QRIMOLE Episode 9: any Qrimole is a goal

It’s the return of QRIMOLE!  Time for more questions from Kpopalypse readers!

Thanks to all the people who have been dropping questions for the QRIMOLE series!  Remember that the QRIMOLE question box is always the best way to submit questions – you can still use ask.fm but it does censor a lot of content (seemingly almost-randomly) and you may be robbed of an answer for this reason.  The QRIMOLE question box is in the sidebar and also at the bottom of this post.  For now let’s get to this episode’s questions!

How do you get most of your K-pop? Do you tend to buy physical albums, rely on iTunes or another source? I’ve found it frustrating at times that nugu groups’ songs (and sometimes even major kpop hits) aren’t always available to download in my country, but CDs can be slow with shipping or non-existent for digital only singles.

I get stuff the same ways most other people get it.  Also because I work at a radio station I do get sent free stuff quite a lot, which is why I’m always giving things away on the radio, I actually need to clear room in my house!  If you’re finding geoblocks are an issue, I’d consider a VPN.

Why would a company spend budget on a double a-side comeback when they easily have that material for two comebacks? Example: SNSD with Lion Heart/You Think, or AOA with Excuse Me/Bing Bing? It’s good for fans but I don’t understand the managing logic in that.

A double release tends to really get people talking, and can really overshadow everything else that’s going on that week in terms of hype.  Double the excitement, right?  Also there’s a chance that if people don’t like one song they’ll like the other.  AOA is a good example, “Bing Bing” didn’t do that well but “Excuse Me” was more popular.  The aim is, as always, not necessarily to sell the songs as the endgame but rather to make an impression.  It’s twice as expensive but you’re also doubling your chances of a positive outcome.

Hi Kpopalypse! Long-time reader here. I found your site relatively early getting into Kpop which really helped me avoid the delulu stage of Kpop fandom and I was hoping you could help me get some perspective on this problem as I grow increasingly cynical about the genre:

We’re learning “critical thinking” in my gov. class to evaluate news stories and information, and one of the points my teacher constantly pushes is that it’s good to have discussion with dissenting viewpoints. In the case of Kpop though, I feel like discussion just makes everyone dumber. For example, with Amber’s Instagram posts complaining about SM, whether you agreed with her not, it was nothing but an Instagram post, yet I saw people from both sides arguing about the validity her complaints, with each side coming up with increasingly convoluted reasoning/assumptions about why they were right until you’d have thought she was asking her fans to petition for her contract termination (and this was even on typically reasonable sites like Asian Junkie). I realize that’s not the best example since overthinking little things is part of the problem itself, but it seems to occur large scale for scan-dols like IU and Sulli too. It’s a like a mass feedback loop where for every rebuttal, people come up with a more extreme argument for their own side, moving goal-posts until we’re arguing about the basic fundamental principles of “manners” or “company responsibility” or whatever (which also forces you to take black-and-white sides for all semi-related cases when you were only arguing for this specific idol-situation) and no one is coming off reasonable anymore.

I’m grateful to sites like yours which express dissenting opinion on a public platform (i.e. your blog), but for an average comment-netizen like me, is it even worthwhile to engage in these arguments? I don’t want people to get away with terrible logic or factually incorrect information, but I’m also sick of walking away from comment sections feeling dumber than I had entered.

(Sorry this came out more of a rant than a question)
Thanks for your time!

I agree that it’s good to have discussion with dissenting viewpoint, but the thing is – that’s not what most Internet arguments are actually about.  Arguments on the Internet seem to involve each side being more concerned about “winning” the argument, or making the other person see things their way, and especially to be seen to have won the argument – it’s more about ego than it is about knowledge and discovery.  That’s why there’s so many YouTube videos and shitty junk article sites with titles like “Watch as [person x] OWNS [people y]!!!!!” or “[Positively-described person x] SHUTS DOWN argument by [negatively-described person y]” etc, people don’t watch those videos and read those articles because they disagree with them, they watch them because it reinforces the view that they already have.  People who comment on articles seem to follow the same sort of patterns where they want to be that person who does the “shut down” or whatever.  The most boring articles to me are always “here’s a hot issue that happened, and here’s my opinion that shows I’m on side x of this issue”.  Likewise the most uninteresting type of comments on articles to me are “I’m on side x”, “I’m on side y” or “I’m with x and here’s a shutdown response to your y (or vice-versa)”.  “Shutdown” is actually an apt name for it, because the goal is to finish discussion, not to start it.  People on the Internet who comment usually don’t want to have a discussion, because they’re already convinced that they’re right anyway, they just want to covert you to their way of thinking and to be seen in public to be “right”.  Stating an opinion and then shutting down all dissenting discussion about it is the real goal for many.

This is probably the main difference between Kpopalypse and every other k-pop blogger I’ve read.  I don’t actually care if people agree with me or not or think I’m right, or a “good person” etc, whether it be about my opinions of the songs and who I like/dislike, various facets of the industry, or k-pop media, or political/social issues, etc.  That doesn’t mean that I don’t have an opinion about these things, but I’m not actively attempting to convince anybody else directly, and I’m often deliberately not even overtly stating my opinions in the articles themselves.  I just try to highlight something in a way that I think might be funny/interesting (at least to myself) and then it’s up to people to work out what it means and make up their own minds.  Maybe it resonates with them and they enjoy reading, or maybe it annoys them because they disagree with something, or maybe they enjoy the way it’s presented even if they don’t agree, or sometimes they might agree even though they don’t like the presentation.  All of these are perfectly fine.

