Monday, April 29, 2013

"Turning Japanese" by The Vapors

Song#:  0347
Date:  09/27/1980
Debut:  86
Peak:  36
Weeks:  17
Genre:  Power Pop, New Wave

Pop Bits:  This short-lived UK band was discovered and co-managed by Bruce Foxton, the bass player for The Jam (an influential UK group that never really broke in the US) and the father of another Jam member, Paul Weller. Their debut album, "New Clear Days," generated this first single which went to #3 in the UK. It didn't quite catch on as much in the US where it managed to squeak into the Top 40. It would also be their only chart entry. The group had a couple more minor UK chart entries, but after the failure of their second album the group called it quits.

ReduxReview:  Probably because of the potential salacious nature of the song (see below), I don't think this was ever played on our local stations. I didn't hear the song until a few years later when someone played it for me and told me what it was supposed to be about. Of course, as a younger person, listening to a "dirty" song seemed so daring and exciting! But it just made me confused. I had to have it explain to me the slang term of the title, which did make me chuckle, but I still didn't really think the song was big deal. However, it is some pretty catch 80s power pop.

ReduxRating:  6/10

Trivia:  There is an urban legend that said this song is about masturbation - being that "turning Japanese" is interpreted as a euphemism for the act. But group member and the song's writer David Fenton had denied this meaning. The song's true meaning is about someone who lost their relationship and it is basically driving them crazy. But Fenton has acknowledged that the misinterpretation most likely contributed to the success of the single.


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