Apr 8, 2011

Keisuke Kuwata, a Perfect Response to the Japanese Rock Music Dispute

I was listening to the latest Keisuke Kuwata's cd "Musicman" on my way to my office.

I am not a big fan of his, but this cd made me realize that he was one of the most important rock musicians in the Japanese rock music history.

In early 1970s Japanese rock musicians discussed if they could play rock music in Japanese language. Some of them insisted that Japanese language never fit the beat of rock music.

At that time "はっぴいえんど(Happiiendo)", which was a cult rock band, tried to play rock music in Japanese. Their master work, "風をあつめて(Getting Winds Together)", which was sung just in Japanese, show they could play rock music in Japanese.

After "はっぴいえんど", it was common to play rock music in Japanese. Takashi Matsumoto(松本隆), who had written all of lyrics of "はっぴいえんど"'s songs, became one of the most popular lyric writers in Japanese pop music scene. Hosono Haruomi(細野晴臣), who had been a member of "はっぴいえんど", made YMO.

Now most of Japanese rock songs are sung in Japanese, but I doubt that the problem of Japanese rock music has been really solved.

In many Japanese rock songs, simple English phrases are suddenly inserted without any reason. Maybe they think English are cool and fit rock music, but I feel they are strange. If Japanese language really fits rock music, they should sing rock songs just in Japanese. If English fits rock music more, they should sing rock songs just in English. "はっぴいえんど" sang their songs just in Japanese.

This is an example of such songs, "誘惑(Yuwaku, Temptation)" sung by Glay.

Teru (I don't know why his name is written in the alphabet), the vocal of Glay, starts to sing this song in Japanese, and suddenly he shouts "because I love you". Why dose he sing "because I love you" in English?
And this is Keisuke Kuwata's "現代人諸君! (Gendaijin Shokun!, To Modern People!)".

His lyric also is a mixture of Japanese and English, but his Japanese is harmony with his English.
When I heard this song first, I couldn't distinguish between Japanese or English. He sings this song in Japanese and English with the same accent.

For example, he naturally makes rhymes in Japanese and English. In the beginning of this song, "work", "omowaku(思惑)" and "rouku(労苦)", and "toshu(党首)", "sakushu(搾取)" and "crash" are rhymes, because he pronounced "omowaku(思惑)" as "om work", "rouku(労苦)" as "rork", "Toushu(党首)" as "Tosh" and "Sakushu(搾取)" as "Sukush".

It completely fits his rock beat.

This is a perfect response to the Japanese rock music dispute.

1 comment:

  1. Don't get me wrong. You're criticism is normal. I suppose it was intended to make the Japanese hit sound a bit more interesting or give the songs a little more edge. The Japanese music artists are quite talented, and perhaps wanted to expand their fanbase to westerners as well. Still they were great songhits to listen to unlike the hits of today. The musical elements had more flow and naturalism with songs from the 70s up to the 90s. If you see today's artists, it's almost as if they're all trying a bit too hard. Although, some Japanese artists of today have significantly improved with their English pronunciation. In a way, you may be right that most Japanese artists would be better off singing in their primary language, but it is after all "entertainment" and anything goes. Now you would do well to have had someone else proofread your entire grammar usage and English sentence structure for your entire article before having this published.