Monday, 10 November 2014

Someone's got what he wanted...

Woollim Entertainment has finally debuted their much anticipated girlband Lovelyz today. The group consists of eight girls aged 16 to 22 (international), three of whom (Jiae, Baby Soul (real name Lee Soojung) and Jin (real name Park Myungeun)) have previously debuted as soloists. In 2012, Yoo Jiae and Baby Soul released "She's A Flirt" featuring Infinite's Jang Dongwoo.

And this is Lovelyz's first single, "Goodbye Like Yesterday."

They're good but in all honesty I don't really like it that Jiae, Jin and Baby Soul, who have already shined as soloists, have to share spotlight with five other girls. Also you should have a look at their teaser images, in which the girls are dressed in what looks like school uniforms. I mean, Jiae and Baby Soul are 21 and 22 respectively! I wonder how those girls feel...

EDIT: It was awesome that they debuted with a ballad instead of a dance number. At least in the past two years most girlbands (if not all of them) debuted with a dance song. "Good Night Like Yesterday" draws people's attention to the girls' voices and it gives a good first impression that they really are singers...instead of dancers who sing to accompany their dance moves.

And the model that graces the video is, of course, none other than Infinite's leader Kim Sunggyu! If you're a long-time Sunggyu fan like me, you sure remember what happened on M-Net's "Jjang" when he was interviewed in light of his solo album "Another Me"...

Sunggyu complains that Kim Myungsoo, Infinite's visual member, got to star in his first solo single "60 Seconds." He's hoping that one day he'll star in his music video, and if you fast forward to 6:50 you'll see him hoping he'll get to showcase his acting ability one day. Sunggyu has since branched out to acting, playing the title role in a musical play called "Vampire", which was based by a play written by Czech composer Karel Svoboda. The play was performed in Tokyo on August 21-27 2014.

Last but not least, what's up with his red hair? Is it to celebrate the second anniversary of "Another Me", which was released on November 19 2012?

Wednesday, 22 October 2014

On arseholes

Just so you know, I totally don't trust people who sugarcoat stuff. I'd rather you get straight to the point bluntly.
People who sugarcoat things seem to me that they're trying to get away with hurting your feelings. People who are blunt and straight to the point leave the impression that they know they have to do the deed and are ready for consequences.

Wednesday, 3 September 2014

A disco polo hit and its K-pop equivalence...

Hi guys!

I'm kind of crazy about disco polo lately! For those not in the know, disco polo is a genre from Poland which translates simply into "village disco." People wouldn't admit to liking it, but they play disco polo music at weddings and other merry activities - kind of like our own dangdut. This is why several disco polo songs are actually big hits, like this one...

I like the Ivan Komarenko version better...

When a friend showed me "Zono Moja" ("My Wife") for the first time, it reminded me right away of "Nal Bwa Gwuisoon" by Kang Daesung, a member of Korean boy group Big Bang. "Nal Bwa Gwuisoon" ("Look At Me, Gwuisoon") is Daesung's first solo single, out in 2008 and it's in the trot genre. Unlike disco polo, Koreans don't shy away from admitting they like trot. If anything, trot is merely considered old (in fact, many consider trot "the original K-pop") and this shows in the fact that the K-drama "Trot Lovers", starring A-Pink's Jung Eunji, is a big hit.

Please note that this is NOT a remake of an old song. "Nal Bwa Gwuisoon" really is Daesung's first solo single, written by - surprise surprise - his fellow band member G-Dragon!

Look up the entire translation of "Zono Moja" and you'll see why I think "Nal Bwa Gwuisoon" is its K-pop/trot equivalence, apart from a tinge of similarities in the melody!

Saturday, 9 August 2014

Particular hoobaes to Big Mama...

I'm currently crazy about "Quecera Cera" (yes believe your eyes, that's exactly how the song is titled) by Bay.B, a three-member girl group under Can Entertainment. Check out the video below.

That's such a half-hearted bathtub scene. No one takes a dip in their underwear.

