You may have heard the saying “whatever you do, remember, there is an Asian out there who can do better”. The darn continent is just full of talented musicians. Recently, I have been actively searching for musicians from different parts of Asia that would best represent the unique culture of each country without having to alienate the world.
I encourage you to check them out on youtube and also support them by buying their songs or albums.
I didn’t want to think it first but Yuna is the making of Tracy Chapman. She has the same haunting voice that could creep to your soul even if you try fighting it. One line from a song and you know she’s all angst. A voice like that was created to sing and I mean that. Someone would have sued her if she didn’t share her voice to the world.
She was a finalist at Malaysia’s Got Talent which, I know, will make everyone frown. I don’t care. Just because she joined the contest doesn’t mean she’s not talented. She writes her own songs which only prove her musical integrity.
Klantik is an acoustic band that fuses native Indonesian music with guitar, a universal instrument. It is one of the very few bands in Indonesia who have successfully broke into the mainstream market without having to lose their ethnic identity.
Their performances are very light and their music is very universal but not too western.
Genre: Hip Hop
Rhymester has been around for more than three decades. Composed of MCs Mummy-D and Utamaru, and DJ Jin, they are considered one of the cornerstone of Japanese Hip Hop. For more than two decades, they were with an indie label, a move that earned them the respect of both Japanese fans and critics. They have built an uncompromising reputation when it comes to their music. Everyone knows that Rhymester does not compromise their sound. Their climb to the top has been slow but a sure one.
They finally signed on to a major label in 2001. Unlike many new bands, Rhymester’s reputation and names allowed them to have more control over their songs and their career in general.
4. Slot Machine
Genre: Pop, Rock
I’ve listened to so many Thai bands and most carry the usual predictable melodic tunes that sound like the next pop rock song out there. Their sounds are predictable and their lyrics are flat.
Slot Machine is the one band that breaks away from the trend. For one, they have the nerve to experiment with their sound. They can go heavy one tune and subtle on the next. They dip their feet in different genres and mix up their tunes. The result is not always successful but the bottomline is that they try, they dare and they have a pair to keep on doing it.
They are a six-piece band and is signed under Sony BMG.
They got their start as a part of the movement called Visual Kei. It is a movement among musicians in Japan that supports the use of heavy makeup and costume. They believe that by hiding their faces, it will lead people to support their music rather than their celebrities. However, when they got their major label debut, they have left the movement. They still wear makeup and carry flamboyant hair from time to time, though.
They are different. That’s the best way to describe them. They are far from being the best but they are different. Their beats seem always off and their melodies seems to follow no pattern and even the sound of their vocalist’s voice is commercial but unexpected. They seem to change their melody about a hundred times a song. They go in and out of their beat and
Genre: Folk, Rock
The Philippines has already produced several Filipino international musicians including the frontman of Journey, Arnel Pineda, Charis, and Apl de Ap of Blackeyed Peas. This is not surprising considering English is the country’s second language and it is also highly influenced by the American culture because of their close economic and cultural ties with the US.
Most of the bands that are popular in the country are very Western but there are bands like Kadangyan that manages to retain the original Filipino ethnic sound and fuse modern instruments to create a really unique type of music. You are not going to hear anything like them from any other country because they truly use unique Filipino sound. They also perform wearing unique Filipino costumes and temporary tattoos.
They are still an independent band. In fact, they are considered underground.
Country: South Korea
Genre: HipHop. Actually, they mix so many genre that trying to figure out their music is making me dizzy
LeeSsang is composed of Garie Kang (Kang Gary in Korean because they put their last name first) and Gil. They have been together for 16 years and have released 8 albums.
Brave is how I will call this band. Brave and downright bad@ss. They have two gigantic pairs between them that allow them to experiment with their music like a two year old with clay, crayon, pen and paper on their mother’s carpet on a particularly cozy afternoon. They don’t know rules… or probably they do but they simply don’t give a fine eff about it. That’s why they go in and out of different genres in their songs and somehow manage to put in the hip hop feel in it.
Their lyrics is just as unpredictable as their melodies. They can go absolutely street one second and poetic on the next. One thing is for sure, they are as pure as pure can be. They don’t give a darn care about what other people say about their music. They don’t even care if it sells or not for as long as they create the music they want at the quality that satisfies them.
They don’t believe in theatrics. Their performances are unbelievably simple. It is the purity of their emotions and lyrics that push people to raise their hands in the air and nod their head.
You might also be interested in:
- South Korea's Music Culture: On the Claw of a Revolution
- South Korea's Music Revolution: Psy and LeeSsang are Leading the Way
- Must See Foreign Films