I don’t understand blue-eyed soul. Specifically, I don’t get the term. That’s probably because I’m of a younger generation. If whomever coined the term during the heyday of Motown wanted to point out that they’ve signed white singers (which must have shook the racial barrier, I imagine) on board to progressively “stick it to the man,” they not only broke barriers then! They didn’t know what they started…yet. I’m not just talking Teena Marie or Michael McDonald either. Sure. There are super talented white artists—my favorites: Christina Aguilera, Justin Timberlake, Duffy, Daniel Merriweather, Adele, SAM SMITH, the list goes on. But by the time I was in high school I started to wonder: If we in the states broke racial/cultural ground here with black music, what’s Asia doing?
“Who’s Yo Motha?”
Boy does Asia NOT. DISAPPOINT. My first R&B stop? Miss Lim Jeong-Hee and the legendary Park Jin-Young himself. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I can listen to pretty much anything when it comes to music, but R&B will always be at the top of the list. The man of JYP Entertainment knows what he’s doing. But first, a little history…
1960s in Motor City
Humble beginnings from the ground up with work ethic, artistic vision and unmatched business/cultural foresight is how I’ll summarize the Motown record label that’s now fused under the new collection of music industry titans: Universal Music Group. Universal INDEED. The exposition of this ongoing story starts in Detroit with Barry Gordy Jr. and $800. Between the Motor City and the City of Angels, the Motown legacy picks up young Black talents (and even White talents) off the streets and into stardom, such as: The Supremes, Michael Jackson and the Jackson 5, The Temptations, Smokey Robinson and many many others. All these people, all this music, shines most because of the times they are a part of as well of hopes for the present-future whether there are matters of war, discord, daily trials, happiness and just plain “gettin’ yo jam on “^^. The music of Motown, due to all these things, moves, inspires and motivates people. The Motown style still carries on from the slow crooning voices to the funky dance moves. Which is why the movement of black music to Asia (much like how I mentioned Jazz going “Eastward” before) inspired many artists who are now icons themselves.
Anotha Man with A Plan
Park Jin-Young is probably one of the most iconic Asian producers and performers of all time, in my opinion. A South-Korean native, JYP continues keeping his musical projects in full swing since at LEAST the 90s. Him being a child of the 70s, I’m not surprised at all by his influences from Motown and Black music in general. Several successful jams under his direction can take any listener back in time:
- “Who’s Your Mama” by JYP which nods to the days of Kid n’ Play and 90s hip-hop
- “I Feel You” by the Wonder Girls, one of JYP’s most successful groups to hit the Korean music scene. This song takes a trip to the 80s with its pastel aesthetic, handheld keyboards, neon lights and two-toned bodysuits (the WHOLE ALBUM is a JAM).
- And the Motown-inspired hit single “Nobody,” also by Wonder Girls, whom at the time of this song, JYP produced, which not only became a hit for the girls, but helped JYP see his vision of fostering artists who are judged by their talent and drive more than their appearance. (Don’t think JYP ain’t got STYLE tho ^^)
Other artists whom have both worked with and under JYP, to name a few, are Lim Jeong-Hee (influenced by Alicia Keys) and Rain/bi (influenced by Usher, Michael Jackson and ol’skool soul music –U.S. folks may recognize him from the movie Ninja Assassin ^^).
Park Jin-Young is of course not the only Korean music icon (or Asian artist in general) to be influenced by black music. Longtime friend of his, Yang Hyun-suk (founder and former CEO of YG entertainment), is heavily influenced by hip-hop. A soulful and mysterious-looking youngin,’ Zion-T of Amoeba Culture, pulls his sound straight up from R&B while managing a classy twist of funk every now and then. Lee Taemin (from the successful kpop group SHINee) attributes his style from Michael Jackson also AND while establishing his own sound. But I’m just talking Korean music now. I haven’t even covered Motown in Japan yet ^^.
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