• kk

    Actually I think it is a trend, a lot of idols are encouraged to compose nowadays because it’s a good marketing ploy. Other than one way, I don’t consider any of the people you listed as “composers” but rather lyricists that can play guitar and turn out a few generic pop chords. None have a large discography to judge from and for all we know all they did was sing a catchy melody and left it for the producer to set up the beat, syncs, and basically everything that makes the song sound good.

    I feel like music labels are more lenient on self-composed songs even if it’s bad, JYJ’s albums could be a lot better if they stopped writing all their songs, B1A4’s lyrics are a joke. Actually most of the lyrics in K-pop are a joke.

    I’m kinda glad you left out Big Bang because it kind of goes without saying, but even though all the members have had their credits on something, I feel only GD, TOP, and Seungri have proven their worth to be able to compose and produce. Tablo should be recognized, he literally does everything, although he’s not really in the idol category. Zico’s mixtape is really good, he’s the only one that can be considered a composer in the new generation of idols in my opinion.

    • http://profile.yahoo.com/M3A5VXTZXZOEH62VXL4FJ7AT7Q Xinran

      Yea, people should really stop buying into the ‘composer’/’lyricist’ ploy and actually look deeper into the composition and lyrics to decide if the title is justified. If not, they are just for branding purposes and nothing else. I think it’s important for idols (and their agencies) to come to terms with their weaknesses and stop trying to fit the role(s) of a composer/lyricist/producer if they are not yet capable or passionate about it. Btw I do think that Kyung is also a decent idol-composer/lyricist, just that he’s severely overshadowed by zico. He doesn’t have much solo material, but he contributes almost as much as zico in the songs that Block B puts out and in earlier Nacseo and Holke mixtapes:)

    • dodo18

      i quite agree with you nowaday , all idols feel the urge to compose while most of them what they compose is totaly crap. some of the greatest artist are not producers or composers but it doesn’t make them less amazing singers. idols should stick to
      singing and try to improve their vocals instead. i agree with bigbang about what you say about gd, top, seung ri. i feel like seung ri is a better composers than daesung but damn what emotiuon do daesung give me when he sing , he is able to make any song his. and taeyang & daesung i could give them credit as lyricist they do have quite good lyrics. what i feel unless you are able to do it well let someone who do ie better do it. for example even if all bigbang can compose & write songs , why they stick with singing gd songs ? because the man have more experience and we can’t deny his talent as composer. but does it make the rest of bigbang less artist ? no . one thing is for sure when they are on stage they own it.
      regarding jyj they should realy use producers more or coproduce it will improve thier music a lot. but gotte give jaejoong credit heaven was good

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/JSL3RBWW5GFGNB7SX4FDUIC24Y Lucy

    Well I do think writing/composing is an important part of being an artist just because the musician is putting out a piece of work that they have thoughts, ideas and opinions on. If not at least participation other than recording the song such as picking tracks and compiling an album together. The lack of interpretation of any kpop is quite appalling sometimes as in interviews the questions about the actual song groups are promoting last for seconds and are very scripted whereas they questions about the actual group members themselves dominate to an extreme extent. 

    For example I watched as exo interview in china, in which they asked the members about the song itself and there was dead silence and no one could think of anything to say since they already explained the gimmicks of the powers and what not. The song was supposedly about the downfalls of technology etc… Yet I have yet to hear members truly give any opinion of it. 
    The fact that most kpop artists are like this does take away from the music aspect of it, at least to me.

    I heard you mention that in Asia songwriting is not prevalent but I’d disagree and say its mainly just kpop. That being said, I don’t follow jpop, but as for cpop/tpop, the music industry is based on solo artists who for the most part write all of their music. For example Tanya Chau,Leehom Wang, Karen Mok, Jay Chou, JJ Lin, Khalil Fong, David Tao… Mayday, Sodagreen… all huge names in the industry and still somewhat considered idols since they are mainstream but actually are artists/musicians…granted there are artists that don’t write their own songs like Amei, Jane Zang, Faye Wong yet I feel they are very connected to what they put out as there’s less of a dance/performance aspect to it. Most of the fans of these artists focus so much on the music aspect and how its fresh innovative, touching, or beautiful vocals…and fans are inspired by the music and comment so on those videos. Yet when we look at the top kpop artists’ songs…. rarely are the comment section later on after the release is there any discussion on the song but instead about how cute or hot they look… This just shows how/what the kpop industry is about at least internationally… This is just a comparison on this aspect because the cpop industry is far from perfect for different reasons.

