October 27th, 2010: Forever SM Miracle Day

Hey guys, I’m alive. I’ll get posting considering my exams have slowed down. Today, we discuss issues of major impact.

Jjong is taken
Jonghyun of SHINee, and Shin Se Kyung of Highkick Through the Roof fame are officially off the market. They are dating. It has been confirmed by SM and SSK’s acting agency, and fangirls and fanboys (yes, SSK has A LOT of fanboys, so don’t think she’s purely on the defensive) are in chaos.

To say the least, this was entirely unexpected: this involves the hottest rising young actress in Korea, a member of one of the most popular idol groups (with some of the increasingly most crazy fans) from the most oppressive entertainment company in Korea. And it’s SHINee – SHINEE – who has become the group to take the first step toward open relationships. SHINee, the group debuted as the “noona-killers,” the sweet, innocent, young boy band of the industry – not Big Bang, not DBSK, not 2pm, not even H.O.T., g.o.d., or Shinhwa – they are the first band to reveal an open relationship while they are still active within their company. Se7en has a friend now!

Cr: Shineelucifer200

Oh Se Kyung, you are so obvious 😛

What do I think about the timing of the whole thing? To take it lightly, I’d just say SM is stalling to delay SNSD’s Hoot MV (11PM KST now, folks). I’m not really sure what the point of this revelation was as I was spamming Omona.

Which logically transitions us to this next piece of news revealed half-an-hour later.

SM Entertainment has withdrawn their injunction against the members of JYJ (Jaejoong, Yoochun, Junsu), which had prohibited the sale of their album, “The Beginning.”

JYJ’s public relations agency, Prain, stated on October 27th, “SM Entertainment dropped the injunction they filed against JYJ on October 21st through the Seoul Central District Court.”

SM Entertainment had previously attempted to prohibit the sale of “The Beginning” on October 12th, as distributed by Warner Music Korea.

Ok, at this point I just about lost it. People started (sarcastically) saying that Amber, Kibum, and DBSK would soon rise from the dead, and for a minute I totally would have believed it.

WHAT IS THIS? It’s not so much that SM has never doe a single act of kindness previously, but instead they are taking a 180-degree stance to how they approached JYJ just a week before. Combine this with being the first company to allow young idols to date freely, and I’m thinking either a coup d’etat just took place in SM or they added something new to their water. Companies retain reputation not through ethical conduct, that much we already know. Nowadays they are entirely dependent upon reputation and consistency in performance, and with that comes consistency in policy. For SM to suddenly change like this implies that they are starting to change the very identity of SME itself.

SME is not simply an entertainment company – as any attendants of SMTown can tell you, to most of the world, it’s a family, the SM family. The upper business echelon targets not only music, apparel, and advertisements at all-too-eager screaming fans, but also the artists themselves – their personality, their lives, their privacy. It’s what makes idoldom so unique and intimate, and scary at the same time. I am all for Jonghyun’s dating freedom, but that SM has publicized and accepted this has just harmed his career, whether we like it or not – like his looks and voice and dancing, his “date-bility” and position as the object of fangirls’ desires was a part of his career.

However, I’m not going to be all party-pooping. I personally think this is a good move – he’s still a human being, after all, and what say we as fans that he can’t enjoy a normal life? Because he’s an idol? Well clearly this move is Jjong’s reply of, “So what if I am?”

So what if he is? What a good question – oppa’s not going to be yours. This may break a few hearts in the short run, but will probably be good in the long run. The fans will probably be less fervent, but simultaneously less “cray cray.”

And about dropping that injunction? About time, SM, because it was a losing game. I’m not even going to label that as an act of kindness, because SM’s claims were pretty much ridiculous – JYJ and their company stated pretty clearly that Warner is only acting as the distributor, and they were in fact NOT double signed. I just see this as SM riding the Jonghyun wave, neatly tucking their disgraceful defeat in there with some semblance of charitably and benevolence.

Now we have to wonder – did Jonghyun willingly expose this, or even made it so obvious SM could do nothing to stop it, or was there some kind of administrative push? Ahh, that’s probably just my conspiracy-theorist side coming out.


