As previously mentioned on this site, 2013 hasn’t been a very good year overall for established groups. However, the nugus were another story with several decent groups (as well as a lot of crap ones) stepping up to the plate, something which didn’t escape my attention or the attentions of other writers on Anti Kpop-Fangirl. Of course there was criticism for this:
I’d spend some time dissecting this docile mouth-breathing argument but there’s no need as The Real CZ and Zaku both did a great job and I have nothing to add. However, since covering shit nobody has heard of instead of stuff from the same old established labels seems to really hit a nerve with some folks, I thought it would be a good idea for me to embrace the nugus and make a regular thing of it. So welcome to:
(For the boneheads – no, I’m not insinuating that T-ara are nugu – I just think that this image looks cool and customs officers fits the theme of being “on the alert” for stuff)
Nugu means “nobody” and is basically used to describe k-pop artists that nobody gives a fuck about. Each Nugu Alert post will therefore highlight some k-pop MVs that few people have seen before, but which I think you should take a look at… it might be because I like the songs, but to be honest – that’s highly unlikely. I’m probably highlighting it for some other reason and each “Nugu Alert” MV will have at least one notable quality which I believe deserves your attention.
- Must have less than 20,000 YouTube hits
- Can be new or old
- Might not be technically new or unknown but certainly will be something I haven’t seen other k-pop fans discuss or care about, so try to fucking control yourself if I link something that I don’t know about but that you’ve been following for the last 15 years and are breakthrough stars or whatever
- Each MV gets a “nugu alert rating” which is a measure of the total condensed nuguness in the MV’s running time – qualities that enhance nuguness are lack of YouTube hits, lack of money spent on the MV and song, and general “where are they now?” vibe even though the artist in question may still be very much active
Good or bad, I think it’s worth highlighting nugus for ideological reasons. For every new group that debuts on a TV show that nobody gives a fuck about, there’s ten or fifty or a hundred other groups on tiny little labels that are so much smaller that they struggle to even get on the damn TV show. Do you know how much competition there is for these things? So much in fact, that label staff and artists grease and kiss ass all fucking day just to secure and maintain those 3 little minutes. Combine that with the fact that there’s not exactly much of a live performance culture for pop music outside of TV shows and you realise that these crappy low budget MVs are the only chance that a lot of groups get to even exist in the public eye at all. The least you can do is watch the fucking things and attempt to extract some semblance of entertainment value before they get consigned to the dustbin of popular culture.
But there’s thousands of these things! Which ones to watch? Ahhh… that’s where Kpopalypse comes in to help you out, so let’s get started with Episode One!
FRESH BOYZ – “KOALA”
I guess as an Australian I have to kick things off with a song about everyone’s favourite local marsupial. Some little-known facts about koalas:
- They may look cute but they are smelly, unfriendly, untameable creatures that scratch and piss everywhere, plus they fucking hate you
- Although an endangered species on the mainland, on Kangaroo Island they’re in plague proportions and cause a lot of damage to plantlife, and no-one knows what to do about it because it’s illegal to kill them
- The word “koala” is pronounced with three syllables, e.g “ko-A-la”, not “KWA-la” like Fresh Boyz are doing it in this song
You won’t give a shit about any of that stuff though once the video starts. The video director wisely keeps Fresh Boyz themselves mostly absent from the visual side of the proceedings, devoting the large majority of the screen time to some model who makes up for the obvious starvation-level MV budget with underboob-flashing to rival those FX Girl videos. I don’t know who she is but I’ve seen her in MVs before (and I’d really like to know her name by the way – surely some of you k-nerds know so don’t be shy and tell me and I’ll edit this post) – she’s never looked quite like this, though. I can’t remember if it was Russ Meyer or Roger Corman who said “breasts are the best special effects” but whoever it was, the creative video which explores many different ways to almost show nipple certainly makes this ear-shredding reggaeton-inspired k-pop dance flatulence a lot more tolerable. For a video with so much skin showing to get so few hits in an era when sexy concepts are raking in the cash and popularity is a remarkable achievement of nugudom.
