Scottish act Aneka tops the charts with “Japanese Boy” in 1981

A major hit across Europe, “Japanese Boy” failed to chart in Japan because the songwriters ignored a very important detail

Scottish act Aneka tops the charts with “Japanese Boy” in 1981

It’s one of the 1980’s major Pop music hits and it sold over 5 million copies around the world and brought Scottish folk singer Mary Sandeman’s popularity that end up being only temporary. “Japanese Boy” was written by Bob Heatlie and Neil Ross and released in 1981 by Mary Sandeman as Aneka, backed with “Ae Fond Kiss”. “Japanese Boy” became a major hit when it eventually reached No. 1 at the UK singles charts on August 29, 1981. It’s success spread mainly across Europe, while in the U.S only reached No.15 at the Billboard Disco Top 80. It also peaked to No. 1 in Belgium, Finland, Ireland, Sweden and Switzerland, it was outside Europe that the song got it’s worst chart positions in countries such as Australia or Canada. The big twist was when “Japanese Boy” failed to chart in Japan, as songwriters ignored a very crucial detail: The melody was Chinese! Mary Sandeman, who as Aneka performed the song fully dressed as a traditional Japanese woman, saw this image being forever associated with her musical career doing more wrong than good. She released one album only, “Aneka”, in 1981 that included the smash hit, but future single releases failed to chart highly and she’s now filed under 1980’s one hit wonders, but still, quite a hit, having in 2002, a revival when it was featured in the video game Grand Theft Auto: Vice City.

Look back at a 1981 performance of the song  “Japanese Boy” by Aneka

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