QRIMOLE – March 2019

It’s time for another episode of QRIMOLE!  Let’s take a look at some questions for Kpopalypse!

Thank you for no word limit!
Also, I’m sorry in advance for this long rant…
And, after some writing, sorry again – this time for being such a mess – unfortunately all of my questions kind of tie in with each other…

I’ve just been listening to the podcast you linked (though I may have skipped a few parts you’re not in) and I realised I had so many questions that I would actually like to interview you myself if it wasn’t for a complete lack of audience…So I’m going to use this format instead 🙂

First of all, I was glad to hear you haven’t scrapped your ideas concerning more technical posts (music theory). Even though you’ve mentioned quite a few times that you’re using your blog as a platform to voice your own opinions it does have (at least to me) an educational edge. As someone who has been reading your blog since early 2013, it often looks to me like you’re getting more “fanservicey” in the sense that you’re trying to fulfill certain demands of your readers as well (eg. through your roundup posts). Would you agree with that? How do interactions with your readership influence the content you put out? (I’m also thinking about your tongue-in-cheek remarks about purposely pissing off certain fandoms; armys, moomoos etc.)

Regarding your statements on the podcasts about not supporting certain groups or producers due to a lack of continuity in sound, what is your stance on supporting kpop companies as a whole? If I remember correctly, you did mention that if anything, it would maybe make sense to “stan” the people who choose the sounds for a group and then demand certain products from songwriters. Especially with kpop being so trend-savvy, wouldn’t someone be able to reasonably claim that he stans a company for their “company sound” alone, at least for a certain amount of time?
Also, I find it very interesting how companies try to market not only their artists but also the company itself to fans. Do you believe that companies actively try to build their image off certain sounds or do you believe other aspects of marketing to be more important in that?
As an example of what kind of marketing I’m talking about, here’s a link to a video from the opening VCR to DAY6’s concert:
(It’s about three minutes long)
Interestingly, a Day6 concert review (from a kpop-unrelated source) mentions this video as an example of how commercialised kpop is (which I agree with) by claiming that JYP is using the concert to advertise his other groups (which I don’t agree with: I believe he’s advertising his company). Is this a strategy to build up fandoms specifically for new groups or is the ultimate goal of turning people into company stans really to have them support the company as a whole? Somewhat attached to that question, I would like to know whether you agree with something one of the girls on the podcast said, which is that groups are generally invested in for four years and the next three years the company just tries to reap in the benefits from that investment. Is that a general rule of thumb? If yes, do you know where it comes from? Do agencies actually plan out the careers for the entirety of the seven years they are more or less guaranteed to keep their idols under contract (unless someone sues or they go bankrupt)? Do you think the planning would differ between groups from big and small companies (with groups from larger companies surviving longer on average)?

When talking about competitiveness in the kpop industry, you talked about how it creates a pressure to do well, but also about how it increases diversity. Could you elaborate on that? After all, the same argument of competition could be used to explain why groups choose to follow trends in the first place, actually creating less diversity (especially in light of how many groups have been accused of trying to be e.g. the new SNSD over the years – competition seems to explain copy-paste just as well as or even better than it explains diversity).
Could you also explain on what levels competition exists? I feel like competition is usually mentioned in regards to either idols or companies, but how about songwriters and producers?

You also talked about kpop groups often being perceived as not artistically credible in Western societies. I very much agree with that, having often heard that it’s “commercialised” and the music “inauthentic” due to not being written by the artists themselves. Do you have any explanation why kpop is perceived that way? Why are the same concerns not being raised when talking about Western pop music, where the same rules apply (a few examples: Shakira’s song “Waka Waka” is World Cup promo song; David Bowie, Whiney Houston did in fact advertise for Coca-cola – though Metallica did not; Ariana Grande doesn’t write her own songs).

Lastly, thank you for pointing out the purpose of idol groups:
When that one girl talked about WayV, she asked: “Are they promoting these guys to sell them?”
The short and poignant answer would be: yes.
It may also be interesting to add that WayV and NCT as a whole actually attempt to do something that has in a similar manner been tried out before by both Super Junior and EXO. Back when Super Junior debuted, they were supposed to have a graduation concept similar to NCT now. The fans basically went bananas because they were worried about their favorites getting kicked out, which (next to plain racism) led to members Zhoumi and Henry (both Chinese) not being included in the official lineup, but rather added into a subunit performing in Chinese, which did considerably well in Taiwan (even after Super Junior’s only official Chinese member HanGeng left). EXO-M famously didn’t really work out as well – but not for reasons of marketing. EXO did after all kickstart the careers of all four original Chinese members, who all appear to be doing really well by now.
So the history of SM’s boygroup advances in China does, similar to what you’ve described, consist of a lot of trial and error, and I also believe they have a legitimate chance of doing well based on the fact that they have already done well in that specific market in the past.

I guess that’s it for today; not because I ran out of questions, but because I’m tired. I hope I haven’t tired you out as well.

Greet your cat from me!
CaoNiMa (but not Boram, please)

Wow, that’s a lot of questions!  Okay, so in order:

