Jamiroquai: Where's he now? Pimpin' instant ramen in Japan

Well, I suppose we all have to pay the rent. In the Japanese television commercial embedded above, Jamiroquai's Jay Kay sings an alternate version of the band's '90s funkyraver smash hit "Virtual Insanity" in which the lyrics have been changed to praise the noodly goodness of Cup Noodle instant ramen (known in the USA as "Cup Noodles").

Virtual insanity, indeed! Here is the official Cup Noodle campaign site. (via watashi no tokyo, via Gavin Purcell)



  1. You haven’t hit it big until you advertise products in Japan. Didn’t Arnold Schwarzenegger do energy drink ads back in the 90s?

    1. Pretty much every big Western star has done commercials in Japan, and until you started seeing videos on the Web, most Westerners didn’t know about them. David Bowie did a Japan-only single, “Crystal Japan”, back in the late seventies, that he’d originally used in a sake commercial. (According to the Wikipedia article, he didn’t write it specifically for the commercial, contrary to what I’d believed all these years.)

  2. As a massive, massive Jamiroquai fan I am certain this isn’t Jay Kay singing and they CGed a mouth in toward the end when it was obvious he wasn’t saying Cup Noodle. And where is he now? On the verge of releasing an album, touring Europe… they don’t get play in the states (sadly) but the rest of the world appreciates them.

  3. It’s a neat ad – I think they are really moving the set back and forth rather than CGI (except for the raven). He’s saying a little bit more in Japanese than that – I can hear the word for “eat”….

  4. Jamiroquai is the name of the band (and a very talented band at that), not the dude. The dude’s name is Jay Kay and he’s the white Stevie Wonder.

  5. I gotta agree with batchild, it doesn’t sound like him singing when the lyrics change.

    An odd choice for a ramen ad. I guess the song is old enough now to fall into the nostalgia category?

    1. Lilah, this song was bigger in Japan than just about anywhere else. It features regularly in the top 10 of Japanese all-time favorite music surveys.

  6. @iamcantaloupe … “white Stevie Wonder”: if by that you mean he’s white and he’s borrowed Stevie Wonder’s sound.. you’re right. Hardly a feat, though, on either count.

  7. Back in the 90’s Noel Gallagher about how Liam walked up all casual to Jay Kay in the bathroom at the wall stalls..

    While they were both peeing, Liam leans over right in Jay Kay’s ear and sings at the top of his lungs “DWEE DIDDLEY DOO DEET DEET DAH DAH!”

    Apparently Jay Kay then pissed all over himself.

  8. I bet this video makes the members of OK Go weep. Ingenious device + brilliant choreography = the viral video that got away.

  9. He’s the fastest star in a reasonably priced car. It’s pretty much all downhill from there.

    1. Can’t believe they let him come back after he wouldn’t let Clarkson borrow his Enzo. What could have possibly gone wrong?

  10. And people wonder why I watch a fair amount of TV in Japan when I don’t even own one in the US. One hour setting in front of the TV and you can see Jamiroquai pimping cup noodle, Brad Pitt and Cameron Diaz selling cell phones, Tommy Lee Jones selling canned coffee (as an alien!), and Kiefer Sutherland (as Jack Bauer) selling energy bars.

  11. Let’s not forget Bruce Willis:


    Ben Stiller:

    I do not understand either one of these commercials.

    1. It’s so widespread, they parodied/homaged (is that a word?) it in Lost in Translation (Bill Murray’s homage/parody of all the 007s was Priceless!), and of course in Mr Baseball (Tom Selleck). I think Xeni’s intimation that Jay Kay has fallen on hard times because of this is put to the test by everyone’s examples of so many other big name/big earning stars doing the same thing, as themselves. As an Australian (back when I watched more TV) I was very used to seeing big US names trying to sell me things. I mean, P Diddy shilling face cream?

  12. Jamiroquai, Japan and Jardin make an almost perfect alliterated column on my screen.

    Also, yeah, I’ve seen “Making of Virtual Insanity”, they really were just moving the set – for amazing results.

  13. Whatever his reasons for doing the ad, I’m sure it wasn’t because he needed the money to pay rent. They guy has money. And cars. Numerous exotic, valuable, cars.