    Most of the argument for artists is how much they are presenting themselves in their work. Although Katy Perry doesn’t write her own songs, I can buy into the message of the song as some of her own ideas whereas in kpop I feel the idols just simply are given songs and asked to dance to them. I’m sure they put on the proper expressions or charisma or what not to execute the song but sometimes I can’t take them seriously in that it is so packaged and manufactured since its obvious they sell their image sometimes even more than the song itself. Also many kpop artists that do compose seem to just be using midi and putting beats together and I feel don’t know about music enough in itself but maybe this is biased since kpop is so electro based and not a lot of real instruments and since  I hear lots of actual instruments in cpop and most people know how to play piano and guitar at the very least or in some cases like 10+ instruments. In kpop if you play an instrument… it gets professed to be a “talent” although they are not even very good at it.

    Sorry for the run-ons… and really long comment

    • FallingSnow

      I agree with your main point, that artists should be expressing themselves through their art,  and this could mean penning meaningful lyrics to a song or simply connecting emotionally with your promotional material. I do not believe that artists and musicians earn their title by writing their own material necessarily – songwriting is a talent that not everyone possesses – but they should be contributing their artistic vision to their work. 

      Oh, and I think your commentary on C-pop/T-pop was pretty spot on, although I must say that female singers who do not write their own songs are of far higher number there as well compared to their male counterparts. Purely manufactured idol pop groups aren’t very common nor fare too well there, imo. I remember there was two large idol groups that debuted a few years ago in Taiwan… I haven’t heard from them since. The only long-lasting one I can recall off the top of my head is S.H.E. … and they’ve been in the industry for at least a decade if memory serves. 

      On a slightly different note, I was multi-tasking while I’m listening to your podcast (which was far too short, you guys! Do another one soon, ok?) but I think you guys talked about WG’s songwriting efforts. I don’t think you guys mentioned Yenny’s “Hello to Myself” for the DH2OST, marking her first songwriting effort. 

      • syvellium

        Regarding that last point — it’s actually the opposite:

        The first song she composed was “For Wonderful” which she sang at the 2nd official WG fanmeeting in 2008 (it was an unofficial release, so the only existing versions — to my knowledge — are off a fancam rip). She also wrote and composed “Saying I Love You” off the The Wonder Years: Trilogy (Nobody) album in 2008, and released “Smile” (another unofficial release) on YouTube in 2011.

        The Wonder World album (“GNO”, “Me, In”) was a 2011 release as well (although I do feel that she probably did not produce those two tracks on her own, as opposed to her earlier efforts), and DH2 was aired in 2012, so “Hello to Myself” was actually her latest songwriting effort, rather than her first.

        If you look at the tracks that she (likely) composed all on her own (“For Wonderful”, “Saying I Love You”, “Smile”, “Hello to Myself”) she actually has a distinctive style that’s already emerging, which I think is pretty cool. I do think she still has a lot of room to grow as a composer, but she has the potential to go far… provided that JYP lets her. I’m a huge fan of Ye-eun (if you can’t tell… haha) so I’m definitely keeping my eye on her.

    • http://evacuatewithstyle.org/blog Amy

      It’s definitely nice for artists to have input in their music but the thing is, I really don’t think that not having input disqualifies performers from being musicians. Elvis did not make his own music yet he was a phenomenal performer, and same for Frank Sinatra.

      “For example Tanya Chau,Leehom Wang, Karen Mok, Jay Chou, JJ Lin, Khalil
      Fong, David Tao… Mayday, Sodagreen… all huge names in the industry
      and still somewhat considered idols since they are mainstream but
      actually are artists/musicians”

      These names cannot be compared to the likes of super mainstream idols in Korea though. They’re mainstream in Taiwan, yes, but their genre is not mainstream pop in the truest sense of the word pop. A more accurate comparison to someone like Khalil Fong in K-pop would be someone like Alex and he is just as apt as all those artists you listed who make their own music and perform as well.

