The second in our series on The Learned Fangirl called “Guide for the Perplexed” is focusing on Namie Amuro. We’re hoping to describe corners of fandom that may not be known to mainstream audiences and aspects of fandom culture that demonstrate larger cultural phenomena, so if you have any suggestions for subjects you’d like covered, leave a comment!
Namie Amuro is one of the best-selling Japanese musical artists of all time. Unlike much of the Japanese music industry, where idols stars come and go quickly, Namie Amuro has been popular since the 90s.
She is the self-proclaimed “Queen of Hip-Pop” — also one of her album titles. The use of the Pink Panther in the Wowa music video *is* licensed. Her latest album (March 2011) is called Checkmate!, so extending this framework, she is the Queen calling Checkmate on her opponents (in song collaboration). I’m not saying the metaphor works, but she is definitely *the* queen of Japanese hip-hop influenced pop.
But like many J-pop and K-pop stars, the line between licensing, merchandising, and actual music is blurred. For example, her mini-album 60s 70s 80s was sponsored by Vidal Sassoon. She is well-known as a fashion icon, and if you watch many Namie Amuro videos you will notice that yes, she does wear those same style over-the-knee boots in almost every video!
Also, unfortunately it seems like her record company has been pulling many of her music videos off of youtube. Oddly enough, it is still possible without any difficulty on other video sites to find music videos, including her entire concert DVDs.
homage (as a way of honoring and being respectful of the original) even through direct copying?
transformative (in the traditional copyright sense) as building upon the original to create new meaning?
or copying as a means of economically exploiting copyrighted works?
This first post in a series about the difficulties in making this distinction focuses on three different examples of how difficult it is to carefully draw these lines, focusing on Japanese pop star Namie Amuro’s Copy That (official Vidal Sassoon music video-ish commercial above), and later posts will focus on Glee’s Madonna and Lady Gaga episodes, and Christina Aguilera’s Not Myself Tonight video (and dance responses), and other similar situations.
If you don’t know the artists (Faith No More & Kylie Minogue) and musical genres (J-pop & hallyu) mentioned in the title of this post, that doesn’t make you odd. You just aren’t aware of these music more popular outside of the U.S. (and the “hallyu wave” is not limited to music).
But that doesn’t mean that they don’t have fans — they have many! The U.S. music audience often doesn’t get to hear the music popular elsewhere, yet American music is popular worldwide.
America has known few foreign artists outside of Latin America or Britain. Indeed, America has proven itself to be quite resistant to foreign singers, and especially to non-English artists. A few exceptions include Icelandic Bjork and German Rammstein …. However, both of these artists demonstrate a specialized style, known to but not followed by “mainstream” Americans.
So where does subgenre begin when it includes an international superstar like Kylie Minogue?