Japan News 10/4

Going GReeeeN

The pop phenomenon in Japan this year is an all-male vocal quartet called GReeeeN.

The group, which is based in Fukushima Prefecture in northern Japan, made its debut in January 2007 with the song “Michi” (The Road) on Universal Music.

The single peaked at No. 39 on the Oricon chart. GreeeeN’s next five singles sold fairly well, but May’s “Kiseki” (Miracle) sold 186,097 copies (downloads and CDs) in the first week alone.

In a month’s time, the song had been downloaded a million times, making it the biggest-selling ringtone in Japanese music history. The band’s subsequent album, Ah, domo. Hisashiburi desu (Oh, thank you. It’s been a while), was released in late June and went straight to No. 1. It has since sold more than 900,000 copies.

What’s notable about the group’s success is that GReeeeN does not perform live or appear on television. In fact, no one knows what the members look like. All four members, known only by their nicknames, were dentistry students at Ohu University when they debuted.

Three have since graduated, but one member has hinted on the Internet that once everyone passes the national dentistry exam and receives their licenses, they may actually appear in public. But in any case they have dedicated their lives to teeth, not music. Their logo is a wide, toothy smile.

Universal has managed to cash in on the GReeeeN phenomenon. Andrew W.K. and reggae star C.J. Lewis, both of whom record for Universal in Japan, have each released single versions of “Kiseki” this past summer.


More Of The Who

The Who has added an extra show at 13,000-seat martial arts venue Budokan for Nov. 19.
Tickets for the group’s four other Japan shows are long gone, including a Nov. 17 Budokan gig that reportedly sold out in 10 minutes.

However, that wasn’t as fast as the sellout for local group Sid, whose Budokan show sold out in two minutes, which is no small feat for a band still considered an “indie” in Japan.

Sid is a “visual-kei” group, meaning a J-Pop artist that dresses like characters in manga and plays sugary heavy metal. The band debuted in 2003 and has since built up a strong fan base.

Sid already performed once at Budokan in 2006. The Nov. 2 Budokan show will mark the band’s migration to the big leagues since its latest single is on Sony, albeit on the major’s boutique label Ki/oon, which tends to feature indie-identified artists.


X Japan Tour Back On

Speaking of visual-kei, X Japan, the acknowledged creator of the genre, has announced that its world tour is back on.
Following the group’s highly successful reunion shows in Tokyo last spring, X Japan planned its first-ever world tour but had to put it on hold when leader and drummer Yoshiki aggravated a longstanding back problem.

However, on Sept. 15, Yoshiki launched a four-city Asian promotional tour to reassure fans that the tour would proceed.
About 10,000 fans showed up at a special event in Tokyo where Yoshiki announced that the group would play in Japan on Christmas and New Year’s Eve, though he wouldn’t specify where. He added that the tour would also include concerts in Paris, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Thailand and South Korea.

The next day, Yoshiki was greeted by 1,000 fans in Taipei, where he announced that the Taiwan leg of the tour would take place on Valentine’s Day at the Taipei World Trade Center. He also revealed that the tour would use the “virtual Hide” hologram featured at the band’s reunion shows.

Hide was the group’s original guitarist, who committed suicide in the mid-’90s.

Talking about his former bandmate, Yoshiki reportedly was overcome by emotion and had to leave the stage. He then flew to Hong Kong where he said that a German show might be added to the tour and negotiations were under way to reschedule the Madison Square Garden concert that was canceled.

In Bangkok on Sept. 18 he announced that the band would play at the Supachalasai National Stadium on Jan. 31.