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Why do Asian pop stars have a hard time succeeding in the U.S. market? Is it mainly a language thing?

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It's mainly a talent thing. As in very little.

28 ( +31 / -7 )

There does seem to be a gap in musical ability even among the most heavily marketed pop stars but let's face it among the most popular "artists" it's more about selling an image. And the tween target demographic who think Adam Levine is "hot" might not be attracted to the boys of Johnny's Jimusho

1 ( +5 / -4 )

Damn Sillygirl, you beat me to it!

6 ( +9 / -3 )

12 year old girls seem to love them. I`m rushed off my feet right now with tween girls scrabbling to learn Japanese

1 ( +3 / -2 )

It's plain and simple. Too much competition and also a part of it has to do with your genes since the basic equipment, your body is genetic. In some people, there is just the right combination that allows for well-formed space at the back of the mouth, tongue, and throat that is indispensable for ultimate beauty of tone. Musicianship, the ability to carry a tune or stay in tune altogether are actually more learned talents. But you do have some successful singers with Asian blood who succeed in America that are Eurasian. However the mixed Asian singers are never known as Asian. In the end no matter how good their album is, no matter how good their voice is and no matter how successful they were from their country struggle, to succeed in North America with explosive results.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

A ton of it has to go with image. The fact is, "kawaii" does not play over anywhere near as well as Japanese think, except for the dedicated J-fans. The clothes, the posing, the fifteen pounds of hair product and makeup on men, just doesn't play in the US market.

Some will compare the "idoru" to acts such as the One Direction, etc. But there are significant differences:

The groups in the Western market don't "graduate" members, treating their members like interchangeable car parts. The groups tend to be more unique, and either keep themselves in smaller acts (4 being about normal) or actively strive to set themselves apart from the others. What they don't do is look like every other group out there from the same management company (cough, cough, Johnny's, ***48, cough, cough). The encouragement of developing as either a single artist or as a group with clearly defined roles is encouraged. When Beyonce split off from Destiny's Child, it wasn't the end of her career, it was the beginning. The most famous singers in the past 30 years have been primarily singles artists. There is no need for the bland, uniform group vehicle for them.
12 ( +13 / -1 )

I blame the Shinkansen. In Britain, which claims disproportionate success in pop music, fledging bands cut their teeth by touring throughout the country. They stick their equipment in a van and hit the major towns and cities. In the US, bands often use buses.

This is basically impossible in Japan. The highways are tolled, making them unaffordable for small bands. Instead the bands are "selected" by powerful agencies, which does little for their artistic and technical development.

2 ( +7 / -5 )

The main reason is because they are crap.

But it's not limited to the U.S.A.

Japanese "talent" (sarcasm) doesn't do well anywhere outside Japan, does it?

7 ( +12 / -5 )

The language thing? If only Japan can move away or jump that hurdle as progress and stop blaming everything progressive on "the language thing" perhaps a group may be able to stop being so wimpy and self centered in order for these artists to do what is best simply put, "perform to their best abilities without finding a reason or blame game as an excuse for having : enough talent to make it.

-2 ( +3 / -5 )

I know of very little Japanese music artists that actually base in U.S. to really try to make it big. Most J-Artists or bands/groups just tour the U.S. in either small lives/livehouse or invited to play for a couple of concerts. Big or small music acts by big record/management labels or even indie bands have small fan base in USA which is why they tour the US. but none have really put in the effort or dedication to make it as an artist in the US music scene. That's probably because the Japanese Music Market are so profitable that they don't need to travel elsewhere. Pop idol groups aside, there are plenty of indie bands or those lesser known artists signed to big management labels that tour Japan, Asia, Europe, North America and South America yearly. these artists barely break into the Oricon charts, but are popular in the indie scene, playing small live gigs from 200 to even 5000 audience at a time all across Japan. There the ones that actually tour Europe, North and South America more so than the big label groups. I'm not just talking about the Visual Kei bands.

Now with K-pop or Chinese music artists, I'm not sure, they also probably played concerts or event geared towards their fans just like J-music artists does, but none really put in the effort as well, do they?

As for those who said that there is no talent in Japan, are dead wrong, just look past the idol groups and you see talented pop acts, J-rock bands, and Japanese musicians who make good music.