  • While I’m sure that it’s quite clear to everybody that I do primarily write for myself (because if I don’t find something that I write interesting, how can I expect anyone else to do the same) I think that readers do definitely influence my content to some extent.  The reason for it is that the blog has been running for a long time, and has gotten to the point where most of the really big burning issues in k-pop have already been covered years ago, and I don’t want to just keep repeating myself, so I’m always looking for ways to make the content different, and taking into account reader feedback can play a very helpful part in that.  If a lot of readers are saying “I’d like to see more of X” and X is something I haven’t really covered very much, then I feel like there’s a really good opportunity there to do something that people will appreciate and that I’ll also find interesting to write about, because it will be different.  As long as I write it in a way that’s true to myself then I think that’s fine.  However there’ll also always be content that absolutely nobody asked for – like the recent computer game “Escape from the Idol Dungeon” for instance.
  • If a company uses a particular sound consistently then yes it does make sense to say “I’m a fan of that sound” or “I’m not a fan of that sound”.  However even songwriters within companies often also write outside of those companies.  Ultimately, I don’t care that much – I just worry about if I like a song or not, and sure, if a company consistently produces music that I like or hate, I’m sure to notice, but I also realise that the situation changing for that company is as simple as a change in staff, or a change in an artistic director’s mood.  So it’s not something that I think is worth getting as invested in as k-pop fans tend to get.
  • Yes I think that companies do try to build certain sounds in some cases but I don’t think that’s ever the sole concern for a really big company, rather it’s a means to an end – for instance YG deliberately has a more modern sound to their productions, not just because they like modern sounds, but because they want their idols to be perceived as “hip”, which then makes them more marketable as a “hip” idol who might attract a certain type of endorsement more, etc.
  • Obviously having “company stans” is a great situation for any company – and not just music companies.  It means that any new product they put out has a ready-made audience.  Selling the “culture of the company” is definitely part of marketing these days on many levels.  Look at how Apple, Microsoft etc sell themselves, by connecting a “lifestyle” to their brand, so that when you buy the new iPhone (which you didn’t really need because this is like your fourth iPhone and the others are still working and just sitting in a drawer somewhere), what’s attracting you is not just the product but the lifestyle and culture that product symbolises.  Any company wants to build up “company stans” any way they possibly can!
  • Idols are under long contracts because the expenses of floating an idol group are huge (especially one with many members).  It’s true that most groups don’t actually start turning a profit for a long time, because even though they’ve debuted and may be making bank, the label is still spending at a fast rate on promotions, music videos, tours etc to try and build that momentum.  Yes it’s true that labels can theoretically lie about expenses, but there’s no reason for them to do so when the modus operandi of labels is “if my artist is making a profit, I need to spend more” and that a label can easily spend hand-over-fist quite legitimately on worthless promotional bullshit all day.  That’s why Block B took their old label to court over getting paid $14 collectively and still lost – the books checked out.  An agency can easily keep their idols in debt forever because there’s often no contractual cap on their promotional expenditure – only the smartest of independent artists negotiate that type of clause into a contract.
  • With increased competition, there’s obviously everyone fighting to hop on the latest trend and have a breakout hit with it.  However there’s also the other strategy – having a breakout hit with something totally different that appeals to an untapped market.  Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit” may sound pretty cliched today but the reason why it made such an impact was because in 1992 nobody in the commercial sphere was doing that sound, it sounded fresh at the time and exactly like what was needed.  If you want a Korean example, Busker Busker’s “Cherry Blossom Ending” probably catered to a similar demand from people in Korea getting over the Golden Age idol explosion.
  • Competition in Korean pop exists at any point where there is a transaction between entity A and B that could have potentially happened between entity A and C.  The sky is the limit here.  Idols, companies, producers, songwriters, engineers, tour agents, stylists, the guys who make the packaging in some factory somewhere, the office cleaners, etc etc…
  • There’s a presumption in western pop music (which isn’t always correct, but it sometimes is), that even if the artist isn’t writing their own material, or are doing some cheesy advert or whatever, that they’re still creatively “signing off” on the product and that anything that their label is making them do had to at the very least meet their tacit approval.  So that’s a vision of the artist as a kind of “creative executive director”.  In Korean pop, this isn’t assumed, there’s a wide acknowledgement (by anyone with their eyes open) that the idols have virtually no say in anything at all, so this is where the “inauthenticity” lies, the idea that we’re not getting the input from “the soul of the artist”.  There’s of course a beneficial flipside – if Madonna does a Pepsi advert and we don’t like it, we blame Madonna, but if Jennie does a sprite advert and we don’t like it, we blame YG.
  • Cat says meow

How common is stuff like this in entertainment industries? Also if it’s this bad in the Western industry, would it be much worse in Korea?

Pretty common.  Yes.

I won’t speak for or against the legitimacy of the specific linked incident, but I wouldn’t say incidents like that are unusual in the west generally speaking.  Transplant that sleazy music industry executive scenario over to Korea who are a bit behind the west in terms of the social acceptability of women being forthright and outspoken etc, add in the corruption of the k-pop scene generally including the ties to prostitution and organised crime, and it’s not hard to imagine that Korea have it worse.

Thanks for answering my question about Queen! I feel a lot more satisfied.

I have a follow up question: You called their songs “pop” songs and them as “pop” musicians. Now I’m aware that pop literally stands for popular so I get why you called them that. They were definitely the pop music of their generation. However, they are (or their music is) classified as rock. And rock music has it’s distinctive identity in terms of how it generally sounds (or at least that’s what I feel. Like how Queen’s music is distinctly different from Madonna? I might be wrong here). So what would the “pop” music of this generation be called a few years down the line? I’m referring to people like Taylor Swift, Lady Gaga etc. who are widely famous and successful. They are called pop music but surely what is “popular” will change in a few years right?

Or am I overthinking this whole thing and Queen is just a popular rock band? I think then my question would be was it just that they were a popular rock band or did their songs follow structures and rules of pop-songs and they just happened to play it out with instruments that made them sound rock?

I’d probably loosely categorise Queen as “pop/rock” because they did both.  Many of their songs are obviously rock music, but then they also did stuff that was very much on the pop end.  There isn’t a clear distinction between the two things.  “Pop” music does mean “popular” of course, but it also loosely means “the type of music that is designed to be popular” whether it actually is or not.  The Beatles were also both a pop group and a rock group, and some songs were “rockier” than others, but despite the odd outlier they were certainly making “pop music” of a sort even when it wasn’t all “Love Me Do” type stuff.  I think the big artists of today will still be considered pop in the future, but pop music will obviously change somewhat also.

What is your opinion on support of an artist post-fuckup/ethically bad behaviour? eg. Chris Brown, R.Kelly, Kanye being a twat in general. Do you separate the music from the artist?

Well I don’t buy any of the artists you mentioned, but that’s because their music sucks, not because of any of their crappy behaviour.  Bad people have a tendency to make bad music, most of the time, which is convenient.  As for someone who I might disagree with morally even though I think they made good music (Phil Spector springs to mind), I’d still listen to their music, I’d just keep my distance from them, like I probably wouldn’t buy the VIP package and do the hi-touch, or encourage that everyone I know listen to them – at the very least I’d present their music that I liked along with the unfiltered reality of my disagreements with them as people, so others could make up their own minds about it all.  Having said that, if an opportunity came up to converse with someone like that “safely” I’d probably take it, not to promote those people, but just because it would be interesting to talk to someone with such radically opposed morals and points of view to my own.  Those kinds of experiences are always educational.

Hi Kpopalypse! I know your focus is on the tracks themselves, but have there been any live/music show performances that have changed your opinion on a song, for better or for worse?

No.  There have been performances which have certainly changed my opinion of the artists in general, but not my opinion of the actual songs themselves.  Exception is if an artist does a radically different version of the same song in a live setting, but then you could kinda argue that it’s almost a different song at that point anyway.

However sometimes listening to a song through a live sound system does make some difference in terms of my perception of that song just for that specific environment.  For instance “Ring My Bell” by Girl’s Day is a much better song at live concert volume due to the way it’s been mixed, and I’m expecting Blackpink’s “Ddu-du Ddu-du” to also similarly benefit from a concert sound system.

Hi oppar,

This is a Jpop video but my question is quite relevant for Kpop, I hope.

This video is one snippet of a concert performed by Jpop idol group Morning Musume, a group under Hello Project. This agency tend to ask their idols to sing live in their concerts without background vocals. They have like 5 or 6 concerts a year and could go for straight 20-30 minutes of heavy dance and vocals. The problem is, many of their lead singers, seems to have a vocal cord nodules surgery before they left the group. I always think, isn’t it quite extreme?

