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Cross-posting from Tumblr, where cureforbedbugs wrote:

Were you mildly disappointed in the new M.I.A. album even though you kind of liked it, and decided to listen to M.I.A. knock-offs instead and were then disappointed in them, too?

Try THIRD generation M.I.A. knock-off Tkay Maidza, who out-clonestamped Santigold this year, and ALSO gave us a second gen Sant-O-gold and also gives a few hints of, like, is that Kid Sister? – or something. Basically, this album takes all the shit I’ve been kind of rooting for but not feeling for the last five years and just gives me a 100% decent all the way through album of it. Don’t expect anything less than totally derivative, and if that bothers you then, well, I hope you enjoy all of that super original horseshit you’ve got clogging up your year-end lists. 2016 is a nightmare; give me comfort food.
My reply: Haven't made it to the albums, but on this year's singles Tkay Maidza seems to be getting the singsong M.I.A. but not the jumprope or the tunnel-under-the-earth-and-claw-your-face-off M.I.A. Meanwhile, M.I.A. on her own singles (esp. various "Bird Song"s) is sing-songing and face-clawing and excavating like always. And on another meanwhile Tkay Maidza is shining as a sharp-toothed dance diva for Martin Solveig and Motez. And on a couple more meanwhiles, Tymee is still playing it too real and tough but she's truly grabbed me for the first time since she was E.via. And Die Antwoord are an art project disguised as a rodent infestation, but they're outdoing all the aforementioned.

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Am more ambivalent about "Chick Chick" than the high ranking indicates, given the social inequity underlying the song: the vocals are utterly pedestrian during the cutesy "mǔ jī mǔ jī mǔ jī mǔ jī" stuff and during the rap; the track only starts to cook when the screaming and the chicken clucking and the cackling let loose. It's then that it goes to syncopated excitement, a great visceral speed chase — really penetrates the nervous system, sorta like Bob Quine's guitar lines back in the Voidoids. But my needing to reach so far back for an example, and to guitar sounds rather than singing, leads me to this disturbing conclusion: Chickens are now more credibly penetrating than human beings are. Oh yeah, and if this list and my own viscera are representative (big "if," since they're quite possibly not, and if I'd listened to more hip-hop and rock and banda* maybe I'd know this), women are more credibly penetrating than guys are, women are more credibly tough than guys are, women are more aggressively cute than guys are, women front for rock music better than guys do, women front for heartbreak better than guys do, etc. But I've been worrying about this for years, every time I post one of these lists. And since I'm a glass-is-half-empty kind of a guy, I don't attribute this to women being good but rather to guys being lousy. And it isn't that I believe males no longer have talent, but rather that they're not finding musical models that work for them — as singers and front men, that is; when the spotlight's not on, guys are there contributing to the adventure, as instrumentalists, songwriters, dancers, impresarios, owners. Actually, the boybands are great dancers. And as for "not finding models that work for them," what's really — or merely — evident in this list is that guys are not finding models to make music that works for me. Boybands are doing fine among the fans. I'd have ranked boybands Vixx and Infinite higher if the singers had pulled off the high emotion, but the songs are gripping nonetheless.

Oh yeah, and I'm also pissed off that it's mainly young women and young men on my list (even my token trot track is by a relative youngster), but I've harangued about that before too.

I'll note that celebrated chickenphobe HyunA kicked butt this year (as well as displaying, slapping, and embracing butt (of more than one species)), and was somewhat penetrating back in 2011 deploring chickens. And that A Pony Named Olga are male human beings, not ponies.

Bold for tracks I added since October 1.

1. Wa$$up "Jingle Bell"
2. The Chainsmokers "#Selfie"
3. HyunA "Red"
4. BiS "STUPiG"
5. Kate Nash "Sister"
6. Courtney Love "Wedding Day"
7. Orange Caramel "So Sorry"
8. Tinashe ft. Schoolboy Q "2 On"
9. Nicki Minaj "Lookin' Ass Nigga"
10. Crayon Pop "Uh-ee"
11. Orange Caramel "My Copycat"

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12. After School "Shh"
13. Shakira ft. Rihanna "Can't Remember To Forget You"
14. A Pony Named Olga "Funny What You Pray"
15. Wang Rong "Chick Chick"
16. Vixx "Error"

