Girls’ Generation 10th Anniversary!

Hello everyone,

As promised, I am back with more music posts and today’s post will be about Girls’ Generation, also known as SNSD.

SNSD are a South Korean girl group who debuted on August 5, 2007 with their single “Into The New World”. The group has a long and successful career, however, that wasn’t always the case. In South Korea, boy bands were more dominant in the music scene at that time. When SNSD debuted, there were of course fans who cheered them on but in the beginning they were mistreated by the public. When the members attended a talk show in 2014, there talked about the famous “black ocean” moment from 2008. One thing you should know about Kpop fandoms is that they have a special colour and at their concerts fans hold up these lightsticks. For example, SNSD’s colour is ‘pink’, however, at that time as a form of protest the audience didn’t hold up their lightsticks or cheer for them.

The girls said this was upsetting for them, but they kept going! In 2009, they released their hit single, “Gee”, which was in a way a big breakthrough in their career. Their career skyrocketed from there and now they are known as the ‘Nation’s Girl Group’. Impressive, isn’t it?

SNSD had their ups and downs throughout the years, the biggest down was the departure of Jessica Jung in 2014. This was a big change for fans and the girls too, but SNSD and Jessica Jung seemed to have moved on and both parties have a successful career.

To celebrate their 10th anniversary, SNSD released two songs, “Holiday” and “All Night” this week. Their promotion period for these two singles ends this week!

Image result for snsd holiday

How should I describe these two music videos? Oh, I know! Glitter, glitter and more glitter. The girls are having fun and literally partying in both music videos. “Holiday” is more upbeat, bright and funky. It is meant as a nod to the early days of their career and celebrating their Holiday aka their 10 year debut anniversary.

“All Night” tends to have a more mature theme, with a funky melody that makes want to find to most flashy clothes and go out to party. SM Entertainment also released a documentary version of “All Night” where all the member talk about how special SNSD to them and what these 10 years meant for them.

Congratulations Girl’s Generation on your 10 year anniversary!

See you soon with a tribute post about Chester Bennington!

 

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The Ugly Side of the Kpop Industry!

The world of Kpop is unlike anything you’ve ever seen, the colors, the fashion and the unique music concepts. Once you enter the world of Kpop, there is no going back because let face it, it is quite great to be part of the Kpop craze. However, there is much more to Kpop than fun and games! We tend to see Kpop stars always smiling and looking glamorous, but this wasn’t always the case for them. In fact, the journey to becoming a Kpop star is incredibly long and emotionally draining. So today, I wanted to take the time to sit down and write about the Kpop industry. I have learned all of this information from YouTube, from interviews with Kpop stars and online articles. If you were ever interested to see how someone can become a star in South Korea, this is the blog post for you.

In South Korea, there are three major entertainment agencies: SM Entertainment, JYP and YG.

2016-01-9--18-10-45

There are other entertainment agencies of course, such as Pledis, CUBE, DSP, Starship and many more. However, the first agencies I listed rank the highest among the others. If someone wants to become a Kpop star, they have to go through an audition process. When auditions are held, the participants are graded on their vocal and dancing abilities, having charisma is considered an asset as well. When participants pass their auditions, this does not mean they are on their way to stardom. The next step is training, also known as the trainee life. Some trainees are as young as ten years old, and transitioning out of that trainee life is extremely challenging. Below you can watch audition from YouTube of famous Kpop stars i.e. SNSD, Park Bom from 2ne1 and Taemin from SHINEE.

