Photo: YouTube/Foorin
entertainment

Japanese hit song 'Paprika' goes global with English version by new singers and dancers

55 Comments
By SoraNews24

Back in the summer of 2018, a song was released by Japanese musician Kenshi Yonezu, who was already enjoying a string of hits at the time. This song, titled “Pakrika,” was performed by a group of peppy kids as a representative song of the upcoming Olympics and Paralympics in Tokyo.

However, little did we know the song would infect our kids with an earworm the likes of which hadn’t been seen since Piko Taro.

Paprika would get continuous airplay among Japanese public broadcaster NHK’s regular kid’s line-up as the performers, a team of varying-age kids known as Foorin, vigorously danced their way through an eclectic array of moves both professionally and cleverly just sloppily enough to encourage kids at home to dance along.

About a year and a half later, the official video racked up about 145 million views on YouTube, 265,892 of which I’m pretty sure are from my kids alone. It also spawned a self-cover by the song’s original writer and composer Yonezu with a more mature flavor, which netted an additional 59 million views in the span of only a few months.

The Paprika boom had gotten so large that the powers that be decided to take it to the entire world (fitting, as it’s an official Olympic hype song too). In doing so they’ve also translated it into the global lingua franca of English and recast the video with Foorin Team E, in which I’m guessing the “E” stands for “English.”

Aside from the recasting which consists of vocalists Jasmine (10), Corban (8), and dancers Len (12), Evangeline (12), and Clara (6), and relocating the shoot to the foot of Mt. Fuji, they wisely decided if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, and kept both the song and video largely intact.

Even the slightly confusing title of “Paprika”–which in Japanese refers to the bell pepper plant rather than the spice blend that it’s known as in English–was kept intact, because ironically “bell pepper” just doesn’t have the same ring to it.

It was a formula that paid off. Only a couple days since it hit YouTube, the English “Paprika” has already netted about 200,000 views and glowing reviews both from Japan and overseas.

“That’s really well done. I think it will catch on in the world.”

“It’s cute when the kimono children come in the background.”

“The lyrics are in English but it feels like a direct translation.”

“I don’t know why, but this song reminds me of the good old days…”

“Wow! What a wonderful message! Let’s celebrate and grow together!”

“Im 8 years old my dad want me to learn japanese. i sing this japan little but when i watch i can finally teach my friends and i know”

“I wonder if Kenshi Yonezu would make a self-cover [for] the English version just like the original :0”

A Yonezu English version might actually be in the cards if this video is any indication. If you listen carefully the last time the chorus is sung, you can hear an older man’s voice join in which, if I were a betting man, I’d say belongs to Yonezu himself.

With all these iterations of the same song, the more cynical among us might think that it’s just a cash grab. However, as is the case with the original “Paprika,” Yonezu will donate all of his royalties from the song to the Japan Sport Council’s Sports Promotion Fund which enhances and expands the number of sports practiced by young people in Japan.

So feel free to watch “Pakrika” on YouTube or stream it to your heart’s content on your favorite service.

Source: YouTube/Foorin, Oricon News, My Game News Flash

Read more stories from SoraNews24.

-- New “Love Dance” takes Japan by storm, thanks to a Japanese drama and a handsome J-Pop star

-- ‘Rassun Gorerai: English version’ is even more oddball than the original 【Video】

-- University students perform 8-minute dance medley of the ‘Evolution of K-Pop’ [Video]

© SoraNews24

©2020 GPlusMedia Inc.

55 Comments
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I'll pass on this year's "PPAP", thanks. If any of these songs were actually any good or had any value, they would last beyond a few months. Meanwhile, you mention the fact that Abe wanted Pikotaro to appear and sing on the 2020 Olympic stage for the opening ceremony, and people cringe with embarrassment.

This is another flash in the pan, unfortunately.

2 ( +9 / -7 )

Where is that vomit emoji?

1 ( +8 / -7 )

People comparing Kenshi Yonezu to Pikotaro facepalm

2 ( +5 / -3 )

Anyway, Yonezu is an incredible artist who does anything by himself: composer, songwriter, singer. Sometimes he also draws his music video. He is well known internationally for his talent, especially thanks to his hit song "Lemon" ( about 500 millions views on YouTube). My favourite songs of him are Spirits of the sea and Uchiage Hanabi feat Daoko. This guy is pure and genuine talent, perfect both in pop and rock music. One of my favourite artists ever, especially in this age where rap/trap are the most popular music genre in the West. Comparing him to Pikotaro is really offensive.