What do you think are the reasons behind why a member is given more opportunities than others in the group? Honestly speaking, this is happening to a group I like. It has been going on for years but subtly, and people are in denial that this partiality is happening. The main reason why is that most of them are here for that member only and shut down anyone who even hints to it. You see, there is this vicious cycle in place now, where the company promotes that member more, he/she gains more fans, company sees more money-making potential in him/her, and then promotes them further. I have observed that groups who have had this happen to them have ended up disbanding, like Miss A for example. Your thoughts?

One member is probably just prettier.  When I say “prettier” what I really mean is “considered pretty by more people”, which is what “prettiness” actually means in real terms in popular culture, because it means that they’re more marketable.   If a cycle starts where one member starts getting a groundswell of support from fans, the label would be stupid to NOT capitalise on that and push that member as far as they could, it makes that member’s chance of getting income-generating work much more likely.  Realistically, not every member of a group is going to be equally popular in this way, so the company puts the group out there, watches for the reaction, and when they notice that fans start to have a liking for member X more than the others they say to themselves “right – member X has an appeal that could translate into brand value, let’s make sure we give her the lion’s share of the screen time and opportunities”.  Yes, it’s a cycle that self-perpetuates – it’s supposed to be that way.

Hi, mr. Kpopalypse! I had seen that you answered a question about sexual harassament in kpop industry and you said that is likely that our favorite idols had been through this, and I was really curious to know if is very likely that a very famous group, like BTS (just an example) had suffered harassament. I know that is not so uncommon with female trainees, but I don’t know if this happen with males trainees (’cause Korea is kinda homophobic)
PS: Sorry for my misspellings and broken english, I am an uneducated foreigner (well, at least it is in a typical american citizen imaginery) and english isn’t my first language.

People like to talk about “Korean culture” when they talk about k-pop, but what people don’t like to talk about very much is “music industry culture”.  One of the quirks of music industry culture is that many of the type of activities that would pass for sexual harrasment in almost all other workplaces are actually more or less tolerated in the music industry.  I don’t mean that people are ripping each other’s clothes off without consent necessarily, but just that in general workers are a lot more “familiar” with each other physically, in ways that would probably bother a lot of people on the outside.  I wasn’t even slightly surprised when the controversy about Infinite, Block B and B1A4 being groped backstage at Saturday Night Live came about, and yes I can 100% guarantee you that every other boy group that has ever been on that show over the last few years has been through the same ritual.  When that scandal blew up, people were amazed that someone actually took video of it and nobody felt that anything bad was happening, but from the perspective of an insider I actually have to remind myself that someone would be bothered by that and consider it a crime, because I’ve worked in the music business for so long that I’m actually a little bit desensitised to female co-workers getting a bit touchy-feely…

Hey there! Thanks for your interesting posts. I have a question. You mentioned again and again that prostitution and sexual harrasment is frequent in the entertainment industry. I believe you but I have some difficulties wrapping my head around this. How does this work? Let’s say I am rich af and desire a boy/girl from a successful group of a “big 3 company” in Korea. How would someone “buy” them for recreational purposes? Isn’t it too risky after a certain popularity is achieved, especially with the crazy fans tracking every movement of their stars? (I am sorry if this seems naive. Maybe it’s because I am asexual and really can’t imagine why anyone would bother to do this and why this would be such a huge part in the industry but to me it just seems utterly bizarre and not very logical).

I’m waiting for a brave k-pop interviewee to drop the bomb on this one so I can have proof for the things that I already know, but for now readers can choose to believe the following, or not: the grapevine tells me that the bigger companies certainly do not solicit this type of thing in any manner or form, oh gosh no, how could anyone dare suggest such a thing.  However what they may certainly do is introduce you the young k-pop star to well-connected sponsors who might be very keen to help out a young person.  You may then choose to follow up that contact to experience the nice company of the sponsor and have a polite conversation about business, however if you were to get to know each other really well, then extra activities could happen, and that money that he gave you isn’t related to those activities, that’s just a donation to help you out with your career, because he got to know her really well and he feels so close now so when you told him about how hard it is out there in showbiz to get a lucky break, his heart just bled a little so he decided to give you a few dollars.  When that happened you started to develop some feelings for this kind generous man who took sympathy on you, which you then felt compelled to act on in that very moment, with a second more intimate date, or a kiss, or a blowjob, because you felt so overwhelmed and thankful.  Get the idea?  Some people get so tied up in this narrative that they genuinely can’t even see it for what it is themselves, that’s why people who get caught for prostitution in Asian countries often say “I didn’t know that’s what it was, I just thought he was giving me money because he was a nice man, and the sex was a separate issue…”

In some agencies, they cut out the middle man and the agency is basically just pimping you out for either sex, or strip shows (male and female).  Entire agencies exist with only this purpose in mind, they don’t actually intend to “have a hit”.  You can also choose to believe this, or not.

I have another question: you deconstructed quite comprehensibly that singing isn’t really the most important ability for a (kpop) idol. So what do you think it is that makes a successful/popular idol? Do you think there are specific traits that make it more likely to be successful?

Thanks and have a nice day!

Look attractive in that Korean way.  Be photogenic and come across well on camera.  Have a personality that works well on TV.  The rest can be trained, or faked (especially in a large group with lots of others to cover for you).

What do you think the function of a video such as this is?  Fanservice is part of it, but there’s another function too – the girls are learning to have “personalities” on camera.  How much of it is “real” or “fake” is besides the point, because the answer to that question really doesn’t matter, what matters is that someone might like the result.

