June 2, 2008 7:36 AM   Subscribe

Enka is popular Japanese music which started to become popular in the Showa era after World War II. Until very recently, it's pretty much been popular only with the older crowd or in karaoke. Recently, though, a popular young star from Philadelphia has brought about a resurgence with the younger crowd. Look at his videos and be amazed. Presenting Jero.

This guy has been really popular here for a while and I'm really shocked there hasn't been an FPP about him yet. You see his picture everywhere lately.
posted by greasepig (18 comments total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
Jero needs to cut his fingernails.
posted by autodidact at 7:39 AM on June 2, 2008

Haha! I was gonna do a post on this guy! Like, tomorrow night! And indeed, you do see his picture everywhere lately, due in no small part to the fact that he's shilling for Kirin's popular canned coffee brand, FIRE. But not just FIRE, it's FIRE "Zero", and of course, the word "zero", here in Japan, is pronounced like our enka-singing brother from Philly, that is "Jero". It's perfect! Anyway, it's a big, saturation-type campaign, so you can't get on a subway train car or pass by a TV set without seeing his face.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 7:47 AM on June 2, 2008

Crap, I mean Pittsburgh. Sorry...
posted by greasepig at 7:49 AM on June 2, 2008

Here is the commercial flapjax mentioned.
posted by delmoi at 7:51 AM on June 2, 2008

Pepsi broo.
posted by Dave Faris at 8:00 AM on June 2, 2008 [1 favorite]

The description should use the word "popular" more.
posted by w0mbat at 8:03 AM on June 2, 2008

Heh, I thought this was about "Jehro". He's pretty cool too.
posted by JeremiahBritt at 8:09 AM on June 2, 2008

Great post, schmaltzy wonderful music with a story

There is one amazing book in English about Enka music which I cannot recommend enough:

Christine Yano's "Tears of Longing: Nostalgia and the Nation in Japanese Popular Song" (Harvard U Press, 2003)
posted by fourcheesemac at 8:34 AM on June 2, 2008

I always thought "enka" was a synonym for "corny generic Japanese pop," but then when a black gaijin sings enka...well, it's a novelty act, as audience reaction to Jero's singing seems to indicate.
posted by kozad at 8:40 AM on June 2, 2008

Hey, thanks for the recommendation, 4cm.

Here's one of the all-time greats of enka, Hibari Misora. And note that there's a translation (maybe not the greatest, but certainly better than nothing) of the lyrics to this song on that YouTube page.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 8:46 AM on June 2, 2008's a novelty act, as audience reaction to Jero's singing seems to indicate.

Well, it's certainly a novelty, in that here's a non-Japanese singing enka so well. It's a first, so it's certainly a "novelty". But I don't think it's fair to characterize Jero as a "novelty act". He's actually very good at what he's doing, and I think a lot of his fans realize that. As it happens, I was at my local okonomiyaki restaurant just the other night when the proprietress, an amiable, talkative lady of 60-something years referred to him in a very respectful tone, "saying "honto ni jozu, dayo", meaning very skilled, very accomplished. And she meant it.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 8:54 AM on June 2, 2008

OK, that was a bit condescending to call him an novelty act.. But I'm an elitist musical snob, so you can understand why being a good enka singer doesn't get me as excited as being a good carnatic singer, rai singer, or jazz singer. (Or a good shakuhachi player or Noh actor.)
posted by kozad at 9:53 AM on June 2, 2008

You bet as always flapjax

Yano's book deals extensively with Hibari Misora, who is every bit as complicated a figure as Jero
posted by fourcheesemac at 11:02 AM on June 2, 2008

He's no Hikawa Kiyoshi, Japan's answer to Liberace.
posted by ikahime at 11:54 AM on June 2, 2008

Damn you ikahime!! I wanted to be the one to bring Kiyoshi into the thread.
posted by thedaniel at 12:24 PM on June 2, 2008

Peel away all the ugly hip-hop veneer from Jero and what do you get? Amazingly, a good singer!
posted by Faze at 5:18 PM on June 2, 2008

Is that Yukio Igleasias?
posted by ...possums at 2:53 AM on June 3, 2008

Jero paid his dues too. He performed his hiphop enka songs in tiny clubs around Tokyo for a few years before his recent explosion in popularity.
posted by ejoey at 6:14 PM on June 15, 2008

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