In Kpop world where MR removed and live performance always praised, do you think this thing could also happen in Kpop? Could it be, in a way, considered as worker abuse?

Thank you for your answer oppar

Wow, a j-pop question AND a vocalfaggot question all in one!  You’re bold!

I don’t give a shit about if some girls in Morning Musume have vocal nodules, I hope every j-idol gets them, then the Japanese can stop making crappy pop music and go back to what they’re actually good at which is making weird fucking shit.

K-pop singers lip-sync to backing tracks so much, and sing so little on their own songs, to the point where this sort of shit simply isn’t an issue.  More information here.

Hi oppar,

I assume by the time you read this, you have listened to CLC’s No. Part of me was surprised that the song only finished in 3 minutes and the chorus (the only part that seems to tie all parts together) were like missing at the end. It is highly unusual for me, because many songs tend to give the climax/adlib to emphasize the chorus before it ends. However, I realized that it keeps me repeat the song. Is it their intention or probaly something else? Do you have any thoughts about this?

Thank you

It’s not that uncommon.  YG groups do it often, instead of going to the third chorus they’ll throw in a tangent instead.  “Forever Young” is a good example of this.

It’s certainly a deliberate decision, there are few accidents in pop music on this kind of level.  Whether it works depends on your preferences I guess, in this case with CLC it clearly had the intended effect on you.

What’s the name of the “pipe” sound that plays in CLC’s No at 0:23 seconds and throughout the song? is there like a synth library that has it? It sounds super 90’s and I want to emulate it in my songs

It’s a “chime”, also known as a “tubular bell”.  Below is the real deal, the version on the CLC track sounds synthesised or at least beefed up with synthetic reverb etc.

Hey Kpopalypse-oppa. I hope you are in good health and happy

What do you think that must be considered before finally choose a title track? I read this Gfriend’s interview about their title track, that makes me recalled many of their reason when choosing the title track is because the song is perfect for the season. Even they change the title track to Sunrise because that reason. I am not against Gfriend but is it kinda low? Or is it simply reasonable?

Looking back at their repackaged mini with Summer Rain, they have the opportunity to choose Rainbow which quite amazing and I believe somehow, that Summer Rain chosen because season.

Thank u oppa

Well a rainbow happens during rain, right?  So it could be argued that both songs could represent the same season.  I don’t think that’s it.  The “seasonal” trend in k-pop is lame and stupid anyway.  It’s like the whole fucking country has Seasonal Affective Disorder.  What a bunch of softcocks Koreans are – they can handle a war that drags on for 70 years but have to go and cry and make sad songs when it rains a bit, goddamn.

The fact that BBC only have 15 employees makes me really think about the cost of an entertainment agency to support their artists. It means that they have to maintain lots of outsource departments, including composing songs, managing activities, SNS, make up and design, choreography, and other things. Is it way cheaper to do that for a newborn company?

Yes it’s somewhat cheaper – but the main benefit is in logistics rather than raw cost.  Why go to the massive struggle of learning how to do Thing A effectively when you can just cherry-pick the services of another company that specialises in Thing A and already knows their shit back to front.  Outsourced company structures often just make good sense, from that perspective alone, before money itself even comes into it.

Hi Kpopalypse,

I’m an old man now, but I studied piano and music theory quite seriously throughout grade school, and completed the entire curriculum of the training system that I was enrolled in (the Royal Conservatory of Music). However, most of what you talk about when you talk about technical things goes way over my head. I understand that my training was mostly meant as an extracurricular activity for children, and is relatively mickey mouse compared to the stuff you learn in university arts programs, but I am honestly astounded as to how weak I am and how little I know, even though I have passed every practical and theory exam in the curriculum.

I don’t know if you have heard of McDojos; they are ‘martial arts’ training centers that are basically belt mills with no provenance where children wear white pajamas and punch air, so that their parents can have a cheap babysitter for a few hours. They learn little to no real martial arts, and the belt system is not traditional at all – it is merely a way so that there can be a clearly visible sign of ‘progress’ so that parents will continue to pay instruction fees.

My question is this: are these music curricula a type of McDojo for music? Do they even build a credible foundation for further learning and expansion of musical ability, or are they merely a way to leech money while pretending to be some sort of ancient genteel art? If it’s the latter, how would you recommend I unlearn what I have learned and build a far more stable foundation where I can self-sustain my music learning?

What bothers me about a lot of music theory training, is that context usually isn’t given until a long, long time after you’ve learned the rudiments.  For instance, my old music teachers had me learning how to write cadences, but nobody ever told me what the fuck cadences were actually for.  Also I learned all those silly names of the scale degrees like “submediant” and “supertonic” but there was never any context given to that either, because you don’t get taught about functional harmony until many years after they teach you those scale degree names.  If my music teachers had started with the functional harmony aspects before they got into the details like that, I would have probably given a lot more of a fuck, because I would have understood the logic behind it and it wouldn’t have seemed so arbitrary and nonsensical.

The other thing that shits me about formal music coaching is the incredible snobbery and the idea that just because someone wrote something 200 years ago instead of last week it’s automatically an objectively better piece of music.  There’s not a lot of room for subjectivity in music curriculum, but what’s being studied isn’t an objective science and there’s no acknowledgement of that because these people want to justify their positions as educators and you can’t do that if you’re saying things like “it’s okay to think the first three Carcass albums are better than Beethoven’s Fifth”.  In the real world of music, if you’re actually thinking about it as some form of income-generation, it pays to be as flexible as you possibly can be, because you’re not going to get opportunities that only line up with your specific music taste, you’re probably going to have to branch out in all sorts of directions to get a steady stream of money happening.  Formal music training sometimes acknowledges this, but often doesn’t – the teachers have often spent so much time teaching and so little time doing anything else that they often have no idea how what they’re teaching actually relates to the real world of music anymore.

Having said all that, there’s no harm to the knowledge itself, just understand that it’s just one narrow view of what music theory actually is.  That’s why my music theory posts probably seem a bit weird, I’m deliberately taking a broader approach which is more pragmatic, because I’m interested in functionality and experience, rather than just strict learning for recitation.  Yes there are times where my teachings will match up to the music textbooks more or less exactly, but there’ll also be times where it differs significantly.  One example – my interpretation of “pedal point harmony” differs from the textbook interpretation and that’s completely deliberate, because the textbook interpretation has a very strict definition that actually ignores the functional implications of what the existence of a pedal point (or ‘points’) does, psychoacoustically.  I’ll write more about that at a future time.

Oppar, what do you think about Seungri’s club, Burning Sun case? I always got reminded by your statement that kpop is basically a super big organized crime system, so I tend to believe that it’s true that polices there got bribed and Seungri was really involved followed with more idols and kpop executives, but idk, some of the fans sometimes could come up with ambiguously believable claims also, so now I ended up being confused.

