Asia News: Yuzo Kayama Retires; BTS To Reunite To Support World Expo Bid; Psy Revives ‘Water Show’


Yuzo Kayama Retires From Performing

Popular Japanese singer Yuzo Kayama has announced that he is retiring from performing. The 85-year-old guitarist and actor will formally end a career that has lasted more than 60 years with a final concert in September at the Tokyo International Forum.

According to the Asahi Shimbun newspaper, Kayama had previously said he would continue performing until he died, but a stroke that occurred several years ago changed his mind. “Everyone eventually reaches a point in their lives where they must bring an end to what they have been doing all those years,” he told the newspaper. “I decided to retire from concert activities while I can still sing, rather than having to quit after finding I can no longer sing.”

Kayama debuted in 1961 as one of Japan’s first bona fide singer-songwriters who could move easily between rock and roll and Japanese pop (kayokyoku). More importantly, his ringing, rambling guitar style, which borrowed heavily from the Ventures, was extremely influential in the 1960s and beyond.

He is singlehandedly credited with sparking the “elekki” boom of sales of electric guitars in Japan. He also starred, like Elvis Presley in the U.S., in a series of movies called “wakadaisho” (young general), which was targeted effectively at the boomer youth market.


BTS Concert To Support World Expo Bid

Though K-pop’s biggest group, BTS, has announced an indefinite hiatus so that individual members can work on solo projects, the group as a whole announced it would stage a major concert to promote the South Korean city of Busan’s bid to host the 2030 World Expo.

3 KoreaBTS
ONE NIGHT ONLY: BTS performs “Butter” at the 64th Annual Grammy Awards on April 3, 2022, in Las Vegas. The Korean group will reunite for a concert in support of South Korea’s World Expo hosting bid. (AP Photo/Chris Pizzello, File)

The band’s management agency, Hybe, has forged a partnership with the port of Busan, Korea’s second-largest city and the hometown of two BTS members, to make BTS the offical “ambassadors for Busan’s World Expo 2030 bid.”

If Busan wins the bid against other contenders, including Rome and Riyadh, it will be South Korea’s first opportunity to host a World Expo. The date for the special promotional concert has yet to be set, but BTS are also committed to “personally introduce” the bid on the day the voting for a host city takes place.

Psy Revives ‘Water Show’

South Korean rapper-singer Psy will revive his “water show” concerts this summer after several years off due to the pandemic.

These shows take place at large outdoor venues where the crowds are continually doused with large amounts of water to stave off the heat.

When Psy announced this summer’s series he was immediately chided for wasting water during a national drought. Each concert, according to the Joongang Daily, uses about 300 tons of “drinkable water.” One of the concerts has already been cancelled due to the criticism.

Instead, Psy’s label, P Nation, announced that each attendee will receive four waterproof KF94 masks to prevent the spread of COVID infections.

Originally, each attendee was to receive one mask, but health authorities pressured P Nation to do more, and this seems to be their solution. The water, however, will remain at the same volume.


Backstreet Boys Draw More Than 44M To WeChat

According to various Chinese media, more than 44 million people tuned into the Backstreet Boys online concert that was broadcast live via WeChat Channels, which are owned by the Chinese internet entertainment company Tencent.

The concert lasted about two hours and sent the US boy band’s 1997 hit single, “As Long As You Love Me,” back up the charts via the Chinese social media platform Weibo. Tencent usually promotes short-video content on WeChat, which has more than 1.29 billion users.
A new series of concerts, which also featured British boy band Westlife, has increased the number of users considerably. In his move to take over Twitter, Elon Musk had said he was looking to make the platform into something more along the lines of WeChat.

Both Westlife and Backstreet Boys have an extremely strong fan base in China that was formed during their heyday in the ‘90s, and both shows were produced by a company called East Goes Global, which has also produced online shows by The Chainsmokers, Jessie J., John Legend and Troye Sivan.

East Goes Global’s coup prefigures similar projects that are bound to materialize soon through new partnerships in China embarked upon by the likes of RCA Records, Live Nation and Universal Music Group.