Sunday, October 30, 2011

The Evolution of A Mad Soul Child

[So I wrote this post waaaay back but completely forgot to publish it, and only realized it after the lead singer of this group collaborated with Tablo on his comeback track, "Bad". No time to blog about that awesomeness, but check out my Twitter for my thoughts on that, and enjoy this post about a little-known (in mainstream k-pop fandom) yet completely awesome group.]

Source: MTV Iggy

Today I'd like to share with you an awesome group that I've been listening to for a while, but never got around to writing about. Mad Soul Child are an electro-pop group made up of DJ Chanwoo, vocalist Jinsil, and music video director VJ Kwon. Their combined prowess in visual art, music production and singing makes then a serious triple threat, but what stood out about them to me was their versatility when it comes to their music.

The first single of theirs I heard was "Beautiful Day", a single released for a Calvin Klein Jeans campaign featuring three members of f(x). The song is a twangy acoustic track that I instantly fell in love with. I also like how this promo video was shot - I think the quirkiness of the shoot and the song match up pretty well.



You can find the full song on Grooveshark along with the English version, "Get Out".

After listening to this, I went back to see what else they had done. I found their OST track for the hit Won Bin movie, Ajusshi (The Man From Nowhere) which is very different from "Beautiful Day". Jinsil's voice is mournful and plaintive, very different from the more cynical tone she sang with in the last track. It starts out with a sad piano, and then gets accompanied by guitar and drums, making it a wonderfully melancholy rock ballad.



Finally, I came to their own album, Lalala, released in 2009. I was definitely not expecting them to be an electro pop group, but I was excited: I had been looking for more Korean electro groups since Clazziquai have been on hiatus. Their style is very different from Clazziquai's, but equally amazing and just as dancey. Check out the video for "VIP Girl" below, which showcases their visual and musical style:



I gotta say, I absolutely love Jinsil. Her voice is very distinctive, but she makes it work for every sound they throw at her. My favorite track of theirs is "Ask" which sees her taking on the more melancholy sound seen in "Dear" with an awesomely spacey instrumental:



They've made a name for themselves not only in the Korean indie scene, but also abroad: They were among the first Korean bands invited to play at New York's CMJ Music Festival, and toured the US with Seoulsonic in 2010. MTV Iggy even named them one of the 25 Best New Bands In The World for 2010. Now all we have to do is wait until they drop some more awesomeness on us - hopefully soon.

If you're looking for more electronic music from Korea outside of staples like Clazziquai, then I highly recommend Idiotape, who were part of this year's Seoulsonic tour (check out this awesome clip of them from the tour); EE, who are primarily audio-visual artists and have done some really cool work; and Telepathy, who are kind of electro-rock.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Let's Get Ready to Rumble! October Girl Group Comebacks Part 1

Finally something to bring me out of the silence. I have been itching to write about SNSD's impending comeback for a while, so I figure I should get a headstart before the MV actually drops - I have a few things to say about it already, lol. Starting with the photos...


So Yoona is probably my least favorite member of this group, competing with Jessica for last place. Nothing about her is particularly bad, but nothing is particularly good either. She's good at being pretty... and that's kinda it. She also has decent dance skills, but that's hardly a claim to fame in an industry chock full of great dancers. This photo, however, is great. I love how she holds the foil like she's going to slice you open with it at any second. It actually reminds me of this photo of Kristen Stewart, for a number of reasons: the styling, the fact that I don't quite see why they're popular people, but liking the badassness on them anyway...


Though now that I look at it, Yoona's photo also reminds me of this photo of Charlize Theron, which gives her even more cool points.


It's kind of disappointing though, that hers was the only other photo I liked out of all the promo photographs. They're gorgeous, yes, but they're also boring. No life, no emotion. When Yoona's pwning the rest of the group at something, you know there's a problem. I was extremely confused at first - usually they're all on the same level of blandness or, occasionally, goodness. This was all explained, however when I found out that the comeback had a "princess" concept.

When I heard that, all my hopes for a fantastically bad-ass comeback went out the window. When I think "princess", I think "girl who is spoiled and babied and doesn't have any skill except being pretty and getting the men she's involved with into lots of trouble." It's the trope that's been presented to us time and time again in books, movies and television series. Princesses are a liability. They never assume the throne unless their older brothers die, and face constant opposition if they fail to marry, or worse, bear a male heir. Thus their value lies solely in how attractive and powerless they are. They're always getting into scrapes like being captured by giants or dragons, and then have to be rescued by valiant men who are only really doing it for the fame, glory and the hot chick's attention. There are, of course, notable exceptions - Princess Fiona from Shrek, for example, and the heroine of the latest Pixar awesomeness, Brave. But those are only two out of a few, compared to the vast canon of stereotypical princess fiction and non-fiction we have out there. Basically it's a ubiquitous trope that really doesn't endow SNSD with any good qualities other than being pretty. I thought we had ditched the passive women thing, girls. What gives?

If the latest video teaser showed anything even mildly different from what I just described, then I might be more excited. But it doesn't:



I'll admit, it's not like they're going back to their "Gee" days. They're clearly stepping into their big-girl heels and I'm extremely happy about that. But the girls in these teasers don't look like the girls who were singing about having power over the boys ("Bad Girl"), or that they would be the ones doing the rescuing ("The Great Escape"). The maturity that SM has finally deemed to give them seems more like a superficial sort of maturity to me, one in which old ideals of passivity in songs like "Gee" and "Oh!" can just be reinforced - sold once again to impressionable young girls only in a different package. Wearing black and looking mean doesn't mean you're strong.

I suppose my expectations, while considerably lowered, are still pretty high for the SM idol mill. Maybe that's why I'm mad. I can definitely say that I wouldn't be so critical of the whole thing if there was some sort of storyline in these videos. These days SM music videos have just been photo slideshows with music in the background - a glorified magazine spread. Where's the creativity? I mean, there was very little substance in k-pop to begin with, but that doesn't mean you can just throw all of it out. I want to like this comeback, but I'm just bored. And no amount of fancy set design or slow-mo camerawork is going to fix that.

As for the track itself, I'm not impressed. I actually find it kind of hilarious that Teddy Riley has become the new big-name producer in Korea when he hasn't had a hit single in the States since the early 90s. I mean, sure he created New Jack Swing, but calling him innovative nowadays would be taking it a bit far. In fact, it sounds like he's just taken the already over-recycled American top 40 radio sound and put it in a new market. Pure laziness, if you ask me. Producers all over the world are constantly working to put out new sounds, and he's just biting from people with a better idea of what's hot right now. If Britney Spears didn't want it, k-pop fans don't want it either, all right?

[Also, it's now clear that he ditched Rania for SM, which kinda bothers me. He defended them and their image from criticism like he really cared, and then left at the drop of a hat for what I'm assuming is a bigger paycheck. So much for loyalty.]