  14. If they make a butter flavored ramen, this opens up the possibility of a Johnny Rotten/Jamiroquai duet.

  15. When the original ‘Virtual Insanity’ came out, I was in college consuming a significant amount of Cup Noodles. Coincidence? I think this song was destined to sell ramen

  16. Euchhhh, the most derivative music ever. Never the white Stevie Wonder, Stevie has talent.

  17. I had a Japanese girlfriend that loooved this band. What are they doing now? I ask ‘What’s she doing now?’. . .Ah Takeuchi Kumi-chan, Kiotsukete ne~

  18. I wonder if Jonathan Glazer had anything to say about this commercial…
    I bet he’s not exactly happy about his video being used to sell instant ramen.

  19. The lead vocal switches halfway through to a Japanese singer with excellent Japanese pronunciation, less reverb, and a thinner huskier voice.

  20. Look closely at his mouth when the voice changes. It looks a lot like the mouths those soul-crushingly terrifying babies on those ETrade commercials. It’s entirely possible that the dude in question had nothing to do with this commercial . . . whoever owns the rights to the video could have licensed them to Cup Noodle without having to involve Jay Kay at all.

  21. I went to his concert in Tokyo when he had his Virtual Insanity hit. Never felt so cheated in my life. The front line was held 10m back from the stage and he was on a 2-3m elevated platform obscuring him from the knees down. Half the performance was blocked by on stage cameras filming the event and he spent more time mugging to them than to the paying crowd. He already had our cash.. his sights were obviously set on the DVD income.

    Occasionally one of the super-bright searchlights set up for the cameras would shine in our faces and just hang there for a dozen seconds causing everyone to close their eyes or look away until it moved. The law for performances in Japan stipulates 90 minutes and true enough… on minute 90 he ran off the stage, no encore. Everyone booed.

    I was interested to see what the music reviews wrote about that concert in comparison to my (and the crowds) experience. I was mildly pleased to see that rather than lying they just deemed it unworthy of coverage, finding only one lukewarm article. Don’t upset the big boys!

    I did notice he had his “hat” elaborately wired onto his head so it didn’t come off. (snark) I suspect that’s coz he’s bald.

  22. How could anyone think this sounds like Jay? The voice is so much more thin and nasal. The singer’s delivery (even on the English bits) is completely devoid of soul.

    That said, any international Jamiroquai fans got an update on the new album? In the US, we have to hunt for details.

  23. I never understood the attraction to Jamiroquai. Just another white guy who could sing like a black guy: Elvis, Jay Kay, Justin Timberlake…

    As for the music at that time my tastes pretty much stuck along the lines of Beethoven, Shostakovich, and the Swans.

    Cup Noodles on the other hand… I seriously cannot eat that stuff anymore. I get sick just looking at a cup of it. When I was super broke and the only money I had I spent on bills and food for my dogs, I lived off Cup Noodles for several months. Nasty disgusting shit. I guess it was better than mixing chicken bouillon with hot water as a meal a day for weeks at a time, but not much better.

    1. “Just another white guy who could sing like a black guy”

      What the hell does that even mean? Less about the singers and more about you, I would think.

  24. to give it a full translation:

    he actually says:

    I’m hungry
    I’m hungry
    I’m hungry
    I can eat 5!
    Anything else sucks.
    Anything else sucks,
    apart from cup noodle.

    1. Thankyou, I’d never actually seen that before.
      And now I’ve seen it 20 times
      *clicks PLAY again*

  25. Artist critique aside, the real song is damned catchy. I don’t think the commercial manages to capture that at all >:/

  26. This is pretty common; I’d like to see a product placement video between Jay Kay and Moby.

  27. yeeeeah I dont think he’s too worried about paying the rent, he’s pretty alright for dough I think

    More likely he thought ‘this is another 3 classic sportscars for the collection for an afternoon’s work!’

  28. He’s just boring. The most interesting thing is definitely that link above where he gets all British TMZ on some photog that ends up giving him a pretty good headbutt.

    As for that particular link, I still think the photogs are just as greasy grimey as Jay Kay, but no more, either.

    That video (minus that watered down crap he calls music) is the only thing that band has ever created that’s worth a second look. It’s a very awesome concept, props to the director.

  29. In the face of all this hate, I will go on record saying that I really like Jamiroqai. I saw them in concert back in the day at Bimbo’s 365 club, thoroughly enjoyed the show, and danced my ass off.

    Stars doing commercials in Japan (as pointed out above) are very common. They pay huge fees depending on the artist (Tom Cruise gets millions for a couple hours’ work) and agree the ads will not run in other countries.

Comments are closed.