If you've been into K-pop longer than the kids in SM Rookies have been alive, I'm sure the girlband's sound reminds you of the greatness that was Big Mama. For those who missed out on Big Mama...

So far, no recent K-pop groups have ever done justice to this song. Spica covered "Break Away" well but they still lacked the oomph factor, and Sistar was just hopeless...

I'm not trying to claim that Bay.B is the new Big Mama, but the "Break Away" video to me is like a sign that in the near future there will a girl group that's about as talented. And that girl group will consist of slim yeojas. I'm sure that even though Can Entertainment has never blatantly marketed Bay.B as the next Big Mama, they strive to be taken as seriously as people took their legendary sunbaes. Check out this video of Bay.B practicing before their debut in May 2014, covering Big Mama's "Woman" and "Nevermind."

Too bad the video is edited so we can't see which parts of the songs Bay.B might be lacking in. Can they pull Big Mama songs off? You be the judge.

My favourite is Seola, the visual, not only because she has a nice voice (although she's not the main vocalist), looks unique compared to the other two who could be mistaken for any random girl group member, but also because she's a Taurean (haha yeah me and my penchant for fellow Taureans.) She's the one wearing a white top while singing the second song in the practice video, showing a Taurean trait of dressing with flair.

EDIT (8/30/14): Looks like the girls' popularity is growing, as I've just found a Bay.B forum where a Spanish-speaking fan figures out what the girls' stage names might mean: leader Miho's name is likely to be pronounced like "mio" which in Spanish means "mine", "Seola" is pronounced "sola" which means "alone" and maknae Miel's name means "honey" in French. Pure genius. I've also found one of the girls' real name, which I won't publish here in case she might want to go anonymous and attack some model did.

Tuesday, 5 August 2014

For someone's milestone...

Happy birthday RHS!
A warm welcome to the club!
Things went sour
We grew apart
Some call it growing up
But the beautiful memories we shared stay in my heart
Always have
Always will

Thursday, 24 July 2014

Second hello from Oxford!

Hey you.
I'm glad we met during the conference.
Even if we don't end up together.
Even if we won't ever see each other again.
We'll keep these three days of the 2014 Oxford summer in our hearts and minds.

Saturday, 19 July 2014

Hello from Oxford!

Yes, here's hoping this isn't going to be my only entry from Oxford, England. I'm currently staying at Mansfield College, which is under Oxford University, to attend a seminar called "Celebrity: Exploring Critical Issues." The seminar runs from July 21 to July 23, and it explores the celebrity realm from many angles. I had the liberty to write a paper on the possibility of Kim Myungsoo's 2013 dating scandals being a publicity stunt to sell products (a much longer version of this entry, really), said paper got selected and will be presented on the last day of the conference in its "Fan(t)asia" section. Also presented in the "Fan(t)asia" section are papers by Renata Iwicka called "There Will Be Blood: A Darker Side of K-pop Fandom" and "Parodic Participation as Consumption of Celebrity Products: The Case of Gangnam Style" by Mingyi Hou.

My paper, titled "The Use of Publicity Stunts in Korean Pop." Feel free to read it and don't forget to give me feedback!

Sunday, 22 June 2014

Taking a jab at America - dissecting Alison Gold's "Chinese Food"

I know this is so late, but I've really just discovered "Chinese Food" by Alison Gold. It was released on October 14 2013, and so far it's garnered 15.2 million views. In other words, it's the new "Friday." Looking at the comments on the video, I can't believe they call this video racist, and while a lot of them are aware that this video is meant to be a joke, many have missed the note that...this is actually a jab at America. Take a look at the video.

Let's dissect the symbols one by one, shall we!
  • The guy in the beginning and the cashier girl don't look Chinese, despite the girl having slanting eyes. They look more Cambodian or Vietnamese than Chinese. Aren't Hollywood movies notorious for hiring just about any Asian actor to play just about any Asian character? Exhibits: Chinese Zhang Ziyi, Michelle Yeoh and Gong Li all play lead characters in "Memoirs of A Geisha" (2005) and another Chinese actor Chow Yun Fat playing King Mongkut in "Anna and The King" (1999.) Certainly Hollywood producers never have Asian audience in mind when they make cast choices for Asian characters.

