Wednesday, June 3, 2015

The Best Band in the World? The Beatles or The Stones?

A recent article in The Economist asked the interesting question "which was the best?". The question related to the evolution of music over the last fifty years and the choice was (somewhat lightheartedly) between The Beatles and The Stones. The conclusion was that only a wombat would vote for The Beatles, The Stones clearly being the greatest band of all time. Except maybe when Mick Taylor was playing but that's a different discussion. And then an interesting letter was printed in a subsequent edition, a letter from a certain Reverend Neil Young (not that Neil Young, but it would have been good). He pointed out the answer is actually much simpler, The Who were clearly the best band of all time. A good call. Though the real answer is clearly Led Zeppelin. Or Pink Floyd. 

So having been lucky enough to have seen The Who, The Rolling Stones and Paul McCartney (Ringo Starr, when asked, once said "The Beatles won't re-unite whilst John Lennon is dead" so that one is sadly out) I've been able to have a good chance to compare the options. The question for me though is, having seen some of the greatest performers of all time, how come I've never actually been to a concert by a Japanese band? The closest I've come is the warm up act to a World Cup game in 2010 when Funky Monkey Babies did a fine job of rocking the crowd. Great name by the way. But the question always comes back to why there are so few internationally successful Japanese bands. In fact, it's fairly close to nil. OK, two. Well, one.

Off the top of my head I can think of Yellow Magic Orchestra and Sylvian & Sakamoto, however, as Ryuichi Sakamoto was in both of those it's a little questionable whether this counts as one or two. I also remember a trio from the 1990's but can't recall the name. K-Pop (Korean pop music) is phenomenally popular in Japan (and given Psy breaking the two billion YouTube views, popular globally too) but even SMAP (and that I need to explain who SMAP are somewhat illustrates my point here) struggles beyond the shores of Japan. And as the demographic is pretty much against the concept of youth, it's not going to be a long time before your average J-Pop fan is in their fifties. But who am I to talk. Simon and Garfunkel at the Dome were awesome. And Clapton at the Budokan. And Green Day at the Saitama Arena. And The Police, but not sure where I saw those guys. 

Actually, these guys were pretty good too...

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