One of the big topics of among international Japanese music fans is how to push the music more globally. Cool Japan is trying to help things, but they’re not the best organization. Since the top down approach isn’t working, it’s up to the fans. We as fans have power, to an extent. Social media is a big way to express this power. Another way to express power is through voting, which leads us to the crux of this essay.
Dempagumi.inc recently won Best Japan Act for the 2015 MTV Europe Music Awards. To get the the final round, they had to first win the wildcard spot. They did, defeating AK-69, [Alexandros], Crossfaith, and Gesu no Kiwami Otome. in the process. They then beat much bigger acts like BABYMETAL, ONE OK ROCK, Sandaime J Soul Brothers, and SEKAI NO OWARI to take the Best Japan Act title. There has been a lot of debate over how they won over such big names. But this really is no different than how Daichi Miura won last year. He won the wildcard spot against BABYMETAL, Kyary Pamyu Pamyu, MAN WITH A MISSION, and SEKAI NO OWARI. After winning that round, he advanced to the final round where he faced off against Namie Amuro, E-girls, ONE OK ROCK, and Perfume, and won. So Dempagumi.inc’s win isn’t all that shocking. It all comes down to fans voting.
Now that we have Dempagumi.inc as the Japanese representative, what do we do? Do we vote for them, or not?
I’ve noticed here and on other sites people saying that they have no plan to vote for Dempagumi.inc because they don’t like them and / or because they give Japanese music a bad image. But shouldn’t this be something Japanese music fans rally behind? I mean, KPop fans do this all the time. They’ll vote for an act they’re not a fan of simply to further the KPop cause. This is how Big Bang won Best Worldwide Act at the 2011 MTV EMA. This is how Girls’ Generation won Best Music Video at the YouTube Music Awards in 2013.
I don’t see Japanese music fans doing this. We won’t vote for an act simply because they’re Japanese. But should we change our thinking? Or should we just keep doing what we’re doing? Is voting for something, even though you don’t like it, a good way to further the pushing of Japanese music internationally?
People often talk about how Japanese music fans internationally aren’t unified, since there are so many kinds of Japanese music that we consume. What do an Ayumi Hamasaki fan and an ONE OK ROCK fan have in common besides them both being Japanese? What do a Sakanaction fan and an AKB48 fan have in common besides them both being Japanese? But should we get over this thinking? One thing that we’ve tried to do with Arama! Japan since our relaunch from LiveJournal is to be more mindful of the various style of Japanese music, in effort to create more unity. When there is more unity, you learn more things and get different perspectives.
While lack of unity is an issue, one thing I have seen people rallying behind recently though is criticism of that “Koreans React to JPop” video. Fans are saying that LADYBABY and BABYMETAL are not good representations of Japanese music and that they stick to the “Weird / Kawaii Japan” meme that is pushed so much in the media. They’re both niche acts in Japan, so fans would’ve preferred that more mainstream acts were picked to show a truer representation of the scene. Dempagumi.inc is similar to LADYBABY and BABYMETAL in that they’re a niche act who pushes the above-mentioned meme, so maybe not voting for them is a rally of its own?