QRIMOLE Episode 7: questions resulting in more overly long essays

QRIMOLE is back!  Time for Kpopalypse to answer more super-tricky and/or long-form questions from readers!


To what degree do you think changing your musical style is important? I mean as a group matures. And how does this translate to groups that don’t write their own music? (basically all of kpop). If you’ve got something that works, is changing things up a needless risk?

For artists who write their own music, the most successful ones are usually those who don’t change things very much, that are able to hit on a specific formula that goes down well with their audience and keep repeating it.  The reason why some people tend to change things up anyway are:

  • Boredom with doing the same shit over and over.  Sometimes people just want to experiment, even if these experiments are seen as possibly objective failures.  Most people get into music because they want to be creative after all, so being locked into doing the same shit over and over gets dull for all but a few.
  • People write songs differently as they age, someone who is 45 doesn’t want to write songs exactly like they did when they were 25.  It’s not just personal preference, sometimes it’s hard to capture the same kind of creative motivation, as a result the song can come out differently even if that wasn’t the intention.
  • Concern about changing music market trends – “will I be forgotten” etc.  A hugely successful artist knows that people will be drawn to their unique sound anyway, but a less successful artist sticking with a sound that might not be working out brilliantly for them so far is a risk.  Of course, changing styles is also a risk, but if a new trend is really taking off and an old one is completely dead, changing styles may seem like the safer of the two gambles.

Of course in k-pop musical creativity isn’t usually a concern for the artists themselves who are usually not writing their own material.  The songwriters behind it also have a slightly different attitude, it’s still creative activity but it’s seen more as a “job”, and often the songwriters are writing to the specific dictates of someone else.  “We want to do a song that sounds like X, please write us one” etc.  These changing demands are just dependent on whatever people who are commissioning the songs think will draw attention to their group.  Almost all k-pop is pretty similar on a basic pop-song level, with such high competition in the field if everyone followed the exact latest trend in pop songwriting (tropical house right now, it seems) then they have the advantage of a known sound that people like, but whoever doesn’t follow that trend also has an advantage of a higher chance of being noticed.  In k-pop where the point isn’t really to sell the music but to sell the idol, being highly noticeable in the public eye is more valuable than having a hit song.  Of course having a hit song is valuable but ONLY because of the attention it generates.  If you can get that same attention some other way, the end result is potentially the same.  That’s why k-pop seems to be a bit all over the place with their concepts sometimes, with groups trying new stuff all the time.

Help! I have a friend who’s a bit delusional.She ‘wants to make music’ and record a CD but she never studied, doesnt know how to play and doesnt sing. She sends me some stuff but they’re absolutely garbage and very bad quality, below bad actually (seriously it looks like they made music with that app that has instruments and you mix them so you come up with a song). I think she (and her bf) are going with psychodelic style or smthn and in those tracks she moans/sings. I have no understanding at all of compositions or anything but she always ask for my opinions. I cant be cruel so my ‘reviews’ have been like they’re not my style, they seem all over the place, the song doesn’t have a structure (the songs had like an hypnotic gloomy sound that would vary but still sound the same, and her moan-singing moan-talking on top), etc but she took them like: ‘Great! It’s not ordinary, common…it’s experimental!’. She’s an eternal teen that loves being ‘different’, ‘edgy’. I’ll link a song they made without singing but it’s for you only to listen, I kindly ask you to keep it private…god the song is so bad I have second-hand embarrassment .Idk, should I be a cunt and tell her that I don’t like it and tell all the flaws in a harsher way and that she should keep it as a hobby or be like those encouraging people: keep on! Achieve your dreams,etc.. Realistically speaking if she wants to make some money out of it, here where I live no one would even invite her to play on underground bars/pubs. I already told her in the beginning she should study or learn to play an instrument if she likes it so much and is serious, invest some time and effort and it’ll pay off, I mean she could do or project exactly what she wants into music…but nah. Even if she gets my critics I doubt they’ll make her produce better music, maybe I should suggest to learn guitar and singing and just go with that? She’ll make some profits in bars and pubs, FFS she’s got a daughter it’s not my job to keep her priorities right! :/

