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In the meantime, Badkiz cover a Badkiz song.

(This is a very subtle post that only [livejournal.com profile] davidfrazer will appreciate fully.) (Also see our conversation regarding Badkiz' impact on Korean Taekwando outfit K-Tigers, and the impact of Melbourne bounce on each.)
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I chose Debbie Deb, Clare chose Fatboy Slim.

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Saw Ash-B's first appearance on Unpretty Rapstar and went, "Oh, no, they're making her/she's making herself sound tough and real and it won't work and she'll lose," so I averted my ears and avoided the show.

To my barely informed mind HyunA is now the dominant rapper in K-pop in that whenever anyone in Exid or 4minute who is not HyunA starts to rap or sing, I go, "This sort of sounds like HyunA but now I'm waiting for HyunA herself to show up." "Red" last year established this for me. (The wait is longer in Exid than in 4minute, obviously.)

Crayon Pop continue to score by ignoring past achievements; SHINee and Wonder Girls explicitly wallow in a past that's of course been implicit all along throughout the genre; most interesting freestylish moment, though, is "Delete," which casually pairs old NY-Philly-Miami riffs with cool autonomous vocals that you'd never ever have heard on an actual vintage freestyle track.

Since spring I've barely listened to anything that isn't medium-old jazz (Lee Konitz, Miles Davis).* So this list suffers, esp. in its dearth of No Tiers discoveries.** I've basically been relying on YouTube-generated playlists for K-pop and on random looks at the Singles Jukebox for everything else. I found Lila Downs via her "Cuando Me Tocas Tú" linked on Jonathan Bogart's Tumblr. (That track and Wonder Girls' "One Black Night" are candidates for my Freaky Trigger ballot, which allows album tracks.)

So, what have you been listening to?

1. Ash-B "매일"
2. The Seeya "The Song Of Love"
3. Azin "Delete"
4. Rihanna "Bitch Better Have My Money"
5. HyunA ft. Jung Ilhoon "Roll Deep (Because I'm The Best)"

6. Crayon Pop "FM"
7. ZZBEst "랄랄라"
8. Titica "Você Manda Fogo"
9. Momoiro Clover Z vs KISS "Yumeno Ukiyoni Saitemina"
10. Red Velvet "Ice Cream Cake"
Daphne And Celeste through T-ara (11 through 20) )
SHINee through GFriend (21 through 33) )

*In jazz, I didn't like what I heard this year from previous fave Matana Roberts. Sounded like a parody of a 1950s bohemian séance.

**But let me reiterate my liking for the missed-by-me-last-year "Babomba" from the impressively overlooked (and now personnel-shifted) Badkiz.
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I discovered by blocking Shockwave Flash — which I highly recommend you also block* — that, when I embedded videos using the LiveJournal video template, the video playback employed Shockwave Flash (it wasn't part of the visible code, so I didn't know). If you've got an old CPU, this may have caused your computer to labor. In any event, blocking is easy (see footnote). So is unblocking: all you have to do is click on the red icon the blocker provides, and the video that's blocked comes into view. But from now on, I'll use something other than the lj template when I can.

This is the lj template, which works for YouTube but I'm not sure about anything else:

<lj-template name="video">URL</lj-template>

For example, here's DJ Leandro's "Montagem das Antigas, Volt Mix":

<lj-template name="video">http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Oj7T71vH-mo</lj-template>

[Error: unknown template video]

Note that, when using the lj template, if the url begins with "https://" as YouTube's do, you have to get rid of the "s" for the embed to work. But I'm recommending you not use the template, given the Shockwave Flash. And when you're not using the lj template, you don't have to eliminate the s. And if you still like the lj template's ratio, I've worked out that it's approximately 428 width, 345 height. So you can just take a video site's embed code and insert those numbers. Here they are with the YouTube code (DJ Battery Brain's "808 Volt"):

More vids and stuff )

So, you can use that as a model and plug in the appropriate video. But since it too uses the slow-loading, high bandwidth Shockwave Flash, you might want to use a newer Dailymotion code instead (though for all I know it also uses Shockwave Flash [EDIT: indeed, it does]). This is the one for Wonder Girls' live "Rewind" (x307uyf):

<iframe frameborder="0" width="428" height="345" src="//www.dailymotion.com/embed/video/x307uyf" allowfullscreen></iframe>

Yet more vids )

Wonder Girls )

The disappearing k-pop tag )

Footnotes )
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Lizzy's advice on how to acquire the voice she uses for Orange Caramel and for trot (but not for After School):

Keep nagging at your mom when you're little.
Demonstrated here, with variants here (happy) and here (annoyed)* (h/t David Frazer).

