It happens to everybody once they discover and get excited about a new music culture – it invades not just everyday aspects of their life, but also their subconscious mind. Kpopalypse is no exception! Recently I noticed that I was having dreams about k-pop and some of them were so bizarre and fucked up that it would be a shame not to document them for your prurient bemusement. Please now be entertained as I lay bare the depths of my subconscious for your entertainment and expose myself to potential ridicule in this series of snack-sized fanfictions!
I sign up online to an event that allows you to meet, talk to and take pictures with any five k-pop stars. They promise on the website that they can get anyone at all, and I’m skeptical but I sign up anyway as I figure that even a failure will make a great blog post. My list:
- Anyone from Crayon Pop
- SeA (Pocket Girls)
I arrange via the website to meet a guy at some kind of convention in a warehouse, he is one of the event organisers and I give him my list of preferred people to meet. He starts listing people who can’t make it and why (other music business obligations, mostly), he quickly makes it clear that I’m not going to meet any of the people on my list. I start negotiating alternatives but it seems that nobody who I am interested in is available. It’s frustrating, eventually I say “why don’t you give me a list of the people that I can meet and I’ll choose from that?”. He starts listing off people and they are all people I don’t give a fuck about meeting like Brian Joo, some guy from ZE:A, etc. Eventually I leave the meeting having resolved nothing.
Later I go back to the same building and into an upstairs conference room where I’m told he has a meeting set up for me. He introduces me to two people as Samuel L. Jackson and Sooyoung from Girls’ Generation who are sitting at a table. I sit down with them. Samuel L. Jackson looks like he does in “Jackie Brown“, Sooyoung doesn’t really look anything like Sooyoung, in fact she looks much closer to Joy from Red Velvet, but I calmly accepted this turn of events as Joy is prettier to me anyway and by this point I have so little faith in the organiser’s ability to make this event happen that I am just happy to meet any k-pop people at all. Both Samuel L. Jackson and Sooyoung/Joy are dressed in normal casual clothes, Sooyoung/Joy says nothing but smiles a lot, I figure she doesn’t know any English. I take pictures with them all, they pose happily. I am also given a huge document, a multi-page contract designed to show to your friends which “proves” that you met the k-pop star in question, with two halves of the form to fill out, one for each person to fill and sign off on. It asks all sorts of weird irrelevant personal details (“what flavour crisps do you prefer?” “how many hours do you watch TV per week?”) and I don’t fill it out, figuring it’s probably just pointless data-mining.
It isn’t clear why Samuel L. Jackson is there but it seems like he and Sooyoung/Joy had some kind of business relationship – and definitely business only, they sit far apart and don’t seem to show much in the way of rapport. Since I can’t really talk to her, I talk to him. I ask Samuel how he got into k-pop and he starts talking about how he’s branching out from acting because he doesn’t want to keep acting as he gets older, he wants to “diversify his motherfuckin’ income stream”. He doesn’t really seem that interested in k-pop as music but just the business aspect. At one point he gets up and complains about how he’s “sick of all these motherfuckin’ k-pop girls in my motherfuckin’ office”. I get the odd feeling that Sooyoung/Joy is oblivious to his business plans. She smiles a lot at me (but never at him), sits with her arms by her sides and says nothing.
I’m hanging out with some guys from an unknown soon-to-debut k-pop group in an empty warehouse, I’m not sure why I’m with them. We then walk across some streets, the scene looks a bit like in the BTS “War Of Hormone” video because they are in similar clothing and keep doing weird swag moves like there is music playing, but there isn’t. I decide to split up from the group because I see a record store and would rather buy stuff than walk with some strange guys with weird hair acting oddly. I go in and look around, the store is very dusty, and the sole shop attendant is an old man, he is busy packing up furniture and tells me that it’s his last day before the store closes down. Lots of things are on special, naturally I search for any k-pop. Eventually in amongst everything else I find a small k-pop section, and a sign saying “12 k-pop CDs for $13”. I pick up an armful of nugu groups I had never heard of and can’t remember the names of. I go to pay for them but it’s difficult to navigate the store generally because my cat is there and she kept climbing on empty shop fittings and getting in the way.
