Saturday 26 July 2008

My Jero

While I was slinking to the station after just another day at the office in Shiodome on Wednesday, I stumbled on a free gig by Japan's newest It Boy: Jero the pseudo-hip-hop enka singer.

I figured I might as well check it out to distract myself from sulking about being too broke for Fuji Rock this weekend.

Certainly most of the ladies seemed enthralled by this American crooner, who says that his Japanese maternal grandmother introduced him to enka and the Japanese language.

I was more enthralled with his jarring image. Jero eschews kimono for gear straight from The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, but still performs traditionally: standing in one place, overusing facial expressions and randomly grabbing at the air as his diamond earrings glitter in the light.

Behind him, Jero promotional videos rolled on a screen, instead of, say, cherry blossoms and oceans like in the usual enka videos. His voice was a bit deeper than I expected, and while quite pleasant, I'd like to hear it again in a few more years when he's got a bit more polish and power.

Because his image is so jarring, I was expecting him to add his own touch to the music, but the arrangements he sings over are starkly traditional -- no beats, samples, skits, or other accouterments of modern hip-hop.

During the post-performance harassment -- err, questioning -- by Nippon Television flunkies, Jero remained soft-spoken and gracious. He must really be a publicist's dream: a novelty, but not enough to alienate anyone, and seemingly tireless, as shown by his endless number of TV appearances, gigs and coffee advertisements.

What do you think, is Jero nothing but shtick or is he the real thing?

(photo is from Jero's official blog)

Labels: , , ,


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home