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17. Future ft. Pharrell, Pusha T & Casino "Move That Dope"
18. T-ara "First Love"
19. Puer Kim "Manyo Maash"
20. Danity Kane "Bye Baby"
21. Badkiz "Ear Attack"
22. PungDeng-E "잘탕 (잘 시간이 어딨어)"
23. GP Basic "Black Bounce"
24. Serebro "Ya Tebya Ne Otdam"
25. Dal★shabet "B.B.B (Big Baby Baby)"
26. Ca$h Out "She Twerkin"
27. Crayon Pop "C'mon C'mon"
28. Arcade Fire "We Exist"
29. The Hold Steady "I Hope This Whole Thing Didn't Frighten You"
30. Gabylonia "Tirano"

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31 through 70 )

By the way, I'm only half-joking about the credibility of chickens — not that chicken sounds are inherently credible, but if it's Wang Rong herself doing the chicken vocals — and I think it is — the chicken voice unleashes something in her that she can't do otherwise in anything close to her own voice, at least not in the several tracks of hers I've listened to on YouTube. (But, given that Wikip says she's been putting out music since the early '00s, I've hardly got an overview of her work. This one's nice enough, this one's got some interesting voice maneuverings, and on this one she sings with authority.)

A Pony Named Olga )
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Crayon Pop seem to be occupying a social space that doesn't exist in America: not of the mainstream but with no apparent estrangement from the mainstream either, not even to the extent that the mainstream itself is estranged from the mainstream (being estranged from the mainstream is a mainstream attitude). And while Crayon Pop gathered a fanatic core audience before they hit big — people who traveled miles to the Crayon Pop appearances and chanted along with the guerrilla street performances — that audience seemed to be doting-uncle types, not connoisseur types. But then, what counts as "connoisseur" isn't set in stone. For instance, Sunday evenings are an unofficial car show in the parking lots along Federal Blvd. on Denver's Hispanic west side, people hopping into their vehicles and finding spots to show off. There are many venues for discerning eyes.

In any event, Crayon Pop seem to be into music more for the art of it and the process than for fame and fortune or even a career.* Going "trot" this year with "Uh-ee" (and dressing like aunties) fits this: the attitude is "What can we try next?" Makes me think of the otherwise very different "Gentleman," by Psy: not a followup to "Gangnam Style" so much as "What can I do to shift around and fake you out?" But Psy is coming from a well-trod social territory, the outsider hip-hop guy who breaks big but still wants to set the terms of discussion. Whereas with Crayon Pop it's more like, "What color should we paint our house now?" At least that's how Crayon Pop come across. So even if they are secret bohemians (Way did got to art school, for instance), that's not where they live in the public landscape.

Whether or not you think I'm right about Crayon Pop, and even if you don't pay attention to K-pop, I have this question:

Who else — anywhere, present or past — seems to be occupying a social space similar to the one I describe for Crayon Pop?

I'm thinking that certain potential stuff wouldn't count, the reason being it has too much of a chip on its shoulder and too much outsider status: early hip-hop dj's in the Seventies, for instance, or the custom car shows and stock-car races and demolition derbies of the early Sixties that Tom Wolfe analyzed and celebrated in The Kandy-Kolored Tangerine-Flake Streamline Baby. Or maybe I'm wrong, and we should count these things.

Anyway, bohemia from nowhere near bohemia.

Also, we need a new term. "Bohemia" is played out. Care to coin one?

As delinquent lollipop girls in "Bing Bing," five months before fame:

Disco trot Hey Mister )

Opening for Gaga in Milwaukee )
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Pasting in the Facebook convo (through early in the day, May 13) that Chuck began in regard to my q about Richard Rodgers and Dave's about whether there's any statistical support for the common assertion that the majority audience for hip-hop is white. You'll see a link to a WSJ report of an actual study, which produces an actual number (audience 60% white), but methodology seems shaky and there's no further breakdown beyond either they own hip-hop or they don't (so no record of how much hip-hop someone got, or what sort of hip-hop).

But the thread does veer off into an interesting discussion of "When did you first hear hip-hop, and how did it strike you?"

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There's no Richard Rodgers discussion, though thanks to Kevin John we verified that Dorothy Rodgers did indeed tell Billboard in '82 that husband Richard was a fan of the Marcels' version of "Blue Moon."

