This kiss you give, it’s never going to fade away…
Although the history of the 20th Century is littered with significant events, there’s probably few that can match the scale and impact of the bombing of Hiroshima in 1945. It marked a terrible step forward into a new era in how warfare is conducted, while also spawning a debate on the use of nuclear weapons that continues to this day.
Today marks the 75th Anniversary of the Hiroshima bombing, a day which invites reflection on the event and also provides an opportunity for commentary. But the years in-between have also seen a variety of debates and discussions, as well as some unusual ideas sparked by the event.
Hiroshima seems like an odd choice of inspiration for a synth-pop song, but OMD’s 1980 single ‘Enola Gay’ somehow managed to exist as both an engaging electronic pop song as well as carrying a thought-provoking message at the same time. It also proved to be the band’s biggest international hit on its release and reached the Top Ten in the UK.
‘Enola Gay’ has since proved to be a popular song for other bands to cover in the subsequent years since its original release, but there’s a certain poignancy to the latest approach to the song, designed to coincide with the anniversary of the event.
Ooberfuse are a London-based duo formed by Cherrie Anderson and Hal St John. They’ve crafted a catalogue of music that includes the ethereal pop of ‘On My Knees’, the driving rhythms of ‘Call My Name’ and the reflective moods of ‘Father’.
This version of ‘Enola Gay’ is a collaborative effort between Ooberfuse with Japanese chiptune artist Hibari (who has worked with the duo previously). Hibari employs an electropunk approach to his music, marked out by his staccato vocal delivery and an intense physicality for live performances.
Being regular collaborators, it made sense for both acts to address the anniversary of Hiroshima, but to also lend a more confrontational element to their version of ‘Enola Gay’.
“It is such a difficult subject to confront because the images are deeply disturbing and have caused me actual nightmares” comments Ooberfuse’s Cherrie Anderson, “On our last tour in Japan with Hibari we spent 2 days in Hiroshima. Music speaks into the silence that nuclear holocaust leaves in its wake. We should not turn away or cover up what happened 75 years ago if only to remind ourselves that this should never happen again and should never have happened.”
“We learned about these pictures and videos in school when we were children” adds Hibari, “Everyone should know the tragic pictures of war. Some say the atomic bombing was necessary to end the war. They try to say ‘People who die from the atomic bomb were needed for the current peace.’ My song is not what people want to hear… it challenges the myth that Hiroshima needed to happen in order to spread peace throughout the world.”
The end result is a slower, more haunting take on the classic synth-pop song with Cherrie Anderson’s vocals presenting a sad, wistful quality. Meanwhile, Hibari contributes a raw, visceral slice of commentary (“One’s so-called “justice” kills another”) which poses awkward questions.
Meanwhile, the video interjects chilling historical footage of the victims of the bombing alongside contrasting images of tranquillity, such as Hiroshima’s Itsukushima Shrine (known as the “floating tori gate”) or the Hiroshima Peace Park, which commemorates those who died in the event.
In the end, Ooberfuse’s take on ‘Enola Gay’ produces a thought-provoking musical outing that asks for a period of reflection from its listeners.
Hiroshima Peace Memorial Website: