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The Legendary Zoltan

Can this Japanese band become famous in Europe or America?

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I don't know why but no matter how much a popular Japanese band sounds like a foreign one and no matter how good their English is, they can't make it big in any other countries. The perfect example of this is a band called Elle Garden. Japanese, but their songs are in English and they sound exactly like a lot of other rock/pop/punk style bands that have made it in the past. But as far as I know, they aren't famous in America or Europe.

So how about this band? They are my friends from Okinawa and their band's name is Taia which means "Great Raven." They're a great band and I've been translating their songs into English for their English Demo CD. I've always like this band's music but upon studying Seika's (The vocalist) lyrics for translation I found myself constantly being moved by her stories. I've been trying as hard as I can to preserve the meaning of her lyrics while making it fit into the melody and sound unnatural. To be honest, it's REALLY freaking difficult. Hahaha. So here are two songs from Taia's upcoming English Demo Album. Please tell me if you think of their music and go ahead and critique my translation job too if you'd like. ^_-

Magnolia - http://chipp_damage.sitesled.com/02%20Magnolia.wma

Another Aspect - http://chipp_damage.sitesled.com/04%20Another%20Aspect.wma

Unfortunately, you probably won't be able to understand what she's saying just by listening. So, I'll post the lyrics later. I don't have the files anymore so I have to listen over and over again and rewrite them. Doh!

Magnolia

Brought up with so much love and caring tenderness. Your heart is innocent

In any hardship you face you seem to be able to turn it into strength.

The wind is blowing so hard, making it difficult to breathe

like a Magnolia blowing in the wind, trying to resist.

And if everything gets swallowed up by a raging sadness uncontrollable

"Something's always left. Something that can make us glad.

Reach out and take by the hand, hold it ever close to the heart

When that night of pain is gone." That's what you'd say.

And you'd smile through it all. And you'd smile through it all.

So just keep smiling on Magnolia.

There's no way you could never have dirtied your hands before.

How can you look at me with those eyes of innocence?

Even if you are hurt and taken away by darkness,

your fingertips become ever colder as you walk through anxiety

And no matter where you go it seems there's no place you belong.

"Something's always there. Something new that makes us glad.

It's something that we've never seen before and we

should just reach out for our happiness." That's what you'd say.

And you'd smile through it all. And you'd smile through it all.

So just keep smiling on Magnolia.

Another Aspect

I'm crouching, crying in the night and I can't move a muscle.

Although the dawn has come I can't hear a thing. Not a single thing.

Oh, please let me perish here and now because I can't forget you

The memory of you just won't leave me alone. It keeps tormenting.

I just want to that this was all just a big mistake.

I just do not want to accept this.

If I offered everything to you; my tears, my voice; we'd just get tangled.

though the thread's been frayed by us before, it's strong enough to bind us down once more.

You still don't seem to understand. There's no way we can stop it.

No point in looking sad cause the ball has already started rolling.

Follow the trail of sound to find a misaligned gear.

A gear that's too heavy. There is no way to remove it.

If I offered everything to you; my tears, my voice; we'd stay connected.

though the thread's been frayed by us before, it's strong enough to connect us once more.

You said that there was nothing out there in the world you can't regain.

I want you to remember that I'll forgive your mistakes forevermore.

Now there is nothing left for me that I can call precious

Because ????? of me was with you but it's gone now.

I will be waiting right here and knit this dress of hair

So I don't miss the sound of your footsteps.

If my thoughts do not reach you, I will have to chain myself to you forever.

While I rub my cheeks against your skin, your worn out skin, to you I will hold on.

As I am embracing you where can I go? It's not too far so

You do not need to be afraid. You're shaking so to you I will hold on.

_______________________________

In retrospect there are some funny parts in Another Aspect. And she changed the accented syllable of some places. What the heck are our problems?! Hahaha.

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I think the fact that japanese (or asian bands in general) get no mainstream exposure in the western world, unless you count the hordes of sweaty anime fans who refuse to listen to anything but J-pop, can be blamed on a variety of reasons:

- For one, the accent. Yes, it's English, but if I can barely understand it that doesn't make much of a difference. I have NEVER heard a japanese band that can pull off convincing accentless english vocals. For me, it doesn't matter a lot, but mainstream listeners will get turned off by the silly engrish.

- Exposure through gigs. You always hear about some hot new Western band touring Japan, it seems like it's almost a rite of passage nowadays to be popular in japan before you really break through in the west. On the other hand, you never hear anything about japanese bands touring Europe; I'm sure this is some kind of vicious circle, but nevertheless I believe this is a major factor.

