Feb. 9 - Once virtually shut to Asian acts, the U.S. music industry is starting to open up to Far East talent like rising girl band Blush. Jon Gordon reports.
EDITOR'S NOTE: THIS EDIT CONTAINS CONVERTED 4:3 MATERIAL. Semi-conductors, cars, and mobile phones. Asia is the world's factory. But one thing it doesn't really export to America - music. But that may be changing. Meet Blush, a new pan-Asian girl band with hand-picked divas representing China, India, South Korea, Japan and the Philippines. They made a surprise splash with their first single, cashing in on industry connections with Snoop Dogg. That helped them climb the U.S. billboards dance chart to the top three spot. And their latest single has just hit number two, raising hopes this Asian band might have some staying power. I spoke with the group's creator, ex-Disney Asia chief Jon Niermann, at a high school performance here in Hong Kong. He says he's training the girls specifically to target American listeners. (SOUNDBITE) (English) CREATOR OF BLUSH AND CEO OF FARWEST ENTERTAINMENT, JON NIERMANN, SAYING: "They've been created by Western producers, Western song writers, in English, for the world's stage. We had a lot of questions a year ago, 'oh, Asian artists haven't really made it in the U.S.' Well yeah, that's why we're doing this, because we think there's a huge opportunity. So, instead of shutting the door, we wanted to kick it open." And they aren't the only ones trying to kick the door open right now. This is Girls Generation, nine smolderingly hot Korean singers making their U.S. network debut on David Letterman last month. First they took Korea by storm, then Asia, and now they're gunning for the States. But that approach has garnered mixed results in the past. Take Rain. Again, a heartthrob here in Asia, pushed hard in the West with big Hollywood roles. But the U.S. audience reaction - pretty much indifferent. LA-based Billboard charts-man Keith Caulfield says the timing may be right for Asian talent, but cautions that sometimes part of their appeal gets lost in translation. (SOUNDBITE) (English) ASSOCIATE DIRECTOR OF CHARTS/RETAIL, BILLBOARD, KEITH CAULFIELD, SAYING: "American audiences are very specific and fickle sometimes in their taste in music and pop culture. British acts have a hard time making it in America, so it isn't just Asian acts. But it's everything from the language barrier to perhaps the style of hair or clothing that is just not the norm." The Blush girls, though, tell me they have no trouble adapting their performance for American fans, some who are are very different from their followers in Asia. (SOUNDBITE) (English) BLUSH BAND MEMBER, NATSUKO "NACHO" DANJO, SAYING: "Asians are more like quiet, polite... 'am I doing this, am I allowed to do this?' But the American audience, you know is, like 'yeah, let's do it!'" It's too early to tell how big Blush will get. But the real measure of success won't just be just climbing the charts, but going from playing high school venues to filling stadiums as a headline act. Jon Gordon, in Hong Kong.