Tag Archives: dbsk

Why I Love Kpop.

When I tell people I’m a kpop fan, or that I write a blog on Hallyu the most common and first response I receive is “Korean music…how did you get into that!?!”

At first, this type of question bothered me and internally, I’d think to myself “because it’s freaking awesome and super cool.” Which by the way is 100% true, but that reaction is a reaction to 90% of the time a seemingly judgmental question.

It’s been six years and then some since I’ve been riding the Hallyu wave and that’s a good chunk of my life, one sixth to be exact (although, between you and me, I’m still celebrating my 21st birthday every year!) and lately that’s not a question that bothers me so much anymore. Hallyu is a huge part of my life in all of its aspects. I first and foremost love kpop in all it’s iterations and Korean Dramas make up the bulk of my television viewing habits. Hallyu is so much more than just these two aspects, but let’s be honest it’s the music that’s fed my hunger for many years.

Someone asked me recently why I like Korean music so much and for the first time in a long time I felt it was a genuine question. I honestly had to stop and think about it. Kpop has been such a huge part of my life that I think I nearly forgot why I prefer Korean pop exclusively over any other genre of music. It’s not about a comparison to other forms of music. It’s about Kpop being something special.

I went to YouTube and checked out the very first kpop song I ever saw… SS501’s De Javu (I’ll get back to that a bit later, give it a listen while you read, it’s a classic). Until late April or early May of 2008 I didn’t even know Korea had pop music. I was a student of Asian art at the time and however limited, knew that Korea historically had made some of the most pristine and refined works of art in all of Asia, personal opinion but that sentence ends in a emphatic period. Whether ink wash or ceramic, Korea as early as the Shilla dynasty peeked my interest. There was something special in 600 C.E. and I vaguely recall wanting to know what was happening in the pop culture there today. In my studies, Korea was taught and considered to be the “red headed step child” of Asian art for a number of reasons. I think this is one of the primary reasons why I went out on my own to discover Hallyu, no one else, at the time was talking about it much less coining the term. In 2008, videos like the one above would garner a few thousand views outside Korea and not much more. Six years ago, no one would have thought PSY, or anyone else would have over 2 billionviews on a single video. There was not a community for Kpop lovers to meet and connect, at least not one I could find. Kpop was my own little obsession and it’s one where I really really liked what I found.

What I found was a highly refined, excellently produced, and pristine Korean adaptation of Western pop music. I’m confident in saying that Kpop as an art form is just as polished as any work of art created in Korea’s history. I should say that I consider Kpop an adaptation of Western pop music because Korea has it’s own natively created pop music…it’s called trot and is also a lot of fun. Kpop, however, is a completely different beast that takes it’s queues from Western pop like 1980’s Madonna, The New Kids on the Block, and in some respects the horrible (doesn’t stand the test of time) boy band acts of the 1990’s. When groups like N’sync and the Backstreet Boys were no longer en vogue in the States those same types of boy and girl groups were going strong in South Korea. That flavor of pop music never died out and over the last six or seven years has hit a new plateau of success year after year in international exposure. Kpop has grown into a cultural phenomenon not only in Korea, Asia, but now globally and shows no signs of slowing down. I’ve compared Hallyu to Japanese Anime quite often in explaining how culturally relevant Hallyu as a whole is. In the late 1990’s and early 2000’s Japanese produced animation, Anime, reached its peak and was a major cultural export for Japan. A lot of money was made licensing out Japanese titles for Stateside consumption and was largely -the- cultural import from Asia to the United States at that time. So much so that Anime is considered to be a part of U.S. pop culture in the same vein as comic books and other geeky cultural mediums. If I’m correct in asserting that Anime was the cultural import of yesterday, Kpop is the cultural import of today and what a product it’s become.

