English Only!

I quite liked that last week, by writing about Chinese music, I managed to steer clear of talking about Japanese music. I shall continue this trend as much as I can, and so this entry shall be English music.

Now I find English music more difficult to write about than Chinese music, because to me it seems like the vastest expanse of music types I have ever heard. On one hand I hear commercial favourites like Owl City and Linkin Park and then there’re the oldies that everyone loves such as the Beatles and ABBA, and then there’re weird indie stuff that involve people dressing up in strange get-ups (much like visual kei) and I don’t know what to describe them. I mean, visual kei is a Japanese term, so what is the English version of it?

Speaking of names for genres, English has the most confusing ones. Up to now I still cannot tell the difference between trance, house, electronica and folk, whatever that is. Being somebody in radio, I should know these different radio formats in order to appeal to the right listeners, but… I’ll just avoid name-dropping and simply select songs I think people listening to my show will like.

There are some English songs that I love, but I can’t quite name a favourite artiste. Down by Jay Sean and Lil’ Wayne is my favourite when it comes to modern stuff, but it doesn’t really inspire me to check out any more of their works. I love the Carpenters, but not in the giddy fan sort of way but in the “yeah they were great in their time” kind. I suppose one reason why my tastes for English music are so disparate is because I’m exposed to so many different experimental sorts. The kinds that don’t seek to be famous or popular, but to provide some sort of meaning to our lives, or make a statement in rebellion to ideas we accept. For example, look at Powerman 5000. They don’t seem to me to be like the kind of people who worry about album sales.

I think I like Green Day, but I only love maybe 1 song by them. Perhaps it is lack of exposure. I don’t have the incentive to check out more offerings by the band because I’m not sure if they’ll be consistently good. Maybe I don’t even know what I like about the songs, and I’m not sure it’s the band that I love. All I know is that they give off a strange vibe when they put on goth or punk make-up. Like, so much more chillingly realistic than the Japanese folk.

But the Japanese rock culture really picked up many elements from the rebels of English music, and at least we don’t have the stubborn pleasantness of the Chinese. The English musicians don’t care about unsettling their audiences, and the truth and sincerity behind their messages is what the audience loves.

Am I confusing you? I think I’m confusing myself too. But that’s what I see from the English music scene, a mish-mash of confusion, with different styles emerging to cater to different tastes and moods. There is no way to love all English music as it is to love all Japanese music, but this diversity is something to celebrate. No single word should be able to describe this international group of music in all its glory.


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