Archive | 12:06 am

X Japan in America

10 Apr

When I came to Japan, I heard a Japanese heavy metal band called “X” play.
I thought they sounded good and looked quite different from American metal bands with their giant hairstyles.

They were called simply "X" when I first heard them.

They are considered by many to be the pioneers of the Japanese “Visual Kei” type heavy metal.
The way I’d described the “Visual Kei” genre of music is a uniquely Japanese cross between ‘shock rock’ and ‘glam metal’.

In 1991, X released their album titled “Jealousy” that includes the song “Say Anything”.

X "Jealousy" album cover

Here’s the official music video for the X song “Say Anything“.
This was the first music video of their that I ever saw. It’s kinda long, but it show many concert venues around Japan…including the “Tokyo Dome”.

(The person who uploaded it wrote the band’s name as “X Japan”, but they were still called “X” when the released this song):

This album was very successful in Japan. It’s the first album of theirs that I bought.

Due to the immense domestic success of this album, it was believed that their dream of international stardom would be realized soon.
So to prepare for their international debut, the band decided to change their name to prevent any potential confusion with an American band that was also called “X“.

So, they became “X Japan“.

Logo for the band "X Japan"

Unfortunately, international success managed to elude them. (Probably because their entire catalog of music is sung in Japanese).

In the late ’90s, X Japan broke up.

The lead guitarist, hide, had a semi-successful solo music career after the band break-up. But he died soon after (official cause-of-death was listed as “suicide”, but the other band members insist his death was caused by a drunken accident).

The feminine-acting drummer / pianist, Yoshiki, recorded an instrumental version of the KISS song “Black Diamond” for the KISS tribute album “KISS My A$$“.

The lead vocalist, Toshi, left the music industry for awhile (some say he temporarily joined a religious cult. But he denies that.)

But in 2007, X Japan reunited. They have a new guitarist…but the late hide is still officially considered a member of the band. His guitar and often images of him are always displayed on stage when the band performs.

For their reunion, they updated their image. Gone is the giant hair.

Also, in 2007, the American horror movie “Saw IV” was released and X Japan was asked to record a song for the soundtrack.

They recorded the song “I.V.” for the soundtrack.

The international exposure from that song, plus the current “Japan boom” overseas seems to be providing X Japan with a chance to finally realize their dream of international stardom.

Because X Japan has been invited to perform at the popular “Lollapalooza” music festival in Chicago, USA in 2010 August 6-8!