QRIMOLE Episode 10: where there’s a Qri, there’s a mole

It’s the return of QRIMOLE!  Read on as Kpopalypse answers more questions from readers!

Lots and lots of questions this month, the popularity of QRIMOLE is increasing as people are using the QRIMOLE question box more!  As a result my answer length has decreased somewhat, so enjoy the following rapid-fire questions and answers!

I know you give 00000.000 fucks about award shows, but do you agree w/AJ about winning BBA is actually useless for BTS? I also agree with him, bust most of the people doesn’t (and by most of the people it means their cancerous fandom) but what I’m really curious about if it is a good marketing strategy for any future overseas advancement and would it work for CL/Ailee/whoever tries to launch a career in America or does it only work for BTS?

I really haven’t been following the whole Asian Junkie vs rabid BTS fans fight over the Billboard Awards thing at all and I had to reread his post on it to even remember what you were asking.  I guess it’s a nice thing for BTS to add to their resume, I don’t know if it’s much more than that though, as awards don’t really mean anything in real terms.  Awards mean even less than album sales, and album sales mean very little.  I don’t know about winning awards as a “marketing strategy” either, it seems like a pretty shitty strategy because the odds of not winning any given award are surely quite good, so it’s a strategy that can easily go wrong, nobody has “win award x” on their fucking marketing plan.  Anyway it’s a good bit of press I guess but I can’t bring myself to give any fucks about any part of this complete non-issue.

You once said that (or I think you’ve said that, correct me if I’m wrong) mini albums/EPs are actually more expensive to produce than the studio albums, but isn’t it the opposite? There are more songs in the studio version and the packaging quality is also better than the minis. Is it something about the marketing that I’m missing the point?

As an overall package, an album may be more expensive, but on a per song basis, mini albums are far more expensive.  I know it seems a bit incredulous (which is why variations of this question continue to appear) but this is the reality.  Points to consider:

  • Packaging quality and running length are not related by default and many mini albums have equally crazy packaging to full albums
  • In Korea both full albums and mini albums tend to have one or two feature tracks so costs for promotion here are also usually equal
  • In a studio session discounted rates often apply for higher amounts of booked time
  • Just in terms of fabrication of materials, a CD costs the same to make whether it has 15 minutes of music on it or an hour’s worth

As a result, two mini albums has a higher cost than one full album with all the same songs.  Of course none of this really matters much as the agencies aren’t really selling the songs anyway, so don’t think about this answer too hard, please.

Hi! Just wanted to say that thanks to your blog, I got to learn more about metal music and I started to love it! I only knew about Metallica (and their pop album “Metallica” lol) before I read your references in this blog and the similarity with KPop is amazing. Now I listen to Iron Maiden a lot, and I wonder if you’d suggest me some other artists you haven’t covered in this blog yet? Cheers! *thumbs up*

I find Japanese pop incredibly boring and shit but their metal is another story, and everyone should check out X Japan.

Not only are they the only consistently decent Visual Kei group, but they’re also one of the very, very few metal groups anywhere that does a decent ballad.

Really they’re world class and it’s only Japan’s insular music industry plus the fact that they tried to break through into the west at the worst possible time in the early 90s when grunge was huge and hair metal was deader than dead, that stopped them from being as big globally as they were in Japan.

Have you ever considered that Zico actually didn’t say “faggot bitch” as a compound noun, but rather “you’re such a faggot, bitch”? Maybe you had already thought about this but shoved it out of your mind because it would ruin one of your favourite k-pop catchphrases?

Yes I did consider this, but then I thought about it some more and realised that it didn’t actually matter that much, given the context that I was using the phrase in, either usage would still be satisfying.

What are your thoughts on sexual dancegroups like Bambino, Laysha, Tweety, ICIA and many more?
Sometimes they do release a single/mv but it never catches on.

What’s their endgame? Do dancecovers with little clothes long enough to be able to afford a real mv and hope it becomes big?

I think that as far as the original material groups goes it’s more a case of “well, why not?”.  Whether the girls dance to some already-popular song or their own song probably doesn’t matter that much given that these groups make most of their money at nightclub gigs, but there’s plenty of songwriters out there looking for employment so it’s more like there probably isn’t a compelling reason not to be a “k-pop group” of sorts given that half the infrastructure (hot girls who can dance in unison) is already there.  It also saves the venues having to worry about paying performance royalties to a third party for the use of Redfoo or whatever the fuck it is these girls usually dance to (not that they probably don’t try to get away without paying).  These type of groups don’t have quite as ambitious an endgame as the more mainstream idol groups, but then they don’t need to – it’s easier to make a buck in the “adult” end of the industry because tits.

Hey Kpopalypse. This isn’t really related to your content at all, but a lot of people ask personal stuff on here anyways so here goes. So basically, I’ve been going out with this person for about a month, (I’m a freshman in high school so it feels like a while to me) but they recently told me that they don’t identify as a girl anymore and is trapped somewhere in the gender spectrum. Now, I don’t totally agree with the whole “more than two genders” thing, but I never was vehement against it either. I figured if such people really felt this way and it doesn’t hurt anyone then I could easily deal with it (the majority of my school is LGBTIQXYZ freindly anyways, so me saying that this stuff is stupid would be social suicide for me). Still, I’m not sure how to deal with a genderqueer partner. Like am I gay or?????????
Plus, she keeps shoving “you shouldn’t judge people based on their privates anyways” and more SJW kind of stuff down my throat. It sucks because she was a genuine and sweet person before all this happened (well, she still is actually) and we’ve been together quite a bit, but I feel so targeted around her nowadays.
Sorry if I offend anyone with my ignorance on this topic. I’m just really confused right now. Please help oppar. Thanks!

I went out with a girl once who before me had a fairly long relationship with another woman.  Her stance on this kind of thing was “I fall in love with the person” and to her gender didn’t matter.  Now that’s nice for her of course (I guess it means more options), but that’s not for everyone.  She didn’t try to push her view on me, nor did I try to change her mind about anything, that side of our relationship worked out fine.  Really it doesn’t matter what someone identifies as, what matters is, do you see yourself with this person or not, for whatever reason.  How they identify their gender or sexuality might not be a deal-breaker but how they behave about it might be.