Being from the US, I'm tired of the crap I hear on radio and tv. there are a few talents here, but most are also crap and talentless. I enjoy exploring music from around, from Europe to Asia, I seen crap everywhere, too. But I also find some I enjoy. I'm not a fan of AKB48 nor Johnny's, but I do like some catchy songs and some goods one from SMAP and Arashi.

I like L'arc~en~ciel, EXILE, GreeeeN, ZARD and SCANDAL, just to name a few.

4 ( +7 / -3 )

JeffLee. Except, being J-Pop bands, their vans would not be full of equipment (they can`t play anything), but full of make-up, hair gel and Yokai Watch stuffed animals.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Honestly, i dont think anyone outside of Japan could associate with j pop with all its weirdness except for a few die hard groupies. perhaps back in the day with princess princess or x japan the alfie tube etc but recent bands are just too creepy. also japan music is very japancentric so its hard for anyone without a connection to japan to really understand it. some of its quite annoying

1 ( +5 / -4 )

Great answer, Dara. I would add that US pop, like pop anywhere, is more about image as it is about music - and the image portrayed by J-pop bands just doesn't hit home in the US. They have that peculalar Japanese twist that doesn't travel well. Also, Asian faces just are not as popular among the teenies who follow pop in the US. Asian pop in general doesn't sell well in the west.

And since there is a surplus of crappy pop in the US, we hardly need to import it. There are some greats Japanese artists who do well outside of the narrow pop world. Hiromi Uehara was one I saw just recently, and she sells out halls everywhere. She is based out of New York and Europe though.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

Japan often takes the boy/girl next door thing to extreme lengths. I'm not expecting Aretha Franklin or Marvin Gaye level vocalists in the case of bubblegum pop but the ability to carry a tune live ( or even in the studio ) is a basic requirement. I remember seeing SMAP singing live on the telly and it was absolutely atrocious considering how long they've been in this business ( it made One Direction's singing sound like the Beach Boys in comparison ). The likes of Arashi ( admittedly an improvement on SMAP ) and AKB are similar. Many Japanese people tell me this is part of the charm - supporting those who are not talented but cute and do their best. If Milli Vanilli had been Japanese, they probably wouldn't have felt the need to get decent vocalists in.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

I think a lot of what everyone mentioned factors in, but it's still mainly a language thing. You don't have a chance as a pop star if you can't sing in English in a "cool" way. That's tough to do both lyrically and inflection-wise if English isn't your native language. If you think about it, there's very few foreign artists from anywhere that make it big in the US. They're usually local or British.

-2 ( +2 / -4 )

Pointing at your nose and saying words in Katakana does not breed success in America.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

It's not mainly a language film, although that will serve as an absolution for those acts who don't want to face up to the essential truth that most other countries are not interested in infantile, squeaky, cutesy schtick.

1 ( +5 / -4 )

This is gonna hurt but it's the truth. Vocaloids have a better chance at being successful overseas than any human talent Japan has to offer.

Yeah I said it!

Hatsune Miku has a better chance of opening the Olympic Games than AKB48.

It has a lot to do with the producers in Japan. If you want to get your child into the U.S market go there and get an agent. Don't go through a Japanese talent agency.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Hatsune Miku and the other vocaloids are computer generated voices and 3D images displayed on a screen in front of the stage.

There is a huge orchestra at the back of the stage providing the music, etc.

Granted great and fun concerts.

But with the free software you can create your own songs and vocaloid.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

Miwa Yoshida tried and failed to make it in the US. Talent was not a problem, neither was English (she has near-perfect pronunciation and re-recorded her Japanese songs in English). The problem was, nobody knew her. To make it big, you need a major label backing you and you need significant airtime on radio / MTV. Personally, I'd like to see Shiina Ringo give it a try.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

Even Utada Hikaru, who was HUGE in Japan, didn't do well at all in the US when putting out an English album. And as she grew up in the US, her language skills are not an issue.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

For people lik me, the beat makes all the difference. In the early 80's, I heard Yellow Magic Orchestra on the top New York urban contemporary stations. That said, a lot of J-Pop is pretty rhythmless and the tone of most singers' voices is pretty irritating to my ears. K-Pop could succeed though. Language is a factor but not a very large one.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

The comment about the tour vans not being full of musical instruments was exactly right.

This is not a problem of not having good young musicians. I've seen amateur high school bands that seriously rocked out. Then there are pro bands like Oreska Band who sounded amazing on recordings made in their teens.