Before doing a k-pop radio show, I did an experimental music radio show for 15 years (1997-2012).  I would play stuff like this on that show all the time.  I listened to the song, I liked it!  I was waiting to hear those vocals that you teased but didn’t reveal, shame you linked me an instrumental, so I can’t critique that.  Her music reminded me of November Novelet actually.  These days the beauty of technology means that you don’t actually have to learn about music to make music.  All music is just arrangement of sound, and if you can “think arrangement” you can “practice arrangement”, which is all that music composition really is.  I know a guy who was in a similar spot, with NO musical OR instrumental knowledge, but had an ear for sound design, made stuff similar to this and sent it to labels, and scored a European record deal out of it.  He didn’t make big money but what he did do was become known halfway around the world and reached hundreds of people with his music.  She’s obviously not doing it for commercial success, but because she wants to be creative, and there’s nothing wrong with that.  Sure, if she doesn’t also get a part-time job or whatever she’ll probably be living in poverty but as long as she isn’t delusional the point where she think she’s actually going to make big money out of stuff like this and is wise enough to source actual income from outside of her creative pursuit, I don’t see a problem.  I listened to the other song on their channel too.  The only thing I’d say about both songs is that the beat is by far the weakest element of both, either aim for some more interesting drum sounds rather than the stock standard 808-ish thing or just remove the beat entirely, either would improve what they have here.  The rest of it sounds fine and she should keep pursuing it and getting better.  Also tell her to send her music to me when she has a CD or complete demo of songs out (no half-finished tracks!), my PO Box is in the “about” section, I’ll get her airplay in Australia (not on my own show, but on others).  Show her this response or I’ll smack you.

Hey KPOPALYPSE you’ve said in the past that’s there’s no money in streaming or buying music. I stan some super nugu groups and I want to financially support them. How do I that when they don’t have any CF deals?

Off the top of my head:

  • Spread their videos (think about what I do on Kpopalypse Nugu Alert)
  • Talk about them
  • Ask companies that might like to endorse the performers to pay attention to them and take them on
  • The big one – if you see them wear/use something in a MV, buy it and write to the company saying you bought it because of them, keep and show receipts!

I know more kpop songs than T-ara lol.  Are kpop songs overrated to T-ara or do the relevant kpop song consist only of T-ara and nothing else (and maybe Sistar – qri loves them)?

Think about how busy T-ara are, all of the time.  Between 2009 and 2012 they had up to 12 schedules per day and didn’t have a single day off.  Even during their scandal they were still working behind the scenes, every day on new content.  When you’re that embroiled in your own world of practice, performance, travel and hectic schedules, you don’t really have time to immerse yourselves in things that are common knowledge to everyone else.  I can relate personally as I’m also super-busy with work, more work, even more work, my partner, and blogging.  Like T-ara I make a fair bit of money but I have very little time.  I have no idea what is a hit on western charts because I don’t have time to follow it.  I don’t know what is the #1 hit in Australia right now, or at any time this decade.  I couldn’t name you ten TV shows made in the last ten years, from any country.  I prioritise what matters to me, because I have little time and little choice.  The last thing that k-pop artists probably want to do in their rare instances of downtime is listen to more k-pop.

When listening to some western pop singers sing “live” it sounds terrible. So are they actually singing live and if so why don’t they just lip sync or something? I see this happen with singers that aren’t even known for being good singers so it is not like they have to keep a status up.

But if they’re not good singers, and the audience knows they’re not good singers, then the audience is probably just fine with hearing that singer “in the raw” anyway.  There’s no point in going to effort to fake something if there’s no high expectations anyway.

A while back, Courtney Love decided for whatever reason not to pay her audio engineer and because the audio engineer understandably got the shits with her, he decided to shame her by releasing the above live recording.  This is the raw electric guitar and vocal feed isolated, from a Hole concert, coming straight through his mixing desk.  You can hear the other instruments a little too because there’s some bleed where those instruments come through the vocal microphone.  Sounds terrible, right?  But Hole’s fans know what to expect, and they don’t care that she sounds like a rusty gate to a cigarette factory, they’re more interested in Courtney “being Courtney” than “sounding nice”.  The audience would be more upset if she tried to “smooth it over” somehow.  The shitty guitar playing doesn’t matter either – the guitar is mostly there as a prop and the “good guitar parts” are being played by the other guitarist.

Here’s the same recording again, with everything included and mixed properly.