Personally I’m only interested in having relationships with women.  Whether they “identify as a woman” or not, I really couldn’t give a shit, as long as they actually are one.  Or, if they were trans, if they could pass as a woman that might work out okay, depending on how well they simulated female appearance, not that I’ve ever met anyone trans in the flesh who was really convincing as the opposite sex.  I’d probably be able to jack off in Blaire White’s face, but Laci Green is still hotter.

Hey, I’m just getting concerned; you posted what seems to be a righteous complaint about respecting women (which we know you do, in your own inimitable way) and now, nothing? I’ve been checking every day, and I hope to see you return soon with your normal output, …right? Hope you’re ok.

I posted the “Kpopalypse Respects Women” post mainly because the post before that was a 13000-word interview that took about 8 hours to type out and edit and I wanted a break from typing long text, so I thought I’d do what Anti Kpop-Fangirl and Asian Junkie are so good at and just make a completely lazy bullshit post with nothing in it.  I had originally intended to do a few more “Kpopalypse Respects Women” images and have a whole bunch of them in the post, maybe a dozen or so, but then I thought that the Eunjung/Hwayoung one image said so beautifully and succinctly what I wanted to say, that I didn’t feel any extra was required.  However if you’d like a taste of what else I had planned here you go:

Your Blog is nice and all but i dont appreciate the luck of Miss A…

Please admit that Touch is one of the best mini in kpop and both Fei and Suzy served solos of the year…

Go to the light and see Qrisus…

“Touch” is actually a great mini-album and I’ll never understand how the song “Touch” was a hit when Rainbow’s “Black Swan” was not.  However the Fei and Suzy solo stuff is all total bullshit.

In your top songs from kpop’s gold age post, you wrote in your paragrah on SHINee’s Lucifer, “songwriters actually write songs for the guy groups differently, usually favouring simpler harmony and pentatonic instead of diatonic melody.” Could you go more into differences between songs designed for girl groups vs boy groups? I’m also curious about songs designed for solos vs groups.

I doubt I’ll go into more difference between songs designed for male vs female groups, because the one I’ve already pointed out seems to be the only really consistent difference of worth (and even then there are plenty of exceptions).  As for songs for solo vs groups, there’s basically no difference there because the potential to utilise multiple singers for harmony vocal is almost never realised in k-pop, as k-pop isn’t a technically vocal-centric style (in fact out of all modern popular styles it’s one of the least vocal-centric).  Any k-pop idol group song can be sung by a solo artist just fine and vice versa, stuff like The Barberettes is rare.

I finished reading your v-file on vocal soups in kpop. Though I have a better understanding of kpop vocal production now, a part of me wonders why kpop producers don’t utilize all the voices of big member groups to create interesting, layered harmonies. From my limited music theory knowledge, getting lots of voices to do harmonies can cover up weak voices (as long as they don’t sound distinctly offkey) and can create richer sounds. So in a kpop group, the weaker singers could hit the easier notes, the more skilled ones could get the harder notes, and then a producer could smooth out the vocals and have lots of ways to construct layered harmonies for a more complex sound than a soup. And because lots of kpop productions throw in everything and the kitchen sink with instrumentals, I am confused on why not do experimentation with vocal harmonies instead of a soup most of the time. Do you have any guesses/insight?

When it comes to pop music, “more complex sound” definitely doesn’t usually equal “better”.  If you look at most of the pop hits throughout history, the “Bohemian Rhapsody” type songs are definitely the exception, not the rule.  Most pop songs where people try to do too much don’t end up becoming hits.  Most listeners seem to want an easy to follow melody, not complex harmony and such.  There are of course people who do like complexity in music and there are genres that cater for that, but k-pop is not (and probably never will be) one of them.

Circumstances like Red Velvet and Secret suggest that fundamental group concept changes (like from cute to sexy) is a terrible idea, but those circumstances also correlated with song quality, so do you think the concepts themselves have any significant impact on public success? As in, would changing from a cute group to a sexy group and then back hurt the group brand assuming song quality stays consistent? Or does the opposite situation happen, with groups losing out by sticking to one concept?

And kind of a follow-up, if a cute group is doing well on their current path, at what point does it make sense to “mature” them (SNSD-style)? I ask this as a Once who personally wouldn’t object to a less juvenile comeback but is lowkey sick of people whining for Twice to change concepts when it hasn’t even been two years.

As far as concept changes and the success rates of such changes, you could probably just track the charts and do the math yourself to find out how well it works.  I don’t really follow how successful groups are because I really don’t care.  I think these days concept changes are just considered normal and there’s an expectation with k-pop audiences that they’ll get differing concepts every now and again, in the same sense that people don’t expect Madonna to do the same concept twice.  Whether it’s the right decision or not commercially, I don’t know or care.

As far as “maturing” groups goes, the standard pop situation is to mature the sound and image of groups as they become more mature in age.  In the west this generally means putting them in more dressy clothes and giving them dull R&B tinged music instead of the type of music that got them famous, which is why most “mature” concepts by idol pop groups in the west are a complete failure.  Britney Spears and Madonna both flaunted the pattern by graduating to “tougher-sounding” music as they matured instead of just softer-sounding and managed to retain and build an audience that way, but usually it doesn’t work as well as this.  Korea seems more reluctant to mature their groups and would rather just disband them most of the time, unless they have a huge SNSD-style mega-popular group on their hands, and then they usually seem a bit lost with what to do.