As for my attempt (so as not to have to visit a library or make phone calls or do actual research) to find out if Richard Rodgers did actually take out full-page newspaper ads urging people not to buy the Marcels' "Blue Moon," so far Twitter and Tumblr haven't helped me verify or refute the story or, if it's false — WHICH SEEMS LIKELY — determine where the story came from. Web, you fail. Story seems false not just because twenty years later Rodgers' wife said something opposite to it, but because none of the bios I sampled on Google books mentioned the story. If Rodgers had placed the ads, that's too effortful an event for a biographer to ignore. (Although Google Books doesn't post books in their entirety, so the story may be in the bios in unposted sections, that all such references to the story would fall through the cracks in Google Books seems unlikely. And whenever I made my way to an index, the Marcels were absent.)

Here we go:

It's just like the military pulling a rank/We got a new dance and it's called the spank )
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Quick opinions:

SNSD Love & Peace. Japanese, Scandinavian, consistently tuneful, not trying to overpower us with muscle and rhythm.

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Tymee "On The River." Strong, harsh, and plaintive at once, is the hurt, pummeled, and scarred Tymee. She's been doing this since her sad "Diary" days, but it was usually a sideshow to the artplay and to her being the fast sprite and melody-flinging cut-up. A lot of that's on hiatus since the name change: instead, she's been aggressive and angry; now she's knocked back in pain.

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T.O.P "Doom Dada." Beats dig into the dark desert to match T.O.P's rasp, which sounds quite amused by all the dust.

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Also: good album from Vixx, dull album from Myname, very good "Lonely Christmas" from Crayon Pop, T-ara's "Hide 'N' Seek" not as good as Miss A's "Hide & Sick," Nine Muses' "Glue" not as good as Nine Muses' "Gun," 2013 Flashe single not nearly as good as 2012 Flashe single but I'm glad they're still in business and that strong-voiced Songhee is still singing, disappointing single ("It's You") from D-Unit after a very good year, disappointing single from Super Junior ("Blue World"/"Candy"), third set of the year from SHINee (Everybody) not as good as first two.

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Aug. 28th, 2013 07:14 pm
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We've broken 500!

500 what?

Well, whenever someone posts a comment in [livejournal.com profile] koganbot, the comment is sent to my lj inbox. If I think the comment needs me to think about it further and/or a reply from me, I save it. Once I reply or think I'm more-or-less finished with it, I delete it. So, there are now 519 comments in my lj inbox that merit further consideration or a reply without having yet gotten the consideration or reply. (Actually, a few of the comments are in [livejournal.com profile] snsd_ffa, now that I've readjusted my settings to get those, too.)

So, for instance, I still would like to think further about what [livejournal.com profile] petronia and [livejournal.com profile] askbask and [livejournal.com profile] sub_divided and [livejournal.com profile] arbitrary_greay said regarding the Minami controversy, especially as to what is or isn't happening in Korea, whether and how much and why some K-pop idols might be under a no-dating or a don't ask/don't tell regime.

And if you listed a set of tracks and LPs in the comment thread to my mid-year list, 2011, I still hope to listen to what you listed.

And I want to respond to what AG has said about journalism regarding K-pop and what AG and [livejournal.com profile] greywing said during the discussion of white participation in K-pop.

And I've still got to go through that list of live Big Bang performances that [livejournal.com profile] sub_divided thoughtfully provided. (Also, though it's not on lj, [livejournal.com profile] askbask posted a very useful rundown of BoA's career over on ilX's K-pop 2013 thread that I hope will produce lots of future listening from me.)

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If you were to ask me do I think T-ara are sexy or, instead, do I think they're cute, you've asked me an insane question, since their cuteness makes them sexy and their sexiness makes them cute. Not that there's a complete overlap: cuteness is only a part of their repertoire of sexiness and sexiness is only part of their repertoire of cuteness. And they generally avoid cutesiness, which is a turnoff. But what I'm noticing is that "cute vs. sexy" is something of a meme in K-pop, even though as an actual dichotomy it hardly seems usable. But there is even an officially designated "sexy version" and an officially designated "cute version" of T-ara's "Bo Peep Bo Peep" vid. Recognizing that "cute" and "sexy" are being used as generic, symbolic terms — so not encompassing something like "Minzy has a cute ass," where "cute" means "she's really hot"; but more like how a nightgown symbolizes sexiness while a business suit symbolizes seriousness even though someone can look really sexy in business clothes and look unsexy in a nightgown (not sure what a "cute" costume would be: a bunny suit comes to mind, but that's problematic) — there are nonetheless performers like Sunny (of SNSD) and HyunA who are also adept at interweaving the symbols of sexiness and cuteness (and the word "interweaving" is misleading in that it still implies too much of a difference), not to mention seriousness and the business suit when those performers are so inclined.

