Category Archives: Show Me the Money

Many random things

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There’s a lot going on, isn’t there? Like, Zico’s guesting on a song by Millic, and I’m probably not going to even be able to put it on BlockB.com because it’s coming out at almost the same time as Zico’s solo album (which has some interesting teasers, too).

Of course, the best Zico video out right now is this one here:

Zico bet his watch on that speed-reading contest, and then lost it. His expression is priceless!

And his watches ain’t cheap, either.

KHipHopSubs is translating Show Me the Money again, so yay! And Jaehyo & B-Bomb’s travel show is being translated here, so double-yay!

And Seven Seasons put out a fairly vague schedule that seems to be exciting everyone else much more than it does me. I mean, it’s gotten press coverage, so that in itself makes it worthwhile, but…I do hope people know that the plan pretty much every year has been to do two full-group comebacks–a small one in the spring and a big one in the fall–and the only year that has actually happened was 2014. (And even then, “Jackpot” promotions were cancelled because of the Sewol ferry tragedy.)

When a song doesn’t work out, or somebody blows a knee, or somebody’s mother dies–or maybe the news is great and somebody gets a really wonderful opportunity–it affects the schedule. That’s good, in my book–the group is more likely to stay together if consideration is shown to the members’ needs.

People are also saying that this proposed schedule will calm the crazy fans. OK, I’m just going to say it: Nothing will calm the crazy fans. When everything is fine, they just make shit up to get upset about. I’m already seeing “translations” that seriously up the number of “promised” activities, and of course should one of them fail to happen, the crazy fans will scream BETRAYAL!!!! Honestly, there is no point in tying yourself in knots trying to cater to people who will never be happy.

Speaking of people tying themselves in knots for no good reason, folks actually give a fuck about this?

Yes, five or six random Koreans could not identify Block B from a photograph! Wow.

I’ll tell you a true story: I’ve been hearing a lot about this group called the Chainsmokers. I’d never heard of them before, but they kept coming up–Chainsmokers over here, Chainsmokers over there, Chainsmokers everywhere!

Fuck! I said to myself. I’d better figure out who these guys are!

I went on YouTube, picked a random Chainsmokers song–and recognized it instantly.

I still couldn’t identify them from a photo, I didn’t even know who the Chainsmokers were–but I knew their music.

I’m guessing that’s the way it is for a lot of people in Korea when it comes to Block B. Maybe if they’d used a recent photo, people might have recognized Zico as “that Cass beer guy,” but maybe not. Play two seconds of “H.E.R,” however….

This, in contrast, I do feel is a cause for concern: U-Kwon has discovered fidget spinners.

Well, there goes all his time. And watch out for Sabellianism!

Still the best drama on Korean television

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I thought maybe I would skip it this year, but of course I got sucked in and am now watching the fifth season of Korea’s groundbreaking musical soap opera, Show Me the Money.

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Yes, this year we even had a character felled by a sudden illness! All we need now is an evil mother-in-law and a love triangle! (I’m going to nominate Team AOMG for the latter. Let’s face it, Simon Dominic already is the male lead in a K-drama–handsome, but with a fiery temper and a troubled history–while the equally-desirable-but-much-more-approachable Gray will be the guy who should get the girl, but doesn’t. Zion T is their wacky neighbor who is also in love with her–and with half the male cast–but no one takes him seriously.)

I think what makes Show Me the Money work for someone like myself who doesn’t typically enjoy reality television is the fact that it combines:

  1. The very small world of Korean hip-hop.
  2. Stakes that are actually genuine.

So the judges are judging people they know, and they are very aware that they could be tanking the career hopes of a friend, protege, or mentor. And of course the show does everything it can to make things more difficult for everyone, because they don’t care whose house they burn down as long as the fire makes for a good show.

Case in point: At one stage the judges face a problem, and a potential solution gets mentioned and then is immediately shot down as totally ridiculous and unworkable. Guess which solution the show adopts?

One innovation this season was that they did auditions in Los Angeles: That actually worked a lot better than I thought it would because they wound up selecting for the most part very capable bilingual Korean-American rappers. They only chose one rapper who spoke no Korean–not surprisingly, that was kind of a waste of everyone’s time. (At least she got a free trip to Seoul and saw a concert.)