Hi, I’ve read your post about music production before but there was only info about how to make it as a K-Pop producer and not about music production itself so…I think I can ask this. The thing is I’m developing a game, it’s one of those arcade types and I couldn’t find any bgm to add into it, so I had to compose one (unfortunately there are no decent music producers/composers in my country) I want to make a song like Livii’s Luna but I don’t really know how to do it. Do I need to take up on piano? I have 0 knowledge in piano. Garage Band seems unqualifyed too… Hope you can help (and hope you can forgive my bad English :D)

What you should invest in is a “tracker” style program, you can use these to make similar music and you don’t need a keyboard for this (a computer keyboard but not a piano keyboard).  Tracker programs build up songs in multiple simultaneous tracks by combining quantised samples, which might sound confusing but it’s actually really easy to use.  I know a guy who makes music with free tracker programs like Fruity Loops and he has no musical knowledge at all, of any type, yet he still got an international record deal out of the result because he has a good ear for the result he wants.  Having said that, music knowledge is helpful and will make the task a lot easier, but it’s actually not essential.

Have you ever thought of interviewing IAFTB/Asian Junkie. Actually while I’m thinking this, even interview the owner of Netizenbuzz. I know they aren’t idols or directly connected to kpop inside, but they are major influences on the international kpop scene and it would be nice to see their thoughts. And I mean that as outside of there website and in a different setting.

If they show interest I might interview any owners of larger blog sites, after all I interviewed Arcadey.  NB wouldn’t talk to me, surely.  Does she even talk to anyone?  She doesn’t even post editorials more than about one a year these days.  However if she was interested I would definitely interview her, but I highly doubt she’d be willing to wade too deep into Kpopalypse-tier questioning.  IATFB might be wary of exposing himself to Kpopalypse levels of trolling (perhaps a reasonable fear!) but I think he’d be game.  It might be more of a question of if he could actually be fucking bothered but if so I’d definitely talk to him if he was interested in that.  Finally, me editing his text for a change!

This is pertaining to the following video:

what type of legalities do kpop companies get into when they have their artists cover other companies songs? do you think it’s an ‘ask for forgiveness not permission’ scenario or is it cool to just use anyone’s stuff? also just thank you t-ara for this cover my lesbian heart rejoices

Your original video was deleted by the time I got to it, but I’ve put here another version of what I assume you linked.  People actually need permission to cover each other’s songs.  In this particular case I’d say that permission was pretty easy to get given that CUBE and MBK share CJE&M as their music distribution arm.  It generally only benefits both parties to have a cover done so it’s very rare that permission isn’t granted for this sort of thing (although refusals still do happen from time to time).

Do you think the high note in k-pop can have value from a musical perspective? They seem almost mandatory, and I’ve heard that there are cases, such as early T-ara songs, where someone else is doing the high note. If it’s not really showing off an artist’s ‘talent’, is it there for musical reasons? Or is it just there because then the artist can seem to show off their ‘talent’?

It’s there for musical reasons, it’s supposed to be the emotional climax of the song.  Of course most of the time when k-pop does it, it comes off more like tedious showing-off, but the intention is an emotional climax – whatever that means to you.

How common is this sort of crap in the music world?  This guy charged some German rapper a couple of hundred dollars for a beat that was basically the opening stanza of Block B’s “Toy” looped over and over again. (You can listen to the rapper’s finished product here–the song is “Megafon.”) The rapper’s basically saying they’ll need to sue him to get him to take the song down, so he’s an asshole too, but the whole weaselly “disclaimer” really gets up my nose because, hello, this guy’s selling shit illegally as well and scamming other artists to boot.

It happens all the fucking time.  I found an article for you which has some advice about this type of practice, that the German rapper should have taken heed of.  The rapper is definitely doing something illegal by releasing it.  The producer is in more of a grey area, but the disclaimer on the producer’s page should be a massive red flag to any artist buying beats off them to get their t’s crossed and their i’s dotted before they release anything.

Hi there! Following your interview and with all these questions you were answering about actors in the idol industry, I actually got curious a little bit about what’s in it for the idol. It’s obvious that for a TV show it’ll bring a good amount of viewers, but why would a company send an idol to such a gig? Is it just for exposure? I can understand for idols who are trying to break into the market and who are looking for any chance at appearing on TV, but For someone like Kai of EXO, or other idols that aren’t able to act, I can’t imagine that doing a TV drama would really get anything good for the idol since the idol is already well-known and his shitty acting would only give him a worse reputation. Is it all about the extra money in the end?

Just the exposure, really.  Ignore the “reputation” stuff – what people need to understand is that if they’re using Korean news sites and netizen gossip translation sites to ascertain people’s “reputation”, they’re getting a massively skewed picture.  All those sites are on such a ridiculously low level of credibility when it comes to how the articles and comments actually translate to what people actually think in the real world.  Sites like Allkpop are just parroting shit press releases and lame tabloid trash, whereas sites like Netizenbuzz are translating the equivalent of YouTube comments, in the sense that most people who comment on that platform do it to shitpost and half the time it’s not even a reflection of what they truly think.  It’s an eternal shame that Korean pop fans are suckered in time and time again into thinking that these sites in any way reflect the reality of how people are perceived.  So you can throw any worries about idols’ “reputation” in the fucking bin straight away, outside of a few trolls nobody gives a fucking shit.  Really.  The bottom line is that it’s just exposure to boost their profiles, and it’s definitely a good thing for the idols even if they don’t earn much from the TV show because they get their name out and buzzing.  It might mean they get noticed by someone who can sell a product using them or whatever.  A top-tier idol (say, an IU) would earn a bit from the TV show, but most would earn little.

As an audio engineer, what’s your take on the whole loudness wars thing and how it affects or doesn’t affect k-pop?

See Qrimole Episode 6, where this is covered.

Dearest oppar, this might be a funny question but how can I become a rational fangirl again? Before I came across your blog, I was a dumb, sensitive fangirl who cares too much about talent, personality and whatsoever. Thanks to your blog, I’ve managed to reflect and return with a better image. However it seems like my irrational, over-attached-to-oppars side is creeping in as I started to dislike Blackpink for no reason. And I don’t even why I hate them! Please give a piece of advice and save me from this hive-mind stupidity. Thanks. (I’m not trolling, I seriously need to get my cao-nima senses back together.)

