Welcome back to another Comments of the Week!

This year we got off to a slower start, what with several of our writers on break for the holidays — so let’s now take a look at all the articles that have been released from the beginning of the year, shall we?

In terms of idol and music related news, our writers covered Busker Busker, the color of K-pop, “Spectrum” and remakes, Duble Sidekick, SNSD‘s latest promotional releases and a look at their album through its makers, GLAM, idol ballads in K-pop, Block B going to court, Crying Nut, Baek Ji-young‘s “I Hate It,” Just JeA, and the band MV.

For film and television topics, we looked at the MBC Gayo Daejun, an overall look at the year-end Gayos, Weekly Idol, the best of last week’s music shows, Oh Yeon-seo and variety love lines, Moon Geun-young, and Romantic & The Idol.

As for socio-cultural issues, we tackled catchphrases, Rain and the treatment of celebrity soldiers, aegyo hip-hop, cross-cultural cussing, laying off the haterade, a panel discussion on Block B’s situation, making a case for remakes, finding identity as a Chinese-American K-pop star, and the death of Jo Sung-min.

Here are five comments that managed to catch my eye from this week:

Gabrielle Minor on Counterpoint: Making a Case for Remakes:

I don’t mind the remakes or covers, I just hate two things.

1. When people act like the original didn’t matter or that the original artists should be “grateful” that someone as wonderful as *insert kpop idol/group here* would give them the “honor” of using their song. I’m sure that (most of the time anyway) the companies ask permission, pay the fees and get the okay, but it’s annoying when it’s mentioned (since companies rarely say so themselves), that people react with, “WELL, THEY MADE IT BETTER ANYWAY SO WHO CARES” response.

I remember watching that go down with “Run Devil Run.” It wasn’t bad that SM wanted to use the song, it was just annoying to see people go, ‘Well, Kesha‘s a bad singer/slutty/stupid so SNSD made the song better.” Or that their version was the only “true” version. Both of those songs exist, so they should both be respected in their own right.

2. When companies don’t come out and say it. Why does someone have to look it up? Or a fan of the other group/signer go, “oh, hey, this is so and so’s song.” Just lay it out there. American artists remake songs all the time. But they usually blatantly say what song(s) are sampled, or what it’s a cover of. Just tell us. People usually get defensive when it’s like a secret. Especially when it’s from an artist that isn’t well known. When it’s someone like Duffy or Kesha, it sucks they didn’t just tell us out front ( not saying they didn’t with Duffy, just using it as a “what if”), but you can figure it out as soon as you hear it. You know it’s “Mercy.” But when it’s a relatively unknown artist from say…Israel, I feel like they’re trying to pull one over on me. Like they purposely picked someone who’s media isn’t as as globally known, and an artist that not many from their country would know of, to try and fool people into thinking it was theirs, and then coming out when someone mentions it.

Just be honest and respectful to the artist. If it’s a cover, it’s a cover. There’s nothing wrong with that. People do it all the time and reinvent classics and bring attention to songs some people would of never thought to listen to. There is nothing at all wrong with that. Just come out and say it and make sure that the original song writer or performer gets the kudos they deserve for the original song’s creation.

BishieAddict on Idol Ballads in K-pop: From Korea to Japan:

I am a ballad fan. I remember in ~ 2005 before idol groups really took off (post H.O.T), some ballad artists were mainstream. I recall this because DBSK lost the Daesang award to SGWannabe. I am a fan of the ballad group Fly to the Sky as well, which was relatively popular when they were under SM Entertainment (at least I thought they were)

It’s a shame that currently to be commercially successful they have to rely on catchy music. The difference in the popularity between 2PM and 2AM really shows the discrepancy in the market. I listen to my fair share of the trendy dance music, but sometimes I just love to relax with a good old ballad – which is rare among the groups I listen to these days. And to be honest, some artists (not just idols) do not sing ballads well, so I do not want to listen to their ballads.

Yes, I also noticed that the Korean groups tend to sing more ballads in Japan than in Korea. I noticed this as a THSK/DBSK fan. I think their strategy for the Japanese market was to differentiate themselves from the other idol boybands with a more mature sound. When THSK was aiming for Japan, idol boybands from Johnny Entertainment was very popular and JE dominated the charts/dramas/ had a monopoly over the teen idol market. THSK fans tend to be older probably as a result of their more “mature” sound. For whatever reason, I am grateful that they went this path and produced songs like “Love in Ice” “Bolero” and “Why did I fall in love with You.”

It’s interesting to note that Super Junior hasn’t made a serious attempt promoting in the Japanese market (well they did release a Japanese version of the song “opera” last year), yet KRY from Super Junior (the ballad group from Super Junior) tend to have concerts in Japan and will soon be releasing their new Japanese ballad single “Promise You”. I’m guessing they’re also aiming for Japan.

I wish there was a bigger market for Korean ballads. I like listening to K.Will, 2AM and KRY. My favourite Super Junior song is a ballad (“Your Eyes” by Yesung and Kyuhyun). The ballad “Tonight” was what hooked me to DBSK. At least ballads still have some presence as OSTs in dramas.

