the lectern banner

By Steve Kelman

Blog archive

Asian Grammy coming soon?

Singapore’s major newspaper, The Straits Times, ran a long story a few days ago called “Quincy Jones Looks East,” about plans to create an Asian pop music Grammy Award. (By the way, the worldwide newspaper crisis somehow doesn’t seem to have hit Singapore. The Straits Times is chock full of ads, mostly for retail outlets, travel, real estate, and some consumer branded products, bringing back memories of a thick US paper from 30 years ago.)

In a combination that is incredibly Singapore-like in its mixture of a strong government with lots of commercial participation, the government’s Media Development Authority and Economic Development Board, along with funding from a large Singapore-based event management company, have supported creation of a Singapore-based Asia Academy of Music Arts and Sciences. The Academy has named Quincy Jones, now 79 years old and himself the winner of 27 Grammies, as board chairman. One of the first activities of the Academy, scheduled for next year, is an annual music awards ceremony intended as a pan-Asian Grammy, to be called the Come Together Awards Show.

Jones has never visited Singapore, but he is quoted in the article as standing in awe of the country’s efficiency: “If there is anybody in the world that understands organization, it’s Singapore, man. I’m so impressed with the organization skills there.” The article also reports that Jones – who apparently also was an “artistic advisor” to the 2008 Beijing Olympics – is learning Chinese.

The idea of an Asian Grammy award says a lot about the rise of Asia. On the one hand, it shows a confidence about Asia’s prominence and status. On the other hand, it stands in the shadows of the US. They’ve chosen a prominent American as board chair, seemingly to give the exercise legitimacy. Beyond that, the dominant Asian pop sounds from Korea, mainland China, and Taiwan sound pretty much exactly like really soft and sugary US pop, only in a foreign language.

Don’t get me wrong – I actually really like the sound of a lot of Mandopop, pop songs in Chinese. Here are YouTube links to two of my favorites: Taiwanese Teresa Teng’s Yueliang daibiao wo de xin (The Moon Represents My Heart) – which a certain generation of mainland Chinese got to hear in the 80’s as China was opening up to the outside world -- and Singaporean Stephanie Sun’s Yu jian (Meet). The songs are very soft and emotional. I like them a lot, but then again a lot of my family and friends think I have atrocious taste in music. Asian pop artists, including those in the K-pop (Korean pop) genre, which is very popular throughout the continent, tend to be androgynous and cute, with a sort of Hello Kitty feel. (I should add there is also Asian rap and hip-hop.) Whatever else Asian pop is, it is not original or innovative music.

From the West’s perspective, the content of Asian pop and talk of an Asian Grammy award, the good news is that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.

Posted on Mar 20, 2012 at 12:09 PM


The Fed 100

Save the date for 28th annual Federal 100 Awards Gala.

Featured

  • computer network

    How Einstein changes the way government does business

    The Department of Commerce is revising its confidentiality agreement for statistical data survey respondents to reflect the fact that the Department of Homeland Security could see some of that data if it is captured by the Einstein system.

  • Defense Secretary Jim Mattis. Army photo by Monica King. Jan. 26, 2017.

    Mattis mulls consolidation in IT, cyber

    In a Feb. 17 memo, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis told senior leadership to establish teams to look for duplication across the armed services in business operations, including in IT and cybersecurity.

  • Image from Shutterstock.com

    DHS vague on rules for election aid, say states

    State election officials had more questions than answers after a Department of Homeland Security presentation on the designation of election systems as critical U.S. infrastructure.

  • Org Chart Stock Art - Shutterstock

    How the hiring freeze targets millennials

    The government desperately needs younger talent to replace an aging workforce, and experts say that a freeze on hiring doesn't help.

  • Shutterstock image: healthcare digital interface.

    VA moves ahead with homegrown scheduling IT

    The Department of Veterans Affairs will test an internally developed scheduling module at primary care sites nationwide to see if it's ready to service the entire agency.

  • Shutterstock images (honglouwawa & 0beron): Bitcoin image overlay replaced with a dollar sign on a hardware circuit.

    MGT Act poised for a comeback

    After missing in the last Congress, drafters of a bill to encourage cloud adoption are looking for a new plan.

Reader comments

Fri, Mar 23, 2012

What is this blog supposed to be about?

Thu, Mar 22, 2012

We need to develop more local music culture, China has many traditional classical thing, may be relatively low-key

Wed, Mar 21, 2012 bugeek Boston

Pop?? You have not lived until you have heard Asian Metal and Punk!! There is actually a very big scene there.

Please post your comments here. Comments are moderated, so they may not appear immediately after submitting. We will not post comments that we consider abusive or off-topic.

Please type the letters/numbers you see above

More from 1105 Public Sector Media Group