I'm even more behind than usual (mid-year list to come, once again w/ Lizzy). I keep promising research on After School, never get there. So just several adjectives for you:

After School, who were kinda all over in their early years, have settled into smooth vocals, effortlessly poignant, when required, but holding rough rhythms under their hood. One of the few K-pop groups to sound as good in Japanese as Korean. Meanwhile, Orange Caramel's** rampaging cuteness conquers all, style atop style. No social insights from me. Cuteness doesn't play in North America, probably for good reason, but that doesn't mean we're living our lives better than South Koreans are living theirs.

After School "Triangle"

Orange Caramel "Catallena"

*The hashtag is #twang_Lizzy.

**Orange Caramel is a subunit, consisting of three members of After School: Nana, Raina, and Lizzy.
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Our friend Nichol was visiting and in the background I was playing the first Seo Taiji and Boys album and Nichol stopped midsentence and asked, "Who are you playing?" Hearing the ricochet electro beats, she said, "This is freestyle!" The mournful vocals entered as if to confirm this, and she added, "This sounds like the barrio."

Seo Taiji and Boys "이밤이 깊어 가지만" translated variously as "Deep Into The Night" and "Through Tonight Growing Late," 1992
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Seo Taiji and Boys "난 알아요" "Nan Arayo" ("I Know"), 1992
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So, someone who isn't me, without prodding, hears the freestyle connection too! You know, I keep pointing this out, how much K-pop draws on freestyle, and I wonder why more isn't made of it. "Nan Arayo," the second of the tracks I embedded, is often credited (on Wikip, anyway) as the song that created K-pop. Obviously, freestyle isn't the song's only source: there's hip-hop, new jack swing, metal. Then again, in the music press of the '80s, the northeast version of freestyle (New York, New Jersey, Philadelphia) was called "Latin hip-hop" at least as much as it was called "freestyle," as being to Hispanic culture what hip-hop was to black.* The freestyle beats themselves were frequently an elaboration on the electro hip-hop that Arthur Baker and John Robie created for DJ Afrika Bambaataa's "Planet Rock." What's interesting is that, while in early '90s America freestyle was basically knocked off the radio and out of popular music by new jack swing and hip-hop and r&b, in Korea freestyle mixed together with new jack swing and hip-hop and r&b to form K-pop, and, while never separating out as a substyle, it's in K-pop songs to this day.**

Anyway, to be precise, Seo Taiji's melody starting at 1:13 of "Nan Arayo," and especially at 1:29 is total freestyle, and the backup there has the sort of flourishes that Elvin Molina and Mickey Garcia could have put on a Judy Torres record in 1987, and dreamy plinks that Tony Butler might have put on a Debbie Deb track in 1983. (You can hear them best at 1:56 of the album version.)

Loosely precise )
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I've been claiming that K-pop has a load of freestyle embedded in it, though I can't say how much of this is conscious, how much subliminal (e.g., GLAM knew they were sampling Chuli & Miae but seemed unaware that what they'd sampled was already a sample from the Cover Girls), and how much underived convergence (drawing on similar '80s and electronic sources, you can develop strategies and sounds that are similar to freestyle without their coming directly from freestyle). As far as I know, the word "freestyle" doesn't itself tend to pop up in K-pop as a reference to the NY-Miami '80s electronic dance style.*

Be that as it may, producer Shinsadong Tiger only sometimes delves into freestyle,** but there's a moment near the start of the regular mix*** of T-ara's "Sugar Free" where he's doing a fricassee chop and sugar toss right out of Mickey Garcia and Elvin Molina, for instance this from the Garcia-Molina production of Judy Torres' "Come Into My Arms" and this from their production of Cynthia's "Change On Me." Overall, "Sugar Free"'s hard four-four is far from freestyle, but "Sugar Free" has a recurring riff that also reminds me of Garcia and Molina in its bounce and its fast twistiness. Here are the three songs in full, which are very much worth your time:

T-ara "Sugar Free"

Judy Torres "Come Into My Arms"
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Cynthia "Change On Me"
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"Sugar Free" is the third consecutive riff-heavy throw-you-against-the-wall electronic dance track that Tiger's done for T-ara ("Sexy Love" and "Number 9" being the previous two), and once again I like it, all three being appropriately grimmer than the charming "Roly-Poly" and "Lovey-Dovey" he'd done for them pre-"scandal" (though I'm sure "Sexy Love" was conceived pre-scandal, so this likely is a coincidence). Still, I miss the charm. I have a bit of the same reaction to "Sugar Free" that I had to the Duble Sidekick–produced "Jeon Won Diary," which is that the track itself seems to be overwhelming the T-ara-ness. I feel this might have been more naturally a 4minute song, owing to the crescendo parts reminiscent of "Volume Up" and the way the title chant and the raps seem to be aching for HyunA's comically agressive pouting. These aren't criticisms. Having been thrown down a notch commercially, T-ara are still throwing down gripping music.

