Sometimes I relate to the characters and situations in kdramas so much that I think I might have been Korean in my last life, but then I’m smacked in the face by the world of Kpop. Kpop makes me feel funny…on one hand I’m sucked in by the precise choreography and melody filled pop, but on the other hand I’m confused by Kpop’s particular variation of ‘idol’ culture, Kpop’s real socio-cultural implications and even the evil handed machinations of the ‘man behind the curtain,’ the management companies. I know its pop, but can the puppet strings be a little less overt? But that might be even scarier…
There’s Kpop, idols galore, and then there’s Kpop, what to me is just popular contemporary Korean music (that’s available to the international crowd). I’m not into the hardcore idol groups. The older ones, Shinhwa, G.o.d. (Groove Over Dose– Love that name! So 90’s, it makes me smile), S.E.S, and Fin.K.L. etc., I know about them only through trolling the internet since they were well before my time and Hallyu’s current Western emergence. Their music is also harder to find unlike the newer kpop groups, almost all of whom can be found on iTunes or YouTube.
Super Junior; TVXQ; f(x); After school; 2am…2pm; Kara; Girls Generation/SNSD; CN Blue; SS501; and the list goes on and on. These artist I don’t really follow at all. I don’t have any particular thoughts on these specific one’s, but if I cared at all I’d probably be a Super Junior anti. JK! :) That’s something that could get you killed on the internet– no joke. Also, the information available in English on the hardcore idol groups tends to be aimed at teenagers (and others), granted as is most of their music. No, a single (1!) selca* from an idol’s me2day does NOT warrant a post. I’m looking at you Soompi and your buddy Allkpop (awesome site design by-the-way– like looking a piece of candy– very apt). ;) Nothing, but love here for these sites, but 20 post/per day of selcas is decidedly not awesome. And I’m not a curmudgeon–I enjoy a good selca, but just put them in a gallery- This Weeks Selcas and include a caption. Done!
My personal Kpop litmus test is pretty short. Does this group have enough members to field a soccer or baseball team? Do this group’s outfits scream Lolita complex enablers? That’s basically it. If the answers to these questions are no, then I’ll give it a try. And there’s the whole is this music actually good question, but I listen to lots of bad American pop music and enjoy it shamelessly, so that’s not really a requirement. I’m no music connoisseur ;)…So right off the bat a number of the above listed kpop groups gets the axe.
I find that I like a healthy mixture of artist with raw musical talent and creativity and those that are just pure guilty pleasures, completely fabricated, but in the best of ways. I usually come across these groups from other blogs, You Tube, sometimes Itunes and most interestingly drama OSTs. In fact my first real introduction to Korean music outside of idol bands was through the OSTs for Coffee Prince, quite possibly one of the best kdrama OSTs ever. (It’s the perfect mix of pop melodies with an indie edge capturing the tone and visuals of the drama. More on that later…)
Up next, Parts II-V…My Kpop music lists, my loves and my guilty pleasures. What I’ve learned from mining the Kpop landscape is that just like with the rest of the music scene today, you have to work to carve out your own music identity. There’s a lot of music out there and you won’t find what you love unless you look for it.