What Matters in K-pop?

Image: Pixabay

I have often viewed increased visibility of K-pop in mainstream American media with ambivalence. On one hand, increased visibility may mean more opportunities for concerts and access to K-pop-related media. On the other hand, it may mean significant changes to K-pop and its fandom that take away the things that drew fans in the first place.

One phenomenon that falls into the latter category is the centrality that awards and breaking records have taken in fandom activity. There is no doubt that winning an award, especially one that doesn’t cater to Korean or Asian music, can be seen as an achievement. But at what cost? I don’t know if this is happening in your fandoms, but I’m seeing a significant increase in requests that border on harassment to vote for this award or that poll or watch a video to increase views. To be sure, some people politely ask. But more often, other fans are implying or directly coming out and saying that you aren’t a ‘real fan’ unless you watch this video on repeat all day or create an account to vote on that website. I know this means a lot to some fans, but it doesn’t mean as much to others….myself included.  There are too many ways to be a fan and this shouldn’t be the measure of your identity as a fan.

These awards represent popularity. And yes, it says something if you can mobilize your fandom to achieve that for your group. But it says absolutely nothing about the quality of the music or group talent or whatever got you into the group in the first place. At the end of the day, what does all this activity even mean? Because when you view a video just to increase the views on it, it ceases to be a measure of how much a video is “liked.” It only says X number of people saw it.

This laser focus on popularity also has some negative effects. There is still a large number of  non-fans who believe that K-pop artists have no talent at all, so awards for popularity only serves to reinforce that idea. I feel like the time fans now spend on voting used to be spent on reaction videos and blog posts where they talk about how they got into a group, or their favorite song, or even the logic behind their bias choice.  These activities show what K-pop means to fans in ways that voting do not.

 

 

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What I’m Listening To: “Tripping,” Hyun Seong

Boyfriend

“Tripping” is Hyun Seong’s solo from the Boyfriend’s 2012 album Janus.

Image: Jeff Benjamin. “Boyfriend to Bring K-pop to Middle America for Chicago & Dallas Shows.” billboard. 3 Jan 2014. http://www.billboard.com/articles/columns/k-town/5820050/boyfriend-to-bring-k-pop-to-middle-america-for-chicago-dallas-shows  (9 Jun 2017).

Video: KookieCane13. “Shim Hyunseong – 이랬다 저랬다 (Trippin’) [Han & Eng].” YouTube. https://youtu.be/fsESKprKK1I  (9 Jun 2017).

 

What I’m Listening To: “Carnival,” B.A.P

B.A.P

 

“Carnival” is from B.A.P’s 2016 EP Carnival.

 

Image

Tamar Herman. “B.A.P Brings Party Baby Tour Stateside, Talks ‘Wake Me Up”: ‘We Are Part of the Current Generation.” billboard. 10 May 2017. http://www.billboard.com/articles/columns/k-town/7752638/bap-interview-party-baby-tour-wake-me-up (9 Jun 2017).

Video

MBCkpop. “박정아의 달빛낙원] B.A.P – Carnival, 비에이피 – 카니발 [박정아의 달빛낙원] 20160320.” YouTube. https://youtu.be/CIA2h-dAEO8  (9 Jun 2017).

What I’m Listening To: Seventeen, “Love & Letter” (Repackage)

Seventeen
Seventeen

I’ve slipped into the shining diamond life with Seventeen and their repackaged album, Love & Letter! The group’s strategy is to not only use the power of the numbers, but also their unique sub-units, divided into the vocal team, the hip-hop team and the performance team.  The repackage provides some delightful versions of Seventeen’s songs.

Upbeat title tracks, “아주 Nice” and “Shining Diamond” make for good material for the performance team. I really like the use of the horns on “Nice” and the pop sound of “Shining Diamond.” On the repackage album, though, other tracks showcase the vocal and hip-hop teams, including rearranged versions of previous songs so cleverly done, I didn’t even recognize the originals. The hip-hop team version of  “만.세[Mansae]” has a completely different beat than the original. The vocal team’s version slow jam-y of “아낀다[Adore U]” sounds nothing like the original, and that’s not a bad thing.

 

EXO’s Lucky One. . . . Is On My Mind!

EXO
EXO

“Lucky One” is one of two comeback tracks for EXO’s EX’ACT album. You know I am down for this disco-infused extravaganza! I also like the video (which opens with a shot that takes advantage of D.O.’s natural lack-of-expression) and gestures back to previous EXO concepts, including the superpowers, the EXO-planet and the team jerseys, which lends a sense of continuity. I’m not sure if the video matches the song, but I like the song and I like the video so I’m calling it a WIN!

Image: 1

A Brief Message From Our Sponsor….

unhappycomputer

This brief lapse of posts has been brought to you by HARD DRIVE FAILURE. HARD DRIVE FAILURE has a long and distinguished tradition of bringing creative expression to a complete halt and is proud of that. It has cornered the market. However, I no longer find my partnership with HARD DRIVE FAILURE to be beneficial, so I will have to terminate this relationship. Let the posts resume!