I am reading Asian Junkie. A new article appears: “EXPOSED FISTS BANNED BY MOGEF, TIFFANY/SUNNY EXPLAIN”. The crux of the article is that exposed hands that form fists are no longer permitted in k-pop dance routines as they are considered obscene as they could resemble a sexual object (i.e a fist used for fisting). The article takes a few shots at the MOGEF in usual IATFB-Asian Junkie commentary style and then links to a YouTube video with an interview. I watch the video and Sunny and Tiffany are being interviewed on some Korean TV show by a middle-aged Asian host who looks a bit like Shinsadong Tiger (but it isn’t him). The TV show setup looks a bit like the “Weekly Idol” TV show with a pure white backdrop except that everybody is sitting down. The host asks (in English) how the ban will affect Girls’ Generation. Tiffany replies (also in English, in her usual chirpy L.A. girl accent) that the routines have been modified. She then stands up and as “Catch Me If You Can” plays she demonstrates a dance routine where her hands are outstretched, and shows that by rotating her arms a certain way while doing the other movements, she can still form a fist without the fist itself being completely visible to the cameras, thereby getting around the new censorship guidelines. The host is impressed, and the unseen studio audience applauds in polite admiration.
I’m teaching a co-ed class of Korean high-school kids how to dance. Even though it’s a dance class, they are all seated at vintage wooden school desks in a traditional classroom-style arrangement. I have to encourage the class to select a piece of music for them to learn the dance to. I ask to the classroom “How about something like Kara’s “Pretty Girl“? The whole class groans. One of the male students says under his breath “I think we’d prefer to be doing EXO.” The headmaster is in the room as well, he’s watching how I teach and assessing me to see if I make the grade as a teacher – noticing the student reaction, he tells me to go outside, with no explanation given. I walk out of the class and down the hall. The hallway has glass windows and I can see into the class that I just left, where the students are. Even though I can’t hear what they’re saying, I can tell by the looks on their faces they’re obviously a lot happier that I’ve left the room. They’re having conversations with the headmaster, I assume they’re discussing what EXO songs they’d like to dance to.
I am in a music store playing with a new keyboard that I want to buy. I find a really amazing keyboard with a brand name that I’ve never heard of (and can’t remember), it has powerful sequencing abilities and great sounds. I have a desire to make the world a better place by combining the sounds of 2NE1’s “Crush” album with Pink Floyd’s “The Wall”, thereby making 2NE1’s new material listenable. I believe that this new equipment can do the task. I purchase the keyboard.
I then walk over to the local council office to get a busker’s license. My plan is to do a street performance and spread this new hybrid music to the masses, but I don’t tell this to the lady at reception, I worry that if she finds out that I’m incorporating elements of 2NE1 into my music she might refuse the busker’s license. She asks me a few questions about the music I’m playing and I’m deliberately vague. Eventually she goes away to check with someone else, and then comes back, she says they’ll give me the licence for now, but it could be pulled at any moment if there’s any “funny business”. I nod in agreement.
I go into the local mall and set up my equipment. One of my friends from the experimental music scene is there, he asks me what I’m up to. I tell him I’m doing a performance soon but I’m deliberately vague to him also because I want it to be a surprise. Eventually I’m fully set up and I start to play, a collection of keyboard and triggered samples of Pink Floyd and 2NE1. A small crowd gathers. At one point a choir that happens to be busking a little further down the mall starts singing along with what I’m playing, they sound great. The result sounds quite unlike both groups and the overall reception is mild but positive. A concerned council member also watches but he doesn’t recognise any of the songs, so I’m allowed to play unhindered.
As a CL rap section starts I leave my keyboard (thank god for sequencing) and walk over to a nearby house and CL is there, she’s moving from one room to the next and rapping (similar to 2NE1’s “Scream” video, but the song playing isn’t that one). Then the music ends and we start talking, she’s a nice person, we start walking up the walls outside the building like in Fiestar’s “We Don’t Stop” MV while we talk. She tells me about how The Black Keys are a shitty group. I wonder about how I’m breaking the laws of physics, and suddenly I realise that it’s possible because I have died and that I’m actually now a ghost. I can’t remember the exact moment when I died, or what killed me. My consciousness drifts above my coffin and I watch my own funeral, there is a pastor who informs a gathered crown that I have died of shit music disease. He warns the people against the dangers of combining 2NE1 with any other music at all, and that with more education about the dangers of bad music deaths from shit music disease such as mine could be preventable.
