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Big in Japan (Alphaville song)

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B-side  "Seeds"
Format  7" single 12" maxi
Label  WEA
Released  1984
Genre  Synthpop
Length  3:52 (single edit) 4:43 (album version)

"Big in Japan" is the debut single of the German band Alphaville. It is from their 1984 album Forever Young.


The single was a great success in many countries, including Switzerland, Germany and Sweden. It was also the group's only UK hit, getting to No. 8 on the UK Singles chart. The song also reached number one on the Hot Dance Club Play in December 1984.

Song and video information

The title comes from the phrase "Big in Japan", which was used to describe Western bands who are popular with Japanese audiences while garnering little attention in their home country.

In 1986, Marian Gold recalled that he "bought an album of an unknown British band named Big in Japan. As you know, there's a considerable musical market in Japan. If you wanted to become famous, what you should do was to form a hard rock group and then release an album over there; it would definitely sell well... so the story went ... The statement fitted well to my storyline about a couple of drug addicted lovers and moreover provided the title for the prospective song."

The video was directed by Yello's Dieter Meier.

Track listings

7" single
  1. "Big in Japan" (7" Version) – 3:52
  2. "Seeds" – 3:15
12" maxi
  1. "Big in Japan" (7" Version) – 3:52
  2. "Seeds" – 3:15
12" maxi Germany & France WEA 249417-0
  1. "Big in Japan" (Extended Remix) – 7:25
  2. "Big in Japan" (Extended Instrumental) – 6:10
12" maxi US WEA 0-86947
  1. "Big in Japan" (Extended Vocal) – 7:25
  2. "Big in Japan" (Instrumental Version) – 6:10
  3. "Big in Japan" (7" Version) – 3:58
  • The "Extended Vocal" is the same as the "Extended Remix" and the "Extended Instrumental" is the same as the "Instrumental Version."
  • The 7" version is a different studio recording from the one released later on the album.
  • Other Alphaville versions and releases

  • The original 7" version was also made available on Alphaville's First Harvest 1984–92 best-of release
  • Two newly remixed versions were made available in 1988's Alphaville: The Singles Collection
  • In 1999 Alphaville released Dreamscapes, which included an early demo version of this song as well as the "FFF Time Warp" mix
  • 2001's Forever Pop contained two more newly remixed versions (the "Roland Spremberg" and "Eiffel 65" mixes)
  • The original 12" and instrumental version were made available for the first time on CD on the So80s presents Alphaville (2014)
  • "Seeds," the b-side to this single, appears on Dreamscapes and History as "Leben Ohne Ende" (sung in its original German) in demo form. A new remix of "Seeds" also appears on Dreamscapes. The original version of the song also appears on So80s presents Alphaville.
  • 1992 Re-release

    Alphaville re-released the song, with new remixes, in 1992 to coincide with the release of their compilation album First Harvest 1984–92.

    Track listings

    EU CD single "Big in Japan 1992 A.D."
    1. "Big in Japan 1992 A.D. Freedom Mix (Single Edit)" – 3:14
    2. "Big in Japan The Mix (Single Edit)" – 4:14
    3. "Big in Japan 1992 A.D. Freedom Mix (Extended Version)" – 4:51
    4. "Big in Japan The Mix (Extended Version)" – 6:05
  • "The Mix (Extended Version)" is the same as the "Culture Mix" from First Harvest 1984–92.
  • EU CD single "Big in Japan Swemix Remix"
    1. "Big in Japan (Swemix Remix 7")" – 3:57
    2. "Big in Japan (Swemix Remix 12")" – 8:27
    3. "Big in Japan (Swemix DUB)" – 6:44
    EU 12" vinyl single "Big in Japan 1992 A.D."
    1. "Big in Japan 1992 A.D. Freedom Mix (Extended Version)" – 4:51
    2. "Big in Japan 1992 A.D. Freedom Dub" – 4:56
    3. "Big in Japan The Mix (Extended Version)" – 6:05
  • The 12" single was printed on white vinyl and contains the unique "Dub" version of the Freedom remix
  • Charts

    "Big in Japan 1992 AD" reached number two in Finland and number 15 in Sweden.

    Guano Apes version

    In 2000, Guano Apes released a cover version as their lead single for their second album Don't Give Me Names on 12 April 2000. The music video shows the band performing in an empty arena, followed by a fan trying to locate the band.

    CD single

    1. Big In Japan – 2:49
    2. Gogan – 2:47
    3. I Want It – 3:17

    7" single

    1. Big In Japan – 2:48
    2. I Want It – 3:15

    Maxi single

    1. Big In Japan – 2:49
    2. Gogan – 2:47
    3. I Want It – 3:17
    4. La Noix – 2:19
    5. Big In Japan (Space Jazz Dubmen Mix) – 4:32

    Sandra version

    "Big in Japan" was covered by German singer Sandra in 1984. She sang the song in German, as "Japan ist weit". The song was produced by her future husband Michael Cretu and was Sandra's first try as a solo artist after she separated from the trio Arabesque. The song was not successful, as only 125 copies were sold.

    Other versions

  • Swedish melodic black metal band Embraced did a cover of "Big in Japan" on their 1998 album Amorous Anathema.
  • Spanish singer José Galisteo, a contestant in the fifth season of the Spanish reality television series Operación Triunfo, covered the song for his 2007 debut album Remember.
  • In 2008, Norwegian singer Ane Brun did her very own version of "Big in Japan". The song was recorded to be part of the soundtrack for the Swedish TV-documentary "Stor i Japan" on TV6. It has been released on Ane Brun's albums Live at Stocholm Concert Hall (DVD & CD, recorded 2008, released 2009), Songs 2003-2013 (2013), Song Tour 2013 (live, 2014), and as a bonus track on Changing of the Seasons (2008). In 2011 a single was released on Decca International.
  • In 2009, German synthpop band And One included live cover version of "Big in Japan" to their album Bodypop 1½.
  • In 2010, László Szarka, a contestant on Hungarian talent show Megasztár became an internet sensation by singing the song with mispronounced English lyrics.
  • In 2011, Norwegian singer/songwriter Eth Eonel released an own version of the song on his debut album Drawing Lines (1989).
  • References

    Big in Japan (Alphaville song) Wikipedia

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