Monthly Archives: February 2015

Award-winning dancers!

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The “Action” dance is silly enough, but I’m more amused by how much U-Kwon holds the torch for the old choreography of “Tell Them.”

And what do you talk to Block B about? Unpretty Rapstar, of course!

ETA: Dance off!

A romantic tango….

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Same story, different continent

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So, reaction to Block B’s Paris concert was…decidedly mixed. People seemed to have mostly enjoyed the performance itself; the criticism mainly boils down to four issues.

1. The concert was not long enough (about 70 minutes), and not enough songs (11) were performed.

2. Given its length, tickets to the concert were too expensive.

3. The show was a showcase, not a concert, but it was not advertised as such.

4. Staff was very brusque during the post-show meet & greet.

Now, if you look at that, and you look at Block B’s U.S. tour, you’re going to see a lot of parallels. Definitely issues #1 and #2 came up–it was an expensive ticket for a short show. Issue #3 was a bit more complicated–the show was indeed billed as a showcase, but that didn’t really mean anything to most people, because we don’t have K-Pop style showcases in the United States. As was true for the French audience, Americans came expecting a concert and were disappointed when that didn’t happen.

But, I would argue, in the States, all that was pretty much overshadowed by issue #4, which was really bad–I got manhandled, other people got manhandled. It was beyond simple rudeness–I was honestly worried that someone was going to clock one of the organizers.

Not shockingly, a lot of the feedback that I saw to the organizers focused very intensely on issue #4. And lo and behold, there was improvement on that issue.

The other issues kind of fell by the wayside, in part I think because Americans were just so darned pleased that Block B was touring outside Asia at all. (Remember, this was back before the release of HER, when Block B’s position in the industry was a bit more tenuous than it is today.) Plus, people didn’t want to come off as overly critical of Block B for fear that they wouldn’t come again.

Now, of course, I’m wondering if maybe Americans should have brought up issues #1-3 more….

Definitely the norm in the States for this kind of concert is 90-120 minutes of primarily music. To Americans, getting your picture taken with a group, getting something signed, seeing P.O molest Jaehyo and Zico rap horribly in English and do a “sexy” dance–that’s all supposed to be gravy. The meat of the concert–what you are actually paying for, and how the concert’s value is measured–is the music: how much, and which songs. It seems like Europeans have similar expectations.

I think it’s perfectly legitimate for people to make those expectations clear (hopefully in a civil manner) to the concert organizers–presumably that feedback will make its way to Block B. It’s not like they don’t do full concerts, but I think they may be thinking that they’re just kind of introducing themselves outside of Asia, so a showcase is all that they should do. But they’re never going to build an audience by disappointing concert-goers. They’re great performers, so it’s really just a matter of tweaking things to give people more of what they want.

ETA: And whaddya know, in Helsinki the staff was nicer and the show lasted longer, and the feedback is super-positive! Amazing how that works….

EATA: And the organizer is now offering nearly-free admission to the Warsaw or Milan concert for Paris ticket-holders by way of apology. Nice!

Does anyone know who this guy is?

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I HATE this sort of thing–it’s a new performance, so of course I felt obligated to put it on BlockB.com, but no one can be bothered to say who Zico performed it with, because you know, one day Zico might discover that they put someone else’s name on his fancam, AND THEN HE WON’T MARRY THEM!!! Or whatever. Anyway, right now the video is up as though Zico cleaved himself in twain and performed it solo, so if you know the name of the other entirely worthy performer, I will be eternally grateful.

And if you’re wondering why the video of “Well Done” I have up is a low-resolution one, that’s because it’s the only one I could find where the person didn’t carefully edit out Ja Mezz.

This is why I hate hate HATE focuses! It’s SO disrespectful to the other performers!

ETA: Ah-ha! It’s Penomeco!

Flowergate!

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So, there’s been some static coming at Block B because they (along with Infinite and Boy’s Republic) supposedly sent flowers to Kim Hyun Joong, a Korean actor and singer currently performing in Japan who beat the holy hell out of his girlfriend.

Block B International looked at the only source they could find (which is in English), and said, This article is setting off the bullshit detector, big time. No one seems to be able to find the Korean article that was supposedly translated, and they (and I) feel like the K-netizen comments are really obviously counterfeit. (Like, three-dollar bill counterfeit–they’re bad.)

That piqued my interest (journalistic skullduggery!), so I looked at the site itself. It’s pretty obviously a click-bait site, with misleading headlines that mostly seem designed to attract 1. people involved in fan wars, and 2. seekers of pornography. Also, you (or I, or anyone) can submit posts. (This, of course, was far more work than Omona They Didn’t could be bothered to do. They did, however, take the time to edit away the conspicuously bogus “K-netizen comments.” Because they are alllllll about justice.)