As for other recent T-ara product, the Jiyeon EP works very well for me while the Hyomin EP doesn't, though the latter has pretty good material. Hyomin may be the group's most emblematic singer, sounding sketchy yet strong in the higher register, so not quite "fierce" or "emphatic" but the one most defining of the high pitch, the one who makes it shred, even if her singing gets shredded a bit in the process. The shredding comes across as emotional commitment. But maybe she needs the other T-ara voices preceding and following her for everything to jell.

Jiyeon of course has been playing a role in my imagination that may have little to do with her. I cast her as the foil, perhaps? That may not be the right word. She's not counter to the bright T-ara sound, she's just not being the one to light it up. Stands off to the side in a way that draws her emotional attention anyway. On Never Ever her uninflected breathiness paradoxically gives gravity to the light sentimental material.

*As opposed to meaning raps that are off-the-cuff rather than entirely prewritten, this being an entirely different use of the word "freestyle."

**While 4minute's "Hot Issue" feels very freestyle to me, there's not a lot more from Tiger that does so — though in a brief moment in "Number 9," Jiyeon did manage to make me think of Brenda K. Starr's and Pajama Party's "Over And Over." And I feel

***Interestingly, it's not the regular mix but the tougher, bigger, and more spacious Big Room mix that's getting the big promo push from the label.
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Even with S. Korea having canceled spring on account of the ferry disaster (as Subdee says), I'm woefully behind on K-pop, and my listening elsewhere has been too random and intermittent even to be called scattershot. But anyway, int'l dance cheese goes strong at its most opportunist (Chainsmokers, Orange Caramel, Badkiz [the "Party Rock Anthem" influence still potent in Seoul], PungDeng-E, Arcade Fire, Mia Martina), whereas the boring int'l amalgamated danceR&Bglaze&crud that's been weighing down charts worldwide since 2009 somehow manages to sound touching in the hands of a Shakira and a Rihanna who've had all their distinctive characteristics removed. Danity Kane go retro, referencing Teena Marie; equally retro Dal★shabet, who still can't sing for shit, nonetheless find themselves immersed in great freestyle riffs. Ole punk manages not to be dead in the hands of poignantly desperate and angry Kate Nash and Courtney Love. T-ara, Jiyeon, and Puer Kim veer smoove and After School master smoove. Few boys' mouths, as is usual on my lists these days; fewer still who sing. And as the biz still invests almost nothing in us oldsters, funky fresh young Crayon Pop represent on our behalf.


1. Wa$$up "Jingle Bell"
2. The Chainsmokers "#Selfie"
3. BiS "STUPiG"
4. Kate Nash "Sister"
5. Courtney Love "Wedding Day"

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6. Orange Caramel "So Sorry"
7. Tinashe ft. Schoolboy Q "2 On"
8. Nicki Minaj "Lookin' Ass Nigga"
9. Crayon Pop "Uh-ee"
10. After School "Shh"
Future through Shakira )
Bass Drum through Rascal )


1. After School Dress To Kill [Avex Trax]
2. Kali Mutsa Souvenance [Shock Music]

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Just in time for my first quarter wrap, Crayon Pop show up in shtetl garb traditionalist clothing, playing old people's music as the young-un's in back discreetly tap their toes. Above them in the ten, Wa$$up ring my bell, BiS prove that Anti-Idol is Idol, Tinashe brushes my Cassie spot, Future gets together with a bunch of other dopes to move some dope, Kate Nash punks better than she'd ever quirked, Orange Caramel assay a disco-Cuban b-side to which they barely even attempt to dance, Dal★shabet crochet in freestyle, Puer Kim does an elegant monster maash, and Nicki Minaj scores by any means necessary.

