Category Archives: Show Me the Money

See?

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Grannies love DJ Doc! (Hey, at least Zico didn’t have to steal the trophy this time.)

So, do you think Woo Chan’s parents are going to let Nucksal adopt him?

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Let’s get Dean mad about something else!

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Shame on me, but I’m kind of loving how PISSED Dean is about the bullshit allegation that “Where U At” (from Show Me the Money) is plagiarized from “I’m the One.” These things are basically always crap, of course, but Dean’s been awesomely breaking down every aspect to PROVE exactly how dumb this is.

He keeps posting and deleting to Instagram, so it’s hard to capture this in all its glory. Soompi got most of the first two posts, but they missed the bit where Dean actually spelled out the chord changes (luckily a fan copied this to Twitter)

Dean also posted a video showing the differences between the songs.

Now he’s got another new post up because someone contacted the producer of “I’m the One,” who said (this is an exact quote) “Nope” to the charge.

Go, Angry Dean, Go!

SMTM concerts coming up!

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If you’re interested in going to the Show Me the Money concert in Seoul, the tickets are up, but it does not look like Jay Park or Zico are going to be there. Interpark/Play DB are also listing a few other SMTM concerts in Korean cities, but no word on who will be at those yet.

Hopefully there will be one or two concerts in the United States as well–ideally one in Los Angeles on a date when I can go! The one I went to two years ago was really awesome; I couldn’t swing it last year, but I’d love to go this year (and next, and next) if I can. Zico or no Zico, the show is basically Titans of Korean Hip-Hop, and it’s amazing.

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.