The other thing that’s interesting is that the younger judges–Zion T, Mad Clown, and Gray–are very upfront that they are judging as producers. They’re overtly not looking for Korea’s Best Rapper (however you judge that), they’re looking for rappers who they want to work with. I think the success of “Fear” and “Oppa’s Car,” plus the impact the show had on Illionaire Records and Zico, has affected both who wants to judge and how they want to go about doing it–they’re definitely looking to their own careers as well.

And Mad Clown and Gil are currently getting my Inadvertent Comedy Gold Award. Mad Clown is a HUGE Leessang fan (his name is taken from a Leessang song), and he has Gil on such a pedestal (they didn’t know each other at all before the show) that his reaction to finding out any detail, at all, about Gil that would suggest he did not spring, fully formed, from the forehead of Zeus, is a really hysterical, “WHAT!?!” I get the feeling he reacted the same way to discovering that Gil eats, sleeps, breathes, and uses the toilet. (Just like us–OMFG!!! Mind. Blown.)

Oh, hey, we could have a birth-secret twist, where it turns out that Gil is actually Mad Clown’s father! It would work even better if it turns out that Mad Clown’s new wife (Did I forget to mention the surprise marriage? No lie–there’s an honest-to-God surprise marriage on the show) is related to Gil in some fashion.

* * *

The big controversy has been how Taewoon’s elimination was handled, but that to me just demonstrates how good the show is at manipulating people’s emotions.

If you just watch episode four, what goes down is not bad for Taewoon at all–yes, he gets eliminated after going up against Myundo four times, but he gets a fucking ton of screen time and does very well. The judges, who were not crazy about him before, repeatedly compliment him and say that they wish both contestants could move on. It’s like BeWhy’s elimination last year or Junoflo’s this year–the kind of “failure” that can really help a career.

But in the previous episode, the show really pushed this idea that Taewoon was being horribly persecuted and treated unfairly. He does a cypher and screws up, and “all” (i.e. two, or maybe three) of the anonymous comments about him by the other rappers (which are read aloud by the host) are vicious. Meanwhile, Reddy screws up just as badly, and “all” (i.e. two, or maybe three) of the anonymous comments about him are super-supportive.

This is combined with a lot of editing–cuts to reaction shots (and background music) that suggest that everyone hates Taewoon and loves Reddy, and that the Reddy love really hurts Taewoon’s feelings. BECAUSE IT’S SO UNFAIR.

But honestly–it’s a lot of this kind of thing:

Via Kpopalypse.

There’s a lot of cuts to reactions that could have been taken at any time, in reaction to any thing. Reddy actually gets snapped on, but of course all that takes place at a remove from the whole Everyone Hates Taewoon/Loves Reddy/IT’S SO UNFAIR scene.

And, hello, do you expect me to believe that the responses they read weren’t chosen with this exact impact in mind? I seriously doubt that they were a random selection, or that nobody had anything nasty to say to Reddy or kind to say to Taewoon. Anyone who has been paying attention (and I’m sure the show’s producers have been) knows that Taewoon is sensitive about what people say about him–he did an entire fucking song about it.

As he says to Myundo (translation by @kim_nahae & @kangyerimsubs & xewmin.tumblr.com & anjull.tumblr.com & artcapsule.tumblr.com–whew! It takes a village):

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So if you’re looking to stir up drama (AND THEY ARE) you find the sensitive guy, you hit him where it hurts, and you film it as he curls up and wants to die. Voila! He is now The Underdog!

Then, when he’s eliminated, people come with pitchforks and torches (because everybody loves an underdog). I’m sure Myundo has realized the truth of Taewoon’s words by this point, but again, the show does not care. Controversy does not hurt ratings–quite the contrary. People can bitch and moan about the contestants, the judges, the process–they’ll still watch, and they’ll still listen.

Concerts, cons, whatever

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There’s been a lot of “Oh, K-Pop events outside of Asia are always a mess” over on Asian Junkie, so I thought I’d address that for a minute.

