Filed under: Amuro Namie, Angela Aki, Aoyama Thelma, ayaka, Ayumi Hamasaki, BoA, chatmonchy, Hello! Project, Jpop, JYONGRI, Kimura Kaela, Koda Kumi, Leah Dizon, Nakashima Mika, Opinion, Otsuka Ai, Perfume, PUFFY, Tsuchiya Anna, Utada Hikaru, YUI, Yuna Ito
With Hikki working on her second English album, the question really still stands: if one j-pop diva or female group would make it in the English music industry, who would it be? After all, basing on the American charts, popular songs by female artists are rather limited. Pretty much most are R&B/hip hop hits (Rihanna, Beyonce, Fergie, Danity Kane, Mariah Carey, Leona Lewis), a smattering of pop rock (Colbie Caillat, Natasha Bedingfield, Paramore) and occasionally, a big pop song that makes it (Miley Cyrus).
So if all our favorite j-pop girls give it a try, who has the best chances of breaking into the market?
I love Hikki and I love “Exodus,” but let’s face it – “Exodus” was brilliantly experimental and alternative but nowhere near mainstream. If she does her next English album in her Cubic U style or in her Japanese music style, she’d have a chance, but her idea of American mainstream R&B is a little too alternative. Unless she completely changes her image and sound, she won’t make it in the urban music genre she’s aiming for. But she does have beauty, quirkiness, and her language – she just needs to tailor herself to be more mainstream. Chances: 60%.
Ayu may be the queen of Jpop on the island, but only her very rock influenced songs would have a chance. The pop, the ballads – they’d all have to go. She definitely has the confident diva attitude as long as she tunes down the cute, but there’d also have to be an overhaul of image too – some of her visual trademarks, like her gaudy nails, princessy hair, shiny costumes, just won’t go over well. Chances: 30%.
Hell, Koda Kumi did a duet with Fergie; to be painfully honest, she’s not that much of a looker but has the music style and sluttiness to make it through the modern industry. Polish up the English, cut away all the perky bubbliness, do away with the ero-kawaii for just 120% ero, and call up Fergie to get Will.I.Am to produce some shallow hip-hop song for her – I can see it working. Chances: 80%.
I love Ai-chin, so it pains me to say – this just isn’t going to happen. Well, her happy hyper songs have absolutely no chance. If promoted correctly – say in a movie soundtrack or something – a ballad of hers might have a chance, but only if she improves her voice 200% live and gets a completely different, more mature image. Unfortunately, English speakers just aren’t ready for intricate pop ballads and high voices like hers. Chances: 1%.
I’d say YUI actually has a pretty decent chance if she could get the English down – she has the guitar-strumming singer-songwriter vibe down for some songs and a hardcore rock chick image down for the other. She’s shy, which hurts her a bit, but she commands the stage well when she performs. The only thing that might not work out well is her voice – you usually don’t get such high, sweet voices in pop rock – but she does have the pretty face and the musician vibe. Chances: 60%.
This girl has the voice for R&B – she’s the right type of voice to do all those hooks on the hip hop songs, you know, that sweet but powerful backing to some guy’s aggressive rapping – but she doesn’t have the gorgeous looks to gain attention or the star presence to make up for it. I mean, look at her performances – there’s hardly any attitude or presence at all. Her voice would work, but unless she gains 500% more attitude no one would pay any attention. Chances: 40%.
Ayaka has the looks and voice, most definitely. She also has the bohemian gypsie image down pat. To make it though, she’d have to get some good songs – none of those boring ballad singles that she’s put out recently. It’s also hard to pull off her image and music these days unless she writes her own music and plays an instrument – so might want to work on that. Chances: 50%.
She can sing and dance. Her voice isn’t really suited for hip-hop or R&B, but – I can actually really see this working. But she’d really have to get some new songs – none of her ballady or pop-dance songs would even remotely work. She also needs more attitude – when she sings, she just doesn’t sound aggressive or strong, more poppy and cute – which just won’t work. Chances: 30%.
Hmm. Well, supposing the current lineup does more R&B shaded songs, like “Resonant Blue” but with a much more aggressive beat, it would work – if you cut out some members or give them complete personality changes. The girls can look and perform fiercely, but some things – like Reina’s incessant winking and Koharu’s creepy bug eyed toothy grin – will have to go, permanently. Just don’t smile, look sexy, dance to a song with a good beat – they might be able to pull it off. Chances: 35%.
Not to say that they’re a Japanese female technopop idol trio, but just being technopop will be enough to put them out of the running. Forever. But they’re on this list because they have a terrific chance of making it big in the English speaking electronic music industry – a lot of their songs are sure to be club hits. But as for mainstream – Chances: 0%.
