For Dream!

June 2, 2008

The Moment Of Truth For The Wonder Girls

Filed under: k-pop,News,Review — by Milsean @ 1:11 am
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“So Hot” may have gotten a general response of thumbs up, but translating that success to the on-stage kind is not necessarily so easy. Thus, the first live performance in this “new era” of the Wonder Girls was always going to be closely scrutinised.

First, the positives. The dancing is, as ever, sharp as hell. For a group that are as vocally strong as the Wonder Girls, dancing of that high a standard is unusual. I’m not saying they’re DBSK or anything, but it should make SNSD take a long hard look at themselves…anyway, enough bitching. The performance is taken straight from the video, from the styling to the choreography. The girls look great, the leopard print and those amaaaaazing pink socks really work for me. Unlike some of their other costumes, it really adds to the performance. The choreography is modified from the PV. Most of the time it’s a good routine, but some of the transitions are a little bit messy when members have to scoot past two others to get to their place. But that’s a minor point.

The only major criticism that I have of the performance is the on-stage attitude of the girls. To me, it still smacks of “cute” rather than “sexy”. Dancing aside, the facial expressions etc just weren’t there. Hopefully it’s something that they’ll grow into. Two-plus years of being trained to act in a certain way can’t be shaken off so easily.

Vocally, it was a good all-round performance. As usual, the only weak point was poor Sohee. I DO believe that she’s working on it and I think her voice has improved. She’s still letting the others down though. Whether we put it down to age or not, she really needs to shape up and keep pace with the rest of the group. As for Yoobin, her reported “vocal chord strain” forced he to mime her rap. And what a disastrous mime it was. With Korean media you can never be sure that somebody really is sick, but I hope she is. I know that sounds horrible, but I’d hate to think that Yoobin wasn’t able to live up to the song in person! Let’s hope that it was a genuine problem and one that she recovers from soon.

Overall, I’d say it was a good first attempt. Sohee and Yoobin can only get better and I’m sure the “sexiness” will come to the group with time….hopefully…

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June 1, 2008

MTV Video Music Awards Japan 2008: Part Two

Carrying on from pondering how a “Best Album Award” fits in to VMAs, let’s move on to some of the more unusual awards. I suspect it’s less to do with the video here and more to do with the overall package.

Best buzzAsia from Japan: AI, “I’ll Remember You”

I thought this was a “one to watch” kind of award. There are a lot of people I would consider giving this to Aoyama Thelma, Jero…but AI has been around for ages so I don’t know what the award means. I have to say, I don’t like the song or the video. AI’s voice and musical sound is different to just about everybody else in the Japanese charts. Perhaps, as a Westerner, I don’t appreciate that fully. However, I just can’t find an aspect of her voice that marks her apart from countless other R’n’B singers. The video itself reminds me of Christina Aguilera’s “Beautiful”. It’s simple, not particularly memorable. The more I write, the more I think that this was a mistake on MTV’s part. AI is deserving of recognition but perhaps this award shoudn’t have been for her and this song certainly not the one to single out.

Best buzzAsia from Korea: Cherry Filter, “Feel It”

Token Korean award? With the Japanese one above included to try and make it seem less so? MTV is based in Japan so obviously Japanese artists will dominate the VMAs. Perhaps this is an attempt at inclusion. Or maybe at expansion. Who knows? Who cares? Probably Cherry Filter are happy enough. I believe the Korean music industry is the hardest to break into. It’s dominated by former trainees of SM, YG etc whether they remained with their companies or not. Epik High are the only really noticeable exception. Cherry Filter have been knocking about for a while now though, and their sound is rather unique. I really like this video, certainly more so than I do the song. Neither of them are good representatives of the Korean music scene…wistful thinking on somebody’s part!

Best buzzAsia from Taiwan:Andy Lau, “One”

Now, this just strikes me as being lazy. Think of the most famous Chinese singer around: Andy Lau. Pick a place for the award to reference: Taiwan. Does Andy Lau come from Taiwan? No. Does anyone seem to care? Hell no! I love Andy but why do we always see Chinese-language music dumped into the same category. This award doesn’t even have the dubious benefit of a generalisation. It’s not as though Taiwan has any shortage of talented singers, both Jay Chou and Jolin Tsai released albums since the last VMAs. Are they not famous enough? Or maybe somebody just didn’t bother doing their research. I didn’t talk about the song because I couldn’t find a clip of the video (that comment about research is coming back to bite me now). If anyone can provide a link please let me know!