Anyway, all this aside, I'm looking forward to the So Nyu Shi Dae/SECRET Smackdown. SECRET is probably the female equivalent of B2ST in their near-astronomical rise to prominence in the k-pop scene over the last year. They originally caught my attention with their awesomely fierce single, Madonna, and then moved on to the cute to make sure they had a solid grip on the market. Now having made a splash in Japan and become the darlings of Korea while SNSD were away, they're bringing sexy back for their first full album. And when I say sexy, I mean sexy:





Dayum, girls! I thought only the Brown Eyed Girls could pull off that much hotness, but SECRET are making it known that they're going all out for this release. And this? This I can look forward to, because SECRET has done the sexy, and done it in a way that doesn't make me want to puke from the cuteness, or die of boredom. The song may be a little cliched music-wise, but then again Secret hardly ever uses their actual title track in teasers, so I'm still excited for what's to come. They've proven themselves to be dynamic performers and worthy rivals for the queens of military precision, so this is gonna be good. SM will probably win the chart awards, but who will win the crown of hottest girl group around? We'll have to wait and see.

Place your bets, ladies and gentlemen - who's your pick to win the So Nyu Shi Dae/SECRET Smackdown?

Sunday, October 9, 2011

And We Now Have Twitter!

I miss you guys! And I want to keep sharing my thoughts about k-pop and other musics even though I'm too busy to post. So Mixtapes and Liner Notes now has an official Twitter account! Follow me @mellowyel or check out my feed on the sidebar. Still working on the podcast - making sure that you're not breaking any laws is surprisingly difficult to do. But it will happen, I promise. Till then, see you on Twitter!

Friday, September 9, 2011

Dear Readers...

Hey everyone!

It's been a while. I'm sorry for being AWOL for a whole month - I've been really busy and was only reminded by this lovely mention on McRoth's Residence, that I owed you guys a post at least to let you know what was going on with me. I especially want to thank and apologize all the people who've left lovely comments on the blog that I have not replied to - I really really really appreciate your thoughts and clicks!

So this summer, two big things happened that seriously affected my blog writing. The first thing was that Soribada shut down access to its Korean site for foreigners. So no more music cards, no more streaming of full-length tracks unless you have an Korean subscription. Soribada was until then my primary source of new music. I could listen to both k-pop and k-indie, and listen to the full discographies of pretty much any Korean artists. I had this plan to go into the archives and dig up some good classic k-pop from the people we consider legendary today, like Shinhwa and Brown Eyed Girls. Sadly, my rose-colored listening days were cut short, and I am now looking for an alternative to Soribada. Mnet is my next port of call, but downloading and streaming only works with Internet Explorer, and I have a Mac.... safe to say I have a decent amount of tech work to do before I can get the same access to Korean music that I had on Soribada. Because of that, I kinda fell off on the new music front. It's way too much hassle to go through Youtube and then look for bootleg download links. And finally, I've simply found that I find more good music when I look for it myself, as opposed to finding it through other blogs.

Secondly, and perhaps more importantly, I started law school last month. And in order for me to come out of it after three years with a job that will pay for my trip around the world, and help me move this site to its own domain, I have to divest myself a bit from the world of k-pop and blogging for a while. It took me a while to come to grips with the fact that I can't blog like I used to now, since blogging has been so much fun, and a huge part of my life these past two years. But I gotta do what I gotta do!

So here's what's going to happen - I won't be doing review posts anymore (*wails*) at least until get my computer hooked up with Internet Explorer and figure out how to listen to music on Mnet. Secondly, my social commentary posts will also decrease in number. Basically I won't be writing unless there's something particularly catching my interest, or something massive happens. I hate to do it, but I just don't have the time. Thirdly (and here comes that silver lining), is that I will be launching a Mixtapes and Liner Notes podcast (!!!), hopefully by the end of the month, but definitely before the end of October. I'm thinking right now it'll be a monthly podcast, though that might go up to a fortnightly podcast if it turns out to take less time than I anticipate right now. Not sure exactly what form it'll take right now, but I'll try to keep it more music, less talk (as they say on the radio) and hopefully start expanding my scope past k-pop, because good music is global, y'all!

And, YOU get to be a part of this too! If there's a song or an album you want me to talk about or to feature in the podcast, let me know in the comments section. I'll probably put one of those question boxes in the side bar as well so that you can send requests that way as well. Mind you, I won't be able to put all of them in the podcasts at once, and for the first few ones I'll probably be working with what I have in my iTunes library right now, but I want to know what you guys are listening to and loving these days. It'll help me keep up with the latest music, and also make the podcats more interactive, which I would really like. So let me know, guys!

Alright ladies and gents, gotta get into to the kitchen and start cooking up some audio awesomeness for you all. Thank you so so so much for reading my blog, and please stick with me as I try to get a useful degree and still deliver some good music and good writing to you all :)

Love loads,
Mellowyel



Sunday, August 14, 2011

Shoujo Jidai (少女時代) over So Nyu Shi Dae (소녀시대)


I write a crap ton about 2NE1 on this blog, if you didn't know already. Today I'd like to switch gears and write about their anti-thesis, Girl's Generation (hereafter SNSD). I don't really want to talk about the negative aspects of their overly cutesy image, because that's a dead and buried horse that needn't be exhumed for beating. Rather, I'd like to examine their Japanese promotional material in light of their Korean material and see if I can't construct a more sympathetic view of Asia's most loved, and possibly the international k-pop audience's most maligned girl group.

So this post basically began when I saw SNSD's most recent Japanese music video, "Bad Girl" (embedded below). The video itself is nothing to write home about, but I was surprised at the return to the "dark" concept they used for "Run Devil Run". More than that though, I realized that the song was actually pretty good, and that I hadn't actually given their Japanese album a proper listen. And now I was curious - could this album actually contain more than one good track?



I listened to it, and two main things stuck out to me: firstly, the slightly dark, glitchy electro-pop vibe of the entire thing, save their previous hits recorded in Japanese. This is not a sound that I expected from Korea's golden girls. It's not even something I expect from any Korean artist - it was very, very j-pop, and very in keeping with material put out by artists like Crystal Kay and Namie Amuro - pop with an edge. I was surprised they even bothered to record new Japanese material. The Japanese versions of their megahits "Gee" and "Genie" seemed all that they needed to conquer the market at first, but maybe they really want to be seen as Japanese artists, like their predecessors DBSK and BoA. Secondly, the music was good! And consistent! I thought it was just me, but most other reviews I've read have said pretty much the same thing, so I know I'm not alone here (unlike in my weird affection for "Gee" despite hating the concept). They really stepped up their game music-wise - I guess we have Universal Japan to thank for that. (For a proper review of the album, check out these ones over at Random J Pop and Call Me Patricia.)

