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…


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:,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:

MTV Video Music Awards Japan: Results Part ONE

So do we agree with MTV? Or is it the usual bunch of you-scratch-my-back winners. Here’s a list of results, remember that we’re judging the VIDEO, not the song 😉

Before we begin, I’d like to state clearly my opinion on these award shows. MTV operates regional awards in many places: Europe, Asia, USA, Africa, etc. However, it many cases it’s the same artists taking home the same awards every time. I don’t deny that the best act should win and I don’t want fans to miss-out on seeing their favourite celebrities… At the same time though, I wish MTV would use its power to promote music from non-English speaking countries. I don’t suppose that would be a financially sound position to take though. Anyway, this particular set of results has a strong Japanese presence (not to mention a slight Korean flavour), so I can’t complain too much. It needed to be said though, before I started slaughtering Ne-Yo in comparison to Miyavi….

Best Male Video: Ne-Yo, “Because of You”

I’m stumped on this one. If somebody out there can see what makes this video so special, PLEASE leave a comment and let me know! It’s a slick video, well put together – I like the cuts where he does his solo dance routine. But that’s it. I’ve nothing against Ne-Yo, but what makes this any different from every other drinkin-in-da-club Justin Timberlake/Omarion/Chris Brown video? The mind boggles…

Best Female Video:Fergie, “Big Girls Don’t Cry”

I’ll keep this brief. I hate Fergie. I hate her music. I hate this song. I hate the fact that I have to put it on my blog. But fair dues, it’s a good video (and I REALLy hate to admit it). While the “country” look doesn’t appeal to me personally, it’s well put together and has a coherent, realistic story. It has more emotional depth than her videos usually do and (despite having the face of a dog), Fergie is convincing in the role that she plays. Ok, that’s enough.

Best Group Video:m-flo loves Emi Hinouchi & Ryohei & Emyli & YOSHIKA & LISA, “love comes and goes”

Now this makes me happy. I’m so pleased that quality artists with a genuinely good concept-video won. I’m the first to admit my idol-preferences, but I wouldn’t alter this result at all. Having so many collaborators on a single track can be difficult when trying to squeeze everyone into a short clip. At just under 6mins, this is a little longer than usual – but it’s worth it. As we skip from character to character, we follow a number of interlinked narratives without ever getting lost. The styling is fantastic and the retro dancing is so bad it’s painfully cool. Good choice MTV.

Best New Artist Video:Motohiro Hata, “Uroko”

I’m ashamed to say I hadn’t even heard of the song, let alone seen the video, before today. It’s a pleasant surprise though. The video is simply stunning, with ethereal nature shots intertwined with images of whispy figure. The performance parts of the clip are unobtrusive and, when water is featured, particularly beautiful. If you haven’t seen this video, please watch it now!

Best Video of the Year: EXILE, “I Believe”

Was this really the best video of the year? I’m not sure. I still say the dancing doesn’t work, especially in the solo shots. But the cinematography is beautiful and those children sure are cute. I can see why this won, it looks big-budget and professional. As for the concept…I don’t really see what sets it apart from an Arashi or KAT-TUN video. If you compare it to the m-flow video above, it falls short in innovation. It’s a harmless video though, it’s not going to bother anyone. So not the worst choice ever, at least  MTV didn’t have to make any waves…

Best Rock Video:RADWIMPS, “Order Made”

Hooray! More cute children! And bread! Is this the perfect video? Quite possibly. It’s not what I would describe as rock in the “j-rock” sense, which most of us probably expected. However, this is a breathtaking video and I don’t begrudge it winning anything. It’s such a simple concept portrayed in an artful manner. The passing of time, the concept of innocence, of trust…the use of a mundane object such as bread to represent so much more. There’s a number of ways one can read this video. Personally, I have my own interpretation, but I would be interested to hear anybody else’s. The hotness of the band…the cuteness of the boy…I love this video.

Best Pop Video:Avril Lavigne, “Girlfriend”

This song is a guilty pleasure of mine. I’m no Avril fan but this tune is soooo catchy. The video, on the other hand, is hit and miss. I don’t like the multiple-Avril storyline. It smacks of predjudice – should we really be judging people on the way the look? I don’t think so. Please try harder Avril. However the performance clips are great. I love the pink-punk style she’s rocking, I must admit to stealing alot of fashion tips! And I for one LIKE the dancing. I can’t really argue with MTV’s choice here.

Best R&B Video:Namie Amuro, “Hide & Seek”

A good video, not a great video. I would put this in the same boat as EXILE’s win above: mainstream enough to please most people, but not striking in terms of the video itself. It’s a fun concept that works well with the song. The styling is good and the choreagraphy is strange…but suitable. Random motorbike – why? Is it sexy? I suppose it could be…

Best Hip Hop Video:RIP SLYME, “ING”

Haha, I love it. Japan may be famed for it’s strong work ethic and dedicated employees, but it creates a stereotype ripe for parody. From the very beginning this video makes a statement that the group is going to toy with some taboos. I haven’t looked at a translation for the song so I don’t know how relevant it is, but I don’t really care. “Comedy” videos usually irriate me but the guys play their characters so well that I can’t complain here. How on Earth did EXILE beat this?!?!

