Asia: Paul McCartney, Kendrick Lamar, Ellen Joyce Loo

Paul McCartney
Scott Legato
– Paul McCartney
Little Caesars Arena in Detroit

McCartney Hype Builds

Ads started appearing in Japanese media on Aug. 8 for Sir Paul McCartney‘s totally unexpected “Freshen Up” tour of Japan this fall. 
The former Beatle will play two shows at Tokyo Dome on Oct. 31 and Nov. 1, and one show at Nagoya Dome on Nov. 8, his first ever appearance in the central Japan city.
 Advance reservations for tickets began the day the ads appeared. He must be in a hurry. McCartney last played Japan in 2017.
DAMN. Politics
Just prior to Kendrick Lamar’s appearance at Japan’s Fuji Rock Festival at the end of July, Universal Music Japan, which distributes his music in Japan, created an unusual campaign to promote his records. 
The campaign, launched July 13, according to The Japan Times, featured posters of redacted documents with the words #KendrickRainichi (Kendrick comes to Japan). 
Superimposed over the blackened portions of the documents depicted was the word DAMN., which is the title of Lamar’s latest album. In the corner of the poster was Lamar’s signature.
The political thrust of the advertisements was obvious to anyone who has been following the news. The documents in the ads were taken from evidence in a recent scandal that connected the prime minister to the opening of a private school headed by a right-wing group and which critics asserted showed that approval for the school was directed by the premier. Moreover, the ads were only posted in subway stations in the vicinity of central government offices. 
The reaction was mixed. Many fans thought the campaign laudable while others wondered if Lamar really approved it since the scandal is such a local issue and the rapper was unlikely to ever mention it in his work. When queried by an online website, Universal’s creative team said they “wanted Japanese people to acknowledge that this important figure who represents black power exists today, and that he is coming to Japan soon.” 
In order to show his influence as an artist they wanted to “turn important political and social issues into advertising Japanese people can understand.”
The Japan Times commented that the campaign may have been a lost opportunity, since the private school scandal doesn’t really align with Lamar’s concerns, which include “systemic oppression and police brutality.” A more fitting reference might have been the issue of Japanese comedians resorting to blackface routines for laughs, an issue that continues to be debated in Japan. Nevertheless, if Twitter is any indication, the campaign was a success. It was among the top three trends on the day it appeared.
Singer Ellen Joyce Loo Dies
Ellen Joyce Loo, a popular singer in Hong Kong and Taiwan, died Aug. 5 after falling from a building in the Happy Valley district of Hong Kong.
 According to local media, police are not treating the death as being “suspicious,” therefore it is assumed her death was a suicide, even if no suicide note was found in her home, which is in the building she fell from. 
However, Loo was diagnosed with bipolar disorder in 2013, and on one of her social media sites, she mentioned the week before that she was planning on doing “something great.” Loo was 32.
Born in Canada, Loo had worked in the Asian music industry since she was 17, moving freely as a singer-songwriter between electro-folk, Cantopop and rock. 
Originally a member of the band At17, she went solo in 2010, moved to Taiwan, and changed from singing in Cantonese to singing in Mandarin. In 2017, while accepting an award for songwriting, she revealed that she was a lesbian and in a relationship with cinematographer Fisher Yu. 
The couple registered their marriage in Canada the year before. However, in interviews, Loo said that her problems with mental illness were much more taxing than the decision to come out. 
Big Hit Teams with CJ E&M
Two of South Korea’s biggest entertainment companies are forming a new venture for the purpose of finding and cultivating new talent. 
CJ E&M, perhaps Korea’s biggest entertainment company, and Big Hit Entertainment, the label that developed the internationally recognized K-pop septet BTS, have announced they will launch a new company called Belief and have submitted the necessary plan to the South Korean Fair Trade Commission. Starting capital is about $6.3 million, with 52 percent controlled by CJ E&M and the rest held by Big Hit.
Yonhap news agency reports that the venture will soon start producing an audition program to nurture talent “from around the globe.” CJ E&M runs several music agencies under its umbrella, but, more importantly, it operates the cable TV channel Mnet, which has probably produced more K-pop stars than any other media outlet, usually through star search programming. 
CJ E&M also runs KCON, which hosts K-pop conventions and music festivals around the world, including two in the U.S.
Big Hit’s biggest act, BTS, became the first-ever K-pop group to top album charts in the U.S. earlier this year. According to Forbes, it has the highest operating budget of South Korea’s “big 3” labels.