Delving further into their promotions, another thing I noticed was the clear image change that accompanied the album. "Run Devil Run" and "Hoot" seemed to be attempts to move the girls into a more mature image, but for the promotion of their Japanese material, it seems that they've embraced it fully. Less gimmick, more style. I recommend checking out the lyrics to the songs to see this fully, since I can't post every song here in the interest of brevity (here's a Youtube account with great videos and translations). A great example though is this performance of "The Great Escape" (my favorite track off the album) and "Mr Taxi" from MTV Video Music Aid Japan:



There I was thinking, oh it'll be all girly like "Show Show Show" but then I saw the wide leg spread dance (!), what I like to call the "bend and snap" move (thank you, Elle Woods), and not an "oppa", pout or wiggle in sight. They went for the sexy. Not the "we're so adorable" sexy that you see in "Oh", but a realer sort of sexy. While the moves I just described are the mechanical markers of sexiness (often over-exploited by Korean female performers in the name of concept) there's more to this performance. The choreography is looser, allowing them to interpret it for themselves and show their personalities a bit more. They're confident on the stage - they don't look like they've performed this song 50 times over and just want it to be done with. They smile and stare down their audience as the mood takes them, not because they have to in order to sell their concept. All of those things add another dimension to the performance - it gives it life, so to speak - and so few k-pop artists manage to achieve that. They own their performance - not in a "they killed it" way, but in a "this is our music and our selves on stage, not just something someone told us to perform". It makes me want to go up there and dance and sing along with them. I love this performance. I also love the stage, the outfits, the camera and camerawork. Like, can the Korean TV stations step up their game? Immediately?

So after recovering a bit from my utter shock, I began to ask questions: why is it that SNSD chose to debut their new, less gimmicky mature image in Japan and not in Korea, where the majority of their fanbase resides? Why is it that their best non-single release to date (in my opinion) has been released on foreign shores? With regards to their image, it could just be timing - they've been a group for about four years now, and with none of them in their teens anymore, maybe it was just time to grow up. It could also be the market - specifically one that doesn't amass as much revenue and attention by simply being adorable, and places more of an emphasis on the quality of the music as compared to the Korean market because of the longer promotion cycle in the Japanese music industry. I'm more at ease with this thought because as much as I'd like to think that SM is letting their girls be young women, I also know that the album's sound is exactly what's hot in j-pop right now, and could just be a smart business move as opposed to an attempt to push the SNSD out of the pre-teen/teen years. Cute gets them in the door, while mature makes them real competition for their Japanese counterparts. And then they return to the cute to keep their original fans happy.


For the girls themselves then, maybe there's an advantage to promoting in Japan. Not just the lack of constant variety appearances and music show schedules, and being able to make their money (fulfill their contracts) without completely burning out, but they don't have to keep to the uber-cute image, which two of the members have stated that they're uncomfortable with (here and here). They can be sexy, without hiding it under pink frills and baby voices to please the older male fans* and can worry less about conservative k-netizens kicking up a fuss.

So much of what they've done in Japan would never fly in Korea, especially with the Korean Cultural Commission banning songs and performances left and right. Not only the "wide leg-spread" dance and some other moves from the "Great Escape" choreo, but also the line "You're the gin inside my tonic" from "you-aholic", and the crop-tops and booty shorts from "Bad Girl". Granted, SM probably has the TV producers in their back pocket and could get away with nudity with only a slap on the wrist or a belated ban after they've raked in most of the money. But Korea want their idols to be role models, and won't let them even hint their sexuality in any way unless they lose potential revenue due to negative press. Public opinion means everything in Korean entertainment, while there seems to be more freedom, particularly on issues of sexuality, in Japan. So it makes sense that we would see more varied images of women in the foreign k-pop industry than in the local one.

This makes me wary for their Korean comeback. There's a possibility that SNSD might retain the improved songwriting and vocals (Seohyun and Jessica I see you!), but I don't see them bringing back the sexy to Korean shores. That may mean that they don't recycle Japanese songs into Korea, but considering the Japanese album came out in June, and they're releasing a full album in Korea in September, I'm not holding my breath. So while Girls' Generation, due to their popularity and exposure, are perfectly positioned to shake up the female images k-pop gives us, there's not a lot of chance that they actually will.


To be honest, I think that in a way I am actually a fan of Girls' Generation, despite their super-aegyo image, since I follow their work and choose to focus on only the material I like. I'm glad to see them tapping into the potential I suspected was there hidden behind the aegyo through their Japanese work. And, despite their image, their music is catchy and well produced, and the girls are fun to watch and listen to. However, in order for them to really resonate with me as artists and performers, they need to be more than paper dolls who fit any ideas - good or bad - that SM decides to slap onto them. And right now, SM just isn't giving them the room to do that. It'll be interesting to see if in the future they stick with SNSD and SM, or choose to move in a different direction.

What I'm most curious about, then, is YG's announcement that he's got a Girls Generation-esque group in the works. Will they also be simply a vehicle for endless rotating concepts, providing pretty faces and voices to make them marketable? Will they take on the cute as their mantra, as 2NE1 has taken on the fierce as theirs? Or will they be something else entirely? We can only wait and see.

*So every time someone mentions girl group's "ahjussi fans", I get suspicious. Not only is their little proof of it in any English-language source I've come across, or on music shows, I don't see why men in their 30s and 40s would spend considerable money on music or merchandise related to a young teen pop star, no matter how gorgeous. That's stuff for pre-teens mostly (and possibly young adults due to the slow growing process of Korea's youth). My current theory is that these "men in their 30s and 40s" aren't the people who are going to buy the albums, but the industry executives and television producers who will scout SNSD for CFs and music and variety show appearances. Because without that exposure, SNSD wouldn't have the huge fanbase they have right now, which seems to be more female than male, even with the deep-voiced fan chants on music shows. Either that, or they choose to market to the population that ostensibly has the most disposable income, thus reducing the value of the younger female consumers who seem to drive the k-pop industry. Thus they market to their ideal audience, and not the real audience, and thus preventing that audience from demanding/accessing content that actually appeals to them.( I prefer the first theory, but the second doesn't seem so far out to me.)

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

HyunA vs Hyun-ah: Deconstructing Korea's Sexy Idol


I feel bad for this girl sometimes. I think that she's the single most-scrutinized girl group member in the whole of K-pop. And why? Because she can pop her butt like few can. Therefore you get people calling her a slut, a tramp, etc etc because her company decides to take advantage of this particular skill of hers. *sigh. Just another day in the world of female performance.