- Language barrier. As far as I can tell, Japanese generally don't speak English very well, which hampers their ability to achieve mainstream fame through the internet. I mean, if I look up a band's website and see it's all in Japanese or bad bad Engrish, that makes it much harder to find any relevant information as to where I could find or buy more of their music.

- Stylistical differences. Look at it any way you want, Japanese music sounds Japanese, even if you ignore the lyrics, which isn't a bad thing, but again, it isn't something a mainstream listener is used to, so they won't listen to it. I think bands with a heavier sound can generally become pretty popular in Japan, while over here people prefer estrogen-laden emo rock and hard-rock and heavy metal are more niche genres.

This brings me to the conclusion that no, this band can't and won't become famous in Europe or America, mainly because of the trouble of gaining exposure over here, as well as the general style of the music (too heavy for mainstream exposure)

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I think the fact that japanese (or asian bands in general) get no mainstream exposure in the western world, unless you count the hordes of sweaty anime fans who refuse to listen to anything but J-pop, can be blamed on a variety of reasons:

- For one, the accent. Yes, it's English, but if I can barely understand it that doesn't make much of a difference. I have NEVER heard a japanese band that can pull off convincing accentless english vocals. For me, it doesn't matter a lot, but mainstream listeners will get turned off by the silly engrish.

- Exposure through gigs. You always hear about some hot new Western band touring Japan, it seems like it's almost a rite of passage nowadays to be popular in japan before you really break through in the west. On the other hand, you never hear anything about japanese bands touring Europe; I'm sure this is some kind of vicious circle, but nevertheless I believe this is a major factor.

- Language barrier. As far as I can tell, Japanese generally don't speak English very well, which hampers their ability to achieve mainstream fame through the internet. I mean, if I look up a band's website and see it's all in Japanese or bad bad Engrish, that makes it much harder to find any relevant information as to where I could find or buy more of their music.

- Stylistical differences. Look at it any way you want, Japanese music sounds Japanese, even if you ignore the lyrics, which isn't a bad thing, but again, it isn't something a mainstream listener is used to, so they won't listen to it. I think bands with a heavier sound can generally become pretty popular in Japan, while over here people prefer estrogen-laden emo rock and hard-rock and heavy metal are more niche genres.

This brings me to the conclusion that no, this band can't and won't become famous in Europe or America, mainly because of the trouble of gaining exposure over here, as well as the general style of the music (too heavy for mainstream exposure)

I know of a death metal band based in Japan that's led by a white guy and has a amazingly hot Japanese chick on drums who can double bass like no one's fucking business. I just need to remember the name.

Edit: http://www.myspace.com/exsanguinationthrash

There it is. Now if I can find a picture of her...

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There. I got the lyrics up. Yeah, Tensei I guess you're right. As long as it sounds Japanese, it may not be able to make it in other countries. I don't think it's that heavy though. I always compare Another Aspect to Evanescence. I haven't heard much Evanescence but my memory says that the heaviness isn't so different.

Nekofrog: Exsanguination! Lol

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Ive only seen Jrock bands at cons but their mosh pits are crap since no one wants to mosh except for a few people.

But I love the beat and music in the j-rock scene. I just wish I knew what they're saying.

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Some of what it takes to break big in the western music world is marketing - I haven't heard of many bands that have broken big without a massive marketing push at the right moment.

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I believe part of the problem comes from the lyrics themselves. They're not bad or anything, but the Japanese style of writing doesn't always come across well when it's translated into English. It's the same when translating English into Japanese... something just seems to get lost. The end result can be hard for some Americans to get into lyrically. It's doubly so when the group's songs get translated, and they turn out to be dripping with lovey-dovey romantic commentary. Some folks just don't want to mosh to how a girl looking into a boy's eyes causes her to melt into a pool of hearts that fill the air with the sweet scent of love as she floats on a passion that's like thousand giddy school yard girls... ya know?

Edit: Of course, that's another thing some folks can't get past... the stereotype that Japanese songs are all mushy and love drenched. That simple idea can keep people from even trying the music, whether it's translated or not. Then if they do try listening to a song, and they hear one thing that sounds even remotely mushy to them, it's over. Generalizations take over, the music's ditched.

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The music's terrific, but the instance of rejection follows up as before mentioned. Anime themes being played by fat, ugly, hentai-watching cosplay girls ruined it for me. Once again, I did like the music, but I couldn't see myself hanging out at a bar while hearing this person singing with English that sounds as if it's Japanese (engrish).

It kind of like when UK rap artists try to get big in America, which has a 9/10 chance of failing. Stereotypes (the lie that there are no urban areas in England), the mainstream syndrome (not tolerating anything that's too different from the usual), and that which I call the "Centrist Mentality" (example: rock originated in the west, so it can be deemed as a "west only" style, which isn't true).

