Welcome to another Comments of the Week!
This week in terms of idol and music news, we talked about visual members in groups, T-ara‘s new album and MV, speculation about 2NE1, Super Junior‘s new album, Jokwon vs. Wooyoung, Sistar‘s summer MV, idols covering songs, CHI CHI‘s improved comeback, ZE:A‘s comeback album and MV, and Mad Soul Child.
On the television and fashion front, we took a look at KARA‘s K5J perfume showcase, Jessica and Krystal for Marie Claire, and UEE‘s CeCi photoshoot.
Regarding socio-cultural issues, our writers discussed when idolizing goes too far, comedians in music, culture shock.
As usual, while our writers had a lot to say, you guys had just as much to say in return!
Here are my picks of five of the most interesting comments or conversations from this week:
Nate Broadus on Uncovering Covers:
I often feel uncomfortable listening to a K-pop singer take on an English song. For one, the accents can be downright brutal. For two, as others have said, not all K-pop singers seem to try and understand what a song means, which would help them sing it in the right context. Again, as others have said, Rolling In The Deep is supposed to just crush your heart, but few K-pop singers sing it that way.
There are, of course, exceptions. Taeyeon is a good enough vocalist that she can pull off Take a Bow, and has a good enough grasp of English pronunciation that it isn’t too noticeable that she isn’t a native English speaker. I’ve also heard a few other English songs by K-pop artists that I enjoyed.
In the end, I agree with the article in that it really is a shame that K-pop artists choose to cover popular English “flavor of the moment” songs, over homegrown Korean songs that might help bring them to an audience that may not even be aware they exist. I would love to see K-pop singers delve into lesser known genres from their own country. American singers do it all the time, covering everything from punk to folk, rock to rap, indy to mainstream, and more.
On the rare occasions that K-pop singers do take on other Korean music genres, I’ve enjoyed what I heard. I didn’t know one bit about trot until I happened to see some singer do a bit of a song on a variety show. Since then, I’ve made it a point to listen to more.
I would prefer to see what else is coming out of Korea, musically, over hearing yet another version of a popular English song that probably has a hundred other versions on youtube.
Conversation on Breaking Simplicity with “Sexy, Free, and Single”:
I went on a let’s catch up-with-kpop-new-artists-delirium the last few weeks (from variety show to new songs)…man I need a new hobby, but yeah Exo was one of them, and let me tell you my friend, they are all the same. I just realized what SM is trying to do. It’s time for Super Junior to leave the scene, and knowing that ELFS would just go Friday the 13th mad shit crazy on them if they graduate any members, they would rather slowly and quietly get rid of all of them gradually (well besides the bankable ones of course). Therefore, Exo is their copycat replacement.
You pretty much nailed it. The Super Junior members are getting old, its time to let their career fizzle out slowly with members leaving for the military and choosing to pursue acting/hosting/variety full time. Maybe the poor guys can finally get girlfriends. E.L.F can be seriously crazy and this way SM can hope to avoid a serious loss in revenue and fans.
Personally I think it’s time for Super Junior to slowly fade. It’s nothing against them, i actually like the members and have a lot of their songs, but most of their recent material isn’t that great and half of them have to leave for the military soon anyways.
Besides i don’t even think half the members want to be in super junior anymore, most of them have more interest in acting/hosting/variety than being a singer and they get more fame/money that way too than singing the three lines they get per song.
I like to think of EXO as “a replacement for super junior but not super junior’s replacement” if that makes sense. EXO is here to fill the eventual gap in SM once super junior is over without making it it look like SM is trying to replace super junior wich would make E.L.F go crazy, and they would probably do something crazy too, just like that whole only 13 campaign.
That’s one way you can look at it — but I have to disagree that I think a lot of the members, nay, all the members want to stay in and as Super Junior — you can tell with they way they write and speak certain things. And why wouldn’t they. It is Super Junior that has brought each to where they are so of course they wouldn’t want to abandon that name.
And, of course Super Junior has had girlfriends.. they’re well into their 20s… it’d be weird and abnormal if they hadn’t had any. I also think the whole SJ is getting old thing – EXO is SM’s replacement thing can be argued for and against forever and we’ll never come to a conclusion.
In all honesty, yes, Super Junior is getting old and are needing to fulfill their military duties. Does that mean they can’t stay together now and in the future? Of course not. They’ve said many times that they want to stay together. Whether or not they will remain popular only time can tell. As it is now, the amazingness or not of this album could matter less because Super Junior is already a brand that millions over the globe already support. Fizzling out soon I don’t think will happen.
In the future? Well of course. 50 years from now no Kpop groups that we know today will be as popular as they are now.. that’s just life. But speaking from one who knows old Kpop like Shinwha, it’d be nice to see Super Junior stay together and continue to promote well into their 30s doing exactly what they do now. As for EXO, I don’t believe they’re a replacement for SJ. I think they are simply what they are: SM’s new group. And as such they will have to carve out their own way into Kpop.
Black_Plague on A New “Day By Day” for T-ara:
The biggest issue I had with the MV’s storyline is the weapons chosen. Pardon me for being a weapons mania but that’s the main iffy issue I had along with several others.
Realistically speaking, it would have been unwise for Hyomin‘s character to carry around a katana unless it was for showing off – since she obviously had no idea how to wield it nor did she look like she even devoted some practice (and it’s not like you’re gonna be working long hours in the middle of a post-apocalypse city). It would have made more sense if she grabbed something from the armory of a police station or a military base as her main weapon while using the katana to slice up any food she wants to cook and eat. I was hoping for some more action to be honest and it never hurts to have some quick-paced and intense gun battles (SG Wannabe‘s Arirang MV, anyone?) in place.
