The B'z Hype Topic! (New Album DINOSAUR Out Now!!!)

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Jd-
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Re: The B'z Hype Topic! (New Album DINOSAUR Out Now!!!)

Postby Jd- » April 8th, 2018, 4:09 pm

Hey JBLars, been a while! Some great thoughts there. I'll add some on top of that.

As far as Western exposure to Japanese acts goes, 99.9% of it comes from three arenas: anime, dramas, and novelty.

B'z have only really provided theme songs to one anime (the subject of this forum, conveniently) and it's not one of those that really broke out in the US/Canada (with better success in Europe but still nothing compared to the other major series that were more easily digestible). At best, exactly as you said, they will seem like "just" a Japanese rock band without a "visual" hook to make people care about it any more than they would Aerosmith or any Western rock act. Couple that with the fact that most of the songs are in Japanese and you'll have trouble getting most of the non-anime persuasion to even listen ("can't listen to nothin i dont understand [unless there's a girl dancin around]"; there are some strange fans of certain acts out there...).

It's also not a coincidence that (possibly aside from "ultra soul" being covered on endless karaoke programs and "Into Free -Dangan-" from the video game Dragon's Dogma) the best-known B'z song in the West is "Ichibu to Zenbu"—their only major drama theme song of the modern era, for the 2009 series Buzzer Beat. The drama was a huge success due to the star power of Tomohisa Yamashita with that audience, so the song became a "hit" with overseas drama watchers. One thing that's for certain is that there's an obvious consanguinity between "anime/drama fans" & "hardcore J-pop fans", but B'z don't really source their support from either of those communities, so that alone will reduce the amount of people that would naturally ever even hear of them without speaking with natives about non-anime music. Another problem will be that B'z falls under the hard rock & guitar music genres. Most in the anime communities lean much more toward pop music with minimal rock elements, which (especially by modern conventions) really isn't very compatible with what B'z releases. In terms of homeland success versus relative obscurity elsewhere, look no further than fellow rock band Mr. Children. There will even be people reading this that have no idea that such a band exists and those that do probably can't name more than one song (if that many). Yet in Japan, they, like B'z, are a household name with a long history of success.

All in all, outside of anime, unless there is some visual element to the novelty of the act like Babymetal or AKB48, it's really going to be tough for any groups to break out overseas. If not anime themes, the only other surefire way to get attention in the West is to skew as far from "rock music" as possible and head toward metal and be known as a visual kei band (Dir en grey, X Japan come to mind). There are some outside of the anime world that will try those bands more openly due to various reasons but B'z still doesn't fit that mold at all.

Aaaaaaaaaaall of that is without acknowledging that B'z are ancient by "pop" standards now (Tak is 57, Koshi is 53), so in terms of people who are jumping onto the idol train after whetting their appetite with anime, they're more likely to skew toward the 16-21 year old talent farm output than a rock band that's been around since before many of the prospective listeners were born. Unlike most "music idols" in Japan, B'z have never appeared on a variety show and apart from occasionally appearing for an interview every four or five years, they essentially only record music and tour. Neither member even has social media, so in this era of idol worship, it'll be a bit hard if you're interested in anything other than the musical output—especially if you're foreign.

In short, it's hard when B'z...
Doesn't do non-guitar music
Doesn't do non-Conan anime theme songs
Doesn't do drama theme songs often
Doesn't do metal music
Doesn't do visual kei
Doesn't use young girls to showcase the music
Doesn't do the variety show circuit
Doesn't give interviews
Doesn't do non-music photo spreads
Doesn't have the ability to start now to be young enough for those interested in idols
Doesn't produce a large amount of English songs
Doesn't do social media directly in any form

All of that makes it difficult even for those already engaged with Japanese culture to even get interested, much less invested beyond that (on top of the fact that not every band is for everyone, of course). Take all of that away and you're trying to get folks to listen to something in a language they don't understand—an even more daunting task, especially when coupling it with rock music. Plenty of musicians such as those you mentioned have been supportive, naturally. On a related note, American drumming legend Carmine Appice name-dropped B'z in an interview a few years ago:
“Japan has their own domestic artists that are huge. It used to be that Japan didn’t have any domestic artists until the mid 90’s. All of a sudden they started getting their own artists. So all the American and UK artists who used to go there and play the Budokan are now playing smaller venues. But their artists are playing stadiums. There’s a group over there called B’z and they can play three stadium nights in every major city in Japan. We’re talking 150,000 people. It’s a singer and a guitar player. I went to see them in Japan as a guest, they’re friends of mine, and I think it was the night before or night after I saw Kiss over there. Kiss was playing at the stadium too. The B’z production was bigger than the Kiss production. It was ridiculous…it was so big. Over there they don’t travel around in big semis, they travel around in these sixteen to twenty foot trucks … so they must have had about a hundred trucks going from city to city … it was crazy. But there just huge over there.”