Then there is the innovative music that flies under the radar in mainstream Japan for being too left field, yet gets accepted overseas, such as Melt Banana's many U.S. tours and festival appearances. I once saw a cool older Japanese didjeridoo performer at a live house--he should be on TV as often as AKB! But he is not on a record label, and his songs don't fit into a recognized genre, so no dice.

It must be that musicianship is not a key component to being a pop star anymore, if it ever was in the first place.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

I think it's because the idols aren't unique enough for Westerners to look past the language barrier. There's already a large variety of musicians in the West. Why would we need to look outside of that? There's also a difference in tastes. Westerners seem to prefer manly men and sexy women rather than pretty boys and cutesy girls.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

While Utada Hikaru & Yoshida Miwa can speak English & have great voices, when they sing in English it just isn't quite there........... and when your competing with top English singing pop stars sorry it would take a miracle to do reasonably well.

And since they WONT actually tour to work up a following, just trying to use their fame in Japan & putting a CD out in the US .................aint going to go anywhere & then they simply give up, but the truth is they never really put in the proper effort if they REALLY wanted to go somewhere overseas. Lot of people around them egged them on in bad conscience IMO

Remember that easy breezy song.............sorry was painful to listen to.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

When I watch japanese commercials for new albums, I always think "Man, I heard that song a thousand times before!". All that AKB48 and AKB48-surrogate stuff sounds very similar. Some standard-songs, a thin voice & some stupid dancing - that is not a recipe for international success.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

Price of the media is also an issue, Japanese companies fully expect the Western listeners to stump up double the amount for an album then what we would normally pay.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

For just about anything connected with any of the arts in Japan, you have to have a sensei.

That kills it right there.

Any originality they might have had gets hammered out of them with their sensei's comments.

The Beatles, Stones, Amy Winehouse, Pink, Adele, Lilly Allen, Jimi Hendrix, the list goes on and on.

NONE of these guys had senseis.

If you want to sing, sing. Don't ever put a sensei between you and what you want to say.

Or you'll end up like a Japanese "talent."

Talentless.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

Aint a language thing. They just dont compare to US/UK talent. Jus cos ur "cute" & sell a few CD's (which you did not contribute to ie; writing the song, lyrics & dont play an insturment.) + they cannot dance and are not ORIGINAL! Death to J-pop!

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Maybe it's the absence of western postmodernist musicans attitude. If the Brits or the Grammys are anything to go by. J-Pop is as safe as houses. No Miley Cyrus, or Lady Gargoyle, 'rehab' is a means to move to sunnier climbs.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Not sure about the US but the original Visual Kei bands like Malice Mizer, Moix di Mois did well in Europe. As did Zard, Every little thing, Dreams come true, etc.

Said that there are many good smaller bands out there check your local life house, etc.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Europe is a lot more welcoming to Japanese music acts for some reason... probably because they're not pop music snobs.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

The truth of the matter is Japan is the second largest music industry and gross sales second to the US.

The Japanese pop singers are happy to be at their place in Japan and making it in the US is secondary to maintaining their fan base in Japan.

As for talent, Taku Matusumoto already gain a Grammy and Hotei is a world acclaimed guitarist in which no other Asian had reached so far.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

K Perry, Rihanna, Iggy Azalea, Becky G, T Swift, J-lo . . . . . The list goes on&on&on. Don't let me get talking bout' rock bands now. (Or the male artists like B Mars- who is truly vocally, musically and choreographically talented & beyond).

Asian artist are missing the "cool" ingredient" -Far East Movement came close, but yet they dont even claim the "ASIAN" scene.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

It's simple: Jpop stars fail to get the same "upgrades" as their Western and Korean counterparts. Most Western pop is really just pre-porn. I bet if JPop wisened up to that, itd be a big hit. Just look at the popularity of Jporn, where there's respectable "T" and passable "A", and age appropriate sexiness.

Imagine that... KiraKira48"! Bet that'd make everyone's day! :)

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Psy did pretty darn well with that one hit and I think coming out with it when EDM was at it's peak and the dance is what did it.

Actually Latin artists don't really do well either in the U.S. among mainstream. They get all of their money from fellow Hispanic or Hispanic Americans.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Just because japan is the 2nd second largest industry doesnt mean that japanese artist have achieved any success at all. J-pop,& such, is only tailored to Japanese liking. The music industry here is fake and deprives the true spirit of what an artist should be.