      And if you look at artists like A-Mei, Jolin Tsai, Elva Hsiao, Fahrenheit — who I think are the better more mainstream equivalents to idols like Hyori, BoA, Baek Ji-young, any K-pop idol — they don’t make their music either. Does this make them inferior? No.

      This is not to say that K-pop isn’t super manufactured, because it is and we’re definitely not arguing that. But I just think it’s unfair to discount bombshell performers like DBSK or 2NE1 or BoA and say they’re not musicians or proper artists because they don’t make their own material.

      There’s also a reason why the best composers and best songwriters and best producers are great at what they do, but are not stars themselves.

      • http://profile.yahoo.com/JSL3RBWW5GFGNB7SX4FDUIC24Y Lucy

        They are pop  as they are considered such in their own industry although maybe not Khalil Fong cuz he doesn’t really branch out and Mayday is rock i suppose and Sodagreen is indie…or are they anymore.

        But my point was also the most popular in the “pop” industry and thus are representatives these people like Leehom, Mayday, Jay Chou, Stephanie Sun, Amei who all participate to varying degrees. In terms of relevancy in Taiwan/China they are the ones at the pinnacle of cpop with some idols like Jolin and Show Luo wheres as in kpop its practically only idol groups which should say something about the industry. Sure Baek Jiyoung has respect and sells well digitally but she is not “Korean’s National ______” The lack of solos in general doesn’t make for great comparison.

        Did you just compare Amei (a very amazing vocalist) to Hyori …?  Anyways I Amei and Baek Ji-young are both amazing singers and Boa’s a good singer and great dancer.

        Jolin Tsai and Elva Hsiao are similar to Hyori and Boa i suppose but i said that it doesn’t necessarily have to be songwriting but participation and expressing themselves which is directed to the majority of idol groups.

        Idols like Jolin, Elva, Show Luo, and Wilber Pan are present in the industry but they are not the only idols and share the stage with many singer-songwriters who perhaps even outnumber those idols. Fahrenheit is practically nonexistent these days but the solo album Aaron put out definitely had his musical thoughts and even more so with Hebe’s of SHE who put out two amazinggggg solo albums (in the direction of indie kind of like Cheer Chen)  that were worthy of high praise yet she didn’t write it, but you can hear her musical ideas/passion. It’s not about songwriting but about expressing the music they want to present which i find kpop groups lack in musicality.

        And I didn’t mean every group in kpop is bad… some groups/solos have lots of stage presence and good vocals but the majority I feel are too manufactured especially in recent years with the sheer number of debuts.

  • http://twitter.com/Noobologie Jub Jub

    You guys are back! My favourite two… with subi as well. :)
    It’s been a long time, and I am happy that you two bother to mentioned Junsu (my bias) in this ‘comeback’ podcast. I won’t say that I am going to blow a fuse and want blood from Patricia, since I actually agree with your take on him being a producer. Am not the biggest fan of Junsu’s productions myself… though I am an avid fan of JYJ and especially Junsu, on a performer’s level. 
    However, with that said, for me, as someone who grew up listening to pop groups like backstreet boys… westlife? I can’t say that I hate it when a singer or composer sound the same for almost all their songs. To be honest, in the process of digging maroon 5 and even linkin park years ago… and even now, I have come to look out for the unique sound that belongs only to them. 
    In fact, when I hear them on radio, I can almost only recognise them because of the ‘sound’ they make, especially coldplay… so I will be honest here again, and say that I kind of want the same for JYJ… or Kpop in general. (I know that is stupid, but I am not malleable)
    A personal criteria, for me, that an idol/artist must have, will be just to sing and hop around on stage well… so I totally agree when you guys say that composing is an extra perk. 
    Nevertheless, I don’t think Kpop is there yet… the industry kind of sends all the idol out into many different fields like acting and all, instead of allowing them to focus on what matters, which is their music. It is sad to see that they are named idols, because they can do ‘virtually’ everything… yet they can’t do well at everything. I think this will be the reason why they are named ‘idols’ and people find it hard to move them into the ‘artist’ stage. Since when you are an artist, you need to be good at something in particular… right? Imagine singing, but not doing it well… dancing, but not burning up the stage… acting, but causing people to cringe instead. Even MC-ing… 
    An all-rounded artist? That is real hard to achieve… so they should just stick to being an idol. It’s not too bad to be crowned an idol… really. Many will kill to be that.
    Anyhow, thank you, you two, for your honest opinions, as always… and hope to hear more from you guys again next week! Bring Subi in as well! Her emotions are well missed!
    Ps: I loved the ending song in particular… and I actually like how that rookie group the rapper is in have found their one unique sound. I won’t complain about repetition. 

