplace") 35
"夢の中で" ("In a Dream") 24


  • Promotions! (1994), music videos
  • Love Heavy Metal Style Music Vision (1994) – live performances
  • EUS (2000) – live performances
  • Five Point One (2003) – a DVD package of music videos and PM
  • From Nakameguro to Everywhere Tour '02–'04 (2008) – live performances
  • Sensurround (2008) – a DVD version of Sensuous with accompanying videos and 5.1 surround sound
  • Sensuous Synchronized Show (2009) – live performances

Compilation appearances[edit]

Other works[edit]


  1. ^ Fisher, Devon (March 10, 2015). "Momus honors music's eccentrics on 'Turpsycore'". The Japan Times. Retrieved July 22, 2021.
  2. ^ Lindsay, Cam (August 4, 2016). "Return to the Planet of Cornelius". Vice. Retrieved July 22, 2021.
  3. ^ "Matador not releasing new Cornelius album". Plastic Bamboo. September 12, 2006. Archived from the original on February 4, 2009.
  4. ^ Balboa, Rafael A.; Paklone, Ilze (February 18, 2013). "Design Ah!". Domus. Retrieved July 22, 2021.
  5. ^ Kaye, Ben (July 19, 2021). "Cornelius Resigns from Tokyo Olympics Opening Ceremony Over History of Bullying". Consequence of Sound. Retrieved July 22, 2021.
  6. ^ Phares, Heather. "Takako Minekawa". AllMusic. Retrieved August 23, 2023.
  7. ^ "Keigo Oyamada, a divorced man who has disappeared since the Tokyo Olympics... Directly photographed "serious love cultivated with a younger musician" by Keigo Oyamada, a divorced man". MSN. MSN. Retrieved July 6, 2023.
  8. ^ Carpenter, Lorraine (October 2, 2007). "Miki Berenyi". Under the Radar. Retrieved March 16, 2018.
  9. ^ Cills, Hazel (July 21, 2017). "A Chat With Japanese Musician Cornelius About Growing Older and New Album Mellow Waves". Jezebel. Retrieved March 16, 2018.
  10. ^ a b Yamashita, Chie (July 16, 2021). "Tokyo Olympics opening ceremony music leader under fire for past bullying". The Mainichi. Retrieved July 17, 2021.
  11. ^ McCurry, Justin (July 18, 2021). "Filled with doubt, division and Covid, Tokyo braces for Olympics". The Observer. Retrieved July 18, 2021.
  12. ^ "組織委、小山田さん続投に理解を". Reuters (in Japanese). Kyodo News. July 17, 2021. Retrieved July 17, 2021.
  13. ^ a b c d e Yoshizawa, Hidemasa; Saito, Yusuke (July 17, 2021). "Olympic composer apologizes for historic actions". The Asahi Shimbun. Retrieved July 17, 2021.
  14. ^ a b c d Bloom, Ben (July 19, 2021). "Japanese composer axed from Olympics opening ceremony after boasts about abusing disabled classmates revealed". The Telegraph. Retrieved July 22, 2021.
  15. ^ "Interview with Keigo Oyamada (Cornelius, A Japanese Musician)". Rockin'On Japan. January 1994. Retrieved July 17, 2021 – via OYMDKIG.
  16. ^ "Tokyo 2020 unveils concepts behind Games' Opening and Closing Ceremonies" (Press release). Tokyo Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games. July 14, 2021. Archived from the original on July 18, 2021. Retrieved July 17, 2021.
  17. ^ "東京2020大会開閉会式4式典共通コンセプトならびに東京2020オリンピック開閉会式コンセプトを発表" (in Japanese). Tokyo Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games. July 14, 2021. Archived from the original on July 23, 2021. Retrieved July 17, 2021.
  18. ^ "小山田圭吾さん謝罪文全文 自身のツイッターに掲載". The Asahi Shimbun (in Japanese). July 16, 2021. Retrieved July 17, 2021.
  19. ^ McCurry, Justin (July 17, 2021). "Tokyo 2020 composer apologises for historical bullying of disabled classmates". The Observer. Retrieved July 18, 2021.
  20. ^ "小山田氏の起用、変更なし 組織委「不適切な発言」〔五輪〕" (in Japanese). Jiji Press. July 16, 2021. Retrieved July 17, 2021.
  21. ^ "Tokyo Olympic composer quits over bullying of disabled children". Kyodo News. July 19, 2021. Retrieved July 19, 2021.
  22. ^ Michel, Patrick St (September 22, 2021). "How do you deflect a controversy? Keigo Oyamada blames the media". The Japan Times. Retrieved November 13, 2021.
  23. ^ "Cornelius Denies Bullying Allegations in New Statement | Exclaim!". Retrieved March 17, 2022.
  24. ^ "A public statement from Keigo Oyamada". Retrieved January 4, 2023.
  25. ^ a b c d e "CORNELIUSのアルバム売上ランキング". Oricon News (in Japanese). Retrieved April 20, 2013.
  26. ^ a b Zywietz, Tobias (ed.). "Chart Log UK: Chris C. - CZR". Zobbel. Retrieved April 20, 2013.
  27. ^ a b "Cornelius - Awards". AllMusic. Retrieved April 20, 2013.
  28. ^ "CORNELIUSのシングル売上ランキング". Oricon News (in Japanese). Retrieved April 20, 2013.
  29. ^ Alexander, Patrick (March 14, 2008). "Feature: Kenichi Nishi and Archime-DS Interview (Part One)". Eegra. Archived from the original on February 1, 2009. Retrieved September 12, 2009.

External links[edit]