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Entries by tag: brown eyed girls

More Angry Than Funny
I'm only two views in, but so far this seems way more angry than funny. I wasn't expecting it. The jokes appear mean, deliberately, like tacks on a chair, electric-shock handshakes. Maybe Psy's attitude is that the decorum he's throwing raspberries at is mean in itself, so he'll be mean to decorum.

Nine comments down I see:

cjua2803 6 seconds ago
PSy is such a troll lmao
The music is relentlessly nondevelopmental. Intentionally refuses to give us any release.

As a dance track, it isn't as compelling in its maddening repetition as "Harlem Shake," but maybe that's beside the point, if there is one.

Btw, Ga-In, his partner in mischief here, the one who gets him back with the chair trick, was in the best K-pop video I've seen ("Irreversible"), and another that's in my top ten ("Abracadabra").

*Maybe I should've been. The only Psy track I knew other than "Gangnam Style" was "Right Now," which maybe isn't just about getting the commuters to shake and the secretaries to feel better; maybe it also harbors background dreams of giving a wrong time, stopping a traffic line. The gag in the "Gangnam Style" vid is something of a "what am I doing here?" in relation to the posh life of Gangnam; in this one the answer seems to be "I'm fucking everyone up."

warthoginrome writes:

I don't know if you had the chance to run into this news, so I wanted to point it out, because the topic is common to the entire asian pop scene.

The story is about Minami Minegishi (20 y.o.), member of the japanese group AKB48. A tabloid published some photographs of her leaving the apartment of her boyfriend, Alan Shirahama (19 y.o.), member of the boy band Generations.

As you may guess, Minami is bound to a "contract" which prohibits any kind of relationships. After the bomb exploded, she decided (spontaneously?) to cut her hair and record a public apology. In the video she apologizes to colleagues, family, and fans, reproaching herself for having been "thoughtless and immature," and specifying that "I don't believe just doing this means I can be forgiven for what I did, but the first thing I thought was that I don't want to quit AKB48." In the meantime, the agency demoted her from the "senior" to the "trainee" rank, for "for causing a nuisance to the fans."

I don't really know why, but as soon as I saw the video, the T-ARA controversy came to my mind, because I find it hard to tolerate the unlimited power of the so called netizens (better, customers). This is really too much. I know that, after all, Minami is more fortunate than many boys and girls of her age living in much tougher conditions around the globe, but I feel bad for her anyway.
Checking this out myself, I see that American news outlets have been all over this story, reporting that the incident has provoked pushback and even outrage in Japan, people calling the treatment of Minami unfair and saying it amounts to bullying (many people assuming she had little choice in the matter of close-cropping her hair).

Image Hosted by ImageShack.us

Some American (I assume) commentators at The Young Turks provided their own perspective, and my crap detector says that they didn't actually research the culture, that they're making guesses as to the attitudes behind the no-dating rule. ("You're no good unless you're virginal, you're no good unless you're pure, you're no good unless I actually have a shot at sleeping with you sometime in the future.") But then, I haven't researched it either. And just because they're guessing doesn't mean they're wrong.

Crossing the borderCollapse )

G-DragonCollapse )

Results nobody wantsCollapse )

Plastic Face (Grimes and Brown Eyed Girls)
Writing has its own versions of Auto-tune and plastic surgery: they're called "rewriting" and "editing" (incl. in-the-head and unconscious editing, before your own or another person's hand even starts reworking the prose).

Okay, those aren't great analogies and I'm not going to push them. Just, I have a gut-level aversion to the idea of someone undergoing plastic surgery (not counting to repair injuries and to compensate for gross disfigurement), but "gut-level aversion" is not the same thing as an idea or an argument. And, you know, we do alter ourselves in the way we face the world — words and demeanor. So why especially recoil when the altering is done by knife? Anyway, I'm not of the age or gender or profession to suffer negative consequences from refusing plastic surgery. Whereas I've read (though what I read was unsourced) that some K-pop contracts give agencies the right to force female trainees to "alter [their] look or image if necessary," presumably with a scalpel.

