One of the most exciting things for me is when Asian artists get exposure in the United States. This year is looking to be very big for lots of people. First of all, one of my first Asian musicians I ever listened to is finally getting her “US debut.” BoA is releasing an English-language album in March. The album is supposed to be called Look Who’s Talking and will contain 11 tracks. The best part is that they are all new songs, not just translated versions of her old songs. If pre-release track listings are to be believed there will be only one of those and it’s Girls On Top. I find that simply translating a song into English is nice, but doesn’t always work well and they have problems sounding well blended. One example is the recent release of Rain’s single Rainism into several languages. It sounds like he is struggling instead of singing effortlessly like he does in Korean. Even his Japanese version’s of Rainism and Love Story sound forced where his full-length Japanese album sounds great. The first single to be released off of BoA’s album is Eat You Up, which takes BoA away from her previous “sweet” image. In the Korean version of the video (which marketed better than the one produced for US release) she is seen wearing hip-hop style clothing and dancing with a lot of force in a harder hip-hop style than a lot of her pop routines. The lyrics are more suggesttive than a most of her other songs too, “I’ll eat you up boy, so yum, yu-uum..” I like it, and I think that the majority of people that are in the demographic she will be trying to reach will like it too. I look forward to the release and it’s going to the first actual CD I will buy in the store this year. (I don’t know how many I actually purchased in a store last year, maybe a few?) The album releases in several versions in Japan (Best&USA is the Japanese title) on March 18, with an expected United States release of the 17th.
Second on the block, (or actually first if you consider the expected Japanese release date of this one is March 14th) is Utada. One of the other pop princesses of Japan, is trying her hand in the US market again. After her second US release of Exodus (which had mediocre results in the US, but was a hit in Japan) she’s coming back with a new album titled This Is The One. I’m hoping it’s better than Exodus. (I hope no die-hard Utada fans throw things at me for saying this.) I think Exodus was a bad album. There were a few songs on it that I thought were catchy, but the lyrics and style were so different from her normal songs that it was hard for me to get into the album. I didn’t listen to it nearly as often as her other albums. The lyrics from Easy Breezy always make me giggle, and I’m never sure why. “You’re easy breezy, and I’m Japan-ezy” was kind of ridiculous to me. I guess the album and I just never clicked. I think that Utada takes chances and puts herself into her music, which I respect tremendously, (especially considering the mass over-production of most Asian acts.) so I try not to judge too much. In fact, I’ll have to take another listen to refresh my memory. I’m excited to hear what she comes up with on This Is The One.
Third on my list of exciting people to see this year is Daniel Henny. Daniel is a US citizen of Korean decent who was born in Michigin and is working in Korea. (we were practically neighbors! j/k – I lived in Minnesota.) He has his first United States movie releasing (again, it’s an expected release date, lots of things change!) on May 1st. He is playing David North aka: Agent Zero in the movie X-Men Origins: Wolverine. I’m excited to see him on the big screen and look forward to seeing him play opposite of Hugh Jackman. If you haven’t seen him in anything check him out in My Father, Seducing Mr. Perfect, and My Name is Kim Sam-Soon. While he doesn’t have the greatest command over the Korean language, the populous loves him anyway and they have been writing most of his dialogue in English. His official website is easy to navigate and has regular updates in English too!
Last, but most absolutely not least (he’s my favorite celebrity!) is Rain. He has been busy with his most recent album release Rainism. With concerts, fan meetings, tv performances and video shootings it’s always a surprise to me that he doesn’t collapse from exaustion. Coming up sometime this spring is the release of Ninja Assassin. His second Hollywood movie with the Wachowski brothers (the other was Speed Racer in case you were living under a rock.) is slated for a release the first quarter of 2009. It’s been pushed around – probably in part of Rain’s busy schedule – originally slated for a January release and then last I heard, a release due sometime in March. No new news on the date of the movie, but from production stills it looks to be pretty action packed. I’m also assuming that it’s pretty graphic heavy (it can’t be nearly as much as Speed Racer!)since it wrapped up filming earlier last year and still doesn’t have a preview. There hasn’t been much mention of his English language album releasing in the US lately. I’ll bet he has his plate full for now and is probably strengthening his English before he makes the big leap.
Don’t think I forgot to mention Se7en debuting in the US, but his album has no tentative date despite the leak of several songs onto the internet already. There was a lot of hype and promotion done last year, but there has been a lack of news on his release.