Song of the day + Rant on uninspired Asian pop/pompous indie acts
“Hikari No Rock” – Sambomaster:
“Seishun Kyousoukyoku” – Sambomaster:
I always feel a little embarrassed to say that most of my J-rock interest stems from listening to the opening and closing themes of animes. But it’s not my fault that the producers always pick such good music. Unfortunately, however….that’s where the buck stops.
The problem with sub-indie acts is that since the artists’ main concern is to appeal to a niche audience, their music lacks variety. For hardcore fanboys/girls of these artists, that’s just dandy. But you’d better have a pretty darned good reason to own all seventeen of an indie artist’s albums if almost every single track sounds the same.
That’s why I put up both “Hikari No Rock” and “Seishun Kyousoukyoku.” Don’t get me wrong; I think both songs are fantastic. But they sound so similar, to the point where I’m not really interested in their other works because I know what I’m going to expect.
I guess that’s the main draw of many pop acts, especially in Asia where music listeners are not as sophisticated as your typical indiehead, and will purchase anything that features a catchy beat. Most people are afflicted with music-ADD. Hence, that’s why an act like DBSK is so popular in Asia amongst so many demographics. Their repertoire is so large and diverse; it’s impossible to not like at least one of their songs. My mom is in love with “Doushite.” My brother thinks that “Mirotic” is pretty cool. My dad likes DBSK’s ballads and watched 45 minutes of their Five in the Black tour at his own will. You can see why DBSK sells.
The main criticism with pop–especially Asian pop–is that it is oftentimes manufactured, uninspired, cliched, boring, tacky, whatever. The composers at most entertainment companies lack true musicality. Because–let’s admit it: any monkey with a midi keyboard and Garageband can produce a pretty catchy beat. It just depends on whether or not you’ve got enough financial backing to make it a sensation.
DBSK has been around for long enough to begin experimenting with “deeper,” more “musical” styles, as evidenced both by Yoo Young-jin and the members’ compositions on Mirotic and The Secret Code. Good move. It’s a heckuva lot easier and more practical to begin as a catchy pop act and, after gaining enough popularity and listenership, start to delve into “real” music. Try doing it the other way around, and you’ll just end up with a pissed-off niche audience who will eventually leave you because you’re beginning to “sell out.”
Of course, it’s not like I’m suggesting that indie/rock acts like Sambomaster, Ore Ska Band, and even Ikimono-Gakari or (on a lesser scale) Asian Kung Fu Generation should truly sell out–that is, ruin their genuine image for the sole purpose of enlarging their audience. But diversity in style is a large indicator of good musicality. As much as it is contrary to the cliche, I see a lot of indie acts who have confined themselves much too strictly in their comfort zone, whether it’s due to fear, arrogance, lack of creativity, whatevs. In any case, experimentation equals growth. And isn’t that the true ideal of any artist?