Another week and another round of great comments that rival our own articles! Some of you had a lot to say, and we’d love to hear your thoughts on more matters, so how about you guys contact us and we can work with you on getting your insights shared with all our readers.
Once again, it was a great feat trying to pick out the best of the best, but alas, we were limited to five and it had to be done. Remember, the best comments aren’t always the most critical, or the ones that claw into K-Pop and rip it to shreds. The best comments are the ones written with passion, fervour, and knowledge — both negative and positive. So here are five of the most passionate, fervent, and knowledgeable comments of this week.
Jenny on Beast: The Phenomenon I Never Knew:
This is one of my favorite Seoulbeats articles in a long while. Not just because it involves taking interest in Beast, which I’m happy about as a Beauty, but because of the air of hope that imbues it. Seoulbeats makes for some of the most coherent discussions on K-pop you’ll ever read online, but at times for an idealistic, impressionable fangirl like myself reading so many articles about how K-pop is dead or dying or uninspired or hiding behind a facade or wearing thin or recycled gets me down. I like believing in the magic of this industry, much as I am aware and reasonably accepting of its flaws. That’s part of the fun, to not try to bring rationality into K-pop because as a music industry, it’s just bizarre.
And that’s why reading this article felt a little like opening the blinds and realizing that it actually is a gorgeous day outside. The hope you wrote into this article about the future of K-pop really warmed my heart. Yes, I believe Beast is a prime example of a sometimes-overlooked (less and less so as time wears on) gem. I love everything you said about sometimes writing a group off too soon, because it happens to the best of us and is certainly the case with Beast. And yet they show that even in K-pop hard work can pay off, that attention doesn’t have to be granted through cup size or blood type or a label as “reject.” Everything you said about appreciating talent makes me so happy to see new fans appreciating that Beast is a group of vocally talented boys with stage presence and a certain charm outside of the standard flower-boy sphere. They know how to perform for an audience, they know how to be diplomatic, they know how to dance and sing and steal their way into your hearts with their incredibly strong personalities. (I digress as a diehard Beauty…)
The best thing about Beast and the reason why I think they have such appeal is that they never stop improving. With each successive album they release they show leaps and bounds in terms of improvements in all regards, from singing, to dancing, to a more indefinable “togetherness” onstage and a growing, insatiable stage presence. Culminating in Fiction and Fact, which blew my mind. Everything about the album was masterfully done and it was truly one of the best K-pop albums I’ve heard in a very long time. To think of how far Beast has come from the catchy but reasonably generic Bad Girl is astounding. I think it’s nearly undeniable–they are talented, they are charismatic, and they are driven. It is just months after their second birthday and they couldn’t be farther from rejects, on account of their own dedication. I can only see bigger and bigger adventures for Beast in the future and I await them all with baited breath.
ilovessantokki on K-Pop: Programmed to Self Destruct
I think the training system in some companies just beats the creativity and individuality out of some of these artists. Let’s face it, groups like SNSD, Super Junior, KARA, and SS501 are popular because of the way they look. It has nothing to do with their musical abilities. If SM really focused and nurtured the talent of all their trainees, they wouldn’t put 13 boys in the same group or nine girls in another. Half of the group members are expendable and the other half have subpar vocals at best. But they always have those one or two undeniably talented ones to fight off the critics and to try to convince everyone that the group IS talented.
With JYP, some are very very talented vocalists and some are really really talented dancers, but they all lack individuality. When 2PM performs, not one of them has stage presence or natural charisma. When Miss A performs, they look incredible and they are always on point vocally and with the choreography, but there’s nothing that pulls you into the performance and makes you want to watch them. I feel like he has so much talent in his hands, but he trains them to be so disciplined and choreographed when they perform that he just trains the charisma out of them. I mean, we all saw what 2PM looked like with the sunglasses and the flags during one of last year’s Gayos. It was cringe-worthy. Oh so cringe worthy.
I think the problem with most companies is that they’re just looking to make a quick buck. I mean, really? A girl group full of models? Or a group with girls endowed with double Ds? How far from the point can these entertainment companies get?
And it also has to do with the target audience for these groups. Entertainment companies make these groups so middle and high school students will buy hoards of their albums, buy tickets to their concerts, and stalk them outside of their apartments. The musical taste of fourteen year old girls and boys may not go beyond liking a group because they have nice abs or big boobs. You give these kids something nice to look at and something relatively catchy to listen to, and they’ll be eating out of your hands.