I’m on my way to interview Sistar. They’re having a fanmeet inside a shopping centre, and I spend a great deal of time circumnavigating the large structure complete with multi-storey car park trying to find the right entrance. Eventually I come across a room full of very young fangirls making Sistar posters with crayons and glitter and I know I’m in the right place. I exit this room and walk down a large corridor that goes around in a big U shape, right in the middle of the U there’s a theatre stage and Sistar are on the stage, sitting on bar stools. They are talking to an assembled audience which I can’t see because the stage lights are really bright but I peer out into the darkness and I guess there’s maybe 200 of them. Sistar are fairly unstyled with no makeup and basic jeans-and-T-shirt style clothing and as a result look really ordinary, like in the “Tic Toc” MV. I think about how much studio makeup and lighting must change their appearance. I start talking to Hyolyn and ask a couple introductory questions but then I realise that I’ve forgotten my recording equipment (a portable DAT player) so I excuse myself and run back through the corridor to pick it up. When I start returning back down the corridor with the gear I see Bora by a doorway and we start talking about trivial stuff and I forget to meet the others. I don’t bother to record anything.
I’m in a bookstore. I see a friend of mine who works there and also is a local book publisher. I ask him if he has any books about k-pop. He laughs at me and asks me “why are you into that faggot shit?”. I reply “because I’m a fucking faggot, obviously, now do you have any k-pop books or what?”. He laughs and says nothing. I get frustrated, not about him calling me a faggot (which I don’t care about and is completely normal) but because he isn’t answering my question.
I hear about Canadian punk band SNFU coming to Adelaide, so I’m on my way to a local venue to see them. Randomly on the street a guy recognises me and shouts out “hey, Kpopalypse!” – a young, tall punk guy with a red mohawk introduces himself to me as someone who frequents my ask.fm and asks me lots of questions about music. We talk as we walk to the venue, he tells me that he’s linked me SNFU videos anonymously and also has asked me questions about recording studios. We get to the venue and see Lizzy from Orange Caramel sitting at a table with some other people drinking so we join her. I ask Lizzy if she can do a wink so I can photograph it on my phone, she nods and then pulls a weird grimace that isn’t really a wink but looks more like she’s got something in her eye. It looks like she’s trying to wink but doesn’t know how, which I find strange because she winks in music videos all the time. Then my newfound punk friend asks if she can get naked so he can take a photo, but Lizzy gets all pissed off, folds her arms, pulls a sulky face and won’t say anything further to anybody. Everyone around the table then gets mad at the punk guy because they were hoping to see Lizzy get naked later on that night, and thought that they had better odds if they didn’t say anything directly about it to her. One of the other guys slaps him, saying that now he’s blown the opportunity for the whole group to see Lizzy nude by getting their intentions out in the open. Lizzy sips a beer and eyes everyone around her suspiciously.
Giving up on Lizzy, myself and all the other guys around the table get up and go backstage to see if SNFU are there. We enter a doorway to the right of the main stage and find that the backstage area isn’t a backstage area after all but is instead some kind of bunker. The doors lock behind us and we’re trapped in the room. A voice tells us that we’re now in an Orange Caramel Boot Camp facility and that we’re going to get attacked soon, and we have to defend ourselves or die. A mechanical wall opens up revealing lots of weapons, everyone around me takes a gun. I’m the last person to take a weapon, I take a pistol which is the only firearm left, plus a police baton. For the next few hours we’re attacked by continual waves of of rotting zombies. Each time a new group of zombies appears, an Orange Caramel song plays over the PA system to signal their approach. We eventually manage to fend them all off and survive but defending their attacks is exhausting.
I’m watching a dance practice video on YouTube, some nugu group I’ve never heard of. The girls in it look exactly like the girls in Wa$$up but it’s not them. All of the girls are wearing tracksuits and tank tops, and practicing the dance routine for a new song. The guy holding the camera wanders up to one of the girls, a lookalike of Wa$$up’s Dain, and pushes her onto the wooden floor of the gym. He then sits on top of her stomach, lifts up her tank top and starts playing with her boobs. The Dain lookalike has no reaction to this – even though she’s lying on the floor face up with the cameraman sitting on her, she still continues to do the arm movements for the dance routine, and stares ahead of her blankly not making eye contact with the man or his camera lens. I think about how this is a new concept I’ve never seen before in k-pop and I wonder if other dance practice videos will copy this new trend.
I’m in the green room of an old theatre, during set-up time for my band. I’m watching a monitor high on the wall of the green room that gives me a view into the audience area. Someone tells me that when there are no gigs on the audience area doubles as the offices for Asian Junkie. I look to try and recognise AJ himself but I just see a bunch of young employees, then I realise that I don’t even know what he looks like. However working at a desk at the rear of the audience area I can clearly recognise Johnny Noh from Allkpop. I’m shocked that he’s working for the Asian Junkie office… or perhaps he is just a guest? I can’t really tell why he’s there, but the staff all seem to know him. He gets up and starts making jokes about how he wants to kick some girl in the head, he has a perpetual smile on his face and is just as annoying as I’d imagined him to be. I decide that I should tell him about why I don’t like him.
