Razzle Dazzle 'em

I notice there has been a lot of confusion, so I thought I'd talk a little bit about the origins of the name "Razzle Dazzle."

"Razzle Dazzle" is an English phrase, pronounced "RAZ-uhl DAZ-uhl" (for the non-native-English speaking fans out there who wondered about the pronunciation. The Japanese pronunciation is ラズルダズル.) It's more or less a string of nonsense words, but basically, it means something glittery and shiny that's so blinding you can't tell if it has any real substance or not. An artful deployment of visual opulence to enchant the eyes of viewers and draw them away from anything you don't want them to see. In Japanese, Imai used the phrase 「幻惑と眩惑」("genwaku to genwaku") to mean the same thing. It even has the repeated-syllable ring to it, props to Imai! The first "genwaku" means glamor or bewitchment. The second "genwaku" means dazzling or blinding. All in all, a very good translation.

The phrase "Razzle Dazzle" was used to describe, among other things, the so-called "dazzle camouflage" painted on the hulls of battleships during the first and second world wars.

However, more famously, and perhaps more appropriately,"Razzle Dazzle" is the name of a song from the American broadway musical "Chicago," which debuted on June 3rd, 1975, with music by John Kandeer, lyrics by Fred Ebb, and choreography by the legendary Bob Fosse (Fosse also contributed to the script-writing.) The broadway revival of the musical opened in 1996 and is still running currently, making Chicago Broadway's 6th longest-running show. It gained even more fame in 2002 when it was turned into a feature film starring Renee Zellweger, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Richard Gere, Queen Latifah, and a whole lot of really awesome costumes. The musical is based on a play by crime journalist Maurine Dallas Watkins, who wrote the story based on real trials she covered for the Chicago Tribune.

The show is set in Chicago in the 1920's (during Prohibition) and features two beauties, Velma and Roxie, who are both sent to jail for murdering their unfaithful lovers (their motive being revenge, of course.) The two then compete viciously with each other for mass-media publicity that will enable them to be acquitted and get out of jail, with more than a little help from star lawyer Billy Flynn. "Razzle Dazzle" is the sung by Billy to Roxie on the eve of her trial. He encourages her to play it up in the courtroom for media attention, singing,

"Give em the old Razzle Dazzle
Razzle Dazzle 'em
Give 'em an act with lots of flash in it
And the reaction will be passionate
Give 'em the old Hocus Pocus
Bead and feather 'em
How can they see with sequins in their eyes?"

"Give em the old double whammy
Daze and dizzy 'em
Back since the days of old Methuselah
Everyone loves the big bamboozle-er
Give them the old three-ring circus
Stun and stagger 'em
When you're in trouble, go into your dance
Though you are stiffer than a girder
They'll let you get away with murder
Razzle Dazzle 'em
And you've got a romance"

But what are you waiting for? Go ahead and watch the video:

The design of "Chicago" overall has usually been a darkened vaudeville/burlesque/film noir-style vision, with greater or lesser amounts of black bowler hats, fishnet tights, feathers and sequins...in fact, not excessively far from the look Buck-Tick used in the costumes for the 13th Floor and Tenshi no Revolver tours. Not exactly glittery disco-pop.

Anyway, that's the Buck-Tick teachable moment for today.


  1. Oh this is wonderful research. I myself was having trouble defining "razzle dazzle" to non-native english speakers...

    Would be very interesting to see if B-T does anything related to the flashy 1920s-30s era...

    Thanks again for your hard work and dedication!

  2. Ahhhh! That's what I was thinking when I heard Razzle Dazzle. I was thinking of Chicago. Neat! At first I wasn't thinking this was intentional, but maybe it is. XD Thanks for the research!


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