1. Wa$$up "Jingle Bell"
2. BiS "STUPiG"
3. Tinashe ft. Schoolboy Q "2 On"
4. Future ft. Pharrell, Pusha T & Casino "Move That Dope"
5. Kate Nash "Sister"

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6. Orange Caramel "So Sorry"
7. Dal★shabet "B.B.B (Big Baby Baby)"
8. Puer Kim "Manyo Maash"
9. Nicki Minaj "Lookin' Ass Nigga"
10. Crayon Pop "Uh-ee"

[Error: unknown template video]

11 through 20 )

Jingle the bell.

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I was thinking of leaving the albums category blank, since I didn't give it the attention it needed, and Ashley and Kacey would have done fine without my vote. But Sturgill deserved the shout-out. (Not that any category got the attention it needed. And I’m already second-guessing what I wrote about Sturgill Simpson’s bitterness; not that the bitterness isn’t glaringly evident, but I don’t know if I did right by its complexity. Simpson’s in an interesting fight with his pain (I mean both senses of “with”). Trigger at Saving Country Music thinks “The World Is Mean” is about acceptance and moving forward. I’m not sure about that. But I am a bit worried about not having been fair. But who said life was fair?)


1. 2YOON - "24/7"
2. Miranda Lambert - "Mama's Broken Heart"
3. Kacey Musgraves - "Blowin' Smoke"
4. The Civil Wars - "The One That Got Away"
5. Luke Bryan - "That's My Kind Of Night"

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6. Sturgill Simpson - "Life Ain't Fair And The World Is Mean"
7. Cassadee Pope - "Wasting All These Tears"
8. Chris Stapleton - "What Are You Listening To?"
9. Taylor Swift - "22"
10. Gwen Sebastian - "Suitcase"


1. Sturgill Simpson - High Top Mountain
2. Ashley Monroe - Like A Rose
3. Kacey Musgraves - Same Trailer Different Park

Bunch of other categories )


Sturgill Simpson could rename himself Grumpy Stodgill, so resolved is he to be left-behind and to resent it. So the album works way better as music than as music criticism, but I'm sure Grumpy'll take that tradeoff. Hard, bitter, immovable.

Korean duo 2YOON's "24/7" isn't country so much as it's a visit to a country theme park (that's exactly how it's portrayed in the video). But as a lark rather than a lived-in world it manages to be more alive and rousing than a year's full of defensive, redneck partying, maybe because it isn't burdened with having to represent the vitality of an American South that is still determined to feel defeated.

Women have been going musically berserk in response to broken hearts since well before Frankie plugged Albert (not to mention Johnny) and Miss Otis sent her regrets. And Kacey's "Merry Go Round" references Malvina Reynolds' "Little Boxes" (1962), and it could have footnoted Ray Davies' "Well Respected Man" (1965) as well, for adoring the girl next door while dyin' to get at her. But there is a twist of feminism and newness coming from the McAnally-Musgraves-Lambert-Monroe clique, as they frame these old tropes as a breaking out rather than a breaking down. This isn't all that new either - Martina McBride and Shawn Colvin were lighting up the sky in rebellion a decade before Miranda struck her match with "Kerosene." But if people keep claiming a newness, this could lead to their creating some genuine newness. The experience isn't new but the response to it can be.

Technical details )

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Okay, T-ara's really weird year was last year, but that was merely for what was being done to them in their lives. As for notes and singing and dancing and stuff, this year seems to be one tangent after another. Of course, "Number 9," their new Shinsadong Tiger single, is a return to top T-ara and resumes right where they left off with "Sexy Love" in September 2012. But my actual favorite T-ara product in 2013 has been most-inessential-member Qri's strange Bunny Style b-side in Japan, "Do We Do We," which sounds like perfect piffle from a previous dimly perceived galaxy of Italodisco. Here's a fan vid. [UPDATE: YouTube scotched the fan vid, so here's another one, using a Bunny Style still (ears are... I don't know, but it's not my world)[and that was scotched as well, so here's yet a third, ear-free).]

The only other track to hit me from the Bunny Style project (10 different releases with the same A-side and ten different B's) is "Maybe Maybe" from other officially inessential member Boram, the song trying to sound equally inessential, could do double duty as a commercial for air freshener. Without the apparent skill she outdoes Lim Kim and IU on the Ipanema tip. The rest of "Bunny Style" is as light and bright but far less engaging in its nothingness. (But I don't pretend to a feel for J-pop.)

(Btw, [livejournal.com profile] arbitrary_greay and [livejournal.com profile] askbask have you heard this?)