That's how far I've gotten stating the issue )

Sad but sexy )

One thing I noticed, looking at that and the other GLAM vids, is that view totals are edging up and there are all these recent comments to the effect that "Kim Nana brought me here." So who's Kim Nana? Turns out she's a character in the TV miniseries Monstar, the actress portraying her being GLAM's own Dahee. And talk about SAD AND SEXY! She's absolutely smoldering — despair, anger, and heat all at once. And in the TV show, straight, as far as I can tell. I'll confess I haven't had time to actually watch an episode, and it looks like I'm not going to; frankly, from the clips I've seen it doesn't seem very good ("Monstar depicts the lives of ordinary teens who are injured psychologically and heal themselves through the power of music"). And while the ballads are passable, the bravura pop-rock showpieces are utterly tedious: big blundering TV-contest ideas of what impressive, powerful song presentation is supposed to be. Yet there's Nana as a character, introduced to us first as the dangerous, dark brooding sexy girl from the wrong side of the tracks — don't mess with her — whose heart, we're to learn soon enough, is secretly breaking. That's pretty much all I've gotten from quick-skimming the clips; I can guess how everything plays out but I don't know, or what surprises I missed, or what I got wrong. Nonetheless, there's Kim Nana. I can't tell you, not having watched more than scattered scenes, how good Dahee is as an actress. It may not matter. All she has to do is to look out at us through her long hair and to never smile. If I'm fourteen years old I know who I'm in love with.

 photo Dahee as Kim Nana brooding.jpg

Censors unrepresentative mindset )
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As you see, Crayon Pop have my top song. But for the long run I'd lay my bets on ChoColat. Crayon Pop have to rely on being insanely catchy every time out, while ChoColat only need reasonably good tunesmanship and dramatic timing and Melanie's passionate wail — all of which ChoColat can rely on.

1. Crayon Pop "Bar Bar Bar"
2. Gaeko & Choiza & Simon D & Primary "난리good!!! (AIR)"
3. GLAM "I Like That"
4. Baauer "Harlem Shake"
5. MBLAQ "Smoky Girl."

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6. will.i.am ft. Britney Spears "Scream & Shout"
7. Evol "Get Up"
8. Cassie ft. Rick Ross "Numb"
9. Tiny-G "Minimanimo"
10. ChoColat "Black Tinkerbell"
11 through 50 )

Continuing the ChoColat/Crayon Pop theme )

Baauer, Gaeko, GLAM, Lim Kim, T-ara )
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More wtf from Korea, Sunny Hill's "Darling Of All Hearts," which I described on Rolling Country as "sorta Irish folk-country flight-attendant pop" — though Mat points out on K-pop 2013 that "featuring" star Hareem plays the Swedish nyckelharpa (no doubt worth five times as much as the Irish pennywhistle he also plays*) and that the vocals in the "lalala" part sound very Swedish trad and the dance, too, looks Swedish. The LOEN Entertainment description improves our confusion by saying,

The song has a Bohemian polka-rhythm along with Jungle and Rock feelings with it as well.... the musician 'Hareem' joined as a session to make the music even more fun. The greek bouzouki, nyckelharpa, Drehleier, and the Irish Whistle is personally owned by Hareem himself. These instruments are rarely found in Korea, and in this song they make the polka even much more fun to listen to.
But actually, what makes the song for me isn't the whistle or the drone or the oom-pah but the breezy bright flight-attendant smile of the melody and the desperate cheer of the delivery, the lyrics by Kim Eana** about being the shoulder everyone else cries on while being denied a romance of one's own to cry about, and the video by Hwang Soo Ah turning the breeze and the desperation up yet another notch.