Mastermind: Beast

Beast just won their first Music Bank! 😀 I am beyond ecstatic, and serious kudos to them. They are a group full of talent, and their minialbum is selling well amidst heavy full albums out there from 2NE1 and SHINee.

Let’s talk about their new tracks. Automatically, Beast wins best album title of the year. Mastermind. It’s like Kpop finally stopped choosing cliche/nonsensical English phrases and decided to start reading Foucault. But of course, this seems to not have helped Beast’s Engrish as all as Kikwang still lovably confuses his verb tenses, but Omarion loves Beast, so we’ll forgive them for not being quite so perfect.

And I totally stole this from AA-Chan’s blog.
Cube’s got the aesthetics down pat – gorgeous cover.

Actually, if you have read my earliest posts, you’ll know that Beast really had to work to earn affection from me – I really hated Shock of the New Era for the longest time due to the combination of music style and Engrish. But there’s something I need clarify.

I love Cube as a company. CEO Hong is one of the most respectable men out there in the Korean entertainment industry – he has the business savvy and has worked with the best, as a previous high-up in JYPE. More importantly, he has one of the best understanding of the human psyche I’ve seen in a businessman – the man understands the pain, pride, uncertainty, and general psychology of the adolescent idol so well that he would probably be an excellent teacher or psychiatrist. He also has a very concrete sense of the type of music he wants to make, which is very much reflected in what his flagship groups, 4minute and Beast, perform (G.na’s stuff is a bit different). This is also Cube’s greatest musical weakness – there’s a lack of diversity.

As a listener you must make yourself mold to their music, when it really should be the other way around. Beast’s tunes have more or less stayed true to their debut style, usually heavy electrobeat dance tracks. Half the time their songs sound very generic and the formula becomes predictable: Doojoon/Dongwoon openers, Kikwang/Hyungseung the more technical verses, and Yoseob with occasional Hyunseung backup belting out the choruses, with a sprinkle of Junhyung’s rap. This would be an excellent formula if Beast were just another mediocre group. However, they’re not. Of active boy bands, Beast ranks at the top with SHINee (and Big Bang, whenever they comeback) as outstanding live performers. These boys can sing, dance, and if I were Cube I’d be giddy with joy just trying to get as many line-distribution combinations out of them as possible. Their choreo is, however, always tight and unique, which is what finally drew me into Beast. And if all else fails, PLEASE AT LEAST LET JUNHYUNG SING – his timbre is really rich.

Let’s run through their minialbum, shall we?

Mastermind – standard intro piece, thank goodness it doesn’t outshine the title track this time. I actually really liked the triplet

Soom – Something about this song just seems more sophisticated than Shock. Performed live, it doesn’t quite have the sharpness and complexity of Shock, but it makes up for it musically. I personally really enjoyed the direct integration of “breathe in breathe out” into the choreo – honestly, had they tried to be “creative,” it would’ve just looked tacky. And beginning circle dance? OMG. Once upon a time I had a dream that SHINee would promote Obsession and engage in some kind of epic circle dance/position shift a la Replay, but Beast were the ones to pick up on my brilliant suggestion, so +1000000 brownie points.

Tl;dr: I dig Dongwoon’s long note at the beginning (though the effect is ruined by the rapping), somehow the heartbeat slow start transitions logically into the techno verses and choruses, Yoseob is amazing at belting, I wish they’d let Dongwoon/Doojoon sing at slightly higher ranges/otherwise switch things up, but overall I’m enjoying this song WAY more than I had ever anticipated to. And pay attention to their choreo – there are lots of subtle details that make you appreciate their preparation even more and make Beast flow like one group instead of synchronized individual members. Kudos to Prepix!

Credit: beastofficial

V.I.U. – Please watch the end of the Soom practice video. I have no more comments. It’s a fun song, and Kikwang has a Junho-worthy booty. The song may be forever ruined and/or cherished.

