Infectious bubble gum pop ecstasy, or borderline “ear worm” annoying?
AKB48 (pronounced A.K.B. Forty-eight) is a Japanese pop act, a super-group not just in their popularity throughout Asia, but because somehow the band has more than 100 members.
The group has found controversy for seeming to use underage sexual imagery in lyrics and videos, and at public appearances such as in their own theatre. For example, a magazine photo showed a member with her naked breasts covered by what looked like a child’s hands.
AKB48 is also seen as providing examples of strong female role models to Japanese culture, in a larger society that is seeking to make gains for gender equality. But another member shaved her head as some sort of apology, after she stayed over night with a man.
Bobby McFerrin’s catchy/annoying “ear worm” became the first a capella tune to make the top of Billboard’s “Hot 100” chart, and for two weeks, back in 1988. The year following, it was best song at the Grammy Awards. Apparently the song’s title comes from a truncated message spun by India mystic Meher Baba, but less spiritually was also featured in the Tom Cruise film, Cocktail.
George Bush, Sr. used the song for his 1988 presidential campaign. And of course, McFerrin didn’t approve, like so many other appropriated campaign tunes. No matter, Bush became the 41st president, while McFerrin became one of the 1980s best known one-hit wonders. While the musician won’t get a presidential library, he’s licenced the tune for television commercial use to assure his own place in history (well, including for diapers).