Tuesday, November 9, 2010

JYJ's Mini Album "The..." - Lest We Forget

So recently, the three now ex-members of Korean superstar boy band Dong Bang Shi Ki (DBSK/TVXQ/Tohoshinki), Jaejoong, Junsu and Yoochun, released their international English EP, "The Beginning." The general consensus on it was, "Yay that the boys are back but the songs could have been better, especially the lead single." I decided then to go back to find their first real release as a trio, the Japanese EP titled The... to remind myself (and anyone who stumbles across this blog post) that our boys are still capable of making quality tracks. Check them out after the jump!

1. With You Always (Itsudatte Kimi Ni)

2. Get Ready

3. Long Way

4. W (This Isn't Goodbye)

As I listened to this, a few things came to mind:

- All the songs on this are pretty good. Definitely more Asian pop, and much less Western than The Beginning. I think it's a lot more interesting musically than The Beginning, which makes sense because my boredom with Western music was what sent me running to Asian pop in the first place. I'm now beginning to see why the two EPs are so different to me quality-wise.

- Were the creative teams on both albums the same? Why go for the sleek suited up look for the Japanese market, and the crazy yet oh-so-Asian fashion for the international CD? Shouldn't it be the other way around?

- Were they actually targeting the US market with The Beginning? Or were they looking at a more global audience - one that didn't necessarily have a Western sensibility? If so, can we really criticize them for not catering to a US audience, especially with the "Ayy Girl" video? Is it a bad thing to think that America <b>isn't</b> the center of the universe?

- Who exactly do we blame for The Beginning? I actually don't think it's that's bad, but if I had to pick a culprit, I'd blame Kanye West and Rodney Jerkins. I don't know whether it was because everyone was on a tight schedule, or whether they just didn't care enough, but from their own work and the work of other artists, it's obvious that both of them could have done a LOT better. Did they not care because the results had no effect on their careers which are solidly based in the American market? Was Kanye West more concerned about his upcoming album than people who came to him to help them get a foothold in the international market? Is Rodney Jerkins getting too old to make good music? Were they just unsure as to what to do with the talents JYJ presented them with? Why do I seem to be the only one blaming them and not JYJ or their management? If you asked Kanye to do a track for you, and it didn't come out all that good, would you turn it down? Or stick with it, because you hope that having Kanye's name attached to your project will drum up more interest and help you get your name out there? Seriously - what would you do?

- I wonder what JYJ and their management thought about the album; whether to them, having well known producers work on the album was worth more than having stellar tracks on it. That's what it seems like. And I can't really blame them - JYJ's still in court with SM, and the Korean music industry has banned them from promoting, making it an unfavorable environment. They're not really making a lot of money right now (and Korean entertainers don't make all that much to begin with). So putting out an album that people in the global music world will pay attention to due to the names attached to it trumps quality, because at least they won't be broke. Then again, I suppose they could always sell their nice cars if they're hungry.

- Is JYJ's management capable of taking on the task they've attempted to do? Their worldwide showcase
tour has been fraught with cancellations, rescheduling and general organizational trouble, and they're being railed on as fans are generally feeling let down by JYJ's comeback. Can they support these artists at this difficult time, and help them to remain respected artists in the Korean and global music spheres?

Lots of questions, not many answers. But I think questions are more helpful than answers anyway - they make people think.

This was a long, rambling, not very meaningful post. Apologies. I hope you at least enjoyed the music though!

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