Archive for October 2010

Yoo Hee Yeol’s Sketchbook 10/16


One Shot and I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing

Younha’s voice is phenom. I tend to prefer voices that are on the deeper end of the spectrum, and her voice is that and it just sounds really full. I hate thin voices.

I think she looks horrible image-wise for this new single, but the song is pretty good. Not my favorite, but I always love listening to her voice. She, Ye-eun, and IU are tops in my books for fave female voices in Kpop.


Ain’t No Sunshine and Hurricane Venus

BoA hits the most beyoooootiful note in “Ain’t No Sunshine” (starting at 1:43) and this is probably one of my favorite performances of hers. The song requires a more guttural sound and I think BoA’s voice is best when she has to throw her voice deeper, than when she has to do falsetto.

I’m actually kinda sad that her Korean promotion is going to be over already. Only three months after five years seems a little harsh for Korean fans. And “Hurricane Venus” has really grown on me, because I love listening to her sing in this song. Everything’s so smooth and it’s just unbelievable how much of a pro she is, despite this comeback being, as a whole, pretty underwhelming.


Bye, Queen :(

I feel heartfelt and rambly

I’ve been trying to craft this post for a while, because ever since learning about Far East Movement, I’ve been thinking about them and what they represent in the music industry and what they represent to me as artists.

I’ll start with an admission of guilt. I truly support FM and all their endeavors and I just want to sit and enjoy a piece of Asian American history as they become the first all Asian American act to sit pretty on the top of so many charts, but I’m still not completely won over by their songs. I guess I should look at it from another perspective. I think the guys are great performers, great speakers, and great producers, but I think they’re mediocre lyricists. They’re meant to be performers and they’re meant to be music makers, but I think as writers their lyrics need a little bit of work.

I think FM is the most dynamic group I’ve ever seen perform live and I’ve seen them perform a few times now. Visually they are such a trip and their aesthetic is something I dig so damn much, and I can say as an Asian American — who’s really critical of Asian pop, Asian pop in America, and Asian/Asian American representation in American media — that I almost want to say I feel so blessed that there is finally somebody like me out there who is mainstream and who is succeeding and who are considered “cool.”

Maybe I’m being extra hard on them because I am Asian American and America has gone for so long without a mainstream Asian American music act that when we do finally have someone in that crowd, I want them to be perfect, and I realize this is not fair to FM as a group, because they have gone above and beyond, and why do they need to be perfect, when there are so many popular acts out there who haven’t done half as much as they have, and haven’t worked a fourth of how hard they’ve worked?

It’s like when I, as an Asian American, almost feel shame or embarrassment when I see fellow Asian Americans commit crimes or do bad things, because we’re taught that we have to uphold the model minority status, and not only that, but I feel like for a person of color, every time another one of “us” does something bad, we have to make sure to distance ourselves from them in case all the other Americans think that “all” of us are like “that,” because there’s such an easy tendency to think that all Chinese people are Communists, or all Muslims are terrorists, or all Koreans are descendants of Kim Jong-il.

When the Virginia Tech shooting happening, I’m pretty sure the Korean American community collectively went, “Well, oh, fuck.” When I read the news about Dharun Ravi and Molly Wei’s involvement in Tyler Clementi’s death, I was like, “Mother of shit! Why’d you both have to be Asian?!” Whenever I read the International section in the New York Times and I come across yet another piece on how the Chinese government is being “oppressive” or how there are a trajillion more “bootlegs” being imported from their country, I just smack myself in the face. When yet another terrorist caught happens to be Muslim, I sigh.

So all of this in turn makes me really strict with Asian Americans and the actions they take, and the products they put out. Which is completely unfair, because it’s not anybody’s responsibility, as anybody of color, to have to be responsible of their actions on behalf of an entire race in this country. Yet, that’s what happens. Repeatedly. History teaches us nothing. You, as a POC, do one thing really bad in the eyes of America, and you and other people of your race are also stuck with that for a while. And this has to change. I don’t think I’m selfless enough to be a straight on activist for these kinds of issues, and I admit this flaw, but I can change the way I evaluate the Asian Americans I see in my pop.

So I think about it again — why does Far East need to be good at this, this, this, this, this, and ALL of this in order to be good? They ARE good. They’ve been doing this for a long time, they’re some of the most humble artists I have ever met, listened to, watched. They deserve this as artists. The Asian American community deserves to have them repping us.