Yes, katanas are flashy and cool looking and all but really, the producers and writers could have at least been a bit more realistic. Last time I recall them used for real fighting was in WW2 by Japanese officers with very poor results and were more widely used for slaughtering defenseless civilians and POWs.
Now for acting – this one gets a mix-mix from me. Dani‘s acting did me absolutely no justice at all and it took me a while to even figure her character was blind (and because she looked right at the camera so enthusiastically, that made it just as hard to believe). Dani – don’t ever act until you get some serious acting lessons like other idol actor/actresses did during their training years, even though they look terrible in general. Hyomin’s was ‘meh’ at best though the way she handled that sword leaves a lot to be desired (a rifle with a bayonet would have been more preferable, perhaps?)
Jiyeon‘s acting on the other hand, I’d have to give it the most props out of the three. Personally, I never felt convinced by her acting before since she practically played the same type of character over and over but this one kicked out some of the doubt I had in her acting capabilities. Reasonably not too shabby but more convincing than the other two at the least in my view.
The song itself on my opinion, I agree with the author. Lyrics-wise – hell no. Mood-wise, hell yes. Personally, the song itself is ‘meh’ to me at best (hell, I’m writing an apocalyptic story myself) and Holiday would have been a more fitting song – like T-ara spending their holidays in the middle of a post-apocalyptic world haha. But that’s just me saying.
For the plot in overall – CCM needs to know its own limits. I’m in for artistic freedom and all – the concept is solid and unique (at least in the world of Kpop) but the way it was executed has too many noticeable flaws and plotholes – much like with Cry Cry/Lovey Dovey and the zombie version of LD (zombies with sneaking skills of Solid Snake, wtf?). However, if you don’t have the adequate budget, equipment or other preparations etc. to pull it off successfully, don’t bother. Some concepts and plots are just not suitable to be filmed as long MVs/mini movies. But then again, Kim Kwang Soo never does anything that makes much sense (if any) to begin with and is a combination of the typical historic dictator and Mr. Krabs from Spongebob Squarepants.
aratin on When Idolizing Idols Goes Too Far:
What this article doesn’t say is that the man in question checks his wife’s stomach everyday and monitors her weight in order to ensure she doesn’t gain.
The deifying of idols is indeed scary. It is astonishing how people have bought into the Kpop myth. It is no longer the teeny boopers, it seems a lot of Korean society is possessed by it. Watching Korean TV, you are bombarded with ad after ad, of idols promoting things not commonly associated with music acts – from fridges to chicken. There is this false sense of national pride that Kpop is somehow putting Korea on the map, making them a global presence, when frankly it is just an internet presence. However, I will leave that argument to another day.
Kpop produces this cult like environment, where the idols are seen as perfect, no matter what, no questions asked. Consider, the recent controversy showing SNSD‘s Sooyoung‘s anorexic/skeletal figure. Yet, their fans are up in arms screaming that it is all due to her metabolism. Even when old photos show she has indeed lost a lot of weight and looks unhealthy, they continue to argue that she eats a lot, as if they were in the room while she is eating. Same thing, with 2NE1‘s Dara, whose fans also use the “she just has a fast metabolism” excuse, which is funny, considering pictures from her Philippines acting days, show she wasn’t always skeletal. All this to say, Kpop fans exist in a subset of fandom that is crazier than anything I have witnessed in any other fan culture.
Kpop sells the artist, not the music. It sells the individual, that is why idols can release the same mediocre products over and over again, and their fans will continue to buy multiple copies. You have an industry that specifically caters to adult men who love underage female idols; the ajussi fan.
The deeper one goes in this Kpop world, the more unsavory and unsatisfactory it gets. Maybe staying in the shallow end, with all the pretty colors, synchronized dancing and lip syncing to music backup, is the best way to enjoy it after all.
Sabah on Roundtable: Culture Shock:
Excellent article. I actually understood myself better after reading it. I too, went through the phases of ‘culture shock’ in regards my interest in Kdramas/Kpop. Initially I loved it, thought it was a utopia; that perfect place in the world where I would finally find affinity with the people who made up its society. I was contemplating finding out how to move there permanently. Then as I began to see cracks in that fine veneer which hinted that maybe ‘heaven on earth’ could only ever be a good song and not an actuality, I decided that maybe I would forgo permanent residency and seek some kind of long term employment…
I began seeing more and more of the lawn before my eyes than the ‘greener’ tainted version my heart’s lens ‘envisioned’ and realized that maybe I should just apply for a visa to visit as a tourist. However eventually I realized that there isn’t a perfect place anywhere, you just got to take the good and leave the bad behind where you roam and so though I don’t have a definitive plan of action to ever travel to Korea, if my life should ever venture by near to there, I would love to stop off for a while, meander, stroll and breathe in its own wondrous scent!
I think my culture shock was twofold; being surprised by the good things, and then being shocked by the relatively negative things. I loved, JUST LOVED the adherence to good manners and the sense of good behaviour, no matter what. I was slapped in the face by their high standards of beauty, I mean to the point of becoming very blase about plastic surgery.
All in all, I cannot deny that I loved falling in love with Korea/Kpop but like Wendy Cope‘s poem states the easiest way to cure yourself of love is to get to know the subject better.
And that’s it for this week! Hope you enjoyed my pick of comments, and as always, feel free to leave additional comments below.
(SM Entertainment, Vogue Girl, 44JHN, Vogue, CCM, Pledis Entertainment, Etude House)