Best Karaoke Song:EXILE, “Toki no Kakera”

Bloody hell, who have EXILE been sleeping with? Another coveted award won and another one I don’t think they deserve. I suppose karaoke choices are so subjective though. Personally I prefer something a bit faster, with lyrics that WON’T send the room to sleep. Can I suggest Otsuka Ai “Peach”, Arashi “Step and Go” or KAT-TUN “Lips”? “Toki no Kakera” isn’t a bad song, but it’s karaoke for cowards.

MTV Video Vanguard Award:Mariah Carey

Go away Mariah. This is an Asian entertainment blog. I have no obligation to you whatsoever. Convenient timing though, what with your new album out…

MTV Rock the World Award:Kobayashi Takeshi & Sakurai Kazutoshi

This is important. Not interesting in an entertainment-gossip way, but important nonetheless. The pair are among the most famous of Japan’s musicians – a producer and the frontman of Mr. Children respectively. Together they founded the AP Bank, which provides funding for environmentally-friendly causes. This is MTV’s “Bono” award. Usually I dismiss this kind of award as a publicity stunt to make MTV look good but if it brings more attention to the AP Bank, then I can’t fault it. Read more about the bank and what they do here: http://www.time.com/time/specials/2007/article/0,28804,1663317_1663322_1669926,00.html

Red Hot Award: INFINITY16

New to me. I’m finding it a little bit hard to get my head around their music. So far I like “Itsumademo Merry Christmas” but that’s it. I’d like to hear from anybody who likes (or dislikes them). You can get some of their videos on Youtube. The seem to be recommended by MTV…is that a good thing? Check out their fabulous homepage here: http://www.infinity16sound.com/index.html

May 27, 2008

Mo’ Money, Mo’ Problems…

While most of us were shocked by the earthquake in Sichuan, China and saddened by the devastation it caused, there were others just waiting for the chance to turn it to their advantage. You know the type of netizen, if they get the scent of blood, then they go in for the kill.

Their current victim is entertainer Andy Lau. Like a host of other celebrities, he has donated a considerable sum to the relief fund. However, when it was revealed that the amount in question was “only” $100,000, members of the online community were up in arms. Their problem was that someone with the riches of Andy Lau should be giving far more than that. Yeah, he’s so selfish, right…

I wonder how much money these Cyber-Champions of Sichuan donated? It seems that celebrities can’t do right or wrong, damned if they do, damned if they don’t. The same problem arose last year when Korean celebrities went to volunteer and clean up the oil spill at Taean. It was out of the question that, despite their high profile careers, celebrities might actually want to help. No, no, it was those crafty DBSK boys taking any opportunity they could to make themselves look good. Another SM marketing technique. In fact, they probably orchestrated the whole oil spill just for the photo-ops…

Is anyone else getting sick and tired of these bad netizen attitudes? Why is it so hard to believe that Changmin has a pretty face and a big heart too? Speaking up in Andy Lau’s defence, Feng Xiaogang revealed that $100,000 had been agreed as the standard contribution from all members of the Hong Kong Performing Artiste’s Guild. After all, not every actor in Hong Kong makes as much money as Andy Lau, it had to be a figure that everyone could afford. Furthermore, there’s nothing to stop Andy making subsequent donations privately, which I’m sure he has done.

But why should the truth and common sense get in the way of a good internet scandal? Let’s vilify Andy – he’s famous he can handle it…

As for the vicious netizens who seek to spoil an act of generosity, I wish they would take a closer look at the victims of the earthquake. Absolutely ANYTHING that they get is helpful. Maybe people making negative comments about people who do help should reach into their pockets before reaching for their keyboards.

May 24, 2008

Shinhwa, So Good!

Filed under: k-pop,News — by Milsean @ 2:55 am
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We’re almost half-way through the calendar year, and guess which Korean lovelies top the album charts so far?

