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.