Category: Reviews


Additions To the "Fray"

Well; i noticed i left this seriously open ended last night without some proof on what JPOP is – as this project isn’t exactly an ending factor as of September 21st.  So with the conclusion that Japanese ROCK isn’t imitative by averaging out what i know and what i’ve researched, i’ve decided to do a few quick reviews and examples of Japanese Pop outside of what i’ve shown in previous posts.

I will note that these are things i picked up on Sept 20th 2010, from Youtube – and have no research to back up my reviews on these.  They are pure “opinion” and i can assure you, that from this end of the foray – that I have never heard most of these bands before today.

(However; i will reference where i’ve received these and note that in the final bibliography!)

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Also known as the TV theme to the Police Drama, Life On Mars

http://www.youtube.com/v/v–IqqusnNQ

Part and parcel to the glam rock look – even if you can’t see glam rock, you can see the makeup used.
(Marylin Manson fans try and claim this as their own claim to fame from their “God of Rock” but personal opinion states that guy even if he has talent, has done nothing but copy and plagarize modern rock from an international stand point. I dont have any resources to state this other than take a good look at early 1990s Visual Kei.)

Classifying music seems like such a tedious job, however when academically reviewing it the knowledge behind the notes and melodies become much more clear.  (Thus the argument of incorrect classification)

I seem to note in the Ashgate Research Companion to Japanese music that they classify X-japan (X) as Death metal.  In the academic sense I am baffled as to how they have come across this realization, and from a personal perspective i’m mortified and laughing at the same time.  If the time frame matches, is this how we classify our music? Are we not to first listen to the notes, the melodic harmonies and the trembling fear of our parents when we classify something?

In the academic sense my note of “Trembling fear of our Parents” is a mere humorous joke, we all know that growing up in society we’ve been taught that parents have a large hold on how our musical tastes grow in our early years.  Some parents more strict than others, as you have seen in the performance video of “Celebration” in the previous post, by X-japan – Parents are quick to uphold a sense of law and order for children at the same time as satisfying their curiosity.

Curiosity in this case, has not killed the cat.

In a study By David Paltin, PhD Child Psychologist, he looks into the reasons or notions behind Parenting. This sort of example shows how parental control can be exercised over the music we listen to. This is where you begin to see how certain parts of society can classify music in what can be considered “the wrong way”.

In an unacademic note….

Death Metal is very screamy, and music like that is very scary

To continue the academic tone on how to explain literally what Death or Black Metal is; you would have to take a look at possible examples of bands.  Beyond that you’d have to look at sub classifications; which would be a whole new research topic entirely.  Core values of what this music sounds like would be summarized in a few simple key words:

Lyrics of a largely Gothic or Dark, menacing type nature.

Voices of a grinding, screaming or almost grinding yelling nature.

I suppose if you use the classification of “Melodic Death Metal” when comparing to bands such as Nightwish or other Scandanavian metal or hardcore rock bands – then supposedly a band like Luna Sea or X-japan would be classified as such.  However, the rock ballads that are on more Asahi beer than your average Bon Jovi tune; are far from “Death” many of them are of emotional, or romantic themes.

How are we going to continue reviewing music in any nature, if people who are reading about it dont know EXACTLY what we are reading about when we go to listen to it?  A person largely into death metal surely would not be interested in an experimental alternative romance metal band would they?

Although not qualified to do surveys as such, as I am only personally a first year student in Asian Studies doing a wonderful 200 level paper; I did a mini survey via facebook.  Many of the people I asked were students of Otago University; and largely answers did vary.

To Quote Hayley Alice Ayto, student in Japanese 132 at Otago University:

Hayley Ayto September 16 at 11:03am

American bands are the most influential, due to their ability to be marketed to a worldwide fanbase, so naturally, a lot of Japanese bands will pick up on these influences and deliver them. However, it’s not to say that they’re unoriginal and imitative. In X Japan, for example, I can definitely hear elements of other prominent metal bands of the time, like Metallica and GnR. I feel GnR must’ve been influenced by X Japan unknowingly, due to the similarities between the opening piano intros and song structures of ‘Endless Rain’ (released in 89) and ‘November Rain’ (91/92) and many of their later ballads.
It’s easy to assume that Japanese music is just reproduced Western music for Japanese audiences, but a lot of musicians clearly have their own distinct styles and influences, so they’ve been able to produce music that compared to their Western counterparts comes across as distinct and having its own special something. I always felt if the language barrier wasn’t a problem, X Japan would’ve been up there with their Western contemporaries of the time.

I seem to remember asking other questions like “Is X-japan Death Metal” to people like Henry Tsu and Yu Grace Sugigaki, and receiving quite interesting responses.  While I had unfortunatley forgotten to document these sources from them when I asked them; the general response remained similar.

(A modified quote of Henry Tsu) X-japan being Classified as Death Metal seems very incorrect.  (Henry Tsu also has had experience in making music in Dunedin, and has previously been involved in the Dunedin metal scene.)

Yu Grace and I had a cheeky friend-friend conversation over chat, and it ended up being that we decided a lot of it could’ve been due to style and misrepresentation.  Largely a horrible way to classify your music if you ask me 🙂

In the end should it matter if music is classified correctly, if a lot of it is the same?