1 ( +5 / -4 )

Get a proper artist to sing for the Japanese Olympics next year and avoid the cutesy/kawaii/highschool stuff. Whether that's someone like Utada Hikaru, Mariya Takeuchi, or whatever, it's time for the "weird Japan" image to be destroyed.

4 ( +9 / -5 )

In English, this has less appeal than PPAP, which had some 8-bit/Casio VL Tone type 1970s electro goodness and a funny looking dude in leopardskin. This is just a standard kids' TV level song with standard kids' tv level choreography. Unless you hype it as Olympics-related, which most people outside Japan do not care about, it will die a death. We will not see schoolteachers forcing kids to do it, like you get in Japan.

It's good that the story ends with a link to the English version of Rassun Gorerai, because that got nowhere either despite many Japanese thinking it was amazing.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

I flat out refuse. I've heard パプリカ like every day for the last year and if my kid finds out this version exists I'll be screwed for the next year. Uh uh. You cannot do this to me.

6 ( +8 / -2 )

The Sound Of Music at Mt Fuji. I can see why uncritical kids might like this.

(The lyrics say that your shadow grows longer in summer. I guess I will stay quiet on that one...)

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Japan doesn't seem to understand that "laughing with you about something" is different from "appreciating something." These little gag songs that have come out over the years are nothing more than passing amusements that gained some attention overseas because they were weird and fun for a few minutes, not because people "loved and enjoyed and connected with" them.

Alex80: [Yonezu is] well known internationally for his talent

I'm curious how you define "well known"

1 ( +4 / -3 )

I'm curious how you define "well known"

May as well ask about "internationally" while we're at it.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

I actually kind of like the Japanese language version of パプリカ, but this English version is terrible.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Wow...Nihon sugoooi !!

Self pat on the back.

6 ( +8 / -2 )

Alex80: "People comparing Kenshi Yonezu to Pikotaro facepalm"

In terms of how trends come and go and how people pat themselves on the back for some Reason if said trends get a little international success, it is a perfectly valid comparison. I'm not saying one person is as talented an artist as the other, though I knew Nothing, nor did the world outside a small niche, of this man until Paprika, I'm saying the latching onto of Something as a trend, and the desire for recognition world-wide is as well. You can't deny that.

"He is well known internationally for his talent"

Yeah, right. I often hear that said by people who like Something.

" especially thanks to his hit song "Lemon" ( about 500 millions views on YouTube)."

You do know that every time you Watch Something it counts as an additional view, right? It's not the same as 500 million viewers by any means. It could well be one person who's got no life and clicks on the video constantly -- I mean, haven't you yourself given that reasoning when a Korean video gets millions upon millions of views? Anyway, if you like him, great, and all the power to you. If you like the song, too, in both its versions, better still. But to say he is well know internationally begs the question of your definition of "well-known" and "internationally".

-2 ( +3 / -5 )

> smithinjapanToday  12:54 pm JST

You do know that every time you Watch Something it counts as an additional view, right? It's not the same as 500 million viewers by any means. It could well be one person who's got no life and clicks on the video constantly -- I mean, haven't you yourself given that reasoning when a Korean video gets millions upon millions of views? 

Wrong yet again. Youtube algorithm prevents multiple or 'part-views' of videos to pad out their stats. You have to watch the video a certain percentage of way through for it to register, one time only. This is in their help guide and they do not give details of the algorithm for obvious reasons. An artist (talented or not) can contact a Chinese "web promotion service" so they could reach 100 million fake (bot) views for their work on Youtube or wherever. There are 50+ people in a room with 20 handsets each with programmable Sim cards all hitting the same target video at once over a number of hours/days depending on their objective for the client.

This is far more widespread than people like to accept, and a big part in how certain genres got so 'popular' without the actual global turnover in music or ticket sales to match their view stats. K-pop is a great example of massive digital promotion completely out of step with their actual limited global appeal.

So quoting view stats is only a fair indication of their popularity assuming they haven't gotten any 'help' from a promotion service... which would be zero artists aiming for a high global ranking.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

and recast the video with Foorin Team E, in which I’m guessing the “E” stands for “English.”

Keep reading it as 'fookin team E' (too much irvine welsh, conor McG etc i know)

Just call 'em fookin' ace team & bring in a couple of ginger kids (crew cut) and you've got a proper band!