I don’t have much to say about the album yet because I plan on listening to it when I get my copy. And I end by saying that if you have, at any point, listened to FM and liked them and the work they’ve done, please go out and support these guys. Their album “Free Wired” was released October 12, and it’s available on Amazon for 9 buckaroos. 9 bucks! You can’t even get a meal and a drink at Chipotle’s for nine dollars. Go go go!

Somebody hold me before I faint

YES. YES. YES. YES.

These are fucking glorious.

This is not just me saying this, but Yoo Ah-in has a beyoooootiful smile. He also flashes it so rarely that when he does I’m pretty much wiped out.

Current Kpop

Sorry I haven’t been updating the site. I’ve been so busy with everything that I severely underestimated how little time I’d have for maintaining the blog. I have a whole ton of things I want to post about (OB/GYN! Jung Kyung-ho! Nikita!) but I have so little time to myself that when I do, I don’t have the energy to write lengthy pieces on TV. I spend an unusually large chunk of time crafting a lot of my TV posts because I’m a slow writer and I have a ton of things to say and that’s a horrible combination, lol.

Anyway, I just wanted to quickly talk about Ga-in’s “Irreversible” music video before jumping into Miss A’s “Breathe.” As is Newton’s law, each time I really like something unexpectedly in Kpop I have to simultaneously be severely disappointed with something I wanted to be good.

Ga-in’s “Irreversible”

This video is stunning.

As with any Kpop video, there’s a song, a dance, a story, a picture. On a more critical note, I think that the picture and the aesthetics of the video overwhelms all else. The cinematics are much stronger and more meaningful than the other components of the video: the song is very different, but it’s not great. It doesn’t feel fully developed, and I would’ve much preferred this to be an instrumental track than an instrument + Ga-in’s voice. Not that she doesn’t have a lovely voice, but the song would say more if she didn’t sing. In other words, her vocals don’t add anything to this production as a whole.

As for the dance, if I were not at all cynical and I wanted to give Loen Entertainment + Nega Networks complete benefit of the doubt, I would like to believe that the choreography and the dance setting was solely created for art’s sake and solely created to enhance the visual palette of the video. But because this is a song for a dwindling Kpop market that has a short attention span, there is a practical use for every element in a song, which means that the dance is going to be part of the performance for when Ga-in promotes. And something with the choreography is meh to me. It looks beautiful, but I’ve always found the way the Brown Eyed Girls danced to be really awkward and forced, a result of education rather than innate talent, so if this choreography didn’t have a beautiful desert setting with nicely styled men and women, I wouldn’t want to watch it for Ga-in’s sake because she’s not a natural dancer.

On a purely aesthetic note, I love everything. Styling, backdrop, the director’s use of color. The caps I pulled follow the story in a roughly chronological order, and you can see there’s a really subtle shift in color as the story progresses. Everything starts in blue, and then slowly transitions into blue-green, morphing into green, which then becomes a mustard green, then turning into yellow, before slowly blending into a rose, and then rounding out in an auburn.

And then if you have to really analyze the story, it’s also nothing new. Kpop has gotten so commercial that it feels nice when you get a treat like “Irreversible” and there’s some semblance of a puzzle you have to figure out. But for this video, the story is just that: a semblance. If you wanted to go deeper, you can’t. Because there’s no going deeper, it is what it is. I find the story kind of pretentious and very familiar, so it doesn’t resonate with me. Girl meets guy who saves her, girl misunderstands guy’s love, but when she finally learns, everything is too late. Make everything super pretty and apply lots of eye makeup so that when girl cries, it will look really dramatic.

However, for all these misgivings, the appeal of the aesthetics of the video really outweighs everything else. It’s so gorgeous to look at that I’m in awe. Even if certain components aren’t great, when put together, they all work and is really one of the most meticulous productions I’ve seen in a while that obviously took a long time to plan, shoot, edit. If everyone in Kpop spent as much time in each of their songs and each of their music productions, the quality of Korean pop would really rise.

Ramble on Miss A after the jump!

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What is my luck?

Pre-Sungkyunkwan Scandal, looking for Yoo Ah-photoshoots is like trying to find Kibum in Super Junior within the last 2 years.

But in the past two months, he has graced four different magazines and looked so bad in all of them. What is this outrage?!

Elle

Elle Girl

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