“Eco-cute!” was 24-year-old J-pop superidol Kumi Koda’s response, according to organizers, when asked to perform at the Tokyo leg of Live Earth, a series of concerts taking place at nine cities around the world on July 7 to encourage music fans to take action against global warming. As a rallying cry, it may have lacked the punch of one of U2-frontman Bono’s sound bites, but it wasn’t for her oratory that Live Earth invited Koda — one of the daylong concert’s 11 performers — on board.
No singer is hotter in Japan right now than Koda. Last month she bagged three awards at the MTV Video Music Awards Japan — including the all-important Best Stylish Artist gong — and she’s currently riding high in the charts with the single “Freaky.” Get Koda on stage, hope Live Earth’s organizers, and you’ll have an army of female teenyboppers recycling their Parco department store shopping bags and dumping their cell-phone chargers for new, energy-efficient models.
The lineup performing at the Live Earth concert in Kyoto later on the same day is more rarefied — as is Toji Temple, the venue. There, minimalist composer Michael Nyman and kooky trip-hop singer UA perform. Headlining is Yellow Magic Orchestra, reforming for the first time since 1993. YMO’s Ryuichi Sakamoto could legitimately be called Japan’s answer to Bono (minus the piousness and with much better tunes), such is his zest for planting trees and generally lending his name to environmental causes. His cause this time will be heard not only by the lucky few at the concert (tickets are sold-out) but also by a global audience of millions when the show is broadcast to more than 100 countries worldwide as part of a international television feed and streamed live at LiveEarth.MSN.com
Koda Kumi, Rihanna, Linkin Park, Ayaka, Cocco, RIZE, AI and more play Live Earth Tokyo at Makuhari Messe, Chiba on July 7 (doors open 10 a.m.; noon start). Tickets are 10,000 yen. The venue is a 5-minute walk from Kaihin-Makuhari Station on the JR Keiyo or Musashino lines. Both the Tokyo and Kyoto concerts will be aired on NHK and Fuji TV. For more information, visit www.liveearth-japan.jp