Credit: hawoosin

Break Down – I don’t know why, but I feel like every group has released a song that sounds like this. Actually, scratch that, this sounds like a song taken straight from 4minute’s discography. I’m both happy and miffed at this. Since Beast has considerable vocal talent, they can turn a mediocre song into something enjoyable, and this semi-attempt at upbeat R&B is all too rare in Beast discography. Very generic but still enjoyable.

Clenching with a Tight Fist – Again, kind of generic, featuring Yoseob warbling over everyone else with an occasional Hyunseung appearance (who I just discovered holds back his voice quite a bit for vocal control – there’s talent untapped there). Attempts the angsty but doesn’t quite hit it, but the piano arrangement is lovely, their voices are good, and I nod along.

So congrats, Beast, on your first Mubank! May many more come your way.

Hyunseung you are so weird and adorable ❤

OngOng, this is too prection

2AM’s Seulong just tweeted a picture from the filming of MBC’s sports Chuseok special. This is simply too precious.

Jinwoon, Dongwoon, Jaejin, Mir, and Key, you guys are precious. ❤

Super excited for Jinwoon’s ab show because it’s kept so well hidden. Pissed that Hara is not here – I want to see her run a race again without falling to see how much ass she would kick how fast she actually is.

And I realized that I’ve posted so many new things today, mostly irrelevant little stuff XD This blog is turning into a random blabber blog. Since I have my first lovely organic chemistry midterm coming up, I’ll probably not update for 6 +/- 4 days. And life goes on, Djokovic is still my favorite, 2NE1 will make music shows this week fun. And I got into the scholarship program I interviewed for! :3 Thanks everyone.

Nippon Banzai! [TEASER]

This will be updated because it’s taking a lot longer than I’d thought it would take to write. Whet your appetite!

So, without further ado, let’s talk Kara and SNSD, and to a lesser extent, 4minute and Brown Eyed Girls.

4minute seemed to have wrapped up Japanese promotions as of now, since the girls are again appearing on Korean variety and have signed up for Idol Star Dance Battle and some other concert thing SNSD will but Kara will not be attending. I honestly believe 4minute’s venture was a trial period – both to test out the Japanese reception and to give 4minute a first-hand experience of serious foreign promotion. Their IMMM single didn’t sell so hotly, the promotion was much less than , people were complaining that the B-side track was better than the A-side (ouch, but seriously, Japan loves a good ballad – it’s what started Utada Hikaru’s career, after all), but most importantly, I don’t think the general public was too attracted to 4minute’s concept. The promotion of HuH/IMMM saw a departure from their “candy funky” style to a more mature but still electro-infused style, but it’s not Western-sounding or J-electronica sounding enought – it’s kind of in limbo land. Still, the girls looked like they had fun, and I honestly think they will do fine. Their music has been very consistent in quality and style, and no matter how much I disagree with Cube’s musical/stylistic philosophy, it’s a great company, and hey, public desires change all the time. Plus, I’m pleased at certain member’s development (Sohyun) and Hyuna’s uncanny retention of popularity.

Upcoming Posts

Yeah, ok, so I’ve been working for 10 hours straight today…and even had to go back because I forgot to put something in the fridge T__T. I have an important presentation (aka execution by firing of intellectual questions I will never be able to grasp) tomorrow, but I’m semi home-free after that. I’m itching to write, but time is not being cooperative.

Here’s what’s coming up, though:

Album Review, most likely Se7en’s Digital Bounce

Japan invasion special (aka ultimate WWII IRONY)

Rookie Group Special

Something about Hyoyeon

I also have a couple of half-written ramblings saved in my drafts that I might bother to complete. Some are actually really interesting, now looking back on it, but I guess I just collapsed mentally while writing or something.