1 ( +1 / -0 )

I forgot to say why he is well known internationally. He sang also one opening of the mainstream anime My Hero Academy, Peace sign. Currently My Hero Academy is very popular both in Europe and the US. Of course I didn't mean he is popular as much as Michael Jackson or any other classic Western celebrity known by people of any age, unlike what fanatics of K-pop say about their idols.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

The only wrong thing I wrote is "especially thanks to his song Lemon" because actually that is his most popular song in Japan apparently, but kids around the world know Peace sign way more than Lemon. He works also in the Vocaloid community with the nickname Hachi so he was earlier known also for that. He does a lot of things who appeal different targets and this made him known also internationally, despite, I repeat, I am not speaking about Western celebrity level.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

I like it more with the original lyrics:

Tomorrow, tomorrow

I love you, tomorrow

I don't doubt he is talented, but he stole the melody.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

https://youtu.be/9aJVr5tTTWk This is Peace Sign, read the comments and you will see many kids speaking about MHA. Bye.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

@Hillclimber: I find impressive how some Japanese music can become popular enough in the West despite the lack of aggressive marketing that K-pop does. Naturally, anime always play a big role in that, but there's nothing wrong with it. Just because one song is used in anime this doesn't mean it's childish or something. Since someone spoke about K-pop, they should know that on YouTube some Korean channels became popular making covers of Japanese songs rather than K-pop songs. It's the case of this girl. This is her cover of Kenshi Yonezu's Peace Sign.

https://youtu.be/TpvDAJgznMo

Koreans are very prone to exploit anything can have an international appeal on YouTube, even if it's Japanese related. While Japanese keep their insular attitude also on YouTube and international fans must literally search for Japanese content everywhere, because it's usually regionally blocked or everything is written only in kanji, without romaji.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

Alex80: Currently My Hero Academy is very popular both in Europe and the US.

This is like saying "The English Premier League is very popular in Japan" or "American football is very popular in Japan." There are definitely small communities of passionate fans, but the average Japanese person on the street has no idea about these things. "Very popular" is misleading for a very niche interest.

2 ( +5 / -3 )

@The original wing: My hero Academy isn't a "niche series" you can say that for other anime, but it's mainstream both in Japan and internationally, to the extent that Hollywood is already working to a live action:

https://www.hollywoodreporter.com/amp/heat-vision/my-hero-academia-movie-live-action-project-works-1154874

About Kenshi Yonezu he is probably the most popular singer in Japan currently, with a solid fanbase also internationally.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

This is like saying "The English Premier League is very popular in Japan" or "American football is very popular in Japan." 

I can understand the former but the latter is a real head-scratcher.

On topic, I must admit, I'd no idea about the popularity of this "Paprika" song. I mistakenly though of the similarly-named anime classic from some years ago.

-5 ( +0 / -5 )

@The original wing: about Kenshi Yonezu popularity in Japan:

https://www.billboard.com/amp/articles/news/international/8545534/kenshi-yonezu-lemon-Arashi-greatest-hits-album-Billboard-Japan-2019-Year-End-Charts

He isn't a "niche singer".

-4 ( +2 / -6 )

Mute the video and play Thriller instead, works a treat.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

At this point, it's useless to me linking articles and stuff about this guy popularity in Japan and his more than decent international fanbase, since some people don't read them or want simply being in denial about it. Haters gonna hate.

-2 ( +3 / -5 )

At this point, it's useless to me linking articles and stuff about this guy popularity in Japan and his more than decent international fanbase, since some people don't read them or want simply being in denial about it. Haters gonna hate.

Don't fret. As long as you like his output, that's the main thing. Who cares what others think?

3 ( +5 / -2 )

Since many people disagreeing with me are probably the same that think K-pop is huge in Japan and everywhere, at least read the Japanese charts in that article from Billboard that I linked and see "how much" K-pop there's actually. I'd like people could be objective at least sometimes.

-2 ( +4 / -6 )

 I'd like people could be objective at least sometimes.

Here? On JT? Seriously?

Anyway, you got an upvote from me.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

@Toasted Heretic: except what the others think (he is a niche artist in Japan, and he hasn't any international fanbase) in this case is blatantly false and I showed you why. Of course I will continue to listen to his music despite what the others "think". If I had said he is HUGE all around the world like K-pop supporters in this site do usually, I could understand your attitude. But I just said he is very popular in Japan and has a decent fanbase worldwide especially thanks to his involvement in MHA, and both of them are facts, not opinions, confirmed by the articles I linked. Some people attitude is only being in denial for the sake of being in denial and starting a discussion. Bye.

