Sunday, 29 November 2015

Nine Muses in the analogy of Infinite

I've been playing that song for five days straight, since its release on November 24 2015.

"Ticket", the second Nine Muses song that got me hooked on the band after "Figaro", which I've already put on this blog twice. If you happen to be Indonesian and remember the '90s Indonesia, don't you think it sounds a little bit like the disco dangdut genre that was popular at that time?

If you're a Nine Muses fan (henceforth a "Mine") who also happens to be an Inspirit, you should notice by now that Park Minha is like the Lee Sungyeol of Nine Muses. Both are considered the "dead weight" of their respective groups, not as talented as the rest of the group in terms of singing and dancing. While some fans argue that Minha is the visual member of Nine Muses just like some Inspirits consider Sungyeol Infinite's visual member, there's no denying that Park Kyungri is the most famous member of the eight-member girl group. In other words, whether or not Kyungri was meant from the start to be the visual member just like Kim Myungsoo was set to be so for Infinite, she attracts people into Nine Muses just like Myungsoo lures girls to become Inspirits. And let's not forget the fact that both Kyungri and Myungsoo are pretty decent vocalists with more lines than Sungyeol and Minha combined.

And after the departure of Ryu Sera, who is herself a legit all-rounder (a super gorgeous multi-instrumentalist who writes songs, danced well (though not as well as Park Eunji, also a former Muse) and served as one of the main vocalists), a lot of Mines have stated that they stay because of Moon Hyuna. Hyuna is another main vocalist who's turning 29 in January 2016 (international age) and one of those bonafide 'vampire idols' alongside 2NE1's Sandara Park and Super Junior's Choi Siwon. In short, she's the Kim Sunggyu of Nine Muses.

A 'dead weight' member is totally nothing new in K-pop bands. Almost each band in the genre has one such member, another example is Juliane Alfieri of the now-defunct girlband Chocolat. As with the history of all girlbands and boybands anywhere in the world, K-pop bands are formed mostly, if not entirely, for commercial purposes. Visual members are there to attract people to their bands, a duty they share to varying degrees with the main dancers, while main vocalists are usually those that make fans stay. All in all, each member has their own reasons to shine and each has more or less equal amount of chance to become favourites among fans. But what about the dead weight members? Do they serve other purposes besides backing vocalists? Are they there to...make young teenage fans with low self esteem feel as if they have someone to relate to? You tell me.

Wednesday, 18 November 2015

Infinite Effect: press conference and concert

Yeorobun annyeong haseyo! Oh, and hello Inspirits in particular!

As Indonesian Inspirits are well aware, Infinite had their second solo concert in Jakarta on November 15 2015. The day before that, I was very lucky to win an entry to a private press conference with Infinite, which was held as a joint venture by Mecima Pro and AMI Live, the promotors of Infinite Effect. I got the e-mail just a day before the press conference, and all the winners (about 35 Inspirits) were sworn to secrecy about the venue, so I guess even though the event is over now I still have to keep it a secret...(hint: a hotel somewhere in Central Jakarta.)

Once arrived at the venue, we were stripped off our bags, phones and cameras and so we walked into the press conference carrying nothing. We were also not allowed to ask the boys anything, so we made the most out of cheering for them (we weren't even allowed to scream!) and standing within our booth and holding out our hands to high five with the boys as they came in and walked out of the room.

I was particularly struck by Lee Sungjong, the maknae who first got me into Infinite. As with many Korean namjas, the boys had good facial skin but Jongie's was excellent. It was smooth and shiny like it was made of porcelain, making him look rather unnatural. And when he was asked to describe himself, our maknae said, "Lemon satang!" in reference to a comedy skit on anime channel Tooniverse that he did in 2011 in which he offered a little girl a lemon candy. He has since been known as "the lemon satang boy" by Inspirits worldwide, but nowadays many feel that he's outgrown that persona.

I was also struck by how dorky Kim Myungsoo, the visual member and second maknae, was. When asked by Sharon, a Korean who has lived in Indonesia for 14 years who was serving as co-host and interpreter, to say something to Indonesian Inspirits in attendance, he was silent for a second. Then he said something that sounded like gibberish, which Sharon later understood as his attempt to say, "Cinta kamu!" After that he took another second of silence before he laughed his famous dorky "haha!", which made him look even more adorable.

Now on to the concert!