For those of you who don't know what I'm talking about, check out this video of HyunA's latest single, "Bubble Pop", and if you care to, read the comments on the Youtube page:



EDIT: As of today, HyunA will no longer be promoting "Bubble Pop", as the choreography and costumes have been deemed too suggestive to air. The video will be pulled from the air too. Well, not like we didn't see this coming, but they sure took their time with it. The "wide-leg-spread dance" fiasco happened the very week Rania debuted with "Dr. Feel Good", and a week after 4minute came back with "Mirror Mirror".

While I don't particularly care for HyunA - what I like to think of as her "performer"side - I have a soft spot for Kim Hyun-ah, the real girl behind the image, because I see the vitriol that swims to the surface any time she does anything that's mildly suggestive, and I feel for her. Granted, most of the time she's being very suggestive, but she doesn't deserve to be called a "slut" or a "whore" or "dirty". Whether or not you think she is morally sound, you shouldn't attack her so viciously simply because she don't ascribe to your life standards.

Another reason why I hate the insults is that they're clearly confounding her stage persona and her real life persona. Most performers purposefully create fictional versions of themselves to present on stage, and from what I know of k-pop, this phenomenon is very present. The idols themselves even acknowledge it in a way, as they always want to show "a different side of themselves" to their audience either through variety shows or constantly changing "concepts". It's obvious to anyone that their images are manufactured in order to create the most appeal and therefore the most revenue. So it makes no sense to judge their character due to their performances when more often than not, they're not really like that in real life.

It's particularly silly to call Hyun-ah or HyunA a slut. The dictionary definition of slut is "[a woman] who is promiscuous, or has loose sexual morals". While her dancing is suggestive, her lyrics are decidedly not. "Change" was all about changing up your style and not worrying about other people's opinions, while "Bubble Pop" is about her deciding to do what she wants despite what her boyfriend might think. I don't see how this indicates that she sleeps around in any way. And we don't know what goes on in her personal life (frankly it's none of our business) so any judgement of her real self from her music and videos is based purely on speculation, and is therefore groundless.




What do we know about Hyun-ah though? From watching her appearances on variety shows, it would appear that she actually makes an effort to distance herself from her sexpot stage persona. If you look at her dance performances on variety shows, she often avoids doing the standard sexy dance (best exemplified in this video of Rainbow's Jaekyung) and tries to do dances involving more complicated choreography:





(She's not the only idol to do this: Kahi of After School also makes a point to do things differently when asked to perform on variety shows, taking on challenging choreography and playing acoustic guitar instead of simply wowing us with her "sexy aura" [lol].)

When she does do the standard choreography - particularly in the examples I've found, her "Change" dance - she's reluctant and embarrassed:







Notice how in the first and last video she goes all out for the performance itself, but turns into a shy, embarrassed girl right afterwards. Clearly, she's not just a "slut".

I'm inclined to construct a more complicated image of Hyun-ah the girl, based on what I know about the k-pop industry, and what I've seen of her from TV. She is definitely not afraid to be sexy, otherwise her sexy dances would look much less convincing or appealing. As I've said before, I believe a performer needs to connect on some level with whatever they're performing in order to be good. And despite what you think of her, you have to admit Hyun-ah is a sick performer. Her confidence and charisma is really what makes her stand out, not the booty-popping. After being reminded during the Rania debacle that the k-pop industry is more than willing to use sex in order to make money, I wouldn't be surprised if her constant booty-popping is encouraged by her management in order to maintain her popularity. Though her pelvic thrust dance from "Change" was a pelvic thrust dance, I find it to be much less provocative than Rania's version, as well as a lot of the ones you see the male idols doing. Yet that was what established her as a "sexy idol", and pretty much established how she would be perceived by the public and marketed by her agency - as a sexy girl existing purely for your entertainment. She does the sexy dance, but it's SBS's cameras that zoom in on her butt and crotch. And that's what gets them, her and her company paid.

If anything, that's the reason I'm not a fan of HyunA - I feel that she's selling herself short by sticking to the booty popping, and we're all keeping her from reaching her potential by constantly praising her for it and not challenging her to do more than that. Even if it was just working on her rapping, or getting proper vocal training or just doing more interesting choreo - either one of these things would elevate her as a performer. Yet she sticks to drawing in scandals galore instead. Whether she does it because she's bound by contract, or because she actually likes it, I just don't think it's a good choice for her on a professional level. It's all well and good to capitalize on your popularity, but you should at least show a desire to constantly improve and develop yourself regardless of what the public is buying right now.

Quoted from allkpop's review of her mini-album:

HyunA isn’t loved by everyone, but to her credit, at least she continues to be herself, whether we like it or not. She relishes the idea of acting in overly sexual ways, and while she was full of drive a year ago, now she’s teasing listeners and on-lookers with a sexy song masked by novelty gloss.

The album as a whole makes little sense as an entity, but it breaks up into the pieces that have come to define HyunA: it’s partly saucy, partly gimmicky and dubious, and above all, blatantly artificial.

Yet, that’s exactly what works for her and from the get-go, she’s owned it. She may lose street cred for sounding like a complete robot in her ‘raps’, and for groaning through most of her songs, but she at least wins some brownie points for not giving a crap about it and carrying on.

This conclusion presents us with four key points: (1) that Hyun-ah enjoys being an oversexed doll (2) that this image is pretty much how she is in real life; (3) that her persona is completely manufactured; and (4) that she carries on with it despite what people think. From the evidence I've already given, I think I've proved that #1 and #2 are at best assumption, and quite possibly false. #3 not only contradicts #1 and #2, but is also obvious and something that everyone who wants to discuss Hyun-ah as an artist or a person should keep in mind. And #4 is something we can never really know for sure. Does she continue to do it because she doesn't care about being called a slut? Or because she's contractually obligated to? Or because she actually is promiscuous and isn't ashamed to be who she is? I think the evidence given proves that the answers to all those questions are dubious at best, so we shouldn't try to put her in any box, but rather accept her complexity as we are presented it. This, of course, the goal of writing all this and other posts on women in k-pop: it's to allow for and encourage more positive and complex and less stereotypical representations of women in k-pop that are true to the experiences of real women and those of the women who perform these representations.




P.S. If this post is TL;DR for you, check out Ellie from Seoulbeats/AATheory's video review of "Bubble Pop" for a pretty good summary of what I said:



Wednesday, July 20, 2011

2NE1 Releases "Hate You" MV

I've said a lot about the Miss A/2NE1 comparison, but this video basically threw that out. If both videos end with a guy at the feet of the girls he wronged, then they've gotta be on the same wavelength, right?



I think animation is a perfect choice for a 2NE1 video. Their regular videos are already set in this alternate universe where crazy stuff happens, so why not make it even more pop art? It's like this heightened sense of reality all the time, which works for them since they're all about being larger than life anyway.

