|hobbit in Rhye
|It’s no coincidence that Japan picked up on Queen’s music real quick in 1975, more fervently than any other country. For the first time Queen were treated as huge rock stars. The four boys were indeed so shy and surprised in front of the enthusiastic crowd. In a recent interview (Tomlinscote School and Sixth Form College Interview 2013) Brian still recounted their first Japan experience with a fondness. I have been watching Japan’s culture for a while, here are some reasons (other than sheer music enjoyment) I can think of for this attraction. I’m no Japanese, so don’t hesitate to correct me.
1. Japanese likes intellectual artists
As with all the countries which are influenced by (Neo-) Confucianism: scholars and pundits and educated people are held in high esteem in Japan. Queen certainly falls into this category. They have degrees in science or art, sure, but they are also very intellectual in the way they write lyrics, structures their songs and compose their vocal or guitar harmonies. For example, sophisticated tracks like The March of the Black Queen, with its change of dynamic, its polyrhythm, its layers and layers of overdubs, can’t be crafted by simple minds. Or Seven Seas of Rhye where they could somehow cram everything into a 2:50 interval.
Other than music, Freddie has a talent in graphic design, Brian in math & physics, which are more than enough to catch Japanese’s attention.
In Korea, any artist with a decent IQ index will always find his/her name published together with that index, as a kind of valuation. No matter if he/she is releasing a new single or was kicked out of a TV series, IQ has to be mentioned. I often read in their media “Actress A, with an IQ index near Einstein’s, has bla bla…”. That’s pretty funny.
In Japan, they are not that obsessed with IQ, but they’re still much attractred by smart fellows. They admire maths. Here is an example of a Japanese variety show about answering math questions, they’ve even managed to keep it funny
Comaneci Maths show
I don’t know about Queen’s IQ index, but the boys seems intelligent enough.
2. Japanese are into visions
Again, Queen are excellent vision’s artists: not only their shows are visual feasts, their songs also have their own visions (I don’t know if I explain it well). For example Freddie have a very clear vision of his songs before he even finish writing them. Each song is like a story, with a distinctive tone and direction, though we do not necessarily understand it all. I can totally imagine that lady in Killer Queen. Even its guitar solo was slick. Queen said themselves that they were like 4 painters painting on a same canvas and I think that’s a very suitable image to describe them.
Japan pays much attention to visions: this country can turn any normal vision into a scenery. Check their 65000 watch base-plates installation
http://i948.photobucket.com/albums/ad322/galaxyH/watch-plate-instalation-citizen-tsu.jpg~original" border="0" alt=" photo watch-plate-instalation-citizen-tsu.jpg"/>
or their wisteria gardens (very normal flowers turned to an impressionism)
http://i948.photobucket.com/albums/ad322/galaxyH/wisteria1-e1413548381404.jpg~original" border="0" alt=" photo wisteria1-e1413548381404.jpg"/>
or even their moss park
http://i948.photobucket.com/albums/ad322/galaxyH/Hitsujiyama-Park.jpg~original" border="0" alt=" photo Hitsujiyama-Park.jpg"/>
Their origami art (paper folding), ikebana art (flower arranging), their colorful food tables,…
3. Japanese enjoy “bizarre” ideas
which Queen and Freddie has plenty of.
Again, check Japanese variety shows, or Japan ice cream flavors for evidence.
(No need to check Queen for evidence.)
4. Courtesy is very important to Japanese
And luckily Queen members are all polite and well spoken chaps in real life (not many rock bands could say that). You can lose a Japanese audience with just one misplaced phrase.
5. Japanese like extremity
That is expected from the people of samurai. Queen is excessive and overblown. Perfect match.
6. Freddie and Brian’s linguistic skills must have won them over
Like all proud peoples, Japanese appreciate foreigners who try to speak Japanese. Not all of them succeed though. Japanese language has a very different pronunciation and grammar to Western languages. But Freddie and Brian just jumped onto any chance of speaking or composing in local languages, and they did it rather well.
With all these advantages, who need singing ability, really.
|The Real Wizard
But I wouldn't be so quick to say it was anything related to intellect. Check out this quote from Brian May talking about their 1981 Budokan dates:
"It's the best tour we've done there, and we've done four tours, and it was clearly hysterical. Our audience is changing a bit from a kind of teeny-bop audience into a more rock audience in Japan. Japan was one of the few places where we had a young audience, but now it's more in line with how it is in the States and Europe."
The key word is "teeny-bop."
|hobbit in Rhye
|Thank you for the quote^^
I don't see any contradiction though. Teeny-boppers in Japan can still be attracted by the genre that they think is "intellectual". It is planted deep in their culture. Everything needs to be done in a well-thought and articulate way (hello, the Kobe cow who drinks beer and listen to classical music? It is a legend but it stems from some fact).
I said it from my observations of foreign artists being active in Japan. They rely on their intellectual quality whenever they can as an actracttion point, even with young audience, and even if it has nothing to do with their actual job.
hobbit-in-Rhye wrote: Thank you for the quote^^ I don't see any contradiction though. Teeny-boppers in Japan can still be attracted by the genre that they think is "intellectual". It is planted deep in their culture. Everything needs to be done in a well-thought and articulate way (hello, the Kobe cow who drinks beer and listen to classical music? It is a legend but it stems from some fact). I said it from my observations of foreign artists being active in Japan. They rely on their intellectual quality whenever they can as an actracttion point, even with young audience, and even if it has nothing to do with their actual job.I think that the high pitched "dog whistle" screams of the concert audiences point to the shallow infatuation of teeny-boppers. I think the video of a Japanese girl shyly flashing a "Love Queen" sign says it all.
