If you’ve been keeping your head firmly encased in a bucket of sand, Block B had their official debut in Japan today. (Which is tomorrow in Japan–got that?)
Of course, Block B has been performing in Japan forever. They even did Match Up Japan years ago! What does it mean for them to debut in Japan?
Well, this has been a real education for me, in particular because I know SFA about Japanese music. When they first started pushing J-Pop in the States about 20 years ago, it was marketed to racist perverts, which was a big turn-off. “Serious” Japanese pop music skews to rock, and while I generally like rock, I’m not such a huge aficionado that I just had to force my way over the significant technological and financial barriers to the music that existed at the time. Nowadays, those barriers are pretty much gone, so the Japanese government decided to replace them with legal barriers. This, my friends, is what is called progress.
Anyway, making an official debut in Japan involves not just recording songs in Japanese but also releasing the music into the Japanese music market. And as a result of the various legal and copyright issues, the Japanese music market is very distinct and separate from the Korean music market, not to mention the U.S. music market.
What about CDs? Japan’s market is very focused on CDs—the Korean market is as well, but Japanese fans are kind of famous for buying fancy, limited edition CDs that often come with extra goodies.
So, for example, Block B is doing three editions of its Very Good (Japanese Version) CD–one regular edition and two limited editions (song lists here). If you pre-ordered a limited edition CD in Japan, you got a little bonus, like a chance to go to a meet-and-greet with Block B.
Getting your hot little hands on Japanese CDs if you don’t live there is difficult enough that people make instructional Web pages about it. The only two sites that I found that overlapped with K-Pop were YesAsia (which PRETENDS to have it all anyway–am I still bitter about not receiving the Blockbuster Remastering sweatshirt and dolls I ordered? YES I AM) and Amazon. Other than that I had to go poking around for places where it looks like maybe foreigners can actually buy music (not Tower Records Japan, that’s for sure), and I found CD Japan (which I’ve ordered the two limited edition CDs from–the order went through fine, they deliver to a bunch of countries, and I could pay with PayPal. But we’ll see if they actually deliver the goods or if they PULL A YESASIA and leave me in the lurch) (ETA: They came! Yay!) and HMV Japan.
What about digital? All versions are on iTunes Japan–but that doesn’t do you much good if you have a non-Japanese iTunes account. It’s completely separate–people can’t use a non-Japanese credit card or even a non-Japanese gift card. It appears that you basically have to create a mock Japanese account and buy a iTunes Japan gift card from a reseller to get the music. Some B.A.P fans did a tutorial a while back–worth looking at for an idea of what’s involved.
Does that make you feel like this?
At least you can sample “Nolina” (especially if this gets yanked) and “Be the Light (Yves & Adams Winter Remix).” I don’t know who Yves & Adams are (ETA: ah, they appear to be these people), although Adam & Yves is a 1970s gay porn film–make of that what you will. (And yes, I just got myself another batch of people searching for gay Korean porn. Maybe they’ll be necrophiliacs and the photo above will do them some good.)
What about that all-new music video that we were promised!?!?! Promised by who, you little munchkin? I have been plugging updates from Block B’s official Japanese site into Google Translate quite religiously, and I haven’t seen anything there to indicate that this:
was not the video. I mean, yes, I could be wrong–I’m not an official source, but neither is some yutz pontificating away in the YouTube comments, telling you exactly what you want to hear. Go here and read the Q&A that starts with, “Hey, I heard this hot rumor from someone who swears it’s true!” and then go here and acquaint yourself with why a group might not want to shoot an entirely new video if they don’t have to.
Anyway, hopefully all the advertising and media appearances will help Block B get good numbers in Japan–it’s a big market and can be quite lucrative, so with any luck it will be well worth the occasional flop in a hallway.