If I went to a Courtney Love concert and saw that, I wouldn’t feel cheated, I’d feel like “well, that’s Courtney Love”.  Mind you, I wouldn’t go to a Courtney Love concert anyway just because I think that she’s a third-rate money sponge and one of the worst acts grunge ever produced, but that’s a separate issue.

I am going to rant a little right now so feel free to skip over this if you want I told my friend who I knew enjoyed Crayon Pop about Doo Doom Chit (she hadn’t really kept tabs on them lately) and she really liked it and I think it sparked the thought of kpop for her again.  She didn’t really look at other kpop groups, so I told her to look at Orange Caramel because they have a quirky fun style like Crayon Pop. Flash forward, she tells me she has a new favorite kpop group and it is… BTS!!! I feel like I messed up. She didn’t really enjoy Orange Caramel which although I understand it is her opinion, they are so awesome and cool, the songs are catchy and the music videos are fun. She then proceeds to tell me that her that her favorite music video is Dope. Why!!! That isn’t even their best music video and nothing close to the greatest kpop music videos like those overly long ones or the really goofy ones. I tried to show her the music video for IU’s Red Shoes because I think it is very visually interesting and has an interesting story (and she didn’t want to watch a 15 min music video even though she had free time to do so at that moment) but she just ended up confused and disinterested. I decided to play it off as a joke to make it seem less awkward. Now, I understand that every individual is their own person, but sometimes I wish I could find someone that will give my recommendations more of a shot. I suspect that if I introduced her to T-ara or Lovelyz or Infinite or 100% (some of the groups whose songs I enjoy most) she’ll shoot them down too. Now she will still be my friend, I’m not too petty to end a friendship based on personal taste but sometimes I wish that people could see what I see in things like music. I am not the tough-skinned supreme caonima like you, and you’re probably going to tell me to stop caring what other people think, but I have always struggled with being rejected.  Perhaps you have some advice on how to better handle rejection or maybe there is a way to make suggestions that would be more receptive to others. I want to share and talk about these things with some real life people but I’m very shy. Besides, she has a tendency to obsessiveness, she is a big fan of the hetalia anime, and I’m worried she will become a crazy BTS fan like with hetalia. I know this was a lot at once and you may not want to respond, but I had to let my thoughts out and it is easier to talk to you than others so…thanks

As you’ve started to realise, this isn’t her problem – this is more of a problem with yourself and how you handle other people’s opinions.  If she likes BTS there’s nothing wrong with that (as long as she doesn’t do anything illegal because of it), there’s nothing that says she needs to perceive k-pop how you do, and given that all humans have slightly different brains there’s almost a guarantee that she’ll have many differences to you.  The worst that could happen here I think is she gets really good at drawing and starts drawing super-extreme pornographic BTS hentai, but I don’t see that as a problem.  I don’t know anyone at all who agrees with 100% of my music taste when encompassing both k-pop AND other styles (best I can get out of my IRL friends is about 35%, on the Internet I’ve seen maybe about 60% demonstrated by a few caonimas?) so expecting others to fall in line with how you see the world is a good habit to get out of.  I get extreme hate from somewhere every single day, in return I’m actually pretty nice about it (even stuff like my anti-vocalfag posts isn’t as vitriolic as it seems if you understand the correct tone) and it’s because I just don’t care really, if I actually started caring about people’s reaction to me I’d probably have anxiety every single day.  If you do want to be able to “make suggestions” there’s nothing wrong with that, but don’t force people to sit through videos, it’ll just turn them off.  By all means say “maybe you’d like x” but then let people discover what they like on their own, your recommendation isn’t going to change their opinion anyway.  It’s not a rejection of you personally or anything, the reason why it bothers you might be because at least subconsciously you feel like it might be, but she can’t help it that she prefers BTS any more than you can help it that you prefer Orange Caramel.