-2 ( +3 / -5 )

The Kenshi Yonezu version is okay, the kids version is shocking. Most of the comments on Yonezu's song Lemon on Youtube seem to be about beating Pikotaro....

Alex80Today 04:22 pm JST

At this point, it's useless to me linking articles and stuff about this guy popularity in Japan and his more than decent international fanbase, since some people don't read them or want simply being in denial about it. Haters gonna hate

I mean, people are free to like whatever they want, but this is just dull. (It's okay to like dull stuff too, of course). There's nothing in it that stirs the emotion to hate, it's just bland.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

@Alfie: I don't like this kiddy version of Paprika, I was speaking about Yonezu as an artist. Do you think all his songs are dull? Okay, but don't deny his popularity. On the Lemon video international fans hope Lemon can beat Pikotaro PPAP simply because PPAP has the most views and they want Kenshi can beat a "dull song". Simply that. I guess also kpop fans would like their idol music video can beat Gangnan style views.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

As soon as something “Japanese” gets attention overseas it’s all over the news here. The desperation for approval is tremendous.

newsflash Japan: no one cares.

0 ( +5 / -5 )

@Vince Black: I disagree with you completely, every fan of Japanese music and anime/shows know how Japan disregards completely the international market. If they were so "desperate" for international approval I would be happy, at least I could enjoy more easily Japanese stuff online.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

It's also the reason why international fans for years created so many illegal sites for Japanese manga/anime/drama/music...and they are usually erased by Japanese authorities. Being a foreign consumer of Japanese media is actually hard, because Japan don't want share online and for free a lot of its media. I hope they will change this business model that I never understood completely.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

I like Kenshi Yonezu not only because I think he is an amazing independent and self made artist, but also because he always shared freely his works online, unlike what Japanese companies, with their insular mindset, are used to do. He understands music belongs to everyone and his success is deserved.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

@Alex80: You seem to be misunderstanding the conversation. I called the anime we're discussing a "niche interest," and you responded:

about Kenshi Yonezu popularity in Japan...He isn't a "niche singer".

No one referred to him as a niche singer, and no one questioned his popularity in Japan. I said:

"Very popular" is misleading for a very niche interest.

The "interest" is the anime. You called it "very popular internationally," which it isn't. It may be very popular in Japan, but overseas ALL anime and mange remain a niche interest. That doesn't mean it's bad. And of course, it remains very popular in Japan. But let's not go overboard by calling it "VERY popular" globally.

it's mainstream both in Japan and internationally, to the extent that Hollywood is already working to a live action:

Do you know why Hollywood is making a live action version? It's because mainstream American audiences don't watch anime. An anime or manga series might be wonderful, but mainstream American audiences will never watch/read it. Therefore, they're making a live action version, because that's the kind of thing American audiences will consume. They're taking a niche Japanese anime, and trying to change it into a version that Americans will consume. And who knows - maybe it'll become very popular. We'll see. But it isn't yet, no matter how much you like it.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

mainstream American audiences don't watch anime

To clarify, I'm speaking generally. A few anime series have become mainstream popular among children, such Pokemon and Sailor Moon. But those are the exception, not the rule.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

@The original wing: don't twist my answers, you said My hero academy is a niche anime, I replied it's not niche anime, it's mainstream. Unlike what you are saying, Hollywood usually makes live actions based on popular manga/anime, not on unknown series. Some anime are actually MAINSTREAM, for example Pokémon, Dragon Ball, Attack on Titan, MHA, Death Note, etc, have a fanbase that is large enough to be called mainstream. If Pokémon wasn't popular already, you wouldn't get Detective Pikachu. If Death Note wasn't popular already, you wouldn't get that obscene Netflix adaptation. But I think I am only wasting my time at this point. This is my last reply.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

Only one thing: I don't MHA it's not my kind of thing. But I know it exactly because it's mainstream enough, like Naruto or Dragon Ball, that I don't like but I know what they are because they are popular brands. Period. I like Death Note for example, and like any other Death Note fan hated the Netflix adaptation. Death Note isn't popular thanks to that crappy American thing for sure.

-2 ( +2 / -4 )

I don't like MHA*

-4 ( +0 / -4 )

@The original wing: indeed I am speaking about those exceptions! So which is your point? Why must discuss about something that is basically what I am saying too?! Even though I could say that the list of anime that are mainstream in Italy/Spain/France is way, way longer than the list of anime mainstream in the US. Different markets. Think only about the fact that this year one of the most popular French movies has been the French live action based on City Hunter (in France called "Nicky Larson") or one of the most critically acclaimed movies of the last years in Italy has been "Lo chiamavano Jeeg robot" based on a very popular mecha anime in Italy during the 70s/80s.

