Within the past week I set a date for my dissertation defense, finished writing the first draft of a grant to investigate queer men of color’s health outcomes, and analyzed data for various research projects for about four hours with my students. While I work a lot, I also set aside time to nurture my relationship with myself and with close and casual friends. In my 25 years of life, I have met so many people who achieve a lot in their professional lives yet do not take time to work through their internal traumas and conflicts or to practice self-compassion generally, which often shows up in how they treat others. Thus, amidst the business of my life I wanted to write this informal post to celebrate some simple pleasures I have encountered as of late. Continue reading
Category Archives: K-Pop
When BlackPink first released their title track “Lovesick Girls” on October 2, I disliked it a lot. In my initial listens, the chorus felt too shouty and hollow instead of anthemic and resonant. I also tend to turn away from songs that focus on romantic love. About a week and a half later, though, after I listened to some covers of the song on YouTube, the chorus clicked for me and I became obsessed with this bop about the pains and joys of heartache. After listening to “Lovesick Girls” nonstop for about a month and a half now, I realize that I resonate with this song because of the unique way it crafts a somewhat trite message: that it is better to be hurt by love than to close yourself off from experiencing it at all.
The verses in “Lovesick Girls” do an excellent job of communicating the pain that accompanies connection. Continue reading
BlackPink released a new single last week and I may have fanboy screamed about it a lot since then. When I reflect on why I like BlackPink so much, I think a lot about my childhood. Growing up, I received a lot of binary role models related to gender – my mother acted in a lot of toxically masculine and abusive ways, whereas my grandmother embodied nurturance, softness, and kindness. Though I knew they were both women, I came to associate my mother – because of her cruel behaviors – with masculinity and I viewed my grandmother as an exemplar of femininity. Of course, I wanted to be like my grandmother and not my mother, so I clung to femininity, emotionality, and gentleness all throughout my childhood and adolescence.
As I’ve written about before, later on I realized the perils of my hyperfemininity. As a more femme guy, I had become so scared of asserting myself and expressing any anger that I developed an eating disorder in middle school and early high school. I took out my rage on my own body instead of propelling it into crushing the patriarchy. I didn’t learn until therapy and my feminist friendships in undergrad to assert myself and that I could assert myself without acting like my mother.
I discovered BlackPink right after I graduated from undergrad. Continue reading
I haven’t written a blog post about K-Pop for five years thank god because all my posts were pretty trash but last year I found a new group to obsessively fanboy, my queens BlackPink. I have a lot to say about this splendid group but this post will focus on their 2017 summer smash “As If It’s Your Last,” an upbeat song that mixes house, reggae, and moombahton genres. The song is about an intense, all-consuming romance, so in theory I should hate it given how many posts I’ve written about the patriarchal nature of romance, and yet, I find myself engaged in an all-consuming romance with the song itself. I love this song so much because in “As If It’s Your Last,” BlackPink injects the tried and true romantic pop song with vibrant shades of cheerfulness and a persistent, pulsating agency.
Let’s start with the lyrics. Yes, there’s nothing radically feminist about the lyrics of “As If It’s Your Last,” no condemnation of the patriarchy for making us feel insecure without a romantic partner, no equivalent of Lisa’s somewhat capitalist yet so iconic “middle finger up, F U pay me” from “Boombayah.” However, within the realm of romance, BlackPink asserts their hearts’ desires and tells their lover exactly what they want from them. Continue reading
So I was looking through my blog search terms and saw this:
Which made me realize that 1) People still find my blog through searching for SNSD related stuff and 2) SNSD had a new song out and I had no idea. Probably what I deserve for unfollowing allkpop on Twitter. Anyway, I went on Youtube, searched for “I Got A Boy”, watched the video, then noticed “Dancing Queen” on the sidebar. Both surprised me but in different ways.
When I first clicked on “Dancing Queen” I assumed that the song may have been inspired by the song “Dancing Queen” by Abba. Turns out that SNSD’s song is actually a remake of Buffy’s 2008 hit “Mercy”, one of my favorite songs of all time. Apparently SM planned to release “Dancing Queen” back in 2008 but had to replace it with “Gee” due to copyright issues – they even filmed the video and mastered the choreography, which luckily they were able to use four years later.
