Sunday, February 13, 2011

Reader's Question: What Asian musicians would be successful in America?

I changed this Reader's Question a little and separated it into parts. This is the original question: "Which artists in the Asian fandom do you think have a chance of making it in the United States? If you think none of them do, what would it take for one to?" So, this time around I will answer the first part and then I will answer the second in another post.

If you haven't noticed, I try to be non-bias when it comes to subjects like this. Most times, I can understand both sides of a situation, so I want to be as realistic as possible with my answer to the readers' questions.

The most important thing for Asian musicians to be successful in this country is for music lovers to be open-minded to the language differences. Yes, people like you and me can easily embrace Asian culture and their various creative structures, but it's difficult to get someone who thinks it's odd despite the sound being similar to American artists. This problem usually comes down to language as the main problem.

For those of you who are reading this and don't understand why we enjoy Asian (or any other country/language) music without understanding, here's a short answer. Music is the universal language of the world. It is used to portray emotion through sound that touches the heart and mind. It doesn't need to be understood by a person's native language or existence of words to be felt, like Apocalyptica or An Cafe.

Now that that's out the way, I can go back to the question at hand: who would be successful in this great country? Well, I decided to split it into four different genres and use a few examples that I personally listen to.

To represent Japanese pop, I have chosen Jasmine, Daichi Miura, MAA, and Foxxi misQ as my examples. Jasmine has a nice, soulful R&B style to her music. She also opened for American R&B singer Ne-yo and the sound blended very well with his. She has a very unique style that could inspire trends in the U.S. and her lyrics are very thoughtful and truthful. I believe R&B lovers would appreciate what she has to offer, although I also believe she needs a little work in her music video presentation to win over potential fans in the States to become successful. Daichi Miura also radiates the same wonderful aura Jasmine presents to fans. He has a great, alluring R&B sound to his music. He was deemed "Japan's Smallest Soulman" and the "Japanese Michael Jackson" with his powerful vocal range and smooth dance moves. In my eyes, both Jasmine and Daichi are diamonds in the rough ready to shine brightly to the world with their amazing talent. It also seems, basing off of a couple YouTube videos I found, that African Americans are accepting of Daichi's talent and that is a big advantage for him making it here. Foxxi misQ also falls along the lines of good R&B music. Unfortunately, the trio split last year and are now taking on solo careers, but if they were still together, I believe they would be accepted here as they have a similar quality as Destiny's Child. They are visually appealing, move very well in heels, are great role models to females representing strong, independent, fierce women, and have the vocal talent to back it up. Lastly, "goth" pop singer MAA would fit well into the trending dance music craze in the U.S.. Watching her music video for "Ballerina brain system" immediately triggers thoughts of Lady Gaga inspiration, but something a little different that makes her stand on her own. With the perfect rocker flair leftover from her MarBell days, I believe MAA would be a good candidate to get Americans wiggling their hips and changing up to whole new Japanese fashion trend.

Now for the tough genre: Japanese rock. I must admit I had a hard time picking out bands who would be successful here. I even had to cheat a little and scroll through my massive iTunes library of music to pick out a few to answer this, so I hope my choices seem reasonable [and not a cop out]. At the moment, I'm head over heels in love with Pay money To my Pain, especially since their new album dropped recently and I'm swooning over it, but I shall save the rest of my comments about that for later. PTP is no stranger to the U.S.. They occasionally fly back and forth for recording sessions and filming PVs. All of their lyrics are in English and their sound is very relevant to American rock, if not better. Their sound and lyrics ranges from anger to pure truth. I'm surprised they haven't decided to do a mini tour here yet. Nagoya's coldrain is my next choice. They're another jrock band that sings in English. They also have a relevant rock sound that would blend: a mixture of anguish and strategically placed screams. They also did a risky cover of a pop song, Stacie Orrico's "Stuck". Head Phones President would be a great representation of female vocals in the jrock genre. They appeal to fans who enjoy Flyleaf's style, but less whiny and they're another band that sing in English. 404NOTFOUND is a bit of an iffy choice for me. This band doesn't sing in English either and their sound is a little bit behind from ours, but could possibly be accepted by rock listeners and bring a little taste of Japan's rock flavor to make them stand out as well. In and out of Japan, they have a promising future in my eyes. Lastly, there were three other choices I wasn't completely confident in mentioning as thoroughly: Seikima-II, Dir en grey, and Fear From the Hate. Seikima-II reunited last year and kicked off their tour in Dallas, Texas. They re-recorded a lot of their tracks for compilation albums into English and it is definitely clear and understandable. Unfortunately, their sound is very dated and would probably only be appreciated by those who enjoy listening to the old metal hair bands. Dir en grey has been an in and out phase in America. At first, they're every where from MTV, Fuse, magazines, and even local newspapers, but once they're gone, the buzz quickly fades as fast as their appearance. They have a chance of making it, but there are many factors that need to be considered. Sadly, I don't listen to Fear From the Hate that much, but they're in a genre I don't particularly like...somehow they fell through the cracks. They are a mixture of club rave music sound bits and metal, but recently I viewed "PAINT A TRIP PARTY" and was turned off by the change. I think if they stuck to the sound I heard from Cursed Screamers For All The Frozen Tears, then they would gain American listeners fairly easily.

Now forgive me for lumping these two genres together, but as stated in a previous post, I'm not that hardcore into Korean music. So, this next choice is Korean pop and rap. Last year, there was a video from Black Eyed Pea's expressing his interest in taking 2NE1 under his wing. Now I'm not sure if it'll be beneficial to the girls or hurtful (like Kanye West and JYJ). Nonetheless, I do see that special something he sees in them being successful in the U.S.. They are multilingual and, in their latest album To Anyone, they featured an English version of one of their songs. They have a great fusion of dance, pop, R&B, and whatever else that comes to mind. Rain has made a small mark in the entertainment industry, but playing a small part in Speed Racer, starring in his first Hollywood film, and becoming Stephen Colbert's nemesis. His English is slowly improving and his musical talent could persuade R&B listeners to his suave sound. He has the right amount of charm and it seems as though he has picked up new fans with his "Badass" award too. If he doesn't make it with music, he has acting to fall back on a little. Even though she hasn't been in the music scene for a while, T (Tasha) would be a great singer to bridge the gap (or racial boundaries) of R&B and rap like Amerie [but less annoying]. She has deep, truthful lyrics and a sound that I'm sure some R&B and/or rap listeners miss from the 90's. Leessang also brings back the good old rap elements of the 90s. They have the right swagger and presence to revive what was great about rap music. Answer also share these same elements and it's no secret that their influences are southern rappers, which clearly show in their music video and song "Nak-Uhh".

Forgive me for making this answer so lengthy, but it's good to explain your thoughts so others can understand. I will be making another connecting post answering what makes it difficult for Asian musicians to crossover. I hope that it explains why I didn't pick certain artists and groups.

Remember, you can always ask me questions any time by sending them to zetsu_nightmare2.0.9[at]hotmail[dot]com and titling it "Cult Question(s)"!

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