QRIMOLE – September 2018

It’s time for another episode of Kpopalypse’s question and answer series, QRIMOLE!

Hello, how are you kpopalypse? I’m a long time reader of your blog, and I’ve been interested in the making of pop music and its industry lately, things like why is pop addictive, what it is exactly that makes it an earworm and so on. I’ve come across this book online (The Song Machine, by John Seabrook) and its description seems interesting, but I have no idea if it’s worth reading or if it’s just a blockbuster full of shit.. Since you have experience, I’d like an advice on what to read on that topic. I understand the basics of music and sound, but I don’t have any higher education in it, consider me an “instructed layperson” (if that exists lol)
Thanks for your undying patience!

I haven’t read this book, and I’ve in fact never read anything that really answers the questions you’re asking about music in a way that I consider satisfactory.  I also doubt that I ever will, and I think that it’s because these questions tap into aspects of music consumption that are deep and complicated, and not fully understood by science at this stage.  It seems to me that music appreciation has a lot to do with culture and upbringing – people tend to like sounds that are similar to other sounds that the like from the past, and people from cultures not experienced in western music react very differently when they hear it for the first time to the way pop music fans familiar with the repetoire react.  However it’s not only this, as two people raised in exactly the same environment can also have very different music taste, so there’s clearly a brain chemistry element as well.  While there’s obviously a lot of subjectivity involved, it’s clear that there is also some kind of vague consensus of “quality”, for instance I think most people would agree that “Bohemian Rhapsody” is a higher quality listening experience than “Chacarron“.  This is why music theory really exists, to try and come up with a “system of design” for “music quality”… but then “Chacarron” was a popular song, so does the theory always work as expected?  The fact is that nobody really knows what makes a pop hit definitely work on a musical level, because if they did they’d be able to consistently write them, and nobody has ever been able to do that.  Even The Beatles had a few singles that never cracked the top 10.

The other element of this is of course marketing – it’s fine to be a brilliant songwriter, but if you’re stuck in your bedroom or you’re just one of the faceless millions uploading things online, who is going to know about it?  Also how much of what becomes popular in music is really down to the actual music itself vs the other elements involved, such as image, visuals, the persona of the people involved (whether real or manufactured), and the ability of the company behind it all to push the musical product plus the accompanying image etc into the right places.  A lot more has been written about this and the basic fundamentals of marketing are fairly well understood, however there’s also a lot of unpredictability because while risk-taking obviously is less likely to yield rewards, if everyone is completely risk-averse and does the same thing it leaves a space open for an outlier to swoop in and redefine the game.  AustralianSana covered this quite well in my conversation with her, when she was talking about the success of BTS, which appears to be at least partly down to their company taking a few chances and letting the reins loose in strategic areas that other companies would not.  However if absolutely everyone started doing things the way that BTS did, the market would once again become stale and ripe for someone else to try things differently.  Like the musical aspect, there’s strategies and ideas in marketing but rarely any certainty.

So in summary, there’s plenty of stuff you can read, but not much of it is worth more than one person’s opinion.  If you want to really understand music I think the best way is to experiment!

Hi! I was watching this video of a boy group named Noir and noticed these weird sounds. It’s like there is something “wrong” with their mics. Do you know why this happens?

The microphone has a fault where the attached cabling isn’t correctly insulated, meaning that every time the singer moves around and the cable rubs on something (like his coat) you get that static sound.  If you’ve ever bought a budget-price electric guitar and amplifier package that came with a free guitar cable, you’ve probably noticed the same scratchy static sound when you rub the guitar cable back and forth across the floor, that’s because the free cables in those packages are made as cheaply as possible which means terrible cable insulation.  It’s probably not all of their microphones doing this, most likely just one particular microphone attached to one particular member.  It’s a hard thing to deal with – an engineer can’t really noise-gate the sound away easily as it’s almost as loud as the singer’s actual voice, and by the time you’ve dialled up the appropriate controls to get it dealt with somehow the one-song set is almost over anyway.  If this boy group were doing an entire concert on their own they would just swap the mic out for a standby or fix it in the mix somehow, but for just one song they would have to literally stop the show and change his headset and/or mic pack over, not worth the hassle.  Another possible solution might be for the singer to remove his coat and adjust things, but once again with only three minutes to do their thing and a tightly controlled choreo there’s really no time for that.  It sucks when things like this happen live especially when your only option is to ride it out, but that’s often the best choice.

Was there a song you thought would be a piece of crap listening at the beginning, only to be surprised (mildly) by how everything changed to something worthy on the radio?

This happens most often when a song has really good production in the low end of the mix.  The speaker system at the radio station is a lot better than my home setup that I’m usually listening to music on, so some songs really shine on the big speakers.  I often specifically denote these in the roundups and year-end lists as “big speaker” songs.  Out of all the songs that I put in my 2017 favourites list, the one that I copped the most criticism for liking was Nada’s “Trippin” and that song is a classic example of what I’m talking about.  The song has essentially no melodic content in the vocals and is all about what’s happening in the low end of the mix, it will sound like garbage on your laptop or crappy low-tier headphones but put it through something like the speakers at the radio station’s on-air studio and suddenly it becomes pants-shittingly good.

Hey. I’m the dude who made that Marshmello and Pentagon thing. So I’ll do another one.

Check this one, and listen to the first four bars of the song:

Doesn’t it sound like a bit like the first two bars in this song?:

Yes it’s the same chords and ostinato.  Not a sample though, it’s been replayed on a different instrument.  Really though, you need to stop this.  The whole point of my “plagiarism fun times” series is to wake people the fuck up to the fact that yes pop songs do sound similar and contain similar elements and this is completely normal and nothing to be concerned about and it happens all the time.  Certainly nothing to go around hunting for and pointing out to people.  K-pop fans in general need to get a fucking grip.

Do you like any of Justice’s songs? They are more towards high-age music, maybe a bit on electronic disco, but I can tell you’re not into this.