-2 ( +2 / -4 )

Something like this

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/They_Call_Me_Jeeg

cant be produced or understood properly by an American audience, but it's cristal clear to Italian mainstream audience. I would like Americans sometimes understood different Countries have different stories with media and pop culture.

-2 ( +2 / -4 )

smithinjapanToday  09:05 am JST

I'll pass on this year's "PPAP", thanks. If any of these songs were actually any good or had any value, they would last beyond a few months. Meanwhile, you mention the fact that Abe wanted Pikotaro to appear and sing on the 2020 Olympic stage for the opening ceremony, and people cringe with embarrassment.

This is another flash in the pan, unfortunately.

Oh Man. Whoever or whatever, however you are, TRY to THINK your magic word ABE has NO RELEVANCE.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

 If I had said he is HUGE all around the world like K-pop supporters in this site do usually, I could understand your attitude. But I just said he is very popular in Japan and has a decent fanbase worldwide especially thanks to his involvement in MHA, and both of them are facts, not opinions, confirmed by the articles I linked. Some people attitude is only being in denial for the sake of being in denial and starting a discussion. Bye.

Um, I was actually supporting your stance and passion for the artist.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Actually Alex080 is right

Yonezu is extremely popular now and has been in the top of the charts for quite some time recently. Nothing to do with Pikotaro or such crazy trend.

Maybe people should make a quick check on the net before making comments

Kids do love the song, singing and dancing along but not the same way as they loved Pikotaro. Pikotaro is a comedian. Yonezu is a very popular musician who happened to make a hit for Kids.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

Theres a difference between “going viral” and going global. I guess they tried...

0 ( +3 / -3 )

Saccharine.

The original was okay. This is over the top cutesy.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Clearly produced by the the management of AKB to call it Team E.

The video looks like they did it with one take? They are all making mistakes and out of sync, yeah I guess that is how "cute" is defined in Japan...

0 ( +3 / -3 )

Alex80Today 05:01 pm JST

@Alfie: I don't like this kiddy version of Paprika, I was speaking about Yonezu as an artist. Do you think all his songs are dull?

Well, I haven't heard them all ;-)

Look, if you like it then that's all that matters. Getting shirty because others don't probably isn't the best response...

Also, from the Billboard article:

"At the end of the year, "Lemon" dominates six metrics of the chart's methodology: downloads, radio airplay, look-ups (the number of times a CD is ripped to a computer), Twitter mentions, video views, and karaoke."

Twitter mentions, video views, karaoke and ripping CDs contributes to chart placings? What? That's so easy to manipulate it's not true....

3 ( +5 / -2 )

Dont know what the complaints are about. It is catchy and certainly not worse than the garbage pumped out by todays music industry in the US and Europe.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Are people really trying to evaluate the musical value of a kids song? パプリカ is even a kids song in Japan a place where adult men regularly listen to bubblegum pop... Thank god 椎名林檎 is one of the creative producers for the Olympic's opening ceremony, hopefully she'll bring something more substantial to the show than PPAP or パプリカ but who knows at this point.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Feeling fortunate to have been out of Japan for the past few years and have been spared having to listen repeatedly to this song. It doesn't seem so long ago that another "phenomenon," Dango 3 Kyodai, was drummed into my head.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

smithinjapanDec. 11 09:05 am JST

I'll pass on this year's "PPAP", thanks. If any of these songs were actually any good or had any value, they would last beyond a few months. Meanwhile, you mention the fact that Abe wanted Pikotaro to appear and sing on the 2020 Olympic stage for the opening ceremony, and people cringe with embarrassment.

This is another flash in the pan, unfortunately.

2( +9 / -7 )

proxy

Dec. 11 09:35 am JST

Where is that vomit emoji?

Just like the stupid Macarena, Spice Girls, Debbie Gibson, Tiffany, NKOTB, the neo-swing fad, and other garbage - it's something that no one will even want to remember 10 years from now and the fans will be embarrassed to remember that they liked it in the past. Utter insipid trash.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Further note - whoever invented the Autotune is a musical Antichrist. It's the final death knell of good popular music, as if the 'Kids Bop' CD series didn't destroy it.

And BTW, why hasn't JT reported on the death of Marie Fredricksson, the woman singing half of the Swedish band Roxette? Now she could SING!

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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