Saturday, 30 April 2016

The annual thing...

Happy birthday, Andreas Hermanu!
You never reply my e-mails, hence this public shout-out.
Whether or not you're married, whether you decide to have a barbecue again or go overseas to celebrate, I hope you're surrounded by love on your special day and may your last birthday before officially entering middle age-dom be memorable!

Tuesday, 12 April 2016

The vampire/goth edition of K-pop

This one entry is dedicated to Simon Bacon and Eva Gledhill, two world-renowned British researchers with a penchant for vampires, monsters and all things gothic. I met Simon and Eva at the third "Celebrity: Exploring Critical Issues" at Mansfield College, Oxford, UK, in July 2014.

Below are a selection of K-pop videos from 2000-2015 that have a dark theme. In the videos, the dark theme is used in a myriad of ways, from a mere cliche (as in Taeyang's "I'll Be There"), a symbol of lost innocence (in Park Jiyoon's "Adult Ceremony") to a take on Robert Louis Stevenson's "Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde."

So without further ado...

"Adult Ceremony" by Park Jiyoon (2000)
At the time of the song's release, Jiyoon was only 18 years old (international age.) I have already mentioned in a previous entry that while in most parts of the world she was considered legal at 18, in South Korea she was still pretty much a minor, as the age of consent there was 20 (international age) and it wasn't until 2013 that age of consent was lowered to 19. This should come as no surprise as Jiyoon was under JYP at that time, which is (in)famous for sexualizing minors in a variety of dark themes, which would be seen many years later in Suzy Bae (real name Bae Sooji) of Miss A.

"I'll Be There" by Taeyang (2010)
This mega hit by Big Bang's Taeyang (real name Dong Youngbae) is also available in Japanese and English, but his English pronunciation isn't that clear in the song and I'm not a fan of K-pop songs in Japanese, hence this original Korean version. Find Taeyang's tribute to that iconic scene from "Nosferatu" at 02:01.

"Pray" by Sunny Hill (2011)
A main fixture on the lists of K-pop videos to watch for Halloween, "Pray" was released when Sunny Hill was a co-ed group (it remains the only co-ed group in K-pop history) in 2011. In 2014, Sunny Hill's only male member Kim Janghyun left the group after completing compulsory military service to focus as a producer for the group.

"Touch" by Miss A (2012)
The opening scene still kinda gives me nightmares, more than four years on. Oh, and by the way the album version has a rap break by one of the group's Chinese members, Meng Jia.

"Hyde" by Vixx (2013)
Vixx stands out from the rest of K-pop boy groups for its consistency in the exploration of dark themes. If blood and gore are more your cup of tea, check out "Voodoo." For more loose adaptations of famous gothic literary pieces by the six-piece band, take a look at "Error", which is their take on "Frankenstein."

"V" by Lee Junghyun (2013)
Directed by Park Chanwook, dubbed the Korean Tim Burton, "V" by Lee Junghyun reminds me of "House", a 1977 Japanese slapstick horror movie. I totally dig the vampire brides, and my favourite scene is one starting at 03:38.

"Bad" by Infinite (2015)
What makes this one special is that "Bad" was actually released during summer time, a time when K-pop is bombarded by videos around the theme of beach and pool and skin-revealing outfits (hahah here's looking at you Sistar)! I love how the "Bad" video plays with the mirror theme as much as I love Sunny Hill plays around with the crucifixes in their "Pray" video.

Fellow K-poppers, am I missing anything? Which one do you like best?