Given that Cheap Trick got a similar reaction in the mid-seventies, I think it was the long flowing locks of Rock stars that caused the hysteria.
|Real Wizard has made a very valid point.
I think the points raised in the OP stand true of many other bands who toured Japan in the 70's. kiss and Deep Purple come to mind.
I think the conection to the music and the bands was more about it being relatively new to the countries culture. Through the 80's and beyond many British and American bands were able to sell out the Budokan while not being able to play to that sized audience in the western markets.
The audience grew in age with the bands they supported as BM's interview indicated
|The King Of Rhye
|I don't remember who it was, but I was reading an interview of some guitar player a while back, the guy said hard rock and metal and stuff like that is still pretty big in Japan.....and that even a pop song or something used in a commercial will have a guitar solo in it.....|
|Because they have small penises.|
|The Japanese have always been obsessed with western culture, their Anime characters with the big wide eyes are a nod to that. That's all there is too it really. The OP over analyses it by about 3 and a half million percent...|
|hobbit in Rhye
|Okay okay ALL of you guys' points above are valid (to a certain percentage) (except RafaelS's which I couldn't care less),
but I didn't try to understand why Western rock bands are succesful in Japan.
I looked at Queen in particular.
Their success in Japan is more than Western-rock-band-average-level.
I read somewhere that they were even bigger than Deep Purple in Japan at some point, and Deep Purple was huge there.
There must be something in Queen that spoke to the Japanese listeners.
Supposed that it's not purely the sound of the music.
|Thanks for this post hobbit. I found it very interesting, as I've often wondered about why Queen were so 'Big in Japan'.|
Costa86 wrote: Thanks for this post hobbit. I found it very interesting, as I've often wondered about why Queen were so 'Big in Japan'.Reference to Alphaville? :-)
|At first my assumption was that Japan just fell over any Western band, hence the concept "Big in Japan". Looking more into it though, foreign artists account for only 15% of music sales in Japan.
The original posters theories are well thought out and maybe something in them. There must also have been practical reasons such as willingness to travel before having become a big band and made much money. Most bands probably crack it at home,then look abroad.
|OR... haven't made that much money but are selling in Japan so do a tour there......|
Chief Mouse wrote:Yes :)Costa86 wrote: Thanks for this post hobbit. I found it very interesting, as I've often wondered about why Queen were so 'Big in Japan'.Reference to Alphaville? :-)
|There is also the monarchy issues and themes, ala "Queen", eh.|
Panchgani wrote: [ Given that Cheap Trick got a similar reaction in the mid-seventies, I think it was the long flowing locks of Rock stars that caused the hysteria.Indeed, it must have been the 'look', because I've seen Cheap Trick live and they were dreadful!!
|hobbit in Rhye
|^ Supposing that you weren't being sarcastic,
Cheap Trick live being dreadful doesn't mean that their studio work is dreadful,
and if their studio work is dreadful to your ears, it might sound more than that to other audience.
Cheap Trick did had a credit in music (I'm not their fan though).
If it was that easy to charm the Japan audience, with flowing locks, I wonder why thousands of hair dressers and fake hair metal bands hadn't made it Big in Japan yet.
Cheap Trick got a similar reaction as Queen did in Japan doesn't mean that the reason was the same.
And, after Cheap Trick's tour in Japan, their live album "Cheap Trick at Budokan" was shot to triple platinum in USA. By that logic of yours, the USA must have fallen for their look too, and wayyyyy after Japan. How shameful.
@Costa86: You're welcome^^
I'm glad my post amused at least one person.
|The King Of Rhye wrote
I don't remember who it was, but I was reading an interview of some guitar player a while back, the guy said hard rock and metal and stuff like that is still pretty big in Japan.....and that even a pop song or something used in a commercial will have a guitar solo in it.....
The guy you may be thinking about is Marty Friedman formally of Megadeth fame. Yeah he said along the lines of... "that guitar is very much still reliant in the J-pop scene and just modern Japanese music in general and it is not just some throw away stratt used on tracks in the USA-pop scene... "
Very interesting guy Marty, he has made some amazing Japanese/oriental sounding music pieces!!! check out Valley of Eternity or Tibet/angel!!!
Him and another amazing guitarist Jason Becker (who ended up getting ALS at 21 he made an amazing album at 18 and was in a band at 16. check out his song AIR!!! link and the studio version link ) They have just made a song together "Horrors"
|hobbit in Rhye
|Thanks for the input fras444. I checked out the pieces you recommended: Valley of Eternity, Tibet/angel, Air,...
They are catchy melodies indeed, and the first two get an as oriental sound as any oriental bands can think of ^^
|The King Of Rhye
fras444 wrote: The guy you may be thinking about is Marty Friedman formally of Megadeth fame. Yeah he said along the lines of... "that guitar is very much still reliant in the J-pop scene and just modern Japanese music in general and it is not just some throw away stratt used on tracks in the USA-pop scene... " Very interesting guy Marty, he has made some amazing Japanese/oriental sounding music pieces!!! check out Valley of Eternity or Tibet/angel!!!Yeah, that could be.......Marty Friedman is a hello of a guitar player....there was a guy I used to play guitar with way back in the day who just about worshiped him.....lol