The trainee life time span varies from a few months, to a few years. This all depends on the abilities of the artist, the more you lack, the longer you train. There are some trainees who train for years and eventually they don’t debut at all. This is the sad reality for some people who aspire to become a Kpop star. Trainees also have a very strict schedule, they have to train vocally and improve their dancing skills. They also take language classes, because being multilingual or bilingual in the Kpop industry is considered an asset. For example, the Queen of Kpop, BoA, knows Korean, English, Japanese and Chinese. Knowing more than one language is important because it helps the artist make break through into the foreign music market. That is usually the goal of the entertainment companies. There are a lot of stories about the life of a trainee, and some stories are not positive. Plastic surgery is very popular among some Kpop stars, some trainees are told they need to undergo plastic surgery before debuting. The purpose of this is for trainees to look more “appealing” to the public. There is an obsession with looking perfect and acting perfect. Kpop idol, Suhyun from the duo group, AKMU shared a story on a KBS2 variety program Happy Together. According to her, CEO of YG Entertainment asked her, “For you Suhyun, how about getting a little touch up on your nose?” Following this question, Suhyun responded respectfully and firmly, “Not going to do it. President, I am already very thankful that I have two nostrils that I can breathe out of.”

5f9fd086-0adc-4027-a2e2-6539cc0ea967
Suhyun on the TV show, “Happy Together”.

Way to go, she certainly knows how to handle herself in the industry and she is not letting the pressure influence her decisions!

Another problem in the Kpop industry is overworking the artists with an intense work schedule. Former, SM and EXO member, Tao, expressed his frustrations about his former company in an exclusive interview. In his interview, Tao talked about his trainee life, the busy schedule they had to abide by, whether they were sick or injured. Tao shared that SM staff used to encourage them to push through, even if they were ill or injured. To watch more of what Tao had to say, watch the video below.

Former SM trainee, Stella Kim, talked about her experiences of being told she needs to lose weight and go on crazy diets. Based on many examples that are covered in this post, it looks like the Kpop industry is highly focused on looks, therefore coming across as very superficial. This kind of treatment may tend to lead to many disorders, including emotional issues. To hear more of what Stella Kim had to say, take a look at her video below.

Most agencies control everything from whether the artists can date, to the type  of music the Kpop stars can release. These agencies typically come up with the concepts, lyrics and composition of the artist’s work, giving them little power over production process. However, there are instances where there is an exception.  Aside from this, it is said that Kpop Stars have the so-called slave contract. The Stars sign a contract for a number of years, however if you try to leave earlier, the agency will file a lawsuit. That has happened quite a bit of times recently, especially when Tao, Luhan and Kris from EXO left SM Entertainment before their contract expired. SM Entertainment filed a lawsuit against the three members, with Tao losing the battle. The lawsuit results against Luhan and Kris have not been released yet because nothing has been finalized. However, SM Entertainment were successful with their lawsuit against Tao. Another example of Kpop idols engaging in a legal battle with their agencies are Dong Bang Shin Ki. They took their management to court over their 13 year contract, claiming their didn’t get enough of the profit. The group won the lawsuit, resulting in  the Fair Trade Commission to bring into play a “model contract” to attempt to improve the deals that idols got from their management companies (information about this particular matter was gathered from http://beyondhallyu.com/k-pop/k-pop-slave-contracts-a-closer-look/). The reality of the Kpop industry is rather than focusing more on fair treatment of their artists, most of the time Kpop idols are used as a way for the companies to make profit. Behind the scenes, the Kpop industry is big hot mess, where idols are exploited. There are always exceptions, but there is no denying that the Kpop world can be rough and if you want to audition, do a throughout research of the industry.

I would love to hear your thoughts about this matter, so feel free to leave me a brief comment.

See you soon!

 

SOURCES

[http://beyondhallyu.com/k-pop/k-pop-slave-contracts-a-closer-look/]

[https://www.dramafever.com/news/what-was-akdong-musician-suhyuns-response-after-yg-recommended-she-get-a-nose-job/]

 

 

 

Jessica Jung / Solo Debut!

The time has come for Jessica Jung to spread her wings and fly with her first ever solo debut! Let’s welcome back Ms. Jung to the music scene because she proved yet again, no matter what she is faced wit, she will triumph.

It’s been almost a year and half since Jessica’s exit from SNSD and her former entertainment company, SM Entertainment. Many fans wondered what will be Jessica Jung’s next move. Will she quit the music industry? Will she focus solely on fashion and her fashion brand, Blanc and Eclare?