  • Gold singing, "After ballin', I go clubbin'" She was only 11 when the video was released, why is she singing about clubbing? I honestly don't remember any clubbing lyrics by any teenaged girl group of the late '90s and early '00s (though I swear to God I must have heard brain is still searching - is it a song by PYT?) Nevermind, I can pinpoint many examples of teenaged girls under 18 being sexualised, which I think can serve as an equivalence to 11-year-olds singing about clubbing. Check out the video below.
    This video was released circa 2002, when the girls were 14-17 years old. They're No Secrets, and if you have no recollection of them, don't worry - you didn't miss out on anything.

  • Gold and the girls wearing kimonos. I have an impression that her producer Patrice Wilson (the black guy in the panda costume) deliberately shot this scene to emphasise his point that The US can't tell Asian countries apart. Sometimes this is true - and demonstrated in movies. Exhibit: in the movie "New Year's Eve" (2011), Kim (Sarah Jessica Parker) spends a day at a Balinese spa...which is decorated with fake bamboo trees, little bamboo bridges over ponds and message therapists dressed in white kimono-like robes!

  • Patrice Wilson dressed as a panda - and nope the panda here doesn't serve only as a symbol of China. Ever heard the joke "pandas are the least racist animals, they're black, white and from China"? Ha!

  • Oh, and last but not least! Alison Gold is blonde and in some pictures her eyes seem to be blue. Remember the dumb blonde jokes? And if you've been in any kind of Cultural Studies class, you're most likely familiar with idea that the symbol of white purity is a blonde, blue-eyed maiden. That's why in many Hollywood movies (or Western movies in general), princesses, Aphrodite and angels are played by blonde and blue-eyed actresses. This can potentially be expanded into an entry of its own, even a legit ten-page academic paper so I'll stop at that.

    Observing symbols is fun because you get to uncover hidden messages in everything!

  • Monday, 2 June 2014

    NKOTB, Infinite and anniversaries

    Two years ago, precisely on June 1 2012, I watched New Kids On The Block (and Backstreet Boys, but who cares) in concert. It was their first concert in Jakarta in twenty years. As an eight-year-old, I came to the NKOTB concert at Istora Senayan on February 11 1992.

    Their comeback was one of the best things that have ever happened in the realm of Blockheads. After they disbanded in 1995 following the departure of Jonathan Knight, there was little if any hope at all that they would reunite. But reunite they did in 2008, and unlike other old bands that cashed in on the "reuniting season" that was the late 2000s only for the sake of reuniting (here's looking at you, Spice Girls), the Kids proved that this second time around they were here to stay. Beginning with "The Block" in 2008, the Kids had solo projects between themselves (Jordan Knight and Donny Wahlberg notably had a duet in the single "Stingy"), before releasing a new album as a whole in April 2013 called "10" (it's their 10th album since debuting in 1986.)

    MY ABSOLUTE FAVOURITE. Out of all my NKOTB faves. Not only does this song boast the musical maturity of the Kids, the video is also something out of the typical NKOTB videos that feature hot young girls (yes, even the MV of "Stingy" (which was out in 2011) features a girl that could pass for their young niece.)

    Oh, and while we're at it...Jordan has also teamed with Nick Carter from Backstreet Boys and whipped out this single. I've never really liked BSB, but this one is worth checking out.

    By the way, I found my way to NKOTB in 1990. I don't remember the exact date.

    Exactly a year ago, June 2 2013, I discovered Infinite. You only need to check my previous Infinite entries to find out what attracted me to the seven Korean namjas. Infinite marks a new phase in my life that's groundbreaking on many levels. It revived my boyband phase, long dead since 1994. Infinite was also my first ever K-pop concert, and it wasn't like me to attend an artist's concert only about two months about discovering the artist. This June 9 will see the boys' fourth anniversary in the show business.