You’re right, I’m not.  My favourite song from Justice is “Stress” which is fantastic and also comes with one of the best music videos ever made, I wish they would do more stuff like that and less weak pussy disco garbage.

I noticed that ‘What’ sounded less metal than usual, but what exactly makes it emo rock?

The mid-tempo rock and reliance on keyboards and multi-layered vocals to carry a slow-moving harmony over a rock rhythm reminded me of My Chemical Romance or something like that, whereas their better songs are more power-metal influenced, I guess.

Was “I Like That” the only Sistar song that you liked, or were there a few more?

If you look here and here and also here you will find other songs of theirs that I liked.  However “I Like That” is definitely their finest moment.

I think I’ve found a contender for your Worst list.

I will openly solicit for these near the end of the year!  Hang onto your suggestions until then!

Thanks to you I now want to know if the mic in this video is being used properly.

Or does it not matter it’s all for aesthetics?

They’re at the right angle, but certainly too far away from it, however it doesn’t matter because there’s absolutely no way known that a group, especially a group like this, would actually plug in and turn on one of these old vintage pieces of shit.  Really old vintage microphones like this are actually garbage, they sound like ass cancer.  On the other hand the Shure Super 55 is still in production today and sounds quite decent, much the same as a Shure SM58 (as it essentially is just an SM58 capsule with a prettier casing).

If you had to make a Top 10 Worst/Best Western songs from 2017 basing off Billboard’s Year-End Chart, how would it be like? You can expand the lists if there are too many bad/good songs to choose.

I have no idea, I don’t follow western pop this closely as k-pop takes up so much of my attention.  In fact I’d struggle to do a top ten for the entire last decade.

If I click on your Kyla sidebar picture, this weird site called lyca.com shows up. What is it, and why did you link it?

Fancy asking for the reason behind the “no reason” sidebar girl.  She’s about due to be swapped out and a link collection post is coming very soon so enjoy this when it appears.

What makes rap a form of music and not just poetry? (Not saying that rap and lyrics in music aren’t poetry; just that poetry isn’t music) Especially freestyle rap… Is that “music” still?

The first part of your question is answered here.

Freestyle just means “making it up on the spot”, although most rappers who “freestyle” actually lie about it and are reciting lines that they memorised earlier.  As a result of rappers constantly lying about their ability to make up lines impromptu, the meaning of “freestyle” has now kind of mutated from “a totally improvised rap” to “a rap that you haven’t heard me do yet”.  Freestyle therefore isn’t any more or less musical than any other kind of rap, as they are essentially the same thing anyway.

I saw your post about f(x) on that wjsn clip and it reminded me of nct and their system.Sm is trying to bring something new AGAIN in the kpop world even though it’s imported from japan and people don’t like it at all.They all whine that it’s so confusing and they want nct to conform,stick to the mold and become a regular bland boygroup as if there isn’t enough of them in kpop I mean why do people care about being ~ cOnfUsiNG~ if the music keeps coming and you enjoy it?? Isn’t that enough ? Sm has been so innovative in the kpop world being the first company to go japan,China,america,have Chinese trainees,have subunits and this is all now a ordinary thing in the industry if not necessary.I won’t be surprised if this system would also be common in the future if sm makes it work with nct.So why do people want conformity and ‘safe’ things that don’t go out of the ordinary when the kpop world is already boring and repetitive as it is ?

I guess you’ve partially answered your own question – if you create an environment where everything is usually the same, as soon as someone tries to do something different it’s going to upset people who have grown comfortable.  Humans in general don’t like change, and in a world where everything is constantly changing due to technology, pop music’s safeness probably gives them comfort.  Also see – the pathetic whining whenever people’s favourite groups don’t come back every few months.

1) have you ever changed your mind on a song that is currently in one of your Worst/Best lists?
2) which are your favourite K-Pop albums besides F-ve Dolls’ First Love, f(x)’s Pink Tape and IU’s Modern Times?

  1. Yes, although never a complete 180 degree turnaround from completely like to completely dislike.  If I were to redo the 2012 list again I’d probably do it a bit differently (but not very differently).
  2. All answers to k-pop album questions are here.

Hello oppar!

I would like to know more about your kpop habits and consumption because I am very curious caonima. So, here are my questions :

1 – How many minutes or hours do you listen to kpop on a daily or weekly basis ? Do you listen to kpop on your free-time or do you listen to it just for the purpose of this blog ?

2 – In the same way, how much time do you dedicate to your blog by day/week ?

3 – What are the last kpop albums you bought (and I am not talking about the digital ones because we know it’s UZA, I’m talking about the “real” things with stuff inside) and how many albums do you buy per year ?

4 – Also, what does make you buy an album ? Is it just the music that you like (well, the title track) or do you give importance to the packaging and pictures inside ? I mean, can you buy an album because you really like the title track even if the pictures are shitty (or the reverse) or do you need both to be nice ?

5 – We all know that you prefer girl groups to boy groups. What is the ratio, more or less, between them in your bookcase ?

6 – Finally, do you have groups that you favour when it comes to buying albums or do you buy albums regardless the group just because you liked the album/title track/pictures ?

Thank you, sorry for my curiosity and keep up the good work !

  1. I listen in my free time.  I tend to go back to my favourites lists and play those songs a lot.  That’s actually the main reason why I make them!  However I also work a lot so I can’t just listen all the time.  I spend more time working than doing anything.
  2. Some days I ignore it, but other days it’s all I do.  It depends what posts I’m writing, some are very time consuming, others not so much.  On average I might write a couple hours per day but in practice it’s more like four days of nothing followed by a day of writing all afternoon and evening.
  3. I buy a lot less than I used to, I’ve been trying to give a away a whole bunch of stuff lately.  The most recent one I bought I think was T-ara’s “What’s Your Name”.  I haven’t bought a k-pop album in about six months, money’s been a bit tight lately.
  4. I mainly think about if the booklet is going to be any good, I also think about if my radio listeners are going to eventually want it as a giveaway, as the fate of most k-pop albums that come into my collection is that they will be given away to radio listeners eventually.
  5. On the radio show it’s about 65% girl groups but in my bookcase it’s more like 98%.
  6. T-ara because MBK might not know much but they know how to make a great CD booklet.  I want to buy more Loona stuff but I’m waiting for a full album of some sort.  They should really pull their fingers out of their asses and release an album with all twelve of the girls’ debut songs on it plus “Favourite” and “Hi High“.  Instead of a photocard they could package it in a plastic bag with 12 different kinds of occlupanid fasteners.  I should work for Blockberry with these ideas.