JYONGRI has impeccable English skills already; her style and image, not so much. Most of her music is synth backed pop, which isn’t bad, but might need to be toned a bit more to a Westernized pop style at risk of sounding retro and outdated. Looks-wise, JYONGRI isn’t the most beautiful girl out there, but she could look unique and fierce (read: Possession PV) and using a forward-tilting synthesizer could help her gain a unique image somewhat, if she can actually truly play it while performing. Chances: 40%.
Well, in a way, PUFFY has already made it as Puffy AmiYumi. Their Cartoon Network deal has given them some good songs – I’ll be honest, I didn’t know PUFFY did the Teen Titans theme and when I watched it I was jammin’ out to it. But they haven’t gotten major prominence yet – they have a pop rock kind of thing going on. If they can improve the English more and get a good song out – who knows, maybe. Chances: 70%.
It’s not going to work even remotely for at least another five years, unless they all learn English and get a Disney Channel show a la Hannah Montana, and put out bad pop songs that little children love. Chances: 15%.
Same as Berryz Koubou… except I see Berryz as more likely to be liked by the tween crowd. Chances: 10%.
Namie can do it. She’s sexy, full of attitude, and her music is hip-hop enough to be accepted. Her personality is a bit bland live, but her performances have spirit because her singing and dancing are near top-notch. Her current image is dark, exotic, and dominating – very commanding, and very fierce. If she has good English and gets some good songs, I can see her doing well. Chances: 75%.
Kimura Kaela has her model looks to benefit her. She has a great hipster image – and while most hipster pop music isn’t mainstream, sometimes one becomes mainstream. If she gets lucky, she could work out well. Chances: 50%.
Leah Dizon can’t really sing and can’t really dance… but she’s beautiful, sexy, an import model. And seeing what hot (slutty) models can achieve in the American music industry… it’s almost scary how decent of a chance she has. And if she’s not breaking into the market as a singer, she could always become a video girl in a hip hop video – she’d fit right in, really. Chances: 60%.
Nakashima Mika has a beautiful ethereal voice. Her jazzy, pop works would never make it overseas; the rock songs she does, however, do have potential, especially if she starts to front the vocals of a rock band instead of being a solo artist (just… a legitimate one, not an almost-joke one like MICA3CHU). But her image right now wouldn’t work – she might make it as a goth rock chick or something, but she just looks way, waaaay too creepy for mainstream audiences to handle. Chances: 10%.
It helps that Tsuchiya Anna already has legions of Nana fans under her belt. Her English isn’t perfect, but her rock music would definitely have a shot at making it. She also has the edgy rock image that’s very appealing. Chances: 65%.
Now that Gocchin is with avex, she seems to be going to divalicious R&B image even more than before? Well, he supposed sensei is Beyonce, after all. But if she is going for the diva route, she’s going to have to whore it up much, much more. She has the sexy image down in Japan, but “Some Boys! Touch” wouldn’t even raise eyebrows; she’d need an upped image and upped dance moves. Chances: 40%.
Yuna Ito has the English and the voice and the beauty. But her style isn’t very in wish modern popular music – I mean, while Koda Kumi is slutting it up with Fergie and Goto Maki is following Beyonce’s bootyliciousness, Yuna’s counterpart is Celine Dion. And Celine Dion isn’t really top 40 hit material these days. If she gets lucky, she could make it with a well advertised and placed ballad – but she’d have to work on her upbeat songs, because she’s really bad at those. Chances: 45%.
Chatmonchy rocks out, hard. What really hurts them is that Eriko’s distinct vocals, too high and shrill sometimes even in Japan, is definitely too high and shrill for American audiences. If they get a good song, they might catch on, but it would take a lot of effort to get audiences to like such high pitched vocals matched with rock. Chances: 10%.
She’s already tried and failed; that doesn’t put Angela off to a great start. Angela has piano pop that would make it paired with her great voice, but her image isn’t very interesting or attention grabbing and she doesn’t have the model-esque looks. Her music also tends to blend in – they’re calming, but few are extremely striking as to become that one big hit. But her music speaks for itself – she could make it as the next Vanessa Carlton with a few hits of her own, if she’s lucky. Chances: 50%.
There’s more ladies of course, but that’s all I can think of (or bear to go through) right now. I’m still rooting for Utada, big time, because I love her music and hope that she gets success, but who knows – maybe one day Fergie will return a favor to Kuu-chan or the rest of the world will pick up on Namie’s fierceness and I’ll hear one of them on my local radio. 🙂
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