Hello! I’ve been a reader of your blog for quite a while now and it opened my eyes more than NCT’s 7th sense or whatever. Thanks to you, I know that live vocals aren’t as “live” as kpop fans like to believe, and that the chance of it actually being live live is really low. So here’s my question: one of the rules in the Eurovision Song Contest explicitly state that the singers have to sing live. Because of this, some contestants use “hidden vocals”, as in people who are not the listed singers, but still sing for Ultimate Live Quality, like this performance:

On the other hand, there are performances where the singer goes out of breath, like this one:

But I don’t buy it: I think most of the singers still sing with a MR recording. But what do you think? Is it plausible that most contestants actually sing live in such a huge event?

I know Eurovision has the “everyone must sing live” rule, however I’ve never understood why, after all it’s a song contest, not a singing contest, so why should it matter?  Whether it’s live or pre-recorded/whatever doesn’t change the content of the song itself.  I don’t have time to trawl through all the Eurovisions and try to figure it out as it’s not something I really follow, but what I will say is while I’m inclined to believe that singers on Eurovision do sing live just because of the reputation that Eurovision has (and the massive fallout for the event that would result if people were found to be breaking the rules), it’s also true that you can “sing live” and still “cheat” at the same time by having ghost vocalists, samples or Autotune.  It’s quite possible therefore to participate with altered vocals while still technically keeping in with the rules of the contest.

Most K-pop songs I’ve heard seem to be remakes of Western pop songs. Recently there’s been Gugudan’s remake of “Fergalicious,” Oh My Girl’s remake of Little Mix’s “Wings,” and Gfriend’s “Navillera” being a take on Bananarama’s “I Heard a Rumour.” I was wondering what was your favorite and least favorite Kpop remake and which song(s) would you want Kpop producers to revamp.

K-pop remaking western songs is so common, as you point out, that there’s not even any point to the first part of your question.  You might as well just ask “what’s your favourite and least favourite k-pop songs?” as this is essentially the same question because everything in k-pop is a remake of something.  However as for remakes I’d like to see, that’s another issue, but here’s one that I think would work well for almost any k-pop group:

You up for sexual

I’m taken.  Get in the queue.

Should I write a kpop blog? Do you have any tips?

No, don’t do it!  But if you absolutely must, the #1 thing is to be original.  I didn’t start writing anything decent until I found a way to write in a way that reflected myself and not something else.  Don’t try to write like me – or like anyone else for that matter.  Find your own voice.

hello, my favorite oppar! ^-^
you’ve said multiple times that there were lots of gay and bisexual people in the music industry.
considering that s.korea is a very very homophobic country and highly conservative, do you think gay and bisexual idols are out about their sexuality within the industry, or are they more likely to be completely closeted? i know there is no way to know 100% but you probably have some opinions. thank you!

I imagine they’re probably pretty closeted with all but trusted insiders.  There’s simply nothing to gain from coming out in that context, so why would they do it.  However I’m sure the maid who cleans BTS or Seventeen’s dorms keeps finding condoms or whatever so there would be a small circle of people who know the truth about certain idols.  Once again, the music industry has its own culture which doesn’t always reflect the culture of the country in which the industry is situated.  People in entertainment are generally not quite as homophobic as society at large, because of the very long list of homosexual and bisexual performers who have achieved great notoriety, there’s a large precedent for non-straight people being in the business.

I’m not surprised by your answer regarding Americans being offended by blackface, but I don’t think it was a very thoughtful answer. Kpop uses American culture to a huge extent. American music styles, American fashion, American symbols, American slang, etc. etc., so it makes sense Americans would feel offended when words or images are misused. Zico’s Tough Cookie video is a prime example. He’s a rapper (Black American music), wearing black American styles, then adds a Confederate flag into the mix. To most Americans, but especially black Americans, a symbol of hate just about as bad as Nazi symbols. It’s associated with white power to the same extent. And Americans shouldn’t be offended because he’s not American? Maybe if he’s going to appropriate to that extent he should make a little effort to learn. It’s interesting that after BTS did their reality show, American Hip-hop Life, they dropped a lot of styling and hip-hop centric concepts. For the random Kpop group that does something Americans would find offensive in Korea, yeah, whatever, I agree with you. Those groups that make very heavy use of American culture and/or want to make it in America deserve the criticism.

Of course k-pop is very American, in fact all modern global music is very American.  Rock, pop and R&B were all originally black American music too (but nobody talks about this when a new rock song becomes a hit, funny that).  People in other countries copy American culture because it gets pushed onto them constantly by TV, the Internet, etc. as something “cool”.  That’s the real cultural appropriation in the world today – Americans culture being exported to other countries to the point where you literally can’t fucking get away from it and it starts diluting the culture of everywhere else who then reflect it back, so naturally Americans are going to start picking up some of these “distorted reflections” of their own culture.  The 1960s “British Invasion” was one example, and the entire idol k-pop world is another.  Just to take one facet from above – when I was Zico’s age I personally had no fucking idea about the confederate flag and what it meant, in fact I didn’t even know that it was called “the confederate flag”, I just thought it was “some old flag that the USA had before they got the one that they have now”.  In Australia people tend to slap the confederate flag on things when they want to evoke a “1950s Southern Americana” vibe, so you see it on fashion and cosmetic products marketed to the rockabilly crowd, for instance.  It’s not widely understood as a racist symbol and in fact only a minority of people here would know any of the history behind it at all other than “it has something to do with the Civil War, right?”  I understand that it has a racist meaning in the USA (at least to some) but here it simply doesn’t have that same level of gravitas even by people who do understand the history behind it, it’s definitely not seen in the same sort of light as the Nazi swastika where there’s a near-universal recognition that it’s a racial hate symbol.  It’s just “cute/badass Americana decoration” to most people where I live and is actually used in a kind of “vintage kitsch” context – Zico could have easily bought that jacket in Australia off the rack in a rockabilly fashion store, as-is.  Yes, you could argue that k-pop idols probably should research American cultural aspects if they’re trying to crack the American market and I definitely agree with that argument (as I already mentioned in the last QRIMOLE, something which gets of course glossed over by people trying to build a strawman of me to tear down), but then idols “should” do a lot of things.  It doesn’t mean you can realistically expect that it’s gonna happen.  Do you think that the companies give a fuck about this – or anything?  Most idols are lucky if they even get three square meals per day or a day off once a month, if agencies can’t even get that kind of really basic shit right, you can bet that overseas cultural education is way, way, way down low on their list of priorities.  Is it right?  Well, that’s between you and your own personal ethics.  My goal with this blog isn’t to moralise, I don’t care so much about what’s right and wrong, I care more about what’s true and false.