Hello oppar ! I hope you’re good.

I remember you saying that you didn’t like Fromis_9’s DKDK because it sounded like a boy group song (well, just after you said it was not the case but let’s stop here for this question). And it’s true that boy group songs do sound like boy group songs and girl group songs do sound like girl group songs.

So, my question is : besides obvious “production” and “instrumentation” choices (and voices…), what makes a kpop song, on a theoretical level or not, sound like a boy group song or a girl group song so clearly ?

Thanks !

It’s easier to use examples than to try and explain it theoretically (although I may go into detail about this, in a future post).

You won’t find a k-pop boy group song anywhere that sounds like Loona 1/3rd’s “Love & Live”.

You also won’t find a k-pop girl group song anywhere that sounds like SHINee’s “Lucifer”.

They’re both great songs that have very different elements in them that make them work, and k-pop tends to keep these elements gender-separated, for better or worse.

does chungha MRS? we wanna know

If I actually gave a fuck I would have told you by now, probably.

I really really hope you get to see my question, but I reread your interview with the ex-SM trainee neil hannigan in 2015 for the first time since like a year ago, and was wondering if it was possible to get an update on how things were going for him, and the transition from leaving trainee life, etc. Honestly, it would make a lot of sense if he just wanted to leave kpop and fame and stuff for good, but is there any chance of getting brought up to date on how things are going for him?

I don’t like to do follow-up interviews unless specifically requested by the individual in question.  It’s enough of an imposition to get people to talk to me once, I think it’s very rude and ungrateful to ask them a second time, I wouldn’t treat my interview subjects with such disrespect.  (The only exception – if a “series” was the initial agreed-upon arrangement, such as with AustralianSana.)  If he approaches me with an interest, I will definitely do it and would love to, otherwise absolutely not!

Hi Kpopalypse,
I asked my piano teacher about analyzing pop music the other day, and he says that all modern pop music are worse interpretations and remakes of classical music and music from the seventies. He says that all music (other than hip hop, which he calls garbage) is inspired by classics, and that all of it will never live up to the quality and creativity of the original. He also mentioned that all Korean Pop is manufactured garbage that all follow basically the same structures, and isn’t worth analyzing at all. Personally, I understand his point, but I don’t entirely agree. Do you agree with him?

Obviously I don’t agree with him.  Anyone who thinks that classical music is somehow “superior” or “more elevated” or even “more creative” than pop music needs to take a look at the market and social forces involved that created a lot of classical music.  They had similar pressures to pop musicians, in the sense that they were writing for specific audiences who demanded specific things out of their pieces (or else).  It’s a big area and I won’t go into it here but music actually evolved far more slowly during the classical era than it has been evolving today, the classical era was a less innovative time for music in general and advances in creativity happened in absolute baby-steps compared to now.  Also most classical music follows the same structures too, those structures even have formalised names, explained here.  So he can eat my nuts, basically.

I can certainly understand why people would think that rap music sucks, because the more popular rap music out there these days is mostly total trash.  However there are some rap artists that I do still have a lot of time for.

What is your opinion on groups doing English versions of their songs? Do you think that it is a valid way to gain new fans? (If you think that it does get them more fans, rather than just being fun for already existing fans; does it?) What about Japanese, Chinese, Thai, or even Spanish versions?

I don’t think that with k-pop groups it really makes any big difference in terms of fan numbers.  The real reasons why k-pop sometimes flies and sometimes doesn’t overseas is probably more cultural/business/music-fashion related.  Personally I’d be happy if no k-pop group ever sung another line of English ever again, but I’d be cool with them doing all English too, it doesn’t matter to me personally.  I consider it a gift to fans from different countries who want to sing along to the songs, it’s a neat and thoughtful idea just from the point of view of “bonding” or whatever but does it make a huge difference to the bottom line, I doubt it.

Hey kpopalypse, I was a little bothered today as vocalfags seem to think different microphones make a damn bit of difference to kpop idols ‘singing live’. But it got me thinking, why do the stage managers give them different ones in the first place? It’s all prerecorded vocals filtered through autotune/melodyne and post processed for half a day (or more), so why even bother having two types when you could save money on cheap mics on a bulk order? Please explain this universal abnormality.

Here you go.

Hello Kpopalypse oppa! First of all, I wanted to thank you for your recent V Files Stability piece (the whole series is terrific). As a musician and amateurish engineer/producer, I can’t begin to tell you how many singers I have met who are rattled as a result of the obsession with “proper singing technique.” As you so studiously point out, the audio tools available these days are so powerful and good that people are doing a serious disservice to their own unique talents by making ridiculous comparisons. I have likened it to someone agonizing over a bedroom selfie vs. a professionally shot spread (with a full makeup, hair, wardrobe, lighting, and editing team). On its face, it’s absurd. Now I don’t even bother with the analogy, and I have now forwarded your articles more than a few times.

However, I would like to push back on a few points. While the Waves Tune Real-Time Tune plug-in is excellent, it is not a foolproof tool. The singer should be relatively close to the note. It can also get a little wonky if there are key changes or chords/melody out of the original key in the song. If you were to throw in a relatively poor singer, even with the customizable options, the result would probably be a melody line that differs from what is actually intended. So, as long as you’re in the ballpark pitch-wise, it is a good tool. If you’re not, though, oh boy.

