When Artists Are Resurrected

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A month ago, I did a post about Japanese pop musicians “disappeared” by their labels for public transgressions or deviating from the script. Suzuki Ami takes the cake for Best Disappearance Ever when her management company blackballed her from the industry for trying to legally dissolve her contract. She will soon, however, be making her controversial re-debut on Avex, and over the last two weeks, I keep running into these huge moving billboard trucks blaring her new single into Downtown Tokyo. In the Japanese Pop version of the Christ story, you come back sounding like Eurobeat.

W. David MARX (Marxy)
March 29, 2005

Marxy wrote a lot of essays back on his old site Néomarxisme. This is one of them.

18 Responses

  1. Jean Says:

    Nevermind the music, I’m actually glad to see her making a comeback. In this disposable J-pop world, I think it’s great to see an artist get back on her feet and give it another go. I actually felt bad for her when the contract dispute thing was happening.

  2. r. Says:

    jean said: In this disposable J-pop world, I think it’s great to see an artist get back on her feet and give it another go. I actually felt bad for her when the contract dispute thing was happening.

    and i say: i:m interested in your phrase “see an artist get back on her feet”…it is as if you imagine she did this herself, of her own volition, no? i think david:s post has more than a little irony about it.

    also, and this is opening up a whole ‘nother can of worms, i remember my friend roddy telling me that perhaps the reason that j-pop was the best pop in the world was the fact that it IS the most disposable.

  3. marxy Says:

    i remember my friend roddy telling me that perhaps the reason that j-pop was the best pop in the world was the fact that it IS the most disposable.

    I don’t buy this argument. As consumers we love products that carry something larger than use-value and even aesthetic-value. Where would Apple be if we didn’t feel like we were bringing down Big Brother every time we hear the restart chime?

    Pop’s greatest moments have been when music transcends the product and market. If you’re a cold-hearted Marxist, Jpop is the most honest music business in its total cynical top-to-bottom refusal to grant artistic value to the songs, but this admitting to disposableness kills the fantasy and leaves me bored. The worst thing music can do is be predictable and boring.

  4. Chris_B Says:

    cat marxy|sed s/Marxist/Capitalist/g

    I like that jpop is pure product. It is a great system. Wanna be an “artist”? not the right system. Wanna be a “performer” great! Sign here.

    The markets arent controlled by the unseen hand, there have been plenty of pop singles that didnt sell well at all. Where are they now? Tune in to the Wide Show tonight at 11 and find out.

    If you dont want predictable, pop is probably not the best genre for you.

  5. marxy Says:

    I think pop has a history of innovative artists, and it’s ridiculous to throw it all to the wolves. “Hey Ya” placated me for about a year, and that song was hardly predictable.

  6. Chris_B Says:

    Throw it to the wolves eh? I think you are onto something here marxy. Maybe you should offer that as a service to the jimusho. Got a performer past their sell by date? Marxy’s Wolves are here to help! If you dont want the idea, how about helping me promote it for a percentage?

  7. Chris_B Says:

    Maybe it looks like I’m just being a jerk, but performers dont have any right to perform. If they are not entertaining or for whatever reason they are not selling well, whats wrong with retiring them? AFAICT they are employees like any other, there is no right to work (except in the EU constitution, in which case send the restructured Morning Musume to France so they can get government grants to sing in French),

  8. r. Says:

    chris said: Where would Apple be if we didn’t feel like we were bringing down Big Brother every time we hear the restart chime?

    and i say: chris, if this is how you feel, i think you may be in the wrong profession. (apple users, does anyone else feel that way when they restart?)

  9. marxy Says:

    Hey watch it. I said that line about Apple, and I do indeed think a lot of Apple’s charm is the idea (whether myth or not) that it is a different kind of company.

  10. r. Says:

    david said: The worst thing music can do is be predictable and boring.

    and i say: of course, but the paradox is that j-pop is BOTH predictable and exciting.

    david said this: I don’t buy this argument. As consumers we love products that carry something larger than use-value and even aesthetic-value.

    and i say: most people don’t get past the ‘this raWks, i want it” stage, david.

    as for david’s line about apple:

    (where would Apple be if we didn’t feel like we were bringing down Big Brother every time we hear the restart chime?)

    i say: …sure david, if that is the way you feel, that is the way you feel. but don’t try and convince me that is what is going thru the rest of our minds, let alone that is what is going thru the minds of all the japanese kids with apple ipods strapped to them. hey, i’ve got an apple, i’m bringing down big brother…time to get some starbucks! they don’t even know what big brother is…of course, you were just kidding, i hope. (remember, he’s always watching)

  11. Chris_B Says:

    for the record, the Apple startup chime makes me think “ah! sweet sweet Unix!”

  12. marxy Says:

    If they are not entertaining or for whatever reason they are not selling well, whats wrong with retiring them?

    Sure, but that’s not the issue at hand. Suzuki Ami was at her peak and was suddenly taken “off the market” because she had the audacity to break a contract with her pinky-less managers. Most products are inanimate objects and don’t cause these kinds of problems, so for me at least, it’s a question of how much can a human being be “taken off the market.”

  13. marxy Says:

    don’t try and convince me that is what is going thru the rest of our minds, let alone that is what is going thru the minds of all the japanese kids with apple ipods strapped to them.

    And maybe that’s why Apple doesn’t sell as well in Japan. I know that a disproportionate amount of commenters on this site use Macintosh, mostly because it works better with music/art/design. I’m sure at some level there’s government resistance towards Apple (since it’s not a Japanese company), but I think for a long time in the US, Apple sold on the idea that it was the woman in the Ridley Scott ad destroying the talking head on the big TV. “Think Different” etc.

    In the computer market do we say, I like the Japanese market because the computers are the most disposable?

  14. Brad Says:

    What suprised me most about this release is the sound. It’s the same shit she put out with Komuro Tetsuya back in the day. I heard a clip of the song she released with photobook last year, “Tsuyoi kizuna” and I thought it was more…2004 at least. This track could have been released in 1996 by Amuro Namie (don’t forget the Super Monkeys!), globe, Shinohara Ryoko, tohko, Kahala Tomomi or trf and it would have sounded exactly like this.
    I know it’s on Avex, so I guess it shouldn’t shock, but damn.

  15. Chris_B Says:

    marxy wondered: it’s a question of how much can a human being be “taken off the market.”

    Ever worked on a contract basis for a company? Not contract like piece work, but contract like for a specific period which may be terminated according to various terms? Getting let out of your contract is quite common in any profession.

    As for your speculation about Apple’s market share in Japan, by comparison they have always sold better than Compaq/HP/IBM here than in the US. The thing is, none of the American computer makers perform on market share as well as Fujitsu/NEC/Sharp historically here. Its not just about the marketing.

  16. marxy Says:

    Its not just about the marketing.

    You’re saying it’s trade barriers? I assume this is true.

  17. marxy Says:

    According to that Chalmers Johnson book I’m reading, all the Japanese going abroad to the US in the late 80s/early 90s would buy Macs and bring them home, because the Japanese market price was almost double. That must have been tarriffs etc.

  18. Chris_B Says:

    tarriffs and “co-operation” between the domestic producers and retailers as I understand it.