Here're Brown Eyed Girls, pushing back at the antis:

I'm not dead sure how to interpret this. Plastic surgery is here, it's real, we've probably done it ourselves, deal with it. There's aggression in the skit, but not necessarily a clear target, or a clear reason for the laughter. The issue causes discomfort; you milk the discomfort for comedy. This YouTube comment probably comes close:

This is just awesome and right on the spot. I can't [get] with men (society in general) who hate 'ugly' girls but criticize those who do plastic surgery or even put on make up! Not everybody naturally fits beauty standards, so fuck you.
Grimes" VanessaCollapse )

Brown Eyed Girls" AbracadabraCollapse )

h/t Mat

Non-Koreans (Survey).... how did you learn about K-pop?
While searching "Oscar song meanings," I incidentally found this thread where non-Koreans talk about how they discovered K-pop and why they love it.

"I'm just wondering...... I see many people who aren't Korean listening to Kpop.

"How did you find out and learn about kpop?
"Why do you love it?
"What is your ethnicity/nationality?
"What are your favorite groups and why? What are your favorite songs and why?"
"Do you prefer boy groups over girl groups or both?"


I don't think nationality matters at all because puppies of all countries listen to kpop. A norwegian puppy or a belizean puppy - they all love it! I'm central european, now living in Phnom Penh where local khmer kids dance to kpop in parks. Few nights ago they were swaying their hips to Abracadabra :D
Three people like that the groups don't have to sing about sex, money, and drugs.

Favorite meta, best food reference, most emblematic authenticity argumentCollapse )
Anyone reading this can answer in the comments, if you'd like, even if you are Korean. How does one define "Non-Korean" anyway? I'd say that I'm non-Ukrainian, non-Belarussian, non-Russian, non-Polish, non-Austrian, nonshtetl, non-European, non-Yiddish, etc., though I could claim all those ethnicities (or whatever) under certain circumstances. By the way, the first-released (though unauthorized) version of "Tell Me Your Wish (Genie)" was not by SNSD but by an Uzbek. Not that Uzbekistan is anywhere near the Ukraine. But it's closer to the Ukraine than to Korea.

God bless Mother Nature, she's a single woman too (Standouts From The Voice)
So far The Voice in 2012 has produced no moments of genius to match Dia Frampton's "Heartless," though "Cinderella" is audacious enough to make me think there's a chance we'll get one. And I've found six standouts that are better than good (and I'm doing this all by YouTube, so my listening hasn't been all-inclusive). Here they are in no particular order:

Wobbly quirks with pebbles and glass thrown in. Lindsey's not yet got the command that a Taylor Swift or a Xenia has to turn her uncertainties into aesthetic bull's eyes, but the wavers and swallowed words fit this performance fine.

Impressed by how both of them have smoldering depths and high fires.

I know what I am and I"m glad I"m a man and so is LolaCollapse )

Revenge of the Idol rejectCollapse )

Quirk RisingCollapse )

The Quirk Strikes BackCollapse )

Now I wanna be your daubCollapse )

h/t just_keep_on

A Dog's Life
When last I embedded Brown Eyed Girls' "Abracadabra" I asked for theories regarding the dog in the video, but got no response. I would like to ask again, not just regarding this video, but dogs in general in Korean music vids.

My own commentary in full, regarding the dog in "Abracadabra," was: "The dog? Someone walks a dog down the hallway." What I might have added, had a conversation developed, is, "Cool people who have adventurous sex (or whatever) walk haughty dogs down hallways." But I'd overlooked a crucial piece of the video, the dog playing an actual role in the plot. Right after Jea* and dog traverse hallway for the second time, SPOILERCollapse )

Dottie West Image Shift Award for 2009Collapse )

*I suspect it's not really Jea but rather a professional dog walker, since we only view the walker from the neck down.

Tonight The Ballot Let Me Down
Cleaning out the garage.

