Marty Friedman Addresses One Major Issue With USA Mainstream Hits, Explains Why Total Perfection ’Can Be Very Boring’

Recently, former Megadeth guitar player Marty Friedman got back to the United States for his first tour in the country after about four years, supporting Queensrÿche. Friedman, who’s been living in Japan for a while now, reflected on what it was like to listen to some of the mainstream music in the US. Taking to his social media, the guitarist made a few interesting conclusions after getting back in touch with American pop music. He said:

“Ok gang, I’ve been on tour in the USA for a week now and I’ve heard more American music in that week than in the last year or so in Japan. I have to say, that I like a lot of it. The songwriting, arrangements, and performances are great, and it’s easy to see why songs are hits.”

“Of course everything is on the [grid], perfectly tuned and quantized, but that has been the norm in the US for a couple decades now.

Going deeper into the matter, Marty particularly focused on the vocals and how they tend to be processed in the US. Additionally, he explained how it all compares to his experience with mainstream music in Japan. Marty said:

“Speaking generally, the main difference between USA mainstream hits and those in Japan, is the way vocals are tuned. In the USA, you have excellent vocalists, and their performances are tuned to absolute perfection. In Japan, a great vocalist is nice but the magic of a particular singers unique, and slightly vulnerable voice is far more revered, regardless of the singer’s vocal abilities.

Of course, Japanese singers also do their fair share of pitch editing. But as Marty points out, there’s still a noticeable difference between the two cultures. He continued:

“Of course Japanese vocals are also tuned, but only to the point of fixing small pitch nuances that are unacceptable. The concept of ‘heta-uma’ (a voice that is not so good, but has a magic to it that is far more attractive than pristine vocal technique) is alive and well in Japan.”


What’s really interesting is that Marty also reflected on the aspect of vulnerability. Allowing your imperfect human side to be heard isn’t a bad thing at all when done the right way. He continued:

“This is one thing I love about Japanese music. A perfect vocal performance is nice but ultimately can be very boring. A ‘weaker’ more vulnerable voice sets of a subliminal desire to want to ‘root for’ or ‘support’ the singer.

“This is HUGE in Japanese music. If the singer is boldly nailing super strong vocals, in a powerful fashion, it is impressive, but it also sends a huge message like ‘I don’t nee your help.’

MARTY FRIEDMAN (Live) on Robbs MetalWorks 2023

“Ultimately it is a matter of taste, there is no good or bad in music or art. For me though, I am so happy that I discovered the magic of ‘heta-uma,’ because it allows you to enjoy music on a level that reflects your personal taste exactly, rather than judging the ability of a vocalist. BTW this goes for other instruments as well.

“You know what I mean?”

Yes, Marty, we know what you mean. But what we really want is to know is when you’re going to guest on a Megadeth show again. Recently, while his old band was touring Japan, Friedman joined Dave Mustaine and the guys, confirming rumors that were flying all over the internet. For this occasion, he joined Megadeth for three songs — “Countdown to Extinction”, “Tornado of Souls”, and “Symphony of Destruction.”

In a recent interview, Marty was asked what it was like to get back with Dave Mustaine and perform live again and what was the most challenging part about it. He said:

“It was less challenging and more like that innocent and pleasant anxious feeling you might get when getting ready to go out with a drop-dead stunner. If there was any challenge at all, I guess it would be playing the solos the way the fans remember them, which is something I wanted to do.“

“My playing has evolved so much since those songs came out, and there are so many nuances I would naturally do differently now. I had to resist the urge to play it like I would in 2023 and stick to the original way.”

Megadeth: Budokan Preshow. Reuniting with Marty for the first time in 23 years!

“For example, in a couple of those songs, I entered the solo on the downbeat, with the first note being the root of the chord. I would definitely avoid both of those things now, but apparently, I was fine with it back then!“

Another interesting thing is that we got the chance to see Marty Friedman and Kiko Loureiro share the stage. These two guitar giants were a sight to see — and hear. Asked about approaching these three songs was while sharing the stage with Kiko Loureiro was, he replied:

“Kiko was kind enough to mirror Dave’s parts, so for me, it was very much like it was when I was in the band, only with the rhythms in stereo. He did come up with some neat harmonies to some of my lines in ‘Countdown to Extinction.’”

Marty Friedman - Guitar Audition For Megadeth

Asked about how he compares to Kiko, Marty replied:

“I’m not so great at comparing guitarists, but I can tell you that Kiko is a wonderful player with a wide variety of brilliant techniques and an incredibly versatile musical sense under his belt. I think he brings something fantastic and important to the band. I think we both have an interest in ‘gypsy’ motifs in common, but we construct melodies in a different way. I like his playing a lot.”

Photo: Shadowgate (Marty Friedman 28)


  • David Slavkovic

    David always planned for music to be nothing more than a hobby. However, after a short career as an agricultural engineer he ended up news editor at KillerGuitarRigs, senior editor at, as well as a freelance contributor to online magazines such as GuitaristNextdoor.