Thursday, March 27, 2008

All Because of Avril Lavigne


Normally when Puffy announce a new single, it's a time of much rejoicing across the land. We all look forward to new Puffy music all the time - that's what fans do!

This time, it seems like the reaction to Puffy's latest announcement - specifically the collaboration with "faux-punk twit" Avril Lavigne - has been mixed, at least in the United States. From some of the comments on my earlier post about it to this thread at the puffyamiyumiworld.com forums (yeah ok, I'm one of the whiners there) to the mother of all slams, this nasty and NSFW blog post at Stuck in a Pagoda with Motoko Aoyama. (Nasty to Avril, that is - nice to Ami and Yumi.) I gotta admit he said pretty much what I was thinking, but I'm sure I have some Avril fans here and I didn't want to upset them.

I believe those that say this collaboration is more intended to promote sales in Japan than the United States. Avril is, if anything, more popular overseas than she is here, and her fan base is broader. Japan wasn't the birthplace of punk, so there's never been the same level of backlash against Avril among those old enough to remember what punk is really "supposed to" sound like. (Somehow Puffy actually get it right most of the time, when they try.) I also doubt that Avril's mispronunciation of the names of well-known western rock musicians (e.g. David "Bow-ee") has done as much to hurt her street cred there as it has here.

But my advice to Puffy (not that they asked) is to clam up about it a little bit here. I know you guys probably think it was a big coup scoring Avril to write you some lyrics. In Japan, maybe that's true. It's not really true here. Yeah, Avril's got a lot of really young fans - mostly teens and younger. The rest of the country just thinks she's a big hack. And promoting yourselves by linking up with Avril Lavigne makes it look like you're trying to ride her coat-tails into a fickle 'tweener audience that's just going to desert you again in another year. Have a little self-respect! You're better than that.

I'm not saying erase her name from the single and never bring it up again. I'm just saying don't make a big deal about it in your western promotion. Her fans will find her name on the single and will promote it amongst themselves. The rest of us probably would have been happier not knowing. Ignorance is bliss.

To put it bluntly, I don't think Avril Lavigne is qualified to clean Puffy's toilets, much less write music for them. She's out of her league.

You guys know where I stand. I'm curious how many others really feel this way.


Feel free to comment too.

11 comments:

  1. Vince here,
    I would prefer an entire album of Super Furry Animals covers, Flaming Lips covers, heck, even Ween covers, than to have HER involved. Wait, now that I think about it, maybe SHE should do an album of Puffy covers!
    I don't really know that much about this Avril Lavigne person, but I'm willing to say, "If it helps get the girls noticed here, it's good."
    Once again, thanks for your reports.

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  2. Well, I have to say I have been an Avril fan since the beginning and she's not punk, she's pop-rock and sometimes puts some punk sounds in their for good measure, but clearly she knows she's top 40. She's said many times she isn't punk and she's a modern girl and if she doesn't know who David Bowie is, I just don't see why that matters. If she's not a fan of him (most people her and my age are not) I don't think she should be hung on a cross.

    I think if people actually listened to her albums they'd find that she is actually sort of similar to Puffy in tone, just in terms of genuine emotion. And she isn't a hack to me. She's a singer-songwriter who has always written her own songs and she's got a good voice to me.

    I have to also say that Puffy get the same flack. Puffy are not in any way to me better punk artists or anything like that. They are disco, pop, rock, ska, grunge, punk, heavy metal, jazz and more. They have their core fanbase, but they have a lot of enemies. They aren't exactly The Blue Hearts. Speaking of which, the general feelings for Puffy in Japan can be viewed in the Japanese movie "Linda Linda Linda" where the main characters are trying to find a song to perform. One asks "Puffy?" and the other says "Are you kidding?"

    I mean aren't Puffy "posers" as well? They don't write they're own music all the time. They don't really play instruments all that much live. They're slaves to the industry and saturate the music market. I mean they shill like crazy don't they? How many commercials and ads do they shoot every year? Lip glass, fruit drinks, mp3 players...that is so not rock and roll.

    With all that said though, I just wanna say it's about the music. There's no need to feel guilty about what you like. Puffy aren't perfect but I love them SOOOOOOOO much. My argument isn't perfect either and I could defend Avril all day, but Avril works with Butch and they work so well together and Butch and Puffy work amazingly as well. I feel like Avril snagged him first and so if people really wanna argue, why are Puffy biting her style. But I once again digress. I think we need to just let go this high school angst over Avril. This could be a mistep for Puffy but we have to wait and see, but I think if this is something Puffy want to do I say go for it because maybe the song is amazing and they heard that and were like "we need to record this ASAP". Music is magic like that and I'm in it for the music, not the drama, because I don't pay good money for the bonus CD of the haters of the world belly-aching that Avril isn't punk enough when she's never really claimed to be punk. That's just my opinion. I just think music lovers should stay focused because if no one ever knew the song was written by Avril and we all listened to it and liked it and heard about it later would we take our likings for the song back? I hope not.

