Did an actual fist pump while reading, excellent take on that Marty Friedman stuff. Must read if you care about J-Pop. One element to this (Marty Friedman’s original lecture) that actually made me less interested in rebuffing it was the realization he’s worked with some of these artists, transforming this into a business pitch. I suspected this at first but thought it was a little cynical…until a few folks told me “nope, he’s worked with ‘em!” So yeah…if this couldn’t get any lamer. Honestly, Friedman comes off as a Japanophile in his lecture (think those Saturday Night Live sketches about Super Happy Fun Time America now or whatever). That isn’t the ambassador you want promoting J-Pop overseas…hence existence of SNL sketch…so I agree with Appears, this is doing way more harm.
I think it’s great that Marty Friedman is so enthusiastic about Japanese pop music. However, for someone who has apparently been living or traveling to Japan for so long and speaks fluent Japanese, it is astonishing how little he understands the full scope of it. And as a musician (former member of Megadeth, current guitar virtuoso), writer, and speaker, it’s even more astonishing how his lecture “What is J-POP? ~Exposing the Myth of Japanese Music Phenomenon” is partly a failure of articulation. Friedman has ideas, they just get tangled and sprout half-formed. His tone borders on less-then-conversational, barely scratching the surface of popular Japanese music, while exposing his biases and the kind of thinking that makes one believe everything off one’s radar doesn’t exist at all. So basically, it might sound like I’m tearing this to pieces, and I guess I am, but since Friedman takes the time to apologize for his tastes several times during the lecture, I guess I can take the time to do it at least once: this lecture just wasn’t my thing. Sorry.
This is a really good post. In particular I appreciate cutting through the original talk’s enthusiasm about Japanese pop to talk about the practical reasons why Korean pop is already making much more headway in the West and is likely to continue doing so. I commented on this on the Jukebox recently, too. As another example I was just trying to find a version of the new Kimura Kaera video with decent sound quality to share with some other people who, you know, might be enthusiastic about it, but no, muffe-sound all round.
It also neatly brings out a few things around generalising from a limited knowledge base or making too much of contrasts to Western music that I try to avoid falling into in my writing about Asian music but maybe don’t entirely (I grappled with this in a tiny way in my discussion of novelty value in my review of the Momoclo single which has endured as my favourite single of the year and which, to bring things round neatly, Friedman plays on!).