Wednesday, October 13, 2010

NY Daily News: Asian Music Wave Taking Over Billboard Charts

With the recent success of Far East Movement and Charice on the Billboard Charts, Asians are quickly gaining momentum in the American music industry. With this in mind, David Yi of the NY Daily News posted a nice article talking about this phenomenon. The article also mentions JYP (Park Jin Young) and the Wonder Girls, check it out below.
“In 2004, Jin Au-Yeung had the world in his hands.
The Queens-bred hip-hop artist, then 20, shot to fame after back-to-back wins on “Freestyle Friday” on BET’s “106 & Park.” A coveted record deal with Ruff Ryders came next.
At the time, it seemed as if the Chinese-American performer, endorsed by Wyclef Jean himself, would become the first big Asian-American musical star. With lots of promise and hype, he was poised to shatter stereotypes.
That never happened.
“It wasn’t more difficult to market me, but definitely more of a challenge,” he says of his debut album. “It may have taken a bit more effort because no one’s tried to market an Asian or a high-profile Asian before.”
Six years later, Jin relocated to Hong Kong, where he’s made it as a popular Cantonese-spitting rapper. Christianity has become a new focal point in his music.
Though Jin felt the sting six years ago, today there’s a new world for Asian-American musical acts.
The No. 1 and 2 songs on the top 10 singles on the Billboard charts are by Asian-American artists: Bruno Mars (“Just the Way You Are”) and Far East Movement (“Like a G6″). Until last week, “Like a G6″ was the No. 1 most downloaded single on iTunes.
For Far East Movement, a band born and bred in L.A.’s Koreatown, it’s a historic moment. The party-music quartet — whose debut album from Interscope hits stores today — is the first Asian-American group to break into the mainstream.
“It’s been a long time coming,” says Kev Nish (aka Kevin Nishimura). Currently touring the country with Mike Posner, they’ll perform Tuesday night at Irving Plaza. “It’s hard for us to believe. When we go to different cities and hear it on radio stations, it really, really trips us out.”
The band — Nishimura, James (Prohgress) Roh, Jae (J-Splif) Choung and Virman (DJ Virman) Coquia — have been marketing themselves online for the past few years, chatting with fans into the night after their shows.
That connection to social media has been instrumental in their success.
“Far East Movement and Bruno Mars didn’t come just out of nowhere,” says Oliver Wang, an associate professor of sociology at California State University-Long Beach. “There’s been a slow push to make it happen through social media. It’s finally hit that tipping point.”
Still, without a historical precedent, music insiders are hesitant to declare Asian-American mainstream music an actual trend.
“American pop music has for decades been white and black pop stars,” says Michael Endelman, senior editor at Rolling Stone. “Generally, Asian-Americans haven’t been in the music industry in a significant way. You go back to the great pop and rock in the first wave of the great labels of the ’50s, ’60s, ’70s and ’80s — there’s just no history to it.”
That’s not to say many haven’t tried. Two American-bred artists, Coco Lee in 2000 and Utada Hikaru in 2004, who made it big in Asia, have failed to succeed in the U.S.
Even Charice Pempengco, the pop star who recently joined the cast of TV’s “Glee,” doesn’t believe Asian-Americans or Asian crossovers will make it. When asked by the Daily News in May if she expected her album to become a big seller, the 17-year-old sounded defeated.
“It’s really hard to go international, so that’s why I’m not expecting it right now. I love the record, but I don’t know if it will go far,” she said. (It peaked at No. 8 on the Billboard 200 albums chart.)
Jin Young Park, CEO of South Korean record label JYP Entertainment, is trying to change all this. Park is the mastermind behind global sensation Rain and the bubblegum pop band Wonder Girls, who toured with the Jonas Brothers last summer.
With 31 No. 1 hits in South Korea under his belt (and writing credits for the Wonder Girls single “Nobody,” which charted on the Billboard Hot 100), Park wants to create the next global star.
“We’re two steps from finally doing it,” he says from his music studio in Manhattan. “Far East Movement has made a huge step for Asian-Americans. Now we need an Asian crossover to break through for that other step.”
The Wonder Girls’ first full-length English album debuts in the spring, and Park believes they’ll be the first.
Asian-American and crossover acts have a champion in MTV veejay Suchin Pak, who says she’s been waiting for years to interview an Asian-American during prime time.
What’s exciting about bands like Far East Movement’s success, she believes, is that they made it on the merits of the music.
“The Far East Movement guys would tell you that they never — or hardly ever – claim their Asian identity is a boost or an obstacle,” she says. “For them, they finally found the right sound, they finally gelled as a group after 10 years. I think it’s less and less about the race and ethnicity nowadays.”
“For me, the social specifics trail far behind the music as far as importance,” agrees Dart Parker, director of artists and repertoire at Shady Records. “All music- industry folks care about is personality, look and style, but I don’t think that has anything to do with ethnicity. If an act’s got it, they’ve got it.”
Far East Movement’s album, “Free-Wired,” which drops Tuesday, features collaborations with the likes of Keri Hilson, Snoop Dogg, Ryan Tedder, Bruno Mars and others. It’s possible Far East Movement has got what it takes to be the first Asian-Americans to top the charts.
“People are discovering our music maybe on a blog, or they heard it on the radio once, then they heard it on a TV show, and then they hear it in the club, and then finally they go, ‘Oh! They’re Asian,’” says Nishimura. “And they don’t really care.”
I had no idea Far East Movement was an Asian American group! It's so crazy to think that "Like a G6" is actually a number one hit on iTunes and Billboard charts especially because the group is comprised of LA Ktowners.  I too like many others have been waiting for Asians to cross over into American mainstream music.  I honestly didn't think that the Wonder Girls, Boa, or Se7en could succeed without some help from Asian American artists in America.  It's a beautiful thing and I hope other groups will be able to share their music without having to worry about their ethnicity.

By: Grace Hong

Credits to allkpop, NY Daily News 

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