Asia: Summer Sonic Expands, Olympics Close, Namewee Detained

Summer Sonic Expands Lineup

Last week Japan rock festival Summer Sonic, which takes place Aug. 18-19 simultaneously in Osaka and Tokyo, announced its third group of artists. 

Among the new batch are Tame Impala, The Bloody Beetroots, Kamasi Washington, Ramz and Bullet for My Valentine. Also Sparks and Wolf Alice were announced as the first two acts for Midnight Sonic, the late-night concert that takes place between the two days of the Tokyo end of the festival at the indoor venue, namely the Makuhari Messe Convention Center. 

In addition, Clean Bandit and UNKLE were added to the lineup for Sonic Mania, which takes place the night before the Tokyo festival in the same location. The headliners for this year’s event are Beck and Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds. 

Summer Sonic is organized by Creativeman Productions, which is also presenting the one-day Popspring festival in both Tokyo and Kobe the weekend of March 24. Last week they added Nick Jonas to a lineup that already includes Little Mix, Liam Payne, Superfruit and Kyary Pamyu Pamyu.  

Winter Olympic Games Go Out With A Bang

The 2018 Winter Olympic Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea, ended Feb. 25 with a closing ceremony that was heavy on K-pop, thus giving the national pop music style a priceless international platform.


Korean musician Yang Tae-hwan performs during the closing ceremony of the Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympic Games Feb. 25.

 After the South Korean national flag was hoisted and the crowd sang the national anthem, teenage guitar prodigy Yang Tae-Hwan played a blistering solo from the highest point in the Pyeongchang Olympic Stadium while a single dancer performed the traditional “Spring Dance of the Nightingale” on the ground.

 The biggest ovation was for K-pop singer CL, who sang her hit “The Baddest Female” as well as a cover of her girl group 2NE1’s “I Am the Best.” There was also a performance by boy band EXO that prompted a reported 8 million tweets worldwide in less than four hours, according to the International Olympic Committee’s social media department. 

 Namewee Detained In Video Probe

Malaysian police announced Feb. 22 they had detained the ethnic Chinese rapper Namewee after receiving complaints about a video he had made that purported to insult Islam and “hurt racial harmony.” Previously, it was thought that Namewee, whose real name is Wee Meng Chee, had been out of the country. 

 Police received four public complaints about the video, which was made to celebrate the Chinese Lunar New Year. However, in the video there are dancers wearing dog masks and dancing “obscenely,” according to the complaints. This is the Year of the Dog in the lunar calendar, but dogs are considered unclean in the Muslim religion. About 60 percent of Malaysian’s 32 million people are Muslim.  

The video shows Namewee sitting in a public square surrounded by dancers with a domed structure in the background. Many critics thought the structure was a mosque, but it turned out to be the prime minister’s office. 

The rapper sings about dogs and compares their barking to Malaysian phrases that translate as, “come, come, money, money.” Some government officials have called for Namewee to be prosecuted, but he insists that the video’s purposes are only for entertainment and contain “no malicious intent.”

The rapper showed up at federal police headquarters for questioning. He posted a photo of himself on Facebook with the remark, “I am not afraid because I believe Malaysia has justice.” 

An organization called Free Malaysia Today said that Namewee would remain in custody until Feb. 27.