January 1, 2014

Hello 2014, Goodbye 2013!

Welcome to 2014 everyone!  Whether you celebrate the Winter Holidays (Hanukah, Kwanza, Christmas, etc.), we can all celebrate the start of a new year!

Here's a break down of what we liked and disliked (and were neutral on) about 2013!

Lisa

what i liked:

- exo's striking success

- the daejun performances around year's end

- idea of opening a store selling goods of a group (BWCW) 

- Collaboration between companies (JIN's GONE feat. Exo's xiumin
kwill with chanyeol)


- GD's epic mv including the fans

- snsd winning youtube awards

- personally: exo's visit in a less known country.. reaching out to broader audience?

- eatyourkimchi getting more chances to hold interviews (not limited to ukiss anymore, they get to interview groups like barbarbar, SHINee, etc.)

- Henry's solo debut

- sbs radio show by zhoumi and co. for Chinese idols living in Korea

what i disliked:

- hate on TaeEun couple on wgm. it's scripted anyways so people should calm down. One day they get married anyways.

- everything involving sasaengs -

- release of exo's private game chat. 

- sasaeng occasion on Baekhyun's brother's wedding and the minor car accident in which Luhan and co. was involved also caused by sasaengs
-exo sasaengs protesting in front of sm building because tts & exo performed together - getting into a fight with sones causing exo member suho trying to stop the fight

- shinees many comebacks - they deserve a break
- sj not comming back at all instead --> unfair distribution of money investment into groups or attention between groups

-----neither like or dislike-----

Dongho leaving ukiss:
it shows that idols should be treated better or get more human work hours. According to eyk he quit because he admitted that his body won't be able to take all this stress and workload anymore. Additionally, he prefers a normal life over the life of an around the clock observed idol. This also emphasises the point that idols' privacy in Korea are more than invaded. Fans are able to follow their every step and the distance between idol and fan that used to exist in the past, slowly closes (because shows that unveil their true personalities become more and more in nowadays. Ever since fancams became popular the idols' off screen moments are revealed to the public as well. ). All in all, being an official person in Korea is a hard job.

smrookies
on the one hand it might be an advantage to SM to promote their trainees before their official debut by measuring their popularity on behalf of the audience's reaction. At the same time the audience gets hints of the direction SM wants to head to for the upcoming years. As of how the next group will look like etc.
But on the other hand, their trainees get 'exposed' at an early stage. Their must be a more complicated concept behind it. Because in my opinion, not all SM ROOKIES are able to debut.
what I wonder the whole time is, why they only show their faces and a few questionable dance and singing videos... how should people remember or recognize them this way?

All in all I think it's an interesting thing SM does there. I loose interest in every trainee quickly, but maybe SM tries to put something together for a larger project. We can only be attentive for more news.


Rachel
Top 20 Things of 2013 in K-Pop
What I Liked, Disliked, and Discovered.

