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Featured Submission: Cheesy Ballads

Posted October 1st, 2009 by Peter · 21 Comments

This is a submission from our friends over at EurasianSensation about Cheesy Ballads. In it, ES sheds light on the Asian infatuation with outdated music, slow love songs, and much more. We hope you enjoy it!

backstreet-boys-jv06Cool people tend to like cool music – that is, music that is a little bit edgy, or totally fresh and new, or so obscure that most people would have never even heard of it. This general rule is observed by most races, yet Asian people defiantly reject this. Despite Asians’ natural inclination towards cutting-edge technology and cool gadgets, general principles of coolness in music tend not to apply to them. For the Asian, there is no musical form greater than the cheesy ballad.

This addiction towards overly sentimental, obvious and treacly mainstream pop is most obvious amongst Asian females. Yet Asian males display a surprising fascination with cheesy music, which is surprising because it contravenes another rule of musical taste – that males should like music that is tough, “hard” and macho. Young males of other races gravitate naturally towards such musical styles as gangsta rap, punk, death metal and hardcore techno, since it fulfils their need to rebel against society and prove that they are in no way soft and therefore unmanly. But not so for the young Asian male, who would much rather sing along to “I Want It That Way” (while everyone else seems to know that heterosexual males are not meant to be fans of the Backstreet Boys, Asians seem to have never got that memo).

The love for slow love songs coincides with that other great Asian passion, #8 karaoke. Despite the myriad of various styles of non-cheesy music from around the world, none of them are apparently compatible with the complicated electronics of a karaoke machine. Thus karaoke-going Asians can happily sing their way through an evening of cheesy ballad after cheesy ballad, safe in the knowledge they will be untroubled by songs with even a shred of street credibility.

It would be easy to imagine that only nerdy Asians would go weak for cheesy ballads, but research shows that this is not so. Asians, being naturally in touch with their inner nerd, have a soft spot for cheesy music no matter how outwardly cool they seem. From the most chic beret-wearing bohemian Asian to the most hardcore Asian gangbanger, all will passionately belt out an emotional Mariah Carey number if you get them into a karaoke bar. There are nomadic hunter-gatherers in the jungles of Malaysia who cannot read, write or speak English yet who can somehow sing every verse of “Everything I Do I Do It For You”. Even an Asian presidential candidate and accused war criminal like Indonesia’s General Wiranto can find the time to release an album of love songs. (BBC News)


Indeed, some clever white people have developed a talent for exploiting the Asian penchant for cheesy ballads and forged entire careers out of it. Thus Danish band Michael Learns to Rock, unheard of in the Western world, can regularly sell out stadiums every time they tour in Asia. Ageing pop artists like Air Supply can tour Asia regularly despite not having a hit in the West since the 80s.

So why do Asians favour the cheesy ballad? Some theorists relate this to the Racial Coolness Hierarchy (RCH). Since it is common knowledge that black people are the coolest race, white people tend to imitate black music and culture or adopt black music like rock n’ roll as their own, thus hoping to inherit some of the inherent coolness of black people. Asians on the other hand, having long being accustomed to being stereotyped as nerdy and uncool, subconsciously figure they have nothing to lose by professing their love of Celine Dion’s Greatest Hits.

Sometimes serious but mostly irreverent, Eurasian Sensation explores culture, race and global happenings from an Asian-Australian perspective; the things that make us different, the things that make us alike, the things that make us love and hate each other, and the things that make us say “What the F-?”

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21 responses so far ↓

  • 1 New Gadgets | Featured Submission: Cheesy Ballads // Oct 1, 2009 at 3:17 pm

    [...] Original post by Stuff Asian People Like [...]

  • 2 Gaurav Ahuja // Oct 1, 2009 at 3:46 pm

    It is only common knowledge that Blacks are the coolest race to some people in the West. I do not think people in India or China think this way. Also, it makes sense that people of Northeast Asian origin, who have their diaspora in many places such as southern China and southeastern Asia, are more feminine because of lower testosterone levels.

  • 3 Eurasian Sensation // Oct 1, 2009 at 5:09 pm

    @ Gaurav, I don’t know about the “East Asians have low testosterone” thing. But given that China has 1.3 billion people and Indonesia has 230 million, and given the amount of freaky porn that comes out of Japan, I’d say the East Asian testosterone levels aren’t too bad.

  • 4 Flowers // Oct 5, 2009 at 10:15 pm

    Nice blog with a nice video. I don’t believe on racial discrimination that is something created by human.

  • 5 lol // Oct 8, 2009 at 2:26 pm

    Ah ah.. I’ve been browsing random articles on your site for the past thirty minutes and so much of it rings sadly true. I now feel less alone in my Asian-ness. But at the same time I don’t know if I’ve now becomes more or less of a person.

    Anyways great blog d00d

  • 6 Chi // Oct 13, 2009 at 7:55 am

    Hey LOL

    If you feeling lonely try It’s 100% free asian dating. This site does make me feel lonely too.