    I love Puffy, I love Avril. I think this is a pairing I need to see before I judge and if it's bad, whatever. Puffy and Avril have made bad singles before. No big deal. And...why are Puffy taking Avril hand-me-downs? Avril doesn't write for other artists, she gives them leftovers, like Leona Lewis and Kelly Clarkson. Not very rock and roll if you ask me, it's sounding very top 40 to me and I'm okay with that. It's okay.

    Lastly, Avril is not evil or the anti-christ. She doesn't go around eating babies or hunting down jewish people and exterminating them. She's not a nazi. She's just not a bad person to me. I think everything is going to be okay for both musicians I have to say. She's just a singer doing what she does. It could be worse everyone, it could've been Ashlee Simpson writing for them...that's a whole different story. So thank your lucky stars.

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  3. I guess the only difference I see between Ashlee Simpson and Avril Lavigne is that Ashlee Simpson hasn't managed to convinced half the world that she's a rock star.

    But whatever floats your boat, I guess. This is why I didn't want to get into it originally, but there are singers I think of as bad but mostly harmless, and then there are singers that I think are bad and are actually destroying good music in the process. Avril's in the latter camp for me.

    And yes, I've listened to her albums. My wife's a fan, which is unfortunate, but what are you gonna do?

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  4. A girl who works with my wife was giving my a 'nudge' about liking THE PUFF; she said, "You know, they're kinda like the Olson twins in Japan, they sell everything." I thought about it for minute, and then I shrugged, and said, "I guess I wouldn't like them if they were forced down my throat, but, as it is,the way I was introduced to them insured them a special place in my heart, and I can't change that."
    vince

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  5. Thing is, Japan is a different culture. You can't apply western standards of credibility to Japanese rock stars. Even the hardest of the hardcore there sell products and appear on cheesy game shows. Musicians are expected to be celebrities. It's part of their job, it's part of their marketing. And when you get a record deal in Japan, you become an employee of the record label. You do what they ask you to do or you get fired.

    But you can apply western standards to western artists. Musicians here have more choices and more paths that they can take to get their music heard.

    Japan doesn't even really have the concept of a "sell-out" or a "poser". At least not that I've ever seen or heard. But we do. That may seem unfair, but it's the way it is.

    My point being it's hard to really say how you'd feel if an artist were transplanted from one country to another because for one thing, you don't know at all that they'd be the same kind of artist anymore. Would Puffy be in TV commercials selling iced tea and airline tickets if they were an American band? Probably not. Would they be relying so much on outside sources for their songwriting? Probably not. (I have it on good authority that their record contract precludes them from writing music without permission.) On the other hand, would Avril Lavigne be writing her own music if she were a Japanese artist? Would she dress the way she does and go around flipping the bird to everyone? Again, probably not.

    Over the years I've sort of probably developed kind of a dual sense of what I expect from artists in both countries... it's like speaking two different languages. (Ok, not quite, but you get the idea.) Yeah, I'd probably hate Puffy if they were American and did the exact same things here. But they wouldn't. They do all those things because that's the system in which they work. The fact that they're still so amazing says a lot. There aren't a whole lot of artists in Japan that sound like them and are at all commercially viable, or that get as much exposure as they do. They're still quite different from most mainstream artists. (Not that Puffy sell millions of records anymore, but they obviously are popular enough to keep going.)

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  6. Even in Japan, Puffy is the extreme case of manufactured idols. Many Japanese know Puffy as entertainers or TV celebrities, not as musicians. They probably make money as ad characters as much as singers. Musically also, they often seem as if they are just cover singers for Tamio Okuda, Andy Sturmer and many other songwriters. " Puffy do what their management company asks to do " is supposed to be their motto.

    On contrary, I believe Misia who is one of my favorite singer has more choices and more paths that she can take to get Misia team's music heard. She never goes on TV music show and concentrates herself only on music making in recordings and concerts. There are many young Japanese artists, writing their own songs and do whatever they want to do. But the question is, do they sell well ?

    I assume when it comes to making money, there are not as much differences between North America and Japan. Avril Lavigne has recorded " Girl Friend " in 8 languages (English, French, German, Spanish, Italian, Portuguese, Japanese and Mandarin). This September in Japan, she will give 9 concerts in 7 cities on " The Best Damn Tour Japan 2008 " including one in Tokyo Dome baseball stadium.

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  7. Thanks for the link to my own post on this subject, bro. :)

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  8. If I could push a button to hear Puffy or walk 10 miles to hear Avril, with out a doubt I would walk ten miles. Puffy is nothing special. He seems to be resting on his laurels if you ask me, Avril on the other hand is always trying new things and taking big risks with her music. Puffy's fame from his music is from what 4 or 5 years ago. Avril on the other hand was The Best Selling Female Artist it the World in 2007 according to WorldWide Albums: worldwidealbums.net/2007.htm

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  9. Um, anonymous:

    You're doing it wrong.

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  10. This is why I like Avril:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HR9m1QU7nKI&feature=rec-HM-real_rn

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  11. ^I agree with you :) that is a great song.

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