It’s easy to hate anything that YG is involved with just as sort of a knee-jerk reflex thanks to the label’s hyper-annoying fans, but every k-pop group is in more or less the same boat.  What you’re probably actually reacting to is the label’s presentation of the group and marketing style rather than the people in the group themselves, as that’s all there really is that’s discernable.  You don’t hate Blackpink, you hate the concept of Blackpink.

Hey Kpopalypse can you tell me about concert etiquette?? I’m going to my first one soon (heavy metal and a few days later a kpop one…whew) and I just wanted to know if you had any tips that could heighten my enjoyment!!! Love your blog!!

Concert tips:

  • Don’t be fooled by appearances, metal fans are the less violent of the two.  All the shoving around etc is just a way to enjoy the music.
  • Having said that, the front and center of a metal show could be a bit rough depending on the band and venue.  If you want to get close to the band, off to one side of the stage is best.
  • Take water with you.  Also take your phone, but keep it in your pocket or bag.  Don’t film the concert and take photos like a douche.  Don’t take alcohol or drugs or you might not last the night.
  • Other than this travel as light as possible.  Keep whatever you’re taking with you strapped to you securely so you don’t lose stuff.
  • Merch is overpriced but that’s for a reason – it’s how these people make money off shows.  If you liked the group buy something.
  • Metal shows – bring earplugs for the band.  K-pop shows – bring earplugs for the fangirls.  Both can damage your hearing.

In talking about Amber in a QRIMOLE, you mentioned that lesbians are under-served in kpop in contrast to strait people and gay men. I don’t know why anti-kpop fan girl decided Momo was a lesbian, but once it happened I realized that buying in to the (totally unfounded as near as I can tell) fantasy that Momo was sexually attracted to women was… pleasant. Comforting. So I wanted to add my support for more idols who cater to lesbians!

Noted.

I’ve heard a lot about red velvet being the next fx in terms of the lack of attention they recieve from sm and being known by all but not as successful as their seniors. If I’m not wrong you said something about fx’s promotions meant to be that way. I’m not sure if it was you or someone else; if not, please ignore this msg and if you said that, then do you think red velvet’s promotions are also meant to be that way?

K-pop fans were fucking idiots the way they raved on about f(x) being “neglected” – f(x) was never meant to be as big as Girls’ Generation.  It was obviously a slightly left-of-center group concept right from the start, and what fans though was “neglect” was just different market positioning.  Every time SM bring out a group they’re trying for different market positioning, and every new idol group they do tries out a new idea.  Like f(x), Red Velvet are an experiment but the experiment is different this time.  Instead of having variation with the group’s members, the variation is with the concepts.  Red Velvet get plenty of attention from SM, you’ll notice their release schedule is pretty busy.  Yeah they’re not as successful as SNSD but that kind of success isn’t easy to duplicate, and while SNSD are still going (kind of) there’s no need for SM to duplicate it at this stage.

What should one do about anti-big3 (sm, yg, jyp) fans that claim to support ONLY nugus and by nugus , they mean Bts, Seventeen, MonstaX etc? Some of these include “I only support those who write their own songs and deeeeep lyrics” type. I know I can completely avoid them but I have this rabid desire to crack their heads open, that is to educate them, to pull them out of their dwindling minds. Do you have any ideas?

Interesting idea of “nugu” they’ve got there.  Introduce them to Kpopalypse Nugu Alert and tell them “here’s the real nugus”.  Watch what happens.  Laugh.

Is there something wrong with catchy music? Now there are some fans who think catchy songs are just trash, e.g Rookie of Red velvet.

I’ve seen people kind of “artfag” and act as if simple songs are beneath them somewhat in various genres, but for that to happen in pop music where everything is designed to be fairly simple and catchy anyway is fairly funny.  The fact is that R&B, ballads and all those other genres of pop are also trying to be catchy, they’re just failing at it.  Almost all music is trying to be catchy on some level.

Would you consider publishing an article if I send you a draft? I’m not asking if you would publish it, just if you are open to the idea of publishing it. I have toyed with the idea of making my own blog but honestly I cbf, and I only have one good article that I want to write anyways – so offering it to you seems a better option, if you are willing.

I’m open to anybody sending me anything they want.  It’s however highly unlikely that I’d publish someone else’s writing unless I could find a way to do so that would enhance rather than degrade the conceptual continuity fabric of the blog.  That’s a very “I know it when I see it” type of proposition and the chances of a random submission falling into that category are achingly slim.  However, I’m still happy to receive whatever people want to send, I just make no promises as to what I might do with it.

What the hell happened to /r/kpop to make it such a gathering place for young, teenage girls who probably spend way to much time on Tumblr and arguing for more politically correct ways of communicating on the Internet?

Pop music tends to attract a young audience, and a lot of young people are still learning the art of thinking critically.  It’s not their fault, it’s just a natural product of youth.  Of course some people are further along the development chain than others, and it doesn’t mean that older people are smarter by default or anything (I’ve met plenty of dumbasses my age) but the odds are better that someone who has lived for a greater amount of time has learned a greater amount of things.

Ok, a group doesn’t have comebacks because the members are marketable and make money through CFs and dramas and etc. But this is hardly for all members! Like, in After School they have Nana being all over the place. What about the others, who have nothing going on? They don’t have comebacks and they don’t promote individually so basically they fade to poverty?

Pretty much.  Or they’re doing other shit.  You can bet that the “other” AS members have probably been busy with something non-industry related.

Why has kpop moved away from “heavier” or “stronger” sounding female vocals? They were never prevalent, but seem exceedingly rare, now. I don’t mean unique sounding voices, just those with more “richness” to the timbre of sound versus “airiness” (like in opera classification the difference in sound between your average dramatic and a light lyric voice I guess).

Is it a stylistic choice, the age of the singers, or is it related to voice blending?

I would imagine, from what you have written on the ability to alter voices, that it would be easy to “beef up” a voice, what keeps producers from going that route?

