K-pop, J-pop, and ジャニーズ? (Musings on East Asian Boybands and Girl Groups)
My 13 year old daughter has been absolutely fascinated by K-pop.
Last night, I caught a glimpse of one of the K-pop videos that she was watching on YouTube, and I was intrigued. I sat down with her and watched many more. I was impressed. The boys and girls are good-looking, they dance reasonably well, the songs are ultra catchy, the videos are visually entertaining, and the production is flawless.
The songs are catchy – I found myself singing along even though I don’t speak Korean and I had little idea what the lyrics meant. They are BSB-, NKOTB- or NSYNC-catchy.
After watching quite a few of these (we spent about 3 hours watching K-pop videos as well as a series of Korean pop culture vlogs at http://www.eatyourkimchi.com/), I felt that I should be introducing her to some Japanese culture as well. So I did a little Google search, and found out that Arashi (嵐) is currently the most popular Japanese boyband. They are managed by Japan’s authority on boyband management, Janiizu Office （ジャニーズ事務所）. (Janiizu Office has been around since I was a little kid – I grew up with Tanokin Trio (たのきんトリオ)!) However, after much googling, I could not find a single official music video of theirs. When you do a YouTube search with any of the K-pop band names as the search tag, you get all the official music videos as the top search results. On the other hand, when I YouTube search “Arashi,” all I get are some poorly-made fanvids and random TV appearances. J-pop is absolutely failing in the international public relations department.
As a result, I failed to get my daughter interested in J-pop in general. To make the matters worse, she has seen some AKB48 videos, and she had already decided that K-pop girl groups are much better at singing and dancing than AKB48 (which I wholeheartedly agree, sadly).
It looks like she and I will be making a trip to Shinohkubo (新大久保) while we are visiting Japan later this month. She is excited about getting her hands on glossy K-pop photo books and CDs. (Incidentally, Shinohkubo is adjacent to my college, so I am excited about revisiting the place and see what it is like now after all these years.)
During those 3 hours of the K-pop immersion, I also found out that one of the K-pop boybands, FTIsland, will be doing a show at Budokan (which is the biggest arena in Tokyo) while we are there. So I went on to search for tickets. It turns out, however, their Budokan show was sold out within 10 minutes of going on sale, and the Japanese version of StubHub has them listed at about 8-9 times the original price.
I haven’t given up, though. I will keep checking for the ticket dump. I think the last time I went to Budokan (~20 years ago) was for Whitney Houston.