Top Nonsingles, 2011:

1. DJ Bedbugs "Young Money Cash Minogue"
2. Chucha Santamaria Y Usted "Miami Lakes"
3. LeAnn Rimes "The Bottle Let Me Down"
4. HyunA ft. Zico "Just Follow" (live on Music Bank) [webrip]
5. Dev "Take Her From You"
6. Mr. Collipark ft. Ying Yang Twins & DJ Kool "Let The Beat Hit"

7. SOOLj ft. Tarae of Smash Bounce "앞 뒤 생각하지 말고"
8. Miranda Lambert "Fastest Girl In Town"
9. Miranda Lambert "Fine Tune"
10. Block B "Halo"
11. LPG "찔레꽃"*
12. Teddybears "Cisum Slived"
13. Kelly Clarkson "Einstein"
14. Clinah "So What If (똑같으면 뭐 어때)"

15. Kelly Clarkson "Honestly"
16. LPG "내 눈에 안경"
17. Dev "Kiss My Lips"
18. Wonder Girls "Stop!"
19. SNSD "I'm In Love With The Hero"
20. Dev "In My Trunk"
21. SOOLj with DJ Tiz "Because I Am A Man (Inst.)"
22. Dev "Lightspeed"
23. CB1 ft. B-Free "We Roll"
24. Teddybears "Glow In The Dark"
25. Crucial Star "잘 찾아봐"

Freaky Trigger Songs Of 2011 ballotCollapse )


So, why doesn"t the live "Just Follow" count as a single?Collapse )

What was the question?Collapse )

So, you were too chicken to vote for "Miami Lakes." What do you have against Miami?Collapse )

Oh, I get it.Collapse )

What about disco?Collapse )

One (Always Trotcore)Collapse )

Is there much couples dancing in K-pop?
Posted this over on the Jukebox, where I underrated "Trouble Maker":

It took me a while to get HyunA as a dancer. What I first thought was sloppy now strikes me as having a nice flow. She's no BoA or Min (and here) when it comes to footwork or arm-and-shoulder coordination, but she's getting more at ease.

In "Trouble Maker"'s final two performances (Trouble Maker have wrapped up this round of promotions), HyunA was about 50 degrees warmer than JS.*

120107Collapse )

I don't know if there's much couples dancing in K-pop, there being so few co-ed acts. I'll have to ask my K-pop cohort. I know there's interaction with backup dancers, and in the singer-rapper one-offs, but I doubt there's much Astaire-Rogers lovey-dovey.

*Mat and Sabina's chemistry discussion is here and here, if you missed it.

This is the thread where we figure out the plot to Ga-In's IRREVERSIBLE
Complicated Korean Video Friday resumes today with Ga-In's "Irreversible."

I find the video profound, though the message — what the man's trying to convey to Ga-In — would be a platitude if reduced to a sentence or a maxim. In fact, the guy in the video tried to tell her, but she didn't take in the lesson 'til she'd lived through the consequences of not learning it. The narrative structure makes us travel through it before we learn what's going on, and even then we have to ponder further, or need to get in long YouTube discussions where we try to puzzle it out. So we're coming to realizations rather than being told. Which is why this feels profound.

Which isn't to say that the message isn't also: Ga-In looks fetching when heartbroken; Ga-In looks potentially wanton when sucking a lollipop.

In any event, please watch the video before reading the comments, since the comments will contain SPOILERS. Click CC if you're not seeing the English subtitles. (Not that there's any dialogue for a while.)

Kara, Brown Eyed Girls, and Jay Park reviewed on the Jukebox

Kara's "Step," Brown Eyed Girls' "Sixth Sense," and Jay Park's "Demon" were all reviewed recently on the Jukebox (here, here, and here). The big "Step" issue for Jukeboxers was how crowded the sound was, some liking it, some not. I'm definitely in the liking-it category, think producers SweeTune make it feel effortless, a full-throttle but easy flow. My only reservation is that the tune isn't up there with SweeTune's best. I don't have much to say about "Demon": a functional Teddy Riley track, an OK melody, needs a snap that it once could have gotten from a Bobby Brown or a Ralph Tresvant, not to mention a Michael Jackson, but isn't getting from Jay Park.

