I often feel as if K-pop would be successful in North America for its direct engagement with pop forms here were it not for a kind of inborn, historically inextricable xenophobia. Even strong, passionate fanbases can remain ghettoized, recognized only once in a while by the media for the absurdity of their affections. But something about the branding, the specificity, the knowledge with which MTV catered to this audience last night electrified the air. It didn’t matter how Sway and Pinfield weirdly, earnestly trivialized the event. It didn’t matter much that the MTV Iggy segments were all fractured, stereotypical ideas of foreignness. It felt as if something had infiltrated.
The K-pop wave has made lots of progress on this side of the ocean in 2011, going from something people think hipsters talk about to something they actually talk about and with showcase concerts being held fairly regularly across the U.S. (though, sadly for me, not too often in Canada). Reviews of Korean singles on the Singles Jukebox where the blurber felt the need to qualify his or her lack of knowledge about K-pop (still as genre, not as industrial model) have gone down in favour of talking about the music itself. I think this review of 2NE1’s first concert in New York (? correct me if I’m wrong) shows K-pop acts traversing the same route that their music already has via the internet: they’re playing to a vocal but ghettoized fandom, but proving their appeal to an audience outside that fandom.
As an aside, I understand why people love “Ugly” but hell no it is not the best song of the year!!!
F1RST, “Ma Ma My”. I feel the need to introduce lesser-known K-pop groups into my diet, so here’s one. “Ma Ma My” is not something you’re going to listen to past two months from now, but it will prevent you from changing the radio station whenever it comes on during those two months. I like that the guys sing and the girls rap, I like that the rhythms deliberately avoid the obvious patterns you think they’re going to follow, I like the beat, and I like that all parties involved (songwriters, management, and performers) acknowledge that the members of F1RST are better chanters than they are singers and make the most of it. Really, my only problem with this song is its release date: it should have come out in July or August, because it’s totally a summer song, the thing that keeps you from leaving while you’re waiting for the DJ to finally put on “Bubble Pop!”.
The singer ‘Baby Soul’ (19·Lee Soojung)’s first digital single ‘No Better Than Strangers’ got caught under KBS’ review.
KBS forbid Baby Soul’s single title track ‘No Better Than Strangers’ to broadcast because its lyrics included words that belittled men.
‘You can’t even do this you jerk, am I asking for something big? You can’t even do this you wicked man, you should at least pretend’ is the problematic part.
Her company Woollim entertainement declared “It’s only realistic lyrics relating the feelings of a woman resentful toward a man, we didn’t intend to belittle men at all” and “It’s confusing but we won’t be changing the lyrics”.
This immediately made me think of the reason I didn’t like the lyrics of “The Boys”. The message I get is that rather than “belittling” hypothetical men who hypothetically treat them badly, women need to devote all their energy to encouraging men to overcome the adversity of male privilege and achieve their dreams, because the boys can’t do it without them!
On another note, this ban, as with all female artist-directed bans, is making many people cry hypocrisy (the boys get away with murder!) (wait, no, they don’t), but I can’t think of that many examples to hold up. The only obvious male artist parallel I can think of to those lyrics is U-Kiss’s “Shut Up” (“oppa really hates you now, oppa hates bad girls”, which, ouch), and that one did indeed go unbanned, but I can’t really think of many others that insult a girl to the point that it could be called “belittling”. (And note that above, “jerk” seems to be an unclear translation; others say the word used is stronger, closer to “bastard”.) Then again, like most non-Korean-speaking K-pop fans, I don’t usually pay attention to the lyrics of songs I’m not obsessed with, and I couldn’t tell you what most songs are about. For all I know, the lyrical content of DBSK’s entire oeuvre could make Odd Future sound like Fred Penner and I wouldn’t be the wiser. There are some examples mentioned in other reblogs of this article, e.g. MBLAQ’s “Y”, so check those if you’re curious.