Usually, I stay up late on weekdays doing all sorts of work (read: watching YouTube), but last night I decided to read a few chapters of a Joan Didion book and go to bed at a reasonable hour for once. Turned out I missed a deluge of Perfume news – guess who won’t be sleeping in the near future – like a bunch of important stuff. So, let us break this down one item at a time:
News: Perfume stars in new Kirin ad – Watch a making-of video below, which also features the ad 25 seconds in.
Views: I drank that new flavor yesterday, it was alright. Lemon is better, and really why isn’t there a permanent lime flavor?
News: New Kirin ad features 10-second snippet of new Perfume single “Spring Of Life.” – Did you watch the video above?
Views: It’s tough to pass any sort of judgement on a tiny sample of music, so I’ll reserve judgement/gushing until the full thing comes out. From what is available, though, this sounds…like a springy (har har) Perfume. This isn’t immediately bad like “Kasuka Na Kaori” though, so that’s good.
News: Perfume transfer from Tokuma Shoten to Universal Music Japan. – The trio switched from Tokuma, where they have been releasing music since 2005, to Universal.
Views: OK, now we are hitting the big stories. This is a huge step up for Perfume, as working under the Universal name gives them all sorts of new opportunities…and resources. They probably didn’t need it in Japan, but by now being in the Universal stable they will probably get an extra boost in promotion for future releases. More importantly, being backed by Universal makes the next news item possible.
News: Perfume launch new global site and YouTube channel – Visit the trio’s just-launched global site (which is just a fancy countdown right now, but has a pretty social-network design) here, or Perfume’s new YouTube channel.
Views: So Universal will try to push Perfume internationally. At the start, they are at least approaching this push the right way. Whereas some Japanese labels work overtime to remove YouTube videos featuring their artists, Universal at least has established a YouTube channel gathering the group’s music videos in one place and a global website that could serve as a hub for international Perfume fans. The next step…
News: Perfume to release last year’s JPN on the iTunes store in over 50 countries, including America, on March 6.
Views: …is to release the music internationally.
OK, lets drop the glorified bullet points for a second and focus on why Perfume might be pushed internationally now and if they have any chance to succeed. The timing makes sense – thanks to an appearance in Cars 2, some year-end list love and just an increase in people writing about the group online, Perfume has a decent fan base in place in America. Not huge, but definitely high for a group from Japan that is mostly unknown. Universal probably also sees the current wave of K-Pop groups trying to make inroads overseas and see a chance to sort of hook themselves to that scene – considering no J-Pop acts are actively courting American audiences outside of anime expos, Perfume would be smart to sort of hover around the Korean artists gunning for foreign success. Not to mention that the American charts are dominated by maximalist dance-pop songs, the sort Perfume have been releasing for half a decade now.
Now, do they have a chance of doing well? Well…how do you define success? Like Wonder Girls and Girls’ Generation, I don’t imagine Perfume reaching Lady Gaga-like levels of popularity. Yet I think all of those groups could attract niche audiences, the sort of fan base that no Asian pop act has managed to draw in the States to date. Paired with the potential of becoming the sort of hyper-pop embraced by critics (writers love Max Tundra, and Perfume aren’t that different than him) and the eternal “if it’s from Japan, people will be interested” clause, I could see Perfume having moderate success. All hinges on how they are promoted internationally, though.
It’s also nice to any Japanese pop act shooting for foreign success, instead of playing it safe with domestic sales. This should be fun to watch.