On first inspection, WORLD ORDER appears a group of unsmiling Japanese office workers. Indeed, in comparison to cute K-pop male idols, the group are hackneyed and banal. Beneath the surface, however, they harbour surprising talents. To experience their art is to understand WORLD ORDER as a J-pop hurricane of robotic dance and introspective lyrics, who embody everything life-affirming about postmodernism. Through their innovations, they transcend the label of mere music group, and reach the level of holistic contemporary artistry. In my opinion, they are entirely underrated.
WORLD ORDER debuted in 2009 as ‘Mainly’, the brainchild of retired martial artist Genki Sudo. Perhaps the most well-known of their songs is ‘MACHINE CIVILIZATION’, which was released in 2011 after the Tohoku earthquake and tsunami. In song’s notes, there an English language message:
The world won’t change on its own. We do change one by one. That makes the world change. The darkness just before the dawn is deepest. So, we do rise up together to greet the brilliant morning truly coming for the human beings.
WE ARE ALL ONE
This sombre tone, tempered with hope, characterises WORLD ORDER. As is clear from Sudo’s message, the band celebrates both the individual and the larger group. In their music videos, suited and bespectacled band members engage in dances which are carefully synchronised, but retain individual spirit and idiosyncrasies. They expound the idea of the individual not only existing within the group, but thriving because of their membership. This message is perhaps more relevant now than it ever has been.
Eight years after their debut, WORLD ORDER continue to astonish. Their single ‘SINGULARITY’ was released in March of this year, boldly self-sampling its title from the lyrics of ‘MACHINE CIVILISATION.’ The video for ‘SINGULARITY’, filmed in Nagoya, partly features the female members of Japanese idol group SKE48. SKE48, like AKB48, are known for their enormous popularity amongst idol otaku in Japan. By their inclusion of SKE48, WOLD ORDER was not only paying homage to their musical influences, but making a larger comment on inclusivity.
It is not the first-time WORLD ORDER has referenced otaku culture. Previously, they featured AKB48 members in the video for their song ‘HAVE A NICE DAY’. In ‘SINGULARITY’, however, the female idol group joins in the dance of WORLD ORDER to a more significant degree. In the inclusion of an all-female group, their message of synergy and diversity is boldly enforced. The video declares that otaku culture should be normalised and even celebrated as a conduit of harmless joy during mundane, corporate culture.
Why do WORLD ORDER deserve more attention? Because they subvert traditional Japanese values of unquestioning conformity, and are somehow both comical and thought-provoking. They rely on musical ability and movement rather than physical appearances, and, most importantly, let you dance the robot while looking hip, cool and J-pop.
Words by Debbie Choo
This article first appeared in print volume 88 edition 4 GIRL