seasquared said: what gets me so much about that song is the quick but almost imperceptible transition from the guy's agency (he is better around her, he wants to be her oppa, he will make himself memorable) to blaming the girl, in a way, for the failure in the relationship (what am i to you, what would satisfy you, why do you treat me like this when i support you). it's like this crushing sense that your best is not good enough? which feels very adult to me.
I agree about the transition! However to me, the discovery that not everything succeeds when you try is adulthood knocking but the reaction is still pre-adult (as usual with BTS): looking for someone else to blame, feeling like life has lost all meaning because something you really wanted didn’t work out, etc. Potential spoiler but this is something that comes up in Boyhood as well, with the main character’s ex dismissed as “just some stupid girl”, i.e. “you’ll get over her” - which led a male friend to say, “That was terrible [to include], but that’s what actually happens.”
so satoori is ANY provincial accent, right? I’d mostly heard it used in regards to speakers from Busan (I love when it creeps into Lizzy’s speech) but I’d like to use it correctly going forward!
Yep! I think it’s often used without a location descriptor to refer to Gyeongsang dialect (Daegu, Busan, etc.) because Gyeongsang dialect has a fairly popular status, but it is the general term for any provincial/regional accent.
Anonymous said: Hi Maddie, I was googling half chinese and half korean people; and interestingly I came upon your tumblr. It's very interesting to find a Korean-Chinese mix because honestly, it's rare. I'm not half Korean, but I am 1/4 (my grandma). The interesting thing is that she's a native Korean and when she immigrated to China, she's completely dominated by the Chinese culture (I think she's very iffy on her Korean skills too!). But anyway, can you read Korean?
Hi anon! Sorry it took me so long to get to your message. I can read the Korean alphabet, but it’s all self-taught, and I don’t speak or understand much Korean at all.
To answer what I think is your real question, though:
I’m second-generation(ish) and I was raised in a culturally homogeneous area of Toronto (as were both my parents), and as a result I’m very Anglo-Canadian culturally. Thus it doesn’t surprise me to learn that about your grandmother as well. In fact, it seems to be a common story with immigrants, especially to the West. The fear held by those opposed to immigration here that migrants will never assimilate and will irreparably pollute the “native” culture is pretty laughable from where I stand.
Having said that, I suspect that this attitude of rejecting the past might be on its way out, even within my own family. When I asked why we never learned Korean growing up, my mom (who left Korea at a young age herself) said, “It wouldn’t have been useful.” But now I think she’s starting to reconnect with her heritage and her history, and she sees more value in preserving at least some of that with her children. And in fact, when I travelled to Korea and Hong Kong (my grandparents’ “homelands”), I realized that even though I had always thought of myself as being raised culturally Canadian, there were many things I was familiar with from having been raised with them. Even just the sounds of Cantonese and Korean I find comforting.
Have you grown up with Korean culture at all? Are you interested in connecting with it, or is it pretty much irrelevant to you heritage-wise?
Beast: 1. “Fiction”. If someone told me they’d never listened to Beast before, I would want this song to be the first one they heard. Not only because it’s my favourite song of theirs, but because it’s a good compromise between the two extremes of their music: it’s sad and melodic, but you can still dance to it. 2. "숨" (Breath). It’s either this or “Shock”, but I like “Breath” better. I feel like these two singles are still what people think of first when Beast comes up, and not wrongly; even though their sound has matured a lot, it’s in keeping with this style. 3. "비가 오는 날엔" (On Rainy Days). Again, if someone had never listened to Beast before, I would want to be sure they heard their low-key side as well. 4. "Midnight (별 헤는 밤)". The most representative of the current Beast/Shinsadong Tiger Sound with a capital S. 5. "아름다운 밤이야" (It’s A Beautiful Night). I wouldn’t place it in my top 5, but for the sake of an introduction it’s their most recent single, and as with the best Beast songs it showcases each member’s abilities nicely.
Block B: 1. "Freeze!". Arranging Block B chronologically is maybe not the most convincing argument for why you should listen to them, but it’s the most responsible representation. This sums up Block B’s fumbling debut year, where they tried to fuse “real hip-hop” with so-dumb-it’s-fun idol pop and only ended up with the latter minus the fun. I would play the first 1:30 of this and then move on to the next song. 2. "Halo". The kind of single they should have released to begin with. (See also "Wanna B", and then imagine if that had been their debut single instead of “Freeze!”) 3. "난리나" (Nalina/Go Crazy). In which they finally got it right, embracing their goofiness and underground-style rapping rather than trying to squish it to fit the accepted idol modes. The lyrics are jam-packed. "Nillili Mambo" is this on steroids. 4. "로맨틱하게" (Romantically). Their chill/jazzy side, which happens more than one might think. 5. "Action". This is my favourite Block B song, all of the giddiness without all the posturing (and some soul horn samples to boot).
seasquared said: omg maddie i love "stop girl" and completely non-sheepishly. can we talk about how great it is some more *____* also embarrasingly enough when i first heard timberlake's most recent single i mistook it for a ukiss song and was like "WOW THIS AMAZINGLY FLUENT ENGLISH?" before i realized my error
Absolutely! “Stop Girl” is really good, not only composition-wise but because it suits U-KISS’s voices so well, which is not something you’d suspect from their other songs. Like, I can’t really picture another group doing this. And I agree with you, the first five minutes/suite/whatever of “Mirrors” could totally pass for a U-KISS song, with some noisier production and a rap part. (“Yesterday is history/Tomorrow is a mystery” is the kind of cheesy English truism that’s right up U-KISS’s alley, too - lest we forget “Don’t deny our r-squared-pi”.)