Tres on Oh Yeon-seo and the Legitimacy of Variety Show Love Lines:

The problem is… Oh YeonSeo and Lee JangWoo are currently starring together as a cute couple whom a lot of Korean viewers- young and old – simply adore in a DAILY DRAMA, whereas WGM is a one-time during the weekend variety show. Prior to the scandal, viewers watching the OYS-LJW couple five times a week with all their cutesy moments would think “They would’ve made a cute real-life couple;look at that chemistry, oh well too bad she’s with LeeJoon now” etc but now post-scandal, watching the same couple is different when there’s that thought “oho… so they do LIKE each other for real, enough to hang out together multiple times out of the show at least”. And that takes away the edge from JoonSeo couple as the “weekend couple”, when the viewers are more used to these thoughts of OYS-LJW as a possible real couple as they watched the drama. It’s on the same channel for god’s sake. International viewers might not realize the importance of the whole OYS-LJW as a couple on a Daily Drama in this whole scandal, but I personally think it brings some sort of weight onto the whole thing. It’s different than the regular two-nights drama as the general public watches it day in and day out, and when people actually found out that there’s a possibility that a daily drama couple might be for real, it’s a different sort of fondness than that of a variety show couple, I guess. OYS’s agency messed up big time on this one.

GracefulCassieShapley on Roundtable: Block Bust?:

All I can say is that they need to stick together as a group during this lawsuit, it will make their case stronger. Its better to say that ” we have all been screwed over” than as to “only some of us have been screwed.” Similar to KARA, Block-B is stardom’s bread. KARA’s lawsuit was successful and negotiations were made because KARA was the only one bring money in for DSP, so therefore DSPE HAD to oblige to KARA or lose their major source of income. Now, I am not too sure on how much Block-B is bringing in, but I would guess Block-B is a major source of their income. I am not sure what Stardom will do. Either they will try to work something out with Block-B or they will let them go (if the latter happens, it probably means that Stardom has other acts or they aren’t in a financial good situation to pay Block-B anyways.)

I bring up the DSP/KARA case because this is a similar boat that Block-B is in, as opposed to the DBSK-Hangeng debacle. SME fought JYJ (and not all of them participated in the lawsuit) instead of fighting for them because a) SME is too stubborn or prideful to succumb to JYJ’s demands, and b) SME can actually afford to let JYJ go. Although JYJ was a big loss for their company, they had SNSD, Super Junior, SHINee, BoA, and even F(x) there to make up for more than half of what they lost. Basically, a big power like SME has other groups to rely on for income and cash. Hangeng was even less of a loss to SME because heck… Super Junior still has ten other marketable members. However, lesser powers such as DSP and Stardom, don’t have a fall back group that will replace the income of another group filing for a lawsuit. DSP needs KARA, and Stardom still needs Block-B to a certain extent. It would be like (I know this won’t be a great example but…), 4minute (minus HyunA) filing in for a lawsuit against CubeE. There would be some loss for CubeE, but Cube would still have B2ST bringing in their income and HyunA. However, if B2ST decided for whatever reason to file in for lawsuit, that would be a whole different ball game.

The sad thing is that Block-B is probably not the only group going through this shit, but they’re one of the few that are willing to take action. Its not that other groups are cowardly, but lawsuits are extremely risky. There is always the possibility of you losing or having to leave your entertainment….and then what? Will another entertainment take you in? Will you be blacklisted and have some publicity push/support? These are all risks that most idol groups are not willing to take. They don’t want to lose the producers, promotion pushes, and somewhat security of belonging to an entertainment, because most of idol groups today (unless super popular or talented) don’t have what it takes to survive on their own. Its hard for these groups to win in some cases.

I am not sure what will happen to Block-B, but I do hope the best for these boys and pray that everything goes well. They are not only talented, but resilient and hard working group that continues to push through obstacles. I still find it kind of suspicious that it was so easy for the manager to pose as a CEO as Stardom claims

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3aKocu2h5YM&w=560&h=315]

(NOTE: Yes — it’s not Christmastime anymore, but this clip is just too precious to pass up on re-sharing).

shannie4888 on “I am a Failed ABC”: Finding Identity as a Chinese-American K-pop Star:

This article was really good. I never really wondered how Kpop stars like Amber and Henry define their identity when in Taiwan or China, just how they do it in Korea, since they are not Korean. You’ve really given me a lot to think about.

I can say that as an immigrant myself, I understand what some ABCs have to go through because even though I was born somewhere else, I still consider American culture and customs a very distinct part of my identity. When I visit my country of birth, the locals may interpret my American sensibilities as being very foreign, but I can’t help it because it’s become fully incorporated into who I am. I’ve been here since I was a child and that is what I know. I still speak my own language and know my culture, so I’ve never lost my ethic or primary cultural identity. I love being able to identify with more than one nation and more than one culture.

When you are an immigrant or have immigrant parents/grandparents, it adds so much cultural richness to your heritage and your understanding of the world. It’s really a wonderful experience and I hope all ABCs can appreciate that. ABCs have an opportunity to claim all of their ethnicity, instead of just part of it. Whether or not they feel Chinese or American or both, they can claim it because it could be very well that they identify with both, even if it’s more for culture, than for the other.

It’s common for people to make it seem like a person can’t embrace their complete cultural identity. “You have to choose one” is a motto in our society. You’re either Black or White. There is no gray. Well, why can’t you be both? If outsiders are confused by your willingness to embrace your multiculturalism, then that’s a problem they’ll have to work on. Having a different tradition, language, customs, etc. are gifts that you can pass down to future generations. Therefore, even if your entire lineage becomes “American” down the line, they never forget where they came from and hopefully will appreciate their ethnic and cultural origins.

Well… that’s a wrap for this week, thanks for being amazing readers, and as always feel free to leave additional comments below!

(SMTOWN, Images via High Cut, Harper’s Bazaar, Avex Group, Arena Homme+, Stardom Entertainment, Dazed & Confused)