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Aneka (born Mary Sandeman, 20 November 1954) is a Scottishmarker singer.

In 1981 she hit number one in the UK singles chart with her song, "Japanese Boy". She was well known for the Oriental image she adopted for the song. After her brief foray into pop she established herself as an accomplished singer of Scottish traditional music under her real name.


Sandeman recorded the song "Japanese Boy" in 1981. Impressed with the results, her record company, Hansa decided to release it as a single with full promotion. Arriving at the name 'Aneka' in a telephone directory, Sandeman fashioned a suitable image for the song. Released in the Summer of 1981, "Japanese Boy" made an impressive leap in the charts and reached No.1 for one week in August.

Buoyed by this level of success, the record company commissioned an album and looked to find a follow-up single. The song "Little Lady" was chosen, but caused some concern as to what her image would be now, as it was felt that a Japanese look would be inappropriate for the song as well as giving the artist a limited lifespan. In the event, Sandeman adopted a 19th Century lady image, but retained the same high-pitched voice as used for her hit. The song failed to chart highly in the UK, reaching only No.50 - securing her the label of 'One Hit Wonder'. The song however fared much better in Europe and gave her a second hit.

Aneka's album from 1981.
Sandeman's debut album "Aneka" was released at the same time and featured a mix of upbeat pop tracks in the vein of "Japanese Boy" and a selection of slow-paced numbers, sung in her 'true' singing voice. The album however failed to chart.

A third and final single was released in early 1982. This was "Ooh Shooby Doo Doo Lang", which told a light-hearted tale of a singer bemoaning the fact that she is relegated to backing vocals, but goes on to mention Paul McCartney and Stevie Wonder as well referencing both "Japanese Boy" and "Little Lady". The song missed the UK Chart and this effectively saw the end of Aneka. In Europe however, it gave her a third hit and was followed there by the release of "I Was Free" - another song from the album.

Two further singles were released over the next two years, "Heart to Beat" in 1983 and "Rose Rose I Love You" in 1984, but none of these found success. Sandeman then dropped the Aneka title and continued with the folk-singing career she had begun before her fame.

Aneka has had a modest revival in recent years, when "Japanese Boy" was featured in the videogame Grand Theft Auto: Vice City on Flash FM.

Sandeman featured in a 2006 Channel 4 documentary titled 'Bring Back The One Hit Wonders'. Justin Lee Collins attempted to organise a one-off performance of as many 'one hit wonders' as possible but despite getting in touch with Sandeman, she declined to take part as she didn't want to travel to London from her home in Scotland and had 'no desire' to perform the hit that made her place in pop history. She revealed though that "Japanese Boy" sold 5 million copies around the world.

Mary Sandeman

After the hits dried up, Sandeman dropped the Aneka name and returned to her Scottish folk roots and continued to perform under her real name. A mezzo soprano, she has appeared with the Scottish Fiddle Orchestra in concert and on record. In 1994 she made a documentary entitled Aite Mo Ghaoil: Mary Sandeman and Islay. She has also appeared on STV music series such as Thingummyjig and Hogmanay celebrations.


Year Month Title Chart Positions
UKmarker Australia Austriamarker Canada Germany Norway Sweden Switz. US Dance
1981 July "Japanese Boy" #1 #57 #4 #42 #3 #4 #1 #1 #15
October "Little Lady" #50 - #7 - #10 - #14 - -
1982 February "Ooh Shooby Doo Doo Lang" - - #8 - #18 - - - -
October "I Was Free" - - - - - - - - -
1983 "Heart to Beat" - - - - - - - - -
1984 November "Rose, Rose, I Love You" - - - - - - - - -


Year Month Title Chart Positions
UKmarker Switzmarker
1981 October Aneka - #19


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