Scandals in Japanese music are nothing but pathetic marketing moves

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Since I started writing about Japanese music, I always avoided to talk about the scandals that pop up from time to time in the world’s second biggest music industry. The reason is simple: I don’t care about celebrities’ personal matters, nor it’s any of my business.

I could start covering news, scandals, gossips, and act like a lonely housewife in her mid 30’s, trying to get more views as possible with a clickbait website. And in all honesty, it would probably bring me farther than what I’m achieving now by exclusively writing about music. Most importantly, though, I’d totally benefit from the comfortable purpose these news are created for: popularity. To me, scandals are indeed nothing but planned and organized news, created by labels and management agencies to increase the popularity (and, potentially, sales) of artists going through particular stages of their careers.

The most infamous example right now is obviously the “scandal” between Enon Kawatani, the mastermind behind J-rock outfits indigo le End and Gesu no Kiwami Otome. , and Becky, “tarento” and now part-time lonely girl tasting food on TV. You all know the story, so I’ll just briefly recap it as: Dude was secretly married and used to flirt with Becky, shit hit the fan, she made one of those pathetic public flagellations, dude’s album Ryouseibai peaked the Oricon chart, she disappeared, and people started to worry about her health, with a few “you sexist assholes!” outbursts in the middle. Now, a few days ago, these two announced that Enon divorced and that Becky’s public flagellation was totally fake: Kindergarten level of behavior. Not even Haruki Murakami would care about such a weak cheating story.

Now, if you’ve noticed, in all the maze of this pathetic “scandal”, Gesu no Kiwami Otome.’s album Ryouseibai peaked the Oricon Chart, despite all the fuss for the love affair involving the band’s frontman.

I swear, I don’t wanna sound like those stupid conspiracy theorists polluting social networks, but I really see all of this just as a pathetic promotional move. Think about it: what’s the thing that, no matter what, causes more stir and makes everyone talk? Scandals. People will always point the finger and talk about someone else’s shameful actions, just for the sake of chatting about something and to feel better with themselves. It’s just natural, it happens everywhere: More talk means more popularity, leading to people getting to know about who’s involved, and, consequentially, to discover the group(s) the “culprits” are part of, that ultimately translates into more sales.

Don’t get me wrong: Gesu no Kiwami Otome. is actually one of the most valid J-rock bands out there, and Kawatani is undoubtedly a talented songwriter. Maybe the album would have topped the Oricon chart anyway. But at the same time, we’re not talking about a group you can find promoted on billboards in Shinjuku, in trains, or in any other crowded place: Gesu is in that transition phase between well known niche act and mainstream celebrity, where a trending topic (a scandal, in this case) right before the release of a record can do nothing but boost popularity. And who better than a celebrity like Becky to trigger all the mess? The ridiculous behavior of these two (apparently) adult people is just hard to take seriously, especially after the recent unveiling of Becky’s fake behavior in public. And there’s no doubt that, at the end of the story, there’s a heavy sense of falsity in the air, and that all of this was just used (or planned) to boost the sales of Kawatani’s band new record, and to make Becky relevant again in the business, after her fake retirement.

Enon and Becky’s “scandal” is not the only one to take in consideration, obviously. Another clear example is the infamous case of AKB48’s Minami Minegishi, who shaved her hair right after she was apparently caught sleeping at a guy’s apartment. Oh Lord… a twenty years old girl spending the night with a man! What has this world come to! And don’t get me started on the famous “no dating” rule, cause that’s pure falseness and an excuse for hardcore fans to keep supporting the girls.

Anyway, the terrible video of Minami apologizing in tears with her head shaved grabbed the attention of the world, and it’s honestly sad considering its visual brutality: It was beyond atrocious, and had a disturbing psychological violence behind it that made me sick. Right after the case, her fellow group members and supposedly friends, said that “they tried to stop her, but with no success”. Give me a break. Anyone could stop a girl from grabbing a hair clipper and shave her head bald. The thing was another excuse to make marketing by taking advantage of something the girl did in total innocence, and to “fix” the sales drop AKB48 had at the end of 2012/beginning of 2013, later followed by an impressive boost in copies sold for the singles following the incident.

Differently from the Enon and Becky “scandal”, though, that was nothing to laugh at: that girl was visibly traumatized, and that for me is enough to call it the cruelest and most inhuman commercial move ever. Cause no matter what, I will never be able to picture a young Japanese girl voluntarily shaving her head, no matter what she did or what her culture is. And even if she truly did it intentionally, there was no need to make a video and upload it on the web. That’s just plain senseless and cruel.

That said, I could go on and make several other examples, like the “scandal” that involved Techno-pop trio Perfume, where members Nocchi and Kashiyuka were spotted dating and spending the night with what probably were their boyfriends… right before the release of their successful Triangle album. But that’s enough.

The perfect timing these scandals always pop up, and the doubtful way they are exposed to the public, makes me think that this is nothing but a childish and honestly annoying way of gaining more popularity and increase sales. It’s a behavior based on the total disrespect for the artist’s private life, when the artist itself isn’t consciously involved in the move. Either way, the best thing I can do as a fan, is to judge these people for their artistic value, and not for their personal matters.

– Alex