Hey so my friend and I are both vocal majors who have been having a pleasant bant over Lovelyz’s new song structure, but we can’t seem to agree on it, so I was hoping you could be our tie breaker because if I’m right she has to buy me lunch. Okay so, my version of it is:

0:04 – Intro 0:14 – Chorus A 0:31: – Pre chorus 0:41 – Chorus B 0:57 – Breakdown 1:06 – Chorus A+ 1:23 – Pre chorus 1:31 – Chorus B 1:50 – Refrain 2:07 – Bridge 2:25 – Chorus B+ 2:41 – Refrain 3:00 – Chorus A

And she thinks its:

0:04 – Intro 0:31 – Verse 1 0:41 – Chorus B 0:57 – Riff 1:06 – Chorus 1:23 – Verse 2 1:31 -Chorus B 1:50 – Chorus B+ 2:07 – Bridge 2:25 – Chorus B 2:41 – Chorus B+ 3:00 – Chorus A

Are we both right? Are neither of us right? We’re both vocal majors, and in our school vocal majors don’t learn advanced music theory unless we want to, so we may be lacking in knowledge someone like you might provide! Also, we both love your posts, they’re really entertaining!!! I hope I win the bet lol thanks kpopalypse oppar

While there is definitely some subjectivity in working these things out, your version is definitely incorrect, sorry.  A “refrain” is a specific type of structural oddity that appears on songs structured in a blues type of format, “WoW!” isn’t one of those songs.  Also you haven’t listed any verses at all!  Her version is somewhat better, but she’s still overthinking it just a little.  To be fair to both of you this isn’t the easiest type of song to work out in this way.  My version:

Intro – 0:05
Verse – 0:14
Pre-chorus – 0:31
Chorus – 0:40
Riff – 0:58
Verse – 1:07
Pre-chorus – 1:24
Chorus – 1:33
Bridge/Chorus B – 1:49
Breakdown – 2:07
Chorus – 2:26
Bridge/Chorus B 2:42
Verse (outro) – 3:00

There’s a little bit of ambiguity here for sure, it could be argued that the bridge performs the function of a second chorus as it appears twice.  Also you could call the “breakdown” at 2:07 a bridge if you wanted, but I didn’t do this just so as to differentiate it more from what happens at 1:49 and 2:42.

In summary neither of you are correct, but she got a little closer.  Perhaps you don’t owe her lunch but maybe buy her a cookie or something.

Oppa! I have a question! I’ve been wondering with the change of charting times, it’s obvious that this will affect the time of release of most songs (from midnight to that noon till 6 window). This in its turn will most likely affect idol groups, primarily nugus.   However, do you think it will affect the quality of the music itself? E.g. would idol groups start releasing music that veers closer to genres that are more popular with the general public or will they be forced to get extra creative & start producing good songs?  Or do you think they will take a completely different route? I’m curious because no one else seems to talk about it since all everyone really cares abt are abs, tits and meaningless music show awards; and you are usually right in your predictions about the future. Thank you!

I don’t think much will change in terms of the actual music, I don’t see any direct correlation here.  I also don’t think much will change in terms of the behaviours of the industry and fans, they’ll just move their craziness to the designated timeslot and it will be business as usual.  In my opinion the decision to move the chart times was more to give the appearance of “really doing something” about fandom domination of charts to shut up the critics, rather than any real resolve to actually change the current situation.  Which is how a lot of actions to resolve issues in the Korean media work.

Isnt the general consensus that this era is the 3rd gen? With the previous being the 2.5 with groups like infinite, sistar, miss a , etc? I think the shift sarted with EXO in 2013, a phenomenon that haven’t been seen since HOT times, they were catching up, getting compared, named with their sunbaes and breaking records in a spontaneous way, I mean, it just happened suddenly and they had a big impact on the kpop scene.I believe this unexpected success made all 2 and 2.5 gen fans wary and mad (kpop fan way),those generatios were like a closed group that no one else was allowed to enter and worked in perfect synergy lol. Before each group had their time to shine since there were not much competition: fewer groups and there weren’t many overlapping comebacks like happens now. I think exo in that time kind of took one for the team (for the next generation groups) they got immensely hated for this (still some huge chunk of those people cant get over it) and tbh a lot had to do with resentment imo: apart from what exo created is more of what they represented (a new era) that fueled their anger and fear for the groups they liked. My impression is that those people poured their negative feelings to exo, ‘the ones who started it all’ so now they can calmly accept the newer groups, it doesn’t matter anymore how fast they succed or whatever. Even the newer generation groups are expecting them to fall/fail from the top and make room for others.  So in 2013 and the next year new groups rised: AOA,EXID,WINNER, etc marking the first step toward the generational shift and is ‘consolidated’ now with groups like got7, seventeen, twice, girlfriend ,etc.I put EXO as the starter/leader of 3rd gen because of the huge impact they had but it was along with other groups (as I said) like AOA and EXID that changed the dynamics of the new gen. Exo feels to me like they’re in the middle, some kind of limbo in this whole kpop generations? What they achieved is matched with the older gens and ‘draw a line’ for them and feel like they’re from the 2nd gen, mainly because they’re the senior group here and they’ve become a reference for the newer groups as well. But also along with Twice they have a long path to walk still. Ps: I started to listen to kpop in 2006 and I like groups from that and this era and I think maybe this transition was abrupt? That’s why there so much drama and hardcore feelings about this..I mean the 2nd and 2.5 got fusioned smoothly! Lastly I didnt mean to mention exo that much but Its impossible to talk about this without constantly mentioning them