Any industry with a super-morally-upright public face is always going to have a seedy underbelly, and the more they pretend to be “good people” on the surface, the more bad shit is going on underneath.  That’s why I don’t trust the face-value statements of a single person who pretends to be offended by my writing, and that’s also why I don’t trust anything that happens at Korean nightclubs.  In such a controlled super-conservative society you know that the nightlife is going to be a wild antidote to all that.  Here’s a thought – what we’re hearing about isn’t actually what’s happening, it’s just the parts that have clumsily made their way to the surface because some people fucked up somewhere along the line.  The issue isn’t whether some idol was involved or not, the real issue is all the other shit going on that will never see any scrutiny because a celebrity that some people care about isn’t involved.

how do kpop idols lip-sync that good?

Practice.

is it true that in japan lip-syncing in concerts is banned?

No idea.  Why would I care, this isn’t Jpopalypse.  It doesn’t matter anyway, tons of them use Autotune and vocoders.

hi kpopalypse,

1) seungri said yg only gave him 2 dancers for his concert, and (as expected) shortly after apologized for saying this. (isn’t it interesting that idols say racist or other bad things but never apologize.) anyway, my question is do you think why yg didn’t hire more dancers for seungri’s concert? it’s not like yg is broke or sth.

2) why do companies treat their old idols whom has many fans badly? we all know idols are the companies’ products aka income source, aren’t companies scared that the veteran idols they’re treating badly don’t renew their contracts with them?

3) why some idols even though they get treated badly still renew their contracts with companies?

4) why do we fall in love with celebrities to the point of spending their hard earned money on them? what’s their trick?

thank you in advance!

ps: sorry for any spelling or grammatical errors.

  1. Seungri is a solo artist, he doesn’t need tons of dancers.  He knows it too.  He was just giving YG some friendly shit and everyone (of course, as they always do in the k-pop fan world) took a friendly onstage joke too far.
  2. Veteran idols who aren’t major earners are usually past their use-by dates as far as the company is concerned.
  3. They might not have any other good options.  Also, maybe what you think is “bad treatment” on the surface maybe isn’t.  For instance some fans interpret “hardly any lines in a song” as bad treatment, but what if that person doesn’t like singing that much anyway.
  4. Well it’s more than one trick.  Maybe something for me to write about later.

What’s your read on the issues between Coco and MOLE? Even skeptical sites like AJ seemed to think the company’s rebuttal was fairly strong. For some reason, I keep hearing you let out guttural laughter at the “We always put our artists and their fans before profit” line in my head, though.

and

Hello! I was curious if you have been following the controversy surrounding the Kpop idol CoCo from the (now defunct) duo CoCoSoRi and the legal battle between her and M.O.L. Entertainment and if so, what your thoughts are on it and who you think is right and wrong?

I just found out about her song Sugar Cake, and I like that song quite a bit but the messy situation between her and her management has got me questioning whether I should support CoCo or not, especially since M.O.L. Entertainment has given their side of the story in a very detailed and well written manner.

I haven’t even looked at it all closely and I haven’t been following that whole drama, because I don’t care about drama really and some in-fighting between girls in a girl group doesn’t concern me.  Normal situation anyway, to be honest.  What I can tell you however is that I did ask Coco for an interview (not specifically about that situation), and she said that she’d like to do one when her contract expired, but couldn’t talk before then because she would get into shit with her company and that would possibly cause problems for her and trap her in a longer situation.  So I said that was cool and I understood and to get back to me when she’s ready – and then she never emailed me back and just told everyone a bunch of stuff anyway and then that shit went and blew up in her face.  This is what happens when people who really should do Kpopalypse Interview drag their feet and don’t get around to it.  Idols, take note!

1. Any thoughts on JYP “new task force method” on managing k-pop artists, is that method actually that innovative and could that change the kpop landscape significatively ?
JYP himself explains on detail in this video

2. Do you imagine in the near future JYP as one of the biggest music companies worldwide? As far as media says, he will be debuting 4 new groups on this year and taking into consideration that Twice was the “pilot” project of this new “method” and the results were fantastic, Twice kicked boygroups asses, will the the new groups experience some kind of similar success as Twice achieved?

3. Is this the beginig of the new era of kpop? i live in latin america very close to the US so, whats popular there its popular here (almost every time), the american/european music scene its obviously on a decline, we can see it on famous awards ceremonies that get lower and lower ratings every year because they dont care about those artists and many people even moved into “obscure indie” genres, kpop or reggaeton and rap (which most of the people still hate it (in latinamerica and the us) but still, it’s what we got) so, do you think the kpop companies will capitalize “this opportunity” on a mass scale to try to be the next reigning worldwide “sound, genre,aesthetic”? even anthony fantano (“the self proclaimed most famous music reviewer right now”) he was a firm believer that this would never happen before bts settled in america(the continent), recently said that he was expecting to see more kpop acts in the american tv and their albums in the biggest nationwide music stores (not just bts but also twice, blackpink, got7, red velvet…next to taylor swift, rihana, eminem, beyonce in the shelfs). Thanks in advance and sorry for the loooong question but i wanted to hear your perspective of this “situation” in dept

  1. People for some reason think I want to listen to 25 minutes of JYP talking about his business directions and I really fuckin’ don’t.  Why would I care what he does.  It seems to be working out well enough for him so the proof is in the pudding I suppose, but it’s not my money so I don’t care.  I’m happy if he just writes more songs and puts out more songs, if they’re good songs.  Whatever enables that is fine, I don’t care about the details.  Just because I know a lot about business doesn’t mean I care – I have my own business to handle!  Questions like this make me feel like I’m at work.  Maybe if I didn’t have to make money working and pay a mortgage I’d be able to care about this more.  But probably not.
  2. Don’t know, don’t care.  Guess we’ll all find out eventually, I’m happy to wait until then, I’m not interested in businessfagging and the fortunes of these companies and I think it’s a real shame that people sometimes latch onto my posts because they’re primarily interested in playing an OCD numbers game about which company is on top or handling their business better or whatever fucking bullshit instead of the stuff that actually matters, like if good music is being made and if their favourite idols are being starved in rape dungeons and used as sex slaves in nightclub drug deals.
  3. No.  The best you can hope for is a strong cult following for a certain group or (very small amount of) groups.  Metallica is the biggest metal band right now and they’re huge, one of the biggest bands ever to exist – but we’re not all listening to only metal these days, it didn’t start a massive influx of metal on the pop charts.  BTS might achieve the same thing Metallica did but for k-pop (or another group might, in the future) but it won’t “change the industry”, it’ll just be a case of one group being really big and a lot of other groups not being really big.

Dear kpopalypse,

I hope you are healthy and okay. I have a question regarding KPOP companies, because there is one thing that I really don’t understand, but it is kinda common.

KPOP companies tend to debut ballad groups out of nowhere. MBK did that and now; Cube did that too. They debuted a ballad group “A Train to Autumn” in November 2018 without fanfare or something.