I'd actually be curious to hear how those that check in here first heard of B'z. I know for many of us it was through some sort of connection to the Detective Conan anime. I first heard "girigiri chop" and was shocked how different it was to all of the other included theme songs to that point. By the time I heard "ONE" in the third movie in the franchise, I knew there was something special in a band that could produce songs of such radically differing archetypes. A few months later, "Shoudou", "Yuruginai Mono Hitotsu", and MONSTER hit and the totality of the work was so overwhelming in quality that I've followed 'em since then. I soon therafter saw MONSTER'S GARAGE on DVD and couldn't believe what I'd been missing all those years; while I appreciated the limited studio output I'd heard to that point, it was seeing the live presence that sealed it for me. I've met a lot of great friends entirely based on the music B'z has made, so for that alone, I'll always consider it time well spent. Even beyond that, I decided to finally learn guitar after seeing Tak's stage presence (something I had long wanted to do but never found the right inspiration until then). Those I've met based on that hobby alone and those I've gotten to know better because of it are all reasons I'm really glad I discovered B'z when I did (I've also gotten to, gratefully, pass on that interest in playing guitar to others in the years since and encourage them to give it a try).
Dopamine
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Re: The B'z Hype Topic! (New Album DINOSAUR Out Now!!!)

Postby Dopamine » April 9th, 2018, 4:12 am

I first discovered B'z when I decided to check out Japanese music. I saw that they were the best selling artist in Japanese history and decided to do a youtube search. The first thing I saw was the performance of "Zero" from the BUZZ!! 95 pleasure tour. I immediately went and checked out their whole discography after seeing that performance. Zero is actually my favorite B'z song. I have been into 80s hair metal for a long time. So when I heard that riff from Zero it hit me right away. I still think its one of the greatest guitar riffs ever.

I'm actually a big Detective Conan fan too but I found both totally independent of each other. I started watching DC in 2003-4 when it was released as Case Closed here in the US. But I never made it to the episodes with the giri giri chop theme. I've only seen like the first 80 episodes or so.

Have any of you seen this 30th anniversary "exhibition" B'z is doing? They are holding an exhibition for the next couple months where they will be selling exclusive merchandise. This includes a limited run of vinyls for all 20 of their albums. As a vinyl collector I have been dying to get B'z on vinyl. These vinyls are expensive though. 5000 yen each (except 7th blues which is 8000). I am thinking of importing a few of these by buying them on japanese yahoo auctions. I'm curious, do you guys think B'z will release their catalog on vinyl in the future outside of this limited run? I'd actually prefer to wait and not pay these prices lol.
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Re: The B'z Hype Topic! (New Album DINOSAUR Out Now!!!)

Postby JBLars » April 9th, 2018, 2:46 pm

All of that is pretty on the nose, Jd-. It's odd, though. I'm a musician myself (good on you, my man, for taking up guitar!) and run in muso circles, so one would think that crowd would pick up on it. Specifically, I have a pal who's a devotee of the Les Paul and its players. HE'D be a complete mark for Tak, right? Nope. Nuthin'. I can't get my head around it.

As for where I got hip, manga publisher TokyoPop used to print a magazine even before they got into manga. I'd grab it at a nearby Tower Records, and somewhere in what I think was the summer of 1998 there was a review of Brotherhood. Now, like Dopmaine above me, I was (am) completely steeped in '80s hard rock, so the review's mention of (IIRC) Aerosmith and the aforementioned Mr. Big got my attention with a quickness. Despite living reasonably close to a Japanese shopping center, I wasn't gonna drop $40 blind on a CD, so off to the Internet and the Wild West days of mp3 file sharing… "Real Thing Shakes" crossed my path first. A little searching to see what I was in for, and there's the cover to the CD single. Produced by the legendary Andy Johns. Again, right in my wheelhouse. When the download was complete and the song was finished playing, I was hooked for life. Going back to hear the more dance-grooved stuff (and discovering the TM Network lineage) was a treat. Going forward at a time when "Juice" was my first not-yet-heard B'z single was mind-blowing. I've loved some songs and albums more than others, but haven't been disappointed yet. That's not even to speak of Detective Conan, which I've only begun to unearth as a result of the synergy here.

BTW, anyone else have luck with the 7-Eleven lottery for the tour? Is there a service I should be using that has better customer service than the others?
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Re: The B'z Hype Topic! (New Album DINOSAUR Out Now!!!)

Postby shinichi'sapprentice » April 19th, 2018, 5:54 am

HAHAHAHA Yooooo

Spoiler:
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source: @Bz_Official

How can these people not recognize him?!

Classic Conan disguise though xD

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