Second, I was a little taken aback by your “At least you deleted your vocal rankings that put Tiffany above IU (lol) so props for that” line. I agree with your larger point that it is pretty silly to try to “rank” idols using vague criteria. Personally, I like the voices of both idols but in different ways, but is it really crazy for someone to prefer Tiffany’s voice to IU’s, though? I presume the “lol” stems from some of Tiffany’s (in)famous flubs (e.g., some Mr. Mr. live performances where she was flat, the TTS performance that led to the immortal Taeyeon “Shit I kicked the wrong one out” GIF, etc.). I certainly have done my fair share of chortling over these instances, but it seems to me that perspective has been lost. It’s pretty unfair to boil down a lengthy career to a small handful of mistakes. You know better than most that botches in a live setting are inevitable sooner or later. Highly touted singers, including Taeyeon, make errors from time to time. Does this make her bad? Why hold Tiffany to a different standard? People not liking Tiffany’s vocal color? Totally fine! People thinking LOL TIFFANY SUX because she was flat less than 1% of her career? This seems nuts to me. I’ve seen people in forums and on AJ refer to her “fakeness” as a possible underlying reason, but this seems patently absurd in k-pop where everything (and everyone) is fake, or at least exaggerated. I’d love to get your expanded take on this, though.

Again, while I have a few quibbles here and there, keep up the great work. Your contributions in this arena really are invaluable.

You’re absolutely right about Wavestune and your general point about pitch correction that you do have to be able to at least ballpark the note, and that it does fuck up a bit if you’re dealing with fast modulations and so forth.  There are also ways to compensate for it, but I didn’t want to get too technical about it, sometimes I leave out some detail in order to keep focused on the actual point.  At the end of the day yes they are great and very powerful tools but any tool is only as good as the human operating it and there is always the potential for bad workmanship!

As for Tiffany, actually I wasn’t even aware of any of Tiffany’s live fuck-ups, I don’t follow bullshit like who sings a note flat on a show or whatever, I’m honestly the very last person alive to give a fuck about that sort of shit.  I just think that IU sounds better overall and has pieces in her repertiore that put her voice in a better light, and that it’s a fairly common opinion across the board with k-pop fans that IU sounds better as a result of that, and that anyone who disagrees is probably a Sone with a serious Tiffany boner.  I mean, I’m not saying that Tiffany is horrible and that IU is perfect or anything either, I’m sure they both have their good and bad days, but I reckon IU could sing anything in SNSD’s catalogue easier than Tiffany could sing “Good Day“, I mean reOH SHIT YOU’RE TURNING ME INTO A WORTHLESS VOCALFAGGOT, BE RIGHT BACK GOING TO VISIT KURT COBAIN AND JEFF BUCKLEY’S HOUSE

How do you feel about this trend of emo rap going on right now?

I’m not even sure what is meant by “emo rap”.  All I know is that rap, emo or not, has no beats these days, and that is and will always be the issue for me.

Sexual culture in the music industry’s post, please?

It’s planned, but the problem is that I probably won’t be believed.  Considering how to navigate this.

Hello Oppa, do you think Kyla will ever rejoin Pristin? It’s almost a year ago since her hiatus from the group for unknown health problems and now some recent photos surface online and it seems she gained more weight and people attacked her again for not being skinny enough. I can’t imagine Pledis will let her promote with this weight. Some people assume Kyla is done with being an idol while others say she definitively will come back, what are your thoughts?

No idea to be honest.  Mind you I don’t think anyone would blame her if she never went back.  It’s Pledis after all.

Just opened my Soundcloud account. What do you think about this track I made?
Do you think I can make some improvement on it? I recently learned how to produce something on a DAW, but I still don’t have experience with it or music theory knowledge.
I know that’s unneeded for, but I really want your honest opinion about it.
Have a nice month!

I didn’t include your link because if I open the floodgates of “here’s my track” it will never end, however I think that a common newbie production mistake that you’re making is too much bass.  People really like bass so when they first get their hands on DAWs they just max out the bass on everything, but when you think about it, the tracks where the bass sounds really good as the ones where they use the bass like sauce, a little at a time.  It’s better to have your listener wanting just a little more (so they play the track again) rather than drowning them in subs.

Hey hey! I’m way past the trend of talking about Amber and her boyish stuff, but I know there was a lot of debate on this site about how she could have been picked up from SM, and how f(x) came to be as a group. I just heard an interview where she talks about it a bit more (starts at 11:30-ish).

Basically just proves one of your theories that she probably got picked because she was different rather than her being given that image afterwards. Also, in case you feel like watching the whole thing, it feels to me like she gives no fucks about her image throughout the entire thing; she’s just done with bullshit. Anyways, there was no question, just thought it might be interesting for those who were wondering!

Thanks.  I don’t have anything to add!

in every part of jackson’s made it solo (verses, chorus, whatever) it always sounds like an existing american pop/rap song. or like one of those soundcloud rapper bullshit songs. it bothers the fuck out of me because i sort of know like 3 “current” “hip hop” “artists” in the west so i can’t accurately pinpoint a particular song i might be thinking of. any idea what songs made it sounds like?

i feel like i’m answering my own question here, but do i feel this way because the song itself just uses the most generic music trends to begin with?

No idea, I don’t follow the world of bullshit rap music that sucks closely enough to know the answer for sure.  But as for your second question yeah I think you’re warm.

okay this sounds fucking stupid but I feel like saying it anyway, it’s bothering me so much: so I was listening to music and for some reason the song I was listening to seemed to have a (significantly) slower bpm than I thought it did. I thought it was odd so I played another song and it seemed slow too. so I went through all my songs and it’s the same for pretty much every song–so I start wondering if there’s something wrong with the audio files. I play the exact same songs on a different music player and it sounds slow–okay, maybe it’s my PC. I play them on another device and it still sounds slow–okay, for a second I think I have a hearing problem, but then that’s dumb, everything else sounds normal. so the music’s fine, my devices are fine and I’m just going crazy. here’s the question–oppar, how do I deal with all the music in the world suddenly sounding slower than it did before? do I just adjust the play speed of every song by a little to fix it? should I accept that I’m going crazy and listen to everything as they are in this horrible new world of torture pacing? should I wait and hope it goes away? should I try to get myself exorcised by performing some Loona rituals? should I change my shitty sleep schedule and hope that I haven’t gone past the point of no return when it comes to fucking up my body?