I tend to follow lots of ballad groups and female soundcloud rappers (I should probably return my caonima license), thus I know that they will never achieve big earnings for the company. My question is now: What is the point of a ballad group and/with a “phantom debut”? Most of these ballad groups that nobody knows disappear very fast. I can’t even remember a successful ballad group in “big KPOP company.” What is the goal of CUBE?

It doesn’t make sense to me.

Yours sincerely

a caonima

Ballad groups are really popular within Korea, they’re not really aimed at the overseas market as much.  They also don’t have as many overheads as an idol group, because you don’t need to train choreography for months on end before every song comes out, they’re cheap to run.  CUBE might have made little from that group but they probably also spent next to nothing, and hey someone’s gotta do those boring fucking songs on OSTs.

Hello. Your posts have helped me so much in defining why I like a particular piece of music. Thank you. Usually, after listening to a song (not just kpop, but any song), I usually look for other renditions or cover of the song to hear what it sounds like if sung acapella; or with only one accompaniment; or played on a single instrument without vocals; or sometimes even how it sounds if adapted to another genre. This is one way for me to determine what I like about the song. Also I have found that there are sometimes covers that I prefer over the original recording.
1. I wonder if this is disrespectful to the artist, composer, or producer?
2. How do they (or you also) feel about it? I wonder if you can share some anecdotes about artists/composers/producers’ reactions to covers of their original songs especially now with Youtube where there can be acapella, acoustic, metal, reggae, or even chipmunk versions of a song.
3. Are there songs in your kpop worst-lists that you have found to be actually good if rendered differently? Like if you just play it on the guitar, it would actually be good.
4. Lastly, if you watch these types of youtube covers, have you discovered better versions? Can you share some links please? (I have to note that I like it when your posts have many links). Thank you.

  1. Well it’s certainly not disrespectful to the composer because it’s still the same song and the composer wrote it.
  2. I think it’s fine to do different version of things, and I’ve done many covers in my time too.  I always enjoy cover versions more when they’re quite different from the originals and the cover artist is really putting their own unique spin on the song.
  3. I think Rui’s “I Don’t Care” would sound great if Ministry did it.
  4. Marmello’s guitar covers are always great.

Would you know of some songs that sound like the intro of BTS’ “Fake Love”? The overall song itself is pretty meh, but I did think the sort of mood that it seems to set (especially with that guitar) in the beginning was interesting. If you have any recommendations, I’d like to hear some nice, maybe more intense songs in that sort of genre or with that vibe. I’d appreciate it a lot!

I actually really like the guitar in it too, just not anything else about it.

I can’t quite place anything with that specific vibe in it, but just listen to this because it’s better.

This isn’t a question for you, but a promise to report back on my experience.

Much to my surprise, Sunmi is touring in the US, and is coming to Washington, DC, where I live part-time, to a 1,225 person venue. I have all these questions about how her production will be handled—where on the scale of mall performance to m-net comeback will her production values be? How many back-up dancers will she have? Are they going to be flown in from Korea or is be US based? (I know that when Ke$$ha toured in Canada they hired Canadian dancers to support that leg of the tour.) If US-based what will the racial composition of the dancers be? Will she do her JYP songs?

… will report back. Anything else that you recommend I pay attention to?

Where your personal belongings are, and your hydration levels.

Let me know how it goes!

You often refer to 2013 as “the year of the nugu”, but your Best list and your Honorable Mentions seem to feature a fair amount of popular songs as well, andand opposite happens with the Dishonorable Mentions, where half of them are from underrated groups ?

Actually I don’t recall ever referring to 2013 as that.  I haven’t really noticed the patterns you’re pointing out.  But maybe there’s something in it.  Big artists don’t tend to tank much, but when they do the results sure are bad.

Do you have any other examples of songs that were close to being honorable/dishonorable mentions besides Kiss Later?

Most of what Loona brought out in 2018 would have probably got on had I bothered to expand the list a bit more.

If sorn was born in a box of corn, do you think she would make porn with a lorn horn that’s well worn but slightly torn?

I pour scorn on this worn question adorned with thorny drawn-out orns, I bet you’re as lovelorn as John Zorn.

Do you think that if you didnt have knowledge about music theory and all that, maybe you’d like some songs that you dislike now?

No.  However I might have less knowledge of why I disliked those songs.

Are there any Australian artists you are liking recently?

Yes, but I don’t want to name them.

What would suspended harmony in tropical house, trap, R&B or jazz sound like?

I can’t recall an example off the top of my head, but I’m sure some exist.  It has the most potential to appear in tropical house or trap, it’s a very rare R&B or Jazz song that would go for that specific sound, because the suspended sound is more associated with classical-style forms rather than jazz-blues style.

Ok first of all this is NOT a jpop question, it is merely a question about MASTERING/MUSIC PRODUCTION.

Why do these akb48 songs (linked at the end of the question) sound so weirdly “compressed”?? I don’t know about music engineering so I can’t describe it, but it’s like there’s way too much cheap synth sounds going on at the same time but only a couple of instruments (guitars) are actually audible over the mix. Like there’s a “soup” of noise going in the back, and only the vocals and the farty synths are distinguishable.

Literally every other jpop/kpop group has better mixing, even akb has songs that don’t sound like this so wtf is going on here? btw Iz*one’s new japanese song also has this same mixing even if they use different instrumentation, I swear I’m not going mad.
Is it just incompetent engineering (which sounds impossible given that this group is loaded) or do they do this in purpose to make old pervert fans become deaf? This has been bugging me for ages and it’s one of the reasons why I left akb fandom for kpop at the end

Any google inquiry about brickwalling (Oasis’s music is loud but clear) and compressed dynamic ranges only gave me useless audiophile forum wanker results.

Links (sorry in advance for making you listen to this) 1 2 3

It’s a J-pop question, stop trying to pretend otherwise.  But I forgive you, just this once.

It’s not a mastering issue.  It’s also not specifically about brickwalling the sound, which western pop does just as much of as pop anywhere else.  I think it’s just the texture of the instrumental choices that are bugging you, they have a lot of stuff in kind of the same frequency range, and then the vocals on top of that also in a similar range, it’s a really dense kind of sound.  I think if you were to look at a spectrograph of it, and then compared it to something more traditionally k-pop that you actually enjoy the sound of, you’d see the difference in the results.

So, i heard Hong Jin Young for the first time a couple of weeks ago and i truly enjoyed it, it was better than most of the last year of kpop and i even bought a bunch of her songs on itunes so my questions are: since you’re a huge connosieur in korean music could you recommend some great trot songs? and, is Hong Jin Young the best trot singer currently? greetings from my third world country

You’re welcome.

So I’ve been getting into composing and music production lately, and now I think I want to start writing lyrics to my songs. Do you have any tips for writing lyrics? When I compose I always have a Kpop song I use a reference so I know what kind of song I want to make but with with the lyrics, the english translations can be kind of awkward so it’s hard to completely use them as reference.