I noticed in the comments section of Duffy’s music video that SNSD fans had started some sort of uproar/war/apology fight. I honestly think that this remake is just a cute, catchy version quite similar to its original; it’s not anything to go crazy over, even though it’s a great song on its own. Continue reading
Wonder Girls gives breaking into the American pop mainstream another shot, this time with Akon’s assistance. Before I go into the ridiculous song title and overall theme of the song, let me try and properly evaluate the single as best a non-music oriented person can. Continue reading
In order to take a break from my recent chain of personal posts and book reviews, I’ve decided to share my thoughts on two of SNSD’s latest releases: “Twinkle” and “Paparazzi”. I haven’t written a blog post about K-Pop/J-Pop since February, so hopefully this will make up for that, as well as provide juxtaposition with some of the other posts I’ve published!
As you can probably tell, I have been out of the loop regarding K-Pop lately. Today, I went on a brief frenzy updating myself on my favorite groups’ activities for the past few months, and when I stumbled upon the fact that SNSD had experimented with a cleverly-titled subgroup, and that their debut single landed #126 on the Billboard 200, I was impressed. Continue reading
So I’m starting to feel guilty whenever someone follows this blog because of my pop/K-Pop related posts – not only have I not been posting that much at all, but my music-related posts have been decreasing exorbitantly! So, I’m making amends for that today by writing some short stuff on Pop and K-Pop. This, obviously, is the K-Pop one.
I wanted to write about my favorite SM groups, but through Google I discovered that they had not released any new songs as of late. Therefore, it all fell upon U-Kiss, the only other group I’ve ever paid much attention to in my posts – and guess what, they did release a new music video recently! This one is called “Forbidden Love”, or as I like to call it, Pelvic Thrusts. You can watch the video here.
Time for my overdue thoughts on SHINee’s debut Japanese album, “The First”. I’ll give a brief overview of my opinions twice – once before listening to the album in its entirety, and once after listening to all of the songs. I’m still an average fanboy with no formal music training (aka, SM’s target audience) so if you’re looking for a review from an established and intellectual individual I highly recommend this one.
The K-Pop craze has cooled down lately due to a myriad of the successful groups debuting in Japan. Admittedly, some have been better than others. I’m concerned for SHINee because despite their album being titled “The First” I feel that they should be growing as a group even if they’re promoting in another country – instead, they’re stagnating. The re-released songs for the most part are sub-par compared to the originals, and the album as a whole lacks the maturity I would’ve expected from SHINee at this stage of their careers. Maybe my opinion will change after listening to all of the songs again, we’ll see.
1. Lucifer: So my reaction to this song wasn’t as bad as the first time I listened to it, but I wasn’t impressed either. The Japanese still sounded awkward to me and the song itself doesn’t possess the punch that the original does. Also, Minho’s
frog voice rap was unbearably uncomfortable – especially while watching the video, because you could hear the mutilated, auto-toned voice coming out of his not-so abnormal mouth.
2. AMIGO: “You’re the hottest ice cream ninja.” HA HA HA HA HA. Like I told my blogging friend in a comment on her review I literally laughed out loud for five minutes after hearing that, told my friends about it and then laughed some more. Not in a mean way, because I doubt SHINee even knows what they’re saying, but just at the sheer ridiculousness of the English.
Anyway, this is one of my favorite songs on the album. I’m biased because I loved the original version and overall I find the song very catchy. Perhaps not the most well-produced re-release, but passable to the point where I would listen to it while working out.
3. Juliette: Eh, still disappointed about Taemin taking Jonghyun’s lines. Not enamored or embittered by the song, it’s okay.
4. Better: I feel like this song is one of the mandatory ballads that the album must have, aka, filler. I’m not a ballad guy myself when it comes to K-Pop, so I’m not sure whether the fact that this song doesn’t leave a lasting impression on me should be attributed to its averageness or my own inability to appreciate male ballads.
