ARE ASIAN BANDS SIMPLY UNCOOL?

Posted: July 27, 2011 by We-Enhance in Uncategorized

I was watching this video by Radiohead on one of those channels we get out in this region that repeat shows every other minute.

Honestly, does E! have anything more other than the Kardashians and DJ Dom trying to sound like Ryan Seacrest, but instead sounding scarily like my mate Ed Bean from his “Fizz Bizz” days?

This repetition on all these channels- STAR TV, E! FX etc makes one understand why television will soon go the way of music companies: Become extinct and irrelevant.

As for this video, being a fan of Radiohead and Thom Yorke, it’s not a great song and some might think Yorke is channeling Michael Stipe, but I like it.

I also like the simplicity of the video, the stripped down instrumental backing- simple bass line and with everything more atmospheric than cluttered.

It’s not GREAT Radiohead, but any type of head is good.

The video also made me think how, if a band from Hong Kong, Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, or the Philippines ever recorded a track remotely close to this and produced a video where the singer pranced around like Thom Yorke at Woodstock, he/they would be laughed off screens and laughed off stages and branded as being a bunch of pretentious tossers.

If, however, a Japanese act did the same thing- or perhaps even an act from Mainland China or, possibly, Taiwan- it would be perfectly acceptable. And cool. 

But why?

Could ANY other Asian nationality come out looking like the INCREDIBLY talented Miyavi? No.


But, Miyavi- HE can get away with it- in Japan and elsewhere.

He’s cool and not to the extent of being frozen out and being looked at as a knob.

First of all, Japanese music fans- and music executives in Japan- are far more into the music- and music and Rock Festivals go hand-in-hand in Japan.

It’s in the culture and as, Placebo once sang, It’s in the water, baby.

Away from Japan, however, most Asians dislike other Asians and even their “own kind”?

Do you think I have “pride of genetics” for any act outta Sri Lanka? Nope.

They’re all crap and wannabe derivative rappers.  

So, is this some kinda reverse Asian prejudice?

I asked some mates for their thoughts and all my music company mate could reply was how little this record had sold compared to when Radiohead were with EMI.

This is what happens when working too long for a music company: Tunnel vision sets in and it’s all about “sales” and “numbers” and which music fans don’t give a fuck about.

Someone else replied that it had to do with the fact that bands outta Asia are copyists but totally lacking in originality. Being surrounded by equally uncreative people doesn’t help the, well, Creative Process as it becomes a cross-pollination of Dumb and Dumber and the blind leading the blind.

Another person replied how Asia never embraced “The Woodstock Generation” and turned a deaf ear to Hendrix. The Electric Dylan, Led Zep etc and even went off the Beatles when they grew moustaches and beards.

From loveable mop tops, they had suddenly started to look like “beggars”. And when they left for India to sit at the feet of a tiny giggly Indian man, well, that was it for many Asian fans of the group: They were gone and records like “Sergeant Pepper’s” and “The White Album” were unintelligible gibberish and nothing to do with music.

Hong Kong- and at one time, most of Asia actually looked up to Hong Kong- this era in music never happened.

Sex, drugs and rock and roll was lost to Canto-schlock and this is pretty much where it’s stayed as local radio and television and local music executives saw and heard a golden goose and milked it for all its worth.

They are still doing it and odds are that Stephen Chan, TVB’s former General Manager currently up on graft charges, will get off as it appears the Judge in the case has no idea how a television station works and how it can be skimmed and scammed.

Stephen Chan and his Assistant are a pox on the entire Hong Kong music word and if TVB takes these two back- or, at least, Chan- it shows how much Hong Kong’s wheel is broke and is being manipulated and pushed along by those extremely well-known for receiving greasy back-handers. But I veer off-course.

I again come to this video and track by Radiohead- from the album that has not done anywhere near the sales of when the band was with EMI- but which has probably made more money for the band.

Are Asian bands actually uncool or totally beyond being cool- whatever this “cool” is?

I had a Danish girlfriend who could not see an Asian band being accepted outside of Asia as she felt no “foreign” girl would find them attractive or sexy.

It didn’t matter how many “tatts” they had, what they wore etc.

They just didn’t “work” for her.

