The Wisdom of a Fool by Todd Inoue, Hyphen Magazine
Like the rice pot and black hair, “Bizarre Love Triangle” is one of Asian America’s unifying threads.
For many Asian Americans, freestyle and new wave provided a safe harbor. It wasn’t as rebellious as punk or death metal, so as not to bring shame to the family, but offered just the precise mix of melancholy and pre-emo pathos for hormonal pre- and post-pubescents.
Serena Kim, VIBE Magazine:
Kim thinks that the song appeals to Asians’ inherent emotional nature—often magnified in Korean, Bollywood and Chinese blockbusters—made manifest through sweeping, uplifting keyboards and vocals. “I think it has the melodrama that Asians like in their music,” she says. “Bernard’s range isn’t too soulful or great, so you could easily sing along to it. And it has the fast Euro-style disco beat that is really fun to dance to.”
Chops (Scott Jung):
“As kids we listened to all kinds of stuff, but [my brother] was more in with the crowd that was into that. Like he’d pick up some New Order, I’d pick up some Kool Moe Dee and we’d both listen.” Oddly, Chops prefers “True Faith” to “Bizarre Love Triangle.” He remembers the “True Faith” video where two mimes smack each other in the face to the beat. But when it’s time for Asians to act a fool, only one song comes into focus. And when asked for a visual, Chops paints with a broad stroke. “I picture a DJ putting the song on, and a whole bunch of Asian kids getting crunk like it’s Atlanta and they just threw on some Bonecrusher.”
Dan “The Automator” Nakamura:
“For whatever reason, almost on a timeless type of level, Latin freestyle has had a bigger impact on Asian community dance party type stuff than almost any other kind of music subsequently or before that,” he says. “I’m not sure why that is, but “Bizarre Love Triangle” falls right into the tempo range and right in the melodic sense that most closely associates itself with what the Asian American community specifically was really into at that time. I feel like the melody of “Bizarre Love Triangle” is very akin to the melodies of the other songs I’m mentioning: Exposé, Debbie Deb, Triniere.”
Pop culture critic Oliver Wang:
“I think new wave and modern rock, especially the kind of songs that New Order recorded, tapped into themes of alienation, loneliness and feeling like outsiders. These are all emotions and ideas that Asian American youth, especially in the 1980s, could relate to growing up marginalized in white suburbs.”
On the logic of ethnic anthems:
To have Asians—long characterized as quiet and meek—holding up a wimpy new wave tune made by pasty Mancunians as its anthem could be viewed as disingenuous…but it depicts the lack of reasoning why certain songs are fitted for different ethnic groups. The rules guiding anthems were tossed out years ago, leading some to postulate that shared experience trumps skin color. “Subcultures borrow from the dominant culture, inflecting and inverting its signs to create a bricolage in which the signs of the dominant culture are “there” and just recognizable as such, but constituting a quite different subversive whole,” wrote Martin Stokes, in his acclaimed paper “Ethnicity, Identity and Music: The musical construction of place.”
Where was I? (Obviously not hanging out at Asian American social events.)
New Order was also one our (The Slants) greatest influences. “Bizzarre Love Triangle” is one of my all-time favorite songs, though I have to agree with CHOPS: that video for True Faith is iconic (and hilarious).
The 80’s in general was a very important time for Asian Americans. It was the time when we found our voice, when the term “Asian American” started becoming in vogue, and for the first time, we mobilized beyond our individual community groups to achieve social justice.
For me, bands like New Order, Depeche Mode, and The Cure were the soundtrack to this incredible era. With The Slants, we hope to bring elements of synth-pop music to current scene - not only taking on the music that shaped our own lives, but binging the sentiment that many of us feel from that time as well.
Last night Katy Perry, dressed in a modified kimono with her face heavily powdered, opened the American Music Awards with a geisha-inspired performance of her new single, “Unconditionally.” Within minutes, complaints about her get-up as an offensive example of cultural appropriation and stereotyping flooded in on social media, as did reactions to those reactions: virtual eye-rolls, posts predicting the furious arrival of the PC police, and several comments along the lines of “Just wait till Tumblr gets mad at this!”
Read more. [Image: AP/John Shearer]
THE SLANTS - BEHIND THE SCENES OF “ADOPTED”
This is a Studio APA exclusive, behind-the-scenes look for The Slants’ new music video for “Adopted,” featuring the aerial artwork, talent, and choreography of AWOL Dance Collective.
Other than Stephen Colbert’s own tweets, this is the most popular tweet about The Colbert Report right now! Help us get Asian American issues on the show, click here and RT please: https://twitter.com/SimonTheTam/statuses/396050454284488704