After reading your article on Ladies Code and the tragic accident that happened, I remembered how “fans” went through the effort of getting their song to number one… People always complain that the only way to achieve success as an idol is through a big company yet they were able to get that #1 for Ladies Code who were relatively unknown before the accident. Its such a shame that it took the lives of two individuals for people to ever give a damn about putting in the effort to make sure an unknown group can achieve success and even then that success was very short lived once the accident was forgotten only proving how much people pretend to care about things because its trendy to. If anything its way more insulting to the deceased that people pretended to care so much about them only to forget they ever existed. Back on the topic of being a successful idol group, I’m sure how big a company is can give groups a head start, but people dismiss trying to put in effort to help their favourite not-so-popular group because its just too much work. I wouldn’t have given a damn whether or not they did if it weren’t for the mouth breathers that whine about how their group is underrated and deserves more success. If you’re going to pirate your favourite group’s songs without ever buying them and/or doing anything else in addition to support then, at least don’t complain about how they aren’t popular when you’re the reason they aren’t. I myself do pirate music before buying it because I learned from metal album previews that just because one part of a song sounds good doesnt guarantee that it’ll actually be good. On a less related note, it shocks me how much Korean fans do to support their idols… buying expensive ass merchandise with $30 expensive albums and then spending all night streaming songs on Melon whereas it seems in the west you don’t have to do all of that for a singer to get popular. With my favourite metal bands I just worry about buying their cds as soon as possible when they’re released (while making sure I’m getting my money’s worth and not paying for shitty music). In addition, it seems like with the music industry, buying music way later after it’s released doesn’t provide much benefit for the artist. I don’t know if its true or not but if it is, then I think thats what seperates the music industry from say the software industry where no matter when you buy the software it still benefits the software engineers because there’s no billboard 100 for software.. idk these are just a bunch of my thoughts jumbled up into one post

Ladies Code – agreed.  The “fans” weren’t anything of the sort.

Music piracy – don’t worry, the idols don’t see any money when you buy the music legitimately either.  Also, it doesn’t matter when you buy the music, the artist makes the same (i.e usually nothing).  Sure it matters for chart position, but chart position is only for promo, it has no real “meaning” in terms of dollar value.  An artist can get #1 on a chart and still be broke and in debt.  If you really want to support an idol, look at what they endorse and buy that.  Or if they don’t endorse anything, buy a t-shirt or something, the odds are (slightly) greater that they’ll get some money out of that.

I have a question about shows with voting. For example, with shows like produce 101 or x factor, aren’t the winners already chosen beforehand? Than why is there a voting option? What if people vote for someone who wasn’t supposed to win for example? Do the producers fake the results? Thanks!

If Brad Moore from Busker Busker is to be believed – and really, he has no reason to lie about it – this shit is all rigged.  Might be different in the west, but in Korea it seems like the winner is selected before the show has even begun.  It becomes really obvious when you have situations where the artist that resonates with the public isn’t the one who wins, because whoever was planning the show didn’t forsee that someone unexpected would have a breakout hit or go over better with the audience than the preordained “winner”, and it’s too late to “change the script”.  The classic example being Truedy winning Unpretty Rapstar 2, and Busker Busker would be another example of this.  Shows like this will always say that it’s a combination of voting and judges, so that way they can base it off voting primarily if they want but still have the flexibility to twist things if the votes don’t go their way.

I have accepted that almost all groups lip sync over their pre-recorded ‘live’ voice, but then this happened:

and i’m confused. Are they really singing live? If not, what happened? Can you please explain? Thanks Kpopalypse.

Red Velvet in this video ARE singing live – over a “karaoke mix” of their own song, with the vocals still there on the recording, but shoved into the background.  So essentially they’re singing along to their own voice.  This is a pretty normal setup for Korean music TV shows, as it satisfies the “yes they are really singing” complainers but also allows their voices to be boosted a bit and guided a bit by the voice on the recording, which is useful especially for upbeat songs like this as it’s not easy to sing perfectly and do an energetic, precise dance like the ones in k-pop at the same time.  This is the whole reason why the stupid “MR Removed” fad exists – to try and separate out the live vocals from the vocals on the backing track, to determine how good the signing is (a task which MR Removed software is actually unsuited for and completely fails at, but that’s another story).  For some reason one of the girls has a headset microphone failure and during those times, you can still hear her voice on the backing track although you can’t hear her live voice.  Then someone hands her a microphone and the problem is sorted.

Is it easy to make one person sound like another when processing it? Like is it a simple press of a button or is there more work involved.

Depends on why, and who you’re trying to make sound like who.  If we’re talking about k-pop it’s usually piss easy as the vast majority of performers are trained to sound the same anyway.  I’ll talk more about why in part 3 of The V Files – coming soon!