Best Reggae Video:Shonannokaze, “Suirenka”

Reggae and enka: somehow it worked for the song. Did it work in the video? Opinion is split on this one, but personally I love it. Everyone knows that I adore traditional culture, particularly Japanese. This video beautifully captures the delicacy of the old world before thrusting us into modern culture. Linking the two neatly, it’s fair to say that this video speaks more of modern Japan than most do.

Best Dance Video: The Chemical Brothers, “Do It Again”

No matter who you are, where you live and what language you speak, there’s something that everyone can relate to: dentist hate. That’s as good a place as any to begin a video. Then a tape falls from the sky and a crazy dance spreads like wildfire. I don’t particularly like this video, but I can’t think of anything that deserves the award more. Similar to the Fergie case above, it’s not to my taste but, objectively speaking, it’s a good video. Although what else would you expect from the Chemical Brothers?

Best Video from a Film:Utada Hikaru, “Beautiful World” (from “Evangelion: 1.0 You Are (Not) Alone”)

Ugh. Anime. Still, at least it’s Hikki. You’ll be surprised to hear that I have actually SEEN this Evangelion film. Of course I hated it, but at least it somewhat qualifies me to review this video. What can I say – it certainly makes the anime look more interesting than it actually is.

Best Collaboration Video: Koda Kumi & Tohoshinki, “Last Angel”

With DBSK beside her, even Kuda Komi looks classy. It’s one of those cases where the quality of the song really improves the video, but I’m not really criticising. The energy here is fantastic and there’s a tangible chemistry between KK and the boys. Out of all the videos on this list this has, unsurprisingly, the best dancing (are you watching, EXILE?). The futuristic theme isn’t over-done, thankfully. For me, Changmin steals the show, but seriously, just take your pick…

Best Album of the Year: EXILE, “EXILE LOVE”

What does this mean? Best collection of videos for singles released from a certain album? I don’t know. I don’t really care. For over-all contribution to videos recently I would have given it to KAT-TUN. Just becaused they’re manufactured hotties doesn’t mean that their videos can’t be quality. But their album wasn’t released then so I suppose they don’t qualify. EXILE? I don’t think so…


That’s it for Part One. Part Two will be up soon! (^_^)/*

May 23, 2008

Well, I’m Certainly Looking Only At Him!

Filed under: k-pop,Review — by Milsean @ 1:52 am
Tags: , , , ,

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
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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)

March 15, 2008

Hatchimisu to Clover ハチミツとクローバー

Filed under: Review — by Milsean @ 4:03 am
Tags: , , , ,


I’m halfway through watching this Japanese drama…and, to be honest, looking forward to the end.

It’s not a particularly bad programme. There’s something lacking though.

The cast is certainly not the problem.

Ikuta Toma is as brilliant as ever playing the male lead Takemoto Yuta. He performs to the best of his considerable abilites, owning most of the scenes that he’s in. It’s a slightly unusual role for him to take. Takemota is an older character than he and many of his Johnny’s Entertainment compatriots tend to play and the series relies heavily on introspective shots of forlorn walks narrated by mournful soliloquies. This is, perhaps, Toma’s only weak point. After smaller parts in such big-name dramas as “Hana Yori Dango“, he made his mark on the acting world by upstaging his more prolific co-stars Oguri Shun and Horikita Maki in  “Hanazakari no Kimitachi e“and winning universal praise for his comedic skills. This, however, is underutilised in such a  serious role. While the actor cannot be faulted, the decision to cast him might be questioned.

Opposite Toma is Narumi Rika (from my favourite city of Yokohama!) as Hanamoto Hagumi. This is the first time I have encountered Narumi so I’m not best qualified to speak of her. However, she handles what she is given in “Honey and Clover” with relative competence. Unfortunately, what she is given is hardly worth mentioning. The character of “Hagu-chan” is as unappealing a female lead as I have come across in any drama. This shy, country girl is as dull as they come. Sweet and charming to be sure, but aside from an improbable gift for painting, one is left wondering what it is she offers the eclectic bunch of friends she meets in Tokyo. The answer is definately not humour. Narumi is frequently given “comedic” one-liners, meant to contrast her character’s simple upbringing with her new “zany” life in the city. The overall effect of Hanamoto Hagumi is far to saccharine for my tastes. I’m beginning to hope one of those riddiculously large canvases falls on her head soon…

The supporting cast – the obligatory comedic friends – are all experienced drama actors who easily hold their own in the ensemble. Harada Natsuki (who, along with Toma, is fresh from the success of Hana Kimi), Mukai Osamu (in a totally different role to his most famous appearance in Bambino!) and Narimiya Hiroki are rarely required to exert themselves. Narimiya, in particular, gives consitantly good performances, making this acting lark seem like a breeze (though this “cocky but caring” type role is one he is used to).

The main flaw in Hatchimisu to Clover is, unfortunately the plot itself. The story crawls along with minimal developments – then skips a year – and still nothing has happened. The fillers in each episode are entertaining, but the main plot arc is to underdeveloped at this stage in the season. I don’t particularly care if any or none of the potential couples get together. While the characters have been well-established as individuals, the group dynamic is lacking.

A minor irritant in the series is the theme tune, Hirai Ken’s “Canvas”. It mirrors the drama itself – beautifully crafted, serious, slow paced and very mature.

Perhaps it’s only me, but this is not what I have come to expect from a Japanese drama.

Hatchimisu to Clover is intriging enough that I want to follow it to the conclusion. The big-name cast are the saving grace to a shakey storyline.

But will there be a HtoC2?

I doubt it.

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