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X Japan's Yoshiki looks at what could have been

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But could X Japan have been far bigger on the world stage?

No. Because they sucked.

-1 ( +8 / -9 )

In the 80s form often outstripped content in rock music - Kiss were probably ahead of the pack in that respect - much the same as it has in Japanese pop and rock through the ages (and therefore accounting for Kiss' popularity in Japan but novelty act appeal outside the US). If ever there had been a time for X Japan to make it outside Japan it was probably then. They didn't.

3 ( +6 / -3 )

They had the look, but they didn't have songs. Back then songs were the life blood of any artist or group. Japanese still don't understand that songwriting is a craft, its not just something fun to do to get famous.

4 ( +7 / -3 )

Hilarious that Gene Simmons, from the most overrated group in history, totally overrates another joke of a group.

2 ( +7 / -5 )

Magnific Yoshiki

1 ( +4 / -3 )

That look disappeared a decade ago.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

well aren't you a bunch of sour flamers. X Japan had the million-selling hits via numerous power ballads, far more heartfelt than the average american hair rock watered-down one hit wonders. They recorded remarkably melodic power/thrash metal epics showcasing impeccable musicianship, distinct guitar riffing, wild drumming and a unique voice. Sure, their regalia was laughable at times, but their crux was always their crummy english. They successfully reinvented themselves for the 90s with Dahlia, released videclips with outstanding production values, highly exportable ...alas, they were confined by the age-old language barrier.

doubt their success? when Kurt Cobain died, 7000 mourners gathered for his vigil in Seattle. When Hide died, 50,000 fans brought tokyo to a halt.

I do find it distasteful Gene Simmons turned into a fixture in the We Are X coverage.

5 ( +7 / -2 )

Trouble is most of these Japanese rock groups butcher the English language so much that the majority of them will never be popular outside Japan (or possible Asia), even if their music is up to scratch. I love Dragon Ash's music (sorry different genre-though they started out making rock albums) but their attempts at English lyrics are laughable. Sticking to singing in Japanese is much better unless the vocalist can really nail the English.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

X Japan had the million-selling hits via numerous power ballads, far more heartfelt than the average american hair rock watered-down one hit wonders. They recorded remarkably melodic power/thrash metal epics showcasing impeccable musicianship, distinct guitar riffing, wild drumming and a unique voice.

And although I listen to rock every day, I can't recall one single song they sung or even hum one of those "distinct guitar riffs". And Im sure that goes for 99.999% of all music fans around the world.

Hell, even I can remember Poison's vomit-worthy "Unskinny Bop" back in the day.

You can quote all the sales records and fans who showed up at their concerts in Japan - but they are all Japanese.

The outside world neither knows, nor cares, who X Japan is.

-5 ( +2 / -7 )

I am sure that Yoshiki san is a talented and accomplished musician, as talented and accomplished musicians go.

A humble and likable guy. The side effects for the listen public is having to witness Yoshiki, Gene Simmons, etc, defining the cult of personality disappearing up in own backside.

Popular music in all its forms represents a couple of hours of light-hearted quirky escapism. In X Japan case, spray painting one of Auntie Joan's wigs for a session of air guitar, with the associated gurning in front of the mirror, all without taking ourselves/itself too seriously. Yoshiki & co need to lighten up.

I remember around my 10th birthday, my Uncle Edward in all sorts of contortions listening to King Crimsons Larks' Tongues In Aspic, which he inferred to as gods sonic nectar, seriously I did not know whether to call Auntie, an ambulance or throw the washing at him. There is little or nothing more irritating than having to endure a harping pop stars amour propre.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

"Can't be popular because of language issues, don't understand the English they're saying"...

Anyone heard "English" rap songs lately? Honestly tell me that you can hear the English they're saying and the lyrics...

Anyone heard of BabyMetal? You think their fans understand what they're singing?

