Japanese Boy

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"Japanese Boy"
Aneka - Japanese Boy.png
Single by Aneka
from the album Aneka
B-side "Ae Fond Kiss"
Released 10 July 1981
Length 3.49
Label Hansa
Writer(s) Bobby Heatlie
Producer(s) Neil Ross
Aneka singles chronology
"Japanese Boy"
"Little Lady"

"Japanese Boy" is a UK No. 1 hit single by Scottish singer Aneka, released in 1981. The song became her biggest hit and provided the singer with a memorable Japanese image, which she found difficult to discard.


Written by Bob Heatlie and produced by Neil Ross, the song was recorded by Scottish folk singer Mary Sandeman. Realising that the name didn't fit the song, they decided to come up with a name to put to the single. Leafing through the telephone directory, they came upon the name of Aneka.[2] This was then released as a single and Sandeman came up with a Japanese image under which to perform the song. To their surprise, the song became a major hit when it eventually reached No. 1 in August 1981.[3] The song went on to become a hit all over Europe and beyond, although according to Sandeman, it failed to chart in Japan itself because "they thought it sounded too Chinese."[according to whom?]

The success of the single proved to be a problem however, as Sandeman was left with a dilemma of what to do as a follow-up, now that her image was so firmly associated with one song. She modified her image and kept the Aneka name, but future single releases failed to chart highly in the UK, although she did score two follow-up hits in many countries in Europe.[4]

The song was released on 7" and as an extended 12" version and featured on Aneka's debut — and only — album, released later in 1981. "Japanese Boy" sold almost half a million copies in the UK, making it one of the best-selling singles of 1981, and the second-best seller by a solo female artist (behind Kim Wilde's "Kids in America").

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 didn't 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 5 million copies around the world.[5]

In 2002, "Japanese Boy" had a revival when it was featured in the videogame Grand Theft Auto: Vice City on Flash FM, bringing it to a new generation of listeners.

Chart performance[edit]

Cover versions[edit]

  • In 1981, Andrea Jürgens performed a German version of the song which retained the original title of "Japanese Boy".
  • Also in 1981, Finnish singer Armi Aavikko recorded a Finnish version, "Iltaloma".
  • In 1982, Czech singer Hana Zagorová made her cover "Mimořádná linka Praha Tokyo", of which became a huge hit in Czechoslovakia.
  • The Swedish punk rock group Psychotic Youth made a cover for their 1994 EP Pop and album Bamboozle![27]
  • Taiwanese girl group S.H.E recorded their own version of the song and it appears in their 2004 album, Encore.
  • The song has been used for the anime series Tenchi Muyo!.
  • In 2007, it was covered by Japanese Eurodance group Shanadoo.
  • In 2008, the song was covered by Swedish bubblegum group Smile.dk, on their album Party Around the World.[28]
  • In 2009, the song was covered by Swedish rock band Sahara Hotnights on their album Sparks.
  • In 2009, it was also covered in German by German pop singer Jacqueline on her album "Auf der Erde". A video clip and CD-single of this version were also released.[29]


