Frank Kogan (koganbot) wrote,
Frank Kogan
koganbot

  • Music:

What's going on with Rainbow's "concept"?

What's going on with Rainbow's "concept"? And how do "concepts" work in general in K-pop? Even though performers do sometimes change 'em like costumes, that doesn't necessarily mean those very performers aren't committed in some deeper way to what the concepts mean. Or at least it doesn't mean that they're not committed in the audience's eyes, or that we don't hold them accountable on the basis of our (or someone's) sense of what they're doing with the concepts and who they appear to be behind the concepts.

I find Rainbow's switch from "the sexy dominatrix image"* of "A," "Mach," and "To Me" to the new one on "Tell Me Tell Me," whatever it is (cheery and serene and bright but at a half-knowing half distance?), jarring:

"A":


"Mach":


"Tell Me Tell Me":


Music seems to be included in the concept of "concept." As it should be. Except the music on "Tell Me Tell Me" is meh compared to what Rainbow were doing a couple of years ago in "A" etc.

For what it's worth, I don't believe that in Korea — or in America, for that matter — there's a split between "authenticity" and "artifice." The two concepts aren't opposites. You're still committed to what your artifice says about you, even if what it says is convoluted, multiple, and indirect. Or if you're a phony, that doesn't have to do one way or another with how much art or artifice you employ. E.g., if I as a writer use irony and scare quotes all over the place, which I do, that doesn't mean I'm not held accountable for what I communicate via the irony and scare quotes. If it's strong, it's strong. If it's bogus, it's bogus.

Relevant here: HyunA's switching up onstage between being engaging and being tough, which mixes with and plays off of her lovably passionate neediness and dorkiness on reality TV. Being the provocateur onstage and the lovable dork on reality TV (which is hardly offstage) is a canny strategy, even if it's all quite genuine. Makes her simultaneously special but still apparently in the range of her audience. (AG talks more knowledgeably about this than I do. Have to go now, but later I'll add links to the HyunA discussion, and also to the discussion during our problematic-video series of Raina, Nana, and Lizzy shifting back and forth between their After School role as p-dolls-like sexpots and their role, in the first several Orange Caramel offerings, as leggy model types jammed into costumes from kiddie picture books.)

[Insert 10,000-word essay on Dylan's ongoing image and musical changes in the Sixties and early Seventies as a continual — and self-conscious — dance of engagement with and repudiation of his audience(s), and of Bowie and Madonna doing interesting things with the lie that you can be in control of style. Also, about the Stones losing some of their force when they went from the multiple viewpoints and scary personas of "Heart Of Stone" and "Under My Thumb" etc. to the outright fiction of "Midnight Rambler."]

*In the words of their agency DSP Media. Actually, the full sentence is worth perusing, since the description is for "Mach" alone, the claim being that "Mach" itself constituted a concept switch from "A": "They've only shown innocent and sexy sides. They will show an image that will be upgraded. They will transform into the sexy dominatrix image." Perhaps "A" was merely "sexy." So, is the current concept in "Tell Me Tell Me" a downgrade? (Hmmm. I notice that in the "Mach" writeup DSP was using the word "image," not "concept," the latter being more common, and what Soompi used. Of course, "image" might be the work of a translater.) Do the concepts accumulate (that is, you add a new concept without necessarily losing your commitment to the old, even if the concepts seem very different)?

Can't say I'm seeing "Mach" as having much of a dominatrix look. Maybe "dominatrix" was some publicist's pipe dream. The sound maybe has a tiny bit; it's fundamentally a SweeTune dance rouser, but with a dark background tone — though that's hardly any more prominent than its spirited James Brown shout-out.
Tags: bob dylan, boybands, hyuna, madonna, rolling stones, sweetune
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