-2 ( +2 / -4 )

Hrm,Kyary Pamyu Pamyu concerts sell out in under 1 minute.

I think Europeans don't care as much about the looks of the performer and rather buy them for the music and not because the try to look sexy and twerk(Aaaargh) on video.

Personally don't think Miley Cyrus, Lady Gaga, Kim Kar...... are all the hot.

I buy music because I like it not because of the performer or their looks or videos.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Kyari sell out in one min but, not @ a "real" venue overseas. US/UK artists pack the house WORLDWIDE.

Tonight me daughter just saw One Direction @ saitama super arena. . . & said the vibe/energy/performance was way better than a Kyari performance.

Babymetal is 10x's more successful than any J-pop in Europe & North America recently. Sad cause neither of the 3 are true metal and cant even play guitar, drums etc. . .

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Give her a chance she is only 21 her own manager and also has her own clothing line, etc.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

But we're talking about music. Not clothes. If her summer wear makes billions of yen this summer, does that make her a better musical performer?

Take a look @ Ariana Grande, who is younger, hotter, & far more vocally talented than Kyari any day of tha week-

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Never even heard of her.

My point is music is for the ears, looks and so on don't matter nor their public image or sexual preference, etc.

Hatsune Miko is a great example no real person just a computer generated voice backed by an orchestra.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Never heard of Araina Grande? Wow.

Mariah Carrey? Whitney H? M Jackson . . . . or it too "old school" for you?

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

She never showed up on my radar.

I grew up within Dionne Warwick (family of Withney H), early M Jackson.

Old school for me is 60's and 70's, which has nothing to do with the topic which is j-pop like billy ban ban, crazy ken band , chage & aska, kitaro and more.

Overseas bands and acts are not covered by the topic.

Will stick to topic from now on.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

The truth of the matter is Japan is the second largest music industry and gross sales second to the US. The Japanese pop singers are happy to be at their place in Japan and making it in the US is secondary to maintaining their fan base in Japan. As for talent, Taku Matusumoto already gain a Grammy and Hotei is a world acclaimed guitarist in which no other Asian had reached so far.

SB,

Yes indeed Japan IS the 2nd biggest music market by $$$. But if you subtracted the J-pop Japan wud drop by a MASSIVE amount, Japan would/COULD be a MUCH more interesting & BETTER music market if J-pop crap say 70% disappeared & the powers that be in entertainment here had to actually look for & promote with more varieties of music, Japan wud be MUCH better musically!

Sad fact is the music & artists ARE here HAVE been here for decades BUT J-CRAP! blocks them out !

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Westerners seem to prefer manly men and sexy women rather than pretty boys and cutesy girls.

I agree to that, They are not accustomed to watch a man with lots of make up (like Yoshiki for example)

While Utada Hikaru & Yoshida Miwa can speak English & have great voices, when they sing in English it just isn't quite there........... and when your competing with top English singing pop stars sorry it would take a miracle to do reasonably well.

There is one thing to sing in another language and then there's also to put your message in your singing, so, people in the US that like L'Arc~en~Ciel like them because hyde is able to transmit a message in his singing, also, he does put effort in their English skills.

And since they WONT actually tour to work up a following, just trying to use their fame in Japan & putting a CD out in the US .................aint going to go anywhere & then they simply give up, but the truth is they never really put in the proper effort if they REALLY wanted to go somewhere overseas. Lot of people around them egged them on in bad conscience IMO

I think so too, I've noticed that in the US you have to work hard, very hard, and not be discouraged, it also requires patience which seems Japanese are not able to do so, they are used to get instant gratification in the supersales of their CDs, If AKB48 or Arashi would sell their 1 million copies of their singles in 2 years instead of 1 month, they would not be where they are today

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Ecamplry of us pop culture that does well in japsn is Heart, video below not their famost, but they been going for some time.

Heart - Alone: http://youtu.be/1Cw1ng75KP0

Heart - All I Wanna Do Is Make Love To You: http://youtu.be/OAfxs0IDeMs

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Dara DanhMar. 02, 2015 - 10:41AM JST I know of very little Japanese music artists that actually base in U.S. to really try to make it big. Most J-Artists or bands/groups just tour the U.S. in either small lives/livehouse or invited to play for a couple of concerts. Big or small music acts by big record/management labels or even indie bands have small fan base in USA which is why they tour the US. but none have really put in the effort or dedication to make it as an artist in the US music scene.

