Sometimes reality just doesn’t seem real. If you were to take Jayda Jeon’s experience and make it into a movie, no one would believe it. Viewers would scoff and proclaim that these types of occurrences don’t happen in real life but…they do! When Jayda was introduced to a famous music producer and songwriter who has worked with some of the biggest names in music, he expressed his interest in working with her. She sat down at the piano, wrote a song, presented the basic idea to him, and within five days the song was being performed by a famous musical group to a crowd of 55,000 fans. Hyperbolic? Not in this case. Jeon adds that the song came to her almost immediately and without suffering to craft it, the way the greats say that their best songs are born. The tale of the song “Twinkle Twinkle A.B.C.-Z” and how it came to be such a massive hit is an amazing one, and almost too good to be believed.
Jayda Jeon is a singer/arranger who has been a musician since she was four-years-old. She studied the classics but also had pop leanings and sensibilities. Her fellow South Koreans as well as many others from around the world have recognized her talent. It was not unusual when her friend Alan Waddington (drummer from the band “The Unforgiven”) told her that he had a friend and successful writer that Jayda should meet. This friend was composer Joey Carbone. Carbone is a world-wide successful songwriter whose career spans forty-five years with particular success in the Japanese pop music industry. Joey signed with Atlantic records at age sixteen, one of the most important American recording labels (home to artists like Aretha Franklin, Ray Charles, Otis Redding). Carbone has produced the music for super-stars: Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera, Destiny's Child, Alanis Morrisette, Justin Timberlake, and Usher. Currently He is serving as Vice- Principal/International Advisor to Tokyo School of Music. He is a contracted advisor to Sony Music Japan and Avex Music Publishing Japan. Working with Carbone confirms that you are accepted into the elite of music artists.
Jeon, Joey, and Alan sat down at the piano in a studio to talk and listen to some of her ideas. As she played, Carbone mentioned that Jayda’s unique R&B style could appeal to both Western pop music and Asian pop music. Remarking that he was impressed by her vocal abilities and songwriting skills, he exchanged contact information with her and suggested that they try writing together sometime. Striking while the iron was hot, Jayda sat down and immediately crafted a demo to present. With the goal of creating something fun and danceable, she was inspired to create something paying homage to one of her favorites, the Jackson 5. Still lacking specific lyrics (she sang “na na”), Jeon used her keyboard to record a basic demo idea, leaving plenty of space to solidify the melody as she wanted to truly collaborate with Carbone. A quick phone call later found the two sitting down together and listening to this rough idea entitled “Twinkle, Twinkle A.B.C.-Z” Jeon recalls, “I was right about the feeling of the song. As soon as I played the song, he smiled and looked at me saying, “This is gonna be a hit!” He immediately liked it and wanted to work on the song with a very specific concept. I kind of already had melodies for the song and he liked the melody for pre-chorus and chorus but he wanted to change a little bit of verse to make it sound more suitable for Japanese pop music. Once we wrote down the melodies, we started to work on lyrics. Since I’m from South Korea, writing lyrics in English was the biggest challenge for me. Joey helped me a lot on that and contributed a large portion in lyrics for the song. We wanted it to be a happy love song. We set a story line about a guy who is falling in love with a girl and expressing his feelings.”
As soon as Jayda and Joey finished composing/arranging/producing the song, Carbone sent it to the most influential/famous music talent agencies in Japan, “Johnny & Associates”. Almost immediately they responded stating how much they liked the song, and quickly sent a contract to sign. The song went to one of Johnny & Associates most popular groups, A.B.C.-Z.
A.B.C.-Z is one of the most popular boy groups in the Japanese pop music industry. The group has achieved top ratings on the national and international charts. A.B.C.-Z. rushed to the studio to record “Twinkle Twinkle A.B.C.-Z” and performed it during their biggest concert at the Tokyo Dome in Japan; and this all occurred within only 5 days. Two weeks after this concert, they officially released the song as part of a DVD along with the video, followed by the release of the song on their next full length album.
What is perhaps the most unbelievable aspect of the entire situation is that “Twinkle Twinkle A.B.C.-Z” was the first song Jayda ever published. A home run on your first swing is an achievement of unimaginable odds. She has received immense praise for this composition in Japan as well as many proposals to write for other artists. While the experience brings immense joy to Jeon she admits, “I unfortunately was not there for the performance of “Twinkle Twinkle A.B.C.-Z” that first time. Even though it could have been the moment of my life when my song was played and performed by this popular Japanese boy band in front of 55,000 people at Tokyo Dome, there simply wasn’t a way for me to get there that quick. I still have a hard time believing it all happened that fast! The song is very special to me because it is my very first song that was published in the world and was a success in the mainstream, so the song is like my first baby. Joey likes to remind me and everyone else that this is such an unusual occurrence. He says, ‘Don’t think that this is normal and don’t expect it to be like this all the time because it usually does not work this way. One of my songs took four years until some J-pop artist picked it.’ He has been in the music industry for 45 years so hearing him say this reminds me that I am very lucky and blessed to have had this experience.”