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I believe part of the problem comes from the lyrics themselves. They're not bad or anything, but the Japanese style of writing doesn't always come across well when it's translated into English. It's the same when translating English into Japanese... something just seems to get lost. The end result can be hard for some Americans to get into lyrically. It's doubly so when the group's songs get translated, and they turn out to be dripping with lovey-dovey romantic commentary. Some folks just don't want to mosh to how a girl looking into a boy's eyes causes her to melt into a pool of hearts that fill the air with the sweet scent of love as she floats on a passion that's like thousand giddy school yard girls... ya know?

Edit: Of course, that's another thing some folks can't get past... the stereotype that Japanese songs are all mushy and love drenched. That simple idea can keep people from even trying the music, whether it's translated or not. Then if they do try listening to a song, and they hear one thing that sounds even remotely mushy to them, it's over. Generalizations take over, the music's ditched.

To prove this, I'll show you something interesting. The following was translated from English to Japanese and then back to English using babel fish.

But time flows like a river, and history repeats itself.

But time flows like the river, history repeats that itself.

Something more complex:

Democracy contains many pretentious peanuts, and is therefore eclectic in its vacuousness.

Therefore democracy many includes the peanut which you are affected, with vacuousness it is eclectic.

So, yeah.

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So I take it nobody's heard of Deerhoof then? I know a few of my friends that introduced them to me, I think they're all right. Wouldn't be that big though, but they still get placings at festivals and good gig attendances and reviews.

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So I take it nobody's heard of Deerhoof then? I know a few of my friends that introduced them to me, I think they're all right. Wouldn't be that big though, but they still get placings at festivals and good gig attendances and reviews.

Deerhoof is an American indie rock band with a Japanese girl singing for them... Not really the same as an all Japanese band from Japan.

Anyway, this whole argument can be had over bands from lots of countries... It's really a matter of exposure and how the record industry works.

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Your friend doesn't sing in that whiny voice you hear in the States from our female singers. But that's a good thing for me. I like their style of music and singing.

But, I can't really understand her, it's not because her accent is getting in the way, it's just that the instruments are drowning her out somewhat.

EDIT: This stuff would be great to play in Rock Band...

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One band that I'm surprised hasn't hit the US is Oceanlane. They open for a lot of Western bands when they tour Japan, so maybe someone will invite them over one of these days.

http://youtube.com/watch?v=L5h9Kn05KK8

Dir en grey actually made it over (saw them in Kansas City), although it's always seemed to me like the fans of the whole psychotic screaming bizarre music tend to be somewhat more open to foreign stuff.

Of course, that's another thing some folks can't get past... the stereotype that Japanese songs are all mushy and love drenched. That simple idea can keep people from even trying the music, whether it's translated or not. Then if they do try listening to a song, and they hear one thing that sounds even remotely mushy to them, it's over. Generalizations take over, the music's ditched.

Yeah, I like a lot of Japanese music, but I totally know what you mean about all the lovey mushy stuff. Although again that might be why Dir en grey has successfully made the jump, since 90% of their songs seem to be about raping and dismembering schoolgirls. :|

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I'm enjoying this Oceanlane band. I would never have guessed that they were Japanese. Their english is even clearer that most american bands of this style, and their sound would fit in well on the playlists of some of the local alternative radio stations I listen to.

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I hardly think 'good English' is a requirement for popular music in Western countries. ("The Way I Are", anyone?)

I don't understand why most stuff from Hospital Records doesn't make it into the mainstream either. Tracks such as System by Nu:Tone are as sexy as any other pop tune, and Danny Byrd's new track Weird Science is awesome, catchy fun with a great electro-style breakdown. What's not to love?

It's simply a matter of money. If a major label doesn't back something, then there's almost no chance of it breaking into the mainstream.

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Dir en grey actually made it over (saw them in Kansas City), although it's always seemed to me like the fans of the whole psychotic screaming bizarre music tend to be somewhat more open to foreign stuff.

A friend of mine saw them when they toured here, said he was the only black man in a sea of psychotic screaming fans, too. Apparently their videos were on Headbanger's Ball? Awesome, but personally I think that's as close as Japanese bands getting popular here will get. I'd love hear them on my local radio stations though.

I hardly think 'good English' is a requirement for popular music in Western countries. ("The Way I Are", anyone?)

It's still phonetically sound though. Kobukuro pronouces "Asphalt" as "A-SU-FAA-RUTTO" in their song "Sakura". I think that's more of what was meant by 'Good english'. Though at the same time, Utada Hikaru's English sounds native, but her Exodus album didn't break her out here. I get the feeling that she had/has the people and finances to support her too, so there's that to ponder as well.

