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KPop Roundup

KPop Roundup

By: Natandy

The first post of 2017 and there are already tons of things happening in the KPop world.

With a saddened heart, it was announced that the four remaining members of the Wonder Girls may be leaving JYPE and searching for other agencies to sign with. It was rather puzzling to me as they had one of the top singles of 2016 with “Why So Lonely?” but their 2015 return as a 4-member band was not a huge seller. JYPE has been focused on the newer generation of groups these days with JYP himself stating that he would no longer write music for his once beloved group.

Personally, I was okay with him not writing for them anymore as Reboot was a glorious album with or without “I Feel You,” but considering the Wonder Girls are synonymous with JYPE and the company was literally built on their success, it is sad that it has come to this.

The girls are currently active on social media while Yubin is dealing with the death of her father, so everything is still up in the air at this time. I do hope that they remain at JYPE, but get the support they need for work outside of singing if that is what they want. They need CF’s, the need to do variety work, they need to do more than sit in a basement until they’re allowed to release music.

AOA is back with a double release. While “Bing Bing” isn’t very memorable, “Excuse Me” is an addictive, mid-tempo pop single that I absolutely adore. The “excuse me excuse me” section in the chorus is especially catchy and though I’m not a huge fan of Jimin’s rap verses, they cut into the one tone nature of the single quite well shaking up the stability. Both videos are standard AOA fare. I did like the butt dancing in “Bing Bing” and the “excuse me excuse me” dance and I thought the girls looked great as usual. AOA and sexy concepts are well established by now, so I did not expect more than what they delivered. Apparently, they’re not doing so well on the charts and that’s a shame as I think they put out consistently good music. #JusticeforAOA

NCT U Dream 127 released Limitless and okay the single is fantastic. It sounds like an upgraded version of “Call You Baby,” but with better vocals. The major cringe is the hep hap concept they put these poor boys in. SME isn’t known for hip-hop and they’ve really put the work in with this group but I had hoped that they wouldn’t try to dress them like Chris Cross rejects. Just admit you don’t understand how black people dress and hire a black stylist. The clothes and hairstyles are straight up offensive and ugly. At this point, I can’t even watch the videos (either the regular video or the dance version) because my eyeballs and my brain hurt. It really says a lot about the song that I haven’t canceled them outright. Though I won’t link you a version of this song to watch because they’re all too terrible to look at.

Rania is back as Black Pearl (BP) Rania and it’s a hot mess. Alex is barely in the video and I was sure that she had filmed her parts separately if not for the group scenes at the end. She wasn’t in any of the choreography in the video and this honestly looks like another Rania single featuring Alex. The live performance is worse since Alex only comes on stage for the intro and her rap at the end. What is this group? Who are the members? What’s going on here?! The other let down is the song.

Start A Fire” is basic fare that should have been a B-side. The video is pretty standard as well. I’m going to watch some more lives and hope it’s a grower because I really do want Alex (and Rania) to succeed.

In Shinhwa watch, the boys are back and I’m currently writing from the grave. The “Touch” music video is sleek and sexy with the perfect ambiance for the murder of changjo’s worldwide. This single is described as “Future Bass” and it’s definitely a departure from the music we’ve come to expect. “Touch” is instrumental heavy with shifts and changes that allow for the smooth inclusion of sporadic melodies that in no way distract from the jarring production. The vocals are stellar as usual.

The video has each member attached to a room number (that’s also their birthday, because why not?) and they’re facing danger from sand, fire, water, and a car crash! Trust me when I say it doesn’t make much sense, but looks lovely. The coloring for this video is stellar and the choreography is spectacular. It reminds me of “This Love” and “Sniper” with the unique key choreography that doesn’t rely on speed or energy, but intricate hand and feet movement. If we get to 5 million views by January 19th, we’ll get the dance version of this video so get to watching!

Ravi of Vixx released “Bomb” and while the song is great with its thundering beat and impressive rap, the video is a hot mess. He looks like a Joker cosplayer. He also has a line about Jesus and Justin Beiber but doesn’t use it as a joke. Netizens were upset that he had women surrounding him in the video and he did issue an apology. Unfortunately no apology for whatever concept he’s going for in this video.

