That’s right folks – Kpopalypse Nugu Alert is back! Let’s take a look at some more k-pop nugus!
If there’s one thing that anyone who has been reading Kpopalypse blog for more than a few months surely knows by now, it’s that it’s tough being nugu in k-pop. My recent interview with ChoColat’s Melanie Lee may have revealed new information to some, but for many it probably just confirmed what they already knew, or at least had strongly suspected. Heightened competition within the k-pop sphere means many companies are all striving for the same small slice of the pop music pie. In such a highly competitive industry, supply of labour across the board far exceeds demand, forcing down wages and leading to an environment that inevitably breeds deceptive practices and unscrupulous behaviour. The outward image of glamour and luxury is often hiding extreme frugality and impoverished servitude just below the surface, and with the music industry globally in a precarious a situation as ever, there are no easy solutions.
New knowledge of this information naturally leads many k-pop fans to question their own ethical standards. Some may ask whether it is right or wrong to support nugu groups, or in fact any Korean idol groups at all, given the almost-guaranteed unpleasantness of many aspects of the Korean idol system. My answer to this is that if these groups are not highlighted, only one thing is certain – their levels of notoriety will not change and any difficulties that they experience will surely continue. However leveling the playing field by k-pop media and fans focusing on lesser-known k-pop groups may potentially have more positive effects. Maybe all that supporting nugu groups means is that a few more clicks go in the direction of a company and they gobble up a few extra cents and nothing changes. Or maybe it starts a dialogue about a certain group, enabling them to find more fans and become more successful. Maybe the positive feedback filters back to the group members which makes it ever-so-slightly easier for them to pursue their dreams. Maybe the mere acknowledgement that to some people nugus matter will give more young people burned by k-pop’s often-questionable business practices the courage to speak out about the inner machinations of the Korean idol system. Who can really say for sure, except the people directly involved in the creation and distribution of the groups themselves. However one thing I do know for sure as someone who works with western “nugus” frequently, is that they definitely appreciate the exposure and recognition that being highlighted in another country provides, even regardless of whether that exposure is positive or negative.
This episode of Kpopalypse Nugu Alert is focusing on brand new k-pop girl groups, who have just debuted in the last few weeks. The prospects for these groups, as for anybody entering the world of k-pop without the advantage of a large label backing them, are undoubtedly grim. However perhaps being highlighted here will lead to some positive outcomes down the track for the people involved. Let’s wish them luck on their k-pop journey!
Usual Kpopalypse Nugu Alert conditions apply:
- Less than 20,000 hits on YouTube videos
- Few international fans have been caught giving fucks about these groups
- Kpopalypse cares, just because
Baba – Funky Music
Have you ever accessed Photoshop’s “hue” filter or something similar, and moved the bar gradually from one side to the slider to the other, and stared fascinated as you watched the colours change? Well, Baba’s music video editor certainly has, as that seems to be a lot of what he spent his time doing when editing down the video for “Funky Music”. The sections here that are not against a plain backdrop with lots of software colour-cycling, are either in a film-set lounge room so hastily cobbled together that they didn’t even have time to straighten the chandelier, or down at their local night club. The blow-up silver balloons spelling out the group name in the club are actually a pretty cool budget set-dressing idea, and their prominence probably ensured that most of this group’s few thousand viewers didn’t also notice the simillarly-coloured stripper poles flanking each side of the stage area. Proceedings become even more visually busy in the last chorus where the stage is invaded by a mildly excited group of guests who are presumably the production crew plus whoever was on duty at the nightclub that evening, and of course they bring more balloons with them because balloons take up screen real-estate with vibrant colours and are cheap. It’s a shame that the music itself is a bit painful and hard to rally behind because these girls could probably really use your support.
YouTube views at time of writing: 3680
Notable attribute: probably the 18th group to have debuted in k-pop with exactly the same diamond-shaped logo
Nugu Alert rating: high
A-Seed – Shake It
A-Seed were originally a “dance performance group” who have decided to release their own k-pop song, which is unfortunately a sax-riff-driven bore just like hundreds you’ve already heard but sadly that seems to be currently the standard for the “gyrate now disband later” segment of the k-pop girl group market. (Don’t worry, I’m sure it will move over to “tropical shithouse” in a year or two once all the larger groups are finally done with that sound.) A-Seed’s company are a little bit less coy than most k-poppers about what their audience wants, taking a directorial leaf out of the book of Russ “breasts are the best special effects” Meyer, with the camera here being careful to pan across the bodies of all the A-Seed members so we don’t miss any important details. One remaining detail intrigues me however, which is the group’s logo that incorporates both male and female symbols – is this just supposed to be subtle sexual suggestion, or could they be hinting that the girls of A-Seed are in fact not all that they appear? If the latter is true then these are definitely some ladyboys that meet required standards, and maybe the substance that’s inside that briefcase that one of the girls seems to be spiking all the other girls’ drinks with is a top-secret elixir of seamless gender reassignment.
YouTube views at time of writing: 1245
Notable attribute: SM Entertainment-approved underground car park film set
Nugu Alert rating: very high
Hint – Tang Tang Tang
Fortunately, Hint’s “Tang Tang Tang” is actually really cool and much better than the other songs on offer here, with the incredibly official-sounding “StarPro Entertainment” serving up an idol-pop/trot hybrid that recalls some of the better songs from Orange Caramel. Another aspect very true to Orange Caramel’s form is the film set selection, which also seems to have been randomly chosen in a decision-making process that surely was undertaken completely separately to anything else about the entire package. The group are therefore seen incongruously dancing joyously by discarded shopping trolleys, abandoned warehouse spaces and gloomy alleyways that the director probably had to clean out all the used syringes and homeless people from before they started filming. The set dressers have thoughtfully thrown a few fluorescent lights and strobes around the place to try and brighten things up and make them look at least a little more k-pop, but there’s no disguising that these girls probably wouldn’t be caught hanging around locations like these in the dark unless they were renewing their expired Way’s Girls memberships. Let’s hope that this song does well for the girls of Hint and for their second song the company can afford to splash out on a production designer familiar with the other 80% of the colour wheel.
YouTube views at time of writing: 1017
Notable attribute: timing fuckup in the backing track during the breakdown means the singer’s vocal wank section pleasingly gets half a second shaved off
Nugu Alert rating: extreme
That’s all for this episode of Kpopalypse Nugu Alert! Hopefully you enjoyed discovering some new groups, and Kpopalypse will return with more posts soon!