I don’t follow this really.  I mean, I don’t understand why the obsession over “generations” and where the line is drawn.  Who cares?  You could arbitrarily draw these lines anywhere you choose.  If I were personally going to draw some lines they would be:

1st gen – idol k-pop starts existing and is pretty fucking poor overall

2nd gen – 2008 and the start of the “golden age“, k-pop catches up/surpasses western sonic/visual production values

now – a lot of 2nd gen hitmaking groups dying off/less active

However you could come up with something different and that wouldn’t necessarily be incorrect.  I also don’t really know or care to know much about fan opinion and how that plays into it.  I don’t care about any of this really.  It doesn’t matter to me which group is where, what matters to me is that songs come out that continue to get allocated to groups.  There’s a good chance that many songwriters who wrote for 1st/2nd/whatever gen groups are now still writing for “new” groups, and it’s the songwriters that makes the musical difference, not whichever crew of young boys or girls is doing the dances and mouthing along to the heavily processed voices.

Hello! I’m thinking my “question,” will probably end up in a qrimole post so I hope you post soon! I’m in a unique position where I have a friend who’s a trainee under a pretty huge ent company’s training program for people who are trying to be accepted into agencies as official trainees. She has a teacher who worked for several large company names that are def household brands for kpop consumers (sorry for being vague it’s for my friend), who for some reason will occasionally tell her trusted students some insider industry gossip. This time she told my friend who told me about T-ara, and how T-ara actually did bully Hwayoung. She also has a friend who has a friend who is a trainee in Woolim, and says the Jisoo rumors are true. I’m confused because all available evidence points in opposite directions for both these scandals, with staff members having previously come out in defense of both T-ara and Jisoo in their perspective scandals. I didn’t really care much about the scandals until my friend told me that they were true (although that hasn’t stopped me from listening to lovelyz or T-ara), but now I’m curious: is it often within the industry the insiders take separate positions when scandals like this occur? All the evidence shows T-ara and Jisoo took more fault then they should have, but the people who are in the industry are saying that their scandals are true. Are industry insiders always to be trusted? Or is it always going to be a he said she said situation where everyone has different perspectives and beliefs and that forms whose side they decide to stand on? I’m not sure whether to trust the primary info I receive or not, and I don’t really think I care, but it has been perplexing to think about. What do you think? I hope I can see this answered soon.  Since I’m really quite curious on your thoughts. Kpopalypse hwaiting or whatever lol

You primary source isn’t very primary to say the least.  You have “a friend who has a teacher who has a second friend who has a third friend who”, oh lord.  There’s less degrees of separation between me and the Waffen SS than there is between that person and anyone in k-pop, and I have no idea where the Nazi gold is.  But yeah industry insiders can’t always be trusted, because humans in general can’t always be trusted, so that’s why people who decide that they care need to investigate any accounts PROPERLY (without confirmation bias) and match multiple accounts, really look into things, not just click the first thing they see online that they agree with.  In the T-ara situation however you’ve got a very, VERY broad consensus among industry insiders that the “bullying” didn’t happen and that Hwayoung was just a lazy bitch who was misbehaving all over the place and the other members were just being a bit “come on you lazy hoe get with the program and stop letting the team down ffs” as they rightly should – and what people saw on Twitter was just an extension of that process.  So to summarise – do I trust one industry insider account?  No.  Do I trust a couple dozen of them all from independent sources with no vested interests and nothing to gain, when they all completely correlate and match up to the little details perfectly?  Yes.