That’s right, it’s the daddies of K-pop, Shinhwa! Their 10th Anniversary album, released in April is leading the way with 96,320 units shifted so far. Not bad.

In second place is Epik High’s “Pieces, Vol. One”, having sold 54, 227 copies. And don’t you just KNOW that it’s killing Tablo. After his recent outburst condeming the download culture that exists among Korean netizens (and, to be fair, the rest of the world) this is not what he wants to hear. I don’t doubt that twice as many copies of “Pieces” have been “aquired” and while Tablo is not childish enough to be concerned with oneupmanship against Shinhwa, these figues must grate…

Nonetheless, well done to Shinhwa. They’ve put the work in all these years, it’s good to see them keep going strong.

May 23, 2008

Well, I’m Certainly Looking Only At Him!

Filed under: k-pop,Review — by Milsean @ 1:52 am
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Well, I’m speechless.

First Wonder Girls surprise me, now it’s that whippersnapper Tae Yang of Big Bang.

His two solo PVs have been released from his album “HOT” and I’m shocked at how good they are. With both Rain and Se7en trying to make waves in America, the market for a Korean-urban-good looking-singing-dancing-too cool for school-bad boy (but in a non-threatening way) is wide open. Tae Yang has certainly staked his claim for this spot. However, Big Bang’s management have confirmed that he will be reeled back in to the fold to promote BB’s upcoming album so this is all we’re getting (for now…)

The first release is “Look Only At Me”. It’s a nice track, not quite as striking as the next one but a top notch pop/RnB song all the same. The video rather special too. For the most part I love it – the dancing is fantastic – an interesting concept that they really pull off. It reminds me of a musical. It’s nice to see the BB boys there – there are a lot of fans who will get a thrill out of that. The video is well casted and well directed. The only criticism I have is the little bit at the beginning in the café where Tae Yang is….”acting”. That’s the only way to describe it, but I’m using the term generously! Still, it’s only a minor flaw, I’m nitpicking. Good song, great video.

The second track is “Prayer”. This is simply stunning…I certainly see the comparisons that have been drawn with Omarion. The dancing in the PV is reminicint of his “Ice Box” PV. Tae Yang looks amazing though, no two ways about it. Wow, look at that toned bod! It’s a much more mature look than Big Bang has…or maybe it’s just put together better. Big Bang sometimes look like they’re trying to hard to be “gangsta”… Here is Tae Yang looking raw and ready. One request though – sort out the hair. Better yet – keep wearing that cap!

No disrespect to Tae Yang, but he never struck me as the one with the most solo potential in Big Bang. I’m certainly reconsidering my position now! It almost seems a shame that he has to return to the group so soon…hopefully the other guys take some pointers from this!

Congratulations Tae Yang, this should shut a lot of people up!

Tae Yang – Look Only At Me

Tae Yang – Prayer feat. Teddy

Note: If the videos are unavailable, let me know. You know what Youtube is like with this sort of thing…

May 22, 2008

So Hot or Not?

Filed under: k-pop,Review — by Milsean @ 5:24 pm
Tags: , , , ,

I’ll be brutally honest with you.

Since the publicity photos introducing to the Wonder Girls’ new image were released, I’ve been dreading their new song. By all means, the girls look good in the pictures – but it’s just not Wonder Girls!

Or so I thought.

The video for “So Hot” has been revealed and I take it all back. JYP sure knows what he’s doing. The outfits, in the context of the video, now make sense. It’s still a retro style, maybe a little bit more 80’s. The girls still look cute, just not so innocent. And why should they? Any successful artist needs to reinvent themselves (to a certain extent) between each album. You have to keep things fresh, right?

I’ve read other reviews of the video where the girls have been slammed for their new “sex pot” image. People need to grow up. The girls may still be young but their not stupid. How many of us didn’t glam it up when we were in our late teens? Besides, I hardly think acting your age and reflecting the materialistic society we live in today qualifies them as selling out to sexy.

The song itself echoes their previous hits with a retro disco beat. The tongue-in-cheek message of hard it is to be cute and popular is one that every girl is going to be singing on a night out. It’s catchy, the dance is cute – I’m sure it’s heading straight for number one. To be fair, most of the criticism seems to be directed towards the image change, rather than the song.