I wish someone would analyze the melody for me. Seems like — I don't know — French musical comedy, or maybe it's Korean or something.

I can't think of any American act of the last fifty years that could pull off something like this, the happy smile that's got strength in it, but not big boisterous American strength, just a hard inner knowingness that doesn't negate the smile or slow the breeze. (Again, is there anyone out there who can describe this in terms of melodies and chords? It does seem countryish.)

*Dumb joke, false cognate, "nyckel" stands for "key," not "nickel."
**I don't actually know that they're her lyrics and not that of cowriter KZ, but Eana does tend to write lyrics.
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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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[livejournal.com profile] davidfrazer informs me that my hero Tymee (formerly E.via), who'd split rancorously with Dline Art Media, has signed with ASSA Communication, an agency/label apparently founded by rapper Outsider. So I've been checking Outsider; he raps fast, though still too much in the overanguished super-sincere mode that drags down too much Korean hip-hop. Here's one that's not bad, the anguish lowered to medium:

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In addition, I found this track from Trabler.* Seems like an interesting rap-pop power ballad, even if it too veers towards so-what anguish:

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David also passes along the happy news that ChoColat are preparing new material, and that Crayon Pop haven't stopped kicking.

Chocolat Melanie's hair is pink.

*Was searching Trabler because they were guests on "Lie To Me," E.via's boring swan song on Dline.
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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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Visited the pop!gasa K-pop translation site and unearthed these gems:

SeeU the Vocaloid, in "I=Fantasy," speaking on behalf of centaurs, unicorns, animated characters, Elizabeth Bennets, Te'o girlfriends, Margaret Berger robots, and holograms the world round:

Those idiots don't know anything
Oh no
Oh no
Oh no
They hate those who are not real
Oh no
Oh no
Oh no

T-ara, carrying on typically like T-ara ("Day By Day"):

I hope my lips that recite this sad poem will be remembered in your black eyes
E.via (a.k.a. Tymee) "I Know How To Play A Little":

Even if the world vanishes tomorrow
Love will be forever
Girl's Day "Oh! My God":

All men are the same
They know one thing and don't know the other things
It's hurdle after hurdle of lyrics )
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Here's a slight rewrite of my Pazz & Jop comments. I'd whipped the comments out in three hours right at deadline, and I liked the result: power and emotion maybe because of the rush. But owing to the speed, some ambiguities were left in, and some useful details were left out. So I've tweaked the sentences a little, and expanded a few.

Budokan )
People decided to imagine where the rage comes from )

A young woman, a member of a K-pop group, writes a tweet that goes, "The differences in levels of determination ^ ^. Let us all have determination." And several members of the same group take to twitter to concur, or re-tweet, with Jiyeon's concurrence maybe taking on an edge, the phrase, "I applaud you, acting genius," seeming like sarcasm. Hwayoung, the group member whom these tweets are apparently directed at, tweets back, "Sometimes determination alone is not enough." And from here the Internet takes over, seeing this as a set of girls ganging up on another girl. And videos that were obviously faked or even more obviously taken out of context begin to appear, to support this narrative, of a gang of girls bullying another girl: At the K-pop track-and-field events Hwayoung's umbrella is blowing apart in the rain and none of the other girls are helping her. Next image, they're force-feeding her while on a Japanese game show, jamming a rice cake into her mouth. (Amazing that that's taken as bullying; I mean, it's a game show, it's done for laughs, it was broadcast on TV, when it aired thousands saw without seeing any bullying; a few minutes earlier in the very same episode, Jiyeon, supposedly Hwayoung's main antagonist, also had a rice cake shoved into her mouth. Of course, the antis who distributed this as evidence of bullying edited that part out.) And we've got a photo where Hwayoung was on one escalator and the other girls were on another, definitive proof that she was ostracized, shunned.

So, there's a story basically creating itself out of air, but a story that's already in so many people, waiting for an excuse to take to the air.

Make the other members suffer as well )

Singles )

Albums )

Music Bank )
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[For some reason, when I was adding tags, livejournal deleted this entire entry, along with its comments. So I'm reposting. It originally went up January 1st, 2012, 23:54.]