This is what’s called a “psychoacoustic” phenomenon, and happens because the way we hear music is not just raw data but it’s filtered and interpreted by our brains.  So what this means is that your brain is going slow.  Maybe you just need to listen to faster music.  Try this.

Another example of this type of thing that I’ve experienced personally – sometimes, the louder music is, the slower I perceive the tempo.  I tend to notice it when I’m moving away from a sound source, or if it gets quieter suddenly (such as if I shut the door on a room with loud music in it), the tempo feels like it speeds up a little.  I know that in reality, this isn’t happening, and that if I got out a metronome and measured it, there would be no speed-up, but it just suddenly “feels” faster.  I wonder if it’s because louder music takes more “brain effort” to listen to, so it slows my brain down a bit?  Who knows.  Psychoacoustics is a weird phenomenon.

Hello there! First of all, I hope you’re having a nice time doing whatever makes you feel happy. I actually have two questions, hope it’s not bothering! I’ve been “lurking” around your blog for some days so I don’t really know everything about you, plus english not being my first language doesn’t help in fully understanding everything, but what I got is that you’ve been a musician and were part of a band. I know that asking you about every detail may come off as rude because you have your own privacy, but may I know what genre the band was? What role did you have and how do you feel about this experience? Pretty basic question, probably been asked before but I can’t really find anything, I know, but I had this little curiosity of mine.
About the second question, I’ve noticed that sometimes songs that I “enjoyed” are the ones you don’t really have praises to sing. Is it okay for me to have “bad” taste (considering you’re someone who “works” with music and I’m nothing but a listener) or is it something I can develop into a better thing? For example, I do enjoy both War of Hormones and Dead Leaves (which, by the way, along with They Never Know is a sample of Blackbear’s Deadroses). Are my “standards” something that can get better?

You’re correct that there isn’t much stuff about my own musical projects on this blog, and that’s deliberate.  I respect that people come to this blog for k-pop related reasons, so to try and float my own music career activity to those people just seems fucking rude as shit.  It’s not about being “doxxed” or whatever (all my info is public and a mere Google search away, search up and fap freely, be my guest) I’d rather just keep it separate on my own site just out of respect for the readers who come here, I don’t want my posts to be like horrible Cracked articles that turn from “here’s some useful information about a thing” into “hey I’m an artist too, buy my stuff!”.  (This was also an issue I always had with MRJKPOP’s content back when he was active – dude you’re selling yourself to a k-pop audience, we don’t care about your self-written rock songs, man.)   Of course I’m not against people giving me money if that’s what they want to do, but I don’t agree with the idea of doing it by bait-and-switch tactics.  But for your info I mainly played bass guitar in punk groups in the 90s and 00s, I still play guitar in some rock groups now, and making the music was (and is) a lot of good times!  A lot of boredom sometimes too but that comes with the territory in any musical group.  I definitely recommend being in a band to anybody, it’s worth it, and don’t let lack of technique hold you back from it, high determination levels is far more important than ability.

Don’t worry about “standards” of personal taste or whatever, it’s okay to like what you like.  I wish people wouldn’t take my opinion on music so seriously.  I’ve never met anybody who agreed with more than about 35% of my music taste.  We’re all different, we all like different shit.  It’s okay, man.

Hey, how are you doing? Hope everything’s fine.

I don’t really have a question but in the show Produce 48 (I know that you don’t watch those kind of shows) there’s this one song that really caught my attention. It’s called “You’re in love right?” I just really like the vibes of the song, do you mind listening to it? And do you also get the feeling that it is a song with both, jpop and kpop elements? Have a nice day!

Why do people ask me about Produce 48, I don’t give a fuck.

What is your opinion on the whole Produce 48 Kaeun situation? Personally I thought she definitely deserved to be in the final 12, and now I feel like she kinda has nowhere to go as it doesn’t seem like After School is coming back anytime soon, or ever. I’m not sure if you even care about this at all, I just wanted to ask in case you did.

and:

produce 48 just ended and the some of the international fan base from what I’ve seen on forums and social media are not too thrilled with the final line up, me being semi not to thrilled. Some are saying Mnet rigged the results. If this were true, then I really wouldn’t be surprised. I’m not trying to sound like a butthurt fan if that’s what you think. What do you think about all of this? Thanks for reading this.

I don’t care.  I don’t watch these shows, I don’t care what happens on them.  You are insulting yourself by even watching or caring about them.  Kaeun didn’t win because that’s not what was scripted from the start.  Of course everything is rigged, in most Korean reality TV competition shows the winner is decided before the first episode even airs.  That’s why the people that you want to get through never do and that one breakout person who shines that nobody ever expected to shine before the series started or unexpectedly captures the hearts of the public never ever wins, it’s because it was all pre-ordained beforehand and they can’t deviate from the script regardless of how public opinion goes.  If the scriptwriters didn’t see it coming, it won’t happen, simple as that.  Everything about every Korean music TV reality show is total bullshit.  Thought cancer.  Do yourself a huge favour and stop watching or caring about these shows.

(sorry if this has been answered before, I promise I tried searching this first)
What songs/albums would you recommend for someone who’s new to metal?

Metallica – first four albums.  Slayer “Reign In Blood”.  Megadeth “Peace Sells”.  Anthrax “Among The Living”.  All the 1980s Iron Maiden albums.

Who is the most fappable? Also why the hell are ask.fm deleting timid stuff like this?

I don’t know.  And I don’t know.  But use QRIMOLE.