On January 18, 2016, Jessica posted a short video on Instagram of her in a music studio. Fans began to speculate a possible comeback for the Korean Pop star, and they weren’t wrong. On April 27, she posted a picture telling her fans she finished filming her first ever solo music video.

It’s a great feeling!
Finished up shooting an MV last month in lovely LA, Malibu and even the desert! Just completed the final edits today, took over a month because I wanted to make sure every detail was perfect! Can’t wait to show it to u guys!
For now, here’s a pic ❤️ Who’s excited?!! – via www.instagram.com/jessica.syj

Jessica’s new entertainment agency, Coridel Entertainment, released two teaser videos of her debut single “Fly” ft. Fabolous. Meanwhile, Jessica Jung posted a few more photos from her album cover photoshoot. Her mini album “With Love, J” will consist of six singles with worldwide album release on May 17, and an Englis version release on May 27.

  1. Fly ft. Fabolous
  2. Big Mini World
  3. Falling Crazy in Love
  4. Love Me The Same
  5. Golden Sky
  6. Dear Diary

Jessica’s solo debut single, “Fly”, premiered yesterday and it already has 3 million views! An amazing accomplishment for a newly released single, this shows the unbelievable support from her adoring fans. “Fly” is a pop dance with an inspiring and uplifting message about being brave and chasing your dreams. Jessica is glowing with happiness throughout the music video, this video showcases her own personal touch and style.

The time has come for Jessica to shine bright like a star, she has proved that she can fly high and be successful. For her to go on her own has been a blessing in disguise and I’m sure this will open many doors of opportunities for her.

Good luck Jessica Jung, we are excited what you have in store for us in the future

What do you think about Jessica’s solo debut? Let me know in the comments box below.

To read Jessica’s interview with Billboard magazine and find more about what she has to say about debuting as solo artist, click here (http://www.billboard.com/articles/columns/k-town/7377337/jessica-jung-solo-album-girls-generation-interview)

Enjoy!

See you soon!

 

Kpop Top 10 List!

This is the time of the year to look back and recap top moments in popular culture. However, in this case we will look back and list the top 10 Kpop songs of 2015.

Let’s get started!

  1. SNSD – Lion Heart.

Last year was rough for SNSD with the drama between Jessica Jung and SM Entertainment. Jessica left the group, claiming she was kicked out, that made fans worry about SNSD’s future. Not need to worry, they came back stronger than ever with three chart smashing hits. Second place goes SNSD’s Lion Heart, winning multiple awards and landing a number one spot on the Korean and U.S. Music charts. I guess the SNSD are unstoppable no matter what they go through.

 

2. Big Bang – Bang Bang Bang

We got showered with Big Bang music this year and not only that, but they also went on a worldwide tour too. Since they released so many songs, it was hard to pick one for this list. However, I decided to pick the one that stood out to me. That song was “Bang Bang Bang”, Big Bang have this way of introducing a new song and having listeners think to themselves “I’m not sure I like it so much”. After giving it another chance, it become one of those songs that you cannot stop replaying for days.  The song peaked at number one on the Gaon Digital Charts.

3. 4Minute – Crazy

I think I speak for all us Kpop fans when I say the 4 Minute’s song “Crazy” was on replay for weeks. That first beat drop sucks you in and there is no going back. We all knew Hyuna can be edgy, but the other members showed they go a spunk too. For me this is the best musical concept from 4Minute, the black and white graphics and edgy outfits put it all together. That’s why “Crazy” is at number three.

4. Taeyeon – I

Fans got excited when they found out Teayeon’s SNSD will be debuting her first official solo single. Her song “I” is very different from the typical Korean Pop music, it has a soulful and mature sound. Less of the cutesy image is about time because let’s face it, SNSD member are in their late 20s, time for a change. We all know Taeyeon has powerful vocals, but this song showcases them more. Her song “I” received countless of awards and the song also debuted to number one. I look forward to more solo songs from Taeyeon.

