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The song, “Shiroi Kuchibiruno Izanai” by Mew, a Danish indie rock band, quite clearly epitomizes Japanophilia. While clear motives behind the band’s decision to write and sing a song in Japanese are merely speculative, many things can be said about the overall gesture. First, Mew translates the song title as “White Lips Kissed,” suggesting a mere translation of their English-language song of the same name. However, the lyrics themselves do not correspond, and the Japanese “version” becomes a separate song with the same melody. Secondly, the decision to write and sing in Japanese is interesting in itself. The band obviously holds a great affection for Japanese culture, at least enough to welcome the challenge of creating a song in the singer’s non-native language. Even more unconventional and fascinating is the kind of role reversal of music and language in Japan and Western nations. That is to say, while many indie rock bands in Japan often incorporate English in varying degrees in their songs, it is in this uncommon example that an English-speaking music group is incorporating Japanese. Because of this, Japan is infused with both beauty (in the lyrics and style of the song) and “coolness” (in the nod of approval from a “hip” rock band).


dotdotdot — Last modified Mar 30 2011 8:01 p.m.

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