The name is official “BoA” for her English debut album. The date is set for March 17th and it’s available for pre-order now from Amazon.com. I’m getting pretty excited! If pre-ordering is your thing (I’d rather go get it in the store on the day of release versus waiting for it to come to me in the mail, myself..) you can go to AllKPop.com and if you’re one of the first 100 to give them proof of your pre-order you’ll get a copy of the album signed by the pop-princess herself courtesy of the folks at AllKPop & SM Entertainment. Only a little while to go!
I can’t get two songs out of my head lately. Eien by BoA and Come Back to Me by Utada. If these two songs are any indication I am going to immensely enjoy their upcoming releases. Although, from reading a few things, Utada herself is worried that they can reach the deadline for the release the company has declared. I read her official Myspace blog page and she has great confidence in this album and I am hoping that Come Back to Me is the first of many great songs off of the album. While Eien isn’t one of the songs BoA is releasing here, it is nice to connect to her singles again. I haven’t really liked some of her releases lately. But I can’t seem to get these two songs out of my head. I’m including a link for the video of Eien so you can enjoy too. If I ever get enough traffic on the site I plan on upgrading and then using the internal server to upload music and videos for you, but for now, here is what I can provide:
I’d have included the video from Come Back to Me, however it is still in the final editing stage and hasn’t been released yet. When it is I’ll do my best to share it. For now, give your radio stations a call and request the song – it’s released here in the states, so it should have the opportunity to get air time. Let’s get Utada on the top the charts! I tried to upload the HQ version of the video I had to a file hosting site but it got rejected for copyright infringement. 😦 Sorry to have to use someone elses! Hopefully they will realise that they get publicity this way someday instead of taking everything away. It’s the only way a lot of people around the world can actually stay fans of all kinds of stars. And that’s all I’m going to say because it will turn into a long rant when all I meant to say was that I really liked these two songs!
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.
As a young woman, I fell victim to the most common anime-fan (otaku, if I may) cliche’s: Hello Kitty, Kerropi, and other Sanrio characters now adorned my school supplies and and I spent time searching for places to buy them. Indeed, I found a small store very close by that sold a variety of character goods and to my delight, they sold CD’s as well. A few anime soundtracks (it’s where I picked up my Cowboy Bebop complete collection CD set!) were always available, but also a section of cd’s with cute Asian boys and girls all smiling and dancing across the brightly colored covers. I experimented and bought a few that simply LOOKED good. I ended up buying Lee Jung-Hyun‘s Magic to Go To My Star, BoA‘s ID; Peace B, and Baby V.O.X.‘s Why. Thus, my true introduction to Asian pop music was launched. From there, I began to expand my fan base and buy other albums to experiment with and see if I liked the music and it’s grown to gigantic proportions today. I have so many artists that I listen on a regular basis it takes several hard drives to contain them. I remember buying the Lee Jung-Hyun album most, probably because of the distinct packaging। I was a little creeped out by the doll, and a bit taken aback by the sound of the album too. Her voice was so high, and I really don’t think I was expecting such a techno-heavy album after the bubblegum pop of BoA and Baby V.O.X. For the longest time I didn’t really know what she looked like, because none of her early albums didn’t have pictures, and I guess I didn’t think to look up Lee Jung-Hyun on the internet. There was no Google image search at that time, and it was just something I didn’t know how to do. I quietly enjoyed my Korean and Japanese pop. I also started to find some common Japanese artists too, Koda Kumi, Utada Hikaru, Maaya Sakamoto and others who were somehow related to the anime industry.
In order to get to where I am now, there was a step that I had to take and it came about the time I was leaving my first college to move to Florida. I was still quite obsessed with anime, but I was beginning to get my toes wet in the waters of Asian cinema. It was a good thing that ADV and other anime distributors were putting out a few Japanese and Korean movies here and there, because with out easy access I might not have discovered the whole new world I did. Princess Blade was one of the first live-action Japanese movies I remember actually sitting down and watching. Then came the miracle of Netflix. If you live far away from any really good Asian communities it is hard to find places to get or watch Asian movies. I joined Netflix in order to save money, up until that point I had been buying everything that I wanted to watch out of necessity. No one else I knew was really that into the same things as me, so it wasn’t possilbe to borrow anything. Netflix opened up a giant door for me and allowed me to easily expand my repertoire of movies. I started out renting The Returner, starring Takeshi Kaneshiro. It was a great action movie starring Anne Suzuki. I liked her too, so I added the only other movie she was in to my queue: Moon Child. And to my Gackt-obsessed delight it was the only movie HE was in too. I won’t describe the process of each movie, it would be obnoxiously long and boring. But, this is how I tend to find new artists (musicians & actors.) I like someone, watch a lot of their work, and then find someone else in one of their movies that interests me and watch their work and the process repeats over and over again. The lucky thing for me is that I love music as much as I love movies. So, when I find a double or triple threat it’s very exciting and usually leads to a larger discovery. (Double threats are singers/actors and triple threats are singers/actors/dancers – not everyone can dance. ::cough::Gackt::cough::) I find it interesting however, that I will still be drawn to the same actor or actress without knowing it. I am currently watching a series called Room of King, starring a new favorite of mine; Mizushima Hiro. All I really knew about it while downloading the fan-sub was that he was in it. I watched the first episode and lo and behold, Anne Suzuki shows up. It’s not uncommon, but it still seems odd that I should gravitate towards the same people without knowing it.
A couple of years ago, I discovered IRC and that there were scanlators; people who scan Japanese, Korean and Chinese manga raws and then work tirelessly and for free to translate and create English language versions for fans. I have since left the IRC world, but it lead me in a new direction through a friend I met there. He suggested that I watch a movie called Bride and Prejudice. Bride and Prejudice is a culturally different take on Jane Austin’s Pride and Prejudice, created by a Desi director from London. While not an actual Bollywood movie, it was my first introduction to Indian related cinema and my first time seeing the beautiful Aishwarya Rai. I immediately loved the colorful traditional outfits, the catchy and fun bangara music. Immediately following this I rented Monsoon Wedding and decidedly loved that movie too. ((It is odd that at this time my mp3 player picked the Punjabi Wedding Song from the B&P soundtrack to play out of over 7500 songs on it…))Sadly, at the time I was very caught up in a Chinese movie kick and left Bollywood hanging. I think that my introduction to Indian culture through Gurinder Chadha’s films Bride & Prejudice and Bend It Like Beckham was essential. If, perhaps I had chosen another path into Bollywood and just watched something random, I might not have liked it or understood anything. As it stands today, I’m sure that I don’t quite understand a lot of what is going on in the films, but that will take time. I have surely addapted to and learned about Korean, Japanese and Chinese culture by watching more and more of their movies and television shows, it is easy to assume that I will learn just as much about India and all it has to offer if I watch more of their entertainment too.
Looking back, it’s been a very kinetic experience, one thing leads to another and then to another snowballing into a giant ball of actors, singers, movies, and music that I adore and wouldn’t trade for anything. I am fortunate enough to have the drive and passion to follow all that I do and I just hope to share that passion with anyone who will listen (or read as the case may be here.) Today I am an international person, no longer simply “white,” as my friend says – I’m just as much Asian as she is. I think that if other people in the world could be half as open-minded as I am, then we would be a lot better of. If you got this far – thanks for reading! Feel free to leave comments or questions here or on any other posts!