  • http://twitter.com/polinchka polinchka

    I was hoping for a…less disappointed review of Junsu’s album but I agree on many levels. As most of the people that I’ve talked to who have seen the music video have said…once they stopped watching it and listened to the song itself, it is better. Do I personally think he looks good as a woman? Yes. Do I think that needed to be in the video even if it was meant to be as an asexual being? No. Junsu is such a strong performer, as are all the boys in DBSK, that I find that listening to their studio album is almost pointless. They truly are artists who need to be watched. Junsu’s performances blow me away. He could be singing happy birthday for three hours straight and I would still scream my head off. His composition abilities are also not terrible. If looked at overall, I actually love his ballads a TON. I love Rainy Nights, Fallen Leaves (the song that I listen to when I am depressed and makes me feel happy and better), and 돌고 돌아도 which you guys had playing. Although it sounds very similar to Fox Rain (forget the Korean title) from My Girlfriend is a Gumiho at the start. Boy watches a lot of dramas, so I’m sure it influenced the song. As it is, his ballads are a lot stronger than his dance tracks. But that’s how I feel about JYJ in general. In all, I do prefer Jaejoong and Yoochun’s compositions but for him to take a stand and release an album, not a mini, full of songs with a majority penned by him? I love it. I think it’s bold. I think he deserves the credit and my money (got my album yesterday< Why he's following the direction of Jaejoong and Yoochun to be uber skinny is beyond me. He's not built like them. He isn't meant to be skinny like that. UGH.

    I like self composed songs because it gives me insight to a singer and how they think. I don't think it's a requirement but if my favorite artist not only performs but also wrote the song that I love, it just makes it that much more special. Especially when looking at lyrics. It gives depth to an artists. Unless, of course, the lyrics are stupid. As I have just now started learning Korean, the amount of words that I know are limited, but I'm starting to make out lyrics slowly. Most pop lyrics are… childish. That doesn't make the songs any less catchy, fun to listen to, or a pleasure to the ears.

    …I have a secret <3 for Oppa Oppa. Seeing Eunhyuk and Donghae perform it at SM Town just reaffirmed that it's my favorite gag song from them. If they mean it seriusly, I need to sit them down and have a talk but as a joke song, it's great. So fun. In general, great to hear you guys again. I don't think all Cassies are scary. I'm one and I think it's great when people criticize artists. As long as it's not spiteful, it's all in what you prefer and no one can make your opinion change through "omg, how can you say that about oppa!!!mksdkfs~" comments.

  • http://twitter.com/nozomi05 Dee

    i like intoxication, not a big fan of tarantallegra but i like the album as a whole.

  • http://twitter.com/denzelwynter アシュリ// 애쉴리 (Ashley)

    Teddy is running out of ideas. 

  • dandelioness

    The word ‘artist’ makes me think of a creative individual who can produce something original, so yes, having the ability to create your own music instead of music that someone else has written is part of being an artist, but it’s silly to assume that someone is not an artist until they have composed a song when there are so many ways an artist can contribute to a song. As performers, some (not all) idols do bring an element of individuality to their performances, such as they way they sing and dance, which is personal to them and not dictated by the original songwriter/choreographer. To me, this counts as a contribution on the idols’ part and is not enough credit is given to the idols who are able to bring their individuality to the stage.