Hi oppar. So a few days ago I watched a show w/ Somi in it, and at 1 point she said that she lost her confidence cause the producers and stuff said that her voice stood out from others. nvm if the confidence part is true, is there anything bad about having a different voice for a GG member?

It reduces options when mixing, and when getting girls to cover each others’ parts.  The “vocal soup” that I talked about in the previous QRIMOLE is harder to make if you have a really distinctive voice that stands out.  Most k-pop producers want all their singers to sound pretty much the same, so that way they can chop and change them as necessary.  If nobody is unique, then nobody is irreplaceable.

so in your description it says that you are an audio engineer…well, what’s the secret to mixing vocal ? is it “bass+treble boost->compression->reverbation” ? or am I totally fucking wrong ?

For pop music, more like compression > more compression > reverb > aural excitation > let’s compress it even more if we can > yay more compression > have we compressed it yet, well let’s do it again.  Equalising the voice isn’t quite as common, you’d almost never boost the bass, you actually want to remove lumpy bass frequencies from the voice if you can.  Unless you’re Barry White or Leonard Cohen, someone with that type of delivery, boosted bass isn’t welcome on vocals, save it for the backings.

How do you feel how Death metal has evolved? The lyrics are far removed from anything “Death” metal n any girl group could sing these lyrics. Actually the entire composition could be covered by T-ara but it seems the diehard death metal community hasn’t hashed many complaints about the really pop structure and pop lyrics into the band. In fact, YouTube comments suggest they’re too busy fapping to a rare female death metal singer to notice.  So would u rather them stick to atonal scales (like most death metal) or keep on their diatonic, Mozart and pop structure? FYI Michael Amott heads AE and wrote 3 of Carcass biggest albums.

I’m not really much of a fan of Arch Enemy, to me they sound like a natural evolution of where Carcass was going at the end of their career, i.e softer and softer, more rock with a death metal veneer.  Having said that, if a Korean group came out with this I’d still be impressed, and while I’m not a huge fan of this stuff I certainly don’t hate it, it’s still better than what Korea does in this style, but to me making this death metal seems like a wasted opportunity to have a melody in the vocal, as the rest of the music is so melodic anyway that I feel like they might as well capitalise on that.  Lyrically, all styles of music have their love songs, or heartbreak songs or whatever, it’s actually a sign of the style maturing that they’re tackling the same lyrical themes that you hear in other music instead of the “I chopped off your head while worshipping Satan” type thing, which I enjoy but it gets a bit old hat when everybody does it at once.  When styles are new they tend to have a different lyrical focus but as time goes on and they get absorbed into the mainstream, then the mainstream lyrical influences come with that, the same thing happened with rap music, country music etc.  I’m fine with it.  I’m also fine with the singer’s “metal poses while singing but not holding a microphone” visual style in general, she could teach k-pop idols a few things about boobs harnessing.  Not only does she look great to me, she probably looks great to metal fans in general of both genders for all types of reasons – having such a strong female presence in a band has got to be inspiring for women who are into this music and see themselves wanting to do their own bands, I reckon it would mean a lot more to them than some bullshit politically-correct website banging on about how everything “triggers” them.

So I’m fine with the above even if it’s not my favourite thing.  The evolution of metal that really irks me is a lot of the metalcore stuff where they just sort of sit there playing one fucking chord over and over in some weird-ass over-complicated rhythm and maybe the odd pinch harmonic to punctuate it, that’s really boring.  I like heaviness but I also like some actual riffs.  At least Arch Enemy have some song structure that you can get into and some decent guitar parts where they don’t just play one chord over and over.

I’m 1 of the guys who bugs u a lot about guitar stuff. I waited 3.5 mos n saved 4 the exact guitar i want. I was able to get a $999 LTD JH-600 / $425 from a collector on Ebay. He basically just bought it postmortem Jeff Hanneman n put it in the closet!  So basically I got premium guitar for a Beginner II price. All I had to do was adjust the truss rod, and it’s mint. So anyways on www.songsterr.com is there any beginner gold era Kpop songs u could point me out to learn? I can already strum thru Seasons in the Abyss minus the leads

Oh, the reason I got it at a low price because the seller didn’t list the item w/ the model name. He just put “ESP JEFF HANNEMAN” in which the real sig model is $5000, anyone looking for that will skip over the LTD model. I can’t say theres any real difference.

I just remembered I bugged u once about tuning. The cool thing is the Kahler bridge has a lock on it so u can make it FIXED while u tune the guitar OR keep it there if u want. You’re able to whammy unlocked. So easy, every guitar should have one.

Kpopalypse tabs will return soon!  I’ve moved house recently and I’ve had to set up my audio stuff again, I’m having a few weird issues where the videos aren’t recording the way I want, it’s really frustrating actually but I’ll sort it eventually.  But I promise I’ll give you more stuff to learn soon.  I wouldn’t know about other websites and what they do, I’m sure there are k-pop tabs out there somewhere.

I used to own a Japanese made Kahler-bridge Fender Strat that I bought in the early 90s.  The locking nut was a pain in the ass, I’d constantly snap the metal locking bolts in half while bending strings.  I just left them off in the end, and eventually traded the guitar in for another Fender Stratocaster, a USA one this time, that I didn’t end up liking much more.  Maybe their bridges have improved since I owned one, I hope so.

Also, use the QRIMOLE question box, cheers.  Don’t use ask.fm, you’re lucky if half your questions doesn’t come through censored what with the stupid filtering that they use.

