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Still chasing their dream

by Steve McClure

And then there were two . . . Dreams Come True keyboard player Takahiro Nishikawa’s announcement on March 24 that he had left the pop trio wasn’t all that surprising. For a long time Nishikawa had been very much the odd man out in the DCT lineup, especially after his involvement in a car accident a few years back made his continued presence in the group rather uncertain.

Dreams Come True will carry on as a two-person unit comprising bassist Masato Nakamura and vocalist Miwa Yoshida, using hired musicians (which they’ve already been doing) to round out their sound on stage and in the studio. DCT’s “Monkey Girl Odyssey Arena-Mix” nationwide tour will kick off as scheduled at Nagoya Rainbow Hall on July 4.

Nishikawa, who was been with DCT since their debut in 1989, was quoted as saying he wants to pursue his own music and his own way of life. Maybe the last straw was having to pose with a fake monkey tail pasted to his posterior on the cover of the group’s latest album.

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Speaking of Dreams Come True, that’s the title of one of the songs on Korean vocalist BoA’s album, “Listen to My Heart,” which recently hit No. 1 on the Oricon album chart. BoA, who’s signed to Japanese label Avex, is the first non-Japanese Asian artist to have a No. 1 album in Japan, according to Oricon.

“Listen to My Heart” is a slick, accomplished album that stylistically lies somewhere between Avex’s trademark “Japanese” dance-pop (think Ayumi Hamasaki) and the more American R&B-influenced type of music that’s proved so successful for Hikaru Utada. There’s nothing specifically “Korean” on “Listen to My Heart” — for example, there’s not a word of Korean in the lyrics, which are the usual J-pop mishmash of Japanese and English.

The album was jointly produced by Avex senior managing director Max Matsuura and SM Entertainment owner/founder Soo Man Lee, underlining the joint Japanese-Korean nature of the project. Now I’m sure you’re wondering about the name “BoA.” Well, according to Avex, that in fact is her real name. However, it has apparently been romanized to “BoA,” which stands for — wait for it — “Beat of the Angel.”

BoA was born on Nov. 5, 1986, and was signed to South Korean record label SM Entertainment in her early teens. She came to the attention of Avex after her debut album “ID: Peace B” made the Top 10, and in 2001 signed a recording deal with the label.

Korea is known for producing great singers, and BoA has a gutsier voice than most J-pop chanteuses. She’s very comfortable with singing in Japanese, and she also does a credible English version of “Listen to My Heart.” This girl’s gonna go far, I reckon.

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Warner Music Japan announced March 27 that it will introduce copy-protected CDs in the near future, making it the second Japanese record company (Avex was the first) to do so. Warner says its copy-protected CDs will be playable on most personal computers, but it will be impossible to copy them onto computer hard disks and CD-Rs or as MP3 files.

A survey conducted by the Recording Industry Association of Japan last October found that 30 percent of those polled owned CD-R drives, compared with 18 percent of those surveyed a year earlier. RIAJ Chairman and CEO Isamu Tomitsuka says this is a major headache for the industry, since serial copyright management system technology, which prevents multiple copies of digital software from being made, does not work with CD-Rs.

“We think that copy-controlling is the first and foremost way of dealing with the fact that one CD can be used to make tens of copies,” says Tomitsuka.

Many people, though, say copy-protected (or copy-controlled) CDs go against the concept of “fair use” — which means the user should be able to make copies of entertainment software as long as they’re for personal use. One problem, of course, is defining just where personal use ends and illegitimate copying begins.

Anyway, I doubt whether copy-controlled CDs are going to solve all of the recording industry’s problems. The whole concept of copyright and the value of recorded music as a commodity are being called into question by developments such as file-sharing and the rapid dissemination of digital technology. It may be time for the music industry to develop an entirely new business model, one that emphasizes interactivity, for example, rather than simply packaging recorded music.