Dear Bkitten Oppar,

How are you? I hope you’ll try Nexus Siege because it’s awesome, anyway,

I am currently living in Australia, and originated from Indonesia. I just came back about 2 weeks ago from a 3 weeks vacation to Indonesia, and still has lingering homesickness. Going on for the vacation has made me realize how alone and uncomfortable I am in Australia. The jobs pay better in Australia, but I feel like I’ll be alot happier in Indonesia, it’s just my home, feels so warm (literally, too) to be there, and I thought that I would be taking care of my parents as they grow old anyway.

Also to add salt to this, I actually found a potential guy for my gay self but decided not to pursue due to distance, and almost never come close to finding one in Australia (being Asian is so undesirable here).

What would you if you were me oppar? I’m sure my opinions at the moment are swayed by my homesickness, but Australia is never gonna be my home. My current plan is to just get as much money as I can and go back home and maybe open a business back home, because it’s so sad here.

I never tried Nexus Siege and I think League Of Legends have got rid of it now anyway.  I haven’t checked though.  I feel a bit bored with the game lately, ever since they got rid of Banner Of Command I’ve felt like the game has changed from one where you can out-think your opponent to one where you have to outplay your opponent.  Since I’ll never be able to outplay people way younger than me with better reflexes I feel like the game just isn’t for me anymore.  I’ll still probably play occasionally but I think it’s more something to watch now, it’s probably a better e-sport than it has ever been but it’s not fun as an actual game now.

Do what makes you happy.  We’re all in a global village or some bullshit right?  There’s no reason why you can’t have the best of both worlds and travel a bit.  But if I were you I’d be going where I could have the most uninhibited gay sex.

Hi Kpopalypse Oppar, I was just wondering, who’s your main in league of legends and what’s your main role/lane?

I only like to play support, and I will queue support as primary every single time.  I mainly play Nami, Morgana, Janna, Lulu, Leona, Zyra (in that order of preference).  If forced to play other lanes: for ADC I’ll play only Sivir or Miss Fortune.  Mid I’ll play Annie or Orianna only.  Jungle I’ll play Sejuani and nothing else.  I don’t top lane under any circumstances, I will dodge a game before playing top.

Hi Kpopalypse oppar! I’ve noticed you bash SNSD’s music quite often (which amuses me even tho I’m a SONE) and so I wanted to ask you if there is any song/album you like from them and why. Thanks for reading my question!

If you read here, here, here and here you will find songs of theirs that I like.  Researching before asking questions in QRIMOLE is your best friend!

Recently there are talks about how SM keeps giving their idols un-public friendly songs for their idol, which doomed to fail if it’s released by lesser known idol groups, their overdependency on foreign producers who have no idea what kind of songs your average korean want, and changing their sound and concept every single comeback.
Personally i like what SM do and i end up liking those songs anyway lol but i curious what you think about this. Thanks btw.

That’s been the case with SM since SM’s creation, they’ve always been the most forward about drawing in influences from overseas, and it’s that cross-pollenation which actually created the k-pop landscape of today as other agencies took SM’s lead (and arguably later surpassed them).  K-pop as we know it wouldn’t exist without this activity, it’d still sound like North Korean pop, we all have SM to thank for that.

Which Tarantino film was the ruined scene from?

In reference to the previous QrimoleJackie Brown (the most underrated of all Tarantino films).

How would you interpret the plagiarism controversy surrounding this song

I deleted your links.  Actually I didn’t even click on them.

Hi ~
do you believe in the kpop politic?
that some big companies try kill some groups that has positional to hit
if you do what group do you think had it or will have it
also a group male or female you think will hit big ?

I’m not entirely sure what you’re asking.  But Loona.

oppa you live in australia right? have you ever listening to indonesian music’s??

Yes and yes!  My favourite artists from Indonesia are Impiety and Diergo!

Did you see Tiffany’s interview with Zach sang? It was kinda hilarious to watch since they compared her to Zayn and basically just ignored that there was ever another english speaking member, or that that member left first. I was really hoping for some dirt on the jessica drama since tiffany left but i am DISAPPOINTED.

Never saw it.

Do you, like the rest of us mortals, have kpop songs that get stuck in your head despite you not liking them at all?

Yes but then I just start thinking of a better song and then the problem goes away.  That’s the good thing about listening to this kind of shit all the time.

What in your opinion are some underrated music genres you’d recommend (like specific subgenres)?

I was really disappointed that the “digital hardcore” groups from Germany (Atari Teenage Riot, EC8OR, Cobra Killer, Lolita Storm) never started a huge trend, they were just what was needed to kick the ass of lame techno at the time.  Of course trendy fucks weren’t into it but whatever.

Secondly, I have the feeling that Kpop has declined quality in the last few years. I only stan one group anymore (Vixx) and even their songs aren’t as great anymore as they used to be. Am I just getting older and growing out of the genre or are the songs being put out generally worse than 2009-2014 kpop? it feels like all the groups debuting right now are all the same or all fit one of several concepts. For me it was always about the music, I never related to many idols except the ones from my favourite groups, but now it even feels as if the idols have no uniqueness or personality like they used to. Thoughts?

I feel the same in that I don’t think things are as good now as they were in 2011 but then that’s partly why I make the effort to search up the stuff that I do.

hi oppar

I’m starting university next year and i’m planning on studying korean (as well as other things) because i’m a massive language nerd and korean is super interesting to me. But i’m very much aware of how cringy the rest of my classmates will be. i went to my university’s open day and the korean lecture they had and it was very clear that everyone was there because of kpop or kdrama or they wanted a chance to be included in the exchange programme.

So, how do i deal with this amount of cringe? How will I stay strong and manage to just focus on studying a subject i’m extremely interested in?

Thanks Oppar xx

There’s not much you can do except buckle up and get ready for the ride.  Hey, at least they’ll be enthusiastic!  Most will probably drop out though.

Are there any updates on SPUNKMOP? Any new members in the lineup? It’s been a while since you mentioned them so I was wondering.

We’re having a bit of trouble, these girls want to be paid and I don’t make that much money, so they just end up leaving when they realise that their limo rides and cocaine are probably a few years away.  Then I get more girls in and the process repeats.  Hard times, man.

