XI – The KAT-TUN Phenomenon
By late July of 2007, I was still heavy into Uverworld at the time when I stumbled upon a Youtube video that caught my eye due to its massive amount of views. It was “Real Face” by KAT-TUN.
To be honest…when I first saw that music video, I thought it was the cringiest thing I’ve ever seen. If you read my chapter about “Big Bang vs the Pretty Boys,” you know how I feel about manufactured groups that were created, among other reasons, to appeal to impressionable young girls.
However, with KAT-TUN…part of me felt, you can’t hate the players here. I had only just discovered KAT-TUN in July of 2007, but they debuted with “Real Face” in March of 2006.
And let me tell you, if there was anything close to a Beatles phenomenon that I’ve witnessed from a Japanese act…it would be KAT-TUN. The women were crazy about them. Even before they officially debuted, I heard they were appearing on music shows and selling out DVDs. To date, every single they ever released made it to number one on the charts. It was ridiculous. And at the same time, it made me grin.
If you’ll recall, I started to resent DBSK a bit because of how Big Bang was treated when they debuted for not following the pretty boy mold that other groups like SS501 and Super Junior followed. For most of 2007, DBSK was trying hard to break into the Japanese music industry…so yeah. Hahaha! Deep down, the evil part of me was laughing.
Because DBSK had a huge mountain to climb if they wanted to be number one in Japan. The group standing atop at that time was KAT-TUN. And they were even prettier than DBSK hahaha! I’m sorry, even as I type this. It’s so stupid and childish of me. And it’s not like DBSK didn’t do well in Japan. They were still bustin’ out hits. But still, KAT-TUN was number one. They were selling out stadiums and domes like hot cakes.
The interesting thing about KAT-TUN, was that I couldn’t stand their music videos or live performance. They were probably the worst boyband I’ve ever seen when it comes to choreography. They’d legit have various members just swaying their hips and doing random dances while one or two people sings.
And when it comes to their singing…honestly…the members mostly sound the same. Like, if one was missing from a performance, you wouldn’t be able to notice by listening. The main vocals in the beginning was Jin Akanishi. In my opinion every other member with the exception of the rapper Koki Tanaka sounds just like Akanishi.
Either way, I downloaded their first two albums that were available at the time. “Real Face” wore thin after the first four or five listens…however, two tracks became timeless for me.
This track…I remember working a day shift. I was sleepy because I was used to a night schedule. When I heard this song, I daydreamed of a music video. Of course, I was part of a boyband in this scenario. It takes place at a high school, probably influenced by the High School Musical movies that were blowing up at the time.
But this high school was dark and dreary, like the “Twilight” high school before I saw “Twilight”. One of my band members portrays a kid that gets bullied and picked on by bigger kids. Us bandmates find out, and the hot-head of the group makes up his mind to confront the bullies after school. It turns into a huge brawl out by the parking lot while everyone races to their cars. Someone gets stabbed at the exact moment of the breakdown in the song. One of my bandmates dies. It’s a tragedy spurred by the impulse of bad decisions and anger. Every time I heard that song, I dream the same daydream for the music video.
On the upside, there were two pretty upbeat songs that I grooved out on for a bit. “Peaceful Days” and “Yorokobi no Uta”.
This chapter is merely the introduction to KAT-TUN. Eventually, their lead vocalist Akanishi Jin will eventually leave the group and they’ll do well with just five. Perhaps, I would have learned about their predecessors, another Jpop boyband a lot sooner, but the thing is…before I could stay on KAT-TUN and the J-Pop kick for too long, there was an explosion taking place in Korea. Big Bang as we know it had taken flight.