At this point I’ve been to four Block B concerts, Show Me the Money concert, a Dynamic Duo concert, and an AOMG concert, and I have to take issue with the notion that these kinds of things are invariably some kind of disaster. I would agree that the AOMG concert would have been better at a different venue (although that is more a Seattle problem than a K-Pop problem–there’s a shortage of performance space here), and the New York Block B concert was definitely disorganized. But it’s not like the shows weren’t worth seeing or the environment was dangerous or anything (and all of the shows I’ve been to except the first two Block B shows had open floors).

I’ve also read second- or third-hand accounts that massively exaggerate (or invent) problems at these concerts, including allegations that the fans rioted (!) at the New York Block B concert, which is complete bullshit. Other than people sneaking back into the high-touch line, there was not a lot of misbehavior, and the venue was actually pretty awesome.

Do I regret seeing this? No.

But I would toss out a few things to consider if you are thinking of attending a K-Pop show or convention:

Why do you want to see the show? Are you in it for the explosions and Psy flying in the air over giant inflatable waves? That’s too bad, because all of that probably won’t happen. No traveling show is going to be a spectacle of the sort that can be generated in a 14,000-seat stadium. If you don’t think the group actually sings or dances well enough to be entertaining, you should probably stay home.

Are you in it because you’re hoping that you’ll make eye contact with your idol, and then he’ll immediately fall in love and whisk you away to a magical island? That’s not going to happen, either. (True story: Park Kyung recognized me from the stage in San Francisco and it freaked him the hell out. Yes, he and I are at that very special stage in the fan/celebrity relationship where the celebrity recognizes you but doesn’t remember where he knows you from, so he thinks you’re a stalker.)

Are you OK with the format? Is it called a “fan meeting” or a “showcase”? That means less music and more charades. If you’re not OK with that, save your money.

Personally, I am not too crazy about conventions in general, and I’m picky about music, so I’m not planning on going to K-Con Los Angeles. That said, if you really like conventions, then own it–get together with your buddies, do your cosplay, practice your cover dances, pass around your fan fiction, and just generally set yourself up so that even if you have to sit through some things you don’t like, you will still have a good time overall.

What do you really, really not want to have happen? I paid for pit tickets for both the Los Angeles and San Fransisco Block B shows–and then I made a beeline for the back of the pit. I enjoy being close, but I really don’t like being squished, so that was the best approach. People act like they have to be right up next to the stage, and then they complain about the crowding–you can’t have it both ways, you have to prioritize.

You also need to think about the kind of group it is and the reputation the fans have. I like BTS, but I’d certainly not go see them in, say, the same venue I saw AOMG–it’s too open (I’d be more comfortable with seated, given the intensity of the fandom), and you can’t see the dancing anyway.

Who’s organizing this, anyway? If you go to the organizer’s Facebook page and it’s all people complaining, beware. If there’s a lot of “These guys are coming! No they’re not!” beware. Conventions and festivals are always more risky because if half the groups get canceled, well, there’s still the other half plus the vendors, so–hey! You got what you paid for! Kind of!

Are fan-organized events always a disaster? No, but I would definitely poke around to see if they’ve ever organized anything else on the same scale–something that goes for professional organizers as well.

Does doing all this guarantee that you’ll have a great time? Nope. No guarantees in life. Hell, you might get food poisoning the day of. But if you do a little research and keep in mind what you do and do not like, that does greatly increase the chances that you’ll have an experience that you actually enjoy.

Not too shabby

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The Gaon annual top 100 lists for 2015 just came out, and–what should we call it? The Greater Block B Musical Complex?–did pretty well.

On the Albums list we have:

Conduct Zero at 61
Gallery at 66

On the Digital Singles list we have:

“Fear” at 30
“Turtle Ship” at 51
“Oasis” at 57
“Conduct Zero” at 87
“Ordinary Love” at 93
“Okey Dokey” at 96
“Boys and Girls” at 97

So, you see how important Show Me the Money was this year–three of Zico’s five charted songs are from that show, and I think his discography shows the impact it had on his sales (keep in mind that “Eureka” has by no means finished its run on Gaon–it was #13 last week).

This isn’t actually the first year Block B has had two albums on the annual Gaon charts–they managed that in 2012 as well–but it is by far their best year for singles, which are what the general public usually buys. In 2014 they had three, in 2012, one–and that’s all.

Eh, I’m not sleeping anyway

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I’m exhausted, and my feet are in pain, but I’m just too pumped from the Show Me the Money concert to sleep. So I’m going to post about it.