3 ( +3 / -0 )

And although I listen to rock every day, I can't recall one single song they sung or even hum one of those "distinct guitar riffs". And Im sure that goes for 99.999% of all music fans around the world. The outside world neither knows, nor cares, who X Japan is.

how lofty of you representing the 99,999%. You can't hum X Japan for the same reason you can't hum Julio Iglesias —"100 million sales? pff! never heard of that so he must be some nobody!" right? Sepultura might be Brazil's biggest band ever, but few outside heavy metal circles know them, joke band according to your logic, oh wait, they aren't white so who cares!* thanks for making it clear where you're coming from buddy.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

how lofty of you representing the 99,999%. You can't hum X Japan for the same reason you can't hum Julio Iglesias —"100 million sales? pff! never heard of that so he must be some nobody!" right? Sepultura might be Brazil's biggest band ever, but few outside heavy metal circles know them, joke band according to your logic, oh wait, they aren't white so who cares!* thanks for making it clear where you're coming from buddy.

Oh dear, where do I start?

Julio! Heard of him of course. Can even sing a few lines of "To all the Girls I've loved Before" if you give me enough beer.

Sepultura? Nope. But we're not talking about whoever they are (Big in Brazil. very small everywhere else apparently)

Now the best nugget; I'm racist for pointing out the incredible sucktitude of X Japan and the fact they are not known in popular culture anywhere outside of Japan! Oh, you millennials with your constant victimhood! Its cute!

-1 ( +3 / -4 )

Popular music in all its forms represents a couple of hours of light-hearted quirky escapism. In X Japan case, spray painting one of Auntie Joan's wigs for a session of air guitar, with the associated gurning in front of the mirror, all without taking ourselves/itself too seriously. Yoshiki & co need to lighten up.

Amour propre, good one. but I don't know, try telling that to, say, Krist Novoselik. Cobain was about rock shenanigans too but the dude took his art dead-serious. I don't know what you mean by light-hearted quirky escapism, PSY? Weird Al? the Beatles? Like Bruce Springsteen once said "don’t take yourself too seriously. Take yourself as seriously as death itself". I'd say X-Japan did both fairly well.

Trouble is most of these Japanese rock groups butcher the English language so much that the majority of them will never be popular outside Japan

Japan is indeed notorious for having one of the most abysmal english programs in the world. Funny how that didn't stop them from taking over the world with their cars, cameras, video games, instruments and anime —not music though, in spite of Japan being the biggest music market in the world.

Anyone heard of BabyMetal? You think their fans understand what they're singing?

You're right. See Yellow Magic Orchestra, an international phenomenon in 1979, great band lumped in the early "quirky japan" gimmick (see: PAPP nowadays). Bow Wow and Loudness where the first (and last as far as I know) acts to crack international lists singing in proper english. what you point out is a totally new thing though: Babymetal embodies "quirky japan" while also being an outstanding and successful rock band who are headlining festivals singing in japanese (a first).

In contrast, X Japan is nowhere near as quirky or sexy. As for catchy, they had terrible timing in the early 90s when they released a 34 minute power metal prog/ballad epic right at the peak of grunge. EDM and pop are the norm these days so, wish them luck carving a wider niche. If anything, We Are X is posing to be a lauchpad for Yoshiki's grand scheme: releasing their first album in 20 years finally sporting proper english.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

You guys whining about X-Japan quality are missing the point: They never intented to be a Japanese Queen or Iron Maiden. They were more on being "catastrophic" to the local music and music establishment. They were one of the first transgressors, for instance, that broke the rules of everyone-black-hair. Their fans were the first to be seeing on trains with coloured hairs, so normal nowadays, when this transgression leaked from the rock-world. Also, the so rich modern subculture we see today in Tokyo is part of their influence. Musically their lyrics and riffs reflect more about the 1980s Japan, that was relatively closed to the world, in comparison to today's connected open borders. So, stop comparing X-Japan to the western bands. It doesn't make justice to their legacy.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

You guys whining about X-Japan quality are missing the point: They never intented to be a Japanese Queen or Iron Maiden.

you're right on all counts. transgressors? yes! rule-brakers? absolutely. But Yoshiki said it himself in an old interview that in 1982 they intended to be "Japan's Kiss", just like The Stalin tried to be "Japan's Pistols" in 1980. nothing wrong with that, Elvis wanted to be the "white Little Richard", SRV wanted to be Hendrix, etc. The thing about the Visual Kei pioneered by X Japan (and later adopted by Luna Sea, Guruguru eigakan, Malice Mizer) is the weird concoction of american glam, early british new wave goth and japanese kabuki onagata antics. Again, you're spot on in that X Japan made it all mainstream over there.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

You guys whining about X-Japan quality are missing the point: They never intented to be a Japanese Queen or Iron Maiden. They were more on being "catastrophic" to the local music and music establishment.