This guy here goes over the 8 most important things to practice for Guitar. However, he doesn’t mention ear training (vaguely) and also criticizes against learning songs. But when people ask u to play something and you just play them a scale? That’s boring.  So my question regarding this teacher is if he’s correct in removing practicing song covers (weird in todays Youtube age) and no mention of ear practice. This guy sells a program of how to practice w/no actual lesson $67 but has no reviews, I really have no idea if its any good.  Just as you’re a guitar teacher, u can tell who’s a scam artist or not. Without reviews, I can’t tell if his product is good. Who else makes a “how to get the most efficient practices” guides?  Oh and here’s his website. He currently discounted his product to $47 and has reviews but only ones on his own site (which can b faked) it looks like of those typical commercial site that u get a shit product, but still not sure.  But his 6th thing he mentions practicing is Rhythm. Isn’t practicing songs a great and fun way to do it? The people i’ve seen progress fastest were ones who did this as practice and didn’t get bored. Which I’m worried this teacher might be boring.

What I’d say is that there’s no “one size fits all” approach to teaching guitar.  His methods probably do work, IF that’s what you need.  If you’re in that stage of your playing where you know a bunch of songs but don’t really udnerstand how things “fit together” he could be really useful.  However I would highly recommend to any student learning songs over learning scales at least at first, because songs are more the real-world practical application of guitar, whereas a scale is useless if you don’t know how to apply it, and there’s also not huge demand for learning guitar solos – you can get that knowledge later.  Part of the reason why learning songs is so important is precisely because that’s where you’ll learn the rhythm aspect.  Rhythm guitar is much more important than lead guitar.  Bad lead guitar players can still get by on basic rhythm and doing simple stuff until they learn but a bad rhythm guitar player is incredibly crippling in any kind of band environment.  The other reason why learning songs is important is that songs are fun, and while certain technical exercises may get results, if it kills the fun of the guitar to the point where you don’t want to play anymore, then there’s literally no point in doing them.  Unless you’re already a working musician who needs to cram for something important, prioritise what you enjoy, and what makes sense to you in the real world.

Recently, there was a scandal to do with Pewdiepie making anti-Semitic jokes in his videos, which started from one video and article from the Wall Street Journal which ended up blowing up on other news sites. Turns out that it is just like the situation that happened to T-ara, in that everything has been taken out of context, and people aren’t looking at the actual evidence. Furthermore, even though he made an apology video, the news took that out of context and used a screenshot of his middle finger and a sensational title as a reply. Why is it that this situation and the sequence od events that it occurs in happens so similarly throughout the entertainment industry? Most reputation scandals I see follow the T-ara timeline to some extent.

It’s a symptom of the way people consume media these days.  I touched on this in my Tzuyu fanfic, but if you couldn’t be bothered reading it, you can click on the following video which someone brought to my attention soon after I published that post, which talks about many of the same things.  Enjoy!

I have decided also to implement a QRIMOLE question box, for those of you who like to ask very long questions and get fed up with being constricted by ask.fm’s question character limit and filtering/censorship.  I don’t know what the character limit is for this box but I know from experience doing previous surveys in the past that it’s at least a few thousand characters and you won’t run out.  Feel free to test!

That’s all for this edition of QRIMOLE!  Keep asking those tricky/long-ass questions and your answer may appear here in the future!

3 thoughts on “QRIMOLE Episode 7: questions resulting in more overly long essays

  1. Pingback: The KPOPALYPSE article index | KPOPALYPSE

  2. The WSJ article didn’t misrepresent what Pewdiepie said or did. His response apology showed that he either didn’t read the article (I can understand; it’s behind a paywall) or was intentionally misleading his audience as to it’s contents. Either way, I can’t feel sympathy for that guy (not that he needs it from me).

  3. Just to respond to that guy who’s shy and frustrated that some girl doesn’t listen to his recommendations. I felt in the same boat, just a week ago, when I started conversing with two women who do kpop reaction videos. It was fun at first, we found areas of agreement, and I liked both of them personally, but then they did a top ten songs of the year post, and I saw that they loved the boy groups to death, but barely heard any girl groups, which are my weakness. In short, I’ve noticed a lot that women love the boy groups, and we guys tend to like the girls, it’s completely normal, but expecting them to like what you like? Forget it. They’re like an alien species that way. 🙂

Comments are closed.