5. GOT7 – If You Do

Oh GOT7, they can pull of the baby face image, but with their recent single “If You Do” they present a new mature side of them. This song about a breakup, and it describes how frustrated and angry the boys feel. Their dancing, emotion is channeled out well in the video. For me personally, this is their best video of 2015, this single also ranked number one on the iTunes charts.

 

6. Wonder Girls – I Feel You.

I didn’t anticipate a Wonder Girls comeback anytime soon, but when I read they are making a comeback as a band, I got excited. The girls made their comeback as a four member group, with Sohee and Sunye leaving the group to pursue other en devours. Unlike SNSD, there are no hard feelings between the girls and they still keep in touch. The girls released their first single in three years, “I Feel You”, with a 80s inspired concept. Even thought the single didn’t debut number one on the music charts, it still debuted in the top 5 spot. I give these girls huge credit for dedicating their time to learn a brand new instrument and performing live. Wonder Girls also composed majority of the music on their album “REBOOT” and has written most of the lyrics on this album. Good job girls, you dedication and hard work shows!

7. EXO – Love Me Right

EXO had some controversy last year with their member Kris, leaving the group. Later on two more member left EXO, Luhan and Tao! When a member leaves from a Kpop band, especially if they are under the management of SM Entertainment, it could be quite controversial. However, the group continues to push forward and release new content to make their fans happy. Their song “Love Me Right” debuted at number one in Korea, and broke the record for the biggest sales week for a Kpop artist.

8. Seventeen – Adore U

Seventeen debuted earlier in the year and they are definitely worth the mention because they are might be the newest and biggest sensation in Kpop. This group consists of thirteen member, yes you read that right! The group is divided into three teams: performance, vocals and hip-hop unit. The logistics behind these Kpop groups can be complicated, but try to keep up. What makes this group special is the member are actively involved in the composition and production of their own music, as well as their choreography. Their debut album debuted number one and they were name one of the most promising newcomer group in the Kpop world. I couldn’t agree more, their debut song “Adore U” has a sweet, bubbly pop sound with great choreography. I can’t wait to see how they evolve in the near future!

9. BTS – I Need U

BTS released three songs this year, but I decided to pick their first single of 2015, “I Need U”. This band debuted in 2013 and they are quickly became more well-known in the Korean Music scene. The music video for “I Need U” has a dramatic concept with strong dance perfromance skill from the members. This single is an important one in their career because it won first place on SBS MTV’s The Show for the first time since their debut. BTS is proving how great they can be, and they continue to deliver with each single. They have a bright future ahead of them!

10. SHINEE – Married To The Music

SHINEE celebrated their 7 year anniversary since their debut, they released a successful new album “Odd”. My favorite song from the album is “View”, but “Married To The Music” deserve a mention on our list. “Married To The Music” is a “Thriller” inspired track with a wacky music video that brought Halloween a little bit earlier. This top 10 track with its unique mix of genres marks the best kinds of Kpop tracks.

Thank you all for reading, if you are Kpop fan let me know which song is to your liking! Happy New Year and I look forward to another great year of music!

See you soon!

 

 

 

 

Taeyeon Mini Album “I” Review!

Soulful, touching, funky and emotional, these are the words that pop into my head whenever I listen to SNSD Taeyeon’s debut solo mini album! Taeyeon is known as the best vocalist in SNSD and now she finally has the chance to show off her talent as a solo artist. That doesn’t mean she left her beloved group, but this does gives her the opportunity to be on her own.