Amoeba Culture. . . Is On My Mind!

amoebaculturetourOnce I processed (ok, I’m still processing) the news of Zion T.’s departure from Amoeba Culture to a sub-label at YG headed by Teddy, I’m also thinking about Amoeba Culture. This doesn’t seem to be an acrimonious split, and I was happy to see Amoeba Culture’s official statement, which acknowledges their previous relationship:  “During that time Amoeba Culture and Zion. T had a relationship beyond simply being just an agency and an agency artist. We relied on each other, made good music, and spent happy moments together. Thus we feel sorry and regret” (soompi). At the same time, the label wishes him well: “Although we cannot be in the same place together, Amoeba Culture will always support Zion. T’s new challenge as he enters a new environment and unfamiliar field in order to fulfill his dreams” (soompi). I”m concerned about Amoeba Culture and their roster. I have loved Amoeba Culture artists, but with Zion T. leaving, I feel like Amoeba Culture needs more talent, which isn’t easy because talent doesn’t work on trees. I hope that it can continue to operate as an artist-led label.

Image: 1

Source

kokoberry, “Zion. T Parts Ways With Amoeba Culture, Reportedly Signs With YG Sub-Label.” soompi. 16 Mar 2016.

 

2015 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2015 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 23,000 times in 2015. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 9 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

The Daily Beast Takes on Black K-Pop Fans?

Hear those rap interludes, ultra-catchy choruses, and dance breaks? MisterPopoTV is here to show you that African Americans can be into Korean pop music.

Source: www.thedailybeast.com

It’s nice when major news outlets recognize that black K-pop fans are part of the general K-pop fandom. However, this piece trades in overused tropes about race and K-pop.  Many of the black K-pop fans I know would not recognize themselves in this piece. However, they would recognize the repeated assumptions made about African Americans and K-pop.

Continue reading “The Daily Beast Takes on Black K-Pop Fans?”

Is MBC’s Lip Sync Ban Good for Global Fans?

In a possible industry changing move, the MBC Show! Music Core chief executive producer (CP) Park Hyun-suk made a statement earlier this week pronouncing that the show is not going to allow singers or artists on stage that rely solely on MR (music recorded). According to him, about 10-20 percent of the singers who go …

Source: seoulbeats.com

Producers for MBC’s Show! Music Core may think that its decision to ban acts that use MR (music recorded) is a good one, but such a move makes assumptions about what viewers expect from such performances.

 

Expectation is key. While one may have an expectation of a live vocal performance by someone singing a national anthem at an event, one may not have the same expectation for a live vocal performance in a different setting. Producers may think lip-synced performances on Show! Music Core are misleading, but that assumes that viewers expect these performances to be live vocal performances.  Do viewers expect such performances to be live vocal performances?  Many viewers look forward to such performances for other reasons. These shows have a long tradition of being a showcase for a variety of performances, which represent a combination of vocals, styling and choreography.  Many global viewers tune in for this combination, as many will never have the opportunity to see such acts perform live in their country. 

 

In addition to vocal reality shows, there are other outlets to experience the vocal talents of idols.  The format of Yoo Hee Yeol’s Sketchbook is specifically designed to allow artists groups to showcase their live vocals, and has hosted a variety of acts, from individuals known for their vocals such as Lyn, Park Hyo Shin and Hwanhee, to hip-hop acts such as Drunken Tiger and Dynamic Duo, to K-pop idols such as Girls’ Generation, Wonder Girls and 4Minute.  Idols also have opportunities to sing live on radio shows such as ShimShimTapa, performances that are also video-recorded and accessible through YouTube.

 

As the article suggests, this may have an impact on choreography-heavy comebacks for groups if this is undertaken as an industry standard, which will not be good for global K-pop fans who routinely cite choreography as one of the appealing aspects of K-pop. 

Michael Porter and K-pop: An Analysis

See on Scoop.itKorean Wave

K-pop is a business, through and through. No matter how original a concept is or how natural fan interactions may seem, the details even down to how much a performer weighs are all calculated.

Crystal “CeeFu” Anderson‘s insight:

This article begins by looking at K-pop through an economic lens, but falls into a familiar trend of boiling the success of K-pop down to profits and business models and echoing the much-repeated mantra about the manufactured nature of K-pop. At the same time, it leaves out the key to the global spread of K-pop, namely the fans, who have exerted tremendous influence on K-pop.

See on seoulbeats.com

The Way Forward: Sam Hammington

See on Scoop.itKorean Wave

The entry of non-Koreans in to the Korean entertainment scene has gained a steady momentum in the past few years. These non-Koreans have mainly stuck to the idol industry — debuting with girl and guy groups too many to mention.

Crystal “CeeFu” Anderson‘s insight:

Just some questions: Why is Korean entertainment obligated to embrace non-Koreans in its industry? Are other national entertainment industries obligated to do the same? if so, how is the United States, home of Hollywood, one of the biggest entertainment industries on the planet, doing with embracing international stars into its entertainment industry?  

See on seoulbeats.com

Roundtable: 2NE1 vs. SNSD

See on Scoop.itKorean Wave

It’s been a while since we had such a matchup of industry titans going head to head.

Crystal “CeeFu” Anderson‘s insight:

This article features various opinions about the simultaneous comebacks of two of K-pop’s most successful and popular girl groups. Members refer to the "anti-aegyo" discourse often targeted to SNSD, as well as the continued use of the "fierce" concept for 2NE1. Described as a competition between the two girl groups, it overlooks the fact that some fans like both groups. 

See on seoulbeats.com

Super Junior talks to gov’t

See on Scoop.itKorean Wave

Super Junior, Left to Right : Choi Si-won, Eun-hyuk, Sin Dong-hee, Sungmin, Henry and Zhou Mi Members of the K-pop group Super Junior visited the National Assembly in Yeouido, western Seoul, yester

Crystal “CeeFu” Anderson‘s insight:

K-pop artists frequently represent not just sources of entertainment for fans, but also participate in government conversations related to Hallyu, the Korean wave. 

See on www.hancinema.net