When I discovered Kpop and that’s the whole point of this post I saw five guys in a dark stage dancing with intense energy draped in stylish clothing that was wardrobed to perfection. Their hair styles were like nothing I had seen before…their hair framed their faces and each strand was flawlessly placed. I was in awe at how their dancing was choreographed to match each verse and beat. The melody of the song was so in touch with the sound of 2008’s pop music (think Lady Gaga’s Just Dance and Timberland’s The Way I Are) I was instantly hooked. Then I got to their voices, oh their voices. They had voices of angels to my Kpop virgin ears even though I didn’t have a clue what they were saying. It didn’t matter, it sounded incredible. Many Kpop fans today probably don’t even I know who SS501 are. They’ve been working solo for a number of years, but back in the day they were the hottest group in Kpop. If DBSK was the EX-O of the time, SS501 was the VIXX of the time, but on a much more successful level. Between 2006 and 2008 DBSK and SS501 traded years as the Kpop Artist of the year at the M-Net Asian Music Awards (M-Net Korean Music Festival at the time) which was the biggest and most important awards show in the Kpop-verse. It was a time when the industry was much smaller and JYPE wasn’t even considered a major force in the industry. No, in 2006-2008 the Big Three were YG Entertainment, SM Entertainement, and DSP Entertainment (home of SS501 and Kara). JYP was just about to hit a home run with the Wonder Girls’ Nobody and in my opinion change the industry forever later that year with the debut of 2PM.

For a few months in 2008 and previously in Kpop there was an innocence to the music. You did not see scantily clad women and you never saw a male singers abs. It just didn’t happen, unless you’re name was 미 or Rain. Abs were always Rain’s thing and he owned them until 2008’s release of 2PM which would give birth to the Beastly Idol’s we see saturating the market today. It’s not about the abs though or sexy concepts. It’s about the highly stylized and perfect visuals we see in Kpop. There are positive and negative aspects to an industry that has consistently produced perfect visuals, but that’s a subject for another day. Kpop as a product may be music, but that product is so much more than just music. Kpop is the total package of auditory eargasms and visual eyegasms. Yeah, I went there. So why do I love Kpop?

That’s not a simple question to answer, it seems, but if I had to make a list…

1. The music. It’s got great beats, great vocals, and always has a hook that keeps you coming back for more.
2. The visuals. You will never see a Kpop idol not in the best fashions, makeup, and hairstyles. Guyliner? Yeah, we’re down.
3. Seductive hands. When’s the last time you saw a Kpop performance that didn’t have crazy seductive hand movements?
4. The dancing. These idols spend years learning how to dance. I respect their determination and the effort they put into their work.
5. Fangirling! Kpop is fun and there’s something special about an industry with perennial comebacks and constant debuts. The x-factor that makes Kpop so great are the fans.

Whoa, been a while since I’ve written a post and I think this might be my longest post to date. So tell me, why do you love Kpop?

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Sci Fi Sunday – Mimi Episode One – New Drama Review

Sci Fi Sunday – Mimi

With the ending of Man From the Stars I’ve been in a drama slump since Thursday. It’s a rainy day here in San Francisco so I decided to stay in and find new dramas to watch that are in the SciFi realm so I checked out Viki and found this little gem staring Dong Bang Shin Ki’s vocal powerhouse Chang Min in Mimi. Mimi is a mini drama. It’s only about 5 hours long spanning four episodes. These episodes are long, really really long and depressing. It’s not depressing because its sad or badly made. It’s depressing because…

The story revolves around a comic artist whose lost his memories, has a drug problem, and is haunted by his first love, Mimi. He spends most of his time alone working on his web based comic (Webtoon) and has very little social skills. At least he does with the very few people we get to see him interact with. He seems like a confused guy who doesn’t know whats happening in his life and so mindlessly winds through the day like hands on a clock. Mimi has a different feel to it because of this as the pacing of the show feels slow in comparison to other dramas. Seeing him live day to day, knowing that he’s impaired due to his injury, having to take pills to make himself feel better is just so…depressing. Adding to this is the art direction lent to the show. It’s grey, very very grey. There is color in the drama, but its very subdued. It’s like someone went through the video of the show and said turn down the saturation to 15%. This really gives you a sense of dread and is highly successful in making you do two things, one feel depressed and two, fall asleep. I’m not sure if this was the desired intention from the producers, but if it was they hit a home run.

I wasn’t thrilled with Chang Min’s acting in this one, it’s a bit of a one note character as far as the first hour and fiffteen minutes goes. He’s moping around and the only thing that gets him going with any fervor is trying to understand what it is that caused him to be in this head space in the first place. He wants to remember, but can’t. The highlight of the show is Mimi, the title character who haunts Chang Min. She isn’t there to get him and acts more like a guardian angel than a ghost and it seems like she hasn’t been a ghost that long, until you find out that this teenager was his first love and died in high school.