I walk down to the audience area and towards him. He says “Hi, I’m Johnny Noh, who are you?” One of the girls in the work area says something in his ear, presumably she’s telling him that I’m Kpopalypse. I start telling Johnny about why he sucks and he says “why don’t you fight me?” – I agree that this is a good idea. We get in cars and drive out to an undisclosed quiet location so we can have a fight undisturbed by authorities. He starts trying to race me in his car but there’s a flash and suddenly my car loses power, I think I’ve blown up the engine. We get out of our cars and start attacking each other with large wooden axes. After a few swings Johnny lands his axe blade deep into my stomach. I look down, it doesn’t hurt at all but I can see that the blade is in really deep and it probably wouldn’t be wise to continue fighting. I put down my axe and tell Johnny that he’s won this round. Johnny’s smile never leaves his face the entire time.
I’m doing my radio show, I put on a copy of something from the new as-yet-unreleased 2NE1 album. I’m holding the album cover in my hands, some messy-looking thing in yellow and bright blue. Some friends come into the radio station and ask me what the song is, I say it’s the new 2NE1. They ask if I’ve got a physical copy of it and I say no, quickly hiding the album cover under the radio control desk, in my lap. I don’t want them to look at it, I want to keep it all for myself.
I’m writing my best songs of 2015 list, with the help of a friend. I am reading out the reviews and my friend is typing them. When I get to #2 I just reel out an exact reversal of the review of CL’s “The Baddest Female” i.e “this song isn’t the worst k-pop song ever. It’s also not the best k-pop song ever. However, that’s only because of the song that got to #1 on this list, and…”
Sunny from SNSD releases a solo song and I watch it on YouTube. The song is complete crap, but I notice that the Korean-language chorus lyrics sound a bit like “I want you to hit my ass” in English, and this increases my enjoyment of the song significantly.
I’m in the cinema with my girlfriend, we’re watching a documentary called “Kpopalypse: The Man, The Myth, The Legend”. The documentary starts out with a caption – “Part One: The Man” and then opens with a panning shot of a bunch of fangirls. As each fangirl appears on the screen, text comes up above their head showing their online name, nutty Sulli stalker Jinnabit is identified as one of the fangirls, the others all have weird computer-gamer-style names that I don’t recognise. They all look elementary school student age as well as messy and unkempt. A completely cheesy male cinema-preview-style voiceover explains how Kpopalypse has fought against the fangirl plague for the greater good of humanity. I talk to my girlfriend about how camp and cringeworthy the documentary is and she agrees. “This is only ‘The Man’ part, imagine how much more cheesy this is going to get when we get to ‘The Legend’ part!” I say to her. We continue to laugh and cringe awkwardly as the documentary then pans over various stills of Kpopalypse biases and the narration starts talking in-depth about the origins of the Kpopalypse bias list and how fortunate the chosen females are to be included in it. “People are going to think you’re a complete wanker!” my girlfriend says. “That’s okay, everyone already thinks I’m a wanker anyway!” I reply. We both laugh it up hysterically.
I’m with a work colleague and he is interviewing JYP. We’re sitting together on a footpath by the beach, it’s a sunny day, there are several people about, and many seagulls exploring the beach and chirping loudly. JYP is wearing aviator shades and a loud Hawaiian shirt, he looks very relaxed and calm. The guy I’m with asks JYP why he takes so long with his comebacks. JYP says “people who follow my artists don’t realise it, but I work on stuff every day. It’s not just about what you see, there’s a whole hidden world behind k-pop.” JYP is asked to elaborate by the interviewer but he just gazes at the circling birds and says nothing.
I’m having lunch in an alfresco section of a restaurant. It’s a sunny day and I’m seated at a white decorative metal table like the type that one would find in a botanical garden, I have a beautiful view of a seaside harbour across a cobblestone street. I see two people in the street close by, they’re dressed identically as pandas and they’re fighting with sticks. The violence is worrying as the two people are laying into each other really hard, but I relax when I also notice a game show host with a microphone and a camera crew in tow, and I realise that it’s staged and they’re actually filming the fight for some kind of TV show. Eventually the fight is over – nobody wins, time has just run out so they’ve stopped filming. The two people in panda suits take off their panda heads and reveal their faces, they are IU and Boram. They both look exhausted and their faces are sweaty, they swiftly drink from water bottles provided by the camera crew. The MC, an Asian female who looks about 60 years old, comes up and starts talking to me about my blogging. She asks me what I think about when I blog, I tell her “I don’t really think about anything, I just write and I let others do the thinking”.