To the JYJ fans that may read this post and get the wrong idea: I am not bashing/hating on JYJ. I am simply stating my opinions on one of their latest singles/videos that I believe has done them more harm than good.
Check out the official music video to one JYJ’s latest singles “Ayy Girl”.
Now, if I’m not mistaken, my understanding is that this was supposed to be the song that broke JYJ into the U.S. market. But sadly, this song/video leaves me with more questions and answers. Namely, who in JYJ’s creative camp thought this would be a benefit?? Its no secret that Asian entertainers (whether singers, actors, etc) have been trying to break into the U.S. market for a long time. It is also no secret that it hasn’t really happened for any particular Asian artist (except Bruce Lee, arguably). So no doubt, the wise and discerning creative team should not underestimate the daunting task ahead in preparing their foreign artist for the U.S. market.
Breaking into the U.S. market can’t be an easy thing. If it were, our boy Bi would’ve done it by now, and even though he’s much more well known in the States after the release of Ninja Assassin, I still think its safe to say that only about half of the movie-going U.S. population even really know who he is. That is a much smaller number in relativity to his native South Korea, and the neighboring Asian countries in which he is often compared to Michael Jackson, the undeniable King of Pop. Back to breaking into the U.S. market: its not easy, likely because, 1) there are tons of talented U.S. natives trying to do that very thing. So a lot of the attention and priority in the U.S. music industry usually goes to our own. 2) The music industry has an annoying little habit (or audacity, depending on how you look at it) of telling us what/who we’re going to like, and so they sign artists that are mediocre at best, and who push their agendas (I’m not going to go any deeper into that because its off point, but I’m sure there are folks out there that get my drift). I also think that 3) JYJ isn’t being taken seriously by the U.S. music industry. If so, why would Kanye West and Malik Yusef not appear in their video? I don’t think its fair that they spent a lot of money on the video, but couldn’t even convince Kanye to show his face?? Also, why would JYJ’s stylists for the video don Junsu in a halter top/apron/whatever that thing is?? Why would the makeup team paint their faces in overly noticeable makeup? Over-the-top makeup and fashion may work on men in Korea and Asia (think Mblaq “Cry” video) and maybe goth rock or punk bands in the U.S., but on Asian pop artists looking to break into the Western music scene?? Not so much, methinks.
The process of marketing an Asian artist to the U.S. is a very meticulous one, so all caution should be taken. That formula of success is a delicate balance between image, material and timing. Now is a great time for Asian artists to break into the U.S., however, their image and the music material/projects they choose are incredibly crucial to their success. I don’t want to say this is the end of the JYJ in the U.S., but I hope that their creative team is rethinking their approach and investing in some serious damage control.
That said, I hope JYJ is successful. Yes, I want them to succeed. One small step for a K-pop group/artist, one giant leap for Asian artists everywhere!
P.S. – I’d love to hear from someone with a differing opinion and who thinks this song and video was a plus to JYJ entrance into the U.S. market.