News flash, Japan rocks!
There is a certain level of fascism in the music industry in regards to language. When the Scorpions started getting their band together they wisely choose to sing in English knowing it would help sell records globally, and it appears the majority of European bands have followed that business plan since; Avantasia (Germany), HIM (Finland), Nightwish (Finland), and Power Symphony (Italy) are all past Music in Review examples. There are few exceptions, like Rammstein who mostly sing in German but even then they became popular in North America with English versions of songs like “Du Hast.” The point is, if you want to get attention in the global music market odds are you had better be singing in English.
I understand why the English language dominates the airwaves, especially here in North America, people like to sing along. The one thing you will notice with most (if not all) pop hits they are all easy to sing along too. What’s the most important money marking market in the world? America. What’s the most common language in the world? English, especially as a lingua franca. So it makes sense, but that doesn’t mean it’s necessarily fair to non-English speaking musicians, or fans that couldn’t care less about what language the song is in.
As you should have surmised by this point in this month’s music in review the song we are talking about is not in English, it’s in Japanese.
A long, long time ago, my big brother Sean and I were watching “Fatal Fury 2” the anime based on the fighting game, and at the very end when my hero and yours Terry Bogard throws off his hat and yells “okay!” as he is want to do, the end of the anime is signaled and the ending credits roll. In silence Sean and I sat through the entire ending credits, something which we never do, I mean who bothers to watch the ending credits? But we both sat there amused by the song being played. After the credits finished Sean and I turned to each other and just before I could say it to him he said it to me “that song really rocked out.”
We watched the ending credits a few more times to soak in the song, and yeah it was a full on, kick ass, rock song. We surmised by the English chorus that the song was called “Keep on Calling,” and later learned that it was actually just called “Calling.”
Interestingly “Calling,” was the first mp3 I ever downloaded. This was like 1995 or something so downloading music was new and very new to me. I remember downloading the mp3 and not having anything to play it on, my computer had no idea what an mp3 was. It was almost embarrassing at school when I asked my friend Steven La’Roche “what’s an mp3?” Steven always being the cynical sort told me rather insultingly what I needed to know to play the song, and thus my life of listening to music on the computer was born.
Later on I learned the song was by a band called ZI Kill, and after listening to other songs by them they are a pretty good rock band, but there is no question in my mind that “Calling,” is by far their best. Maybe it helps that I always think of Terry Bogard when I hear the song now. It was also interesting to me to learn that ZI Kill actually had a small following in the U.K., in fact their single “Calling” was recorded there.
I think it’s important to keep an open mind in regards to music, because you never know where a good song will strike your ears, like the ending of an anime, in fact this is not the first time you have heard me reference a song from an anime; Seatbelts – Blue was reviewed way back in November 2007, and I can assure you, it won’t be the last. I still haven’t talked about the interesting sub-genre of rock and roll in Japan known as “Super Robot Rock and Roll,” I don’t know if they actually call it that or not… but yeesh they have a lot of rock songs about giant robots in Japan. If this last sentence wasn’t enough to convince you Japan rocks, nothing will.
ZI Kill give them a chance, they are a good rock band.
Until next month, keep on rocking in the free world.
- Colin Kelly