Musume on NPR: they reported, they decided

National Public Radio programs have always presented stories about music groups located way off the beaten path, in oddball genres I never heard of before.

So imagine my surprise this morning, half-asleep on the couch, listening to “Weekend Edition Saturday.” A segment began with a mention of Japan and how conformity is a cultural standard that extends itself to popular music. Then they played an example of said conformity.

And then the guitar riff to “Roman My Dear Boy” shot out from my stereo speakers.

A voice-over described “J-Pop” as the archetype of musical homogeneity in the Land of the Rising Sun and that a group called Morning Musume is a standard bearer.

I bolted up from the couch and braced myself for another story about runaway lizards, teenage girl exploitation and the reclusive producer in charge of manipulating all of this. I mean, my brother contributes to NPR for crissakes — is his money being paid for professional Musume bashing?

Well, the story didn’t really follow up on Keith Olbermann’s reporting on MSNBC. Instead a guy named Steve McClure (“Billboard Asia bureau chief”) got in a few standard cuts about vocally challenged singers who top the charts or something.

The report then focused on a singer I have NEVER heard of: a quirky gal whose alternative pop genius was being stifled by… I dunno, Morning Musume? I went to the NPR site (see linkage above) and saw a picture of a gal who reminded me of an old drama featuring Fukatsu Eri. Wow, she even has dorky glasses.

Another mention of Musume and Company in American media. It still gets MY attention.

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