This week, we revisited Old Boy, B.A.P‘s new mini-album and MV, the great broadcast arms race, parallels between Directioners and K-pop fans, F.CUZ‘s “No. 1,” the international collaboration between Junho and Vanness, uncle fans, Yuri‘s controversial Mamonde CF, how the Internet can be a celebrity’s worst nightmare, an examination of SISTAR, TaeTiSeo twinkling with their new album and MV, Block B‘s tentative return, further thoughts on King 2 Hearts, Salima and Jessie’s reactions to this year’s LA Korean Music Festival, going to the “Opera” with Super Junior, a look at Pledis Entertainment‘s the-more-the-merrier mindset, Ivy‘s “Torn Heart,” a spotlight on Prepix, songwriting ladies of K-pop, Bang Yong-guk as Jepp Blackman, the money machine in K-pop, SM leaders and maknaes for 1st Look, Cinderella stories in K-dramas, a look at Korean artists that are in Japan for the long haul, E.via‘s E.viadagration Part.1, revenge and aspiration in Blades of Blood, and the netizens’ witch-hunt of Tablo.
Whew! Looks like it was another busy week of K-pop chatter between authors and commenters alike.
Here are five of our favorite comments or conversations from this week:
Conversation on One Direction to Success: The Universality of Boy Groups:
I feel like the biggest difference between One Direction and most kpop groups is that there isn’t any dead weight in the group. I read an article somewhere where the author said something to the effect that the reason why there is a revival of boy groups in Europe and America is because each of the members are vocally accountable.
As far as personalities go I don’t think you can say that kpop has a focus on the idols personalities. The idols in my opinion are seen as nothing more than commodities to shape and mold into what the current trend is. I find most idols personalities to be very fake and contrived compared to western artists where I think for the most part westerners see celebrities as human beings who have flaws as much as the next person. Kpop idols are made to represent the status quo, order, and perfection. The freedom to truly express themselves is almost non existent in kpop so I don’t know if we really know them as people as well as one might think. Kpop fans have been deluded into thinking that they know who their favorite idols are based solely on tv appearances and a bunch of random selcas on twitter or something.
I feel like people are looking and reaching for any clue that kpop may have some relevance in Hollywood but the only time we will be able to tell is if kpop groups are somehow able to get a top 20 hit. I don’t totally disagree or mind people making the comparisons between One Direction and kpop but it kind of irks me when people act like kpop is doing anything special as far as groups go. Hollywood did it years ago with the backstreet boys, N’Sync, etc but Hollywood reinvented itself and moved on. Hell we still do it every now and then with groups like the Jonas Brothers but we just don’t let idols dominate our industry the way they once did and like kpop still does.
I agree so much! Yeah like Liam and Louis (two guys from 1D) have openly told everyone they have girlfriends and the fans didn’t react too badly. Also in 1D interviews they’re all pretty open about girls and their first kisses and having girlfriends while even almost all male idols pretend they’re so innocent and have to completely hide their relationships and such. in American entertainment, it seems like the more you express yourself and the more crazy stuff you do, the more attention you’ll get, while in kpop the exact opposite happens.
I agree. Even though Selena Gomez and Justin Bieber dated, the most that happened is that she got death threats through the mail (which is still crazy, but that’s another topic). I don’t think a lot of fans ditched Bieber because he was dating. WHEREAS in Kpop, Seven lost 100,000 fans (I can’t even imagine one hundred THOUSAND fans leaving) because he revealed his relationship with Park Han Byul.
CompoundNoun on B.A.P Have Got the “Power”:
Thanks for your review of POWER! I’ve been looking forward to reading the thoughts of the Seoulbeats staff.
First and foremost, I agree with you that the first mini-album and Warrior itself was a battle anthem, but I would have to say that this second mini-album is more of a call to arms rather than an invasion chant. The first mini-album was a fairly self-absorbed album. Unbreakable was about their time as rookies, and both Warrior and Burn It Up were about their abilities to fight or command the stage. In this sense, I can understand how people felt like they were the male 2ne1, because most of what 2ne1 sings about is, well, themselves. This only got compounded by the fact that they all chose to dress in Misfits jackets.
This mini album is a lot more concerned about pointing out the injustices of society and calling on people to fight suppression. The middle section of Power is literally B.A.P telling the audience to stand up and not submit to the authority. In addition to the points you mentioned above, the MV itself is extremely dark and grimy-looking, entirely unlike the bold statement colors of Warrior. Thankfully, the choreography is pretty much tied to the content of the songs, featuring a lot of kicking, punching, and smoldering. I actually thought the spray paint section was one of the highlights of the song intellectually because it works with the lyrics on multiple levels. Graffiti screams teenage rebellion and disenfranchisement. The act of spray-painting itself leaves a message, which is what B.A.P. is trying to do for its audience. Granted, this section had a definite drop in energy during the life performance, but it fits the song in so many different ways. (Side note- the parts of the dance when they’re covering their mouths? They have fangs stitched onto their gloves, so it’s like they’re snarling when the lyrics go Warning, Warning, Warning. Pretty nice touch, rather than having them sway from side to side with their teeth barred).