I gotta say, Mari Kim did a great job on this. I like her evocative pop art style, and somehow that style, the video-game synths, forceful vocal delivery and the action-packed video mesh really well. I can't say if I'd have liked the song as much had it come out separate from the video, but regardless, I'm a fan. It's a huge step up for Teddy in my opinion: it's the first time I've gotten a completely new feeling out of his electro-pop stuff. Usually it's the same gangsta-vibe or crazy pop, but this is definitely different, and complex and great. There's something about the song that makes me glad they didn't leave it in the demo files. There's a realness to it, I guess - an organized chaos that matches that "Hate You" feeling. And, 2NE1's voices are only minimally processed, which is always a good thing.

The international pop community should get off "Bubble Pop"s train and start spreading the 2NE1 love, because this is fantastic and deserves to be noticed. Definitely one of the better k-pop videos of the year so far.

Edit: I only just noticed after hitting the replay button again that Bom is eating corn as she walks through the pub/saloon/bar at 0:53!!! Haha love it :)

Monday, July 18, 2011

Hey, Miss A: "Good Bye Baby" and Songs from A Class

I hate to admit it, but I was actually excited for Miss A's comeback. I blame "Love Alone" for proving to me that someone is actually capable of making great music for these girls. Anyway, their first full album A Class came out last night - it contains all the songs off their previous EPs, as well as four new tracks and one remix. From a personal standpoint, only two of the new songs really stand out to me: Mr. Johnny, a brilliant dance pop track that had me grooving in my pyjamas from the get go, and the title track, "Good Bye Baby", but that's mainly because of the video:



The song on its own doesn't really go anywhere, which was a disappointment - it reminded me a lot of 2PM's "I'll Be Back" in arrangement and style : Half-chorus, short verse, bridge, chorus, short verse, bridge, chorus, rap, bridge (dude, again?) then chorus. It's so similar you could probably make it a 2PM song if you gave it a different beat. Speaking of which - the drums are great, and are probably the best feature of the whole track. The intro where it's just the drums is definitely my favorite part of the track. But despite glimpses of genius, the song isn't all that. Sorry, JYP - you need to let go of your formula and actually be creative for once. I know it's a stretch, but please try.

The video, however, I was impressed with. It's basically what "Run Devil Run" could have been, if SNSD didn't still need to capitalize on their golden girl image. You could of course argue that they decided to take higher ground and not resort to revenge to feel better, but - it is satisfying to see that dude squirm as Miss A takes over his set and terrorizes him for cheating on all of them at the same time. And then, just to drive the point home, that this dude is a complete bastard, he laughs when he realizes that he's been dating the whole group at once, and AGAIN at the end when he realizes that despite their obvious rage, they didn't end up ending him. Instead of him to be thankful for his life. Ugh. Somehow that got me emotionally invested in the whole thing, because it suggests that, unlike the guy who simply finds it amusing, the girls care more about the break-up than they're letting on in the lyrics of the song. It's good visually too, building up to a great climax while the song fails to give us one. As the song draws to its close, we begin to see everything in fast cuts: the water getting up to the guy's nose, lightning flashing, fire burning, and the girls kicking and punching the air as Suzy blows up the set. Nicely done.

Those two songs are my personal favorites, but from a critical standpoint, the new tracks are definitely a step up from their previous work. Most of their older material is forgettable, but the new tracks actually offer me something to come back to. "One to Ten" reminds me of 2NE1's "Love is Ouch" style-wise, and is upbeat and girly in a good way. "Help Me" is has a great 90's R&B vibe, that actually makes it kind of old school k-pop. Huge fan of the pre-chorus on that one. Hyorin should cover it  - it would be ay-may-zing. And the intro to the "Good Bye Baby" remix is amazing. I was definitely disappointed to find it wasn't in the actual track.

All in all, despite not having the most amazing vocals, Miss A manages to deliver an enjoyable album. Wow. I was not expecting that. They killed the performance aspect of it, as usual, but this time it actually comes with a set of music that I will actually listen to.

Also, I have another guest post going up on Seoulbeats soon! Look out for it :)

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

f(x)'s Hot Summer - SM, You're Trying Too Hard

... or as Nigerians would say, your thirst is showing.



Now, I'm not going to comment on the whole "young-girls-acting-sexy-yet-denial-abounds" thing. That's old news, and besides, considering the song and video for the original track that f(x) covered here, I'm really not surprised. However something didn't quite sit well with me as I watched this video, and it only clicked when I watched the live performances to get a good look at Rino Nakasone-Razalan and Maryss from Paris's choreography: Amber looked much too out of place. We know she's the tomboy of the group and consequently has many fans going gaga over her boyish looks and deeper voice. But this was the first time she had been clearly placed front and center, as opposed to her usual position as the boy-girl on the side. Not only that, but usually f(x) doesn't show so much skin, even when the other girls wear skirts, so Amber's usual shorts/pants and jacket stood out more. Finally, her individual choreography was completely different from the group choreography. She looked like she'd been taking dance lessons from DBSK, while the other four girls were clearly in SNSD territory. Despite all this, she joined them in the cute-face making when not front and center.

Here's why I'm conflicted: they're clearly playing to her strengths and what suits her (ostensibly) true character, but why the vast differences all of a sudden? Why single her out instead of letting her integrate seamlessly into the group, which I felt they did fairly well in previous videos? It feels like tokenism, and I don't like it one bit. It's like, "We're your typical girl group, but wait! We also have this androgynous chick! Doesn't this make us edgy and cool?!" Yet I don't want to knock it too much, because she's getting some well-deserved attention, and killing the choreo. However, if the other girls weren't wearing 5-inch heels, they would have killed it too! It feels like they chose appearances (i.e. typical girl group with a twist) over execution, and the whole thing just feels clumsy, as opposed to the seamlessness that usually characterizes SM videos.

I'm annoyed that they're capitalizing on Amber's popularity in such an obvious way. I'm not sure if it's only with f(x) that they're this lazy, but let's just hope they step up their game. Being SM doesn't guarantee chart awards anymore, and the girl group competition gets fiercer every day.

Thoughts?

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Mid-week Music: B2ST's "Fiction and Fact"


So I have been sitting on tenterhooks waiting for B2ST’s first full album, Fiction and Fact to come out. Mainly because I was super impressed with the last three mini-albums they released, and because they released two great teasers. I am trying and failing to contain my enthusiasm here, so let’s jump right into it!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Midweek Music List - What I've Been Listening This Spring

Hey everyone! Back again (and on time this time) with another Midweek Music List. I plan to start rolling these out on a fairly regular basis from now on, so these posts will be shorter and more to the point. Also, they'll soon include a wider range of music than the usual Korean fare. Here's the playlist, and my general thoughts on last month's releases after the jump. The songs are not in order, and do not represent everyone I mention on here, but there are a few links scattered here and there to make sure everyone's covered. Enjoy!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Thoughts on Rania, New Sexy Girl Group on the Block



I debated for a long time about writing about this girl group, but as the month comes to a close, I figured I'd add my voice to the slowly fading banter surrounding this girl group on the interwebz.

