For someone who made a career out of pounding people as a kickboxer, Genki Sudo comes across as a courteous, peace-loving guy who doesn’t take life too seriously.
We shouldn’t, therefore, be too surprised to hear his latest message: He simply wants everyone to “have a nice day.”
That friendly greeting is the title of his third album with the unorthodox act World Order. An upbeat, electro-pop record with a number of catchy tunes, it doesn’t stray too far from the group’s previous outings, yet it has a noticeably more polished feel to it.
All the lyrics on the album were written by Sudo and producer Takashi Watanabe. Unsurprisingly, given the pair’s efforts in the past, there are a number of underlying social commentaries in many of the tracks with more than a hint of political satire thrown in.
The opening song, “Imperialism,” includes excerpts from former U.S. President George Bush’s “new world order” speech about the Gulf War, while Sudo sings about “the end of Imperial history”, and “Last Dance,” which has been construed as an anti-nuclear song, has a line about the world coming to an end in a very serene, controlled way (“Kanri sareta shizukesa de kanzen ni sekai tomeru“).
The lyrics aren’t all dark, though. The general mood on the eight songs is a cheerful one. Songs such as “Imperialism” and “Informal Empire” — with lines like “Let’s make a paradise, when I was waiting for sunrise/This is what I wanna visualize,together we realize,” and “Your life is in motion, so don’t turn back/Believe in yourself” — won’t cause any controversy, encouraging listeners to keep the faith and persevere.
“We are a new-world-order-conspiracy-theory parody group,” Sudo says, struggling to get the string of words out. “The songs ‘Imperialism’ and ‘Informal Empire’ are part of a story that follows on from (previous single) ‘Permanent Revolution.’ With these tracks we’re trying to put across our thoughts about the current state of the world and humanity in general.
“Of course we’re hoping to shock and prompt introspection,” he continues. “Our main goal, however, is to make people smile. You could be listening to a track like ‘Last Dance,’ which has a line about the end of the world, and be thinking that it’s all a bit too heavy. And then ‘Have a Nice Day’ comes on and you realize that maybe it’s not so bad after all.
“That’s the message we are trying to get across: Times are tough and life can appear bleak for everyone, but if we try and stay positive, letting go of our anxieties, little by little we can make this planet a brighter place to live on.”
This is the kind of philosophy Sudo has maintained throughout his career. Even after he was stabbed during a random attack in Akihabara in 2003, he wrote on his blog that it had been a “positive experience,” and that we should take “a short stop on the street and smell the scent of roses.”
The 36-year-old Sudo is certainly an intriguing character. He comes across as extremely easygoing, yet behind the smile and the suit he still cuts an imposing figure. Sat in the center, flanked by the other six members of the group, it’s clear he’s the man calling the shots in World Order.
“I do most of the talking as the others are shy,” he says with a laugh. “When we started, I liked the idea of adding a bit of humor to the Hollywood stereotype that all Japanese people are serious so I decided we should dance in a robotic way wearing glasses and suits.”
Sudo also says that originally he was more into rock acts like Guns N’ Roses and Red Hot Chili Peppers, but that electronic music ended up being more suitable for his act.
“Electronic sounds synchronize better with our robotic style,” he says. “During our planning process the dance element always comes first as it’s the most difficult part of what we do. The music and lyrics then fit into place after that.”
Shot in various cities around the globe including Washington and London, World Order’s music and superbly choreographed routines have been well received internationally with more than half of its fan base coming from outside of Japan.
Viewing figures on YouTube for songs such as “Imperialism,” “Last Dance” and “Informal Empire” are already in the millions and rising. Sudo is hoping the same people who watched the videos online will also buy the new album. That said, if they don’t, he won’t be overly concerned. After all, he’s too busy having a nice day.
World Order’s “Have a Nice Day” is in stores Dec. 17. For more information, visit www.worldorder.jp.