Got home too late to do a Jukebox writeup on "Sixth Sense," but the Jukebox crew did great without me. The song is ambitious and baffling and the reviewers didn't pretend that they had a bead on it. Still don't know what I think of the music. Jer's pan and Iain-Anthony-Doug's praise all make equally good sense. There are so many shifts that the groove doesn't take hold, and no melody soars. But I'm stirred by the massiveness and experimentation. If I give it a chance, maybe it will take hold.

Am just as ambivalent about the video: provocative images thrown in our face, an attempt to connect democracy and sexual liberation, seems facile but that doesn't make the images less arresting. The three oldest Brown Eyed Girls were already in elementary school before South Korea had its first genuinely free election. So riot shields and cults of personality and the state closing in wouldn't pertain only to some countries to the north and to the east.

The teaser single "Hot Shot" that came out a week before this is just as ambitious and swings better for me, big-band Latin ramping into soundtrack funk and the Brown Eyed Girls doing the girls-will-be-boys thing on TV.

Was disappointed that the "Sixth Sense" video contains no murders, suicides, or murder-suicides. Along those lines - along any lines - Brown Eyed Girls' "Abracadabra" and BEG Ga-In's "Irreversible" are two of the best music videos I've seen in the last several years. Mysterious but decipherable plots that netizens spend months on YouTube figuring out. [Click CC if you're not getting English subtitles for "Irreversible."] Also, great accordion. Last February I tried not very successfully to start a conversation about "Abracadabra." I'll make the effort for "Irreversible" sometime in the future (tried once on poptimists, but of course that failed too, an experiment the purpose of which was to confirm that Mat and I are alone in the world).

Korean freestyle Friday part 2: KARA and SOOLj
Mentioned in my last post that Korean freestyle rapper SOOLj has a leaning towards riffs out of the other freestyle as well, the great '80s postdisco dance music from Miami and NY and Jersey and Philly. Wouldn't be surprised if those riffs were all over Korea these days, though owing to the paucity of my knowledge, I've only found a few others, one of them being KARA's bright and lite "Jumping (점핑)":

("Freestyle lite" would seem to be a contradiction in terms, freestyle having been a music of passionate spirit and thick emotion, but there've actually been several excellent pop tracks in recent America that tone the freestyle down to a pang while still retaining the feeling: Vanessa Hudgens' "Don't Talk" and Brooke Hogan's "About Us.")

Problematic Korean Video Friday over at Poptimists: Co-Ed School's BBIRIBBOM BBAERIBOM
At Maddie's suggestion, I posted Co-Ed School's "삐리뽐 빼리뽐 (Bbiribbom Bbaeribom)" over on poptimists as this week's problematic Korean video:

This presents the mentally ill as goofy and silly in kiddie-candy colors, so as potential objects of ridicule, I guess, though also as fun. The positive side would be that, in playing crazy, the Co-Ed Schoolers get to be way goofy and silly and colorful and fun. My question here - and I don't know the answer - is: does stuff like this actually harm anyone? That is, does it help perpetuate attitudes that lead to bullying, to cuts in services, and so forth? I think that most people know that mental illness is actually sad, grim, dangerous. For example, one of my best friends in high school became a paranoid schizophrenic in his early twenties and several years later committed suicide. But that doesn't necessarily make me get all upset at a video in which stereotypically catatonic, obsessive inmates get to dance in bright colors. This video doesn't do right by my friend's agony, but so what?

(And anyway, whether or not I get upset doesn't answer the question of whether anyone gets harmed. How do you answer such a question? How do you know?)

Think the song is a good one and I like the beat, though the singers are weak; typical anonymous Italodisco singers from 1985 could have given this more feeling. Fun is getting in the way of feeling, here. So this rendition is unfair to fun.