Thanks for answering my Qrimole about Overwatch. I think I forgot 1 major detail & u put it straight that the game has no singleplayer story, and no hope (but we have seasonal Story like missions) ANYWAYS, I’m 100% sure u will LOVE MEI. She’s so balanced + effective that most ppl assume she’s [Kpopalypse note – part of the question missing here, probably due to it being asked on ask.fm].  Most heroes are always getting nerfed for balance and people cry nerf on Mei every time but she gets nothing. Her whole kit was designed 2 troll ppl. Also she caused an uproar to SJW’s since she’s not really fat, but has a thin waist but curvy body like a gravure model.  I mean for Mei, that her North Pole winter suit is super thick, so it reveals a thinner person underneath. Don’t worry, she has fat in all right places , massive (TnA) which Sjws cried to decrease.. Hope to c u in game sometime and thanks for putting a better perspective on it

You’re welcome.  I still haven’t played the game cos I looked into it and it’s something like $90 and I’m not rich enough to justify spending that kind of money on a computer game that I probably don’t even have the reflexes for, especially when I can play League Of Legends and lose just as badly for free.

Update on the weird Metalhead tuning: So I bought the Dimebag co authored book and his tech wrote that he tunes everything then adds another quarter step down. So D# is in between E. D is in between C# actually. Mustaine he also did this 2 confuse ppl trying to learn his songs.  Then James Hetfield said they tuned up a quarter step up in Ride the lighting for the same reason Dave said. I wonder why would u not want ppl to learn your songs? At least in todays world thats how stuff goes viral and gets promoted.  Dave Mustaine is a funny guy. I read another interview later that said he wondered why no one would always have errors tabbing his music. I guess he forgot that time he was trying to throw people off. Silly goose! As for Dimebag, he didnt put an actual reason why.

Well, these 80s metal guys didn’t exactly have their heyday in “today’s world”.  The 80s thrash groups had a kind of rivalry going on which wasn’t that different to the rivalry between k-pop agencies, I think that rather than try and stop fans from learning the songs, they were trying to make it harder for the competition to follow what they were doing and copy riffs.  In the early/mid 80s people were usually working off cruddy cassette copies to do transcriptions, and you could never be sure that a tuning error wasn’t your tape deck running at the wrong speed or you having left the tape in the glove box of your car for too long.

It’s kinda late to say this, but thank you for answering my question about ‘dynamic subtlety’ in QRIMOLE episode 6.

Anyways, from a production standpoint, does dynamic range really affect the quality of the songs? If so, on what genre? Since pop songs generally have very limited dynamic range, would some of them benefit from having wide dynamic range? Sorry if my questions seems vague.

Generally, pop music doesn’t have wide dynamic range because large amounts of dynamics don’t suit pop material.  If you’re working with a pop format you don’t have much time to get loud and soft, and softness usually just means “difficulty to be heard properly”.  The most well-known examples of pop music changing dynamic range are probably all those Nirvana and Pixies songs with the quiet verses and the loud choruses, but even then the change is only in the order of a few dB and the vocals are still really prominent in all sections.  If you want an example of a music style where dynamic range is more effective, classical music is one.  Post-rock music is another.

In post-rock high dynamics are fairly normal and very much part of the style.  Whether this means increased quality is subjective, but it’s certainly a different listening experience to pop music.

I was reading an interview of a singer from my land and she mentioned that she spent about 12000$ for 27 unreleased (at the moment) songs. That made me think about your songwriting article where you said that songwriters make less money than we all think. Is this only for K-pop? If it’s not so, what’s the main reason that those songs cost a lot?

$12000 divided by 27 = $444.44 per song.  That’s actually virtually nothing, when you consider how much a popular song is capable of making if it becomes a hit.  Add to this the fact that a songwriter would be extremely lucky to have someone buy 27 of their songs in one go, that doesn’t happen every year even to the best songwriters in the business.  If the songs are definitely going to flop in the marketplace, $444 per song is possibly a pretty good deal, however if one song becomes a breakout smash hit song then that songwriter is going to feel shitty having been paid only $444 for it.  That’s the gamble that songwriters make – do they settle for a little money now by selling the song off and losing rights, or no money now but the very slim possibility of a lot of money later by keeping rights to the song and collecting royalties?

What will it take to get you in bed

Well you could move out of Hollister, California for a start.  That’s roughly where you live, I found that out using the GUI I built in Visual Basic to track your IP address.

No question, just like clicking on pretty things.

Awesome.  Welcome to QRIMOLE!


You once said that Amber’s sexuality is biggest elephant in the room. how do you know? are there any hints? I thought netizens made that up just because she’s tomboy..

Not sure that you really understand the meaning of the phrase. Don’t worry I will probably discuss this issue soon because people have been asking me to write about it for a while now.

I’m anticipating to hear your opinions about Amber, mainly because she’s continuously wearing a black ring on the middle finger, which has become a sign of the asexual community

Now about me, I don’t care what sexuality u are on my FB friends, but really some of them get really ultra annoying. There’s this guy who complains about gay oppression but constantly posts pics of naked men, gay porn and his fetish for hairy guys. I block him auto friends me on Pinterest

(Pinterest w/ major privacy issues) + it seems all of my fb friends are friends on my Pinterest. I try to block his gay porn over there but it doesn’t work so I have to delete the entire acct. So question, is it fair of guys like this to complain about gay oppression? do ppl do to this 2 u?

Right, so let’s talk about f(x)’s Amber, because this has been a constant thing people have wanted me to talk about.