The “slightly fey/twee high-pitched voice” is the standard for k-pop idol girls.  This is because it fits in with gender roles and it’s also undemanding vocally, so most girls can do it (or at least approximate it and have a machine or ghost singer fill in the blanks, which will suffice) with the right training.  It’s possible that music fashion will eventually change away from this, after all music fashion does go in cycles, but who knows.  Most female pop vocals have an element of this sound.

Hello! My question is based off your most recent V files post about vocal soup and such. First, as a vocalist, thanks for shedding light on vocal fakery in kpop. It’s very annoying to hear people try to objectively analyze voices on a technical angle, when with Kpop its not possible. My question was actually related to the statement where you said the orchestra in the clip you posted were miming on their instruments. This might sound dumb but how? It’s a whole orchestra? Are they just not touching their instruments? Even without mics, a whole orchestra playing can’t go unheard (or can they I don’t know with my concert experience it doesn’t seem like they could). Also, are the methods the orchestra used to fake their playing used in Kpop bands too? How often do you think kpop bands (ex: Day6, CNBlue, AOA Black, FTIsland) play live? What is your opinion of their playing when they are live from your standpoint as a musician? Thanks!

The orchestra: to be more accurate, they’re “playing” but nothing that they’re playing is in the recording that you’re hearing.  Remember that it’s a huge outdoor concert and the bigger the stage is the easier it is to get away with this kind of thing.  The sound of acoustic orchestral instruments doesn’t travel very far outdoors, especially in high wind.  Just like in most rock music videos, the people you see who are playing instruments that aren’t plugged in definitely are playing (mostly) the right notes, but the sound that you’re hearing isn’t the sound that they are making, then and there.

K-pop “bands” don’t play live very often but it depends on the setting.  On TV shows logistically “live bands” are a pain in the ass so most bands actually mime, both east and west.  More information in this post.

Do you like Nightwish? If you did, how do you compare both Nightwish strong vocal between former vocalist Tarja Turunen & their current vocalist Floor Jansen base on this live performance

Ghost Love Score: with Tarja – with Floor

I don’t like Nightwish and I’m not going to vocalfag about them (but even if I did, I still wouldn’t).  It’s bad enough that k-pop fans care about this bullshit, let’s not take it any further into other genres.  No vocalfag questions!

Have you seen the “Classical Musicians React to Kpop” videos? Why do people enjoy watching them (like me) even though we don’t understand more than half of what they are talking about. Whenever I watch them, I can’t help but think that Kpopalypse Oppar could probably explain what they are talking about… but then I realized that if I asked you to explain, it would be like asking you to write years-worth of music education in a single blog… if only I have the opportunity , time and money for such education. (I don’t coz I have a stable job that I also enjoy)… So, is it possible to expand my knowledge of music theory even if I don’t play an instrument or read musical notes? Any tips on how?

I’ve seen those videos, they are truly painful for me to watch.  I don’t like them because it’s placing classical musicians on a pedestal which I think is fucking stupid.  Classical musicians aren’t any different to pop musicians really, and most pop musicians know most of the same terms (plus a few other ones classical musicians don’t use).  If you want to expand your music theory knowledge, learning some basic keyboard/piano would be a good way to go about it, or read some music theory books, there are several…. although the theory won’t make a lot of sense without the practical part.

Reading your answers about sexual services in Kpop, I wonder if you think the opposite happens. Aside from maids, managers, etc, that for sure get their way with celebrities, do you think some idols pay for sex workers? Or accept groupies? I think it’s highly likely they do, but it amazes me none has ever come to light (except for Seungri’s scandal). How do you think they manage that?

A few may accept groupies but paid sex workers is more likely!  I’m sure it would be no effort to arrange, in a country so rife with prostitution.

This exceeded askfm character limits, but it’s not a burning question, I was just curious about that Pavarotti video. I watched it 3 times (couldn’t more than that), and I still couldn’t tell what was the clue that showed it was playback. How do you recognize this stuff? Is it like a super-power? I mean, his face was so emotive, he opened his mouth so wide and even his jaw/tongue was trembling during the high notes/shouts. And you said the orchestra was miming too? Maybe that’s where the clue is?
I understand as you said that vocal prowess is optional, can be manufactured in a studio in multiple ways and doesn’t have much value business-wise, but it still feels like a let-down when I see someone who is regarded as capable and/or talented resort to trickery like this. Doctors don’t mime operating on their patients, mechanics don’t pretend to be repairing your car, a singer should sing. Good or bad, I accept both outcomes without problems, -but why should I be duped? Doesn’t everyone dislike being lied to? At least call it what it is and don’t pretend it’s live, it’s the smallest courtesy you can give to your listeners. But until such a time will come, what are some tips on what to do/look for in order to spot a fake live? (other than the bad microphone positioning you have mentioned in the past). Thank you.
P.S. You always put a lot of effort in your QRIMOLE questions, and I’ve noticed some readers send you personal matters too, and you take them all just as seriously. I respect you a lot for that. Thank you for your time and skip this question if it’s stupid

The reason why I know that the Pavarotti video is mimed is because they admitted to it (it’s in the linked article in the post).  Otherwise, I wouldn’t have been able to tell either!  There’s so many ways to do it that sometimes even the experts can’t tell.  I could write a lengthy guide (and I still may if there’s enough interest) but it would just create pointless arguments and the fact is that you can have all the knowledge and still at the end of the day scratch your head and say “well I’m not sure” because the technology in 2017 really is that good.

In your older post “Why don’t you sound like an idol – inside vocal production,” you wrote:
“Vocalist has poor resonant notes? Use the equaliser unit in conjunction with reverb to boost the resonating frequency of the singer’s vocal cavity and create a resonance.”

However, in the first V Files Episode about “resonance,” you wrote:
because they simply don’t have chambers in their vocal tract of a length which is capable of storing and resonating a frequency anywhere in the range of the musical notes that they produce with their vocal cords.

The first statement implies that a human CAN produce resonance without the aid of electronics, but if the vocalist doesn’t have good resonance, then it can easily be added. But the second statement contradicts the first by saying that the human vocal tract is just too short to resonate a sung frequency.
To be clear, I don’t give a flying fuck about resonance or Rating Oppa’s Vocal Quality™; I’m just curious as to whether or not I’m missing something here.