This album has a very different vibe from her SNSD music, it appears more mature!  Taeyeon is embracing her talent and emerging fresh out of her SNSD persona. This is refreshing and different from the cutesy image the Korean audience usually expects from Korean artists/idols.  Taeyeon is not a teenage idol anymore and now she is showcasing a sassier side of her musical talent. This album is titled “I” and it consists of six singles:

1. I – featuring Verbal Jint

2. U R

3. Gemini

4. Stress

5. Farewell 

6. I – Instrumental Version

The “I” album already triumphed in all digital charts in Korea, topped iTunes main album charts in 12 Asian countries and also reached top 10 in iTunes main album charts in countries like Canada, Sweden, Hungary, New Zealand, and USA. This makes it 23 countries where the album reached top 10 on iTunes main album charts. This is quite an achievement for a recent foreign album release. The genres of this album are mainly ballads, and a little bit of R&B!

Each song from this album is unique and meaningful, her debut single “I” featuring Verbal Jint is powerful and uplifting. The music video for this single is shot in beautiful New Zealand, it also presents two sides of Taeyeon, her carefree side and the her other self that seems to be stuck in a rut and unhappy. In the end, Taeyeon breaks free and goes to meet her old carefree self. This is an inspiring song showing how Taeyeon must have felt in the music industry and losing sight of her true self. There are other wonderful ballads from this album such as “U R” and “Gemini”, her voice really shines through and some aspect of her vocal work has slight similarities to Mariah Carey. A perfect example of this is in her song “Gemini”, her vocal range shifts, softly hitting those high notes.

Shifting away from her ballads, Taeyeon’s song “Stress” is the only song with a more upbeat rhythm, a sassy song about a breakup, in the chorus she sings “You got me smokin’ cigarettes , I’m in stress baby” . I don’t know how this part of the lyrics will be perceived by the public/fans, but I love it and it shows a more mature side of Taeyeon. It is about time the cutesy image is replaced with an adult persona, let’s face it, she is twenty seven now, not seventeen anymore.

I imagine listening to this album on a road trip, the songs are soothing and enjoyable! If you want something upbeat, listen to “Stress”, if you are in the mood for a soulful song “U R” is the one for you. Download the new album now and you will experience music heaven!

Thanks again for reading my album review, please come again and see you soon!

Music Monday! Week 22.

Hello everyone,

Welcome back to Music Monday, if you have been keeping up with my blog for a while, then you would know I love to listen to foreign music. As long as I enjoy the music, it doesn’t matter to me ifI cannot understand a word. I love listening to K-pop and J-pop, so today I will share with you a music video by Girls Generation (SNSD) called “Galaxy Supernova”.

Girls Generation is a South Korean group, that made its debut in 2007 and there are nine members in the group. Their single “Gee” brought them to spotlight and according Forbes magazine, SNSD are called the most powerful entertainers in South Korea. Girls Generation slowly started to make their way into the Japanese market and then in the United States. The Korean sensation performed on shows such as “Late Show with David Letterman” and “Live with Regis and Kelly”. The song I am sharing with you today is actually sang in Japanese, many Korean musicians record Japanese singles when they enter the Japanese market. This song is very catchy and I guarantee that you will be replaying it, regardless of whether you listen to this kind of music or not. The music video is your typical Japanese dance shot + closeup shots of the members. The official MV is not posted on the company’s channel, but I still managed to find it on another channel.

Enjoy and let me know what you think 🙂 in the future I will continue to share foreign music videos with you all. Music has a universal language and respect music from every country!

See you soon!

The World of K-POP!

Hello everyone,

For those people who know me, they will tell you that music is my passion and also that I am a huge culture lover. I am very open to other culture’s traditions, movie and most of all music. For me personally, music is a universal language and it doesn’t matter of the song is in English or another language. Music is still music! Today I decided to write about K-POP and share some interesting facts about this genre of music.

My interest in K-POP was sparked when I first heard PSY’s mega hit “Gangnam Style” this is a fun upbeat song that brings something new to mainstream music. I wanted to see for myself what else K-POP has to offer and I was pleasantly surprised that K-POP is a very catchy and unique genre. However, before I begin  telling you all about  the wonderful musicians in the K-POP world, I decided to give you a brief history lesson about this genre. I will mainly focus on modern day K-POP, rather than write about K-POP from the 80s and 90s.