If you haven't heard already, Infinite's rapper and main dancer Lee 'Hoya' Howon suffered from ligament damage and cartilage inflammation while filming KBS' variety show "Yoo Heeyeol's Sketchbook" last year and to date his legs haven't really healed. There were talks about him taking full rest, meaning he wouldn't be joining the rest of Infinite in Infinite Effect, but Hoya insisted on taking part in the concert. So far, most of the time he sat on a stool and performed his rap and singing bits from there, although when it came to songs that required light dancing he did dance. And that was exactly what he did at the Jakarta leg of Infinite Effect. There were moments where he seemed on be on the verge of tears, as projected on the two screens at either side of the stage, because his leg injury prevented him from dancing iconic moves such as the scorpion dance, which Hoya choreographed for "Before The Dawn."

However, Hoya made up for that by actually speaking VERY GOOD BAHASA INDONESIA! He was the one speaking Bahasa Indonesia the most and with THE CLEAREST PRONUNCIATION, and his memorable Bahasa Indonesia bits included....

"Saya minta maaf karena kaki saya sakit..."
(I apologize for my injured legs)
"Apakah kalian sedang menikmati pertunjukkan?"
(Are you enjoying the show?)
"Lantai satu, scream! Lantai dua, scream!"
(First floor, scream! Second floor, scream!)
"Kalian jaga kesehatan sampai kita bertemu lagi!"
(Please take care of your health until we meet again!)

Unlike the Jakarta leg of One Great Step two years ago during which Infinite spoke Indonesian without any help of an interpreter, this time again Sharon served as an interpreter, since most of the time the boys felt more comfortable speaking Korean. But this didn't mean Hoya was the only one with memorable Indonesian bits. Some memorable bits from the rest of the boys...

Kim Myungsoo: Halo, saya pacar kalian, L! (Hi, I'm your boyfriend, L!) - for those uninitiated, L is Myungsoo's stage name
Kim Sunggyu: "Pulangnya hati-hati ya!" (Have a safe trip home!)
Nam Woohyun: "Kalian jadian sama aku aja!" (slang for "let me be your boyfriend!")

All in all, it was a daebak concert. The fact that it was only two hours and 20 minutes long, much shorter than OGS' three plus hours, was indeed a good thing.

Sunday, 4 October 2015

On working out...

For those not in the know, I've been a Fitness First member since 2012 and one of my favourite programs there is the shbam class. The shbam class is held every Sunday and Tuesday at the FF at one of the nearest malls to my house, Taman Anggrek. Basically there are two shbam instructors that take turns teaching the Sunday and Tuesday classes, and my favourite is one called Ned (that's a pseudonym as I feel I have to protect his privacy.) Ned was educated in Malaysia and UK, so needless to say he speaks good English (which he demonstrates in his class as time and again we have foreign shbam participants.) He teaches shbam as a side to his main job, running a batik fashion house with his sister. Ned actually comes across as a bit arrogant to me and everytime he's around my gaydar goes off, but he's my favourite because I'm basically a sucker for well-educated guys with good English...and also because he reminds me of my gege (LOL own up now! #youknowwhoyouare...I know you come here on a daily basis!)

Sunday, 20 September 2015

Hello from Gdansk!

Just a quick log to say hi to all my ardent readers from Gdansk, Poland! Have been in this beautiful country since Tuesday (September 15) and am flying back to Indonesia today at 02:35 PM local time. As you probably have guessed, I'm here for a conference which was held by the University of Gdansk on September 17-18 2015, namely "The Fourth International Inter-Disciplinary Memory Conference." I presented a paper called "Indonesian Music Industry: The Road Back to The Golden Age and The Future." Other than Gdansk, I have also visited Warsaw to interview His Excellency Ambassador of Indonesia for Poland Mr Peter Gontha for my paper and Poznan. The latter takes the cake for being an addition to my list of favourite cities in the world.

Anyhoo, on to what I really wanna talk about. Woollim stans must be overjoyed about the comeback of Lovelyz with the single "Shooting Star". Lovelyz, who debuted in November 2014, is said by many to be set to dethrone A-Pink as the new queens of K-pop girl group basic. And apart from the sweet and innocent concept (which, of course, includes the ever-compulsory school concept) that they've hung on to since their debut, there's something else that cements their signature level of basic-ness (if there's such a word.) Take a look.

Ever noticed that all four videos were shot indoors? And that the last three videos might have been shot in the exact same location? That gives the impression that the girls are domesticated...and it's not a good thing on many levels.

Tuesday, 8 September 2015

Wonder Girls and a trip back to my childhood

I've just downloaded the full album of Wonder Girls' "Reboot" on iTunes because I fell in love with its overall 1980s vibe. Basically I like all the songs, but my absolute favourite track is the 10th one (yes it's a full-length album) called "Faded Love."