For those of you not familiar with the group or the media frenzy surrounding their debut, check out their posts on allkpop. To summarize: Rania, an international girl group who have been buzzed about for about a year and had worked with Teddy Riley on their debut single, finally stepped onto the scene with their song, "Dr. Feel Good". Check out the video and live performance below:





The noise on the internet has mainly been about their sexy stage performances and lyrics. The Korean entertainment industry has not taken kindly to this bold expression of female sexuality, and the group has encountered numerous roadblocks in their live TV promotions: they've been forced to change their choreography, lyrics and stage outfits, and have also been lambasted by audiences for being too raunchy. There also have been strong voices on the other side of the argument supporting the girl's expression of their sexuality, most notably this great op-ed on allkpop.

So after viewing all the evidence and hearing both sides, I've finally come to a place where I feel like I can adequately express my opinions of this group. I tried before but ended up saying more than I meant and possibly giving the wrong impression of where I stand. To be very clear, I support this group. I think they are very talented women with great stage presence and fantastic voices. And I support their choice to express their sexuality any way they see fit in their music. However, I'm not a fan of their music (yet) because it's a little dull for me. The production is great, especially in the Korean version of Dr. Feel Good, but the instrumental leaves a little to be desired. Also, I'm not particularly a fan of the song's lyrics. Frankly, I'd like a little more substance than that in my pop music, thank you very much. Lust as a stand-alone concept doesn't do much for me.

That's my opinion on them, but there's still a lot more to talk about with this group. First of all, let's make one thing clear: these women are performing sexual liberation - that is, this is the image we see on stage, but it's not the real image of the women themselves. Why do I say this? Well, this is a Korean pop group. As a group within that system, especially a rookie group, they lack autonomy over the material and image they put out. I've talked about this before, and recent studies have shown that young female pop stars are often forced by their management to wear revealing clothes and perform suggestive dances.  Some girls own it, but not all of them do. It's the same for guys too - notice how Joon from MBLAQ started out as the ab-bearer - taking after his hyung, Rain, no doubt - but has recently become a lot less keen to show some skin. But we, as viewers, can't really tell, because they do a good job of convincing us that they are all naturally sex symbols.

Their sexy image is then in conflict with the image they put out in interviews: according to this interview, they don't think their promotions are sexually suggestive at all. I have only one reaction for that - O_O. One would think that for all their CEO's ranting and Teddy Riley's disappointment, he'd have them be like "Yeah, we're sexy - so what?" - have them own it like After School or Brown Eyed Girls. But no, they're like "How is it suggestive?" Garter belts and hip-thrusts? Really? You'd need to be from a different planet to not connect those things with sex. It reminds me of So Nyu Shi Dae insisting that there's nothing sexy about them, while parading around in hot pants and high heels. *sigh.

Taking all this into perspective, I'd be naive to think that Rania's sexy concept is put out there to empower women. It's obvious to anyone familiar with k-pop that DR Media is simply taking advantage of k-pop audience's fandom of sexy men and women - whether or not they are explicitly sexy, or admit that their performances or songs have sexual undertones - and just pushing the envelope a teensy bit. They're selling sex just like everyone else. The fact that they're being maligned for it exposes double standards at work, but it's not like they're feminists or anything. They're just like any other pop group trying to make it in the industry, giving the people what they want - whether either side admits it or not.


More dangerous than the existence of double standards, though, is the reluctance to talk frankly about the use of sexual imagery in Korean pop music frankly in any context. Without those conversations, men and women will continue to be put in positions they're not comfortable in, and won't be able to say anything about it because their management will outrightly deny that there's anything sexual about it, and the public will malign them if they do. So in the words of Salt N Pepa - let's talk about sex, Korea! Get it out there and deal with it. It will make things better in the long run.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Block B: The View From the Stoop


While catching up on all the k-pop news, releases and gossip today, I realized that about six new idol groups have debuted this year alone, and what's more, there are at least three more on the way. People have already complained that market for idol groups is saturated - soon they'll be leaking out the ears with groups to perform. I'm interested to see the economic repercussions this influx of new groups will have on the idol industry, and what the companies (and possibly KEPA) will do to change it, but more on that later. I'm up late typing tonight because one rookie group has finally made an impression on me, and that's hip-hop boyband Block B.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Non-Asians in Korean Music Videos: A Response


So MrCKDexter, a.k.a Fangirl, co-authored this awesome post on non-Asians in k-pop music videos a few weeks ago (thanks for the mention!). I wanted to respond sooner, but I had so much to say, that it took forever for me to collect my thoughts in a coherent fashion, lol. I posted this as a long comment on their blog, but decided to post it here so others could join in the conversation. Before their post, I hadn't thought about the casting of non-Asians in general as much as I thought about the High High MV in particular, but I can offer a few (or many) thoughts. Read on after the jump...

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

K-Pop Round up: March Madness

No IU in this post, but this is the only k-pop & basketball photo I could find

As the end of the month arrives, I realize that I have written very little about k-pop this month. Not a lot caught my attention this month, to be honest. I did have a few releases I wanted to talk about, so here we go! This month's post features Handsome People, Kim Hyung Joon, Girls' Day, 4minute, Geeks, CNBlue, Infinite, ZE:A, U-Kiss, Orange Caramel and more. Only one link per artist this time, so the playlist will be short(er).

Here's a playlist with my favorite songs off these releases if you want to listen as you read, or just have a soundtrack for your day:


Sunday, March 27, 2011

Siji Wants You To "Ijo"

And at long last, I'm bringing back some Nigerian music to this blog. For those of you who don't know, I am Nigerian - and I have seriously been sleeping on the music scene of my homeland. Granted, it hasn't suited my tastes as of late, but every now and then I find a track I enjoy. Here's one of them: New York-based soul/indie artist Siji just dropped the video for his new song, "Ijo" which means "dance" in Yoruba, his native language (one of the three most widely-spoken indigenous languages in Nigeria, though there are up to 150 languages and dialects native to our country. Oh, and our official language is English.) The video depicts a casting call for dancers, featuring some Nigerian celebrity cameos and some hot dance moves. If you ever wondered how we get down in Africa, here's your chance to see it, coming to you straight from Lagos:

SIJI - 'Ijo'(Official Video) from SIJI on Vimeo.


The song is a departure for Siji's usual mellow, acoustic soul sound - it's uptempo, funky and electro, almost like a fuji-house mashup. I've recently become a dance music head, so I'm definitely feeling it. One thing I love about Nigerian music is the simplistic approach that they take to production: you don't need to have a packed soundscape or throw in a crapton of effects and instruments, as we often see in American and Korean-style pop production - sometimes the music just needs breathing space so that it can really get down.