She was an odd woman who, in hindsight, talked a lotta shit, but, there were the rare moments of clarity.

What, for example, would be the reaction if my mate Joshua Wong from Noughts and Exes came out with a video in which he started gyrating like Thom Yorke?

Would he be seen as some pretentious git?

Or, going completely local, imagine Hong Kong “heart-throbs” like Hacken Lee- you gotta love that name- and Hins Cheung- love THAT name, too- or, gawd forbid, Andy Lau or Jacky Cheung moving in this way. What would people say?

To me, the ONLY person who could get away with even taking this song and singing it in Mandarin and dancing in the video WITH Thom Yorke is Faye Wong. She is deliciously cool.

NO ONE ELSE.

Perhaps all this is why so MANY bands outta Asia sound so bloody awful and dated- tracks “replete” with a very bassy, muffled sound, no separation in the mixes, turgid, arrangements-by-numbers, no time-changes, horribly clichéd choruses….

MUST I continue?

It’s all such derivative crap.

So, is this to do with those barren years with Asia having no sex, drugs and rock’n roll, or just the fact that this music landscape is made up of creative eunuchs- musicians, producers, arrangers etc- who know how to copy, but exist without a creative bone- and boner- in their bodies?

And now much MUCH more of Thom Yorke.

  1. Quality articles or reviews is the important to be a focus for the visitors to
    pay a quick visit the web site, that’s what this site is providing.

  2. Eceramics says:

    Hello there, I discovered your blog by way of Google even as searching for a similar subject, your website got here up, it looks great. I have added to my favourites|added to bookmarks.

  3. Hi Hans…we once knew other with Rick et al at the Hong Kong Jazz Club..your baby. I can never repay you for getting in Terry Reid among others…What a night! As for Asian bands…it is a global sickness as the world is pumped Top 40 crap too keep the record companies alive till they finally drop…or a poisoned public finally burns them all to the ground…it’s a money sickness that ails us all…and Honkers is certainly no different…if you pump any audience with enough crap their eyes will turn brown and they won’t be able to tell the difference between quality and bullshit because their ears are full of shit too! It’s music that is dying – ask Anders – and disco pop crap has won with DJs surfacing as the new pop/rock idols – despite all your hard work! I just passed thru Hong Kong last weekend..after 20 years…not much differnece at all actually…unless you count the stunning new airport sytem and about 8 billion more tonnes of concrete…wish you well and hope to jam down your way before too long…Billy The Mountain

  4. Elaine says:

    I disagree with your Danish friend. Asian men are sexy. They are not labelled knobs over here in Australia, unless of course they are naff.

    As for artists like Faye Wong, if that is as cool as it gets in Hong Kong, then yeah, the music industry is stagnant. But why? Is there no flourishing live music scene? The film industry is exciting, and art. But they haven’t ignited the fashion world either. It seems that the executives do not have respect for talent that they themselves do not understand.

    • Hans Ebert says:

      Yeah, wonder why she stuck with me for 3 years until I had her get on her bike and is now back in Denmark. Btw, I was born in Sri Lanka.

      The ‘live’ music scene is virtually non-existent and I have always pointed out the huge chasm in creativity between Hong Kong’s film industry and what struggles to be a music industry. We’re trying to changing things- but the changes are too slow. Cheers….

  5. Fernando says:

    In the current edition of Audio Technology there’s an interview with Don Was. He pretty much says that since production budgets are getting smaller everyday, it only makes sense to work with artists and projects that are really inspiring.

    Personally, I’ve done a lot more music than photography in the last two years because the photography people I’ve met are fun and seem to enjoy what they are doing.

  6. Hans Ebert says:

    You’d be amazed how many music executives at one label are upset with this piece. A sense of humour? And music executives? That’s an oxymoron. And it permeates to those making music out here in that they are waaaay too fucking precious. That’s why their music is forced and pretentious. Have a smoke, loosen up, get laid, dance like Thom Yorke who couldn’t give a shit about record sales- whatever will help the music FLOW and not become a fucking drama and a plodding great bore. The less we become so damn conscious and SERIOUS about producing “art”, the less hot air and bullshit we will create.

  7. Fernando says:

    Sense of humour. Thom Yorke obviously has one.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *