By now you’ve probably heard about Katy Perry’s culturally appropriative pseudo-geisha performance at the American Music Awards. If you’re still wondering why so many are upset, let Angry Asian Man remind you about the racist Tweets over PSY’s performance last year. More recently, similar vitriol has been directed at Kenichii Ebina for winning America’s Got Talent. Instead of talking more about the inappropriateness of her performance, I am going to suggest alternative Japanese and Japanese-American artists who could have opened the AMAs.
Let’s start with the obvious choices: Ayumi Hamasaki and Koda Kumi. They have the theatricality and upbeat pop sounds. Around ten years ago, TIME predicted international stardom for Ayu, and we’re still waiting for that to happen.
Koda Kumi has done a duet with Fergie so she has crossover potential. Plus she can really rock a kimono.
From Teriyaki Music
For a more whimsical choice, there’s Kyary Pamyu Pamyu. Her videos make Katy’s look tame, and BBC even reported on her rising popularity this summer. And look, she seems to get a long with Katy so why couldn’t they have done a duet?
From Kyary Pamyu Pamyu’s official facebook page
Now some may argue about a language barrier. The bilingual Hikaru Utada is the obvious choice with her previous English releases. This could’ve been a way for her to get back into action after a hiatus. Speaking of comebacks, Jin Akanishi, who isn’t fluent but quite skilled, was working to crossover, and the AMAs could’ve been a perfect place to continue what he started.
For a more stateside show, there’s Far East Movement. Yeah, “Like a G6” was a few years ago, but they’re still making music.
Why shouldn’t an all-Asian hip-hop group be able to perform a new hit? Their lack of further success, as well as Ayumi Hamasaki’s and Hikaru Utada’s, is the root of some of the frustration over cultural appropriation. If Katy really had to be the star, she could’ve at least invited Japanese musicians to share the stage, instead of employing nameless back-up dancers. It wouldn’t have made her outfit any less offensive, but she would’ve helped musical artists or fashion designers get exposure. How cool would it have been for The Yoshida Brothers to play shamisen in her set? Or wouldn’t it have helped the Japanese fashion industry if she wore a kimono by Chiso or Issey Miyake? It would’ve been a little nice to see some give instead of all take.
Listening to: “REPLAY” by VAMPS