Song of the Day: Yellow Magic Orchestra “Wild Ambitions”
“Wild Ambitions”, which concludes Yellow Magic Orchestra‘s 1983 LP, Naughty Boys, to me has always been one of the greatest pop songs ever written. Fusing elements of synth-pop, R&B and gospel with the band’s uniquely Japanese perspective, the song is a gorgeous shining monument to the unbridled creativity of the group. Even though the band was starting to come about at the seems in 1983, with regular arguments between the members, that frustration never actually seemed to tumble through into their work. The albums they released merely picked up an ever brighter pop sheen as time went on.
Less reliant on synths that many of Yellow Magic Orchestra‘s songs, the track is built around some great sequencer percussion, a bubbly bass line from Haruomi Hosono, doubled vocals and a majestic, sweeping electric piano figure from Ryuichi Sakamoto. As always, Yukihiro Takahashi keeps it tight on the drums. The band inject just enough spacey electronics weirdness in the background to make sure you have no doubt that this is indeed a Yellow Magic Orchestra song.
While the lyrics to the song are minimal, they are also hugely evocative and hint at the exploration of a dreamlike state that transcends both space and time. In a lot of ways, with us all mostly quarantined at home, the song is perfect. It will help to transport you to another place without you ever having to leave the house.
Yellow Magic Orchestra managed to release another two albums during their initial run after Naughty Boys: the equally pop-focused Service and the accompanying live disc After Service. While the band were shut up shop, the 3 members would continue to frequently collaborate with each other on their own solo records and other artists albums. The group reformed in the ’90s to release another full-length album, Technodon, in which they updated their sound. They would also perform together several times in the early 2010’s for a series of anti-nuclear concerts, which also included new material.