Even though a lot of the comments below have said that Power is Warrior all over again, I have to disagree. The content of the song, as shown above, is an evolution of the previous mini album. Compared to the hip-hop and electronic sounds of Warrior and the rest of that mini-album, Power is much more heavy metal and progressive rock influenced. Personally, I think that’s enough of a development from their first album, especially when the entire album shows a similar progression, rather than the lead single. While I understand the appeal of switching images to attract a larger fanbase, I think that doing so just hurts the image of the group. Rather than going for a new image, I would prefer than B.A.P. take more than 3 months off and decide where they want to go from this album. Make use of Himchan‘s traditional music background to go back to the roots of modern problems, for example. Write power ballads about the stagnant economy, maybe. I’m sure they can come up with something awesome.
I respect B.A.P a great deal for being a rookie group that chooses to deal with social problems and injustices rather than the normal K-pop song topics of love/heartbreak and dancing. What’s even more interesting is that Bang Yong Gook (MINE!) was involved in writing all of the songs on this mini and the rest of the members have shown their understanding and acceptance of their song content in various appearances. It’s commendable that they sing songs about serious topics in a setting characterized frequently by its frivolity. If they ever decided to give into the system, it would feel like a cop-out of the greatest proportions. Rather than 2ne1, I see them as the male hip hop answer to Brown Eyed Girls, with a level of swag that’s more appropriate for a veteran group. This MV has raised my expectations of the group to a whole new level and I’m going to be waiting eagerly whenever they release new material.
Khaddie on Ladies Breaking the Idol Stereotype:
Correct me if I’m wrong but there wasn’t nearly as much critical views when the previous article only dealt with only the males. For me personally, Aegyo and plastic surgery has nothing to do with the artistic out put of an individual. IU might sing songs like Marshmallow, but does that meant we have to disregard everything she comes out with? Miryo is a grown woman, she has the right to do whatever the hell she wants with her face. Regardless of my own personal views on the matter, what these people, specifically women do in their own lives does not mean we should disregard the fact that they do break the mold of idols in different ways. Had Sixth Sense talked about being against plastic surgery, then it may have been hypocritical but that has nothing to do with her solo material.
I would really hate to turn this into a gender thing, but from what I can see we are so much more critical of females. Female idols are not the only ones that have plastic surgery, and they are not the only ones that do ageyo. I’m a Jaejoong bias but I don’t see many people saying that the balloons music video detracts from his compositions as part of JYJ, or that G-Dragons plagiarism scandal make song like Haru Haru and lies any less impressive. Let’s just appreciate that these women are taking some control over their music.
xinran0205 on Stay Classy, E.via:
I understand that some people might not like her less serious or more vulgar/ inappropriate songs like ‘Shake‘ and ‘Oppa Can I Do It‘ but i think it’s part of her artistic endeavors to mock gender stereotypes and give the middle finger to MOGEF (which she is perfect at doing with the cute image and rapping voice). So even though i do like her new direction in music i hope she doesn’t throw away the idgaf style cuz that’s really endearing lol.
And regarding her childish voice, that’s what makes her special even though it might not blend in so well with more mature sounds. I think she could afford to use her voice in a more expressive way while sticking with her normal rapping voice (cuz I hate it when idol rappers like to lower the tone of their voice just to sound badass as if that makes them more of a legit rapper or something) and btw this isn’t the first time that E.via is singing though, she’s done so in the past with ‘Diary’ as well.
All in all, I’m glad she’s back, cuz there’s really a dearth of female underground MCs right now.
malu on The Witch-Hunt of Tablo:
Simply having access to the internet should not give one the right to completely slander the name of another with malicious intent. These so called netizens have become such an overbearing figure in kpop its sad to see that the people who are supposedly plugged into kpop as “fans” can be categorized with evil CEOS as one of the many things wrong with the system.
The amount of anonymity that the internet gives a person is great in a sense when its used for the right reasons, but people like Whatbecomes who have the balls to try to pass themselves off as a victim need to be set straight. While you can sit behind your little computer dealing out so called justice, just think about the person who has to face the scrutiny of the media, distrust of the public, and possibly disappointment from their family.
Another thing that bothers me so much is the amount of credibility these netizens need to have. I know that its been mentioned before but the whole “Netizens comment,” thing on the end of every article is simply overkill, since when do random hodge podge of opinions suddenly become reputable citations. Can you MLA that shit, I don’t think so there’s no author. The amount of deindividualzation the internet gives netizens in itself is scary. The ones spazzing about how pretty someone looks in the freaking airport, might just turn around and point out an offensive gesture made by that same artist and cause a whole lot of drama for the littlest thing. I mean do we really need to be consoled and apologized to from the artist and company for everything that the netizens point out? No.
That’s it for this week’s comments! As always, feel free to submit your own picks below.
(W Magazine Korea, Dline Art Media, Nega Network, Americano Dutch, KAMA studio, TS Entertainment, Columbia Records)