Well picked, caonima!  I fucked up in the earlier post.  It should be “singer’s note”, not “singer’s vocal cavity”.  Fixed!

In your last glorious QRIMOLE piece, you talked about the importance of idols highlighting personality (you gave the example of the Dreamcatcher video on the tennis court). It seems to me that it is extremely difficult to stick out, because 99% of idol personalities are identical. Everyone seems “bright” and “fresh.” Everyone is “adorkable.” They all smile a shitload, everyone jokes around, everyone tosses around some playful shade, etc. You can watch an ep of Weekly Idol or some other variety program, and it looks and sounds like the exact same thing every week. Is it really any different than what SNSD or what some other group was doing on Intimate Note in 09 or whatever? Are they all basically told/trained to be like Korean Jennifer Lawrence/Chris Pratt types?

If you are an idol, how the hell do you differentiate yourself in that kind of environment? It seems extremely difficult.

I guess this is the six million dollar question for every idol.  It’s true that they’re all trying for the same thing, they’re all trying to be that generic “everygirlfriend” to appeal to the maximum amount of people.  Yes it would be exceptionally difficult to stick out, and that’s why so few of them do!  One could reasonably ask why there aren’t more personality types, and I guess the answer is because a certain archetype has been proven to work really well when selling soft drink or ice cream or scooters or whatever.

this is probably a stupid question but i’ve seen you mention roly poly having a double melody whats that

Two melodies happening at once.  In the song the vocals carry one melody and a synth lines carries a separate melody.  I didn’t notice it the first time I heard the song either.

Will you ever do a dog-whistle post again? I enjoyed it greatly.
I know that your goal is to get your audience thinking for themselves and not spoon-feed caonimas, yet in this case I’m at a loss how I could recognize those conceps, as I’m probably not the audience they‘re geared to.
I’m not entertained by porn or adult magazines and I’m too lazy to solely read or watch them for the purpose of deconstructing K-Pop music videos. Your post was really handy as it even incorporated your knowledge of typical elements from decades ago.
So will you write about it again or do you have tips for me to recognize typical porn concepts without actually having to wade through a lot of porn? Thank you!

Yes, the sequel “healthy porn for women” is coming.

For those who have been wondering why I’ve held onto it for so long, it’s because of Produce 101 season 2 being all-male.  I’m hoping that the series will throw out some really good examples that I can use for the post, and since Produce 101 is where the “healthy porn” line came from, it seems natural to wait a little to tie it all in.

I know there is (sadly) no clear answer to this question, but it’s about a topic which really concerns me: Why, do you think, do girlgroups get so much hate (especially Rookies)? Most of this hate seems to come from fangirls who love boygroups, but why? Why are they so invested in hating Girlgroups? Why would girls hate girls for being girls? Did you maybe already write about this topic in a post I didn’t see?

I reckon this post has the answer.

Something that I don’t understand about the diets described by Kpop idols is that they seem too low calorie. A 99lb 5’3 sedentary female should still eat approx 1000-1400 calories to maintain weight per day, which is like at least 6-7 boiled chicken breasts. I have a couple of theories: 1. They only crash diet for a few weeks/maybe even only 1-2 weeks and need to drop 5-10 lbs fast for comeback, 2. The low number of calories they eat is outweighed by alcohol consumption, 3. Entertainment companies don’t want to pay for fresh produce and thus purchase calorie-dense things like granola bars, 4. General ignorance on nutrition.

What do you think?

5. The companies don’t give a fuck as long as the girls stay stick-skinny and are willing to starve them to concentration-camp levels if necessary.  (but also a little bit of 3 and 4)

Thanks for answering my feedback regarding American criticism of racism in Kpop. It was a pretty thoughtful answer. I learned something in that I didn’t realize the confederate flag was even a thing anywhere else. I’ve never been to Australia and would have been shocked to walk into a store and see it. Just want to correct one thing — There’s not any debate in the US on whether it’s racist or not. The only people in America who say otherwise are white nationalists, and as there’s plenty of those in the US it may seem like there’s a debate when there isn’t. I say this as a white American who lives on the border of suburban and rural white America. Someone’s views on the confederate flag are the quickest way to find out if someone is a white nationalist… if they support it, you can expect the Mexicans are rapists!All muslims are terrorists! Obama was a Muslim Kenyan! to follow. I know, I’m related to some of them.

Someone commenting on an article of mine made me realise that the first time I saw it was actually on the car in The Dukes Of Hazzard.

Every and I mean every kid who was my age watched that show when we were growing up, this show was a huge hit in Australia.  None of us even gave that pattern on the roof a second thought, much less knew what it meant.  America had a civil war?  Why?  What’s a civil war?  What do you mean there were slaves?  Wow, look at that car jump!  Damn, an advert is on.  Mum, when is dinner ready?  Do I have to chop onions again, Dukes Of Hazzard is on, mum!

An agency that lucked up to have one of the hotter members of IOI, Kim Do Yeon, has announced a new group, i-Teen, with 9-10 members. Considering that Doyeon will suck all the air out of the room for attention, CF’s, Variety Shows, and such why would anyone want to be in a group with her? Their own chances for break out would seem to be lowered.

Bitches probably didn’t get much of a fuckin’ choice though.  Anyway, one well-known member in the group is probably better than none, for the sake of ALL the girls.  It’s a reason for the group to get more press.  It can’t hurt, and it might even benefit the others.  Remember when miss A first started it was all about Min until Suzy got on Dream High.

I just got an idea for your fanfiction.  [idea deleted to prevent spoilers]

I’ve been thinking the same thought!  My next fanfiction may have something to do with this.

With trap beats, reggae-lite, and tropical house dominating Western pop music, what would you guess to be the next trend in pop music?

My guess would have to be the dreaded “Trip Hop.”

