Alphaville was at the peak of its popularity in the 80s, gaining popularity thanks to the successful release of the song “Big In Japan” and “Forever Young”. Both songs were released in 1984. Interestingly, “Big In Japan” is the group’s first officially released single, and it is this song that many will recognize even now. The group achieved great popularity in Europe, while in America they were not accepted by the public so well.
The line-up of the band changed several times during its existence, and also in 1983 the frontman decided to change the name to Alphaville, as he decided that the name “Forever Young” (forever young) would look strange when they were playing their concerts in 10-15 years. At that time he was 30 years old, the other members of the group were about 25. The name, by the way, was not chosen by chance, this is the name of the film of the same name, which was very popular at that time.
In 1993, the unthinkable happened for the group – they gave their first solo concert. It was a one-show tour. So after ten years of existence, the first concert happened, which ignited many young hearts who were fans of Alphaville. Needless to say, after that, the group’s fans became much larger. The audience of the concert admiringly say that the concert was amazing.
They played their songs exactly as they sounded on the record. For this, dozens of musicians had to be brought onto the stage. For the electronic music of those times, it was a unique event. Usually, due to technical limitations, electronic music at concerts sounded much more boring than studio recordings. It is also worth noting that the vocals at the concert were more expressive, and the timbre was felt throughout the body. It was incomparably better than studio recordings.
So what is the meaning of the song “Big in Japan”? To fully understand what the author wanted to say, you need to know the backstory. The author himself, Marian Gold, says that only one person immediately correctly understood what the song was about. According to the author, the song was dedicated to drug addicts, who were quite a lot among his friends. This can be understood from the mention of the Zoo station in Berlin, which has long been a meeting place for drug addicts.
And the story that is told in the song tells about a couple in love who had a desire to get rid of addiction and imagine life without crime, with lively emotions, with a bright mind. And the expression “Big in Japan” (cool in Japan) shows that there is a place where you can be successful and important, even if no one in your current environment respects you.
There is also another meaning that is popular. For the first time it was written by journalists and it says that in Japan you can become a big person. At that time, the music market in Japan was much larger than in Europe, the records of not even the most popular group sold there in millions of copies, when in Europe it was of no interest to anyone. In addition, the song says that being rich is easier. With power and money, your life will be simple and even love can be bought with money.
Alphaville is an example of a group becoming popular because of one or two successful songs. When you listen to the song “Big in Japan”, there is a feeling that the performer is singing about what he himself has experienced, what worries him. This is what will leave this song forever on the pages of history.