Asia: Wu Signs With UMG, Anti-Dance Law Confusion, Derulo Video Offends Some Asia Fans

Wu Signs With UMG

Travis Scott
John Davisson
– Travis Scott
Travis Scott brings it on for the crowd at Okeechobee Music & Arts Festival in Florida March 3.

Kris Wu, one of the biggest stars in China and the only artist there to earn a No. 1 song on the U.S. iTunes chart, was signed to an exclusive international recording agreement by Universal Music Group (UMG).

All music released internationally by Wu from now on, except for South Korea and Japan, will be handled through a special partnership between Universal Music China, Interscope Geffen A&M in the U.S. and Island Records in the U.K., in addition to other UMG operations. The deal covers all platforms, as well as live events.

Wu, 27, was born in Guangzhou and last October became the first Chinese artist to reach No. 1 on the U.S. iTunes chart with the single, “Deserve,” which also features Travis Scott. “Deserve” has been streamed more than a billion times worldwide.

He has also produced and written a string of hits for other projects, including “Juice,” which was featured in the 2017 box office hit, ”XxX: Return of Xander Cage,” which he also appeared in.  As an actor, he’s also been seen in “Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets” and “Journey to the West.” As a advertising spokesperson and character, he’s worked with Mercedes-Benz, American Express, Bvlgari, Burberry and McDonald’s.

Anti-Dance Law A Slippery Slope

In 2016, the Japanese government repealed a law implemented in 1948 that prohibited after-hours dancing in commercial establishments. The original intent of the law was to discourage prostitution right after the war. Following the American occupation, it was never really enforced, thus allowing for the rise of Japan’s thriving club culture in the 80s.

However, about 10 years ago the police started enforcing the law and driving a number of clubs in Tokyo and Osaka out of business. Concerted protests eventually led to a repeal of the law and everyone thought that was that.

But several weeks ago, the police cited a very small bar in Tokyo for allowing dancing after midnight, and the live music industry realized that the repeal of the anti-dancing ordinance was not perfect. The incident happened at a DJ lounge called Bonobo. On March 23, three plainclothes policemen entered the tiny space, which only held 15 people at the time, and started questioning a non-Japanese man, whom they accused of dancing. According to several media reports, the man answered, “I’m simply shaking my body because I’m happy.” The police refuted his claim and accused him of breaking the law.

Bonobo is owned by Koichi Seike, who lived in New York City for 10 years. He thinks of his establishment as mainly a drinking place and his taste for international music and atmosphere has attracted the attention of many visiting foreign musicians, such as David Guetta and Jane Birkin.

According to the revised version of the law that replaced the anti-dancing regulation, any venue that offers drinks after midnight must obtain a special permit. However, it’s generally assumed that only establishments of a certain size that are in certain commercial areas need to obtain such a permit. Zoning regulations in Japan are notoriously vague, and likely Seike didn’t think he needed a permit.

Nevertheless, the police summoned him to discuss the matter. They insisted that despite the law’s revision, dancing was not allowed in his bar. He was forced to sign a document stating that he would not allow any more dancing. There is some concern within the industry that the Bonobo incident points to a crackdown on smaller venues that play music but are mainly drinking establishments. In any case, what it does indicate is that the police can interpret the law any way they want. 

Derulo Video Offends South Koreans

Jason Derulo
Cheryl Gerber / AP Images for Allstate
– Jason Derulo
“Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve with Ryan Seacrest,” New Orleans, La.

The video for Jason Derulo‘s newest song, “Colors,” has kicked up a controversy in South Korea, where many people have expressed offense at the use of the Imperial Japanese flag in the video, according to the Korea Times.

Derulo’s single is the Coca-Cola anthem for the next FIFA World Cup, which takes place in Russia this summer, thus making it the official theme song of the games, like Pitbull‘s “We Are One” in 2014 and Shakira‘s “Waka Waka” in 2010.

In the video people of various nationalities dance in traditional dress, more or less. One of the dancers, presumably a Japanese woman, waves the current national flag of Japan but also wears sashes across her chest and back that are patterned after the flag of the Imperial Japanese Army and Navy, which show the rising sun with red rays radiating outward.

To Koreans, the flag represents the colonial power that ruled their lives up until the end of the war in 1945. During the colonial period, Koreans were not allowed to speak their own language and had to assume Japanese names. Though Derulo has said in a promotional message that the theme of “Colors” is that “music is something that brings us all together,” the video has alienated a good portion of his South Korean fans, not to mention people who are interested in the FIFA World Cup.

The Korea Times mentions there seems to be a general misunderstanding regarding the provenance of the Imperial flag, since several other foreign musicians, including Ed Sheeran and Mika, have used it for promotional purposes in Asia, obviously naive as to the impression it makes on those who suffered under Japanese oppression during and prior to World War II. Ryan Tedder of