Qing: I don’t keep close tabs on Western (which, as Camiele noted in the last Roundtable, often implies American) coverage of K-pop, but the odd BTS article does make it to my Twitter timeline. A recent piece that really impressed me is The New York Times’ review of Love Yourself: Her. It’s concise at just over 400 words, but manages to be an excellent album review that also draws relevant links to the larger K-pop scene, and is almost free of the common pitfalls of many Western articles on K-pop.
Leesha: I really like this write-up CNN did on Jay Park being signed to Roc Nation. They were a little late to the party, but the story isn’t just about breaking barriers or being the best or ignoring the efforts put in my other groups/artists. Jay was really…humanized? It felt like l was learning about the man behind the music, that there was a reason to him getting this huge opportunity that went beyond fandom or charts. Jay isn’t an “idol” anymore so there isn’t the hype and the effort into charting and streaming, etc. that groups like BTS get, so it’s easier for Western media to convert that hype into coverage. The Jay article is well researched and feels mature vs a lot of the BTS articles that are super repetitive.
Listening to any K-pop record (or any foreign language record, really) can prove to be a challenging experience for casual listeners simply due to the added communication barrier. You can also lose some key information in translation—even when you know what’s being said, there’s a layer of context missing. Still, just like any other type of music, a listener has the opportunity to fill in some of that context on their own; stripping Korean of its code is no different than reinterpreting a really dense English lyric.