Things Kpopalypse dislikes in music – jazz

Welcome to another journey into shit music with Kpopalypse!  This time, we’re going to take a look at the granddaddy of “music genres that ruin everything”, jazz, and its impact on k-pop!

Everybody knows that jazz is complete shit, after all nobody listens to it, do they.  But what’s actually wrong with jazz?  Jazz should theoretically be great, after all the term “jazz” was really just a reconfiguration of the word “jass” which actually meant “jizz”, which certainly sounds like a recipe for quality to me.  So what went wrong?

A BRIEF AND PROBABLY INCORRECT PLUS GENERALLY PROBLEMATIC HISTORY OF JAZZ AND WHY IT SUCKS (NOT THAT ANYBODY CARES BECAUSE NOBODY LISTENS TO IT ANYWAY)

Well, jazz didn’t start out as complete shit.  Jazz was initially an attempt to improve music, generally speaking.  Exceptionally bored African American blues performers from the early 20th century and prior, lamenting that T-ara’s “Roly Poly” hand dance was still at least 100 years in the future, decided to spice up their lives in a more immediate fashion by making their dull I-IV-V blues chord progressions and samey pentatonic melodies a bit more interesting and varied.  The results were initially acceptable, with ragtime, dixieland and swing jazz all being variants of the early jazz style that were not total garbage.  Jazz music in the 1910s to 1940s was pretty much the Slayer of its day –  loud, fun music that caused social concern among stuffy conservative types and that parents didn’t like but that fans of the music could dance wildly to while engaging in various substance abuse.  And dance they did.

Then something horrible started happening to jazz music – techniquefagging.  The same kind of techniquefagging that currently plagues k-pop vocal analysis crept into jazz in the 1940s thanks to the invention of bebop.

Oh, wait… no not that bebop, this type of bebop:

Bebop was a style of jazz that was invented probably because jazz musicians felt they weren’t getting laid enough, and thought that if they just made their music a bit more technically impressive, the hot girls in the audience would see their incredible skill and want to bang them instead of the male dancers.  As a result of this growing need for jazz musicians to get their dicks wet, chords, rhythm and melody became a lot more complicated as the artists competed for jazz fangirl puss.  Pentatonic and diatonic scales were swapped out for “bebop scales” with extra notes that made no sense, chords had 7th, 9th, 11th and 13th notes added for no clear reason, improvisation (i.e making it up) was favoured much more heavily over sticking to a fixed pre-written melody, and rhythm became more random and stupid, successfully thwarting any attempt at creating a groove.  Just listen to this fucking wank.

Naturally people didn’t want to dance to this, because this rhythymically-messy-sounding music was now completely undanceable, and the general lack of an easily-followable melody meant that it wasn’t particularly catchy anymore either.  Bebop jazz was essentially jerk-off music for brass players and drummers to show off how they could play really quickly, it had less and less to do with what the listener wanted and more and more to do with the musicians disappearing up their own assholes.  As a result, jazz gradually started moving away from its roots as a dance and popular music form, and into a type of music that people just sit there and watch in awe (or more likely, boredom) as the performer plays a lot of notes and then write blogs about it (or whatever people did instead of write blogs in the 1940s).  People who actually wanted to have fun with music, instead of watching this bullshit like the museum fossil it had become, moved over to big-band, rockabilly and rock-and-roll, and the music fans moved with them, swiping all of the early jazz dance moves plus all of the good-time party atmosphere of the early jazz style.

On the other hand jazz was just getting worse and worse.  By the 1960s, rock and pop music was moving into all sorts of new directions that actually made some degree of musical sense (plus a few that didn’t), meanwhile jazz was well and truly masturbating itself to death as it had mutated into “free jazz” where they didn’t even have proper chords and structure anymore.  Watch these clowns below play the same five notes from the start of Stravinsky’s dull modernist twaddle “The Rite Of Spring” 57 different ways over random rhythm and chords that make no sense and bore everyone to death for nine minutes.