Actually I doubt it, but if “trip-hop” does come back, it had better be the good “trip-hop from the 90s:

Hey kpopalypse! I have a few small questions. 1) You seem to be well versed in music theory stuff and all, I’ve been playing guitar for a bit over 2 years now and I think I’ve gotten past the mediocre point, I am pretty proficient with playing fingerstyle and picking. However, I started teaching myself through YouTube and went straight to technical stuff rather than theory, I have been playing music since 7th grade and I took music in grade 9 and 10, so I know stuff like scales, intervals, triads, but I want to start composing / arranging stuff on my own, I don’t know where to start though. What do you think is absolutely essential for a guitar player to know? 2) I’m still in my second year of high school, however I’m in a more enhanced (?) academic program, and I’m a 90+ student so things are great, except I’ve been feeling pretty depressed lately and have lost a lot of my focus. I figured out why and it’s bc I really just want to play music these days and I’ve always been discouraged by my parents – I’ve never thought of it as more than a hobby before but now I realize it’s one thing I really care about. The thing is, I know it’s hard to find good income just making music and I should just balance out my school and music making, but in year 11 and 12 things get much harder in my program and I’m not allowed to take any music courses unless I drop to a normal one. I’m not gonna ask a random stranger for life advice, but I’m curious kpopalypse oppa, if you were in my situation, would you say fuck it and drop down to a normal program so you can do music and school or would you stay in the program and hope it pays off in the future and you can focus on what you love in like 10 years from now? 3) (You don’t have to answer this one if you don’t want to I just want feelings validated) I’m actually pretty distant from kpop, and I don’t ever care about groups disbanding and all but Wonder Girls were the only reason I listened to it in the first place and stanned, so I was really distraught at first. I knew it was going to happen eventually, but I caught feelings when I shouldn’t have. Anyway, I may be a little delusional but I also did expect them to maybe fight for their life a little more, I mean, why come back with an album called reboot only to break up less than 2 years later? I don’t buy the artistic differences excuse and I legit think they were friends considering that some of them were still hanging out after disbandment + Yeeun just flew out all the way to Canada to see Sunye. So of course, the enemy here would have to be JYPE. I don’t think WG were bringing in much profit to JYPE towards the end and all of them complained about lack of promotion + at first it was rumoured they were all going to leave together / start their own company. So the question is: How realistic would it be for them to find a company willing to take them in or start their own and do you think they just couldn’t find an easy way for them all to escape JYPE or they had a change of heart all of a sudden and said fuck it?

“Small questions” – longest question here.  I’m game though!

  1. Writing music is more creative than it is technical.  You probably won’t find what you need to know in guitar instructional videos, I’d suggest searching up “songwriting” specifically.  There are a ton of resources out there.  You don’t need to be a good player, or even an intermediate player, to write music.  Kurt Cobain was shit and I mean shit at guitar playing, but he wrote some of the most well-loved songs of his generation of players.
  2. Do music.  That’s what I did.  You’ll regret it if you don’t.  Just keep up with your other subjects too and you’ll be fine.  Remember employers don’t give that much of a shit about exactly what it says on your high-school certificate as long as you got from one end of high-school to the other okay and can show them evidence of having a brain and some commitment and work ethic.  So if you have to get that meat-packing job and do music on the side then all good.
  3. It could be any number of reasons, but one of the big reasons why girl groups tend to break up once the girls get to a certain age, is that girls once they get to a certain age like to be able to do certain things that aren’t very compatible with being an idol full-time.  Especially true in more conservative countries like South Korea.  The Wonder Girls’ members may not actually want to continue.  They had a pretty good run, by anybody’s standards.

One mini question: Is there some scientific reason with audio engineering or something of the sort for why my cats despise most female K-Pop songs? Genre be damned, I can listen to boy groups and they will be knocked out asleep on my bed, but switch over to girl groups and they get the fuck out of there like someone is cooking tuna downstairs.

Second question – an Amber/possibly Sulli one. Most of SM’s idols, particularly the female ones, are pretty damn vanilla and boring. I get that f(x) was launched as more of an experimental group, but when the product is still ultimately the idols, why would they debut someone like Amber? I can’t imagine them thinking that she would ever be very marketable endorsement wise due to her more masculine image. If the purpose of the music is to really market the idol, why bother putting someone in a group that will have a more contentious image when they probably had plenty of Yuna 2.0s in their training facility. Similarly with Sulli, she is still signed to SM even though she has seemingly gone rogue with her Instagram and private life. I have no delusions that they couldn’t shut her activities down if they wanted to, so is it possible that her behavior could even be encouraged by SM in order to see how far off the Korean norm an idol can be and still be marketable?

Obviously SM knows that the public generally goes for the “prettiest” idol by the majority standard, but it seems like they are looking to place idols in the more fringe area of pop culture consumerism. Or am I just overthinking this whole thing

Cats: no idea.  Maybe it’s the frequency of the voices being closer in frequency range to cat meows or something, I dunno.  All I can tell you is that my cat doesn’t give a shit what I listen to, she’s so used to weird noisees emanating from my computer that she’s just over it.  You might find that your cats adjust over time to it more.  The first time my cat heard a bass-heavy artillery strike in a computer game of mine she freaked the fuck out, now she’s like “ho hum, war again”.

Amber: she was probably just really really “good” in training, and SM wanted to try this thing, this thing that had never been done before, and Amber was up for it.  That’s the thing about experimenting, you’ve got to try it or you don’t know if it’s going to work.  This covers your “overthinking” question too.  The fact that there’s no “Amber” in Red Velvet should tell you something.

Sulli: gone rogue my ass.  She’s just a 20-something girl doing completely normal 20-something shit.  Everyone’s reading too much into it.  I have friends with weirder Instagrams and they’re not insane either.

