Saturday, August 6, 2011

Asian Music

So, okay, let me begin by saying im not asian. I'm white. Like, almost Vampire Pale white. And I live in Michigan, which also makes me American. Actually, I have no idea what that has to do with the title of this blog. Anyway, let's go back a bit. I grew up pretty much knowing all the top 40 songs, lyrics and all, and I loved them. I grew up with stuff like michael jackson and thriller when I was 10-11 and then onto big hair metal when I was a teenager. Yeah, you do the math. as I came into adulthood, those bands became a thing of the past as all things do, when then the music of the 90's and very early 2000's was more pop-driven. American music back then was just really awesome.

But now, for me anyway, its just lost all its flavour. I'm not a huge fan of rap, hip hop or R&B. Nor am I a fan of country crossover. But sadly, this is the kind of music that has taken over the media/radio in a big way in the last decade.
Yes, rap and R&B have been around since the 80's but not the way it is today. It seems as though when I turn on the radio, thats ALL there is to sample.
So, I dont listen to the radio much anymore. Pretty much the only american music I like anymore is Adam Lambert and Michael Buble'. And he's Canadian!
Of course I still love my classic music. The stuff that was influenced by my parents, like The Beatles and The Guess Who, some Elvis and lots of Motown Oldies, and especially Frank Sinatra. But that's pretty much where my love of american music ends.

Now lets go back 5 years ago. My entire world was up-ended when my mother died. I moved into zombie-dom for the better part of a year. Everything on the radio felt like it was just there to make me suffer. I'm sure many people can relate to this after a loss of great magnitude.
So fast forward a year to 2007.
A friend of mine I was chatting with, sent me a link to this Japanese singer as a guest on some weird japanese talk show. It was the strangest thing I ever saw. The show, not the singer. The singer was just really amazing. And yeah, really hot. I went looking on youtube for his music videos and was just blown away. His name is Gackt. I became a bigger fan than my friend was. I know, crazy, right? Some time after that I discovered Miyavi. Creative genius! This was the year I became addicted to youtube viewing and the same year I discovered asian Idol Dramas, purely by accident. The first 2 pages of the Most Viewed section were just filled with episodes for a couple weeks, when I broke down and decided to see exactly what it was. Turned out to be a show from Taiwan. I instantly fell in love. It was like nothing else i'd ever seen, and so funny and just, addictive. I started watching show after show and yeah, it was all in chinese, but it was all subtitled, so it was all good. This was how I discovered Taiwanese music. One boyband in particular called Fahrenheit.
There's that word again that we all havent seen since NSYNC and Backstreet Boys. BoyBand.
Now, I know what you're thinking. "Boyband? Really, Karen? Really?"
Yes, Really.
There are other groups and solo artists of course, but Fahrenheit is my favourite.
And i've been watching these shows on the internets since 2007 now and I just love them. Also, somehow along the way i've come across Korean Boybands. One in particular, Super Junior, is really amazing.
Now that we're all up to speed here, i'll explain the boyband thing.
In asia, this is the predominant type of music. Boy band and Girl group Pop music.
Oh i'm sure there are still band bands over there, with instruments and things, but you'd be hard pressed to find them in the main stream media.

This brings me to another conversation about mainstream media. The American one.
You might recall recent movies like Ninja Assassin and The Green Hornet? Both movies had asian musicians in them. Ninja Assassin had Rain and Joon Lee, both korean singers and Green Hornet had Jay Chou of Taiwan.
L'il Kim collaborated with Se7en on a song of his called Girls, back in 2009.
And korean actor/singer Lee Byung-hun was in 2009's G.I.Joe: Rise of the cobra.
Slowly but surely, asian artists are making their way into american media. Even japanese rocker Miyavi does U.S. tours, albeit small ones.
Youtube is a huge source for music videos and all you really have to do is type in something like Korean Boybands and it'll bring up all manner of videos to choose from.
The business is booming and asian music agencies are jumping all over it with their own youtube channels for the world to just soak up. But here's the thing. Forget your idea of the term Boyband. Kick it to the curb and buckle up for something completely different than what you're used to. Oh sure there are teenage boybands and 18-22 year old boy bands that are a bit Nsync-ish but that really isnt the norm; it's the exception rather than the rule.
Then there is the small issue of "huh? I dont even speak korean or chinese. Why would I listen to that?" language barrier thing. Well, kick that to the curb too. There is such a thing as translated music videos, done mainly by fans of the groups, or websites that have many of the songs translated for your reading pleasure. I never let the fact that we speak different languages get in the way of enjoying good music. A great song is a great song, no matter what language you speak. Just sit back and enjoy the music and the way the song makes you feel.
Right now, Korean music is the big thing all over the net, and its close to boiling over into the rest of the world, to take it by storm. All we have to do is let it.

I think the world, and more importantly, the U.S., is ready for asian music.
All we have to do is open the door.

Artists to check out: Korea

Super Junior
Big Bang
Girls Generation
Lee Jung Hyun

Artists to check out:Taiwan

Super Junior M
Vic Chou
Show Luo
Ming Dao
Jerry Yan
Danson Tang

These are all just a few of my personal favourites and does not represent ALL of the artists in Taiwan and Korea.
Who knows, maybe you'll stumble upon a group I haven't mentioned and fall madly in love.
So go on and open the door and let them in. Don't be afraid; it's only music.


  1. Hey! I know I'm like a year late in commenting on this but ever since you mentioned that you have a blog I've been trying to get over and read it. Now that I finally have, I'm glad I did! I love this post and I agree with all of it.

    The most surprising thing is that you and I discovered Asian music in just about the same order! My first Japanese music love was Gackt (followed by Abingdon Boys School) I knew of Gackt back when I was in high school (about 10 years ago). I love him! After that I watched Japanese dramas then heard of Taiwanese dramas and found Fahrenheit, just like you did! I was more into the Japanese music scene though, and for a VERY LONG TIME, like 10 years. Then I discovered Kpop in the same way you did. I found Super Junior after watching dramas that were remakes of Japanese dramas. SuJu is my first Kpop love! ELF, ftw!! ^^v

    It's crazy how similar our Asian music discovery is. ^_^

    I agree that America is ready for Kpop, and speaking a year later than your post, it's finally starting to invade!

    Also, I'm sorry to hear about your mom. I can't even imagine what that is like.

    I look forward to discussing Kpop and Asian music with you in the future! ^_^

    1. Hey! thanks for popping over! Sorry it took me so long to reply myself, as i've been on vacation.
      I'm glad you like this post too.
      it is kinda neat how similar things are in our music discovery.
      thank you for the condolences also. it's been six years now. even though its still very painful, im far less of a zombie than that first year. It just takes alot of time. When I found asian pop, it weirdly helped me through alot.