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Sailor Moon. Yo and she does the Japanese lyrics,too?!
Talk about it.
The promo run for Internet Famous Canadian, The Weeknd’s, new album has begun with the release of this video for “Belong to the World” off the upcoming LP Kiss Land. If the clip is any indication, the eponymous locale is a dystopian Japanese horrorscape, filled with an endless sea of stereotypically robotic J-men and one (1) black Canadian all vying to ogle a powdery art school girl.
Witness the insanity:
The baffling, lovesick intro is narrated by a man I presume to be an ancient, Japanese version of The Weeknd posing as a 21st century Bashō. The imagery is all seen-it-before, near-future Japan brimming with soulless fools marching/dancing through a hollow metropolis. There are no ravaged buildings, or giant lizards or megaton bombs; it’s an apocalypse of ennui, which I suppose is pretty appropriate for our current generation.
A rare-get interview with Complex suggests that this video is supposed to be “scary.” Iunno bout all that, but it does communicate an atmosphere heavy with isolation and repression, which is probably why they set it in Japan (burn??).
When Gangnam Style galloped into hearts across the world and became a bonafide phenomenon, inquiring minds wanted to know: has Kpop finally been wrestled from the fingers of those really nerdy outcasts in middle school who were fascinated with Asian culture (1999 Bryan says hi) and placed into the sphere of global popular music? In short, could Kpop finally sell big numbers in America? It’s a good question, and J-capitalists want to know the same thing about Jpop.
Jpop has made several overtures to capture the American market but none have been wildly successful. Utada put out This is the One, which turned out to not be the one, but satiated her frothy stateside fan base and brought us, “Merry Xmas, Mr. Lawrence – FYI”. Puffy Amiyumi managed to eke out a few albums and were rewarded with a cartoon for their efforts. None of these albums were bad, nor were they popular.
I was a lil surprised to hear some nihongo as I was leaving the theater for Wreck-It Ralph. As it turns out, AKB48 got the honor of closing the movie out with “Sugar Rush“, a song that at once evokes the fictional kart-racing game it’s named after and the popular American idea of what Jpop is.
In any case, Sugar Rush is the song attached to the end of a major Disney picture and as such, will carry the seeds of jpop across the wind and hope they land in some fertile minds.
From Tokyo Hive:
“Sugar Rush” was written by Akimoto Yasushi and composed by Jamie Houston, and the song has been picked up as the ending theme song to the film for the worldwide release. The members who are participating in the song are, Itano Tomomi, Oshima Yuko, Kashiwagi Yuki, Kawaei Rina, Kojima Haruna, Shinoda Mariko, Shimazaki Haruka, Takahashi Minami, Matsui Jurina, and Watanabe Mayu.
It was also revealed that the PV was directed by photographer/movie director Ninagawa Mika. She commented, “I was happy to be able to direct the PV which will be watched by people all over the world. I wanted to introduce the charm of Tokyo or even Japan, and tried to make it as the cutest PV ever in AKB48 history.”
The cutest PV in history? I suppose that’s high stakes. The matchup makes sense for the obvious reasons (oversweet jpop soundtracking a world made of candy). A media handler for the group has this to say:
“We’ve always thought of Sugar Rush—with its nod to anime—as a game that may have originated in Japan,” said Spencer. “So we went to Japan and got the hottest J-pop group to perform the song that really sets the tone for this ’90s-era cart-racing game: young and hip.”
It’s safe to say that Sugar Rush will never be Gangnam Style. “Ue wo muite arukou” is going to be the most famous j-song in America for a time to come. But globalization is real and if Japan is salty about Kpop’s global success, you can be damn sure they’re gonna start squeezing Jpop into American culture wherever they can fit it. Wreck- It Ralph may not be the most effective vehicle for that shift, but it’s a pretty big step.
Came across these photos of drugged up, listless and disenchanted Japanese youth while doing some research on the Tokyo Beatles. I’ve always been attracted to how different countries experienced “iconic decades” and these photos taken by Michael Rougier for the special Japan issue of Life Magazine reveals the life of the rebellious J-teen in an era where everyone in the world seemed to be figuring out how they fit in.
The photos are a remarkable portrait of the misfit life of urban Japanese teens, and an interesting look into the Tokyo Beatles’ fan base.
From Japan Pulse:
Morse and Rougier documented the kids who rebelled against their parents through pill popping, motorcycle riding, swigging booze — and gyrating to the sounds of the Tokyo Beatles. The band was a relatively short-lived phenomenon, with only one album to show for its three years in existence. The music is covers of Beatles’ songs rendered in a mix of Japanese and English. It sounds at once like a straight copy and like something completely new. Judging from the photographs, it hit the right chords with the teens of Tokyo.
Of course, love for The Beatles never went away in Japan, and – depending on who you ask – neither did the uncanny ability to faithfully mimic foreign music.