The best advice I can give is to start with the idea.  With the right idea, the song will come to you easily, but without any framework you’ll have writer’s block.  So start thinking about why you want to write songs and what exactly you’d like to say in them.  The language used isn’t as important as the overall concept and message.

how did you learn to make a computer game?

I taught myself!  I used to program a little in BASIC when I had a Commodore 64 growing up, after teaching myself out of books, and that taught me the basics of how computer programs work, I also used to write adventure games in a language called Quill.  Lately I’ve been programming a little in Python, just basic stuff, because I’m finding that Python is really good for automating boring tasks like filling in spreadsheets etc. which is useful professionally.  I’m still very new to it however, I’m not a programmer by trade.  The computer game “Escape from the Idol Dungeon” is at its core in a language called Ruby but it’s made with the RPGMaker VX Ace engine which honestly takes a lot of the hard coding work out of the game, although you do still need to understand things like flow control and variables in order to make a game anything more than just a simple beat-em-up style RPG.  All high-level programming languages like the ones I’ve been using follow similar principles so it wasn’t too hard to get to grips with.  I don’t think I’d be able to program in something lower-level like C++ though, that’d be a bit beyond me.

Normally I would ask something like this on ask.fm but you answer a bit too bluntly and meanly I’m too afraid to ask or have conversation lol. I feel like I waste your time there soo.. can you give CSJH a chance, they have really good talented voices, seriously.

I spend most of my time not listening to k-pop listening to stuff that sounds like this:

Think I give a fuck how well someone sings?  No.  “Good singers” can fuck right off.  CSJH had no good songs.  A “good singer” does not make a bad song good.

I hope this reply met required standards of bluntness and meanness.  Don’t worry though, I love all readers, especially the ones with enough nuts to ask questions that might be received questionably!  Even if your question wasn’t actually a question.  So please don’t be insulted or discouraged, I appreciate your input.  Perhaps just reflect and return with a better question next time.

Best and worst K-Pop B-Side tracks you’ve ever heard (excluding filler ballads)? I think my favorites are GFriend’s Flower Garden, BTS’ The Truth Untold and WJSN’s I-Yah, while the worst one is Twice’s Candy Boy (such an unlistenable mess ugh).

No idea.  People always ask me questions about album tracks and I just ignore them every time.  I don’t listen to enough shitty filler album tracks to be able to really keep track of what songs are worse than what other songs.  My opinion wouldn’t be worth much.  I don’t have time to listen to whole albums, I’m a busy caonima with shit to do, so I rely on the companies to put their best foot forward and feature their best material, if they’re incapable of doing that much then they deserve their creative output to be ignored anyway.

Just realised that the chorus to Up & Down sounds quite a lot like Crazy In Love’s, so I wonder why you like the former song but dislike the latter ?

Are you serious?  They sound nothing like each other.  The only thing they have in common is instrumentation – female voices and a bit of brass.  But then that describes about 50% of modern pop choruses ever.  “Crazy In Love” is a horrible song and the chorus is just bland yelping R&B trash, EXID actually has some chord progressions and melody in there.  Beyonce is shit and everything she’s ever done is garbage, I’ll thank you and everyone else to never mention this musical cancer-stick on anything connected to this site ever again thank you.

Would you accept this trainee to be a part of your upcoming girl group SPUNKMOP?

No, I’m not auditioning for a Hatsune Miku concept group.

At 2:27 in TST’s Wake Up, is that an example of pedal point harmony?

Not a good one.  For now you should all be able to use my pedal point harmony post to discover these yourself instead of asking me about them, but for those of you who are still struggling, eventually my music theory series will go there.

Hey! Ever since the Itzy song came out I kept wondering why it sounded soo KidzBop
(they cannot sell the “I’m better than other girls because IDFC what others think” concept at all bcuz they have already changed their faces with minor surgeries and fillers already) BUT THEN I FOUND OUT WHY!

the “dalla” “because i am special” hooks are exactly like na haeun’s debut song!

why do you think JYP gave these girls such a concept when they are just like other girls? how can people with brains actually eat this shit up?

Er, no.  Apart from one tiny phrase in the chorus, which isn’t even the same notes, tempo or rhythm, the songs sound nothing like each other.  I can see how it’s enough to remind you of the other song but it’s really only a lyrical similarity, not a musical one.  If you’re going to start calling songs with the same lyrics the same, there are a lot more examples than this in k-pop.

For the record I really don’t like either song, but I’m definitely also getting some serious “I just don’t like Itzy and am reaching for a reason” vibes from your question.

Hello, Kpopalypse Oppar.
I’m currently talking to someone who I haven’t met yet, we are getting on very well but I do not know how to trust her. I don’t have any bad feelings or instincts but the people around me have told me to be careful. Any advice?

Yes – be careful.

This thread is quite cool because it debunks lots of streaming advice that spawned over many Kpop fandoms. The actual thing is, since we don’t know the algorithm of YouTube (since the view can be monetized and so on), it’s almost impossible right to recognize how they count the view. Even it’s often to see Kpop MV as ad.

Oh yeah.  Been there, done that.

Hello oppar, it’s trampoline girl here!

1)In the roundup where you posted the K-Tigers Bboom Bboom cover, you asked why all the dudes had the cool gymnastics moves. Since you also touched on it in the 2016 list, I thought I might answer, since technically I also know how to tumble pretty well, so this is my ~area of expertise~. Warning: explaining this is kind of long, so skip to part 2 of the question if it’s boring.

It’s worth briefly nothing that while you need some baseline leg flexibility to split your legs far enough to do those cool kicks, tumbling and flexibility are more or less not connected. Good tumbling involves being as inflexible as possible, and the best tumbler I ever knew personally couldn’t even do a backbend. Flexibility helps with crashes, so you bend rather than break (literally).
I’ll be blunt about it: dudes are able to achieve a higher difficulty than girls based purely on strength used to hit the floor. All competitive gymnastics floors are bouncy and utilize rods or springs that deform and return to their original position, pushing you down the floor. Speed is created by hitting the rod/spring at an obtuse angle which pushes you back; height is generated by hitting an acute angle which cancels your backwards momentum and leaves you going up. Watch the dude at 2:53 in this video because he is a perfect example of this in action.

Before the big flips, his feet are behind his chest, but during the single flips used to generate speed he hits the floor with his feet way in front. Girls can make up much of the strength differential by sprinting fast and playing the physics right, like in this short clip of the girls’ world championship finals where the Chinese chick murders the competition essentially by hitting better angles than everyone else and conserving her speed as a consequence.

She is the “Hate You” to the other competitors’ “Rose,” and the only difference between her skill level and the men is the size of their quad muscles.