I don't understand why most stuff from Hospital Records doesn't make it into the mainstream either. Tracks such as Systemby Nu:Tone are as sexy as any other pop tune, and Danny Byrd's new track Weird Science is awesome, catchy fun with a great electro-style breakdown. What's not to love?

Wow, System is pretty damn good.

It's simply a matter of money. If a major label doesn't back something, then there's almost no chance of it breaking into the mainstream.

I think more often than not, this is the case. My favorite hip-hop group, Little Brother, has seemingly tried and failed to break into the mainstream more than twice. They released a video called "Lovin' It" some years ago from their second album, and BET refused to play it, citing that it was "too intelligent" for their audience. Leaving out the conversations that "too intelligent" could bring on, I think they have a pretty marketable sounds, but I may be in the minority on that. It could also be that the ones that could give them the marketing they need don't agree with me. Can't say for sure, so I've learned to just shrug my shoulders about it and continue to buy their work and introduce others to it because I like it.

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A friend of mine who lives in San Diego went to see Ellegarden when they were on tour in the area. If anyone could do it, I'd say Ellegarden could make it in English-speaking countries. Maybe they aren't trying hard enough to get their name out? I dunno.

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It's ridiculous how so many are intolerant to music in other languages. Are you listening to music or reading poetry? I don't know, lyrics have always seemed a secondary thing to me. I'm listening to a musical composition, and if the words happen to complement it well, great. Oftentimes people won't listen to a rock song in another language but they'll listen to Latin opera pieces or even some sort of Spanish music. Whenever I hear someone being shown a foreign song and complaining "But I don't understand it", I tell them "Of course you understand it. Everyone understands notes."

It seems like kind of an arbitrary reason to isolate yourself from 80%+ of the music in the world.

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To prove this, I'll show you something interesting. The following was translated from English to Japanese and then back to English using babel fish.

But time flows like a river, and history repeats itself.

But time flows like the river, history repeats that itself.

Something more complex:

Democracy contains many pretentious peanuts, and is therefore eclectic in its vacuousness.

Therefore democracy many includes the peanut which you are affected, with vacuousness it is eclectic.

So, yeah.

Waahahaha! Dude, using Babelfish to translate stuff doesn't prove anything. On the other hand I do see what you mean just by looking at my own translations for this band.

Your friend doesn't sing in that whiny voice you hear in the States from our female singers. But that's a good thing for me. I like their style of music and singing.

But, I can't really understand her, it's not because her accent is getting in the way, it's just that the instruments are drowning her out somewhat.

Oh! I like not having the whiny sound too yo! Thanks.

Another Aspect does have the same feel as Evanescence.

I like these guys!

Oh and about translation: since this is music, I would go for sound over meaning.

That's a good point. Thanks for the advice. ^_^
CHIPP, you wouldn't happen to have mp3s of the Japanese versions of the songs, wouldya?

I could let you hear them. I'll do it after work today. But if you listen to the Japanese one, then maybe you'll think the English one sounds more weird. Nooooooo!

It's ridiculous how so many are intolerant to music in other languages. Are you listening to music or reading poetry? I don't know, lyrics have always seemed a secondary thing to me. I'm listening to a musical composition, and if the words happen to complement it well, great. Oftentimes people won't listen to a rock song in another language but they'll listen to Latin opera pieces or even some sort of Spanish music. Whenever I hear someone being shown a foreign song and complaining "But I don't understand it", I tell them "Of course you understand it. Everyone understands notes."

It seems like kind of an arbitrary reason to isolate yourself from 80%+ of the music in the world.

I agree whole-heartedly with you. When it comes to music, I treat the lyrics themselves as a secondary thing. If just the sound is cool then I'll like it and the meaning of it all will just be an added bonus. And in the case of a Japanese band like this, I feel like that's the best method to apply since we simply can't understand what they are saying. However, when you actually DO understand and you just happen to not like the topic (like sappy love songs that everyone's going on about ^_^) whether you want to or not, you can just get turned off. And of course that means that if you like the meaning, then you'll like the song more. It's a complicated as heck system of emotions yo! Hahaha.
A friend of mine who lives in San Diego went to see Ellegarden when they were on tour in the area. If anyone could do it, I'd say Ellegarden could make it in English-speaking countries. Maybe they aren't trying hard enough to get their name out? I dunno.
Although I don't care for Elle Garden myself, upon hearing Elle Garden for the first time I felt the same way. They should be able to do it.

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Tatu (aka Taty) put out the same album in Russian and English (200 km/h in the wrong lane). I think they ditched the original meaning of the lyrics entirely (maybe? i'm not sure) and tried to make it sound the same. Aurally, the English versions emulate the Russian orginals quite well.

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