Monthly Archives: October 2016

I kept taking my hands off the wheel to dance

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I was listening to the new Bastarz album while driving–or more properly, I was listening to “That’s Right” and “The Hidden Girl” OVER AND OVER AND OVER again. And then a few times more.

I knew P.O had composed three of the Welcome 2 Bastarz songs, and that one of those songs was “Selfish & Beautiful Girl,” but it turns out he did those two as well. Keep up the good work, P.O!

I like B-Bomb’s “Tightly” as well, but it seems that he’s of the “Anything is sexy as long as it’s said in French” school of thought. The opening spoken-word bit means:

Ugh, I’m so hungry. I guess I could go get something. Wanna do that?

I mean, I guess that could lead to something sexy–many a porn movie is built on no firmer a premise. Speaking for myself, though, if I start a sentence, “Ugh, I’m so hungry,” I’m going to respond very poorly to an offer of anything other than food.

But, hey! Let’s give B-Bomb a few more super-duper sexy French opening lines!

Eh bien, nous sommes hors de lait. Pourquoi ne pas tu jamais l’achètes?

Translation: Well, we’re out of milk. Why don’t you ever buy any?

Il n’y a pas de shampoing. Puis-je utiliser du savon à vaisselle?

Translation: There’s no shampoo. Can I use dish soap?

Si tu me réveilles une fois de plus je vais te tuer.

Translation: If you wake me up one more time, I’m going to kill you.

ETA: U-Kwon asks the tough questions!

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Speaking of weird….

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I read Ask A Korean’s excellent breakdown of the current political crisis in Korea last night, so now when I watch this:

All I can do is wonder if it’s all some kind of oblique commentary on the Choi cult or something…. Probably not–it’s probably just more general symbolism, but still….

Anyway–really do read that post. The news stories I’d read made it sound like this was some more-exaggerated Korean version of the Hillary Clinton e-mail server business, where the issue was the handling of confidential material, but no, that just scratches the surface. This sounds more like what happened when the White House tapes of Richard Nixon were released: People are realizing that their president is a complete loon. Disturbing as hell.

And I know that people tend to think of Korea as a magical source of pretty videos and entertainment, and that the focus on K-Pop gets especially intense at the end of the year because it’s award season, but try to keep in mind that right now the average Korean has far more important things to worry about than, I dunno, the SM Halloween party. Try to have a sense of proportion about things and be sensitive, OK?

ETA: About that–I realize that “Make It Rain” is not doing as well on the Korean real-time charts as some people would like. Remember that it is a very strange time in Korea right now, and I think a lot of people have more-pressing concerns than what pop song just came out. (Yes, I realize that Exo stans do not, but I’ll just say that I do not find that to be a particularly admirable trait.)

Things may pick up in Korea once Bastarz starts promotions, or “Make It Rain” may be like “Bingle Bingle” or “Nobody But You” where it’s much more popular in Western markets, or it may just never really catch on. That’s all OK–if Block B could afford to skip “Jackpot” promotions entirely two years ago, they can certainly afford to have “Make It Rain” not be a huge hit today.

Well, that’s a weird one

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I noticed some extra traffic to the “Would it make sense for Zico to leave Block B?” post, and some poking around revealed that people were saying that AllKPop did an article about him leaving. I couldn’t find the article, so I thought people were just believing a troll (ETA: Turns out that was exactly it), but then I saw this:

So, either people are going to great lengths to make AllKPop look bad (ETA: And wow, that’s pretty much what happened–it was someone’s idea of a joke, JFC), or AllKPop actually put this up and then pulled it down again, because, hello, it’s crap.

I mean, not only has Zico made no such announcement, he is promoting with Block B in Japan this very moment. 

The timing of such an announcement would be peculiar, to say the least.

It’s possible that there was a bogus Korean story out there, although I can’t find it. What I think likely inspired this burst of creativity are these stories, but they’re about how Park Kyung and P.O are becoming more prominent as Talented Producers of the Talented Idol Group Block B, not about Zico leaving the group. (Did you know that Mensa member Park “Mensa” Kyung, who is in Mensa, is Mensa smart? And Mensa talented?)

So, yeah–in any case, it should be no shock that AllKPop is not the most reliable thing out there. (And some people have a very strange sense of humor.)

ETA: Oh, and they’re dredging up Thailand again! Howzabout a “10 Times AllKPop Didn’t Bother with Journalistic Ethics” article?

More evidence that Netizenbuzz is not a newspaper

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Since business reporting is kind of my wheelhouse, I noticed a story on Netizenbuzz about YG Entertainment’s stock price, which hit an all! time! low!

But…why?

If you want an accurate answer to that question, it shouldn’t shock you that a single-line summary of an article, followed by a bunch of amazingly ignorant netizen comments, is perhaps not the best place to look.

There’s one thing that netizens and the original article do agree on: YG depends a lot on BigBang, and they’re starting to go into the military, so there’s certainly a challenge there.

But…several factors mentioned in that article never show up in the comments, which seem to be a lot more focused on how TWICE IZ GONNA KICK BLACK PINK’S AZZZ!!!!!!

For example: The entire Korean stock market is doing rather poorly right now, thanks to slowing economic growth, plus some large problems at some large companies.