Co-Ed School's "Too Late" is a more gripping track and video, though again the singers don't give it what it needs.

Murder-Suicide Friday over on Poptimists: Brown Eyed Girls ABRACADABRA
Nothing problematic about this one, at least for me, except to wonder why sullen passion is captivating in this video when I wouldn't find it sexy in real life. Ga-In is gorgeous, of course, with her chiseled, chilled prettiness. Narsha's made up as her twin, and the fierceness between them is stronger than anything they might feel for the guy.

Even though I've watched the thing about twenty times, the ending still holds me: Ga-In with her smirking malevolence, her look saying, "Oh, you're going to kiss me too? Yes. My animal power." And then the focus on Narsha, smooth and blank, way more deadly. I assume Ga-In doesn't realize it's a kiss of death.

Any thoughts regarding:

--The picture on the wall (seems to depict the 18th century, a hat, a parlor? a sitting room? a boudoir?)
--The shiny modern apartment in muted tones (as a place to have sex?)
--The dog? Someone walks a dog down the hallway.

The director, Hwang Su-a, fades her shots in and out at the start, giving us a lot of information but making the scene feel indolent and ominous, despite the fast cuts. Then, as the electrocution device is prepared, the cuts get sharper, and we click into the song.

Rihanna, call your manager.

Problematic Korean Video Friday over at Poptimists: Piggy Dolls TREND
As usual, I'm double posting this video here and at poptimists, on the off-chance that someone there will have something to say. The track is stomping r&b that's intensified rather than compromised by the four-four and the Autotune, and has strong singing. Main issue I raised at poptimists is that, if the point is that fat can be sexy, then the singers should be allowed to really shake their stuff and show some skin.

At the pizza chompin' start, the vid's trying to have its cake etc. and eat it too, uplift the Dolls and make fun of them at the same time. That's what I feel about the name "Piggy Dolls" as well. Maybe it's an attempt to turn the word "piggy" around, seize it and transform it into pride. But I think it's (also) going for snickers. Not that I want to prejudge how audiences will take this. I think it's good these women are out there. The YouTube commenters are trying to position the Piggies as "real" in comparison to other idols, which is problematic in its own way. I guess I think this is too much on the defensive, but we'll see.

Also, though the beat's powerful and the singing's solid, the song itself needs something extra, something to hook us or grab us or mesmerize us. As it is, it's too anonymous.

EDIT: Here's the video with English subtitles (click "CC" for the subtitles):


Excerpt (assuming these are accurate):

Ain't nobody, follow (do it)
One more
Ain't nobody, crazy now
Be crazy with us
My body? So what?
My face is unique
Check it out onstage
Look at me, we are trend
I'm sexy
Lookin' good
Check it out on stage
Look at me, we are trend
You follow me when I move
Now you (look at me), this is trend

Maddie's K-pop blog on Tumblr
I just discovered My First Love Story, a Tumblr whose author, Maddie, describes the blog's objectives as: "My ideas about/analyses of K-pop in relation to feminism, the music industry (both North American and Korean), and the portrayal of Asian femininity in media (both North American and Korean). Continued exploration of my diminished and/or burgeoning identity as a Korean/Chinese-Canadian woman who has never visited the country my mother came from over 40 years ago. Relations between K-pop and above exploration. Songs that I'm obsessed with. Pictures of idols that I'm obsessed with."

If you're like me (that's about three of you), you have now instantly bookmarked that blog and are this moment reading it, or are about to. For one thing, a lot about the look of the girl teen idols will make most of us immediately go "PROBLEMATIC PROBLEMATIC" but I, for one, feel way too ignorant of Korea or K-pop to think I have anything knowledgeable to say on the subject (which of course doesn't stop me from trying). So someone who knows and loves the music but doesn't duck the problems has my immediate esteem.