What do you think of “Standing Still”? It’s not quite “Stop Girl”, but I think it does a good job of mixing that smoother vocal style with the Eurodance beats of their other, shoutier singles. Could it be that after five years and a lineup change they’re finally hitting their musical stride?
subdee said: Ukiss! Do you like them? If not then B1A4. I would ask about Z:EA but I'm not sure they have five notable songs to write about (yet).
Why not all three?
I do like U-KISS! Albeit sheepishly. My primer for them is straightforward:
1. “만만하니” (Am I That Easy). What they used to sound like. 2. “시끄러!!” (Shut Up!!). The above, but grimier. 3. “0330”. What they tried to sound like. 4. “Neverland”. What they sound like most of the time. 5. “Stop Girl”. What they’re capable of sounding like. (It gets really good once the extra background noise comes in at 1:40.)
The most comprehensive B1A4 primer would come from Radio Palava, but here’s five songs that make for a good overview:
1. “Beautiful Target”. This doesn’t come first chronologically, but it’s B1A4 in a nutshell: sweet melodies, goofy-voiced rapping, hammy MV, and earworms for days. 2. “못된 것만 배워서” (Only Learned Bad Things). Establishes them early as capable of a mellower, more R&B-based style. 3. “Baby I’m Sorry”. This is the first of three (and counting) title tracks written and produced by leader Jinyoung, and fairly typical of one-half of his production style: an interesting but easy to follow melodic line over a cluttered backdrop, with an attraction to unnecessary bells and whistles (in this case autotune). 4. “너때문에” (Because Of You). This is the other kind of song Jinyoung writes, with the same melodies but more acoustic-based production and a softer edge. It’s nostalgic, yet without a referent. 5. “걸어 본다” (Tried to Walk). Hopefully this is indicative of their future direction, nominally more mature and continuing to build on this electronic pop sound. Then again, they immediately followed the darkish “Baby I’m Sorry” with the chipper “Baby Good Night”, so who knows?
And finally, my ZE:A recommendation is to listen to tracks 2-6 of Spectacular (“Aftermath” through “Never End”) and spare yourself the embarrassment of hearing any of their singles before that.
seasquared said: TEEN TOP PLEASE because i keep meaning to see what others see in them but that keeps falling to the very bottom of my to-do list
For me Teen Top’s best songs by far are their singles, so if you’ve already heard those you may end up back at square one. In chronological order:
1. “박수” (Clap). Their debut single introduces the basic elements of their music: the smooth, nasal timbre of Niel’s voice, the plaintive melodic singing of the others, and songwriting that is better than they likely deserve. Those two seconds of silence at 1:38 alone make this one of the most musically interesting debut singles of the last few years, to the point where the MV actually fills it in in an attempt to normalize it. (Accept no substitutes for the recorded version.)
2. “Supa Luv”. Produced by Hyuk Shin, a.k.a. “the guy who [co-]wrote ‘One Less Lonely Girl’”, as it’s been publicized. Biebs got this guy’s nostalgic side; Teen Top gets his futuristic one. This one takes a few listens.
3. “향수뿌리지마” (Don’t Spray Perfume). The shimmery synths are beautiful, but to enjoy them you either have to get past or give in to the squicky concept and lyrics (as unimaginatively illustrated in the MV). This mix of cringing guilt and pop pleasure is the essence of Teen Top’s appeal.
4. “To You”. The Teen Top/Brave Bros. partnership has proven a fruitful one; even if they are getting retreads of his other work, they imbue it with a sprightly energy that’s harder to reproduce. (See also their newest single, “Miss Right”.)
5. “사랑하고 싶어” (I Wanna Love). Teen Top are vocal Big Bang fanboys; if it isn’t already evident from the fact that they have a rapper named C.A.P, here’s a video of the three youngest members goofing off to “Fantastic Baby”. While “Crazy” is their most blatantly Big Bang-ish single, “I Wanna Love” is in the same striding minor-key mode as Alive, and expands their musical range in the same way. (Bonus: The MV was filmed in Hong Kong, and the cans of pineapple at the beginning are apparently an homage to Chungking Express, which, ?!)
I’m impressed by the lyrics. “Why am *I* doing this to *you*” in with all the other stuff about how the girl is a maniac. Vixx-dudes already know this but they should be running, not walking, away from this psychotic relationship.
I really like this comment, and I agree! There are a lot of K-pop songs about obsessive relationships from both sides, but I think this might be the first one to say “No, this is wrong for both of us, I need therapy" rather than just glamourizing the angst (though it still does plenty of that). (I could be wrong; like I said, there are a lot of lyrics to comb through.)
Anonymous said: I hope that when you say Brave Brothers has old guy/new guy sides to him, you really mean old guy/young guy, because he's done sad disco before - One Two "Starry Night" is the one I really like. Anyway, I love your Colors of Kpop review, many unexpected connections brought to light and a good way to sum up the year!
Whoops, thank you for pointing this song out. I’m admittedly not all that familiar with his catalogue beyond the major singles. Actually, to me “Starry Night” kind of brings his two sides together - the vocal line has similarities to the sad-disco stuff, but the backing track sounds a lot more like what he was doing for U-KISS around the same time (“Man Man Ha Ni” et al.).
The Colors of K-Pop project was great! I hope things like it will happen more often. It’s nice to see composers getting more attention these days.