Brooke McCorkle Okazaki, "Shonen Knife’s Happy Hour" (Bloomsbury, 2020)


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Brooke McCorkle Okazaki’s Shonen Knife’s Happy Hour, part of the 33 1/3 music history and culture series, is a joyful romp through the career of the internationally successful Japanese trio, Shonen Knife. The book focuses on the intersection of food, gender, and music for these pioneers of what Okazaki calls “josei rock,” in other words, music by women in the Japanese scene that does not fit into heavily produced and marketed categories such as “girls bands” and “idols.” The book combines history, musical and lyrical exegesis, visual analysis, and interviews to create a layered portrait of an influential and important artist. What we learn is that Shonen Knife is in many ways a study in contrasts and deliberately clashing aesthetics, mixing cute and cool, playing with gender roles and consumerism, bending genres, appropriating Orientalist stereotypes, and singing in English. As Okazaki shows, Shonen Knife’s music, videos, and on-stage personality manage to be subversive and, in a word, punk. As the title of chapter 5 indicates, this is a book about “food, music, and transnational flow.”

Nathan Hopson is an associate professor of Japanese and East Asian history in the Graduate School of Humanities, Nagoya University.

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