One Hit Wonder: The Vapors (1980)

Turning Japanese
Single: The Vapors
Album: New Clear Days
Released: 1980
Genre: New wave, power pop
Songwriter: David Fenton

The Vapors were an English new wave band between 1978 and 1981. They are best remembered for their second single, "Turning Japanese." VH1 ranked The Vapors number 36 of the 100 Greatest One-Hit Wonders.

The opening riff for "Turning Japanese" is called "the oriental riff." It was used for Carl Douglas' "Kung Fu Fighting" and Siouxsie and the Banshees' "Hong Kong Garden."  It was rumored the title referred to the facial features of Asian people masturbating at the moment of climax. 

The Vapors Turning Japanese
The Vapors Turning Japanese

Songwriter David Fenton refuted this interpretation, saying the words compare the alienation following a romantic breakup to being from a foreign culture. Nonetheless, he thanked whoever came up with that interpretation, believing it may be why the song was a hit.


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