I’ve read QRIMOLE ever since you started it but never submitted a question (preferring to ramble at you in surveys). But I have had something on my mind for a while and it might benefit me to run it by you.

Namely: I’m planning to homeschool my kids, probably starting later this school year. I’ve been thinking about this for a couple years at least but I’ve had commitments that make homeschooling not feasible, plus my older kid got into a different school this year and we were hoping that would solve the problem. It hasn’t. Suffice to say that both my kids seem to enjoy learning but don’t learn much at school; my older kid is angrier about it and my younger kid more accepting but they’re both openly bored. And the older one’s almost 10, which means we haven’t even gotten to the hell of middle school yet. We could try private school, but that’s wincingly expensive, among other drawbacks.

I like the idea of homeschooling for two reasons: one, I can give my kids more control over what they learn, rather than making them follow an inflexible state-set curriculum; two, I’d get to spend time with them without us all being exhausted from the public-school schedule (my alarm goes off at 5:45 am these days) and, in their case, snippy from hours of daily boredom. But it’s still pretty rare–not as rare here in the US as it is in Australia, but rare nonetheless, and I’ve long been the don’t-rock-the-boat type. So I’ve spent the past several months arguing with myself, going between various arguments against homeschooling (everything from “You know your older kid is going to manipulate you like the average K-pop company does its groups’ fans” to “If you withdraw your kids from school, other kids who might have benefited from your being involved in the school community will lose that benefit”) and then arguing with myself that I’m arguing with myself because I’m just being a coward. My husband’s on board; my kids like the idea (my older one’s all WHEN CAN YOU HOMESCHOOL ME ALREADY?); there’s just part of me that cringes at doing something so far outside the norm, and with my kids to boot.

And then I thought, “Kpopalypse is not afraid to tell questioners when they’re full of shit, plus he frequently runs questions from folks who are unhappy with school, so if *he* says, ‘Don’t homeschool FFS,’ then I’ll know I really do need to pay attention to the mental monologue issuing all these warnings.”

Arrrgh. The real question, as you have probably guessed, is “How do I quit doubting myself so damn much and trust that I am capable of coming to reasonable conclusions even if they aren’t endorsed by the surrounding community?” But it comes out as “Should I go ahead and homeschool?”

To reward you for getting through that mess, let me ask a slightly more fun question: I voted for a GFriend/Cannibal Corpse collaboration in the survey, despite not actually being familiar at all with Cannibal Corpse. What works of theirs would you recommend?

Thank you very much for your patience!

Okay, so firstly, I don’t have children, so take anything I say about this with a massive grain of salt, I have no experience in this area apart from being a student myself, and also answering questions from others who are usually students too.

However, if I did have children, I’m not sure if I would homeschool them.  I mean, yeah school does suck the big one, and I had a really fucked time at school personally, but I also think that there are probably some benefits from kids being taught a curriculum.  Not because the curriculum is any good, but precisely because it’s probably not any good – i.e I think teaching kids to think critically is important, if they can come home from a class and say “well, X was great but Y was kinda unneccessary and Z was bullshit” then that’s a good mental exercise.  The other thing to consider is that homeschooling is pretty high-maintenance way of raising children for whoever has to do the schooling.  Also, I’m not sure how much homeschooling will impact stuff like if they want to ever do university or something, will it make it harder to get in, I suspect maybe, I’d do some research on how your education system treats homeschooled kids in the event that they should actually want to re-enter the formal education system later of their own free will.  I can however definitely see the benefits of homeschooling though in terms of actual quality of education, the big question is will anyone else recognise that quality and does that matter or not.  Here’s a thought – maybe you could negotiate something with the school where you do half-in-half – homeschool on certain days, or perhaps just homeschool certain subjects.  That would depend a lot on your school and if they were willing to come to the party on that, probably not but it might be worth asking.  I mean, they can’t force you to do shit at the end of the day (or I doubt it) and it would be a good way of dipping your toe into the water.  If your school shits on the idea, just get your kids to call in sick two days a week and write them parent notes, then teach them from home on those days and see how it goes.  If it’s too hard, or a bad idea, you’ll soon know and then you can put them back into school if needed… or fuck the school off completely if home-schooling turns out better for everyone.  You probably know the answer to these questions better than me as I’m sure you’ve looked into a lot of this already.  Which of course leads into your real question, which is “given that I already know the answer, why do I need reassurance?” and I think the answer to that is that it’s quite healthy to seek advice from others just to confirm your thoughts and perhaps also bring aspects of the question into light that you maybe hadn’t considered (or hadn’t considered the importance of).  I often seek advice from trusted friends about big life decisions.  It’s not like I’ll necessarily do what they’ll say, it’s more that an outsider perspective is often a useful thing to have and can help me align my own thoughts.

Cannibal Corpse were never a group that I really got into even back when I was listening to death metal a lot.  They just didn’t seem to have good riffs or a very characteristic sound compared to some of the other groups that were active at around the same time (hence their inclusion in that answer, they could do with some of Gfriend’s catchiness).  It’s actually surprised me how successful they’ve been and that they’re now kind of considered to be the quintessential 1990s death metal group, as this definitely wasn’t the case back when I was listening to and searching out death metal actively, they were just “another group”.  However the big Cannibal Corpse hits are generally considered to be “Hammer Smashed Face” and “I Cum Blood” so check those out and if you like those you’ll like their other stuff too as it’s pretty much all like that!

Hey shithead caonima i really love your blog.
1.Do you think that the kpop industry will ever get past the “idol dating/fans getting pissed problem” or it will stay the way it is forever?
2.What is the first thing that you notice when listening to a song,a.k.a whats the first thing that you look for to find it listenable/good?

  1. Not unless the entire culture of the country changes
  2. Usually it’s the beat and textures used in the backing track – watch a few streams when I stream the Roundup selection process live and you’ll see

So ever since Twice’s songs have overall improved from 2017 onwards, you’ve noticed that there are girls in the group that actually MRS. Is this mere coincidence, or is it more natural for you to tell members apart when the group they’re in has released quality music?

