Friday, February 26, 2010

Not your typical Asian pop stars

Despite living in an era when one of the biggest RnB stars is a Punjabi from Britain (Jay Sean) and a Chinese-American like Jin can carve out a successful and credible career as a hip-hop artist without anyone really batting an eyelid, it still is a bit of a mindf*** to see Westerners singing Asian music.

Meet Kristy Gibson and Jonas Anderson, popular Thai recording artists.
Both arrived in Thailand at young ages (Gibson from Holland [I think] at age 6 and Anderson from Sweden at 9) due to their parents' work commitments there. So they speak and sing in fluent Thai and have turned their farang novelty into musical careers.

Interestingly, they do not perform contemporary-sounding Thai pop, instead preferring the older sounds of luk thung (Thai country music) and mor lam (traditional folk from the Isan region).

Jero (aka Jerome Charles White) is another musical and cultural novelty. A 28-year-old African-American originally from Pittsburgh, his love of Japanese music and culture came via his Japanese grandmother. Now a star in Japan, his musical style of choice is enka, a largely forgotten Japanese form of lounge music that in modern times has been mostly popular with middle-aged women. It is usually performed by artists wearing kimono, but Jero wears hip-hop attire.

Jero - Michinoku Hitori Tabi (japanese enka) by winnychudoku

Do both of those clips seem really surreal or is it just me?

More like this:

Tajik Jimmy. This guy is freakin' amazing.

Nigerian dudes sing Bollywood

Finnish bhangra. This is weird.

Daichi, amazing Japanese beatbox kid

Black chicks singing in Mandarin - why not? This is cool.

Lloyd Popp - awesome Indonesian talk-box guy


  1. Wow - I didn't know Jero was still successful in Japan! Because he was singing in an older style, I thought his novelty-ness wore out already.

    Thanks for the heads up on all of these - I'll be watching each one at home tonight!

  2. No. Not surreal at all ( ^ ^ ) C'mon, it's Jero! (Btw, did you see the doco about him and his mom? It left me in tears. I think the mom went through a really rough time being black (probably the only black in her area) and with no parents while in Japan in the...not sure when, but back in the days. She refused to talk about it as it was that painful, but when she met up with her old Japanese friend who knew what she had gone through, they just cried and cried and cried on screen. And they still didn't explain what happened, but that was enough to know.)

    There's also a white male duo (I think) who sings dangdut(I think) in Indonesia. I dunno their names. They've also had Teresa Teng (Taiwanese singing Japanese) and Li Xiang Lan (Chinese born Japanese) singing Chinese songs in the past. Then there's Boa (Korean singing Japanese). But I suppose they all look East Asian anyway so the physical factor isn't as pronounced.

    To add to your surrealness, btw, Jero is singing a song whose lyrics are written for a woman. It is a woman talking about how a she feels in a relationship where the man is neglecting her. How about that huh. Someone who looks black, Westerner, singing enka in hip-hop outfit, plus, it's for the other gender. It is typical of enka though, to sing lyrics written for the opposite gender because it is thought to carry more weight (not sure how to explain that).

  3. Okay, I officially love enka now. And I would love to see the doco that FtT is talking about!