1. T-ara "Lovey-Dovey"
2. Orange Caramel "Lipstick"
3. Trouble Maker "Trouble Maker"

Shinsadong Tiger w/ bodyguard. Co-producer and co-writer of #1, #3, #13, #37

4. ChoColat "I Like It"
5. Dev "Take Her From You"
6. Dev "In My Trunk"
7. Cassie "King Of Hearts"
8. Wonder Girls "Like This"
9. Sistar "Alone"
10. T-ara "Day By Day"
11. Davichi & T-ara "We Were In Love"
12. 2NE1 "Scream." Over at the Singles Jukebox, commenter My cheap on accurately pegs this as "let’s sing about screaming but not scream." But then, 2NE1 aren't the ones to take terror and act afraid of it, are they (as opposed to using it to add frisson to their party)?

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13. 4minute "Volume Up"
14. Flashe "Drop It"
15. After School "Rambling Girls"
16. Taylor Swift "Red"
17. ChoColat ft. Sung Hyo Ram "One More Day" (also called "Same Thing To Her")
18. Orange Caramel "My Sweet Devil"
19. Miss A "Touch"
20. Yoon Jong Shin ft. Kim Wan Sun "I Love You All Days"
Ana Victoria through Nicki Minaj )
Paulina Rubio through Charles Esten & Hayden Panettiere )
Los Mesoneros through After School )
Clazzi through A-Jax )
Jhene Aiko through Ciara )
Knife Party through Cloud Nothings )
Gangkiz through Dawn Richard )
Tony & Smash through Bae Geon-seok )

To reemphasize the demographic points I've been hammering at you during all of my quarter-year writeups: There's only one male singer in my Top 10, the male half of Trouble Maker — the half that moves half-paralyzed in terror as a warm, endearingly emotionally sweet and massively sexy fun girl wraps her arms around him. This is fitting for a time in which male vocalists don't seem to know WTF they should do. The next XY chromosome doesn't show up till a negligible guest shot on ChoColat's "One More Day" down at 17. First vocalist over forty is Kim Wan Sun, the guest singer on "I Love You All Days," number 20. First male voice over forty is Jay-Z's in "Clique," track 27.

Cuteness more authoritative than strength is? )

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Sad situation: E.via posted on Twitter that she's split with her agency, Dline Art Media, and that they're not letting her take her stage name E.via with her. The issue seems to be almost total nonpayment over the last two years. (Allkpop provides a translation.) Even if we take into account that we're only getting her side of the story, it nonetheless does seem as if she's acting as decently as possible and the agency is being vindictive and destructive. Yes, it's by her own account that she looks good, and of course the smart strategy is to appear generous and understanding when one is recounting the alleged bad behavior of others.* But her tone and generosity are entirely consistent with what else I know about her. The goodness seems credible. Not that I know much at all; I haven't had a lot of time to follow Korean performers in their role as personalities beyond the singing, dancing, and dressing. But E.via was one of the very very very few to speak up to the mob that was attacking T-ara, she didn't have to do it, it was a risk, and she did it in a kind rather than an accusatory manner. Art heroes aren't always wondrous human-being heroes, and they don't have to be, but here's one who most likely is.

 photo E.via grinning rap.jpg

Another thought, though. Yes, she's an indie rapper, not a product of the idol system. But nonetheless, she's recognized internationally, she's been in the top 30, she's appeared on Music Bank. She's something of a star. Yet in effect she's been working for not even peanuts, for practical purposes an artist in her garret, her art life as shoestring and/or part-time as that of any writer or poet or painter laboring in obscurity or hanging around little-known fringe scenes. Even doing okay in the fame business, she's getting thrown down the ladder in the business business. That's the way things shake out, money and power generally going to the people who already have it.

Here's my E.via tag, if she's new to you. My most substantial posts about her are these two:

E.via (artist of the year, 2010)
The Five Faces Of E.via

Anyway, love to you, 이옥주, Lee Ok Joo, Napper, E.via, Tymee.

h/t [livejournal.com profile] davidfrazer

*A strategy that I rarely manage myself, I must say. Not my temperament.
koganbot: (Default)
Frank Kogan's Pazz & Jop Ballot 2012