1.)  SMROOKIES
            So SM has me hook, line and sinker with this!  I’m the idiot who stays up on Sunday night to see what they posted about the new trainees…and scours the internet for obscure info about them. ^^  It won’t be for awhile before we see if this actually works.  People could get tired of just pretty faces and no evidence of talent (unless SM starts hopping on that horse…) or get tired of plain waiting (since we’ll have to wait 3-5 years on some of the younger trainees before they even have a prayer of debuting because of labor laws) or become fiercely loyal like with what happened with EXO.
            My only real gripe about SMROOKIES is that SM is now concentrating on these newbies as opposed to the poor bastards on their rosters.  I feel a sweeping pit of pity for CSJH The Grace (especially Sunday and Dana), Zhang Liyin, ICONIQ, J-Min and Jino.  Espeically Jino.  He could have been apart of SMROOKIES or debuted (if they’d run with SM The Ballad), but now he’s in limbo, apparently somewhere in Japan doing a musical…
2.)  Ailee’s Nude Photo Scandal
            This is what restored my faith in netizens.  Usually they serve swift, severe judgment and leave the smoldering remains of the celebrity behind them.  This could have easily been the end of her career in conservative Korea.  However, this time, they poured out their support for her.  It showed netizens were willing to stand up for talent and that her career was built more on her talent than image.  She kept her chin up and performed strongly at the end-of-the-year awards and specials.  She’s even planning a comeback sometime in January.  You go girl.
3.)  Woolim Merges With SM C&C
            My jaw dropped when I saw this because Woolim never struck me as having a similar style to SM.  But it seems like their artists are fitting in nicely.  INFINITE and especially TASTY are cozying up to their new labelmates at the SM concerts.  They’re paving the way as LOEN Entertainment recently merged with Starship Entertainment, making IU, Sunny Hill, and FIESTAR labelmates with SISTAR, K.Will, and Boyfriend.  I wonder who else will follow suit…[a YG-TS merger would be epic!]
4.)  f(x) gets some recognition
            “Electric Shock” was my anthem last year and f(x) has done it again!  f(x) has always been SM’s secret weapon.  While people gripe about their supposed “lack of exposure” (come on guys, they’ve won trophies while groups like B.A.P. are still without one…), it’s a good thing they don’t have SNSD’s level of fame.  f(x) gets the high quality songs and actually gets to be a electronic band.  This has led to recognition at the Korean Music Awards for “Electric Shock” and landing a spot on FUSE magazine’s 41 Best Albums of 2013.
5.)  Korea Can Brainwash You
            So not in the way you’re thinking…  When I took my trip to Korea last year, I thought f(x) must just be super popular with “Electric Shock”.  I didn’t have much access to TV since we lived in TV-less campus dorms and moved around a lot and when we did have a TV, my roommate was sick and didn’t want the TV on.  Then came this year’s trip.  HOLY COW.
            The top, like 10 songs are played over and over and over…and over…and…over.  O.O  Kinda like how Marshall’s car only played “I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles)” non-stop.  It plays so much, you like it, then you hate it, and then you love it FOREVER.  Seriously.  I didn’t know who Younha, Nine Muses, LC9, Juniel, or WonderBoyz were and didn’t care about SECRET, HELLOVENUS, Shinhwa, 2PM, or Jay Park.  Now, I can’t help but like “The Real Reason We Broke Up”, “Wild”, “MAMA Beat”, “Pretty Boy”, “Tarzan”, “YOO-HOO”, “Would You Like Some Tea?”, “This Love”, “Should Have Treated You Better”, “Why SO Serious” “What’s Your Name?”, “What’s Going On?”, “Come Back When You Hear This Song”, “Ha.Ni.Bun”, “Countryside Diary”, and “JOAH”.  These played CONTSTANTLY on TV and in stores.
            I will also be forever enslaved to the Juniel/EXO commercial for SUNNY10 (which took us like 8 times of watching it before we realized the guy was Chanyeol and the girl was Juniel…), Kim Soohyun’s drink commercial (though for the life of me I don’t know what for…) and Eunji, Niel, and Lee Kwangsoo’s Fanta commercial.  Seriously.  They played EVERY commercial.
6.)  Girls’ Generation and the US
            Irony is funny.  Despite their push into the US market last year with “The Boys”, Girls’ Generation didn’t seem to have much success.  Then they tried the Korean market again and voila!  They got some US recognition.  TIME named “I Got a Boy” one of the top songs of 2013, and they won a YouTube Award for “Video of the Year”, beating out Justin Bieber, One Direction, and Katy Perry.
7.)  SM leaves K-Pop Star
            Okay, so we kinda all saw this coming with their reluctance to pick any trainees (though with their release of SMROOKIES, it makes sense).  But they lost an interesting perspective with the loss of BoA and some of its draw.  BoA was a currently popular artist who a lot of these auditioners looked up to.  Yes, JYP is still active, but he doesn't have the current pull that BoA does.  She also was the sole female voice.  Now we have the CEO of Antenna Music, an indie label.  While this is good for the more unique groups (Akdong Musicians would have done well here), the whole point of K-Pop Star was the fact that if you won, you were guaranteed to be a “K-Pop Star” since you could choose to base yourself at SM, JYP or YG.  Antenna has produced any big stars, so there goes a third of the appeal.
8.)  Robbing the cradle/grave
            First Tony and Hyeri and then (supposedly) Sulli and Choiza.  The girls are barely legal and the guys are probably desperate to settle down.  While I’m all for age gaps, cause numbers don’t mean a thing (my aunt and uncle are 11 years apart and my cousin married a lady almost 15 years older than him), I just hope they knew each other well before dating…  Some 35ish year old guy at work, who’ve I’ve only had a few conversations with, asked me out and I’m 20…now that’s weird.
9.)  6 Degrees of Separation…Kinda