Target, Jeon Won Diary, Bikini, Painkiller )

So, to "Number 9" and Shinsadong Tiger: he's once again risking one hook too many and using song parts that no longer seem to flow one into the other in the way melodies used to flow back in the Korean old days of two years ago, though maybe those parts'll seem inevitable in their order once they get ground into me over multiple hearings, as finally happened with "Volume Up" and "Sexy Love," in any event seem to fit K-pop's growing formal ferment.

Jiyeon abandons her uninflected breathiness for actual emoting, the brief beginning of which ("neo manhi nal utge haneun") reminds me of the strong cross-ocean ache in Pajama Party's and Brenda K. Starr's "Over And Over"**; the song's passion is on her shoulders even more than Eunjung's, and she carries it. Although for the long run I'm uneasy if this turns out to be a change in Jiyeon's role,*** this time it works in the song's general pitch of T-ara joy and anxiety. To top everything, Hyomin does a bleaty barky thing in a "rap" that once again, typically for T-ara, is more compelling than most real rappers' real raps.

But maybe the year's top T-ara story is Qri and Boram finding themselves in a carefreeness that no one would believe from the others.

Footnotes, Pajama Party, Robert Mitchum, rankings )

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The surprisingly fierce battle for Silly Song Of The Year has a new, unexpected leader: Lee Jung Hyun's "V." People who've been following electronic dance music in Korea from the beginning (i.e., no one who reads this blog) know that Wikipedia has its head heading up buttward in saying that in 1999 Lee introduced techno to Korea and to Asia.* Nonetheless, it is fair to say that she is held in esteem as an actress and singer, at least by our trusty Wikipedian. And she is held in esteem by me as well (who first heard of her last week), as she leaves the wobble and the wash behind for a trot two-step with 1940s razzle-dazzle vocals filtered through a helium balloon. Orange Caramel, are you paying attention.**

Here is where she commenced her assignment as ambassador of techno:

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Credible twerks )
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OK, the first entry in my MySpace reclamation project is the Corina review I wrote for the Voice back in '91 and then reissued on my MySpace blog in '06. It was the best of my reviews not to make it into Real Punks (in writing this review I'd cannibalized a letter to Mike Freedberg and a Radio On review, and since both of those were in the book already, I decided this would be superfluous). Note that I was using the genre name "Latin hip-hop," the term "freestyle" not having yet superseded it in the press.

Kinda Gaudy
by Frank Kogan

Disco managed to be audacious without being upscale in the usual sense, so it could incorporate cabaret, opera, kung fu, anything, and still not be "culture." It could be ambitious without leaving anything behind, without shedding its down-home mannerisms. "Down-home" is probably the wrong phrase here. It's like Elvis: Elvis never stopped being a truck driver with dreams; the point is, he dressed himself in the dreams, not in overalls. I'm not sure what I'm driving at here, of course. A disco is basically a Saturday night bar 'n' dance floor that doesn't know its place. But that doesn't make it a would-be supper club, dinner theater.... It's got its own style. It's like Tony Camonte in the original Scarface, asking the sophisticate Poppy what she thinks of his jacket. "Kinda gaudy, isn't it?" she says, and he says, happily, "Yeah," oblivious to her sarcasm, and winning her over. In my dream, disco doesn't ignore the sophistication and the sarcasm; it incorporates it, discofies it. Again, what does this mean? How do we take sarcasm, knowingness, a sense of tragedy, politics, and make it gaudy, turn it into a circling disco globe? I'm working on it. A flash of glitter, dime-store glamour. The vision is made of scraps and probably won't amount to much in the daylight. But fuck the daylight, that's not what music's about. The point of having a vision is to use it, not to check it for accuracy.

The most consistent postdisco for me has been "Latin hip hop" (misnamed, because it's singing, not rap), which, while not too heavy on the sarcasm, has got audacity and glitter and gaudiness and pink wigs and electrobeats and passionate wails and fancy clothes and tacky clothes and exposed midriffs and divas and ass wigglers and orchestral flourishes and intertwisting rhythm lines and dancers and breathtaking melodies--until about two years ago, when the melodies dried up across the board, from Miami to New York, and the genre just about died.

