Why So Serious?

Up and coming Asian American boy band, Seriously, proves they have the talent to make it in the industry. This piece also appeared in the Spring 2010 issue.

By Joshua Lee

Seriously?  An all Asian band?  What!  And they sing in English?

Such is the wide range of reactions from listeners who witness and hear the musical stylings of Seriously, an all Asian American band from Southern California.  Seriously spontaneously banded together in hopes of winning Kollaboration, California’s biggest Asian American talent competition.  As a new band without much chemistry, Joshua Baek (electric), Philip Park (drums), Nathan Park (bass) and Chris Pham (lead vocals) mustered up some real kind of last minute pixie dust and shocked everyone in the Asian American music scene by winning Kollaboration with what would become their viral hit single, “Irony.”

Since taking the crown at Kollaboration, Seriously has taken command of the Asian American music scene.  “Irony” continues to gain more recognition as a piece of real musical and pop-culture talent with its inventive instrumental guitar riffs and a catchy hook and bridge.  Through “Irony,” Seriously has shown glimmers of hope of breaking into an American music industry with no evident history of Asian American influence or impact.  Nathan Park spoke specifically on being Asian American in a traditionally non-Asian music scene for KoreanBeacon.com.

“You know it is hard because people come with closed minds.  They just dismiss you because you’re Asian,” he says in the interview.  “You know there’s a lot of discrimination, there’s a lot of prejudice against us.  So that is definitely a difficulty, and it’s a glass ceiling America has placed on us.  But we embrace it and we’re using it to our advantage to break through and be at the forefront of Asian American entertainment.”

And by doing what they love, Seriously is doing something culturally important for a population that has often been undervalued by the entertainment industry.  In an American culture where rock stars are worshipped and Asian American males are underrated, Seriously is proving that they can be both Asian American and rock stars.  In the face of prejudice from a recording industry that has time and again refused to back Asian talent, the band has often spoken out about embracing their heritage and culture and accepting the benefits of playing to an Asian American community that holds the highest hopes for their success.

The band’s ability to successfully mix genres of music like funk and hard rock into a coherent new medium of music grants a larger fan base than just a traditional boy band or rock band.  In another instance of the band’s run against popular culture, Seriously casted a white female as the romantic interest of Chris Pham, the lead vocalist, in their music video for “Irony.”  In an American society that does not see a lot of Asian males dating white women, Seriously’s music video may make viewers initially feel uncomfortable but through their talent and some obvious charm, Seriously makes it work with the plot point essential for any memorable boy band.  “It’s about a girl.”

Check out “Irony”

It is ironic that an impromptu song prepared just days before a major competition could be the song that can break so many negative stereotypes of Asians in America being passive or submissive to a white-dominated culture.  But through some lovely locks and the vocals to match, Seriously holds the potential to romance a mainstream white America into ending simple stereotypes and embracing talent as just that — talent.

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