SES returned with “Paradise” and “Remember,” two ‘90s-influenced singles which keep the women in their comfort zones. I wouldn’t consider myself an SES fan but I found their music pleasant and the videos show they are truly Kpop legends. Shoo and Eugene have kids and look better than most of the active idols today. What a good look.

Seohyun, formally known as my favorite member of what was left of Girl’s Generation, is dropping a solo later this month. While her colorful teaser picture looks spectacular, the black and white one’s have aged her incredibly and there’s way too much padding in her bra. Bae Suzy,Miss A’s breadwinner, is also releasing a solo project later this month. It’s going to be a battle of maknae’s! Suzy’s debut title is written by JYP but doesn’t look like his normal Lolita concepts, so I’m hoping it’s a solid start to her solo career.

In a weird twist, Krystal of F(x) is rumored to be releasing a solo in February. I’m surprised as Krystal isn’t known for being a strong vocalist, but I’m also pleased because I love baby Jung and I think she’ll promote her single while Taeyeon promotes her first full-length album. I am hoping for d-r-a-m-a. Seo in Guk’sBebe” is a smooth, solid R&B release. He sounds great and showcases the richness of his vocals while looking rather dapper in his red trench coat. Jooyoung is still the army. That’s not news, but I felt that it was something that people should know.

Nat’s Corner: I lurk around KPop communities all over the internet in a bid to get more news in a timely manner and also to meet other black KPop stans. That’s how I came across Hipployta, travel guru and KPop enthusiast. She’s traveled all over the world and is a fan of learning new languages. I asked her some questions about KPop and traveling from her experience as a black woman on her own and she was gracious enough to answer:

  1. When did you become a fan of Korean music?

    I was aware of Korean music acts back in high school in the late 90’s/early 00’s, because I watched dramas but was more into the Jpop and Canto/Mandopop scene. I would say my active interest began in 2005 because of Clazziquai’s OST She Is for My name is Kim Samsoon.

 

  1. Has there been any change in (the) style or biases?

    There has basically been no change, I started with Clazziquai and Nell and added as I went along. I watched Big Bang’s docu and followed their debut so they were my first Kpop group. I still remember being like why is he using the name G-Dragon?

 

  1. You’ve traveled to many countries in Asia and are now in Hawaii, what is it about traveling that you enjoy? Dislike?

    I love traveling. In recent years, I went all over Europe, the Middle East, Southwest Asia and the Americas but only had one month in Asia back in 2014. I also have only been to Egypt so the continents of Asia and Africa are still on my list. Travelling, for me, is a great way to visit other cultures and use whatever languages I learned before. As a solo traveller, I have found most countries easy to get around and sightsee in. The biggest negative for me is when I’m in developing nations and recognize the negative impact the tourism industry (I’m a consumer of) has on the country while being their means of survival.

 

  1. When you were in Korea, was it difficult to navigate due to language, culture, etc.?

    You get around Korea with only English. There are foreigners who have been there for 5 years and surprisingly speak no Korean. The Korean people were always really helpful and responsive to my questions. I actually speak a small amount of Korean but would default to English for difficult tasks.

  1. Do you find that it is challenging to be a fan of Kpop or Korean culture in general? Do you feel that there are more challenges when you’re a black fan?

    I never encountered any problems though my Korean and foreign coworkers thought it was a funny and interesting habit. My Korean friends used to receive my deliveries for me if I was at work and always used to ask about what groups I was following since they didn’t follow Kpop and only knew Big Bang. We’d usually all talk about dramas. I volunteered at a local university and their music tastes was mostly indie groups, ballad singers and rappers.

 

  1. I noticed that you mentioned that your Korean co-workers and the people at the university were not into Kpop/idols. Why is that?

    Most of the music is kind of immature… it is perceived as for teens and college students — except Big Bang.

Natandy lives in the 6 but has regrettably never met Drake. She loves Kpop, comic book movies and her favourite genre to read, write and watch is fantasy. You can find her on Twitter (@ashleyt17) where she is constantly confused about How To Get Away With Murder and gushing about Kpop at the Music Mind (themusicmind.com).

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