Amber’s sexuality is the biggest elephant in the room of k-pop.  In other words, it’s some shit that’s staring at your right in the face, that everyone is too scared to even discuss, probably out of fear of being labelled homophobic or whatever.  (This is one of the BIG problems that I have with politically correct speech by the way, it actually prevents dialogue that could advance the cause of women and minority groups from happening at all, by simply shaming and insulting people who want to make observations.  Fortunately, Kpopalypse has no shame!)  Whenever Amber is interviewed you always see the interviewers pussyfoot around the issue of her sexuality because they don’t want to cause offence to either her or the broadcasters, nobody wants to ask her anything directly about it.  For the record she’s (apparently) said that she’s straight.  However the fact that she pulls off the “tomboy look” so well, so consistently, and also that she’s never been romantically linked with anyone in particular, kind of forces her audience to think “but if she’s a lesbian, surely it would be a massive risk for her to come out in Korea’s homophobic society?  So she could still be a lesbian, right?  I mean, she looks just like one!”

I know people will say “you can’t stereotype a lesbian’s appearance like that”, and it’s true that lesbians come in all shapes and sizes just like anybody, but the reason why the short-haired masculine-dressing lesbian stereotype exists in the first place is because like it or not, that particular type of style is really common among lesbians.  Definitely not universal – but certainly far more common than it is among heterosexual women, sorry but that’s just a fucking fact, and a fact that lesbians freely acknowledge.  The style functions as a kind of dog-whistle effect between lesbians – if you want people that you want to hook up with know that you’re a lesbian, you can cut your hair shorter and wear less feminine clothing and they’re more likely to assume that you might be one and be more likely to approach you.  In other words, it’s a gaydar-enhancer.  That’s not to say straight women don’t also cut their hair short and wear boy styles… plenty do, and then often find themselves registering on lesbians’ gaydars in error!

Of course, why does it even matter if Amber is a lesbian or not?  Well the short answer for me, is that it doesn’t.  However where it may matter is for other lesbians.  Having a lesbian role-model in k-pop may be a very meaningful and powerful thing to certain fans.  Right now, that role-model doesn’t “officially” exist in k-pop, so perhaps Amber has learned to write between the lines, and perhaps lesbians (undeniably the sexual minority group most denied fanservice in k-pop) have learned to read between those same lines.  Or maybe she really is just a “tomboy” and that’s as far as it goes… and boy, if that’s true I wish her all the best but a lot of lesbian fans of f(x) are going to be secretly really disappointed.  In the meantime until we get some credible clarification here (i.e Amber walks the talk in public and is caught running from her vehicle to her date’s apartment Seolhyun style) it’s an issue that I’ll occasionally highlight (usually with stupid humour) because whenever a bunch of people don’t want to talk about something directly, that’s always a big red cape for me to go charging through saying “let’s talk about this!”.

And yeah as for your other question, the guy totally can complain (although you haven’t gone into any detail about what exactly he’s complaining about so I don’t know how valid his complaint is).  You can also complain about his gay porn, if you like.  They’re two potentially completely separate issues (once again depending on the exact details of his complaint – “gay oppression” is pretty broad).  I mean, I’m sure nobody would appreciate it if I posted straight porn everywhere on this blog, for instance.  Right?  Right?

That’s all for this episode of QRIMOLE!  If you’d like to participate in the next episode of this interactive Kpopalypse question-and-answer series, feel free to drop a question below!

18 thoughts on “QRIMOLE Episode 9: any Qrimole is a goal

  1. Awesome post once again! However, there’s one thing I’ll keep disagreeing with: I still don’t think Amber is a lesbian. I’ve followed her for a while because I value her honesty (which is the main reason why she’s getting a lot of crap, too), and I’m really not getting the vibe that she’s lying when she says she’s straight, although I DO believe that the company willingly keeps it ambiguous in order to attract lesbians and tomboys alike into the f(x) fandom.

    As you said, it really doesn’t matter, but in the end I feel bad for putting a label on someone who seems to honestly be sick of getting told over and over again that she’s into girls when she really isn’t. Maybe I’m delusional. Whatever.

    • She’d be a great candidate for Kpopalypse Interview as some readers have pointed out. If she’s reading she should definitely contact me.

      • While it would certainly be interesting for tons of reasons, I think it’s actually in everyone’s best interests to keep things murky. Full disclosure is great on some things, but in this case it’s better to let all the fans be convinced that Amber is what they want her to be. Then she can do w/e she wants free of public condemnation behind closed doors.

        I really think you did a great job weighing in on this tho. I’ve always been of the “Who fucking cares what she faps to” opinion, and I think it’s likely as not that SM said “We need a tomboy for F(x)’s concept, and Amber you’re the least pretty so that’s you.” And if she can play the part and not have to be acting 24/7, so much the better.

        • Well yeah, she’d probably have to wait until the Korean entertainment industry part of her life is over, or it’d cause her issues.

  2. Re: Amber’s Sex Life

    In her podcast, the guy who was hosting with her started to remark about how long she and he had been together and got cut off with a poisonous look. If anything, she’s bi and he’s a lucky dog.

    If Amber was English and in England she’d already come out as Bi and probably get a boost from it. In Korea, I suspect the opposite is true and interviewers are being careful about it because destroying people’s careers is not a good way to “get” hot interviewees to come on their show.

    Having had two comebacks go into the tank, being ambiguously gay is the only schtick Amber has left to her until she comes up with another talent she can sell.

    Personally, I’d rather think she’s bi and fap about it than, you know, be confronted with the messy truth.

  3. I’m a 37 year old Brit (probably Kpopalyse’s oldest reader!), I’m reasonably well educated and very well read (although maybe a bit dense). How did I learn that that the Confederate flag is considered to be offensive/racist in the US? By reading about Zico’s faux pas. Didn’t have a clue before then. None whatsoever. It was just that flag from the Dukes of Hazzard, a series that I have a vague recollection of loathing as a small child. If I, a native English speaker, didn’t know about it then what chance did Zico or his coordi noona have? Even if he did ‘make an effort to learn’ it’s perfectly possible that this particular piece of knowledge would have evaded him. It evaded me for a full 37 years.

