Why Performing on Jimmy Fallon Is So Symbolic for Japanese Breakfast

In 2021, Japanese Breakfast (and their best-selling frontwoman Michelle Zauner) got “Jimmy Fallon Big,” performing on the talk show and earning several Grammy nominations. Here’s what Zauner said about “Jimmy Fallon Big” and the meaning of this song from Soft Sounds From Another Planet.

Japanese Breakfast features frontwoman Michelle Zauner 

Japanese Breakfast with lead singer Michelle Zauner perform at the Deaf Institute
Japanese Breakfast with lead singer Michelle Zauner perform at the Deaf Institute | Visionhaus/Corbis via Getty Images

Zauner is a singer, musician, director, and author best known as the vocalist of indie pop-rock band Japanese Breakfast.

Some of the band’s best-known songs, including “Road Head,” “Boyish,” and “Diving Woman,” are included in the 2017 release, Soft Sounds From Another Planet. Most recently, Japanese Breakfast debuted the album Jubilee, which led to their appearance on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon. 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=znaFNKZO2IY

Japanese Breakfast actually got ‘Jimmy Fallon Big’ in March 2021

The band partially named one song, “Jimmy Fallon Big,” after the New York City-based talk show host. However, the late-night personality took on extra meaning for Japanese Breakfast thanks to a friend of Zauner. 

“I wrote this song about the bass player of Little Big League,” Zauner said during an interview with NPR. “He’d been offered a better touring gig, and so he sat me down at my kitchen table and told me he had to quit the band because this other band were going to be ‘Jimmy Fallon big.’” 

Little Big League has since paused its music production, with the band’s last release, Tropical Jinkx, premiering in 2014. Japanese Breakfast, one of several projects of Zauner, began releasing music in 2016.

“At the time, it felt like losing a brother, and there was this shame, feeling like I was never going to get there myself,” she continued. “Funny enough, he now plays bass in Japanese Breakfast! Now we just need to play Jimmy Fallon, and the cycle will be complete!”

In March 2021, that dream became a reality for Japanese Breakfast, with Zauner and the rest of the band performing “Jimmy Fallon Big” and “Be Sweet” on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon.

“Be Sweet” is included in the June 2021 release, Jubilee, which later earned Japanese Breakfast a Grammy nomination in the Best Alternative Music Album category. Additionally, Zauner/Japanese Breakfast scored a Grammy nomination in the Best New Artist category.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vok63vFHRtU

Japanese Breakfast’s Michelle Zauner wrote the best-selling memoir ‘Crying in H Mart’

Zauner is also a best-selling author. The “Paprika” singer detailed several life experiences in the memoir Crying in H Mart, which debuted at No. 2 on The New York Times‘ Best Sellers List. The novel discussed the artist’s relationship with her mother, as well as her tumultuous start in the music industry. 

With Japanese Breakfast, Zauner finally got a chance to perform in Korea, having several family members present in the venue. Music by Japanese Breakfast, including the 2021 release Jubilee, is available on most major streaming platforms.

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