Finally realising their grave mistake and seeking to pull themselves back from the abyss, jazz musicians started meshing with rock music again.

Unfortunately, jazz musicians chose to try and claw their way back to relevancy with the only type of rock music that nobody actually listens to either, progressive rock.  So this new “jazz fusion” style was too little too late, still sounded like a wankfest, and nobody cared, because jazz + rock = elevator music.  Jazz artists continued to not get laid at astounding rates as their crushes listened to ABBA and Madonna instead.  They cried and wailed about it a lot, mainly to music.

Eventually jazz fans started getting into grindcore and started hanging out at Anal Cunt gigs, but Seth Putnam told them to fuck off with this song and that was the end of that.

The latest attempt by jazz to be culturally relevant is the movie “Whiplash” which is about a jazz drumming student being treated like an underpants stain by his asshole teacher, it’s a great film sort of like a musical “Full Metal Jacket“.  That is, until the final scene where a gunman completely fails to storm into the auditorium and kill both the teacher for being a hardcore cocknugget and the student for being dumb enough to not hire a better teacher after the very first lesson with this douchebag who has even less common sense, manners or hair than Kpopalypse.  At least Private Pyle had the good sense to keep his M14 locked and loaded.

Oh, and let’s not forget SM Entertainment promoting snooze-friendly jazz fusion artists all of a sudden, clearly mistakes were made.

Jazz is at its very worst when combined with the ballad form.  However unlike the more upbeat version, jazz ballads haven’t changed much from their early beginnings to more recently.

They were shit then and they are shit now.  At least bebop is uninteresting quickly so it’s over sooner rather than later.

SO LET’S BRING K-POP INTO IT, BECAUSE YOU’RE PRESUMABLY INTO THAT

About time, right?  Just the mere fact that you’re looking forward to this section of the post alone should tell you how much jazz fucking sucks.  You just can’t wait for me to stop discussing actual jazz by actual jazz musicians and start discussing k-pop’s ultra-lite copies of the form that are just as rubbish but at least have some small degree of current cultural relevancy because they are at least 10% actual pop music.  You all couldn’t wait for this post, after all.

Really, the only good attempts at jazz in k-pop are IU’s “Modern Times” album, which does a reasonably faithful version of 1930s “swing jazz” with “Love Of B”:

Sort-of-dixie-style with the title track:

Big-band style with the feature track “The Red Shoes”:

Bossanova (jazz that incorporates samba rhythm) with “Obliviate”:

And etc etc.  All of these are early jazz styles.  IUs concept smartly cuts off the retro fetish at the 1940s, meaning that the shit versions of jazz that were all about technique-wank and came later are not explored.  She left that to TVXQ, who inserted a pointless “bebop breakdown” into “Something” at 3:28:

However most jazz integrated into k-pop isn’t the fast type, but rather the slow jazz-lite coffee-shop bullshit sound.

Often the music videos are either in a coffee shop, or feature actual coffee, just to drive the point home at how boring this is.

Or sometimes they even go the whole hog and call the damn thing “Coffee Shop” or something similar.

The improvisational element of jazz isn’t closely emulated, and sometimes even the extended chords are dispensed with.  Korean coffee-shop jazz ballads are more about the rhythmic feel (or rather, the lack of rhythmic feel) as well as the texture of the more “smooth” types of jazz.  Boring instruments are always preferred, in particular the Fender Rhodes usually gets a big workout.  It’s jazz for people who find the boredom of actual jazz too “edgy” or whatever and prefer something even milder and more musically worthless, the musical equivalent of the shit blogs that people who can’t stand my writing read so they can stay inside their fantasy bubble where everything is sunshine and lollipops and their bias is the bestest best person ever.  (Although all my haters secretly can’t stop reading my shit anyway.  Hopefully they are all jazz fans and get extra annoyed by this post and have a good hate-fap.)

So that’s how jazz influences creep into k-pop now, usually not through melody and harmony, but through texture and feel.  Fortunately, k-pop as a whole is so schizophrenic that even an unlikely group of coffee-shop scrubs like Bolbbalgan4 can git gud and dump all the crappy jazz shenanigans to make a decent pop song occasionally.

