Western Artists Should Maybe Just Give Up On Writing Songs About Japan

Hello friends. I just turned in my last grad school project and am officially DONE WITH SCHOOL! Which means I actually have time to blog about random stuff!

Even before the Avril Lavigne “Hello Kitty” monstrosity made the news (I’ve included it for reference but it’s legitimately awful) I’ve been thinking about how much I hate songs about Japan made by Western artists.

Gaijin are so irritatingly compelled to tell you of their SPECIAL TIME IN JAPAN. I’d actually RATHER listen to “Mr. Roboto” than these sentimental monstrosities. Maybe it’s the creepy orientalist fetishism, or the annoyingly facile “pokky and cherry blossoms!” approach best exemplified by the following SNL sketch:

J-Pop America Funtime Now! from Kenny G. on Vimeo.

Full disclosure: I lived in Japan for four years, made a documentary about Tokyo street fashion when I was twenty (before Gwen got to it, thank you very much), and wrote a novel set in futuristic Japan when I was 25, so I’m equally guilty here, and that may be why this actually annoys me so much. But at least I lived there and worked a boring office job and paid my phone bills in Japanese and whatnot- I was rapidly disabused of my youthful fantasies.

Without further ado- the most annoying songs about Japan by Western artists.

“Harajuku Girls” Gwen Stefani 

High five to Gwen Stefani for being an early pioneer of using Asian people as props in music videos. (Really, where was the outrage 10 years ago?) You think they could have at least coached her on how to pronounce “Harajuku” properly.

“Omanko” Sky Ferreira

I dig Sky’s neo-80s revivalism, but this song (which means “pussy” in Japanese) is a waste of time probably queefed out while waiting for a flight in Narita:

Reading Japanese comics
And fucking Japanese omanko
The Japanese Jesus
Oh, Japanese Jesus, come on

This short, dumb song is basically an excuse to say “Japanese” a bunch of times.

“Love Letter To Japan” The Bird and the Bee

The sad thing is this is a catchy little tune, but the lyrics make me want to vom:

“My beloved, oh my sweet
All the gifts you have given me
The patience and the peace,
Cherry blossoms and the candy,
I am yours, I am yours
For as long, for as long as you will have me”

This song is so deeply entrenched in delusional weeaboo fantasy that it makes me cringe. It should be a joke, it’s not. And to answer the narrator’s inquiry: the average tourist visa is 3 months.

“Across the Sea” Weezer

Per Wikipedia:

“Across the Sea” is the fifth song from Weezer’s second album, Pinkerton. Singer/songwriter Rivers Cuomo wrote “Across the Sea” after receiving a letter from a Japanese girl during a depressing winter at Harvard University. Cuomo remarked, “When I got the letter, I fell in love with her. It was such a great letter. I was very lonely at the time, but at the same time I was very depressed that I would never meet her. Even if I did see her, she was probably some fourteen-year-old girl, who didn’t speak English.”

Oh great, another romantically awkward white boy with a fetish for Japanese girls.

Anyway, that’s my shitlist. Am I missing any?

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  1. […] media recently about cultural appropriation: the phenomenon by which pop stars like Miley Cyrus or Gwen Stefani hire people of color as “props” in their videos and performances while borrowing their music […]

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