This sounds like an evening ride in 1988 on our cobalt blue Mitsubishi Lancer, worry-free because school was off the next day, enjoying the roadside view of big-haired girls in high heels. Imagining myself as an adult, rocking it out on the stage thanks to a lot of watching Paula Abdul videos.

As a young child, I always wanted to be a performer and as was the norm in many Asian families my parents made me learn to play piano. Unable to cope with constant comparison to my piano prodigy cousin, I made a switch to violin at age 14. Eight years and many performances later, I gave up my violin lessons for university in New Zealand. Today, I still entertain dreams of becoming a musician by trade, constantly planning to have violin lessons again. I don't know when I'll ever get around to that plan.

Saturday, 8 August 2015


While answering a question on the best year (or in my case, years) on, I felt compelled to include 2013. Ever since I hit rock bottom disguised as a severe quarter life crisis upon returning from NZ, I felt that adulthood was nothing but bitterness - to the point that I stopped caring whether said bitterness would ever end. However, 2013 - the year I hit big 3-0 - did more than show that adulthood wasn't something that's automatically granted to anyone finishing university. Adulthood is indeed earned. To recap, in 2013...
- After a lot of job-hopping and a postgraduate degree which I partially funded myself, I embarked on a short vacation to Singapore. It was the first time I went out of the country in 4.5 years since leaving NZ. Nothing feels better than a much deserved holiday.

- I turned 30, as already said...with no fear. Congratulations and good luck to all those who hit that milestone this year and beyond! You can kiss those turbulent 20s goodbye as 30s are much more stable...unless you make no effort whatsoever to grow up.

- I got a wonderful belated 30th birthday present in terms of career, but I wish not to discuss that in detail.

- My long comatose boyband phase was revived - yes I'm talking about Infinite - which led to my first ever K-pop concert which was held on August 31 2013.

- I had my first taste of speaking at a conference, and this first conference of mine was held at Andalas University in Padang. Later after the conference I got to admire the beauty of my maternal ancestral home of Bukittinggi, also for the first time.

- I started making friends with Starbucks baristas again since coming home from NZ. Back in Auckland, I had a knack for befriending Starbucks baristas to the point of knowing at least one barista at each of the five Starbucks stores in Auckland CBD. I'm in touch with the majority of them.

The year 2013 actually had a slightly bitter end, but it didn't affect my 30s so far. Here's to better times ahead!

Friday, 3 July 2015

The best scenario...

This is the best self-penned songs by Ryu Sera so far.

Long story short, Sera left Nine Muses in June 2014 and actually since before her departure became known she's been releasing cover songs and self-penned ones on her YouTube channel, Ryutube. However, if Wikipedia is to be trusted (I have yet to find more credible sites that back this up), Sera hasn't left Star Empire, Nine Muses' recording label.

Nine Muses, as any K-pop enthusiast is aware, is known for their sexy image from day one. As you can see in the video, Sera seems to be channelling her inner Morticia Addams - wearing a black mini dress and a choker, hair down and minimal make-up. She's almost a far cry of her Nine Muses self - skin-revealing clothes, full make-up and hairstyle always changing with each comeback. And needless to say she's also free to experiment with her song writing and mixing skills.

The best scenario for her career would be staying with Star Empire (the day this is confirmed would be one of the best in my life), which allows her free time until she finds her own signature sound. Once she's ready, she's set to come back as a solo artist, with a mini album full of six songs that she composes herself. Or better still, she can mix her signature sound with that of Sweet Tune or one of those Swedish songwriters...Star Empire really needs a solo artist on its roster, and one already with a fanbase is perfect to fill that void.

Wednesday, 17 June 2015

The future of K-pop...

This kid was born in 2001. Her name is Ennik Douma (but she goes by her Korean name Jeon Somi), half Canadian and half Korean and part of JYP's "Sixteen", a TV show where 16 girls are put together and eliminated one by one (those who stay will be JYP's next girlband - in other words, the next Miss A.)

We're in the fifth generation of K-pop idols, and to me the sixth generation, those born in 2010 and beyond, is already visible. Rumours have it that JYP has already been eyeing Yerin and Yeseo Park (born in 2010 and 2013 respectively.) There's also another pair of kid uljjang sisters Aleyna and Ilayda Yilmaz, who are half Turkish and half Korean. Then there's Breanna Youn, half Korean and half Filipina, who's arguably the biggest kid uljjang right now. Last but not least, we have Bailey Ann Boehr, who's also half Canadian and half Korean and likely to go by her Korean name Park Gabi. Little Bailey has already walked in the footsteps of f(x)'s Krystal Jung, who starred in Shinhwa's "Wedding March" video in 2000 when she was six years old. Bailey starred in Xia Junsu's music video for "Flower", which was out in March, as seen below.

