Just a few short months ago, I watched X Japan play their first U.S. performance ever in front of hundreds of sunburned Lollapalooza attendees.
It was a dynamite performance, but mostly because of pyrotechnics - not the audience reaction. The band followed up with a very successful, if short, seven date tour. Despite the critical acclaim X Japan received from all this, I couldn't help wondering if America is ready to give mainstream success to a Japanese band -- even one as huge as X Japan -- a dynamic you can read all about in this music feature.
It looks like we may have an answer in 2011.
Today, X Japan announced a North American distribution agreement with E.M.I. for the band's upcoming single, "Jade," and an as-of- yet unnamed, full-blown album.
The album will feature 95 percent English lyrics and a combination of new material and classic tracks. But the news that's really going to get X Japan fans excited is encapsulated in the following sentence: "To support the new album, X Japan plans to tour extensively in 2011."
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X Japan's first American release has been a moving target since the band announced their Lollapalooza last year. Even with E.M.I. orchestrating the release, today's vague E.T.A. of "summer 2011" should be taken with a grain of salt.
I would also be remiss if I didn't point out that E.M.I. has signed other Japanese artists as well. Utada Hikaru, The Telephones, 9mm Parabellum Bullet, they're all signed to E.M.I. or one of its various subsidiaries. The difference here, of course is that those musicians aren't kicking up dust here in the states the way X Japan is attempting to do.
But will it work? Will the band that's "sold more than 30-million units and filled the 55,000-seat Tokyo Dome a record-setting 18 times" penetrate the American audience in a way their peers have only dreamed of doing? Will they fade away like a cheesy, hair-metal explosion?
You have the stage, X.