I’ve posted previously about what I like about J-Pop, but I don’t like everything about it! As with everything, it has its good sides and bad sides. Here, in my opinion, are the bad sides.
The Music Can Be Uninteresting
I’ve posted previously about how I think that J-Pop is far more interesting than western pop – but that doesn’t really mean it’s interesting. At the end of the day, it’s still pop, with all of the insipidity and appealing to the lowest common denominator that that entails. I love how poetic J-Pop can be, but how many songs can one group write about sakura?
There is Little Focus on Talent
J-Pop performers are selected, basically, for cuteness and relatability first, and they seem to take the attitude that growing as a performer will come in time. And, that being their criteria, they choose well. But all told, they aren’t really all that talented. Those who have the acumen or opportunity to parlay their cuteness into success are very successful. Those that don’t fade into obscurity. And that seems to have little to do with their actual potential as a performer.
Honestly, though, this is not a reason J-Pop sucks. The reason is that it almost seems as if the lack of talent is seen as a positive, rather than a negative. What, then, of the girls who actually want to make something of themselves as an actual performer? There is room for that, but, frankly, many don’t. And as seen on Produce48, many don’t even know it until reality smacks them in the face. Is this doing them a service? Maybe. I’m not so sure.
What You See is Not What You Get
When I was younger, I remember a strong thunderstorm that rolled through. As the storm left, the sky turned a lurid pink. It turned out that the anvil was still over us and the setting sun was shining underneath it. But since the clouds were somewhat transparent, you couldn’t see the clouds – it just looked as if the sky turned pink.
J-Pop feels a little like that. You are given the opportunity to “get to know” the girls – but it’s all scripted and carefully controlled. So what you see is what you think you get, but you don’t. It’s a character. Perhaps it’s a form of the Japanese tatemae, but the people you think you’re getting to know, well, you’re not.
If they were up front about that it wouldn’t really bother me so much, but I think many people think that the performers are the same as their stage personality, and this leads to much misunderstanding. And that leads me to
This is, frankly, the part of the J-Pop scene I detest the most. I mean, you could kind of class me as a fan in some ways – I know a lot of their music, a lot of the performers, I even have my favorites if you want to get picky. But at the end of the day, I know they’re just a bunch of girls doing a job, and I keep it in perspective.
But many fans don’t seem to. I’ve heard of fans buying thousands of CDs just to get the little tickets to vote in the senbatsu and then throwing them all away, I’ve seen people go absolutely nuts when they meet their favorite idol, and frankly, it’s kind of embarrassing all around. Yes, it’s kind of interesting in its own way, but in the same way you only mostly cover your eyes when you see an inevitable train wreck. I really hate being a fan because of who it is I end up lumped in with by association.
Oh holy mother of dog, the costumes. Some are okay, but some of them look like the designer took ate crayons and threw up on fabric. They’re so loud it’s amazing to see. It’s like they took a Japanese school uniform and turned it to 11, blowing out the amp. I’m no fashion critic, and I suppose maybe their target audience thinks differently, but this just helps to cement my opinions about the Japanese taking existing things and taking them in directions no reasonable person would ever even consider. Sometimes it’s strange and wonderful. Sometimes it’s J-Pop costumes.
These are the reasons I think J-Pop sucks. Of course, there are also plenty of reasons it doesn’t. What do you think?
(I am trying a new format for blog posts. Like it? Hate it? Let me know!)
AKB48 cafe by User: (WT-shared) 耕太郎 at wts wikivoyage [CC BY-SA 4.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)%5D, from Wikimedia Commons
Costume By Dick Thomas Johnson from Tokyo, Japan [CC BY 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons