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Friday, February 17, 2006

OUR Music - Not Really Ours

Most Americans probably know that American music is popular (often VERY popular) in many other countries around the world. I know this to be true, for fact, because people from other countries where our music is very popular, have told me so themselves.

I remember, last year, I was talking with a good friend of mine; but, when she left the room for a moment, she left her computer on. (Japan Radio was playing on it.) I was just doing homework, and didn't mind that it was on. I actually loved it! No, I could not understand the Japanese words, but many of the singers had beautiful voices, and most of the music had a good beat. Plus, it was refreshing to hear a good song for the first time, and then another one, and then another . . . . A person could get spoiled!

Then, as they began to give a news report, my full attention drifted back to my homework. Commercials, though, were also interesting, because really, there's something so universial about commercials and I can't quite place what it is. Let's just say, if you hear some one talking fast, a car reving, and a bunch of corny sounding sound effects in the background - you don't have to speak the "language" to KNOW it's a car commercial!

Soon, the announcer resumed talking, and then clearly, in English, I heard him say "Saturday Night Fever." I spun my head and stared at the computer. Had I heard right? And then "Staying Alive" by the Bee Gees started to play, and it was playing IN ENGLISH - not Japanese. For some unknow reason, that I can't recall now, I'd then assumed that songs in English would be translated into Japanese. (As it turns out though, English is now taught to almost all Japanese at a young age - but that's a topic for another blog.)

When my friend got back to the room, I asked her if they always play American music on Japan radio. She said yeah, and mentioned that disco was now extremely popular in Japan. I have since found, that many other forms of foreign music are also popular in Japan. In this wikipedia article it shows a brief history of how other western music forms have influence Japanese music, and gained popularity there. As we know, though, Wikki's are changeable. So, if anyone clicks this link to find that it no longer exists, or that it's no longer a link to the western influences in Japanese music - don't blame me.

Another time I was similiarly surprised was when I was playing pool with some Malaysian students. They humming some songs, lots of songs actually, and they were all American songs from like the 60s. Foolishly, I asked them if they'd learned those songs from listening to the oldies station, after coming to America. They laughed and said no, they'd learned those songs in Malaysia!

They were oldies songs, and that's why it was such a surprise. I wouldn't have been so surprised to hear their parents singing oldies music, or to hear them singing newer music. And, even though I think the old classics are the best music there is, I was surprised that young people from so far away would love our old music so much. It was cool. In some indirect way, it really makes me wonder what 60s music from Malaysia sounds like. When I'm less busy some day, I should find out. DJs should play more foreign music on American radio stations, I think.

But, really, when you think of it, America's music would basically be pretty sparse, if it wasn't for all the foreign bands we have. There were all the "Brittish invasion" bands for example, and a lot more modern band that I can't think of now. Pobably, some of the most well known examples of outside musical influnces are reggae music, latin music, etc.

Often times, though, people don't identify with music on a country related, or even international level. They connect and identify with music on a personal level. Though, where you live will definately play a role in what sort of music you're exposed to. At some age, though, moat avid music listeners will look beyond the mainstream music that's simply FED to them, and search for something that satisfies their more individual taste. Such music could include either music that's not popular where they live, or, sometimes, music that's just not popular anywhere at all.

So, even though everyone doesn't neccessarily listen to music that's MADE in another country, they often listen to music that's either foreignly influenced or produced by foreign artists in their own country. Music from the US, seemingly, is often popular in other countries - more often than their music is popular here. (That's probably because people in many other countries now learn English, as well as their own language. But, as I said, that's a topic for another time.

And in the end, even though people are in fluenced or NOT influenced by other forms of music, based on where they live, an increasing number of people in the world now have the resources to DECIDE or SELECT what they want to hear, regardless of what they're exposed to.


At 10:34 PM, Blogger Dr Kuha said...

There's a couple of Japanese rock bands that I really enjoy. Both of unique and engaging...ah...sounds, and while the lyrics are undecipherable to me, the music itself is phenomenal. Check out The Pillows and Half-Japanese. You may have to hit up Soulseek or limewire to find them however. Though Amazon would probably work as well.

At 11:31 AM, Blogger snapdragon said...

Oh - thank you - I will look these up - For Sure!


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