Asian-Pacific Americans in Pop Music
by Rachel Devitt | June 8, 2011
May was Asian-Pacific American Heritage Month, a celebration of the history and contemporary contributions of Asian communities and cultures to this country. That celebration includes the roles Asian-Pacific artists have played in American popular music contributions that have all too often been overlooked, underappreciated or restricted. The history of American pop music has often been a predominantly black-and-white (and sometimes Latino) one; Asian artists struggle to get noticed and acquire record deals in a demographics-based industry that doesn't seem to know how to market them. But even those artists who do make it often get written out of the history books: see, for instance, the Asian-American big bands who toured the country during the swing era, or even the more recent contributions of West Coast Filipino DJ culture to hip-hop.
Things are slowly starting to change, however, with the rise to prominence of artists of Asian heritage like Black Eyed Peas' apl.de.ap, Bruno Mars and, especially, Far*East Movement, pop's highest-charting all-Asian group ever. (For a breakdown of recent singles by Asian and Asian-American artists, see last fall's single-phile column, Far East Rising). In honor of Asian-Pacific American Heritage Month, and in tribute to their year-round contributions to to pop music, we present this playlist of some of our favorite pop stars.