Category Archives: K Pop

This is why I can’t get upset

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Oh, nooooo, Block B failed to win their…um…gotta look this up…their ninth music-show trophy! Instead it went to That Jooheon Kid and the rest of Monsta X!

How awful. Monsta X got their first win, which made them super happy so that they cried and cried (and cried!), and Block B ran right over and hugged them and were grinning and the tension was just so awful, because Block B was obviously super upset not to get their…well, if you count Zico and Park Kyung’s wins, then it would have been their twelfth trophy. Instead they had to watch those Monsta X kids have a day they’ll never forget, which I’m sure was especially awful for Block B because it would remind them of their first win and how much it meant to them.

Of course, it was nowhere near as horrible for Block B than the day Winner beat them out to get their first win.

Lo, the anger and resentment!

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This isn’t helping my SJW trust issues any

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WHY are so many people talking about U-Kwon’s “dreads”?

It’s people who like them; it’s people who don’t. Here is an ENTIRE THREAD objecting to “purple dreads [and] cultural appropriation,” and there’s plenty more out there (most of which I’ve blocked already, because there is only so much stupidity that I can cope with).

In all honesty, if you cannot tell the difference between dreadlocks and BRAIDS (called BRAIDS because the hair is, yes, BRAIDED), then you have absolutely zero credibility. How can you possibly weigh in on a issue that you obviously know nothing–I mean NOTHINGabout?

I don’t pretend to be an expert on Black hair, but come on–I don’t remember ever not being able to tell dreads from braids, and I’m white! It’s like someone trying to weigh in on some issue between Korea and Japan, and they’re Donald Trump they think both countries are a part of China or something.

I’m willing to acknowledge some gray area between dreads and twists (in no small part because people will often insist that what look like dreads are really twists–dreads are sometimes associated with stoners, so “twists” are more professional, even when they’re basically just very neat dreadlocks). I freely admit that when I first saw this:

it took me a second look to realize that these were braids and not some kind of threadlock or something. But you don’t look at this texture:

and think “dreads” if you’ve ever actually seen dreadlocks.

Which means that the people objecting to the “dreads” never have.

And that’s what makes me really skeptical that most of the people objecting to this are people who dislike the whole conflation of Black culture and hip-hop concept that is common in K-Pop. For every person offering plausible logic and the remotest semblance of knowledge, there’s this whole slew of people saying nothing more than, “This hair is ugly, messy, shitty, and thuggish” (…gee, I wonder what makes a hairstyle “thuggish”?), or complaining about the cultural appropriation of a hairstyle that they cannot identify with any accuracy (which is kind of hilarious, really, but still), or being outraged because Koreans are doing something other than pop or because someone hired Black people again.

Now of course, I’m white, and because I’m older and grew up in a racist part of the country, I can be a little paranoid. But the Keep Blacks Out of K-Pop crowd certainly does exist, and of course there’s the fine old assy tradition of classifying behavior by a group you don’t like as “problematic” in hopes of generating scandal. In my opinion, someone complaining about “dreads” when no dreads are to be seen is a person who deserves to have a little suspicion cast their way.

Remember way, waaaaay back to 2014?

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Some people seem upset that the physical CD of Montage (totes available for pre-order!) is coming out a few days after the digital release.

Of course, Block B did the same thing with H.E.R, and things worked out fine with that (you can still hear the song being played around Seoul nowadays!), so I’m not sure what the problem is.

Does it make it harder to win music-show trophies? YES. Guess what? Music-show trophies are complete horseshit and primarily serve to drive revenue to video platforms and music-streaming services that don’t pay the artists!

The real fun in 2014 was that Zico actually wanted to win a trophy, which led to this classic expression when they didn’t:

And then Block B won anyway, and then they quit making such a big deal over the stupid things.

I mean, of course winning mattered a lot to them back in 2013.

But that’s when they were still seen as this pariah group that was cursed and should disband, which is really, really, really, really not the case today.

At this point the main thing that is entertaining to me about Block B winning awards is 1. the silly things they do, and 2. watching them thank their label, their CEO, and the various other staff, and then watching fans pretend like that never happens….

This is kind of a depressing realization

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Back when I watched Hack Zico, something Zico said to Crush really stuck in my mind. They were talking about traveling, and Zico said:

When Zico was forced to go to America…?

Now, we are talking about Zico here, so it’s entirely possible that he’s just whining and exaggerating. But….

As far as I can recall–and a Google search provides me with no alternatives–the one time Crush and Zico were in the United States together was for K-Con LA in 2015 (and Zico stayed on to film “Veni Vidi Vici“).

Aaaand I was just reading this post from Ask a Korean, which touches on recent revelations about the Park administration’s heavy-handed approach to the Korean entertainment industry, including blacklisting troublesome celebrities.

Of course, I already knew that K-Con France was organized more or less with the purpose of funneling public funds into private pockets. (For the record: I don’t think the festival’s organizers had that purpose in mind at all–but certain people in the Korean government clearly did.) Of course, you can’t throw a K-Pop festival without K-Pop talent, and there is so much more money to siphon off if you can force talent to appear on the cheap.

How could you do that? Well, there’s always the direct threat of blacklisting, but more probable in my mind would be to get at them through CJ E&M, a major media company that is a big backer of K-Con (and is also Block B’s distributor). The Park administration forced out the parent company’s vice chair in October 2014; I would assume that CJ E&M became a lot more tractable to the government’s wishes after that. And I would note that K-Con’s big expansion from being a Los Angeles-only festival to being a worldwide, multi-festival operation began the next year.

So, yeah. Maybe Zico was just being dramatic when he said that he was forced to go to the United States with Crush–but maybe he wasn’t. Maybe it’s a coincidence that Block B has been appearing at far fewer K-Con festivals since the Choi Soon-sil scandal erupted–but maybe it’s not.

This is…potentially interesting

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A few days ago, Asian Junkie posted about an interview with CLC’s Sorn in which she talks about how non-Korean musicians don’t necessarily get the royalties that Korean musicians do.

It was interesting for many reasons (and Sorn has a very healthy attitude toward the business end of things), but what I found odd was her apparent belief that artists get paid more the more their songs are played in public.

That struck me as weird because that’s not how it works in the United States: Retail businesses just pay a blanket licensing fee to performing rights organizations to play music; they don’t pay a particular artist more if they play their songs a lot. (ETA: WannaBlockB points out in the comments that things are a little more precise these days.)

But if you sift through the garbled Engrish at the FKMP Web site–well, it could be that Sorn is right. If they have to “[s]ecure distribution data such as usage statement,” that could suggest that they actually do keep track of what songs get played in public venues.

If that’s the case, and if it’s a significant amount of money (and I guess it probably is, because Sorn noticed it was missing and was sufficiently motivated to find out why)–well, that’s another income stream that I hadn’t even really thought of. I mean, I heard quite a bit of music from the Greater Block B Musical Complex playing from retailers when I was in Korea (including Killagramz’ “Where You At” the day I went home). I just thought it was nice, but I guess it could also mean that they’re making bank (and Kisum isn’t doing too badly, either).

And I thought “Freeze” was bad

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This came out today from Babylon (fun!):

And someone mentioned in the comments that he used to be in an idol group.

Bwa-ha-ha-ha-ha!!! Oh my God–I mean, I wasn’t expecting it to be good, but….

Seriously, if they’d made him clench any harder, he would have broken himself right into two!

Poor Babylon. I have a sudden understanding of his preference for 1. choosing himself which producer to work with, and 2. baggy layers of clothing….