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Japanese prefer nonsense songs to message songs. It’s a hassle to think about the future, or about society. People want entertainment, not a message.

21 Comments

Veteran Japanese reggae artist Rankin’ Taxi, who performs anti-nuclear songs. He says mainstream media rejection of political or protest songs in Japan may not just be a matter of corporate pressure. (New York Times)

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Would seem to me that lots of bands produce nonsense songs from around the world. At least in the industrialized world. The main reason for nonsense songs in Japan is because they try to throw in English words or phrases and we all know that, "Hey Man I rub you," is not English.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Not to disparage his work, as I've never heard it, but I could only imagine that an anti-nuclear reggae artist would be complaining about rejection by mainstream media. I don't think that's unique to Japan at all. Songs about "heavy" topics might be more common on Top 40 stations in the US, but I think that political protest songs only really get any airtime if they are by bands that already have some celebrity status.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

"Hey Man I rub you," is not English.

Well, it is, just probably not what the original intended meaning was :)

1 ( +1 / -0 )

People listen to music for Pleasure,NOT Rants about Whatever subject the "writer" is critical of.Most people already are Too Aware of the problems of the world and use music to relax,I suggest You give it a whirl as well!

2 ( +2 / -0 )

People listen to music for various reasons. Modern music has taken a turn from being rebellious since rocka nd roll started an dpeaked with punk and post punk new wave. There was a time when the music was useed to spread a meaningfull message whether politcal like Crass or social like Front 242. Music can be listed as backround, to dance to or to enjoy the depth of sound. Mostly these days it is the usual dumbed down crap with no meaning lyrics and artists that ,love fame more than the music.

A political message is frowned upon even in the west today as conformity and mediocrity fills all forms of media. This type of message was acceptabel in the West until about a decade ago but no longer as the masses want sugar coated dross for all ages. A message such as this has never been accepted in Japanese music and probably mever will as outside the norm is shunned.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

No wonder why Dir en grey never made it huge in their own country .rolls laughing

0 ( +0 / -0 )

The guy is totally on point with his comment. People, sorry, sheeple cannot handle realities of life to such an extent that they won't even watch/read the news. I find this far more so from Japanese people, they don't want to know what real life is, only what fun can be had out of it.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

@Legs and Oikawa:

Look, it could also be that they guys wants to explain how much he loves to show affection by rubbing his friends'.... backs. Just saying that you know it could be you know that you know the choice of words is entirely intentional.

Regarding the topic: Nonsense songs with nonsense lyrics are hardly a Japanese phenomenon. However, the "not just corporate pressure" part is correct in so far as this is a society where you are programmed from birth to not express your negative opinions publicly as doing so is "bad manner" and "disruptive". Not only do you have to go against the grain of society in general to write protest songs, in Japan you also need to defy the value set that you yourself have been taught and that you yourself consider to be normal behavior.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

People want entertainment, not a message.

Isn't that generally the case with most forms of entertainment?

1 ( +1 / -0 )

they don't want to know what real life is, only what fun can be had out of it.

Ignorance is bliss.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

I personally don't care either way... just as happy to listen to Midnight Oil singing US Forces as I am to listen to Led Zeppelin ramble on about Gollum - as long as the music is good.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

I certainly prefer fun songs to message songs. Most artists trying to foist message songs on us have little of depth to say anyway. Of course there are exceptions.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Really depends on my mood, etc. As it does with my friends from across the globe.

Ex: "Bog Seger - Against the wind" is a great song but it has it's time and place as do many other songs. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RcDCvQbOdig

Another good one is Al Stewart - Against the Wind, Baker Street - Gerry Rafferty.

Many easy listening songs that also tell a story and/or got a message.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Al Stewart- Year of the Cat of course

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

its Not just "Japanese" its also America & Europe. Most want & Like Dance music, alot of corny songs here in the US are very popular. (C-Rap) to me it doesn't matter ive heard some songs that were serious & some just average & i Liked them.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

What is wrong with entertainment music ,with a good message for society and better future???

There is plenty of good special songs,with great message,especially songs from 60s,70s,80s and 90s.

I disagree that it is a hassle to think about society and future. Then what should we think about??

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Japanese talento are not capable of any serious thoughts.......................at least they know their limitation.

Have to admire their honesty and good looks.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

It's a garbage in/out ad nauseum cycle that will ineviit - Squirrel!

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I dont think so! Peoples choices are limited by the artists ability. Today we have a severe shortage in the ability of singers to also produce good lyrics. Japanese people are limited by this and have only two choices, keep listening to meaningful old songs which becomes boring after a while, or get used to the nonsense of new songs which sound new! Sad fact for Japanese art ....

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

well said Rankin' Taxi.The guy has been at it for years and is probably the most well-respected member of the Japanese reggae scene.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

big up me man skankin' rankin' irie irie I and I agree.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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