I guess I don't have to point out at what second exactly Bailey appears...

And those are just a few the of possible future idols. Don't get me started on those celebrity kids on "Superman is Back"...

Also, I see a trend in the near future of K-pop. This year, four mixed blood idols debuted: Samuel Kim of 1Punch (half Korean and half American), Vernon Choi of Seventeen (half American and half Korean), Shannon Williams (half Korean and half British) and Jeon Somi (even though being in a reality show doesn't mean she's officially debuted.) The last time we saw mixed-blood idols debuting was back in 2011 when three half American girls (Juliane Alfieri, Melanie Aurora Lee and Tia Cuevas) debuted in Chocolat. Given the fact that most of the kid uljjangs mentioned earlier are mixed blood, it's very likely that for the first time in its history K-pop will have more mixed-blood idols than ever.

This will be good not only for South Korea's image but also the mentality of Koreans...If you've been living in another planet so far, Koreans are known for not liking mixed-blood people - or any foreigner for that matter. Just ask Yoon Mirae or Lee Michelle...or wonder why Kris Wu, Luhan and Tao (real name Huang Zhitao) of EXO left the group!

Saturday, 13 June 2015


I've just had a dream about you, without you. You didn't appear until the very end of my dream.
It was pretty strange. I found myself in your room in your Jakarta house, which your maid said had stayed the way it had been since you left the country after high school. I sat on the floor, legs stretched, not knowing what to do, until it hit me the things in your room were those you didn't want anymore. Then I thought, looking at your backpack on the floor, this backpack is still in very good condition, how can he not want it anymore? Next I opened your closet, a lot of your clothes were still there, and I found a big box. Amongst the contents of the box were several DVD's of Indonesian movies with excerpts written in German and a DVD of something called Band19. It was apparently a compilation of bands performing different songs, and at least half of them were in German.

My driver picked me up and I left your house. On my way home, I told him to go back to your house. I was thinking I should've taken the box with me. Suddenly I found myself in your room again, looking out the window. And then you appeared in a distance.

And that was that.

You see, I always pick up clues from dreams. In 2002, I figured out how the girl my ex boyfriend cheated on me with looked like in a dream - and it turned out I was right about her look. This one was pretty strange. You've never lived in Jakarta, and you weren't in Indonesia for high school. You used to compose songs for bands, but as far as my memory goes you were never in one.

But whatever that dream is trying to tell me, I can't endure this thing any longer.

Saturday, 6 June 2015


Us being Taureans and trying to see who will hold out the longest....

You see, I miss us.
I miss how both of us were into Ayumi Hamasaki.
I don't know about you, but I'm still kinda into her.
You should listen to one of her most recent songs, "Zutto", if you haven't already.
I swear it sounds like it could've been released in 2003.
Which means it has the signature Hamasaki sound :p

I miss us confessing to our deepest darkest secrets.
I hope you really don't do that dirty deed anymore.
The last time we talked, I didn't have any impression that you were still doing it.

You see, if we never see each other ever again,
And you happen to survive me,
And you if you ever miss me...
Don't go to Jakarta.
Go to Auckland.
Go to my campus.
Maybe, just maybe, you remember that back in 2008 I wrote that I'd love to show you the beauty of this country....

ILD <3

Saturday, 2 May 2015

Yes I'm aware...

Happy belated birthday to one of my best stalkers, who turned 33 on April 30.

Of course you know who you are ;)

Thursday, 23 April 2015

What I foresaw and foresee

Kim Doyeon, who shook the K-pop realm in late 2013 after her relationship with Infinite's Kim Myungsoo was revealed, will soon debut as an actress under NCP Company.

I was right all along (if you're impatient, click here for a shorter version.)

If you're a Woollim stan just like me, I'm sure you're aware by now that the singer Joo (real name Jung Minjoo) has just moved to Woollim from JYP. I'm looking forward to her re-debut under Woollim...and any possible 'scandal' that will follow.

I always thought that Infinite's debut in June 2010 was free of any scandal, but boy was I wrong. Around the same that Infinite debuted, rapper Tablo (real name Daniel Armand Lee) from Epik High was entangled in a high-profile scandal that raised serious doubts about whether or not Tablo was a Stanford University graduate (later the Stanford Alumni website issued an article that defended him.) It's important to note that in 2009, before Infinite's debut and said Stanford scandal broke, Tablo was a regular on "You Are My Oppa", a reality show about Infinite's journey leading to their debut. Tablo appeared on the show alongside bandmate Mithra Jin (real name Choi Jin) as mentors to the Infinite boys. It goes without saying that Epik High was under Woollim from 2008 to 2010.