    The spectacular "Last Romeo", the first single out of their latest full-length album "Season Two." This video is first Infinite video to achieve one million hits only within TWO DAYS after being released on May 21.

    NKOTB and Infinite, two sets of boybands from different countries and eras - yet both hold a special place in my heart. These seemingly coincidental anniversaries (NKOTB's last concert in Jakarta, my discovery of Infinite and Infinite's debut anniversary) are not coincidences. To keep a long story short, it's God's way to show that He's planned to put them in my life, probably long before I came into existence.

    Other NKOTB and Infinite coincidences related to me...
    - NKOTB's maknae, Joey McIntyre, is exactly ten years and 4.5 months my senior. Infinite's maknae, Lee Sungjong, is exactly ten years and 3.5 months my junior.
    - Both NKOTB and Infinite each has a Taurean member who's the main vocalist (Jordan Knight and Kim Sunggyu.) And I'm a Taurean myself.
    - NKOTB's three-day concert in Jakarta ended on February 13 1992, exactly a month before my second favourite in Infinite, Kim Myungsoo, was born.
    - The year I became a Blockhead was also the year Infinite's rapper, Jang Dongwoo, was born.
    - This is not a coincidence matter how old I am, I'll always be a kiddy Blockhead. Likewise, no matter how old Infinite boys will be, I'll always be a noona Inspirit <3

    Yah Yeol-ah, I'm not the cheating type...Ask your NKOTB sunbaes!

    Friday, 30 May 2014

    One menacing entry

    Hey you.
    I've always thought it was you.
    Just now I found out I was right all along.
    Bully me all you want.
    But that won't change the fact that your name is still the number one top search on my site.
    And it looks like you've been getting more famous these days.
    Try to enjoy fame, will ya?
    People would kill for fame.
    Fame - not notoriety.
    You get it with little, if any at all, effort.
    Count your blessings for once.

    PS: I hope those tweens did find your skeletons. Oh wait, they probably ended up on my page in the process :p

    Someone's pushing 40...

    Hello DAA. It's been a while. Yes, I know you've been lurking around. This song's for you.

    Happy birthday <3

    Sunday, 20 April 2014

    A rookie K-pop star making his way to my heart...

    Hi guys!

    Meet my current obsession in K-pop: Park Junho a.k.a Jjun! He debuted on June 14 2012 with the single "Just Cry", and although he hasn't garnered enough recognition even in his native South Korea, a look at the dance version of "Just Cry" will convince you that he has the talent and charisma - not to mention an explosive amount of sex appeal!

    This has drawn him comparisons to Rain. Also, did anyone spot a goof? At 02:12, he begins to loosen his tie and his tie does seem loosened the first time he turns around. But as he turns around some more, his tie is tightened again!

    According to an interview with French K-pop portal Coree et Cie, Jjun was recruited by a major label manager after winning a dance competition as a teen in 2001, and he was slated to debut with Super Junior (Coree et Cie never mentions the company name, but the mention of Suju gives it SM?) However, Jjun insisted on debuting as a solo artist, and the manager who recruited him later left to form his own company, taking Jjun in tow. The manager's company soon went bankrupt and our trainee K-pop star had to work odd jobs to support himself through university (he attended Chunnam Techno College) and singing/dancing lessons. He did so for 11 years until he was eventually recruited by Cool Family Entertainment and the rest is history....

    If he was a teenager in 2001, how old is he now, you might want to ask. According to K-Pop Info 411, he's turning 31 (international age) this April 29. That means he's older than me, so I can officially call him oppa! LOL. That also means he's a fellow Taurean. You know me and my soft spot for fellow bulls...

    Jjun made a comeback in October 2013 with the single "Way To Your Heart", the video of which below.

    That video was deemed too raunchy for SK and therefore banned...I guess that should've gained him more hype? Oh and the track was also produced in The US.