1. T-ara "Lovey-Dovey" (Core Contents Media)
2. Orange Caramel "Lipstick" (Pledis Entertainment)
3. Trouble Maker "Trouble Maker" (Cube Entertainment)
4. ChoColat "I Like It" (Paramount)
5. Dev "Take Her From You" (Universal)
6. Dev "In My Trunk" (Universal)
7. Cassie "King Of Hearts" (Bad Boy/Interscope)
8. Wonder Girls "Like This" (JYP Entertainment)
9. Sistar "Alone" (Starship Entertainment)
10. T-ara "Day By Day" (Core Contents Media)

1. T-ara Funky Town EP (Core Contents Media) 13 points
2. T-ara Mirage EP (Core Contents Media) 13 points
3. ChoColat I Like It, The First Mini Album EP (Paramount) 12 points
4. Neil Young Americana (Reprise) 10 points
5. Miss $ Miss Us? EP (Brand New Music/Windmill Media) 10 points
6. Serebro Mama Lover (Columbia Europe) 10 points
7. E.via E.viagradation Part 1. (Black & Red) EP (Dline Art Media) 8 points
8. DJ Bedbugs Teenpop Lock And Drop Volume 2 [self-released] 8 points
9. Miss A Touch EP (JYP Entertainment) 8 points
10. Orange Caramel Lipstick (Pledis Entertainment) 8 points

COMMENTS: Interesting the different ways the public reacts to mass shootings, depending on the setting, or on what story just happens to catch hold. Now, after those little kids were killed at Sandy Hook, it's about gun control and mental health. But back in 1999, with the Columbine shootings, the story was about teens bullying teens, the killers having responded to years of torment, the public decided. The psychology of the killers may have been no different from that of the man a few months earlier up in Greeley who'd walked into a disciplinary hearing and let blast rounds of fire, or the guy in L.A. a few months later who shot seventy bullets into a Jewish Community Center. But for Columbine, teens shooting teens, people decided to imagine where the rage comes from – one of the few instances where the public wondered what it felt like to be the shooters. One of the many notes put next to the crosses at Clement Park said to the two dead killers, "If only you could have held on for a couple of more months," the time till graduation.

When the Voice ran my Columbine piece, Doug Simmons forwarded me a bunch of emails they'd gotten in response to the shootings. I recall one of them being truly chilling: "After 50 years of oppression, this is payback." Mostly what I was reading, though, was the pain, everyone a former student, everyone seeming to have lived a perpetual gauntlet. Or that's how I remember them, maybe my own memory telling me stories.

Which I'll admit is an overdramatic intro to something that lacked violence, much less murder. But here goes:

Make the other members suffer as well )
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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' Vanessa )

Brown Eyed Girls' Abracadabra )

h/t Mat
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Chuck Eddy on K-pop:


Chuck wrote this over a year ago, told me he didn't think Spin had made it available online so I didn't look, but it turns out they had. Excerpts:

"horse-whinnying Cypress Hill–style nasal frat-hop" (Seo Taiji & Boys)

"hiring hotties as much for dancing as singing" (H.O.T.)

"tunes about shy boys, kissing, and snow" (S.E.S.)

"threw samples hard and soft — notably, traditional Asian gorgeousness — into the pot" (Drunken Tiger)

"unprecedented combination of talent, looks, ambition, healthy living, and multilingual studiousness" (BoA)

"Maybe somebody somewhere raps faster than E.via on 'Shake!' but no way as adorably." (E.via)

"G-Dragon and T.O.P. from long-standing boy bunch Big Bang begin by banging big" (GD&TOP)

"mega-delectable mega-hit 'Gee'" (SNSD)
koganbot: (Default)
If you add in her sounds, her faces number way more than five. This is not strange, to be a variety; but art and commerce and branding often constrain acts to only a few concepts, as does a focus on what you're considered best at; e.g., "I am the underground speed rapper" or "I have switched to an elegant and sexy image." Whereas E.via's chosen to vary and multiply her constraints, rather than constraining herself to a few.*

She's promoted herself with five videos that I know of, each drastically different from the others. What they share is a tendency to go meta, to be about image making and the choices facing her ("image" in the broad sense of "public image," not just "what I look like" or "the way the video shot is framed").

Hey! )

Shake! )

"Pick Up! U!"

A.k.a. Pikachu )

Crazy Fate )

I Know How To Play A Little )

[UPDATE: Turns out she has six video faces; see the comment thread.]


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