I got there about two hours before the doors opened. And there were enough people there that I figured I probably wouldn’t be very close to the stage, but once the doors opened, it turned out that, yeah, I was pretty close. (The crowd was really different from Block B’s: I’d say 30-40% guys, and at least 90% Asian.) I also figured that I wouldn’t take pictures, but then I wound up taking a ton, but most of them didn’t really turn out. So I am posting only the really, really crucial ones here.

I was worried about it being standing-only, but people were very civilized (in fact, since I caught someone with my elbow by mistake, I may have been the worst one there). The concert started about an hour after they opened the doors, and when the people waiting right up next to the stage decided that they wanted a drink or to pee, they left their spot and came back without any visible problems.

About half-an-hour before the concert started, Tablo stuck his head out from behind the curtains. No apparent reason.

The concert started with a little video telling us that, you know, Basick won, and then he popped out and did two songs from the show and then a third. He was great–no mistakes, very comfortable performing. He spoke English quite well and told us that he was living his dream and that now he really felt like a star. It was really sweet.

Then it was Jinusean’s turn. They did just a little bit of “Oppa’s Car” and then did a bunch of their songs. Sean took of his jacket after the first song, and then we get to THE MOST IMPORTANT PICTURES!!!

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Needless to say, I felt obligated to carefully record this for the sake a science. For starters, there was the interesting phenomenon of a seriously buff 40-something. And then I planned to compare and contrast said shirtless 40-something to Jay Park when he took off his shirt. Sadly, my planned experiment was destroyed when Jay Park, in defiance of all expectation, NEVER TOOK OFF HIS SHIRT!

I was crushed. As a scientist, mind you.

Anyway, Jinusean said that they are planning on releasing more music, so yay.

On we went to AOMG. Loco came out first, as is usual. (There are a surprising number of people who REALLY want to have his baby, wow. I mean, are they oblivious to the whole erotic asphyxiation thing, or is that a turn-on?) Then Jay Park and his shirt came out. (He’s really petite–I know he jokes about being short, but he’s really got a small build.) They did “Mommae,” and someone threw a pair of lace panties, which DELIGHTED Jay Park–he said, “Holy shit!” and held them up for everyone to see. Seriously, he was so impressed.

I should note at this point that the advertisement for the concert suggested that the final four contestants would appear. I figured that wasn’t going to happen since Mino wasn’t at the Seoul concerts, but I thought we’d get just a couple of the guys from the final four.

So Jay Park and his shirt say, We’ve got someone joining us–it’s David Kim! And David Kim comes out, and he does a song. And then Jay Park and his shirt say, Oh, there’s someone else–it’s Sik-K! And Sik-K come out and does a song.

And THEN Jay Park and his shirt say, Gee, there’s a third–Geegooin! And now people start to freak the fuck out, because they’re realizing what he’s done. And sure enough, after Geegooin does his song, out pops Lil Boi!

Yup–JAY PARK BROUGHT HIS ENTIRE TEAM TO LOS ANGELES. He is the man. It almost made me forgive him for the shirt.

So with the six of them (plus a DJ) on the stage, and everyone in the audience going mental, lots of water got thrown. The next performer up was Tablo, who only did two songs but managed to be hilarious–he spent a good hunk of time wiping the stage with a little handtowel, and then he said, “Those AOMG boys really [long pause, as though he’s going to compliment them] fucked up the stage!” His delivery is just hysterical, and pretty much impossible to capture in print. He went into this long monologue about how lonely he was coming out to L.A. without the rest of Epik High–he was lonely on the flight, he was lonely in the hotel room, he was lonely now on stage . . . it doesn’t read funny, I know, but it was just the funniest thing when he said it.

Then Paloalto came out. Boy, I feel like his stage presence just kind of has to be experienced. From the show, my impression was basically, here’s this old guy who is an excellent rapper but has no eyebrows and some pretty dorky moves. And that’s all true, but he does have something on stage that’s hard to define. I kind of wanted to throw panties at him, and that surprised me.

He had a guest rapper who was not on the show but was quite good–I thought his name was J-2 but I can’t seem to find him on Google. (ETA: A-ha! His name is G2!) He said he was from Texas, anyway. And for one song three backup dancers popped out: Dumbfounded, a guy I don’t know but who looks really familiar (I think he’s a YouTuber who does K-Pop), and Jay Park, still wearing his damned shirt.

