Having enjoyed a #1 spot on the iTunes Dance chart, former KAT-TUN member, Jin Akanishi’s single ‘Test Drive” feat. Jason Derulo is quite the impressive US debut. I say US, because if you’re elsewhere in the world, you’re S.O.L. in being able to buy this single and its club hopping remixes. (Of course a little thing like borders doesn’t stop international fangirls from supporting their idol.)
Critical thoughts after the jump.
Let me start by saying I like “Test Drive.” It’s catchy, has clever lyrics and a decent club beat. Yet despite all of that, I’m disappointed; it doesn’t bring anything new. It sounds like every other dance tune on the market. This can be a good or bad thing depending on how you look at it. Skeptical fans on AramaTheyDidn’t agree while sharing in his small success into a tough market.
The music video for “Test Drive” doesn’t help. For one thing, the Gone in 60 Seconds concept, while cool, may turn into a self-fulfilling prophecy. I’m all about keeping it covered, but…a beanie, dark sunglasses AND a hoodie? Perhaps he’s going for a mysterious feel, but comes across more aloof than charismatic. It’s kind of hard to get noticed if your gear keeps you incognito for 99.99% of the entire video. Which probably also explains why it feels like Akanishi is getting upstage by Jason Derulo. Why is the featured guest getting more moves than the supposed star of the show? In fact, he’s the ONLY one dancing in a music video to a dance track and Akanishi CAN dance. I don’t get it. I mean, I get it … I’m just rolling my eyes.
Don’t get me wrong, I wish him success and I like the track. The Funky Stepz Dub Remix is quite the fist pounder. It’s just the track record for a successful Asian artist debuting into the US hasn’t been a good one: Coco Lee, Utada, Toshi Kubota, BoA, Se7en, the Wonder Girls, have all been loved by their international fans but have also been met with a tempered glass ceiling and varying levels of success. Girls Generation’s recent attempt with ‘The Boys’ is boring and while many are banking on 2NE1’s US debut to be the ceiling crasher, I have better faith in Korean Hip Hop Royalty, Drunken Tiger and T (Yoon Mirae)’s upcoming collaboration with Amerie.
(Tangent note: I seriously believed that if the four ladies who made up the Korean group The Grace actually debuted in the US in latter part of the decade, they would’ve been the ceiling crasher. They were a Destiny’s Child without a Beyonce. Now, I can only hope to hear Lina’s voice again. *sadface* /end soapbox)
The good thing about Akanishi and the other Asian artists prepping for the US debut is that it is flooding the market making it more ‘common’ and acceptable to mainstream that this is happening. I mean, instead of a British Invasion that happened the 60s … it’s well … not an Invasion per se, but more like an Infiltration. It helps that shows like America’s Best Dance Crew feature a wide variety of dancers that are seemingly colour blind and that Ellen DeGeneres’ team are YouTube scavengers. (I swear at least one staff member is a Kpop fan.) And let’s not forget the gentlemen from Far East Movement truly pioneering, although I classify them as American, not Asian and not part of the Infiltration so-to-speak.
My prediction for Jin Akanishi: he will enjoy a certain level of success and perhaps even gain a few fans. The lynchpin would be that it gets massive airplay on the radio more so than video rotation. My boyfriend said he found the tune catchy, better than some of the dance stuff out there now but still kinda forgettable. As for the video, “As a male viewer, there is nothing that needs to be followed.”