There is a group call Hiroshima that has lasted for four decades. These Japanese-American musicians based in L.A. plays primarily instrumental jazz laced with pop, funk and assorted Eastern sounds. The group's mellow, relaxing soft jazz sounds has caught the ear of many throught the world. Hiroshima does play complex, multicultural music. It's not throwaway music. Hiroshima has substantial white and international audience.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

@sillygirl

It's mainly a talent thing. As in very little.

I think not. It's certainly a language and marketing thing. I live in the U.S and refuse to listen to anything mainstream because well... it's all mostly garbage. Rap? it's poisonous to the human mind, Beyonce, Kanye west? hip-hop? not even.

I mainly listen to Visual key (j-rock) such as the Gazette, Alice nine and Nightcore music. Some western bands like Breaking Benjamin is also good. Miku Hatsunes vocaloids are also good. Some traditional Russian music is also very catchy.

-4 ( +0 / -4 )

sfjp330

I wouldn't even call the band Hiroshima Japanese, they are americans of Japanese decent.

One band I have noticed here in Japan of late that is doing ok in & out of Japan is One OK ROCK, the lead singer has a quite unique voice & if you were to listen without looking at a video you likely wouldn't think Asian band. And for me its nice that they ROCK OUT, no j-pop BS just drums, bass, guitars, vocals ^ the singer very seamlessly goes back & forth from English & Japanese. I hope they pick up some more steam overseas, they have toured the US Europe & SAmerica a number of times, Japan needs more of THIS & less MUCH LESS j-pop(lord please have mercy on us!)

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Mainstream music as a whole sucks nowadays, if you are popular you are generally not that talented seeing how popularity appeals to the lowest common denominator. E.G. is McDonald's the best burger in the world? No but it is by far the most popular. Same goes for music, if you are cutting edge, experimental, reveal genuine emotion you are generally not going to be popular. They like safe and catchy. If I was a musician I would struggle with this until..for like 5 minutes, I'd take money and fame over artistic integrity, rather is American European, K-pop, or J-pop its all pretty much crap.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

US demographics show very tiny numbers of Asians.

In some areas it's probably cool to be Asian, in most counties, either not cool, or just different.

And there's no tradition of cool Asian tunes in USA, as there is with African tunes. Roughly parallel with jazz and blues and rock.

Third, dissonance only works when dissimilar-but-almost-the-same, not when response is so far apart. Any fast Japanese music back then, when USA was breaking from classical and going for Elvis, et al? Or just those reeeallllyyyy slooooow, plinky songs?

Fourth, part of coolness is being at the center of things. Migrating to the center of the music universe, with no looking back.

Fifth, do you think US teens will look towards countries most known (to said teens) as objects of their teachers' and parents' esteem, for math and science prowess of said countries' students? Does that seem like the path to coolness? And to successful dispersion of their seed? You know what the meaning of life is, right?

@JT: You asked!

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:AA_Alone_or_in_Combination.jpg

(Map, Asian-Americans in USA, by county.)

0 ( +0 / -0 )

here is one answer from a J-musician perspective https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HqgVKd2ddnM

0 ( +0 / -0 )

It's because 1) Japan is a self sustainable market. They sell so much in Japan that a lot of labels are not interested in going abroad. The few bands that venture to Europe, America or South America gather small venues mostly an attendance composed of several niches (jpop, jrock, anime fans)...

2) Japanese labels are very hard to work with, Kpop spreaded like wildfire basically because a lot of videos and songs are on the internet on official channels, Psy was on iTunes very easy to get popular with million on views on YouTube. Try to do that with a Japanese band, most official Youtube profiles have they videos locked for only Japan.

Of course there are a lot of talented musicians L'Arc en Ciel, X Japan, Scandal, Dir en Grey, Girugamesh but to make it in the US is very complicated because 1) Language is a big barrier (don't say no, americans would rather watch a remake of an European or Asian movie than watch it in the original language) 2) You have a huge competition with Big names, bands and pop stars.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Dara, many of the KPOP artists DO put in the effort. Some will spend over 14 hours a day just practicing their singing and dancing. One absolutely fantastic KPOP star is Ailee. She was born in the US but is still Korean and is now based in Korea. Her vocal skills are outstanding and she practices very hard. Two other examples are Hyolyn and Suzy. Also the groups all work together day and night with barely any breaks.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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