Well it doesn’t fuckin’ hurt if there are good songs that give me a reason to watch the videos more than once, and therefore expose myself to the members more, so yeah it’s probably not a coincidence.  Obviously there’s a lot of subjectivity and chance involved as far as these things go.

Hi Oppar! Firstly, let me express my appreciation of your posts and insights. I love reading your work!
Secondly, my question might seem kinda dumb but it stems from ignorance on how singing actually works. I recently saw a video where a vocal coach watches a “support” singer vs “resonant” singer compilation where he explains what those 2 things are but reiterates many times that they are both highly interconnected, and that resonance occurs all the time. Is there really any difference or is it just misguided/incorrect use of music terminology to make oneself looks smart? Although the more important question would be, does it really even matter if a singer is “well supported” or “resonant” or both in the current state of the industry where everything is heavily produced and modified anyway?
OH! Another point the coach makes in the video is that the sound coming from the nose when going for higher notes is a good thing. But nasally/pitchy sounds are usually painful to hear, could you please explain what he means then?

Holy shit I’m not watching a 25 minute long video of some guy.  But the key points:

  • “Resonance” the way singers mean it is bullshit, more info here
  • “Support” is kinda bullshit too, more info here
  • Having a nasal voice (or not) is just a tone difference, it’s not good or bad on its own.  Some people don’t like to hear nasal voices, but then some people don’t like to hear a lot of things.
  • With very few exceptions (few enough to be meaningless in the grand scheme) k-pop idol singers don’t sing that well, and they don’t sing that well because they don’t need to sing that well.  It’s k-pop, not opera.  Why all these vocalfaggots who care so much about singing quality waste their time following k-pop in the first place I have no idea.  It’s like watching porn for the architecture, sure there’s sometimes good architecture in porn but it’s usually just accidental dumb luck and you can get better and more reliably-delivered architecture visuals elsewhere.

I’m still a bit mystified by why you like Elris’ “We, First” so much that you’d put it above the likes of “I (Knew It)” and “Suitable” in your 2017 best-of list. What exactly is your opinion on it from a technical standpoint? You said it’s full of melodies and color, but I don’t hear anything that sets it apart from their subsequent output.

“We, First” is a really densely-packed explosion of sound, which reminds me of some of the better songs from April (but even better than that).  There’s so much happening in there that I hear something new almost every time I listen.  There’s all this weird slap-bass, plus electronic bass as well, bouncy rhythms devoid of any R&B/trap wank, multiple layers of keyboards doing frankly some of the strangest shit I’ve ever heard on a song like this especially in that chorus, some strange fabric-tearing noise that I don’t even know what the fuck it is, but it all works and amazingly even though it’s weighed down by an armada of synths the net effect is a really light and breezy backing track.  The overall mood of the track is so filled with exuberance that perfectly matches the melodic content of the actual song, like a bunch of cute kittens in a cage all jumping around trying to get your attention, it just adds so much to the typical Apink/Gfriend formula.  It’s a great song and my opinion on it hasn’t changed from since I made the 2017 favourites list, and Elris have nothing else that sounds anything even remotely like this in their repetoire.

Why are Australians constantly living their best life? How do I harvest an ounce of that joy?

The cultural aspect of Australians always looking at the sunny side comes from the fact that early convict life in Australia was so fucked with so much bad shit happening to people that in order to survive people had to face the extreme tragedy around them with humour and an ability to be able to brush off the bad stuff and get on with things, otherwise they would just succumb to it.  Hence phrases like “she’ll be right mate” and a very casual laconic attitude to extreme situations, also hence stuff like this great meme that was linked to me recently.

Of course it’s a cultural stereotype, and while stereotypes do generally always exist because there is a grain of truth to them, there’s plenty of people in Australia who don’t fit into this too – many Australians are as prone to depression as anybody, for instance.  However this sort of attitude does form part of Australia’s “national identity” and is probably the closest that Australians actually get to anything resembling patriotism (certainly closer than those idiots who shout “aussie aussie aussie, oi oi oi” at sporting events, those people are not real Australians).  This cultural aspect also comes through in my own writing especially when it comes to laughter as a way to deal with tragedy etc.

So in summary, it’s not that we’re always full of joy, it’s that we’ve learned to embrace negativity in a really positive way.  Australians have very “negative” language but it’s always happy.  “Not bad”, “no problem”, “no worries”, etc.  Negativity is so embedded in Australian speech that we even stick “nah” in front of or behind “yeah” when we use it.  But it’s all good.  Just don’t ask for “shrimp” or Fosters beer if you ever come to Australia, and you’ll never see the negative side of an Australian.


That’s all for this month’s QRIMOLE!  This series will return next month, in the meantime stay safe out there!  Kpopalypse loves all of you!

Oh, and do you have a question that you’d like to see answered in the next episode of QRIMOLE?  If so, use the question box below, or if no box appears, click the Qri on the sidebar to open the box as a separate webpage!  Kpopalypse will return!

4 thoughts on “QRIMOLE – September 2018

  1. Song Machine is more just a light history of pop music (ok, series of anecdotes really.) It’s a fun reading seeing who’s connected to what, and what directly influenced something else. I read it at the very beginning of my kpox so it would be fun to go back and read the kpop parts again knowing what I know now. You might be more interested in David Byrnes How Music Works.

    • That David Byrne book has been recommended to me a few times and I’ve thought about reading it, but then I remember some of the awful music I had to put up with from him while growing up and think to myself “if that’s how you think music works, fuck your book” hahaha

  2. Another way of experiencing different tempos is to pick a song and play it on your phone alarm every morning. Let it sound for a while and listen to it. Later, try to do some exercise or other kinds of stressful physical activity and play that same song. You will likely notice that in the morning the song sounds fast, while when you are exerting yourself you even have to wait for each beat to drop because of it going slow motion.

    Why people consider themselves reliable witnesses for anything is a mystery.

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