    I hesitate to call Kpop idols artists because of their lack of contribution to the material they release. The songs, dances, concepts are all created by someone else and the ultimate product isn’t personal enough to the idols who sing it to call it their creation. I’d argue that most Kpop idols are replaceable and the songs that they sing could easily sung by another idol and there’d be little to distinguish between them.

    On the other side of things, it annoys me when fans try to defend the credibility of an idol’s artistic talent by saying ‘but so-and-so wrote these lyrics/composed this song’ because to be honest, being able to write a song doesn’t automatically make you an artist. Knowing the basics of music means that most people can come up with something mediocre without much thought at all. Hell, I wrote melodies and song lyrics when I was nine because I was bored they were brainless and cliche but could’ve been turned into something listenable with a few tweaks.

    It’s always nice to see idols trying to disprove the perception that they aren’t artists, but the way in which they do it isn’t really helpful. I feel like people think compositions/lyrics are the only recognised evidence of artistry even when they’re uninspiring, and part of the reason for this is the lack of credit given to quality of performance as a sign of artistic talent, not just who wrote whatever they’re performing.

  • http://twitter.com/smileyushi Yushi Wang

    Junsu’s effort is definitely commendable, I think the more he composes, the more he will improve. He’s just setting into his artistic style. Though tbh, Taragaratella isn’t very catchy the lyrics provide a lot of meaning and the mv I thought was well done. 

  • http://twitter.com/Chewywonbin Honey

    I swear, all I hear from the podcast is how much Patricia agrees Amy. It’s almost as if she’s scared to go against Amy. Come on Patricia, can you be more confident because your articles gives a different vibe. Maybe you need to prepare yourself w/ Q-notes 

    I just wanted to add that….. “if only our ears would do what I mouth (brian) say, this world would be more reliable.” I’m not going to lie, Junsu’s album have been on my replay button since it’s release (& I’m not just talking about one song but the whole album).  I can’t force myself to listen to songs others say it’s good. The ear wants to hear w/ it wants to hear. 

  • eternalstars

    I was wondering why you sounded different Patricia, and then it hit me that you were talking way slower than you did in the previous podcasts. Lol, my random revelation of the day. :P Anyway, I don’t have a problem with Junsu doing all this new stuff and diving into his “sexy” side (although I would argue that Tarantallegra is more sexual than sexy, if that makes any sense =), but I agree, his dance compositions are very similar to the point of being a little boring. I’m kinda hoping that he’ll practise more and have some kind of professional guidance because I think he has potential in terms of composing. 
    Personally I don’t mind if idols write their own songs or not – but what I do want is for them to have at least some kind of creative input in their work. Even if it’s just the way they express and interpret the song – then they’ve made the song theirs, and they’re not just performing it blandly like a robot that could easily be replaced by another. I can still acknowledge that as a form of artistic talent.

    • http://www.callmepatricia.com Patricia

      It could also have to do with the fact that I had just woken up from a nap right before recording this podcast :P

  • idontknoe

    Composing is talent long with singing, dancing, acting, etc. Some people posess this talent and some don’t. I don’t think it makes them any less talented or an artists. YYJ is a phenomenal singer, songwriter, composer, and producer, but could he pull off some of his hits on stage? It’ll be worth watching, but he probably wouldn’t be able to pull it off, especially his SMP stuff. SOme people are better off as songwriters/composers and wouldn’t make it as performers and they need to make a living too. If singers don’t posess composing talent, then it’s not necessary for them to have to have their stuff on the album especially if it’s inferior. There are people who can do both, but many music legends don’t and it doesn’t make them any less amazing.

    I do tend to like some of the stuff some idol composers put out too. I think they’re more comfortable with it, because they write stuff in their vocal range. I think companies should only take stuff from idols that make the cut, there are tons that turn their stuff into the company, but if it’s not noteworthy than use the professionals. It just makes achievements sooo much better, since you know that your work is credible and good.

  • http://twitter.com/M_Wys Michaela Wylie

    Lol, I’m not a Katy Perry fan really, but you could’ve found a better example. I looked it up once, and she helped write all of the songs on “Teenage Dream” (or so the credits say…).