When is 1000 true music fans not enough?: Faith No More, Kylie Minogue, hallyu, and J-pop


If you don’t know the artists (Faith No More & Kylie Minogue) and musical genres (J-pop & hallyu) mentioned in the title of this post, that doesn’t make you odd. You just aren’t aware of these music more popular outside of the U.S. (and the “hallyu wave” is not limited to music).

But that doesn’t mean that they don’t have fans — they have many! The U.S. music audience often doesn’t get to hear the music popular elsewhere, yet American music is popular worldwide.

As Frederick Stiehl in his article about J-pop/Hallyu artist BoA,

America has known few foreign artists outside of Latin America or Britain. Indeed, America has proven itself to be quite resistant to foreign singers, and especially to non-English artists. A few exceptions include Icelandic Bjork and German Rammstein …. However, both of these artists demonstrate a specialized style, known to but not followed by “mainstream” Americans.

So where does subgenre begin when it includes an international superstar like Kylie Minogue?

Though she hadn’t done a show in the U.S. since 1987, the above video from the Chicago show where Kylie Minogue performed impromptu a cappella and the enthusiastic audience knows all the words shows there is interest in seeing her perform here. According to an interview with Blackbook magazine, Kylie says

The fans in America aren’t great in number, but they’re great in spirit. And they’ve been so patient. I think I really shocked them when I said I was touring, because they’ve become accepting of the fact that it was never going to happen.

In a recent interview, Mike Patton, the lead singer in Faith No More (a U.S. band still highly popular in Europe), commented on how the band wasn’t going to do an extensive U.S. tour because of not receiving many offers to play.

In response, a friend said

“As you [see in the Kylie performance], CLEARLY the demand was there, the promoters just didn’t want to take the chance. … And now that the economy is bad, the promoters have an even better excuse not to book anyone [like Faith No More] who isn’t a “sure thing.”

And even if one is the real thing, a recent On the Media podcast discusses how the rules of concert and music promotion have changed over time.

Unbelievably, Utada (a Japanese-American pop artist, known best in the U.S. for her two theme songs for the video games, Kingdom Hearts), may be the first Japanese OR Korean pop artist to have a multi-city tour in the U.S. There are multiple reasons why this may be so — including the language barrier, and cultutral appropriation/ racialized ideas of music.

And over a year and a half ago, Jeff Yang’s article on the Wonder Girls started with the lede:

Powered by catchy grooves, an all-out marketing frenzy and a wildly addictive Internet dance craze, the teenage divas known as the Wonder Girls have become Korea’s biggest pop phenomenon. But can they make it big in America?

Yet they haven’t blown up here, despite opening for the Jonas Brothers (and a three date label-based tour). It is hard to understand why artists like BoA, Utada, the Wonder Girls, and Namie Amuro (the self-proclaimed queen of hip-pop, video below) haven’t get gained a foothold in the U.S. And then I remember Kylie!


And as Stiel states, BoA’s

initial fan base was also the group responsible for the sales of the album [in the U.S. But this] does ultimately point to the fact that Asian stars are becoming popular enough to hold concerts in the United States and draw such a crowd.

Artists from overseas aren’t quite trusted here — regardless of whether they have have 1,000 true fans (or in the case of Kylie, many more). Strange how major music companies manage to get American music everywhere, but aren’t able to get their overseas labelmates U.S. success.

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Comments (3)

This is total food for thought- It’s a shame the USA will have to miss out on a lot of FNM shows, but me and I’m sure many other fans will be seeing as many shows as we can. But seriously, what is a sure thing these days? I hate how promoters are totally ignoring the fan base

[…] our very diverse blog posts, some of the most popular are about hallyu, the export of Korean pop culture. While still very much a subculture […]

[…] write a lot about hallyu (exported Korean pop culture) on this blog, and K-pop has really started to hit the mainstream U.S. […]

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