So I was wrong…of course the JayEffect wins

My previous Narsha post was definitely premature. I still love the song and think her work is art–seriously, the entire album is pure art. It’s meant to be musical art on a pedestal, not necessarily geared toward the market. That would be Son Dambi’s Queen. She’s getting a lot of crap about plagiarism and live performance sub-par singing right now. However, I think my writing about Dambi paints my perspective on her a lot more negative than it actually is. I like Son Dambi. I really do. She’s lived a hard life, was the sole supporter of her family when her father got a stroke, the type of determination-to-get-to-the-top-from-humble-beginnings that I really like. Her music’s also not terrible. It just doesn’t fit my taste–it’s very bland and autotuned and is meant to sell to the mainstream, and compared to Narsha’s album, I just have to critique it.

However, this post is meant to discuss what’s REALLY going to happen in the month of July. I’ve been checking the charts religiously in hoping Narsha would pull a chart win, but it’s not happening. Dambi’s beating her on most charts, and from past experience if your song doesn’t hit #1 on real time within 48 hours max, then it’s not going to be a mega-hit. BRBB hasn’t hit #1 yet. Also, on Hanteo she’s fallen off the top 5 selling albums, critical for Mubank. I don’t know how MNet does their ballots, but if it’s purely off MNet charts then miss A will win it this week–9 straight days at #1 and currently second only to Queen. Album sales weren’t bad either.

However, Son Dambi can pretty much kiss chart winning goodbye (and so can Taeyang), because Jay Park is back. That’s right–his Nothin’ On You Korean Cover is already #1 on real time charts. Amazingly, the EP is climbing on YesAsia’s weekly bestseller list and beat Suju today on Hanteo–and IT’S NOT EVEN RELEASED YET. He’s not going to promote it, but it doesn’t matter because it’s going to stay #1 until–I predict–Se7en’s comeback on the 21st.

My opinion on Jay. Jay Park as a person is fine. I’m sure he was humbled by this whole scandal. His departure from 2pm was probably a huge blow to his musical career–but the fan response has been so unexpectedly enormous that he’s really riding the gravy train now. I feel kinda bad for the rest of 6pm–their former leader is now getting far more fame (and money) than he ever would have if nothing had happened. Is it overhype? Yes. Jay was not the best singer in 2pm. He is not a fantastic rapper (he himself admits this). His dancing is good, but only really stands out because it’s unique due to his bboy roots.

People don’t buy into Jay for his talents, however. They do it for the story. Because they feel that they’re supporting some kind of cause. A hero’s welcome for the return of the wronged prince, ready to take his rightful crown. If anyone is really objective about the whole situation, he or she would agree with me that what Jay really deserves is enjoying the rest of his life out of the limelight, maybe popping back into the news occasionally for some music things he does in the future. This whole 2pm-to-shame-to-instant-celebrity status ordeal has taken place in less than a year, and hardly anyone bothers to check the whole story. Most of the public thinks he’s been wronged, he’s hot, and he should be supported.

With that said, though, I think Jay’s more than entitled to enjoy this something little extra. However, my warning to him is that since this hype is based off a lot of ignorance and logic-leaps, it can collapse like nothing. Sidus, his new company, actually announced that they will reveal his ‘second greater moral wrong,’ which may spell future apocalypse.

But for now, to explain the JayEffect (no not his fanclub). Jay’s popularity comes from the fact that he has no limits to the groups of supporters he can tap. Fans who initially joined the bandwagon blindly (Hottests included) to bash him are now equally as blindly turning back on their previous actions and rallying around him. Other group’s fans feel bad for him, and Jay has enough talent and looks where nothing negative will occur from supporting him–it’s like everyone’s favorite underdog story. He appeals to the young, to the old, to the wealthy, etc. Again, there’s NOTHING TO LOSE from supporting Jay. And a lot of fans really do support him because they’ve done so since the beginning. The Sidus ‘revelation’ will be the major problem in the near future.

So. Jay Park will redoubtably win K-chart and Inkigayo lest the stations ban him from winning, which will only further his fanbase. As for me, I’ll go back to finishing my review on Narsha, because I know this won’t end prettily–there’s a storm brewing. Jay’s fame is built upon an unknown, major mistake–if it was only the MySpace, I would have a much different opinion. The longer it’s hidden, the worst the consequence will be when he spills the beans. But who knows what Pandora Box that’ll open.