I decided to use my newly-developed “figuring out what the fuck Block B is doing in Japan” skills. I ran a Google News search using Block B’s Japanese name–I found nothing.

Then I took a good long look at those pictures of flowers. Block B’s Japanese name is ブロックビー, although they often promote under their English name. (Their Korean name is 블락비.)

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Am I missing something? Because I sure as shit don’t see ブロックビー, 블락비, or Block B anywhere (Kim’s name is キム・ヒョンジュン in Japanese, and it is plainly visible on the signs).

Was the whole thing piped up? The flowers are obviously there…hmm.

I poked around Tumblr some, and found a picture with a watermark (yay, watermarks!). Then I poked around on that site, where I found this article. In both places I found more pictures of flowers that don’t say ブロックビー.

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According to the article, Kim received flowers from a slew of Japanese and Korean celebrities–but Block B is not mentioned.

The sheer number of otherwise-unrelated celebrity names really, REALLY makes me think that the Japanese company that promotes Kim sent the flowers. Apparently the vast majority of the celebrities who “sent” flowers are represented by the very same firm (which also represents Block B).

If that is what usually happens, then that would explain why the Korean media didn’t cover this: The notion that these celebrities are all buddy-buddy with Kim and knowingly sent him flowers because they love him so much is obviously PR bullshit.

It doesn’t explain why someone felt the need to fabricate a pretend Korean media story complete with comments, or why the English-language K-Pop news sites are so fucking credulous, but hey–that’s crazy people for you!

What I’m wondering about now is, Was there ever a bouquet from Block B? I mean, obviously the flowers would be “from” Block B the same way they were “from” Infinite and BTS and everybody else–but did this bouquet actually ever exist? Or did someone confuse Block B and BTS again?

ETA: Thank you Ana for the detective work! The Block B bouquet did, in fact, exist:

B-Hh3OtCcAA-TSf

From mixtapes to….

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Zico recently had two interviews where he talked about his solo releases.

From the 1theK interview:

Click the CC button for English subs.

And the 10Asia interview that MoonROK translated:

Q: You’ve gone number one on the charts from “HER” to “Tough Cookie.” You’ve gotten #1 with songs that have a totally different character.

Zico: To be honest, “Tough Cookie” isn’t a song that I released in order to make money. It’s not a song that I made to release, but a song that I made because it seemed like a good song to perform as a solo at our concert. However, after making the song it seemed like if I didn’t release it, it would be unpleasant….

It was interesting to me because one of the things about Block B that I find kind of frustrating is that the members come up with songs that they perform but never release.

Or they do covers that they never release. And of course the rappers have tons of mixtape songs.

The mixtape thing seemed better to me–at least you can put those on your iPod!–but I realized something with the release of “Well Done”: The vast majority of English-speaking K-Pop fans/critics have never listened to the mixtapes, and they probably never will.

Part of my frustration with the response to “Tough Cookie” was that people acted like the language was something utterly shocking and unexpected, which is just stupid if you know Zico’s mixtapes. (“Pilophone is dirty rapper fuck-up bullshit, yeah yeah” will live forever in my heart.) Now with “Well Done” people are responding like 1. it’s a totally new thing for Zico to rap about his life, and 2. it’s a totally new thing for Zico to experiment with different musical genres. Again, if you know Zico’s mixtapes, that’s just laughable. (And who do they think wrote “Jackpot” and “Her”? The same magical elves that produce all SM songs, I guess.)

Some of it is just idiocy (I never thought I’d see a song with the line, “Money, fame, and bitches,” lauded for its political correctness, but hey, that’s the magic of “problematic”). But I think a big part of the problem is that, in the minds of a lot of these people, “Tough Cookie” is the only song Zico has ever done.

So I think it’s really a good thing that Zico is releasing these songs commercially instead of just as mixtapes. Even if they don’t make a ton of money in Korea’s shitty digital market, they get him recognition outside of Korean hip-hop circles.

Let’s put it this way: In recent months, Zico released two songs that have received a shit-ton of press coverage. One of them has been performed repeatedly on television.

And Park Kyung released four songs. Did you even know that?

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Obviously one advantage that commercially-released songs have is that their success is measurable. Both “Tough Cookie” and “Well Done” charted well (which, as those links show, gets the songs additional publicity), and download numbers give a sense of how the songs perform over time. (The “Well Done” video only has about half as many views as “Tough Cookie” did at this point, though–ah, the sad lack of controversy! Well, it was probably cheaper to make.) Not only is that stuff quantifiable, it’s also visible internationally.

Mixtapes are a different story. They aren’t sold, so you have no way of knowing how popular they are. The ones that are popular unquestionably have an impact: Even before the release of “Tough Cookie,” successful mixtapes helped Zico become a headliner at a lot of Korean hip-hop shows

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but you can’t measure that, and if you’re not in Korea and plugged into the hip-hop scene there, it’s easy to be oblivious.