They were catastrophic all right. Horrible, horrible music that no one can remember. The only thing they are remembered for is the wretched poseur hair band act they put on and how easy it is to suck in the average Japanese and Japanophile fan.

"If its from Japan and it wears sunglasses and I don't get it, it MUST be cool!"

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Indeed German Salazar there is long list of pop stars who succumbed to the music business fame n fortune's seedier side. Amy Winehouse, Jimi Hendrix, Jim Morrison, Janis Joplin to name but a few all before their 30th Birthday.

Sadly X Japan guitarist Hide, then 33 shuffled off this mortal coil choked by a towel attached to a doorknob.

In all honesty, pop and rock music, especially some of its star performers will always exude a rather presumptuous moi!? in yer face altitude. I guess that goes with the territory. Remember that witticism? The difference between Bono and Jesus?, Jesus didn't walk around Dublin acting like he's Bono.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

And although I listen to rock every day, I can't recall one single song they sung or even hum one of those "distinct guitar riffs".

What rock exactly? Skynyrd and the The Eagles? X-Japan were predominantly a metal band - a genre you clearly know nothing about.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

They were catastrophic all right. Horrible, horrible music that no one can remember.

Who is "no one" in this case? X Japan is well remembered by people who understands rock in depth. They may be not an unanimous act, but to say they no one remembers them is akin to hanging a I Don't Understand A Thing Certificate in your wall

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Very much agree with German Salazar and Lost-in-Nagoya here. You guys really get it.

@clamenza

Sepultura? Nope. But we're not talking about whoever they are (Big in Brazil. very small everywhere else apparently)

This was the point when I decided you have nothing to say about metal bands. EVERYONE in metal knows Sepultera, they've been enormously influential (including here in our own J metal scene).

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Saibot - Don't listen to either much, but Skynard created more riffs in a 5 minute span than wannabe hacks like Japan could make in a lifetime.

And please. Calling X Japan a "metal" band is an insult to metal. And bands. And to every musician who ever lived...

Lost-in-Nagoya - The rock scene in Japan is a complete joke. When a few no- nothing Japanophiles still hail these 80's hair band pathetic poseurs, its all a real rock aficionado needs to know.

ChaosWyvern - Never heard of them and I've heard of everyone. Another group that didn't have the wherewithal to make it big.

Next...

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

Calling X Japan a "metal" band is an insult to metal.

You should probably leave that determination to people who actually listen to it. The fact that you don't know Sepultura, famous worldwide, shows that you don't.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

The fact that you don't know Sepultura, famous worldwide, shows that you don't.

Wrong again ( big surprise there) I have an encyclopedic knowledge of rock, and they are not known globally.

More of the same silliness from poseurs who claim to (but don't actually) like X Japan.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

You'd lose that bottom dollar. (I lined up to buy Chaos A.D. the day it came out. I saw them in Vancouver at the Commodore Ballroom mid '90s. I was a huge fan. I have them on my iphone right now. I wasn't as much a fan when Max left though.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

It is difficult to really know the level of success that they might have attained. If you look at the most famous bands in the world, they are from Britain and America. Therefore, it would seem that being born in Britain or American would have been in their favour. Besides this, there is the issue of which language to sing in. If they only sing in Japanese, this makes it harder for a foreign audience to access them. Unfortunately even if they sing in English, I believe that simply being from a non western or anglophone country will label them as being simply imitators of western rock no matter how hard they try. They end up relying too much on Japanophiles which is of course an extremely niche market of people to reach out to. Will Japanese and non American/British bands gain huge international success in the future? Only time will tell.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Hilarious. Whats up with Gene sImmons?? What a load of crap!

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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