If even they can do it, there’s hope for the rest of them.  Maybe even Urban Zakapa and 10cm will have good songs one day?  Who knows, but in the meantime, that’s all for this post – Kpopalypse shall return!

15 thoughts on “Things Kpopalypse dislikes in music – jazz

  1. DEAR MOTHER OF GOD THAT WHIPLASH CLIP WAS CANCER. WHY GOD WHY WOULD ANYONE MAKE A SHITSHOW OF A MOVIE LIKE THAT.
    Also while IU incorporated the swingier jazz variants into her music I still couldn’t bring myself to find her music anything but pure snoresville boring.

    • Whiplash is actually an incredible movie, and one of my favorite movies of all-time. Anyone who even remotely gives a shit about music in any way should watch it. It’ll make you very uncomfortable and you’ll hate the teacher and want to yell at the kid, but it’ll also show you the level of dedication required for greatness, and what real passion is. Some of the greatest musicians in human history lived and died by their music, and this movie captures that ethos really well.

        • The last word anyone who’s actually watched the whole movie would use to describe it, is “boring.” It’s one of the most intense movies I’ve seen a long time, and I bet if you watched the whole thing, you would change your mind. Also, every single fucking story ever created by mankind–be it movies, TV shows, comic books, novels, video games, etc., are in fact “human interest” stories, because everything is told through the filter of human creators, with human values and perspectives, and mainly about human interests. Make a list of every story you love and you’ll realize all of them have conflicts that are centered about some kind of human protagonist, or anthropomorphic protagonist.

        • Human conflicts, human protagonists, humans love to think we’re the end product of millions of years of evolution (Calvin and Hobbes.) Back in my intense, passionate, creative days, I glimpsed the rest of nature, and saw how tiny and irrelevant our pursuits were. Human females are almost always concerned with other humans, but notice how the smartest and most creative men often delve into aspects of reality far beyond this?

  2. Maybe is a cultural thing in Korea? This ‘Jazz-lite’ that people linsten to could be relaxing for them. I don’t know. Bossa Nova is inspired by Jazz and insn’t that fast either (although there’s a difference on musical elements and harmony), but i got your point.

    • Modern South Korean society is so fast-paced and stressful (and with one of the highest suicide rates in the world) that it’s perfectly understandable why they would feel the need to unwind with music that’s soft and soothing.

  3. So basically fun genres start off​ good and then become shit eventually? This isn’t to put words in your mouth or anything but for real is this a general trajectory in music trends/ genres?

  4. I heard a radio interview with a jazz musician (can’t remember which one) who had stuck with the big band, and his explanation for the rise of bebop was something far more boring than getting laid—taxes! Apparently changes in the tax law made large groups unaffordable (he himself had had all kinds of money troubles), so jazz ensembles got smaller and smaller and (he would agree) more focused on wankery.

  5. A few seconds into the second video titled swing jazz something I immediately think that sounds like IU’s ‘Red Shoes’, and I was (almost?) right! Felt good to see that you drew a comparison to IU’s song at the end. Anyway isn’t IU’s Red Shoes considered swing jazz anyway? or is it exclusively big band OR swing jazz?

    Anyway sucks that Jazz went to shit, it does not even sound close to what it originally was!

  6. I disliked sound of jazz music so much that I actually kinda got interested in it. I watched some video and the guy said people hate jazz and why it’s boring to them because they don’t understand/ have knowledge about it’s ‘language’. It makes sense but more in terms of appreciation for technicality, doesn’t change the fact that jazz it’s almost impossible to listen to.
    For a long time I though I need to like kpop jazz-lite creations to seems as someone musically ‘woke’ since other people liked it and it showed on music charts or whatever. I hate people who have no knowledge on music whatsoever and go on jerking-off sprees when they hear some jazz nonsense in kpop because ‘omg my bias is a true musician’

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