Piko-Taro performs Pen-Pineapple-Apple-Pen three times at Anime Festival Asia

Piko-Taro sits downs for a one-on-one with The Straits Times and reveals his favourite fan versions of the viral hit Pen-Pineapple-Apple-Pen.

The first thing you notice about Japanese singer Piko-Taro may not be the animal-print pyjamas he likes to wear or his drawn-on pencil moustache.

It may well be his height.

The 1.86m-tall funnyman behind viral hit PPAP (Pen-Pineapple-Apple-Pen) swooped into Singapore on Sunday for a 20-minute appearance at the end of Anime Festival Asia Singapore.

Most people do not realise how tall he is, he says. "Usually you see me on a small screen, on YouTube," he adds at a pre-performance media conference.

His height matches his towering success in the world of viral videos - since PPAP was uploaded in August, the 45-second song has racked up 92 million views on YouTube, been namechecked by Canadian pop star Justin Bieber and even scored a Guinness World Record for being the shortest song to chart on the US Billboard Hot 100 charts.

There are plans for him to release an album. One possible track on the album is his most recent song, the 56-second Neo Sunglasses, which bears his usual offbeat dance moves and lyrics, which are mostly the Japanese words for "dazzling" and "dark".

A pop-up PPAP cafe opened in Tokyo earlier this month, serving food comprising apples, pineapples and even chocolate sticks or "pens".

While some might dismiss his song and antics as silly (PPAP has 32 words and most of them are "apple", "pen" and "pineapple"), Piko-Taro says his music carries big themes of world peace and love.

"A song is something that can make people smile. The lyrics don't have to have great meaning. If it can make people laugh and dance, that gives it meaning," he says, speaking through an interpreter.

Referring to the many people across the world who have made their own versions of PPAP - from Bollywood-style to beatboxing and ballads - he says: "I think why it went viral is because so many people have covered the song. It has become everyone's song."

Japanese TV channel Wakuwaku Japan brought him here to appear at the festival. He will also be featured in a music programme on the channel that will air on Dec 30.

Piko-Taro, the alter-ego of 53-year-old Japanese comedian Kazuhiko Kosaka, is charming and his energy infectious.

When he notices this reporter's carefully chosen leopard-print dress, he says with wide eyes and in limited English: "Oh nice, like Piko-Taro!"

Asked to reveal something people might not know about him, he raises his right pant leg: "It's the biggest secret I've never told any media - my shoe size is 29cm (US men's 13)."

And touching his right forearm, he adds: "And another secret, I have very nice skin. Baby skin."

He performed PPAP three times at Anime Festival Asia on Sunday.

If anyone was sick of the crazily catchy earworm, it did not show - the 2,500-strong crowd at Suntec Singapore Convention & Exhibition Centre sang, danced and laughed with Piko-Taro as he performed his hit song.

Besides the original version, he also performed the longer PPAP - a 2min 40s version with more lyrics and an R&B-style music segment designed to showcase his quirky dancing.

He declares tongue-in-cheek at the end: "The song is so short because I get tired. I'm still catching my breath."


•Piko-Taro will appear on Music Japan TV on Wakuwaku Japan (Singtel TV Channel 268, StarHub TV Channel 813) on Dec 30, 11pm.