5. To Your Heart: A slightly better ballad than “Better”, but still not splendid. The chorus is moderately catchy and the song as a whole has an undeniable cuteness factor.
6. Always Love: Another forgettable ballad. Its English leaves something to be desired… perhaps fixing the faulty phrase “thank you for your treating me.”
7. Replay: My opinion of this song is similar to that of “AMIGO” because I loved the original version of this song, and thus due to the minimal changes made to it I also like the Japanese version. “Replay” has such a beautiful sound to it – I’m not music-savvy enough to say why, but there’s something about the song that makes it stand out among all of SHINee’s other releases, even “Lucifer” and “Ring Ding Dong.” This is a song I would write to, regardless of the language it’s in.
“Replay” is also similar to “AMIGO” in that it has an awkward English phrase: “you don’t know what is love I will give it to you.” I wouldn’t mind Key carrying out this proposed action though… yeah…
8. START: A failed attempt at attracting fangirls – maybe some will find the whole “I want to start” line cute, yet the song itself is too forgettable and filler-like for me to consider it seriously.
9. Love Like Oxygen: Never got into the original version of this song, I think this version is okay. Once again not amazing but not abhorrent.
10. Hello: Woo for rehashed cuteness! My favorite part of this song is when Key says “baby girl” repeatedly at the end. I feel repetitive, but this song is also okay. Just okay.
11. The SHINee World: Did they say “I want to get you in this body” in the original version? Did they also say “make love right now?” That could be misinterpreted… anyway, I suppose this is their anthem song. It reminds me of f(x)’s My Style, except more developed. I actually like this song more than the majority of the album, it’s catchy, though not nearly as addictive as “AMIGO” or “Replay”.
12. Seesaw: My least favorite song of the album. I appreciate their attempt to incorporate metaphor into one of their songs, but a seesaw doesn’t really work and the song itself is unremarkable.
13. Stranger: A great song to end the album with. Its energetic and shows how auto-tune can be used to one’s advantage, and thankfully it’s not a remake of an original song either. Definitely one of the better songs of the album.
So, as you can see from my gradually decreasing enthusiasm throughout this post, this album didn’t amaze me in any way. It’ll probably win over some (or a lot) of new fans from Japan, but as someone who’s been listening to SHINee for quite some time now I am not impressed. The decent re-releases and “Stranger” do not make up for the slog of boring ballads or the overall lack of growth in this album. I won’t denounce my liking or fanboy status of SHINee, but I hope they do better with their next album.
I’m way behind on all things K-Pop and J-Pop, but I noticed that U-Kiss released their Japanese debut while scanning this person’s tumblr – U-Kiss has been on a roll of amazing songs lately, first with “Neverland”, and now with “Tick Tack” (music video here). I’m not going to go into an in-depth review because Simon and Martina beat me to it, however I’ll share some of my feelings after watching the video for the first time.
I love this song. It’s catchy in the classic electronic/dance/pop style U-Kiss is known for and possesses a powerful sense of immanency. This is reflected in the intense atmosphere of the video, which is set partly in a dilapidated building and partly in a room with a clock in the background.
The theme of time was expressed effectively throughout the video. The clock in the background, how they’re holding pocket watches, and the clock-like dance moves all tie back together which makes this video more cohesive than most of its J-Pop counterparts. The dancing is wonderful, as they all display passion and unity while performing some of the most interesting moves I’ve seen thus far. I will learn that skateboard shuffle step move… one day…
I’m not exactly sure what’s being conveyed by the lyrics, though the English sounds nice despite the fact that it doesn’t make 100% sense…
unless Kevin can turn on broken lights with his beautifully feminine face.
Overall this song and its video has made me an official fan of U-Kiss. Before I had only admired
Kevin’s gorgeousness them from afar, but with “Tick Tack” they’ve shown that they can be consistent even when debuting in another country. Other K-Pop groups debuting in Japan should take note, such as, um, SHINee, who’s Japanese album “The First” I will be writing about soon.
I enjoyed the equal usage of the seven members of U-Kiss in this video, the connection between the song and the video itself, Kevin’s face, and pretty much the entire video as a whole. What do you think of the song or the video?