Rising suns and stars

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 15 August, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 15 August, 2010, 12:00am

The influence of Japanese culture is evident almost everywhere in Hong Kong. And so it's unusual for Japanese artists not to have a Hong Kong date on their tours. Recently, girl band Scandal and Love Psychedelico performed in Hong Kong to screaming fans. Anna Tsuchiya will perform next weekend, and pop duo Puffy will arrive for a highly anticipated show next month.

J-Pop is far from being a new trend among Hongkongers. In the early 1970s, Japanese music started gaining popularity, leading to Canto-pop remakes of famous Japanese songs, many of which became major hits. This trend is ongoing: Sherman Chung's A Letter to Myself was one of the biggest hits of 2009; the song is a remake of Greetings to a 15-year-old by Angela Aki.

Japanese music is possibly so influential in Hong Kong because it is diverse. Take the four groups mentioned above, for example: Scandal plays pop rock, Love Psychedelico focus on folk rock, Anna Tsuchiya is known for what could be labelled 'J-rock' and Puffy offer up punk-pop. Famous Japanese artists also perform everything from R&B and dance to bubblegum pop and acoustic - in other words, there is something for every taste.

Many people in Hong Kong grow up watching Japanese cartoons and movies, so are exposed to the culture at an early age. They gradually begin exploring various other Japanese things, such as the food, music and other art forms. It seems as if once teenagers encounter J-pop, even if they don't understand the lyrics, they are soon hooked.

Japanese music companies are very clever in their marketing strategies. For example, TV commercials for Japanese products usually feature a song by a J-pop artist. Local music programmes also broadcast J-pop music videos.

Youtube and Facebook have become extremely important platforms for record companies to promote their singers and bands. The sites mean record labels can provide fans with frequently updated information, such as album release dates, and tour and concert details. All these promotional strategies enhance the accessibility of Japanese music, making them familiar to Hongkongers.

Japanese products - and this includes music and artists - are now facing competition from other cultures that are appealing more and more to the masses. But despite the fact that Korean, Taiwanese, mainland and western music are becoming increasingly popular on Hong Kong's airwaves, J-pop remains a definite favourite for Hong Kong music enthusiasts.