  1. ^ a b Kantor, Justin. "Aneka – Aneka". AllMusic. All Media Network. Retrieved 23 May 2013. "Japanese Boy," which is a unique fusion of new wave guitars and synths and disco rhythms. 
  2. ^ "Last.fm – Aneka". Last.fm. Retrieved 26 January 2014. 
  3. ^ a b "Archive Chart: 1981-08-29" UK Singles Chart. Retrieved 1 June 2013.
  4. ^ "Aneka – Chart-Hits". C6 Magazin. Retrieved 27 January 2014. 
  5. ^ "Bring Back... The One-Hit Wonders (2006)". Internet Movie Database. Retrieved 27 January 2014. 
  6. ^ "Forum – ARIA Charts: Special Occasion Charts – Chart Positions Pre 1989 Part 4". Australian-charts.com. Hung Medien. Retrieved 26 January 2014. 
  7. ^ "Austriancharts.at – Aneka – Japanese Boy" (in German). Ö3 Austria Top 40. Retrieved 1 June 2013.
  8. ^ "Ultratop.be – Aneka – Japanese Boy" (in Dutch). Ultratop 50. Retrieved 1 June 2013.
  9. ^ "Top RPM Singles: Issue 0465." RPM. Library and Archives Canada. Retrieved 1 June 2013.
  10. ^ Nyman, Jake (2005). Suomi soi 4: Suuri suomalainen listakirja (in Finnish) (1st ed.). Helsinki: Tammi. ISBN 951-31-2503-3. 
  11. ^ "InfoDisc : Tous les Titres par Artiste" (in French). InfoDisc. Select "Aneka" from the artist drop-down menu. Retrieved 27 June 2013. 
  12. ^ "Offiziellecharts.de – Aneka – Japanese Boy". GfK Entertainment Charts. Retrieved 1 June 2013.
  13. ^ "The Irish Charts – Search Results – Japanese Boy". Irish Singles Chart. Retrieved 1 June 2013.
  14. ^ "Billboard – Hits Of The World". Billboard. 93 (43): 101. 31 October 1981. ISSN 0006-2510. 
  15. ^ a b "I singoli più venduti del 1982" (in Italian). Hit Parade Italia. Creative Commons. Retrieved 1 June 2013. 
  16. ^ "Nederlandse Top 40 – Aneka - Japanese Boy search results" (in Dutch) Dutch Top 40. Retrieved 1 June 2013.
  17. ^ "Dutchcharts.nl – Aneka – Japanese Boy" (in Dutch). Single Top 100. Retrieved 1 June 2013.
  18. ^ "Norwegiancharts.com – Aneka – Japanese Boy". VG-lista. Retrieved 1 June 2013.
  19. ^ "South African Rock Lists Website SA Charts 1969 – 1989 Acts (A)". Rock.co.za. Retrieved 1 June 2013. 
  20. ^ "Swedishcharts.com – Aneka – Japanese Boy". Singles Top 100. Retrieved 1 June 2013.
  21. ^ "Swisscharts.com – Aneka – Japanese Boy". Swiss Singles Chart. Retrieved 1 June 2013.
  22. ^ "Billboard Disco Top 80". Billboard. 94 (6): 55. 13 February 1982. ISSN 0006-2510. 
  23. ^ "Jaaroverzichten 1981" (in Dutch). Ultratop. Hung Medien. Retrieved 27 January 2014. 
  24. ^ "TOP – 1981" (in French). Top-france.fr. Retrieved 27 January 2014. 
  25. ^ "Schweizer Jahreshitparade 1981" (in German). Hitparade.ch. Hung Medien. Retrieved 27 January 2014. 
  26. ^ Music Week, Year-end Charts (pub. January 1982)
  27. ^ "Psychotic Youth". Tartarean Desire. Retrieved 26 January 2014. 
  28. ^ "Party Around the World". Amazon.com. Retrieved 26 January 2014. 
  29. ^ CD album published in 2009 by HAPPY VIBES® RECORDS at the Wayback Machine (archived 28 May 2013). Jacqueline-music.de.

Chart successions[edit]

Preceded by
"One Day in Your Life" by Michael Jackson
Belgian Ultratop 50 Flanders number-one single
3 October 1981 – 10 October 1981 (2 weeks)
Succeeded by
"Why Tell Me, Why" by Anita Meyer
Preceded by
"A Bunch of Thyme" by Foster and Allen
Irish Singles Chart number-one single
13 September 1981 (1 week)
Succeeded by
"Prince Charming" by Adam and the Ants
Preceded by
"Vill ha dej" by Freestyle
Swedish number-one single
23 October 1981 (1 week)
Succeeded by
"Två av oss" by X-Models
Preceded by
"For Your Eyes Only" by Sheena Easton
Swiss number-one single
25 October 1981 – 22 November 1981 (5 weeks)
Succeeded by
"Physical" by Olivia Newton-John
Preceded by
"Green Door" by Shakin' Stevens
UK Singles Chart number-one single
29 August 1981 (1 week)
Succeeded by
"Tainted Love" by Soft Cell