Welcome to Comments of the Week!
This week in news, we covered Red Velvet‘s comeback and expansion, Kim Soo-hyun and IU joining the cast of the upcoming Producer, Lu Han‘s upcoming jump to Hollywood and FT Island’s comeback announcement.
In music, we discussed Junsu‘s “Flower” MV and Flower album, Olltii‘s latest release, the newest MV from Lovelyz, Eric Nam‘s “I’m OK,” Rainbow’s underappreciated B-sides, K-pop’s relationship with Shakespeare, subunits we’d like to see happen, NU’EST’s anniversary single, first wins for idols via mixtape and Fiestar’s comeback MV.
As for socio-cultural topics, our Sunday Social covered International Women’s Day. Our writers also took a fun look at different types of K-pop fans and collaborated for a Roundtable focusing on black K-pop fans.
We also began the Round of 32 portion of our Seoulbeats March Madness showdown, which I hope you’re all enjoying thus far! We also discussed our thoughts on what makes a good dancer and released another Chat Box covering our March Madness tournament and fan wars.
I’ve chosen a few rather lengthy comments to share below:
I wasn’t sure if I wanted to comment…but what the hell.
Truthfully, even though the MV could be directed at SM and their tumultuous past, I personally don’t think that it’s aimed at the company specifically. I feel like JYJ, or at least Junsu, have pretty much moved on from the past even if the broadcasting ban is still in effect. Maybe because I never got into DBSK and so was never attached to the 5 of them together, but I feel that constantly dragging their past back up when Junsu is obviously trying something new gets kind of annoying/redundant.
I can understand why people might find the barrage of seemingly dysfunctional imagery and symbolism unappealing, but seeing as how many Korean and American pop MVs have become quite formulaic, personally it’s kind of a breath of fresh air (although that could be my sci-fi feels coming out).
In terms of what message Junsu was trying to convey, the fact that it is so open to interpretation kind of seems intentional. People react to what they see and hear differently depending on their own personal experiences; this could range from something internal like dealing with depression to a more worldly thing like power and corruption.
No one can tell you what to think and if all you want to take away from the song and MV is a crazy blue haired pretty boy singing his heart out in weird otherworldly sets, then isn’t that still a step up from smiley or angsty people in boxes.
Miuna Chan on Lovelyz Greets Fans with a Sweet “Hi~”
I think there’s actual symbolism with all the flowers, bubbles, firework and the smiley face in the MV for Hi. The context of the song is about a girl who loves a guy and confesses to him. While the lyrics themselves left out any indication whether the girl in the song is rejected or has her feelings returned, the use of bubbles bursting, the firework only going off halfway, flowers being blown at and most particularly, the smiley face on the window that “teared” up in the MV is a rather subtle indication that the girl got rejected. The flowers being blown at and the petals blown away seems to symbolize heartbreak from rejection. The butterfly released represents that the girl finally got her answer and no longer needs to be anxious about whether or not she would be rejected. The firework that stopped going off and the tears on the smiley face shows that the girl’s happiness of the possibility of having her affections returned destroyed. The spark of happiness is gone, only tears of pain and sorrow can be shed at such a rejection.
If this is the symbolism that they are using(I can’t say it is since this is just my own personal take) then while “Hi” is a typical cutesy song, it is unique in the sense that there’s just something more ‘sinister’ that underlies the cuteness it outwardly projects. This would be a great selling point of the song. But sadly all this may very well be mere speculation.
I understand how you feel, but I think that there are more points for you to consider. I am a black K-pop fan, so get how one can feel that the current state of K-pop doesn’t respect the roots of hip hop. But I would like for you to think that we have, as a population, produced a generation of young people that have never known a world without Hip-Hop. As I spent my youth in the 80’s being excited to see Run DMC, LL Cool J, Grandmaster Flash, Salt ‘n Pepa, Beastie Boys, Kid ‘n Play, Pete Rock & CL Smooth, Heavy D & the Boyz, MC Lyte, Queen Latifah all rise to fame, it was not the norm. One did not hear these artists on anything but “Urban” radio stations. One did not see these artists unless you were watching BET.
But now Hip-hop is everywhere. Many of the songs topping the iTunes charts are rap, R&B, or a pop knock-off of either. So we must understand this “appropriation of our music” means that it is no longer “our music/culture”, it is just life. The same qualms that you have with K-pop can be expressed with every nation that has tried to create it own form of Hip-Hop. The bandwagon has been formed and everyone wants a piece. Now that Hip-hop is fast approaching it’s 40’s, one can no longer think of it as niche product for 13% of the American population. The current state of most pop music now is a derivative of blues, but do you question if anyone understands the root of the Motown Sound, the history of Willie Mae Thornton‘s “Hound Dog”, the funk of James Brown?
Mostly my view is clouded by cynicism, but “black music” has such a long history of being taken and repurposed, that most things don’t surprise me (see Elvis, Rolling Stones). If one thinks that “hip-hop is waking up, going to school and not taking a shower” ’cause that’s how real you are, I can only laugh at their absurdity. If you think that rocking cornrows, makes you down, do you. But you will never get a pass with racial slurs and blackface. (It always surprises me that when artists use blackface or say the n-word, it is always used in the context of which makes the most sense. The n-word is always used as a put-down, and blackface is always used in a minstrel setting, so how can one claim to not know that it is offensive.) But what do you do? You make you voice heard by not purchasing the product of those you deem offensive.
Thank you all for being greater readers and for participating in our discussions. We really appreciate you adding your voice to ours and engaging in conversation!
(Images via FNC Entertainment, SM Entertainment, C-JeS Entertainment and Vogue Girl)