Super Senior

Super Senior
PHOTO: AFP

They joke about knocking on heaven's door, but a Japanese 'girl band' with an average age of 84 have become unexpected pop idols.

Hailing from the remote, coral-fringed island of Kohama in Okinawa, KBG84 - a play on the name of popular teenyboppers AKB48 - admit to being slightly bemused by their success after cutting their first disc and completing a sellout Japan tour.

"When I first heard someone call us 'idols', I thought an idol meant someone who had lived a long life and was at the gates of heaven," pint-sized Tomi Menaka, 92, told AFP.

"But in Tokyo they told me it was an entertainer - which was a relief because I thought it meant I was on my way to heaven."

The 33-strong troupe of singers and dancers has released a single called Come On And Dance, Kohama Island, with a heart-warming video shot on the tiny honeymoon isle, which has a population of just 600.

Normally hunched over a walking stick, Ms Menaka tosses her cane aside like a bona fide rock star when she's on stage, dancing with joyous abandon to the pling-plang of traditional Okinawan string music that has been given a pop makeover.

"I've never been as happy as I am when we perform," she said, wearing a striped kimono and flame-red headscarf, her gold teeth glistening in the midday sun.

Yet, backstage at a KBG84 gig is a far cry from the average pop concert - walking frames block entrances, and blood pressure monitors and defibrillators are close at hand.

The brainchild of musician Kikuo Tsuchida, the rambunctious seniors recently signed a record deal and have been followed by Japanese documentary crews as they play to audiences, generally from middle age upwards.


This article was first published on July 11, 2015.
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