The problem, however, is that K-Tigers are tumbling on hard floor rather than rods, and physics says that for energy to be transferred something needs to deform – and if it’s not the floor, it’s you! This means that trying to hit competitive tumbling-style angles on a hard floor will give you a fucking spine fracture, so power is generated by your muscles doing 100% of the work. If you look at the K-Tigers vid, for each tumbling pass that involves a sprint at the front, those dudes all rock a pretty sweet knee bend at takeoff, and they’re always already partway into their twist before they leave the ground, meaning that they’re gaining most of their momentum through muscle power and rotational energy. I can do every tumbling trick (not the taekwondo! and you definitely won’t see me kicking a wooden board) in that video on a rod floor, but I wouldn’t touch a hard floor with a ten-foot pole. What’s cool to me is seeing how much height they get without any help while still preserving relatively good form. My guess is that those girls can tumble well – check out that sublime side aerial she does from no run at 2:50, which is almost as impressive to me as anything the guys did – but they don’t get the chance to show off because they can’t get the same height on that floor, so it creates asymmetry. Basically, it’s the equivalent of what you said in your “Let’s help KARA have a bright future” article about Kara needing four members because it would make lining them up to the letters in “K-A-R-A” more aesthetically pleasing. Honestly, I think that “obviously the girls can’t do the same flips as the guys or else creepy dudes would freeze frame their panties” is also very on the money for this kind of thing, since Korean society isn’t too keen on girls having any sort of fun onstage for any reason.

2) Since I should have a question other than my gymnastics treatise: I’m thinking of getting into some weird fashion because (a) I really like it and (b) I think going outside in something markedly different and attention-grabbing will boost my confidence. I was always too shy to dress differently when I was a little younger, so ideally, I’d like to do it now. You’ve mentioned putting up with a fair bit of bullshit as a teen for having long hair and being a metalhead, and how this set you up to give zero fucks in the future. Honestly, I’m kind of a wimp still, so would you mind giving me some advice? I want to look how I want to look, but people will inevitably be cuntrags. How did/do you deal with having “abnormal” presentation?

Thanks for the gymnastics information, that was legitimately fascinating!  It’s a whole different world for someone like me, who even as a relatively flexible child was never able to touch my toes with my legs straight or do even the most basic gymnastic moves.  There are a lot of things I know stuff about, but gymnastics isn’t one of them!

As for your other question, it’s hard for me to answer because by the time I started looking unconventional in appearance I already felt like I was pretty well hated by everyone.  Because of this, the stakes of looking different were low – I felt like I was going to be ostracised no matter what, so how I looked surely wouldn’t make any difference, so therefore there were no consequences to looking however I wanted.  Consequences may be different for you, but here’s the thing – these consequences are good ones, not bad ones.  Now there’s two truths that probably exist for your life, as they do for everyone else:

  1. People are dicks
  2. People who are dicks often don’t reveal themselves to be dicks straight away

The first point is fine and normal but the second one is dangerous – how to detect a dickhead?  One good way is to radically change your appearance and see how they react.  Dickheads find it incredibly difficult to conceal their fuckheadedness when confronted by something out of their comfort zone, like a girl rocking a different appearance to what they consider “normal” or “okay”.  So it’s a good way to get those people to reveal themselves if you’re not sure, it’s a great social experiment with huge benefits.  Imagine the time you would have potentially been able to better utilise in your life if you knew who was a superficial asshole and who wasn’t.  Hopefully now you’re really looking forward to changing things up.

Oppar, I need your help. I just moved to a new school, right, and after being friends with my group for a while, I decided to open up and tell then about my abusive parents and my depression. Ever since then, they’ve been acting so weird and extra nice. It’s like they’re constantly scared I’m going to off myself, and they’re always asking me if there’s anything they can do to help. I know that they’re being nice, but I feel like it’s fake and so sudden. I can’t do anything about it bc of my abusive parents, and they don’t understand. These thoughts have only gotten worse, since I told them, and I’m pretty sure they all think of me as the poor weird suicidal kid. I wish things could go back to the way they used to be before I told them. What should I do?

Well things aren’t going back that way.  Even if you told them to stop asking about it, and they complied, they’re still going to know about it and it’s still going to affect things.  You need to be a bit cool with them, I mean you can’t exactly get annoyed at the suddenness of it when it must have been a real shock to them.  Imagine what it would have been like if things went the other way and they started calling you a freak or whatever, you should be grateful that your friends are at least trying to be understanding and sensitive about it.  Of course they can’t understand really because they’re not in your shoes, but you should cut them some slack really.  If you don’t want them mentioning it or asking about you, just tell them (nicely) that it’s easier for you to deal with it if it’s not brought up constantly but if they just act normal around you, I’m sure they’ll try to accommodate a request like that (but understand that they may find it difficult, and if so, that’s not their fault).

1. So by now everyone should know that kpop is pretty much a xerox copy of Motown’s system, but can we predict the future of kpop companies (not the genre) using Motown’s own history and progress as a comparison? since they’re both so similar

I’ve been reading a lot about Motown and it doesn’t seem like they fell behind on the times since they were apparently really, really good at adapting to emerging trends and pioneered stuff like disco, in contrast to kpop which hasn’t pioneered anything new (koreaboos notwithstanding) but polishes and perfects already existing western trends in pop music instead.

So why did the Motown monopoly on pop music dissappear? what replaced the “assembly line” method of training artists in the west?

to my understanding, Gordy just treated everyone as disposable but once the stars left they took their fanbases with them and it was impossible to replicate them or their success (nugu to medium popularity kpop groups are interchangeable, but if top of the pyramid folks like Taeyeon and RV left SM tomorrow, could SM just print itself new ones?). They also had no problem letting their in-house composers HDH go, which is something I haven’t seen on kpop yet. Managers and handlers are disposable due to the extreme toll it takes on them, but I think the guy who was responsible for shaping the IGAB demo into its final kpop monstrosity form is still with SM.

2. What toll do you think the kpop industry is going to cause in kpop idols in the near and far future? some Motown idols had very public meltdowns. Michael Jackson in particular had issues that were probably 100% caused by his upbringing under the harsh Motown system and an abusive father. In the west his case is seen as an anomaly (former child stars come close) due to never having a normal childhood. But literally every kpop idol goes through the same thing Michael went through, in steroids. It’s an open secret that idols are physically abused, no matter how much kpoppies cover their ears and insist i’m just bitter and a h8er

Signed, a concerned LOONA stan who saw someone being downvoted in reddit just for simply suggesting the girls should have been allowed to rest after their concert instead of jumping straight into an exhaustive promo cycle (because how DARE you suggest we should wait a couple of months to see our favorite robots/idols, damnit. Who cares if one of them breaks her nose or whatever

  1.  While there are definite similarities between the Motown system and the k-pop system in terms of aspects like image creation, you can’t really use Motown as an exact model for k-pop on a business level because Motown was one company with one management whereas k-pop is a whole myriad of companies of different sizes and variations in product output and management style.  I don’t think there’s going to be any correlation, and I think it’s pointless to worry about it anyway, if one big company like SM folds then another one (or a few different smaller ones) will rise to fill the gap and you’ll probably find half of the same staff just transfer over to the new companies anyway.
  2. There’s already a lot of harsh stories of former idols who are now doing mundane low-skilled jobs because they didn’t have a sensible exit strategy from the music business, or had complete mental breakdowns with dire consequences, you can read more about that in my latest chat with AustralianSana.  Sure, there’ll be roles for some of them in areas like training and development, but the idol industry can’t take in every ex-idol for that kind of work, there just isn’t enough places, and “behind the scenes” music industry work is a competitive industry too (anything even remotely connected with music is).  The ones who do really well won’t have to worry about income but yeah there’s definitely going to be some effects on many of them, having lived so long in such a closeted industry with so much scrutiny and no freedom.  Any odd behaviour by idols always needs to be put into the context of the music industry situation, which is a weird situation that twists many things.