That threw me through a loop…

So let me get this straight, this guy has been without his childhood and teenaged memories for ten years and he’s upset about that because!?! Not me, I’d be moving on and happy. But, that is where the drama takes place in this one, in the angst of not remembering and no knowing the who it is that he loved. He can feel that place in his heart reserved for Mimi, but doesn’t remember her at all.

This is a drama that is perfect for a rainy day and only a rainy day. I would not recommend watching this on a sunny day because it’s going to make that sun hurt your face. I’ll be checking back in with this at some point, but I think there are better dramas with far more fantasy and scifi as this show has to offer.

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DBSK’s Yun Ho in Arena Homme+ Magazine

Dong Bang Shin Ki’s U-Know Yun Ho is featured in a pretty snazzy photo spread in Arena Homme+ Magazine’s March 2014 issue. Yun Ho is looking as tall and dapper as he ever has. The photo shoot director and style director did a fantastic job showcasing Yun Ho’s tall figure and I love that they put him in neutral colors on very static backgrounds. The black and white add a classy element to the shoot that amplifies both Arena Homme+’s logo and Yun Ho himself. The few colored backgrounds in reds give a sense of Yun Ho’s warm spirit. I’m digging this photo spread.

This guy…he’s got the something. Don’t you agree?

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New to Kpop? Start Here.


If you check out the above article from KpopStarz.com regarding the top ten kpop albums every new kpop fan should check out, I highly recommend it, I have a few revisions as your resident Sifu of Hallyu. I don’t reference the albums listed in the article because I agree with most of them. Those that I don’t agree with I address after adding my own required kpop for our lovely newbies!

I would add the following to the list of albums every new kpop fan should have to begin their journey riding the Korean Wave.

1. 2PM – Again and Again
2. Shinee – Love like Oxygen
3. MBLAQ – Stay/Cry
4. BEAST – Fiction
5. Jay Park – New Breed
6. Wonder Girls – Tell me/Nobody
7. Rain – Rainism
8. SS501 – Deja Vu

I would remove Super Junior’s Single Sexy and Free and replace it with Sorry Sorry and Bonamana. I’d also remove Seo Tai Ji and replace that with Drunken Tiger’s Monster. JYP has got to go. The article states that he is required to understand Got7. No, just no. Certainly allowed their own opinion, but to understand Got7 you only need understand 2PM.

There is no need for new kpop fans to look into the first generation of the Hallyu Wave. The second generation blew open the doors to kpop for much of the world thanks to the above mentioned groups and those in the article. Every group we see today, with few exceptions like History, CNBlue, and Ledapple are a direct result from this list. That being said, there are groups from the Third Generation like B.A.P. and VIXX that I love and suggest you listen to. These groups, and their generational peers, owe their success in large part to the previously mentioned groups. For example, we would not have the powerful beastly image that Bang Yong Guk and his team display without 2PM. The same could be said of VIXX, but I think they are a highly evolved form of SHINee, 2PM, and SS501.

What kpop albums/singles do you think every new kpop fan should listen to?

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Dong Ban Shin Ki – Love in the Ice

Dong Bang Shin Ki – Love in the Ice

Hands down, this is one of the most emotional songs. If you know the lyrics in Korean or Japanese I dare you to try and not shed a tear listening to the boys hit their high notes around 3:30. Jae Joong and Chang Min came in like a wrecking ball for my feelz.

I’ve never seen the actual footage of this performance, only clips that were put together. They did an amazing job with this, especially considering they were performing in Japanese.

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Dong Bang Shin Ki – Wrong Number

My alarm woke me up with Dong Bang Shin Ki‘s 2008 hit Wrong Number.  If you weren’t a fan of DBSK or Kpop back then let me tell you, this was an awesome fall.  The boys had released their biggest hit, MIROTIC, in October and followed up with Wrong Number in November or December. It’s been too long to remember.

The boys came back with a mature and dark concept to their MIROTIC performances and their follow up track did not disappoint. Can you say JaeJoong rap? After seeing this video for the first time…I can.

Awesome choreography, infectious beats, perfect harmony.

Reshare, reblog, +, like…whatever if you miss DBSK5 or remember when this track was released!