On that subject, I recommend that you go read anhh's heartfelt disaffection: "To be honest, lately I can't stand K-pop. I still consume it on the same way: enjoy the music (music videos, albums, etc.) you can enjoy, avoid the rest (fans, media, the propaganda). To be fair, I don't think that you can separate one from the other. Some of the things I like about K-pop (the belief that a song can be an event and/or can change your life, how this treatment applied on the producer side can make a song you don't care about something that you never want to get out of it, etc.) go hand in hand with the propaganda side of it." And on.

I'd say that the K-pop convos are the best to have occurred on my livejournal over the last year, thanks mostly to anhh and Mat, and since the conversations often will extend for days or weeks on a particular thread I urge you to periodically click my K-pop tag and revisit the threads (some of these being commentary on quarterly or year-end lists, with the K-pop content being rudimentary in my original post and only really developing down in the comments).

Back to Maddie's blog, a theme that's developing is that if you're Asian or Asian American in North America, Asianness will become an issue whether you want it to or not, and any attempt to break the Korean groups here will have to take this into account. I'll add a corollary, though, which is that if part of someone's heritage is black, everything changes, and the Asianness may even go unnoticed.

[EDIT: Add "or Latin American" after black in the previous sentence, or you can make it "black or Latin American or even though you've got no Latin American ancestry you played someone with a Latina name in High School Musical."]

More K-pop and J-pop
Some excellent, excellent commentary on K-pop and J-pop (and a bit of Chinese pop) by Anonymous down in the comment thread to my mid-year lists, along with over a dozen video embeds.* Anyway, I'd like to stir up the local hivemind on what you think is going on in these three videos (and K-pop and J-pop in general, if you have any ideas; you're likely to know more than I, are extremely unlikely to know less, and shouldn't feel you have to know what you're talking about; I don't). First vid is Sandara's "Kiss" (Dara of 2NE1). Seems to be a standard, "I want your kiss, but your respect and commitment too, I'm not easy" story (while the lyrics are more "I want you to come through and kiss me," sorta like "Blah Blah Blah," though not really), so it's a flirtation, I'll-love-you-I'll-love-you-not, but there seems to be a cake-and-eat-it-too relationship to us, the viewers: is Sandara projecting strength or availability, is that a tension or can strength and availability go together? (Rapper, not in vid, is someone called CL, I think, and she's good.) Second vid is E.via's "Shake!" and from Anonymous's comments I gather she's really trying to have her cake and eat it too, pushing the envelope, critiquing and putting herself at a distance from the sex sell by throwing it in our faces, while at the same time, you know, still using the sex to sell. Of course, such strategies and such envelope-pushing occur in the U.S. too, and have the same tension and uneasiness, and get force from the tension and uneasiness, as does this. The Latin riffs help too.

Those two are K-pop, the third is from Japan, AKB48's "Keibetsu Shiteita Aijou," with a translation in the subtitles, and when I was in my early teens I'd have lapped something like this up, 'cause it's about a suicide, and I lapped up songs about suicide: "Most Peculiar Man" and "Richard Cory" and "Save The Life Of My Child" by Simon & Garfunkel, Judy Collins' version of Leonard Cohen's "Dress Rehearsal Rag," which isn't a suicide per se but sure seems a suicide threat (Cohen hadn't recorded it yet; in a few years I made my way to his "Seems So Long Ago, Nancy"). "Keibetsu Shiteita Aijou" definitely plays the suicide as some form of rebuke, though it's complicatedly uncertain as to what the rebuke is rebuking: Our attempt to understand it? Adults with their know-it-all explanations? (Were the lyrics written by adults?) Is it a statement of a deeper wrong than just the dead girl's? As I said, as an early teen I lapped this stuff up - and by my mid teens I'd found Dylan and in my late teens I'd found the Velvet Underground and the Stooges, though this song doesn't romanticize self-destruction to the extent that those Americans did. But it does throw it at us as a brute fact.

E.via Shake!Collapse )

AKB48 Keibetsu Shiteita AijouCollapse )

Click the k-pop tab for other good discussion we've had here on the subject, mostly not by me.

*Also, Chuck's lists and a link to Josh's are down there too.

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