If you want your girl groups to fake their innocence and milk it for all they can, you can go and listen to SNSD. I’m happy with the Wonder Girls keeping it real. Now where can I get those pink socks like that….?!?!

Wonder Girls – So Hot (English Subbed)

May 21, 2008

“Press Se7en For An Autograph…”

Filed under: k-pop,News — by Milsean @ 8:55 pm
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Now this is what I like to see.

Rain’s flirtation with Stephen Colbert may be amusing, but Se7en (or his management at least) have the right idea. Following on from his recent promotional appearances at various hotspots ahead of the loooooooooong-awaited album release, Popseoul is reporting that Se7en will be making appearances in California Verizon Wireless shops. A sort of meet and greet/autograph signing, I imagine.

While some view this as a step backwards for the Korean superstar, I think it’s exactly what he needs. Let’s face it, as far as the English-language music market goes, Se7en is a nobody. So far. It’s unreasonable to expect the red carpet treatment so early in his Western career. He needs to build up a fan base beyond those that he has carried over from his Asian success.

Who are people more likely to take an interest in – another R’n’B singer pushed by a faceless record label,  or the guy who takes the time to meet people and win them over in person?

It might be tough at the bottom, but it will be worth it if you reach the top. And Se7en has the talent to go all the way.

March 16, 2008

Is It A Bird? Is It A Plane? No, It’s Super…

Filed under: k-pop — by Milsean @ 3:41 am
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Eunhyuk 

…Junior member Eun Hyuk flying through the sky!

Or….falling off stage on the March 13th edition of M! Countdown. And injuring his wrist. And leaving half-way through the show.

*ouch*

Now, Super Junior collectively may be at thick as a post (“cómh dúr le post” as we say as Gaeilge) and questionable in the talent department, but Eun Hyuk deserves a little more respect than some.

Unlike some of his bandmates he can rap, sing, dance and act. He’s the one that used to be in a group with DBSK‘s Xiah and the TRAX boys.

Further more, Eun Hyuk and I share the same birthday, him being a year older than me.

Get well soon Eun Hyuk oppa!

 This isn’t the first time he’s been gravitationally challenged:

And don’t feel too bad, even the best of us fall off the stage now and then:

Se7en’s White Day Extravaganza: Fail?

Filed under: k-pop — by Milsean @ 2:40 am
Tags: , ,

 Se7en1    Se7en2   Se7en3

The girls at PopSeoul are reporting (as are a number of other sources) that Se7en’s hosting of a White Day party in the Hiro Ballroom was not the success that had been hoped for.

Fans (or perhaps anti-fans…) who attended the event in New York have complained that he spoke briefly in English, played (NOT performed) three new English tracks and that poor Se7en oppa is F-A-T.

I’m not sure what exactly they were expecting though.

He was added to the original line-up as a “host” (read: big-name to sell tickets), nobody said anything about a live performance. Se7en’s live debut of his new album will make or break him in America. He’s put nigh on two years work (in theory…) into this – he was never going to place all his bets on some non-event in New York.

As for his much-derided English, or “Engrish”, well…it’s not the worst. He spoke simply, but accurately, the best way to handle any foreign language. Netizens tend to be far to harsh when criticizing K-Popstars’ attempts to speak English. Sometimes I wonder just how linguistically gifted the faces in front of the screens are. Judging from some of the blogs out there the anwser is not very much at all.

Unfortunately Se7en seemed far to comfortable with the “Yo check it out!” type of English that pervades and pollutes the urban music scene. If you want to learn the language oppa, learn to speak it beautifully!

As for the songs (you can hear them on the links below), I like them. I don’t LOVE them, but they’re a step in the right direction. I suspect they would do well if sung by Omarion or Usher. Whether the world at large is ready for K-urban music remains to be seen.

Overall, Se7en’s night doesn’t seem to have been a total failure. Perhaps some people were left disappointed, but really it was only ever going to be a brief appearance, no more.

Se7en is back. He might want to shed a few pounds if he intends to show America the dance moves we know and love but…

…at least he has people talking.

SE7EN HWAITING!!!

Introducing his songs:

His first song:

His third song:

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