    Most non-Americans probably know more about the US than the average American knows about the rest of the world, not through superior intelligence or better education systems (as some would have you believe!), probably not even through curiosity. It’s just that our pop culture(s) are so saturated with yours that it’s virtually impossible not to pick something up at least on a superficial level, but it’s still no substitute for having lived or been educated in America.

    I agree that if Korea wants to fully exploit its soft power then the entertainment industry needs to shed some of its more parochial attitudes. Also, fans should absolutely tell Korean stars when they’ve done something considered offensive in other countries. However the ‘you should have already known this/Google exists!’ argument is at best flawed (it downplays the language barrier) and at worst downright absurd (you don’t tend to google something if any possible offence it might cause hasn’t occurred to you in the first place).

    • I forgot that fucking flag was in the Dukes Of Hazzard. I’m pretty sure I even had a replica matchbox car with the flag on it when I was a kid.

    • The flag is not hardly universally considered offensive here in the US. If you learn about the US from the internet you get a very skewed picture of what it’s like, because the people who are vocal about things on the internet are disproportionately left leaning. You aren’t hearing from all the people who aren’t offended. Why would someone pipe up on the internet to tell everyone they aren’t offended about something? You only decide to tell everyone about it if you *are* offended. So you naturally only hear one side of the argument.

      I’m not saying it’s important that you know or care about the confederate flag. But if people want to have an opinion on it… it’s better that they base them on all the facts, not just buzzfeed’s “facts”.

      As far as what the flag means… well I guess that depends on who you ask, because that’s all meaning is anyway, it’s in *your* head. You don’t know what it means to the guy who’s flying the flag any more than you know what’s on Amber’s phone screen at night as she furiously rubs her… Ok that’s far enough.

      • This is all very true. As much as I do think that a lot of the anger and upset is legitimate and justified in cases like these (really, as a white person it’s difficult for me to understand how much of a slap in the face it must be for black fans to see things that symbolise oppression being bandied about in kpop when it’s something we all look to for entertainment, escapism and comfort – even if you are willing to give the idols the benefit of the doubt and put it down to ignorance rather than malice). But let’s face it – at the very least a small portion of the outrage is just people being offended for the sake of being offended, either so that they can feel morally superior themselves or because it allows them to indulge in ‘my bias is cleaner than yours therefore I am a better person than you’ style pissing contests. I saw someone on the comments section of Asian Junkie had unearthed a clip of JYP with backing dancers in blackface. Now if I didn’t know any better I’d have thought that person sounded positively excited at the prospect of JYP potentially being labelled a racist based on a clip that was probably at least 20 years old. To his credit, I don’t think AJ ran the story.

        How do I know all this? Because I do it myself if I’m honest. My reaction upon seeing that Kim Hyun Joong had been done for drink driving wasn’t one of ‘oh I hope no-one was hurt!’ or ‘no matter what he’s done I hope he can straighten himself out and become a good role model for his child’. No, instead I thought ‘oh good. I’ve had a shit day at work and someone I didn’t like anyway has fucked up. I feel a bit better about myself now’.

        I see people using the ‘Korea is still a homogenous, insular society’ argument both to excuse ignorance and to sneer at them but let’s not pretend that racism never happens in Western entertainment. I can think of examples of blackface on the BBC (the fucking BBC!) in the last ten years (the series Little Britain for example) and we’re a nation that is every bit as ethnically diverse as the US where political correctness is taken very seriously as a means of protection (at least theoretically). I watched Sausage Party, an American film, the other day. The Arab ‘character’ had a large nose and kept spouting suicide bomber rhetoric. Now if that’s not racist then I don’t know what is….

  4. Maybe that’s one reason SM drags their feet when promoting Amber, they’re aware that a wrong step might ruin her…? It’s a shame, because Amber is really one of the most fun, sensitive, aware idols, so smart and honestly friendly; I personally think she’s a natural for Korean TV! She’s already friends with half the idols, and the life of any party. Ever since I really saw her personality, she’s been my UB, and this is coming from an older straight American male. Good luck Amber! 🙂

  5. As for the Confederate flag: back during our Civil War, it was the flag of the South, and it still represents their interests, including slavery (of black people) seen as essential for their economy. So for blacks (our biggest minority, I think) it’s a definite no-no, and it STILL (50? years after integration) flares up in the south sometimes… So it’s a long, complicated history.
    And as for kpopalypse’s oldest reader, i humbly submit 62…

    • 62? Wow. Viva ahjussi and ahjumma fans 😃
      I like Amber very much too – and Luna. Musically f(x) is my favourite kpop group. Probably one of my favourite groups ever, really.
      An interview with Amber would be great – she did one with Eat Your Kimchi. Sadly I think Kpopalypse might be a little too risque for SM though.

    • Largest minority group is hispanics. IIRC the national population makeup is ~13% black and ~16% hispanic (largely mexican). Fluctuates a couple of per cent depending on source.

  6. If an idol is dating a guy with money, it makes little difference whether he is called “boyfriend” or “sponsor”.

    • yeah but who cares? Dating/marrying/fucking someone for money sounds like a more logical answer than doing it for “Love” or some fairy tale stuff like that. It’s evolutionary incentivized. Women are made to look for men with resources, so that their young are likely to survive and eat well. Looking for a sugar daddy is biology in action, whether he’s a sugar daddy for a night, a year, or life.

  7. amber did clearly deny liking girls at least once, and said she’s into boys

    then there was another time she asked fans not to make assumptions but ofc everyone just took that as confirmation of whatever they already assumed about her, lol

Comments are closed.