    Jjun-oppa (we're the same age, but I'll call you "oppa" for the sake of formality - and cuteness), some words of wisdom from one Taurean to another. First of all, you look FAR BETTER with your natural black hair. We Taureans rock the classic look like no other. Secondly, I like how you ooze sex appeal without stripping in your "Just Cry" videos, both the drama and dance versions (ok so you do flash your abs in the "Just Cry" live performances, but that's beside the point.) The abs display in your "Way To Your Heart Video" is too much. Another thing we Taureans pride ourselves on is the fact that we boast sex appeal without showing so much skin - in other words, WITHOUT TRYING TOO HARD. So keep your top on next time juseyo!

    Jjun recently took part in Arirang's Simply K-pop tour in Shanghai, China, earlier this month. Not only did he get to perform his songs but also have a duet with former Baby VOX member Kan Miyoun. In the video below, Jjun stands in for Mir (real name Bang Cheolyong) of Mblaq, who originally performed the rap part in Kan Miyoun's 2010 hit "Crazy."

    So glad he's got an exposure by performing alongside a more established sunbae - overseas!

    I hope it won't take him long to soar to international stardom! I'd love him to try ballads and stop flashing abs. We've got the memo already - he's sexy as hell!

    EDIT: I've just realized that this is April 20, only two days away until Taurus season. What better way to open this year's Taurus season than posting an entry about the latest addition to my list of favourite Taureans?

    Friday, 28 March 2014

    Crap real '80s and awesome pseudo '80s

    Hi kids!

    As I grew up in the '80s, I'm familiar with the "Dance Club Barbie" and "Barbie and The Beat" ranges. I have both their cassettes - the "Dance Club Barbie" cassette I bought in 1989 and "Barbie and The Beat" cassette I obtained a little later, maybe 1991 as the songs on the "Barbie and The Beat" cassette were my third grade jam. "Barbie and The Beat" range itself is believed to have come out in The US also in 1989.

    After years of perusing through YouTube to find songs from "Barbie and The Beat", I finally came across this.

    One of the comments is from a girl who said the songs drove her mother crazy because they sounded like they were "recorded in the garage." Honestly I can't agree more. The songs are probably '80s at its cheesiest. The vocal alone is weak and if you listen carefully, there are parts where the vocal is not well-timed. And don't get started on the rap...

    Sick of this at the first listen in 23 years, I found remedy in one song that I always play when I don't know what song to play on YouTube. The one song that sounds VERY '80s yet was actually released in 2011.

    Yes, this song again. Isn't it ironic that the video reached one million views only very recently, after the departure of Leesem (real name Lee Hyunjoo) and Park Eunji...

    Tuesday, 4 March 2014

    The overlooked counterpart...

    I came across Andy Lee's Twitter recently. If you're old enough to remember the early 2000s, that name should ring a bell. Yes, he was a member of Tension, a Taiwanese boyband that got their start around the same time as their far more famous counterpart, F4.

    What followed was an immediate search for Tension on YouTube hoping to find "Gotta Be Your Man", the song that made me fall in love with them in 2003. Nada. So I randomly clicked on their song "Smart", which was released in 2001, and wouldn't you know it...I fell in love with them all over again. I'd never heard of "Smart" before and that's because Tension albums were not available in Indonesia. I got my first listen of "Gotta Be Your Man" because I happened to have MTV Taiwan on cable and I got their "Gotta Be Your Man" album in Singapore.

    Here's "Smart"...

    The guy in black that raps is the group's producer, renowned singer-songwriter and former LAPD officer David Tao. He was only 31 when he produced "Smart" and released it in May 2001, which catapulted the boys to instant fame.

    EDIT: This entry was originally written sometime in late 2012, when the "Gotta Be Your Man" video was unavailable. Now it's available, and as you can see in the video Tension's dancing had improved by the time the song was released in May 2003.

    Obviously young Andy Lee (the long-haired one, duh) is the group's visual.

    It's a shame that Tension was greatly overshadowed by F4. Didn't I mention that Tension albums were unavailable in Indonesia? Compare that to the massive popularity that F4's "Meteor Garden" achieved here, which resulted in the group holding a stadium concert attended by legions of screaming girls in 2003 and member Vanness Wu having a mini concert for his solo album "Body Will Sing" a year earlier. I guess it's not too late to introduce the current young generation, which is mostly K-pop crazy yet actually have a good memory of F4, to another Taiwanese boyband who looked just as good and were just as talented - if not more.