We sometimes overestimate just how relevant these K-pop idols are in Korea. I sometimes think of them as akin to Justin Bieber, Selena Gomez, Miley Cyrus, Demi Lovato, etc. And not like Madonna, Britney Spears, Lady Gaga, Beyonce, Black Eyed Peas, etc (like some K-pop fans do). They are the idols that little teens are in love with. The general public acknowledges that they are there and they are popular, but there isn’t much respect for the music they create. I mean, everyone knows how similar Bielibers are with almost all K-pop fandoms.
The idol groups that can appeal to larger audiences than the teeny bopper crowd are the ones that really do well digitally and gain public affection. And I think these groups are the ones that actually know how to stand on a stage and give a crowd a good performance. These groups are the ones that were trained not to be at the same level as everyone else in the group, but to bring a different flavor, different feel, different charisma and unique element to the group. I’d say the only idol groups that actually do that are DBSK, Big Bang, 2NE1, and BEAST (but they aren’t entirely there yet).
In YG, it’s probably the way he trained them. I think he fosters the individual abilities of each trainee and lets them be unique and encourages that on stage. I remember watching 2NE1tv once and he was watching them rehearse for a performance. He said something along the lines of, “Don’t be so worried about being synchronized. When you go up on stage and you look like you’re thinking so hard about being in sync with each other, is that fun? No. Just do your own thing and have fun.” It was an off-handed comment but one that really struck me. He doesn’t train these kids to go up on stage and perform super synchronized performances with MR backtracks that are far too loud. He doesn’t rely on variety shows to get the public to like his artists. He nurtures their individual abilities and makes it so they know how to work a stage. He makes sure that they are able to get public affection through their performances and through their music. And at the end of the day, that’s what it’s really suppose to be about, right? If you are a PERFORMER, you should be able to perform.
saylor on 2NE1’s Blackjacks are making K-pop history:
I really wish the companies and the Korean media would stop. Some guy commented so aptly on there that it’s like a “culture of narcissism.” As in the fans of K-pop and the K-media seem to assume that they’ve discovered something that no one else in the world understands how great it is, etc. Thus they hype it in the US because it’s such an amazing thing that it’s bound to be accepted and celebrated when Americans can understand it. That’s how delusional fans are. He’s so right! But what these Korean companies, actors, actresses, singers, idols, etc fail to realize is that they aren’t the only ones venturing into the US.
What boggles my mind is that the Korean media and the rabid fans seem to think K-pop will make this huge impact in the world because it’s so popular in certain areas. Ugh… there are whole industries that are gaining popularity and have had stable/growing fanbases for years. Bollywood, Nollywood, and Taiwanese/Chinese acts as well (probably a crap ton more that I don’t even know about). Koreans aren’t the only ones venturing into the US or entering the global market, really East Asians aren’t the only ones venturing either. There is a ton of competition guys from people all over the world.
And American producers are not going to invest in something short term like K-pop and go through the costly promotions as they would for in-house talent. Instead they will do free things like a twitter promoting a Korean album and setting up the background as the Korean star, or setting up a website, because these things aren’t costly in the grand scheme of things.
And I suspect that the reason they do this is because they understand how the Korean system works. Rabid fans are part of the problem. An American company wouldn’t have to do much work to get the greater benefit because if they understand the Korean model then they know SNSD will sell b/c of their fanbase. That 2NE1 will sell because of their fanbase. DBSK, BIG BANG, 2PM, JYJ, and all the others. Thus, they won’t be out there trying to gain new fans, which is what they are meant to do.
They are going to invest in Bollywood movies or encourage Bollywood crossovers so that they can get a foot into the Indian film industry, because of India’s growing youth that loves entertainment and has the ability and money to watch movies and listen to music. Hermes just created a line of their own saris, nuff said (they are some ugly ass saris, I will never understand high fashion). This is highly indicative of India’s growing influence in entertainment. I mean they are partnering with Hollywood agencies to release movies in 3d formats. Movies not music videos (although the music video is in there lol).
The same thing will happen with Nollywood (which I’m not too well aware of) because of it’s massive popularity in W. Africa and Nigeria’s growing economy. That would be a better investment then something shallow like K-pop.
Get it together K-media. You have a ton of competition. K-pop is sadly just a trend. The indie acts in Korea would be a much better LONG term investment.
