X Japan – English Lyric

On April 30, 2011, in Music, X Japan,

Is it absolutely necessary for foreign artists to success in the US market?

After huge success in Japan beginning 1990s, X Japan tried to break into American market, but gave it up without releasing a single or an album after 4 years.

Yoshiki said in interviews that their problem was they did not speak English at all. In one interview, he said more bluntly that their vocalist Toshi’s English was not good enough. He said he even tried to correct pronunciation of his recording with computer. (Since then, they say Toshi’s English has improved a lot.)

Here’s some songs from live concert in 1991 around when they decided to go for the US market.

– Silent Jealousy – Live 1991 (With Orchestra): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QiQxH0Ro2MA
– Say Anything – Live 1991 (With Orchestra): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q3esTTUPlJo
– Blue Blood – Live 1991 (With Orchestra): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0uFfy6b6DOQ

As a lay person, I wondered why they did not try all in Japanese as they were, during 1990s.

After all, we were listening American pops all the time, without understanding what they were singing about.
I don’t think that there were many Japanese listeners of “Hotel California” who understood what the song was about, me included. But the song was popular anyway.

Cannot it be true the opposite direction?

My husband whose mother tongue is English says that he often did not understand what American singers were singing, or got their lyric wrong.  So is it so important to sing in perfect English to succeed in the US market?
X Japan’s songs in Japanese on YouTube have a lot of access from all over the world.

Comments often say that they do not understand a word, but they feel their music, that Toshi’s singing is so emotional that they do not need to understand Japanese to appreciate their songs.

X Japan is releasing new album in USA mostly in English some time this year (if no further delay).
Yoshiki said half are new songs and half from the past, changing lyrics from Japanese to English.

I hope their songs do not lose something in translation.


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