|Single by The Vapors|
|from the album New Clear Days|
|The Vapors singles chronology|
"Turning Japanese" is a song released by English band The Vapors, from their album New Clear Days, and the song for which they are best known. The lyric consists mainly of the singer talking about pictures of his love. It prominently features an Oriental riff played on guitar.
Songwriter David Fenton explains: "Turning Japanese is all the clichés about angst and youth and turning into something you didn't expect to."
The band knew they had a success with "Turning Japanese", so much so that they waited until their second single before releasing it, fearing that if they released it as their first they would become "one-hit wonders". They never matched its success.
"Turning Japanese" was believed to euphemistically refer to masturbation — i.e. the act causing the man to squint and therefore resemble a Japanese person's eyes or possibly, referencing the British slang word "Jap's eye" (the urinary meatus) and the act of turning referring to the process of masturbation — but the song's author Fenton denied that claim in an interview on VH1. "It could have been (turning) Portuguese, Lebanese, anything that fitted with that phrase. It has nothing to do with the Japanese...The first time the idea of masturbation came up was when we were touring America. It was written about that 'turning Japanese' was an English phrase for masturbation, which it wasn't."
Guitarist Rob Kemp went on to say, "It's a love song about somebody who had lost his girlfriend and was going slowly crazy, turning Japanese is just all the cliches of our angst... turning into something you never expected to."
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- "Australia No. 1 hits -- 1980's". World Charts. Retrieved 9 June 2013.
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- CASH BOX Top 100 Singles – Week ending NOVEMBER 29, 1980 at the Wayback Machine (archived 15 September 2012). Cash Box magazine.
- "Songs from the Year 1980". TsorT. Retrieved 27 April 2014.
- "Forum – ARIA Charts: Special Occasion Charts – Top 100 End of Year AMR Charts – 1980s". Australian-charts.com. Hung Medien. Retrieved 17 October 2016.
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- Whitburn, Joel (1999). Pop Annual. Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin: Record Research Inc. ISBN 0-89820-142-X.
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