Kassandra2941 on IU: Last Fantasy Concept Review
On a pure visual level, I adore IU‘s look. I think she comes off as sweet and endearing in her dance outfits and long sweater ensemble, which are all a nice contrast to her mature look with short hair at the end of the video. Though I think she looks cute in pigtails, I felt that they were a bit overkill with the whole look together. Additionally, her skirts in the dancing parts of the video are just barely shy of constantly flashing. But considering that this is K-pop, and she has a strong older male fanbase, this comes as no surprise to me (though still a bit creepy).
What truly strikes me is that this whole video (and album) is about IU becoming more mature, as if all of her previous music and MVs were made of sheer innocence and sugar. However, we have already seen IU do a mature concept a few years ago with her Lost Child MV. The viewer sees her both as a forlorn bride and as a widow. And she pulled off the look very well. Of course, to gain popularity in the world of K-pop, she had to regress in the maturity of her music. So now, instead of having a solo artist who could have been creating lots of mature music, we have a solo artist who went to cutsiness and can now grow up in front of our eyes for our enjoyment.
Lydia on It’s a One Way Chance for B1A4 and MBLAQ
I can’t remember how I got to know of One Way, but I’ve loved them since their debut, and they convince me that regardless of the crap that K-pop sometimes has, there’s always them and the indie acts like Clazziquai, and Epik High who produce amazing music, and it inspires me as I listen to them. I’m so glad you gave them some attention here as they’re really unknown despite their really good music and their fluency in English. Their music is the type that you’ll listen to for years, and not forget about it after the hype. My friends call it my ‘groovy’ music, but I love music that stays with you.
I’ve always paid attention to any of their productions, and I’m amazed at the versatility and their ability to always churn out good music, regardless of genre. There’s the pop (B1A4‘s My Love) and the ballad (2PM‘s Like A Movie which really displayed their vocal ability for which I love and is really soothing, like a One Way production), and there’s the more R&B stuff that he’s done with Donghae. One really well-written song by Chance is Bang Yong Guk‘s I Remember, featuring Yoseob of Beast. I gave it my vast attention because of those two factors: the featuring and the producer. An up-tempo ballad with rock elements, is a apt description of the song. I was pleasantly surprised by the rock feel of it, but it’s one of the best songs I’ve heard, in terms of the rapping, singing and the music.
I also love their albums, so I always give them leeway when they’re slow with their releases. Personally, I love their unplugged version of Rainy Days more than the original. And one of my favorite tracks is their intro track which I find leads perfectly into the second song, Rainy Days. One thing that I find very consistent with them is the sound, which your article mentions, cohesiveness. Their entire albums feels complete, not like it was thrown together with different songs that just don’t mesh or flow into one another. This is one key thing I find lacking in many albums today, but some key mentions are: One Way’s albums, 4men‘s The Artist, Seungri‘s VVIP, Beast’s Fiction and Fact, Taeyang‘s Solar, 2AM‘s Saint O’Clock are some of the recent ones. One Way’s taking some time out to do things of their own. Peter and Young Sky are also producing, with Donghae and Eunhyuk‘s recent duet 떴다 오빠 at Supershow 4 being their production and their coming out with as a duo (D2O or detour as it’s pronounced), Amanda is one of their tracks and Chance doing all those things you’ve mentioned. Although I am sad that there’s no new album as of yet, it’s good to hear them producing for other people and getting the attention that they deserve. I want them to get more popular, but also hope that they don’t lose their distinctive sound and style.
One other thing that I feel deserves mention is them as an artist. (Would love for you to do a more in-depth article about them and their albums, they’re almost like an Indie Gem). They’ve been given such attention as producers that sometimes we forget that they debuted as artists that produce their own music. They have a very good musical ear, and can sing and harmonize well, as seen their albums, and even their covers. Young Sky is a really good rapper who has that flow and depth that you need as a rapper. One brilliant showcase of this is their cover of Taeyang’s Look Only At Me, and their performance. Take some time to go through the videos in their channel, you won’t regret it. They’re also really funny and down to earth, which is why I love them all the more. They treat their fans like friends, so it’s so fun to support them. Some honorable mentions: fooling around here and here, and some other covers here, here, and here.
That’s all for this week, and remember to check out the actual articles linked, as well as the comment sections for all the other great comments not included here. For now, stay chic and enjoy the rest of your weekend!