And now suddenly it's undead. Well, the latest miracle in my life is "Temptation," the Corina single. It's sexy and it's right there and it's also somehow tough and striking and nonapologetic. The first thing I notice is the chord shifts--no, I'm lying, the first thing I notice is the sexiness, right out of my radio. The second thing I notice is how audacious--I use that word a lot--how audacious and severe the chord changes are and also how effortlessly the song rides up and down those cliffs like they're nothing. So the chord shifts make it sound real dramatic, like a movie soundtrack, but it's still just as casual as a song. The 12-inch has this photo in front with her handcuffed and bare shouldered and presumably in bed and unclothed under a satin sheet. There's a long explanation on the back that claims the cuffs are not about bondage, at least not in the way that you think, but about the terror of going to parties and having your life ruled by a Temptation (capitalized in the original) or an addiction. (Her bare top and satin sheets must represent something equally metaphoric.) The record itself is full-steam about sex, she likes the way he touches her, temptation is a part of life, it makes you do what you like. The liner notes say you should control your life, the lyrics say you don't and maybe you don't want to; a previous song was called "Out of Control," her voice has this dark-brown power to it, and the best words on the rest of her album, Corina (Cutting Records), the ones by her, have her praying to an inattentive universe while life walks her on into pain.

And the video's a riot. There are these funny bits of nonchalant overstatement that go by fast as a shrug. She's in tight garish purple. She's got two-inch nails to match. She wears a plastic ruby ring that's somewhat smaller than a pickup truck. She gets passionately involved with her reclining chair. (If I were a transvestite, this is what I would want to look like.)

Before this single her voice was an ordinary, not-very-flexible thing. The voice hasn't changed, but now it's a personality. On the rest of the album she can't really maintain this personality; they go through various song types, slow song, fast song, Prince song, countryish song, haunting violins, a towering pain-guilt-anger song called "No Excuses" that ought to be the next single, all done rather well, with a lot of subtle smart things down in the arrangement, a wah-wah here, a honky-tonk there, for dancers to do counter-wiggles to, but it ends up diffusing the persona rather than expanding it. I wish that rather than showing off her range she'd stuck with the tough temptress voice and let the other emotions, the vulnerability that suffuses her lyrics, sneak in around the edges.

On the album notes she thanks the Almighty Father for giving her the strength to continue and also thanks her mom and dad (though I can't say any of them created her fingernails), but on "Now That You're Gone" she calls to Mom and God to give her solace, and it's unclear that they're not the ones who are gone. And you know she's really got a theme: she's a believer whose God has left her to drift into impulse and tragedy. (Hey, that God of Love's a motherfucker, but that's my opinion.)

Funny thing about those handcuffs. She really means them. I'm touched. I think there's more to come.

--The Village Voice, September 10, 1991

Tony and Poppy )


Jun. 18th, 2013 03:57 am
koganbot: (Default)
My livejournal is set so anyone including anonymous posters can post comments, in order that anhh and Chuck etc. will be able to comment, including people I genuinely don't know but who've had lots of smart stuff to say about, e.g., T-ara. It was anhh's anonymous comment on my "Nobody" post, and his and [livejournal.com profile] petronia's followups that day and again six months later, that opened the door to K-pop for me. (And in the very same comment he introduced me to jerkin'.)

One consequence of keeping comments open to all, though, is that I've been fighting an ongoing war with spambots. Recently, it became almost overwhelming, my logging in and having to delete 20 spam posts at a time, every few hours.

Apparently, livejournal decided to do something about it, since most spam comments have stopped. Presumably, if the comment triggers the lj spam algorithm, lj either blocks it or at least hides it for my approval. Unfortunately — and this is necessary, otherwise the spammers would keep going — lj doesn't notify me of the attempt to post, so I don't see the comment unless it's on a thread I'm looking at and I see the invitation to view a suspicious post. Since no system is perfect, I worry that some legitimate posts aren't going through. So, if you've posted anonymously, and your comment doesn't seem to have gone up, let me know. And I'll take a look. If necessary I can post it for you.

Btw, from what I can tell, lj also lets you comment using your ID from Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Mail.Ru, VKontakte, and OpenID (I'm not sure how the latter works, but I know you can identify yourself using a Wordpress moniker, among other things).

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[UPDATE 2014: I've finally disallowed anonymous commenting, but as I said above, you can still comment even without a LiveJournal account by using your ID from Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Mail.Ru, VKontakte, or OpenID.]
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Made a YouTube playlist of my favorite tracks from K-pop's lower commercial tiers.

In ascending order. As you can see, I like both it and that:

Leader'S "Hope" (2011). The song is called "Hope" but the sound is heartache 24/7. I left NYC several years before Hot 97 or whatever it was came in with a Latin freestyle format, but I can imagine this humid emotion emanating daily from car radios and bodegas on my block (I lived on the northern end of Mott Street, which was nominally still part of Little Italy, but the Italians had mostly moved to more well-to-do neighborhoods, being replaced by immigrants from the Dominican Republic).