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January Top Kpop Single Releases

 January 2014 was one of the slowest months in Kpop I can recall. Now that the first month of the year is over I wanted to choose my favorite single released during the month.
Despite my feeling that this was a slow month one titan of kpop and two gods did make strong comebacks. Of course, I’m speaking of Rain and Dong Bang Shin Ki. Three tracks were released back to back in 30SexySomething, and La Song. All three have been in my rotation all month. Out of the three 30Sexy was the total package for me. Smooth beats, stimulating visuals, and finally it was raining. Halfway through the month I predicted 30Sexy would be my top single for the month.Then…we had hot debut from JYP Entertainment with GOT7. Girls Girls Girls by the end of the month was definitely my most listened to track! Over 250 plays in roughly two weeks. I reviewed their debut at the time and I wasn’t sold on JYP’s choice as a debut single. I did not like the video…at all, but in the end Girls Girls Girlsreplaced 30Sexy as my defining track for January.Other tracks I checked out included Gary’s Shower Later and Zotto Molla, A-Prince Yes or No, K-MUCH Beyond the Ocean, and some crap put out by Topp Dogg.

I’m a huge Leessang fan and really dig Gary’s first solo project. The raps are nice, content meaningful. Shower Time was very impressive visually from its art direction, but the gratuitous use of T&A turned me off. I didn’t feel it was needed and the video would have been much better without it. That all being said I think musically, this was the best produced track of the month. GRAY did an awesome job.

So…to wrap that all up we had a hot debut from GOT7 (my most played single of the month), huge comebacks from Rain and DBSK, and a solo album from one of my favorite hip hop artists with Gary.

My top single for the first month of 2014 is…

B1A4’s Lonely.

“Wait…What?” you say. “B1A4? You don’t even follow them!” That’s true, but, that’s just how good the complete package was from WM Entertainment. The lyrics, music video, Baro’s rap, the melody were all on point. It’s the perfect winter track and anyone whose ever spent a winter missing their loved one or ex will understand this song in powerful ways.

Reshare if Lonely was also your top single of January 2014 and tell me what your favorite track was in the comments down below!

For the rest of the video’s mentioned above click this link!


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Big Band and Swing – Kpop Style

This was originally posted on January 10th, 2014.

It’s just about two weeks in 2014 and I have been dropping the ball a bit as to what music videos have been released. Rain’s long awaited comeback saw not one but two songs uploaded on New Year’s Day and Dong Bang Shin Ki’s Chang Min and YunHo finally unveiled their much hyped track Something.

I was notified first that DBSK’s video was out so this was my first song of 2014. It was ok…didn’t set me on fire, but I liked the song. Today I finally downloaded it as well as Rain’s La Song and 30 Sexy. One thing I noticed was a similar sound between La Song and Something. Their were brass instruments…god damn, I’m hearing something from the 1920’s Chicago and I like it…a lot.

Each song is unique and I think it’s fair to compare these two songs because of the big band and swing elements each use. Personally, neither song is going to make my 2014 Favorite Kpop anything. I just don’t love either, but they did get me bouncing and I spent an hour each listening to these songs released on 14.1.1 today and I was most definitely grooving my bikers butt at my desk.

The thing about all this though…is it felt so 2013!

Rain is the undisputed King of Kpop and could only really be challenged by YunHo or Se7en, in my opinion, as a top tier solo artist. DBSK, I need to say no more…they simply are. Here’s the thing that struck me. I had heard this sound before…way back in August of 2013.

Anyone remember the Infinite-H produced Tasty track MaMaMa?

While technically, not a big band sound they did use swing which is the style of music that gave big bands of the roaring 20’s their signature sound. I got to say…them Jung Twins did it better than two of the biggest acts in Kpop. I enjoyed the song, visuals, beat, and video of MaMaMa more than either of Hess other songs…that’s kind of a big deal.

Now, I know I just said it felt so 2013…I really meant 2011.

2011 saw the release and hugely successful 2nd album from SS501’s leader Kim Hyun Jung. He really is a Lucky Guy as I recall this album reached the top 5 on the Billboard World charts. If you missed this video back in 2011 check it out down below because it also uses big band in its show stopping tunes.

So…did Kim Hyun Jung set this trend nearly three years too early and of all the big band swinging kpop songs that have come out in the last few years which is your favorite?

Ok ok ok…fine you can include Secret if you want, but I won’t like it!

You can check out the rest of the videos talked about in this post here:


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