The latest scandal that surrounds Woollim right now is one regarding Seo Jisoo, a member of the label's girl group Lovelyz. Long story short, Jisoo has been accused of sexually and mentally abusing her ex girlfriends (yes she's an alleged lesbian - which brings this scandal to a whole new level especially in South Korea!) The scandal broke as soon as Lovelyz debuted in November 2014 (and faced some serious competition with Red Velvet from SM who debuted a month earlier.) So far, it's said that some possible suspects have been interrogated and Jisoo herself was reportedly severely depressed because of this scandal and had to be hospitalised, and as a result she had to miss out on Lovelyz's comeback earlier this year. There have been rumours that Jisoo has actually been kicked out, but I say this is merely part of the game to keep the hype around Lovelyz afloat...

Friday, 17 April 2015

Isn't it all too familiar...

That blood-curdling moment when you've been hiding all these years under so many aliases...only for that stalker ex girlfriend of yours to finally find you.

Tuesday, 17 March 2015

On the speculation of one's love life...

Once I came across a tweet which went:

Wang Leehom is married. JGL is married. Jay Chou is married. Takeshi Kaneshiro, you're my only hope.

To which I replied:

Don't worry, out of all F4 members, only Vanness Wu is married.

Jerry Yan, the oldest member of F4 who was often considered the most handsome, turned 38 last January and is still single. It goes without saying that ever since he started his showbiz career as a model long before "Meteor Garden", his love life has been put under public scrutiny. There may be a lot of possibilities that explain his current state of love life, but I never forget one day in mid-2002 when I watched the special feature of an official "Meteor Garden" DVD. There, the then 24-year-old Jerry Yan talked about his love life. One particular quote, translated into English, caught my attention:

Of course I like girls. When I was a child, my mother taught me to like girls.

Before you have a go at me, please bear in mind that I'm a translator myself. No one in my trade fully trusts any translated script because when we translate, we turn the original text into one that makes sense in the target language. That means we often have to reduce some meanings. Now I wish I still had that DVD so I could show it to any of my Mandarin-speaking friends that special part to know what Yan was actually saying...

Saturday, 24 January 2015

On Nine Muses' comeback...

After much anticipation, Nine Muses is finally back, having hibernated for one year due to the painful loss of three members: Lee 'Leesem' Hyunjoo, Park Eunji and Ryu Sera. That's rapper, main dancer and main singer respectively. And they're back with two new members: Jo Sojin, who previously appeared in the sub-unit Nasty Nasty with another Nine Muses member Park Kyungri and ZE:A member Kevin Kim, and Lee Keumjo.

It took me a long time to decide what to focus on regarding Nine Muses and their comeback, but I finally decided to focus on their new single "Drama" and Sera's decision to continue her showbiz career apparently as indie musician.

In light of their comeback in mid-2003 with the single "Wild", Sera released a cover of Joss Stone's "Karma." It was professionally shot though it was very low-budget, filmed on the set of "Wild" music video. It kept Mines on the edges of their seats, as promises of her solo career seemed to be looming.

Sera released a couple more cover videos courtesy of Star Empire, but no actual solo career materialised, until news broke that she 'graduated' from Nine Muses.

Now fast forward to January 23 2015 when Nine Muses released a new single titled "Drama." Take a look.

Eldest member Moon Hyuna just celebrated her 28th birthday on January 19. Yes that's her international age, which means in Korean age she's 29 years old. Anyone with any real musical talent and self respect would want to stop prancing around pulling aegyo and looking every bit manufactured past the age of 25. Since her departure, Sera has been very active on her own YouTube channel that she calls RyuTube, releasing cover songs and songs that she writes herself. I guess it was the same reason for Jessica Jung, who left Girls' Generation in October 2014 to focus on her fashion line, Blanc & Eclare.

Saturday, 3 January 2015

A flashback...

Jakarta, mid January 2005
My best friend, let's call her Rose, went to the 18th birthday party of a guy. Her boyfriend's best friend's brother.
I had a crush on her boyfriend's best friend, let's call him Chris, but he obviously didn't like me back.
She went to the party without telling me.
And why should she?
But somehow I felt she'd betrayed me.
I remember feeling anxious, stupid and angry at the same time.
I texted my other best friend, let's call her Jane, one who went to elementary school with the boyfriend.
We agreed to meet at an Italian restaurant somewhere in South Jakarta the next day so I could pour my heart out.
I remember wanting to call her, but it was very late at night.

Nearly ten years later, I'm feeling the exact same way.
Rose is married to someone else.
Jane is still single, and an avid traveler.
I haven't been in touch with Chris since I moved to NZ.
But this feeling is all too familiar...