    Now on to the fun facts!

    All five members are Taiwanese-Americans. The youngest member, John Baik, was even born and raised in Argentina. Wait, isn't "Baik" a Korean last name you say. Yes, he's half Korean and there was another half Korean member: Jimmy Hung, son of Hong Kong action star Sammo Hung. Hung was the oldest member of the group, so it was likely that he was the group's leader (although since Tension was a Taiwanese boyband I doubt they had a leader concept.) With the half Korean members as the maknae and leader respectively, I think it should make Tension relevant to today's K-pop loving young generation!

    Also: Vanness and Jimmy grew up together in LA and yes, they were childhood buddies (Jimmy actually attended Vaness' LA wedding in November 2013.) Die-hard F4 fans probably have guessed this.

    Thursday, 27 February 2014

    First Product Review - Original Source's Vanilla Milk and Raspberry Shower Gel

    G'day everyone! Let's take a break from the ever-effervescent (haha love how that sounds) world of K-pop with my first ever product review, that of Vanilla Milk and Raspberry Shower Gel from Original Source (picture(s) coming soon, if my iPhone 4S and internet connection will cooperate.)

    Yes, you heard me right. Original Source has finally broken into the Indonesian market, and as far as my observation goes currently only its shower gel range is available, at the likes of Guardian and Century. It has also entered the market of small towns as I bought my Vanilla Milk and Raspberry at a Giant near my workplace in Cikarang.

    Anyway, if you have a look at the website, you sure have an idea of what the Original Source shower gel bottle looks like. It really is designed upside down, so when you open the cap you need to be careful not to spill the shower gel. You can't put the bottle with the other side down because of its arching end. So in terms of bottle design, obviously practicality isn't a top priority.

    Vanilla Milk and Raspberry shower gel smells nothing short of heavenly. It reminds me of raspberry cream on a puff pastry. I was expecting the scent to stay profoundly on my skin like Caramel Shower Gel from Cottage, but said scent only lingers faintly. In terms of whether it actually softens the skin (in my case it doesn't dry my skin but it doesn't leave a thin film of oil either), I should say it has the effect of most other shower gels, with the exception of (again) Cottage's Caramel Shower Gel which leaves your skin instantly smoother.

    All in all, if you're the type that looks for the sensation of awesome-smelling shower gel while bathing, Original Source's Vanilla Milk and Raspberry Shower Gel is a good choice. In terms of anything else, maybe you'd better stick to your dermatologist-prescribed shower gel...

    Sunday, 5 January 2014

    Birthday greetings...

    Happy belated birthday to the CEO of Woollim Entertainment, Lee Jungyeop, who turned a year older on January 4!
    Sangeil chukkae hamnida Lee Jungyeop sajangnim!
    I haven't learned how to say "happy belated birthday" in Korean :p
    A whole-hearted thank you from Inspirits and Twings for debuting Infinite, Tasty, Nell and Yoo Jiae, although some probably still can't forgive you for what you did to Tablo and about the Kim Myungsoo and Kim Doyeon dating "scandal."
    Also a very special thank you for not forbidding Lee Sungjong to do girlband dances, otherwise I wouldn't have found his "Adult Ceremony" performance and eventually my way to Infinite!
    Sincere wishes for good health, more success for Woollim and its artists - and since I hear that you're still single, I hope you'll soon find a better half!
    I do hope that in the future you'll let your artists speak for themselves regarding dating rumors and the like. Let them announce their relationships or publicly apologize if they're proven to be in possession of drugs. I'm sure you know by now that real fans will support their idols no matter what (or in some cases, wonder if it's all just a set-up.) Ignore the sasaengs and those who would just leave the idols once they're revealed to be mere humans.

    Isn't it appropriate that my first entry for 2014 is one dedicated to the man behind Infinite, a group that made 2013 brighter for me :)