K-POP is a genre of music that originally began in South Korea and there are three major K-POP management agencies: SM Entertainment, YG Entertainment and JYP Entertainment. These agencies are responsible for recruiting, training  and promoting these new bands and ensure they become successful. K-POP is a mix of pop, rock, hip-hop, r&b and electronic music. K-POP artists are called idols and they go through auditions and then through training before going out in the spotlight. K-POP is predominantly represented by boy and girl groups and there are approximately 60 Korean groups.

The image and key characteristics of these bands are highly produced , including synchronized choreography, catchy tunes and the very popular pretty boys and girls image who are mainly young. Since these groups have multiple members, the singers often have to switch positions while dancing and singing in order to provide synchronization on stage, this is called “formation changing”. K-POP girl groups go for the more girly and cutesy image. Not all girl groups strive  for the cutesy image, but majority of them are known for being cutesy.

K-POP music videos have great visuals, they are very colorful and special and effects are incorporated! I would describe some K-POP music videos as eccentric, the reason why I call them this is because they have a lot happening in one video and sometimes it is very over the top. For instance, in the “Gangnam Style” video there is the beach scene where a child dances next to PSY, scene where PSY is at the sauna, being inside a bus where elderly women dance along, the famous elevator scene, the subway scene and then concluding the video with everyone dancing. A lot is happening in this video and it is very different and unusual from the typical American pop music videos, but this is what makes it interesting and appealing. K-POP offers something fresh, unique and new to the world of mainstream music and I think it is great that K-POP is getting recognized as a unique genre.

Fashion is also an important aspect in the world of K-POP, musicians wear bright colors, eye catchy accessories and in some cases eccentric pieces of clothing. The K-POP 2ne1 are known for wearing eccentric clothing in their music videos i.e. “Follow Me” or “I Am The Best”.

SNSD are a popular girl group in Korean and one of the girls that have the cutesy image.
2ne1 are known for having unique visuals in their music videos, as it is seen here in the their music video “I Am The Best”.
Super Junior performing on stage. Dance sequence and formation changing.
Wearing colorful clothes and unique fashion is also an important aspect of K-POP and it helps to increase their fan base. This girl group is called Kara!

Groups and musicians that started to get recognition in the States are Boa, Wonder Girls, Big Bang, 2ne1 and of course PSY.

 

 

Boa is huge K-POP solo artist in Japan and she is fluent in Japanese, Chinese and English, she is considered the Korean Janet Jackson/Britney Spears. She released her self-titled American debut album in 2009 and her single “Eat You Up” landed a #9 spot on the Billboard’s Hot Dance Club Play chart.

Wonder Girls

                  

Wonder Girls made their debut in the States with their song “Nobody” which they performed for the first time on “So You Think You Can Dance” and they were also an opening act for the Jonas Brothers in 2009. In 2011 they returned to Korea and in 2012 they came back and recorded a track with Akon called “Like Money”


2ne1

 

2ne1 is another Korean band that worked with producer will.i.am and it said that 2ne1 will make their debut in the United States in 2013. The band was also praised by New York Times saying that their concert at the Prudential Center in New Jersey was considered one of the best concerts of 2012. This a huge compliment for a band that is not well known, which means that 2ne1 might have a bright future ahead of them in the mainstream music world.

Big Bang

 

Another band that’s getting recognized is Big Bang which is a very popular boy band in Korea and they won an award for Best World Act at 2011 MTV Europe Music Awards.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Gradually K-POP is making its way into the mainstream market and I definitely think there is something special about this genre of music. It offers mainstream music more variety and the unique talent of new musicians, I am excited to see how many K-POP groups will become well known. Music is indeed a universal language, I have no idea what K-POP artists are singing about, but that won’t stop me from listening more songs. I see a bright future for the K-POP genre.

I want to share some K-POP music videos of some popular groups, as well as some of my favorite songs. Enjoy!

MUSIC VIDEOS

See you soon!