Apologies for taken so long to come up with another blog. Hectic week at work. Business this month was definitely on the up with a few hit songs and some good selling albums. Yes, despite the gloom and doom, some CDs still sells.
Thanks for all the great feedback on HK music scene blog.
One of the key point that came out from the blog was "what is mainstream music"? Best definition is popular music genre that has been accepted by the general population. Traditionally in Asia, it's all about pop ballad or slow rock etc. However over the last few years, R&B has definitely make a huge inroads into mainstream market. Rather than just vocal technique, it's emphasizes on singing from the heart/soul over a standard R&B arrangement. Melody is still strong like a traditional pop song but the 2 factors create almost a new song experience to what was in the market at the time.
In Japan, Utada change the landscape while in the Chinese market it was Jay Chou. In Korea, Wheesung create the major turning point. Yes, there are R&B artists before them but none of them made it into the mainstream to change consumer taste to this genre. Since, artist like Rain or Se7en, Lee Hom & David Tao, Ken Hirai & Chemistry cement the genre as a format in these markets. I only mention the 3 markets as they influence the rest of the Asian region including Singapore, Thailand, China and Malaysia. In Indonesia and Philippines where R&B has existed far earlier but it was also partly influence as well with acts like Marcell, Glenn Fredly, Nina, Kyla becoming houselhold names in their respective markets.
In the meantime, enjoy what I think is 3 landmark Asian R&B songs.artist that changed mainstream music in Asia.
1) Utada Hikaru - Automatic
The first single from the album that is the BIGGEST selling album of all time in Japan (over 9 million CDs sold!!!). She has then gone on to become the biggest act. She wrote all the songs herself. When it first came out, it was not an obvious hit for even their record company who at that time was run by Masaaki Sato. He was brave enough to take the deal as his background in International music marketing for over 20 years tells him that the song is good enough for the Japanese market. Low expectation, take risk and hey presto..... http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n3Rmbb4SEIM
2) Wheesung - A story I can't tell
Taken from his debut album "Like a movie". Korea at that time was completely swamped by boy band and girl groups such as HOT, Shinhwa, Finkl, SES etc. The album was released by a small production house called M-Boat. Park Kyung Jin was a little concern that he is not good looking enough that consumer will not accept him that he did not even has his face on the cover. The album has subtitles of various movies the songs int he albums are influenced by which I thought was interesting and confusing cuz I can't read Korean. This I believe is the 2nd single but the biggest hit and catapult the album to over 400,000 units in Korea. Some may argue Wheesung is not the first R&B singer and Park Jin Yong (JYP who discovered Rain) has done it far earlier but R&B was not a genre as JYP is still a lone ranger in the market. Glad Kyung Jin decides to put Wheesung face in the video as he went on to become the biggest R&B superstar in Korea. His new album is due this year which I believe would be his 6th album. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8COqqZdQEhI
3) Jay Chou - Valuable woman
When the album first came out, the media was writing stuff like great music but will sell less than 20,000 (which is nothing at that time in Taiwan) Media loved it, music industry people fans loved it but consumer a took a little time to respond to this `new' music genre. JR Yang and Jay stuck by their plan and built him organically and then released this video featuring Vivian Hsu. It worked and the next thing you know the album sold 300,000 units. I think the number is now a lot higher. He then gone on to become the biggest star in Asia. Oh yeah, he writes, sings, plays, produce and even directs all the videos himself which shows how big a talent he is. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bvT4KidzLh8
Moral of the story, if the artist is good enough, the music is good enough even though it don't sound like anything else in the market at the time it WILL work and when it does, you create history!!!
What will be the new `mainstream music'? Love to hear your views. Maybe the next Utda, Jay & Wheesung will be discovered here on AnD?
The Passionate Music Man