Dear Kpopalypse!
I am living at the countryside and it is rather racist here. My friends and family are dropping “Ching, Chang, Chong”- jokes on a daily base and hating against Asians for “stealing our jobs”. Also, my friends all listen to music like metal and hip hop and are mainly interested in the meaning of the lyrics (For example political), and always hate against “nonsense- music”. My family is also always hating against “kitschy” (Asian) music and videos. Also, my brother got rather racist against Asians after he “lost” his friend to anime. Therefore, I didn’t tell my friends and family about my musical interest. But I once told my family I want to visit South Korea to meet my Korean penpal (which is truefax), and she was first concerned about financial aspects. But than, she started confusing China and Korea, thinking Korea would have similar censorship and human rights abuse as China. She almost thinks I want to visit China, like every time she hears something bad about China, she says: “And you want to go there.” Also, she’s constantly calling Koreans “Chinese”. I will graduate from Highschool in a month, and I am thinking about revieling my musical taste when I enter the University. Do you think I should take this step?
Thanks for your answer!

love ur qrimole q and a! keep up the good work duude

Will do – thanks!

BONUS GUITAR NERD QUESTION

How often do deal w/ ignorant guitar players? Any of ur students? Biggest myths are 1. EMG pickups are scooped, u hear it on every forum + It’s parroted that is has no mids n bass heavy/highs are screeching. It’s the exact opposite: It’s actually mid humped for cutting through.  Another dumb thing i read on forums every day is that people are taking high end Jacksons from Japan and swapping out Duncan Designed pickups oem to the Seymour Duncans. SD has repeatedly in interviews that it’s just an OEM name and there’s no audible difference.  Finally, on Ibanez high end models have their own V8/v7 pickups. They modeled them identically 2 spec to the Seymour JB . However, on forums ppl swap them out.  Lol, Ibanez reps said there also should be no discernible difference, yet noobs on forums are saying how much better it sounds when everything is identical. Knowing ur a good teacher, im sure u slapped some sense into ur students.  And finally, forum parroters keep telling me EMG 81s are sterile and not versatile. Lol, I can get so many low gain tones , country, AC/DC from this. Esp. knowing that the resonant peak is 3.2k, I can just tweak that area to sound like a general pickup. People don’t listen with their ears.  The bright side is that I can buy an MIJ Jackson w/Duncan Designed pickups and score a good deal like <$450 on a premium guitar because people are stupid enough to think its a shit guitar when it’s not.

Oh boy, you really should get into the habit of using the QRIMOLE question box (below and in the sidebar too) for questions like these so you’re not constrained by ask.fm’s character limit and having to chop up your question into six parts.  When I finished QRIMOLE last night it was 3am so I didn’t transfer any stuff from ask.fm over at all (and will continue not to, given how popular Qrimole has become) but I did it just for your question because I felt it deserved a decent reply.

I deal with ignorant guitar players surprisingly little – anyone who’s willing to humble themselves enough to be taught by me generally has a pretty sensible attitude towards gear and such.  Most people don’t get into heavily modding their instruments anyway, it’s a minority who do that, and they usually start once they’ve got a few years of playing under their belt, because when you’re a beginner you don’t know what you want really.  I teach beginner to advanced students but most students are beginner or intermediate.

I think personally that the reason why people think EMG81s are scooped is because people who like ultra-hot pickups like that tend to also scoop the EQ just out of preference so people associate the scooped sound with those pickups even though the reverse is true.  Personally I think this is a pretty silly thing for people to do, guitar isn’t supposed to be “all bass all treble” and it gets lost in the mush of the band if it has no mids, but heaps of people do it, especially in metal.  Even I used to do it when I was first playing shows until I realised that wasn’t very smart.  Nowadays I keep the EQ completely flat on all my amps and gear.

It’s also true that people don’t listen with their ears, confirmation bias and preconceived ideas about guitar gear plays such a huge role for so many (and there’s plenty of people making money off those biases).  A couple years ago I needed to buy a Fender Stratocaster for a job with a group, I needed to get something with “that vintage Fender sound”.  I went to all the big guitar shops and played every instrument with the right pickup configuration that could reasonably do the job and just thought about sound, price and that it was comfortable to play and “looked the part” (i.e like a Strat).  I ended up buying a Chinese-made Squier “Classic 60s” Stratocaster which had exactly the sound I wanted and was cheap as dirt because the store was having a sale with 35% off all the Squiers in the building.  The only thing I didn’t like on the Squier were the tuning pegs which I changed out, everything else was perfect.  The Squier outperformed every other Squier there and also almost all the Fenders, it was unquestionably better than the Mexican Fenders which were all a bit too “hot” to get vintage tones, even the ones with coil-tap, to get a Fender of the same sonic clarity I’d have to spend three times as much to get the Fender USA Strat with Custom Shop pickups that was “on special”.  The Squier has the advantage of being less likely to be stolen at a show because people don’t look at the name Squier on a headstock and go “oh cool, I’ll get heaps of drug money when I take that into the hock shop”.  So yeah the plus side is that if you’re smart with guitars and don’t worry so much about the name, you can sometimes pick up what you need very cheaply just by using your ears.  I’ll do a stream or video with the Squier one day, in the meantime here’s someone else playing the exact same model.


That’s all for this episode of Qrimole!  Do you have a question for Qrimole?  If so, drop it in the question box below and it will (probably) be answered in next month’s episode!

3 thoughts on “QRIMOLE Episode 10: where there’s a Qri, there’s a mole

  1. “… not that I’ve ever met anyone trans in the flesh who was really convincing as the opposite sex.” You probably wouldn’t know if you did, as most people don’t come out to random passersby on the street, or even acquaintances. If you want to read about the informal fallacy this is related to it is “toupee falllacy” by the way – it has other applications related to generalization of data.

    “Whether they ‘identify as a woman’ or not, I really couldn’t give a shit, as long as they actually are one.” I think you’re trying not to be an asshole, but you’re kinda implying that trans women aren’t women, and trans men are (?). But I think the kernel of what you said is very true: that you get to choose your own sexuality and how you identify it. And it’s your choice how much the gender of your partner matters to you and why/how.

  2. Funny you posted the picture of the upskirt guy, I just got kicked out of a Girls of Kpop group because I said that what he was doing was merely normal hetero male behavior.

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