I'm gonnat try to diversify my posts from now on, and bring you more music from other countries to make this a truly global pop culture blog. Stay tuned!

(via MTV Iggy)

Sunday, March 20, 2011

The Mimi Sisters Rock Out on Their Debut EP


I found a new group!!! Usually new music discoveries aren’t that exciting because I always get them on the recommendation of other people, e.g. McRoth, but this time I found one on my own! And they are all kinds of awesome! Ladies and gentlemen, I introduce to you... The Mimi Sisters!

If you're familiar with the indie band Jang Kiha and Faces (a band I’ve been meaning to check out), you'll recognize them as the band’s back up dancers/ singers. They have an interesting concept that centers around them dressing in 60s-style clothes, wearing matching wigs and dark shades and being completely expressionless. They do this even when they’re not performing, which apparently got them in trouble with Korean diva Insooni a while back (link via Indieful ROK). It’s an interesting concept exemplary of the quirks the band seems to hide under an unassuming indie surface – check out this performance below to see what I mean:



Anyway, so it seems the girls have gone solo (duo?) and are starting to put out their own music. I probably wouldn’t have come across this EP if I hadn’t seen the album cover on Soribada’s front page and been intrigued by the artwork and the name of the band. Rarely ever does good cover art correspond to good music, so I got lucky this time. I’m Sorry… But It’ll Be A Legend is very different from the lo-fi indie stylings of Jang Kiha and Faces. They come at you hard with crazy hazy rock music that makes them sound like a cross between The Raveonettes and The Donnas with touches of 60s rock and pop.  Anyway, here’s their debut MV for the song "다이너마이트 소녀 (Dynamite Girl)" - you can see the Sisters Midori and Miyeok rocking out on guitar and bass with  Du Seon-hwa (I think?) on drums.



After doing some digging, I found out that the album was a collaboration between the sisters and a bunch of indie music vets. In particular, the producer on the album is Yohei Hasegawa of the Kim Chang-wan Band. He used to play for Gopjang Jeonggol, a Korean band that does covers of Korean rock songs from the 60s and 70s, - basically he's a connosieur of classic rock. According to this article (and what I understand of it through Google Translate *facepalm*), he worked with the Sisters to embed  sounds from different time periods into the album - mid-70's soul, psychedelic rock from the late 60s, 60s surf rock and mid-90s grunge/punk rock. They've done a great job of it if you ask me: every track is a new, fun experience. My personal favorite is “우주여행 (Space Travel)”, – it’s actually sounds like you’re taking a ride back in time to the 60s and then into outer space. It’s 16 minutes long (!) but totally worth the time, especially as they perform it with Seoul Electric Band, another awesome indie band I only recently came across.

The Mimi Sisters are followable on Twitter, and you can also check out their Cyworld page. And if you like what you hear, buy the album!!!

Friday, March 11, 2011

Let's Hear It For the Boy( Band)s! Big Bang's Comeback and Related Thoughts

I'm sure you're all aware of the earthquake and tsunami that hit Japan late last night US Eastern Time. Please keep the victims of the disaster in your thoughts and prayers. I hope any readers in Japan are staying safe and that everyone has managed to locate family and friends affected by the quake. For ways you can help, click here.


Greetings from beyond the void, and Happy March! I'm going to start off this month's blog posts with some thoughts about Korean boy bands. I talk a lot about girl groups because I'm interested in representations of women in pop culture, but I'm actually a huge fan of the boy bands. So much so that I can't really pick a favorite - each have their own appeal for me. I'll get into that later, but for now, let's start off with my thoughts on Big Bang's comeback.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Kang Seung-yoon's Adorable Standing Egg Cover

Okay, I know I just posted this song, but this video is too cute for words:



Kang Seung-yoon was a Superstar K2 finalist who did an awesome cover of Yoon Jong-shin's "본능적으로" (Instinctively) (posted below) which was released as a single after he left the show. He's probably one of the most popular finalists after Huh Gak, John Park and Kim Bo-Kyung, as that cover remained high on the charts long after he left the show, beaten out only by John Park and Huh Gak's own singles. He recently signed on to YG Entertainment as a trainee. I'd hate to see his indie rocker style pop-ified in YG, but at least he'll be working with a successful company and thus have more opportunities and great connections.



Another thing that's noteworthy about this video is that it was shot by Indie2Go, a Korean production company that shoots one-take, one-shot live performances by indie artists in everyday settings like in parks, bookstores, art galleries etc. I love their visual style, and will definitely be posting more of their work on the blog soon! If you can't wait, then by all means check out their website and their Youtube page, and follow them on Twitter for updates.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Seeing Spots: Dalmatian's 1st Mini-Album

Stylish spots

If you had told me in September after Dalmatian's debut, that I would be raving about the mini-album they released six months later, I probably would have laughed in your face. Yet here I am, about to tell you just how much I enjoyed listening to the first EP put out by a group named after the dogs that got famous from a Disney film. .... I can't really believe it, but clearly the creative minds behind the name of this group were not involved in the music. And for that, we can all be extremely grateful.

Monday, February 14, 2011

From Esperanza, With Love

Because there's way too much (undeserved) hate out there for this amazing, talented woman today, I'm putting two amazing performances of hers up here as my Valentine to the world. Be happy this Valentine's Day, and share the love :)



Sunday, February 13, 2011

More New Music - The Sounds of Mid-February

10cm's album cover... so weird.
Hey everyone! More reviews for you all! I made them a little shorter this time - I think there are more here than in the last post? Anyway, this week features Humming Urban Stereo, 10cm, Lee Jung, Hwayobi & Taeha and more OST tracks, among others.

Songs You May Have Missed (and that I Should Have Blogged about Last Week)

What The Hare Looked Like When He Finally Finished What He Was Supposed to Do and Was No Longer Late (Source)
Yup, that's me at the moment - I've finally finished all those reviews you guys requested, and some others I've been meaning to get to. Just one in a series of backlogged posts I'm finally getting to. Hope you enjoy them as much now as you would have... two weeks ago? :S

Anyway, today’s post features songs that are a little old, but still making the rounds on the charts: Yoon Sang-hyun, Kim Bo Kyung, Park Jung-min, Jewelry, Dream High OST, JQT, JYJ, some trot, SNSD, Walrus, TVXQ, G.Na, K.Will, and Navi. Onwards!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Girl Groups Again: All Wonder Girl Everything (?)


*EDIT: Feb 11, 12:09AM - changed the last paragraph so it would be slightly more relevant to the topic. Hopefully it makes more sense now.

(Composed primarily from 1:38am to 3:25am this morning. Apologies for lapses in logic.)