It was funny because at one point Paloalto told us to say, “Yay!” and we said “Whoo!” instead, and he shook his finger at us and looked very disappointed. So we said “Yay!” after that.

They finish up, and at this point it’s been about two hours, my feet are sore, and I’m thinking, Oh, OK, it’s over. But of course it wasn’t–time for San-E!

He started out with his more serious stuff, but then he asked us all if we were all busy tonight and started in on the smutty and funny stuff he does. And then he wanted us all to jump at this one song, and like Paloalto before him, he was very severe–we ALL had to jump (not just 70% of us!) and our feet had to leave the floor and he wanted no shirking from the balcony! Honestly I don’t know what I’m going to do tomorrow, but a foot massage may be in order.

After San-E was Verbal Jint. They brought out a keyboard, and I though someone else would play it, but Verbal Jint played it while rapping, because he is amazing. (He’s a very confident performer and not weird at all.) Verbal Jint brought out Sanchez to sing–he was great and very funny. He looks very different in person than in pictures: I never thought he looked much like Microdot, but he totally does in real life. And he’s really cute.

Then Sanchez left and San-E and Basick came out, and they all performed. And then the concert was over!

So everyone starts to head out. That’s a little complicated at that venue (Club Nokia) because it’s three stories up, so to get there you go up two escalators and across a narrow walkway that overlooks the courtyard below. So I was walking along with the crowd to the walkway, and there was this big ruckus.

I don’t know how this happened, but the four guys from Team AOMG got themselves stuck out there in the exiting crowd. There were security people around them, but the walkway was narrow and everyone was pretty much going apeshit. I stood back and cheered as they went by, and the expressions on their faces were pretty much:

OH SHIT!

They got through without incident as far as I could see. But it cracked me up–one minute they’re people no one recognizes, the next they’re almost being smushed off a balcony in a foreign country by fans.

This is making me feel very secure in my choices

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As you may have gathered, I don’t read netizen comments if I can possibly help it. They’re almost never clever or amusing, and they arguably can cause damage only if people pay attention to them, so I don’t.

But about a week ago, I thought I’d pop on over to Netizen Buzz to see if there was anything fun to read about Show Me the Money. I got through about three articles in before I quit, because it was all just Hate Here, Hate There, Hate Everywhere. (I mentioned this to someone who said that they didn’t really seem to be hating on Mino. But netizens are nothing if not thorough, and Mino was promptly hated upon!) One of the constant refrains was “[Hatee] THOUGHT this show would help them, but now their career is DESTROYED!!! ABSOLUTELY DESTROYED!!!!! MWUA-HA-HA-HA-HA!!!!!”

Today I was updating the Gaon numbers for the Wikipedia article on Zico (because I am a dweeb), and I noticed that the Show Me the Money 4 article needed some updating with regard to song sales and charting, so I did that as well (because I am a helpful dweeb).

I shall note:

  • At this moment, 12 of Korea’s top 100 songs are from Show Me the Money.
  • Show Me the Money has so far released 13 songs. All 13 have charted.
  • All but one of those 13 songs have remained on the Gaon charts since their release.
  • Incredible, a near-complete unknown, has sold more than 200,000 downloads of “Oppa’s Car.” It is currently the #1 song in Korea. (HEE-HEE-HEE!!!)
  • Black Nut, who netizens are happy to inform you is THE MOST HORRIBLE PERSON ON THE WHOLE ENTIRE PLANET, has sold more than 100,000 downloads of each of his two singles.

Do netizens necessarily represent the views of the Korean general public? Do netizens hating something mean that it can’t be successful in Korea? Do they really have any more impact on things in Korea than some random YouTube commenter has here? Do they know something you don’t? Are they wiser or more insightful?

In other words: Are their opinions worth reading?

To me, the answer to all of the above questions is most often no.

If I want to know what people in Korea actually like, I look at what they buy. I don’t look at what random dipshits say on the Interwebs.

Why is that? Because all someone commenting means is that the person has time on their hands. Talk is cheap, and invective is easy.

Getting people to buy something? That’s hard.