YG’s stock price is doing worse than the market overall, though, and according to the original article, one big reason reason is China. Yup, China is still upset about U.S. military policy, so this time they’re taking it out on Chinese tourists who want to visit Korea, since those people influence the U.S. Department of Defense every bit as much as K-Pop idols do.

And YG bet big on China–hence The Collaboration–but that’s very obviously not going to pay off any time soon.

Take the uncertain economic and political environment, throw in BigBang potentially going on ice, and add a penalty for tax evasion, and the result is a lot of spooked investors. At least according to the original article.

Or, you could rely on the netizen analysis:

1. [+878, -51] The answer’s obvious when you look at the way Yang Hyun Suk’s been running the company. AkMu and Lee Hi are so talented, why haven’t they released anything in over two years?? Why is Winner left on the backburner, iKON too? And why does Black Pink get a new album just two months after their debut?…

Yeah. Call me crazy, but I doubt that actual investors are avoiding YG stock because they are butthurt over AkMu. I’m also betting that they aren’t too torn up that Black Pink is getting a new album just two months after their debut (OMFG, the injustice).

There’s also funny comments comparing YG unfavorably to labels the commenter clearly likes better–labels that, I guess, will magically be unaffected by the larger economic and political problems that so trouble YG these days.

But I think my favorite comment is this one, which blames YG’s problems on nationalism in…China? No, don’t be silly–Japan.

4. [+44, -13] I guess the glory days of making money off of druggies and car accident criminals are over. With Korean-Japanese relations worsening, their new rookies won’t have that Hallyu buff to rely on while Big Bang is headed off to the army one by one….

You know the person who wrote that comment not only didn’t read the article itself, but probably also hasn’t read any articles about Korea’s relations with its Asian neighbors in the past year.

I mean, of course there have been issues between Korea and Japan, and I’m not going to pretend that any country is devoid of ultra-nationalist assholes. But the political traditions in Japan and China are very different, and the Japanese government is considerably less likely to stomp all over citizens who want to buy a certain kind of music or take a vacation in a certain place.

So, while a very popular show in China was recently canceled because it featured Korean musicians, it’s totally possible for Korean musicians to do just dandy in Japan. If you look at the first six months of 2016 on Oricon, BigBang sold 194,992 physical copies of Made, putting it at #10 on that chart–a chart, I remind you, that only counts sales made at certain Japanese retailers in Japan itself.

And it’s not like BigBang is the only Korean group on that chart, either. Block B is represented in Japan by one of the country’s largest Japanese-owned record labels, and nobody would waste their time on that arrangement if the Japanese public was unwilling to support a Korean music group.

Plus, seriously: How fucked up is it to hope and pray that a neighboring country will become hostile to your own country in order to cause problems for a K-Pop label you don’t like? Scary, scary netizens….

Ah, iTunes….

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So, I wanted to see how “Selfish & Beautiful Girl” was doing on iTunes, and….

It’s #2 in K-Pop already (see it over on the right there)…

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…but…(?)…it’s also not Bastarz’ top-selling song.

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So, you know–yeah. Best-seller lists sure are interesting, aren’t they? Either one list is lagging the other, or they just don’t rank older songs.

Feeling both selfish & beautiful

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It’s been kind of a busy time for me, so of course Block B is releasing everything in a confusing manner at 4 a.m. my time. Hey, if I won’t leave town, this is what they are reduced to.

The Bastarz CD is available for pre-sale, although no one seems to have a song list yet. (ETA: Now they do!) I don’t see “Selfish & Beautiful Girl” on iTunes, although the iTunes Web page is suggesting that it’s on Apple’s streaming service (which I am not on). (ETA: Now it’s up! Whoot!) Usually iTunes takes some time, so it may be that the song will show up there in a little bit, or it may be only available as streaming until the album is released. (Which the retailers are saying is going to happen November 1 and Block B’s Twitter is saying will happen October 31. So, Block B will be flogging My Zone in Japan until October 30, and then heading right back to Korea to flog Bastarz–whew!)

The video was finally released after some quality issues caused delays.

Of course, people blamed Seven Seasons’ for this, because they are a video-production company, and sending back a video because it looks like ass isn’t, you know, them doing their job or anything.

I mean, it’s not like the members were being kept in the dark about the situation.

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They certainly seem adult enough to realize that it’s worth it to wait for a decent video.

Anyway, some people seem to think that not having the video come out the exact moment as the song somehow dooms the song. But this is hardly the first time there’s been a delay–if it actually mattered to sales, they’d be a lot more rigorous about it. (And I’ve seen other groups do videos for songs weeks or even months after release!)

It’s true that “Selfish & Beautiful Girl” was not the real-time chart-topper that songs written by Zico are nowadays, but you have to keep in mind that P.O’s last song sold about a twentieth of what “Boys and Girls” did. At this point, Zico is a very established and very powerful brand; P.O is still just One of Those Guys from Block B.

Now, I like P.O’s music very much, but nobody just instantly tops the charts–you start where you are, and then with any luck, you move up. Having P.O do a lead single is an important step to building his brand and getting him to (hopefully) reach the point where his songs have the same cachet and following as Zico’s and Park Kyung’s. (ETA: I should note that Seven Seasons is very explicitly pushing P.O in the media as the third in line for the producer throne.)

P.S. It looks like one of their songs is going to be completely obscene! I expect nothing less, boys!