Hello, world. It's 1:38am and I really should be asleep, but I always think of fun stuff right before I go to bed. So here I am, with a theory to propose to you: Most South Korean girl group concepts since 2007 have been determined by the Wonder Girls. I know this is a huge stretch, but hey, no use coming up with a theory that won't be contested, right? So read on and see if you agree or think I'm making it all up. Here we go! (Bud Light. Ha.)

Standing Egg asks, "Have You Ever Fallen In Love?"



Is everywhere in Korea this beautiful, or is it just certain places? I keep seeing images like this taken in Korea, and am more and more convinced of the country's beauty. Koreans seem to have a unique ability to find the beauty in the most obscure corners, and seem to pay close attention to detail in their decoration and design. I can imagine myself going there and snapping pictures of every single thing I see.

This screenshot is taken from Standing Egg's video for their recent single, "Have You Ever Fallen In Love?". The single is the acoustic version of a song from their debut album, with (which I talked about in my 2010 Notables post) and features Ra.D, a slightly-lesser-known artist and songwriter whose repertoire I'm only just discovering. He's written for 2PM ("I Can't"), and Ga-In ("Esperando"), and had his song, "I'm In Love" covered by Narsha. Songwriting credits aside, he has a wonderfully smooth voice that perfectly complements the dreamy acoustic vibe of the song. Clover's emotive vocals melt into the guitar line, and the music video completes the package to create a lovely portrait of the blissful, dreamy days of love. I love the tilt-shift lens used at the beginning of the video to give the shots a miniature effect, and the color palette again. It actually makes winter look enjoyable, which is no small feat. And you have an adorable couple being adorable. Perfect for Valentine's Day. (Though as I have no Valentine this year, I probably be playing death metal out of spite. Or watching Love Actually. Hmm... both are equally appealing...) Safe to say, I absolutely adore this song, in both its acoustic and original forms. Enjoy the video below - I suggest fullscreen at 720p :)

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Mixtapes and Liner Notes is Now Mobile-Friendly!

Thanks to Sugabelly and an inspired Google search, I have finally made my blog mobile-friendly! Which means you don't have to zoom and scroll around on your phone to get to my posts - now it's easy to read. And it looks so pretty! Here's a screen-cap:



Once I get down to some designing for the blog itself, it'll look a lot cooler, but compared to the other options out there, it looks amazing. This is only a beta version of the Blogger mobile option, but hopefully it'll come through to regular Blogger soon. If you want this for your own Blogger/Blogspot blog, go to Blogger's beta site (http://draft.blogger.com), then click "Dashboard" > "Settings" > "E-mail & Mobile" and select the "Activate Mobile Template" (or something like that) option. And voila! Also, make sure to give them feedback so that they can improve on the app and bring it to regular Blogger sooner.

Sorry I've gone dark on you guys - I hope to get those posts I promised up soon. I would do newer music, but my Soribada music card has expired, and I'm debating whether or not I should get a new one, seeing as Soribada only carries 192k MP3s, which I just found out *facedesk*.  I had deleted all my non-purchased k-pop MP3s and replaced them with legal ones from Soribada, but now it looks like I'll have to replace them AGAIN (and pay more for them, too. *sigh.). I mean, the sound quality isn't awful compared to 256/320k MP3s, but even my cheapo JVC headphones can pick up the difference, and that bothers me. I have dreams of guest DJing something in the future, and having LQ MP3s would be unacceptable. So, unless I buy the music card again, there will be a little less Korean music on the blog. Definitely less k-indie. But that allows me to blog about more non-Korean music, so that's good, right? Anyway, I've talked too long. Check out my blog on your mobile phone(!), and look forward to new posts soon. Also, how many of you have Twitter? Was thinking of getting an account for the blog - good idea, or bad idea?


*This blog post is not endorsed by Google or Blogger. I'm just sharing my excitement with the world.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Seungri's VVIP - Ear Candy of the Month


And it's well deserved - that smile can come hang out with me anytime. Oh, wait, that's "eye candy", not "ear candy"....

lol Jokes aside, I am REALLY loving this CD. I always love it when this kind of R&B comes my way - smooth with a touch of electro-glitter and a dash of pop. (That sounds like a drink. I should invent a drink and call it the VIP - with edible glitter. They make that right?)

Monday, January 17, 2011

Swedish & Icelandic Awesomeness

Okay, so this is random and only slightly related, but I was watching an episode of "House Hunters International" yesterday, and this couple was moving to Reykjavik, Iceland. I never thought about visiting a place so close to the North Pole, but the city is gorgeous, and apparently really fun to live in. In my planning out the numerous places I will travel to when I finally have the time and the money, I never remember all these Northern European countries, but I have to start including them soon, especially if they still make awesome music like this 2008 dance single by Swedish singer, Medina:



Also, I only just found out that Emiliana Torrini is from Iceland. She's one of those quirky indie singers that  kinda fly under the radar, but always pop up with amazing stuff, like Gollum's Song for The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers. My favorite track of hers is her cover of Tom Waits's "I Hope That I Don't Fall In Love With You":



Also another awesome thing about Northern Europe: IKEA! I know the furniture is cheap and not very durable, but the designs are still pretty cool. Plus I can have a stylish place without breaking the bank. If that's not a reason to love that place, I don't know what is.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

MBLAQ's BLAQ Style - Hit Or Miss?


MBLAQ has released their first full album!.... aaand that's about as much excitement as I can muster up for it now that I've listened to it. I do have enough energy to complete a review of it, though, so read on!



Sunday, January 9, 2011

So, Maybe That Wasn't Such A Good Idea...

I think I need to issue an apology for that last post - it was a lot, and I doubt a lot of people had the time or energy to go through it all. I've decided to break it up and separate my major reviews into their own posts so that they're less painful to find/read/get through. This also means I get to go into a little more detail (but not too much, I promise!). So look for those in the coming week, as well as a review of MBLAQ's new album "BLAQ Style", and hopefully also a post on k-indie music. Happy Monday everyone! If the beginning of the week has got you down, get lifted with this lovely bubbly song courtesy of Jieun and The Wolves (recommended by McRoth in his "Top K-Pop Songs of 2010 Phase 3" post).

Thursday, January 6, 2011

K-Pop New Music Roundup: New Year Snowstorm

From MBC's My Princess. Snow is cold, but so pretty

So they're predicting a snowstorm this weekend in my area. Dislike, dislike, dislike. Interestingly, this is accompanying a ridiculous amount of new Korean music that came out this week. It's a problem when Soribada's home page is one of your top sites in Safari - I can't help but want to listen to everything! But I won't bore you with millions of detailed reviews, I'll keep it as short as possible, only waxing lyrical in a few instances. So put on your scarves and let's get going!

Since this is mad long, my advice is to look over the paragraphs and read the ones that seem interesting. My favorite releases this week are One Way, TVXQ, Infinite, 4men and the My Princess OST. Oh, and I rant about the Piggy Dolls, so make sure to check out that review too.