1980 The Vapors – Turning Japanese

1980 The Vapors – Turning Japanese 

Four musicians who started playing together in 1978 in a pub in Guildford, Surrey, England, got noticed by Bruce Foxton. Bruce was the bass player for the Jam, and he offered to line the band up with a few jobs and became their co-manager. He even arranged for the band to play as part of the Jam’s tour in 1979.

The new band initially called themselves The Vapours, but they felt the British spelling might be inconvenient in the US. They changed the spelling of their name to The Vapors. They signed with United Artists and began releasing singles in late 1979.

Their second single became their most successful recording. The band’s lead singer, David Fenton, wrote the song Turning Japanese after a breakup with his girlfriend. He intended the lyrics to reflect the way the break-up made him feel like he suddenly didn’t fit in anymore. The new wave single jumped up to #3 in the UK and went all the way to the top of the Australian charts, but peaked at only #36 on the US Hot 100. It seems like the video got some airplay in the US a year later when MTV showed up.

The Vapors recorded two albums that did not sell well and disbanded in 1982. Thirty-nine years after they recorded their second album, the band reunited and began recording again.

An unexpected artist covered the group’s big hit in 2009: Kirsten Dunst. She appeared as the princess Majokko in the video Akihabara Majokko Princess. They filmed a video in Tokyo and used it for more than a year as part of a pop life exhibition in a London museum.


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