  • 7 Peter // Nov 10, 2009 at 12:03 am

    I observed a number of friends and tried to see a pattern in their taste for music. I came to the conclusion that people have a preference for music they “grew up” listening to. Basically when they first started to really listen to music, the kind of music that was popular around them or with their peers is what they will tend to enjoy listening to for the rest of their lives. My methods aren’t scientific and there will always be outliers, but I think my idea is about as close to the truth as anyone else’s.

    When it comes to Asians’ preference for cheesy ballads. My thinking is that because other Asians listen to the same stuff and they all grow up listening to the same stuff, thus we all end up having the same taste. One way to test my idea is to find out what adopted Asian Americans enjoy listening to. If they still like cheesy ballads then its probably in the genes.

    And yeah, I’m into cheesy ballads too.

  • 8 Peter // Nov 10, 2009 at 2:54 am

    I like how you think, Peter. Mind including an email next post?

  • 9 Peter // Nov 11, 2009 at 12:51 am

    This is a fun site.

    BTW: IMO the age when most people really start to listen to music is in their early teens.

  • 10 Pat // Feb 6, 2010 at 1:35 pm

    Peter that fact that you think that blacks are coolest race makes you the biggest nerd out there, why don’t you get a backbone dork and pull your nose out of their asses. Aspire to be more than a sheep just because some in society say it is so doesn’t mean you have to parrot it.
    Use your head, it is common knowledge that black people are the most irritating people on the planet. They try so hard to be cool that a large majority of them achieve nothing in life, cool doesn’t pay the bills fool.

  • 11 Eurasian Sensation // Feb 9, 2010 at 11:13 pm

    @ Pat: a few key points.

    1. Peter didn’t write this post. I did.

    2. This is a tongue-in-cheek post, not a nose-in-ass one. If you take anything written here as being factual, you need to go back to school and have your teacher explain to you what “tongue-in-cheek” means.

    3. It’s possible to be proud of your own race without hating on anyone else’s.

    4. However, being a racist douchebag is not a quality you should be proud of.

  • 12 Pat // Feb 10, 2010 at 1:52 pm

    My appologies to Peter. You have a real nerve calling me a racist, even if it is tongue in cheek the whole article smacks of racism. Even if it wasn’t meant to be taken seriously anytime you make joke that puts someone down there is a element of racism in that joke you need to take a hard look at yourself, there is nothing worse than being a racist towards your own kind. You have a real nerve calling yourself Asian Sensation.

  • 13 Eurasian Sensation // Feb 10, 2010 at 9:35 pm

    @ Pat: I’ll leave it up to you to decide which is racist – a light-hearted and affectionate article about Asians by an Asian, or your comment about black people being irritating and achieving nothing.

  • 14 Pat // Feb 11, 2010 at 5:32 pm

    Autophobics like you are the worst kind of racist
    you write a racist artical and hide behind terms like tongue in cheek, satire and light hearted it doesn’t change what you are, whether your kidding or not let me educate you stereotyping is racist I don’t know were people like you get the idea that being bigoted against your own race is okay but your wrong just because your asian doesn’t give you a free ride. From your attitude I get the feeling that you think it is okay, your a self hater your article bears that out yet let someone say something racist about another group and you feel that you have to say something. My statement about blacks is a statement that is backed up by statistical data, blacks more than any ethnic group have lower grades and test scores than any other ethnic group it is not because they are dumb its because they don’t apply themselves, and their attitudes towards those who try is irritating your piece is an opinion piece take a hard look at yourself and tell me which one is racist.

  • 15 Pat // Feb 11, 2010 at 5:50 pm

    Let me ad something else, asians have enough problems in western society without people like stoking the fire; the emasculation of the asian male is not funny by any means. If you can’t be a pisitive influence on asian society maybe it’s best that you keep your opinions to yourself.

  • 16 Eurasian Sensation // Feb 14, 2010 at 3:35 am

    Ok Pat, just for you:
    Asians are the most awesome of all people and there is nothing odd or funny about them at all. Asians should never laugh at themselves because there is nothing funny about them. They are also cooler than black people.

    I hope that makes you feel better.

  • 17 Pat // Feb 16, 2010 at 7:21 pm

    I never said asians were the coolest, I merely stated that blacks are not!

  • 18 johpan // Feb 21, 2010 at 4:26 pm

    I am a karaoke-singing, asian male and I approve of this article.

  • 19 Eurasian Sensation // Feb 24, 2010 at 5:34 am

    nice to hear!
    Keep on keeping it real (cheesy), bro.

  • 20 Chinamerican // May 7, 2010 at 9:28 am

    Hey hey hey, we’re best when we join forces! Don’t hate, collaborate ^_^

    These guys covered a 1960s Japanese song, “Sukiyaki” and it was AWESOME:

    We are all united by the power of the pentatonic scale! A lot of Asian folk music as well as European folk, African folk, and American folk music use it. Just check out the opening of The Temptations “My Girl.”

  • 21 Canada flower shops // Jul 22, 2010 at 4:41 am

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