D-Unit ft. Vasco "Stay Alive" (2013). Produced by Zico of Block B, this is a lot more natural than his own group ever was at creating a hip-hop idol sound, emphatic rapping with a backdrop that's half dreamy and half disorienting.

Chi Chi "Sexy Doll" (2012). A come-on that sounds at least as ominous as it is salacious.

Z.Hera "Peacock" (2013). Haven't yet discovered who wrote this, but it's someone with a far better understanding than I of Chopin or whomever, the track moving along towards inevitable bliss, while the singer uses the strain in her voice to suggest struggle and uneasiness. She just debuted, and I'm hoping for great things.

Clinah "So What If" (2011). Fractured power pop. It feels Japanese.

Tiny G "Minimanimo" (2013). I wonder if Bo Diddley had the least inkling in 1955 that he was setting the beat not just for buckets 'n' guts, but for sprites and nymphs.

Miss $ "Physical Or Emotional" (2012). Back to the dark Bodega wail. Miss $ had been a so-what r&b act for several years until they suddenly blossomed into passion.

Evol "Get Up" (2013). Get ur twisty little freak on, and take it to the disco.

GLAM "I Like That" (2013). Samples New York City sorrow, then pushes towards a joy most complicated.

Flashe "Drop It" (2012). A lot like "Bo Peep Bo Peep" in the way it teases and nags you.

New.F.O "Bounce" (2011). While the video apes 2NE1-style imperiousness, the band bubbles and bounces.

ChoColat "I Like It" (2011). Young Melanie wants it all, with a massive voice of promise and pain.

Crayon Pop "Bar Bar Bar" (2013). Perhaps they're lucky not to be stars. They get to spray everyone in their audience with water pistols.

E.via (now calling herself Tymee) "Pick Up! U!" (2010). The queen of the lower reaches, she can be anything from a severe art bitch to the cutest and quickest of the wild spirits. Here she gives us fractured power pop, fractured dance pop, fractured Poképop.

Fat Cat "My Love Bad Boy" (2011). Putatively cute and catchy, our heroine breaks her voice into scrapes, sparks, and splatters, and the sort of hooks that rip flesh.

Honorable mentions: Gangkiz "Honey Honey," A-Jax "Hot Game," MYNAME "Just That Little Thing," Blady "Spark Spark," Delight "Mega Yak," X-Cross "Crazy."

Steerage )

I crossposted this on ILM's K-pop 2013.
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New ChoColat single, "Black Tinkerbell," similar to their previous three in that there's a touch of mid-Eastern-by-way-of-Spain-and-Africa quasi-freestyle mournfulness,* and all four singers get time in the spotlight. Song provides no opportunity for an aching Melanie** wail à la the "I want it all, all or nothing" in "I Like It." But she gives us a nice emotive brushstroke at the end of the middle eight. And the other three are catching up to her in sounding forceful and assured. Track doesn't earworm me the way "One More Day" and "I Like It" did, though maybe it's going more for a steady mood than for hooks.

What I mean by "freestyle" is more than one thing (see tag). ChoColat lean towards the passionate NY style, rather than the poppier Miami. And I wish the writers and arrangers for ChoColat would jump into the style whole hog, clear up space for vocal passion and hop up the beats and see what happens, e.g. (1989):

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*Provided by songwriters from Britain, Norway, and America, respectively, on singles 1 through 3. I don't know yet who wrote "Black Tinkerbell." [UPDATE: But David Frazer does. It's Kim Eui Sung of the band Bring The Noiz, and this is his/her first commercial song, or idol song, or something.]

**Me being prescient sixteen months ago:

koganbot: (Default)
Z.Hera "Peacock": Dance-pop from a writer who seems to have studied études and preludes, featuring a rookie singer who puts strain in her upper register in a way that's heart-tuggingly passionate, like the best of the '80s. She's got something, as does whoever wrote and produced the song, even if it's getting nowhere on the charts.

It would help if the visual concept were more than just "I'm young, I'm fresh, and I dance pretty well." In the video she's a caged bird who escapes her garret into a land of balloons and Swiss roofs and soap bubbles. The lyrics (English version here) are about never giving up in the face of adversity or a love object's indifference ("Nobody close, I'm feeling lonely, bitter cold/Only thought it makes me stronger"). Then she steps through her wardrobe into a tinseltown freeze, but she's feeling fire, and her energy never flags.

Live on Mcountdown )

Baek Ji Young "떠올라": Baek Ji Young has been doing well recently with ballads of dripping emotion, no droplet or gusher held back, one of the few ballad singers to reach me consistently. But she has an easy touch on dance tracks, into which she inserts pangs and power, also reaching me.