            It’s not a “K-Pop” connection, but I did receive a headband from my Korean foster mom that is the exact same crystal flower headband that Alice wears in the last scene of HELLOVENUS’s “Would You Like Some Tea?” MV.  I’m pretty sure my foster mom didn’t know who HELLOVENUS was or that they were currently promoting that song…XD
10.)  Dongho Leaves U-KISS
            When I saw this I said…”What????”  This just highlights the difficulties of the idol business and what it can do to your body (and sanity) in the long run.
11.)  All Hail EXO
            This was definitely the Year of EXO.  After not winning anything for MAMA [which is okay since they were rookies], they blew everyone out of the water with “Wolf” and “Growl.”  I was ever so shocked because of the concept and the lyrics.  To a non-Korean speaker, “Wolf” doesn’t sound terrible (except for the howling), but once you understand the lyrics it’s…dumb…>.>  “I’ll eat you in one bite like cheese”…O.o  But someone they pulled it off!  And they even won “Song of the Year” for “Growl”.  And kept winning for their Christmas album and “Miracles in December”!  Way to go!
12.)  Hyosung’s Word Slip
            SECRET’s Hyosung got some flack this year for a misuse of a word.  Many people bashed her for it, but I just feel bad for her.  My sweet sister does this all the time!  Heck, I do it all the time!
13.)  VIXX
            I really didn’t pay attention to VIXX when they first debuted, but “hyde” caught my attention.  I’ve been hooked ever since with “Thank You for Being Born” and “Voodoo Doll”.  I’m impressed that this boy band stretches into the dark territory and shows stuff like stabbing and strangling in their videos.  Not that stabbing and strangling are good things, but it’s unique in the world of K-Pop.  Also, as someone who was head of the make-up department in my high school theater, the “Voodoo Doll” MV’s use of prosthetics was a real holiday treat for me.  Sure you could see the seams in the fake skin at the beginning, but at least they tried!
14.)  T-ARA
            T-ARA, T-ARA.  For their seemingly endless stream of members that don’t last long (Jiae, Jiwon, Hwayoung, Areum) and the controversies that follow them, they always seem to weather it.  Another example of netizens forgiving talent, or should I say songs that are freaking catchy?  “Countryside Diary” and “Number 9” were so addictive I totally forgot about being indignant about Hwayoung or weirded out by Areum.
15.)  2NE1
            I do admit I slacked off on listing to their string of single releases until “Miss You” was released.  I love this song!  And the video!  It’s reminiscent of “Lonely” in style in both the music and the MV.  Also, notable for CL’s nude scene.
16.)  NINE MUSES
            Another group I didn’t really pay attention to until later in their career.  “Wild” played.  With their model like looks and their coordinated dances, they’re one of the few groups that I like watching live.  They have solid vocals and dance well in formation.
17.)  International Fans Don’t Always Get the Big Picture
            When I was in Korea this year and talking to my new Korean friends, I realized international fans usually don’t know who is truly popular in Korea.  B.A.P. is pretty much a nugu to the general population, as is HELLOVENUS (despite the repeats of “Would You Like Some Tea?”).  The general public probably only knows about PSY, Girls’ Generation, Big Bang, 2NE1, Super Junior, f(x), SHINee, B2ST, T-ARA, KARA, EXO, INFINITE, JYJ, 2PM, BoA, and TVXQ because of advertisements.  Want to know why SM is so popular?  Because you can’t go 10 feet without seeing one of their artists’ mugs plastered all over something.  Nature Republic (EXO), Missha (BoA, TVXQ), Etude House (2NE1, SHINee), Dunkin Donuts (B2ST), Natuur POP [ice cream] (INFINITE), 2PM (all over Apgujeong on banners for their comeback), Super Junior (all over Myeongdong for some shopping special), and PSY was everywhere…
            Also, K-Pop is a niche market, much like Justin Bieber, Demi Lovato, and the Disney version of Miley Cyrus are in the US.  Some of my Korean friends were completely unfamiliar with K-Pop (with one of them being so removed from popular music he didn’t know what a CD was…his indie music was only released online in mp3 format!~).
18.)  Solo Branching Outs
            Henry went solo and so did Hyorin.  While Henry was a bit of a pleasant surprise (since SM not really into releasing soloists and Henry wasn’t my first pick for a soloist in their roster), Hyorin was a “finally!” since SISTAR is pretty much a Hyorin and the Back-Ups show.  Since APink also suffers from “Eunji and the Back-Up Dancers”, when will Eunji get her debut?
19.)  Daniel of DMTN Goes to Jail
            After being the go-between in a marijuana scandal, Daniel was sentenced to prison.  A lot of international fans reacted with “What’s the big deal?”  Marijuana is held to the same level of seriousness as cocaine in South Korea.  I’ve seen what pot did to my friends in school and am proud that my idols don’t need drugs to “relax” or “be cool”.
20.)  The Year of the Subunits
            Subunits…O.O…so many…  With Taetiseo’s success last year, it seems like everyone is hopping on the bandwagon.  [Yes, Super Junior and their subunits have been around for awhile, but they usually promoted overseas and Trot and Happy never gained much success as a separate unit].  INFINITE H, 100%V, AOA Black, 2YOON, ZE:A5, NU’EST-M, uBEAT, T-ARA N4, [T-ARA] QBS, ZE:A4U, and M&N [Brown-Eyed Girls].  (Also, what’s with the caps…?)


Top 20 Songs of 2013
NOTE:  No particular order…mostly just the order in which I have them on my computer!
(Cause I’m indecisive and couldn’t separate the songs!)

1.     NC.A – “Oh My God”
2.     EXO – “Growl”
3.     T-ARA – “No.9”
4.     f(x) – “First Wisdom Tooth (Rum Pum Pum Pum)”
5.     Girls’ Generation – “My Oh My”
6.     EXO – “Wolf”
7.     Troublemaker – “No Tomorrow (Now)”
8.     T-ARA N4 – “Jeonwon Diary”
9.     4Minute – “What’s Your Name?”
10.  HELLOVENUS – “Would You Like Some Tea?”
11.  AOA Black – “MOYA”
12.  Younha – “The Real Reason We Broke Up”
13.  SHINee – “Why So Serious?”
14.  Nine Muses – “Wild”
15.  Girls’ Day – “Expectation”
16.  Girls’ Day – “Female President”
17.  Apink – “U You”
18.  F-VE Dolls – “Can You Love Me”
19.  SISTAR – “Give It To Me”

20.  SISTAR – “Gone Not Around Any Longer”