Monday, April 21, 2008

Searching for my Asian American pop star

First things first, I need to get this off my chest and admit my own up to my pop culture transgression: I’m not a big music person. I love to rock out to the radio when driving my car or dance it out at a frat party, but don’t ask me for a song recommendation or to be an iPod DJ at your party. I don’t really have a group of favorite artists or favorite songs; I belong to the minority of Brown students who don’t even own an iPod. This is the reason why I love Pandora; it does all of the music selection for me.

Pandora is where my search began. I started looking for a genre of Asian American artists. I found plenty of Latin; I found Jazz and R&B; I found Rock and Country, but nothing mildly relating to Asian music artists. I scoured the classical section for some Yo-Yo Ma. I tried looking for some sort of Asian folk music with a Mandolin, but I could find nothing. Stumped, my mind fell back onto the stereotypes of Asian Americans and music and the first thing that popped into my head was a Japanese businessman singing karaoke in Tokyo. I looked a little closer at the stereotype and realized that he was singing American music in chopped English. Where has all of the Asian music gone?

My next stop was a Google search for Asian American music artists and several sites, like AArisings.com, which had a comprehensive list of every Asian American music artist. It seemed like the site was created for people just like me, people who had recently lost faith in Asian American music. I thought I would peruse this list to find out of maybe I had been listening to Asian American music all along and just hadn’t realized it. After looking through a list of 200-300 artists, the artists I had hear of were CoCo Lee, Jin, Linkin’ Park, N.E.R.D., and Yo-Yo Ma.

With strengthening Asian economies, the market for Asian American music is available, but where are the artists to meet the demand? Do all Asian American pop stars have to be like William Hung, who was as much of a joke as an American idol? I guess my laid back attitude towards music never made me realize the dearth of Asian music. Maybe I should pay more attention to what music I’m listening to. Maybe Asian Americans need to create a genre of their own to distinguish their music, a genre that hasn’t already been dominated by another ethnic group. I’m crossing my fingers that the new Playstation/Xbox hit “Rock Band” (the newest manifestation of Dance Dance Revolution) will start the ball rolling for a new breed of Asian American music artists.

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