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Back catalog )

BoA: BoA is an astonishingly fluid dancer, my favorite in the world. In comparison, her voice often seems locked-in. But her nasal soundpack is just right for the OST ballad "Between Heaven And Hell": restraint, clear line on the melody, dignified little quavers.

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koganbot: (Default)
Japanese freestyle — is there a lot of it? I wouldn't know. Just glad that the style, which is pretty much gone from U.S. airwaves, is still strong in Asia.

(h/t [livejournal.com profile] arbitrary_greay, of course)

Tomato n' Pine FAB ("Free As A Bird")
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The rhythm is simply a hopped-up electrobeat, not freestyle's fast twists and breakneck turns, but the melody, at least in the verse, could have come out of NYC or Union City, 1987. Like this:

Maribell "Roses Are Red"
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Also, in the midst of this week's Brave Brothers discussion I discovered a freestyle riff right smack center in the debut days of After School, 2009:

After School "Play Girlz"
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GLAM's "I Like That," over on The Singles Jukebox: Jukebox reviewers are always pretty good at K-pop, since they're coming in without preconceptions, or the preconceptions are wrong enough that there will always be angles I'd not thought of and attention to what's actually happening in the song. I like Ian's sense of the sun coming out in the chorus, and Iaian highlighting Zinni's squeaks. Meanwhile, I was trying to jam as many facts and overtones into my own writeup as I could. (Wanted to find a way of working in that hilarious YouTube comment Subdee uncovered about a GLAM dance performances with SeeU the Vocaloid: "it seems seeU is the only one who did the dance, 'right.' i=fantasy is not a sexual song, (as most people see it) GLAM, by there dancing makes it seems that way." But I couldn't figure out how to work it in without seeming to veer too gratuitously away from the actual song under review.)

I wouldn't be surprised if, in the "Party(XXO)" video when Dahee wears the big letters GL on her shirt, leaving off the AM, she's inviting us to fill in BT afterwards. I can't say what this means for Korea, since I don't know Korea; but that's why I was making such a big thing in last week's comments regarding whom GLAM record for. Getting major-label support, which they seem to have, is probably significant. And "Party(XXO)" is stronger than "gay friendly." It's "gay explicit" (or bi or whatever: see Eng Trans). So good luck to them, and for doing it in a way that's colorful and funny and complicated rather than simply earnest. But they are in earnest, too.


Yeh Kaali Kaali Aankhein not source of sample, but good song in its own right )

Why Now )

Because Of You )

*UPDATE: I'm keeping the killed embed up because I'm fascinated by this sentence: "'글램 GLAM I LIK...' This video is no longer available due to a copyright claim by Fever Records, Inc." Fever Records is the Cover Girls' old label. I would guess that Fever has decided to raise a stink over GLAM's use of Chuli & Miae's sample of the Cover Girls' "Because Of You." But a Google search isn't confirming this. And LOEN Entertainment's YouTube post of "I Like That" is still up. (UPDATING THE UPDATE: No, finally decided to put the good version in.)]
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Hope to post about GLAM in the near future, as they're Socially Important in a good way, and not just because they copy or sample a vocal curlicue from the Cover Girls. But it's that curlicue which is the subject of this post, since, from the way GLAM use it, I'm pretty sure they got it not directly from "Because Of You," but by way of "Why You," a 1993 track by Chuli & Miae (철이 와 미애).

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For a couple of years now I've been hammering in the point about K-pop drawing on freestyle, though not hammering with a lot of ideas, just the fact of the influence. (For more hammering, here's my freestyle tag.*) But "Why Now" isn't merely influence, it's the thing itself, a Korean track that's out-and-out freestyle. It isn't only freestyle, though. In fact, it's very 1993 (as opposed to 1988), unequivocably freestyle while employing an int'l house mashup strategy. Pretty interesting and doesn't quite match anything I ever heard in the U.S. It starts with the Cover Girls curlicue on repeat,** the vocal riff seeming to call across an oceanic distance. This drifts into poignant house atmospherics, then a properly twisting freestyle riff, setting up a talk-rap that isn't trying to sound hip-hop, while the Cover Girls curlicue is cut up and inserted in little bits, and shards of Korean singing punctuate the rapping. Finally, the singing takes center stage, coalescing into an unabashed freestyle melody directly in the Mickey Garcia/Elvin Molina style of mournful NYC melodies circa 1989 — this all in the first minute and a quarter.

Footnotes )


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