YouTube hits at time of writing: 9459
Notable attribute: gratuitous underboob
Nugu alert rating: high
VALIANT – HIP HOP CAT
This kiddy hip-hop assault from 2012 is as cringeworthy and eardrum-raping as you’d expect, but for such an unpopular video it contains quite a few redeeming features that I didn’t expect:
- They can actually dance pretty good for their age
- They can rap better than CL
- No awkward sexualisation in the style of Little PSY, thank the lord
*shudders in horror* IT’S NOT CUTE, IT’S WRONG. If you ever need evidence that males bear the brunt of creepy inappropriate sexualisation in k-pop, here it is – and thank fuck the MV creators didn’t make Valiant do something similar. All you people whining about AOA and Gain and Hyuna and whoever else with the sexy concepts… get your priorities straight. Getting Little PSY to put his fucking shirt back on is more important than your futile attempts to stifle healthy adult female sexuality. But enough about you pretending to be a feminist while actually being completely misogynist, and more about Valiant’s awful-but-probably-not-the-most-awful-thing-ever kiddie raps.
Of course there’s nothing in the world more hip-hop in the entire universe than performing carefully choreographed dance routines in front of a graffiti mural background (just ask 2NE1), so that’s mainly what Valiant’s video consists of. The main expenditure for this video seems to have been printing those t-shirts, the bus fare to the park and spending half a day putting little paper windmills in the ground… but that’s okay because that just makes it look even more ghetto and broke which means it’s more like hip-hop, right?
Okay, maybe not.
YouTube hits at time of writing: 3609
Notable attribute: has annoying kiddy rap and is basically rubbish but is still more listenable than Little PSY and CL’s solo plus the last few 2NE1 comebacks
Nugu alert rating: very high
CHERRY KIM ft. SNK – SECRET L.O.V.E.
(look at that still shot – they’ve copy-pasted the same actor because they couldn’t afford more than one machinegun or set of SWAT clothes)
You’d have to be living under a pop-culture rock not to notice that zombies have really advanced heavily in popularity lately, turning up in all sorts of places from movies to MVs and TV shows with increasing regularity. You can barely move for zombie computer games over the last few years, and there’s plenty of TV shows and movies dedicated to our shuffling drooling friends (no, not Korean netizens, our OTHER shuffling drooling friends). Long gone are the days when Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” was the only zombie-themed MV on the block, with plenty of zombie MVs from all sorts of genres and in k-pop T-ara and 4minute have both been getting in on the zombie act.
So what’s the reason for this sudden surge in zombie popularity? Well, it all started with the classic zombie movies from the 60s, and the reason why zombies have been a popular choice ever since for someone wanting to make a horror film is simple – zombies are cost-effective. Think about it:
Ghosts: Need some crazy special effects shit and camera trickery to make that work
Witches and vampires: Gotta make them fly somehow without looking ultra-stupid, in movies realistic flying costs money
Dracula: spiffy clothes budget plus renting a mansion required bare minimum
Zombies: your brother’s torn flannelette shirt, throwaway ripped jeans, some tomato sauce, some charcoal makeup and you’re done
Nowhere is this better demonstrated than in the MV for Cherry Kim and SNK’s grating earsore “Secret L.O.V.E.”. The budget here is so stretched that they couldn’t even afford shotgun blanks, and opt to use cheap-ass superimposed CGI to fire most of the shots… plus they even recycle one of the BarBarBar locations:
I guess it’s where all the nugus are allowed to go to shoot their stuff without paying much site rental (remember nobody gave a fuck about Crayon Pop besides me and three other people when BarBarBar was being filmed). A thousand nugus have probably danced on those coloured tiles.
YouTube hits at time of writing: 2762
Notable attribute: ambitious post-apocalyptic concept on minimal budget
Nugu alert rating: extreme
This concludes Episode One of “Nugu Alert”. There is no schedule for these, so another episode could appear at any time. Be afraid.