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.