Posting a link to kpopfap on ask.fm always gets deleted so asking here. Do you think that is her nipple there or is she wearing something over it? Thoughts on her boob?

All I’m seeing is a bra that is a bit bulky and probably uncomfortable.  You can tell that most of the thirsty readers at Reddit/kpopfap don’t have much actual experience with women if they think they can actually see nipples here.

Do you ever think a kpop group will go beyond expectations and release a song like this

Which I know is a lot of noise.

Or a video like this.

Which I can’t clearly state but is shows idols as being idols.

And idk will Dreamcatcher ever put on a show with a full band.

Sorry know you’re kpopalypse and what that means but just feel like so many people creaming over Dreamcatcher when it’s like they’re not that new or special maybe in kpop although not that much cause Pritz.

Wondering if k-pop is ever going to be like j-pop’s crappy “anti-idol” pop-metal hybrids is flogging the deadest of dead horses, especially here.

Dreamcatcher at its best is definitely a better-realised version of what Pritz is (was?), but both are still k-pop groups at heart, not metal groups.

Probably the closest genuine crossover between idol-oriented k-pop performers and any sort of “heavy music” I’ve seen is Luna singing with Jambinai.

What do music producers do exactly? I thought producers basically financially support a song (or album). But I read that as a producer, Max Martin write the song in completion and then ask the artist to only provide vocals. He believes that the producer should have complete control over the song. I’ve also seen him name often being credited for providing instrumentation or mixing in a song/ album. Why would a music producer do all this?

The fact is that people use these words inaccurately often.  More information here.

There is a country named San Marino that participated in Eurovision since 2008, and have sucked throughout their appearances there, except in 2014 where they actually made it into the finals.

The year after they qualified, they sucked more than I expected with this song.

I was super unsure about the song at first, but it’s becoming a guilty pleasure for me, so don’t judge me on that. Anyways, for a few questions about the song and video:

1. Were the heavy amount of key changes throughout the song bothering you? I’ve never heard a song with that many key changes, in or outside Eurovision.

2. Was there some issue in recording, especially during the final parts of the song, where it really sucked?

3. Some old dude named Ralph Wiegel wrote the song, as well as most of San Marino’s entries, and a few of other countries’ entries back then within the 80s. Does the song have that old-fashioned tone?

4. Does the video even need that credits part?

5. Was their performance at the semi-final (where they were second to last and did not qualify to the finals) a drag? This is the video of their awful perf:

  1. Yes it has a lot of key changes, they’re all what a friend of mine actually calls the “Eurovision key change” because Eurovision entrants do it so often, where they just shift everything up either a tone or semitone periodically, this is a common pop music trick but to see it deployed so early in a song is unusual.  Gives it a feeling of “we didn’t know what else to do to build any sort of progression into the piece, so we just did this, hope you don’t mind”.
  2. No.
  3. No.
  4. No.
  5. Yeah I’m going to spare my mental energy and not even watch.

I revisited your dog whistle article (which is the pinnacle of Kpopalypse writing tbh) and wanted to ask if you think Loona’s Butterfly might have done a bit of it? Look at  Olivia, a minor, doing a move like that. I know it’s supposed to be just passionate expressive dancing, but considering how dirty this world is … might have been on purpose.

Also, speaking of Olivia, what do you think about the possibility that she was specially added to appeal to uncle fans – a good performer with a healthy physique as compared to usual kpop idol teens and most especially a minor.

Lastly, would you commend BBC for the really good advertising tactic? I’m not hyped with the diversity bs, I really don’t get why it should be important. I mean, are you so starved from attention that seeing a person of the same color, race, culture or even just the same gender on a music video makes you orgasm so hard? Regardless, BBC is a genius for using a hot topic like this to leverage the group!

and

What do you think of people accusing LOONA’s Butterfly MV of pandering?

So, the dog-whistle stuff first.  Obviously I stan Loona like any sensible person, but facts are facts: Blockberry have been dog-whistling with Loona since forever and you don’t have to go far in most Loona videos to see it, I really wish they’d stop doing it but I’m sure they’ll keep at it.  In particular they always throw the adult makeup and concepts on Choerry, like what the absolute fuck are they thinking.  Just the fact that they even called her Choerry in the first place and called her song “Love Choerry Motion” (ewww!) is in itself a dog-whistle which I think many readers will understand but the video really takes it to the next level and makes it ultra-clear from about 1:20.

Like, I get how this would possibly scoot over the heads of some very young and naive fans, but how can any grown adult not feel extremely fucking uncomfortable watching that.  The most fucked thing of all is that we know it’s deliberate, because Blockberry themselves tacitly acknowledge the issue in Yeojin’s “Kiss Later”, a song and a video about a girl being chased around by keen suitors and saying “I’m not ready, stop being creepy!”

This is something that I tried to point out when I put Choerry in my boobs post and said “look how this shady company deliberately sexualise her and try to enhance the angles to bring out the boobs that she barely even has, constantly playing the sexual angle” but of course everyone missed the point (including one particularly stupid OneHallyu moderator who actually gave me a warning on their site because OTHER people linked my post and I turned up to explain it) and I eventually removed the Choerry content from that post because I got so many complaints and emails from idiots who couldn’t fathom what I was trying to say, even though I pretty much directly stated the issues in that post and it’s one of the most obvious and creepy examples of dog-whistle in k-pop that I can think of.  They’ll probably complain about this too, because so many of them are really that fucking stupid and can’t read.  I guess I’m the IU of k-pop blogging now.

As for the dancing in “Butterfly”, one the one hand yes it’s Blockberry who have a track record of being inappropriate and having no age barriers so I wouldn’t put much past them, but on the other hand the entire group does that move and Olivia isn’t actually directly under the other girl so I think it’s a bit of a reach here (thankfully).

As for the “diversity” and “pandering” – it really isn’t, I think it’s absolutely 100% relevant to the concept of the song – i.e the saying that a butterfly flapping its wings in one location can create a hurricane on the other side of the world.  This is clearly used in the video as an analogy for the effect that Loona is having on fans globally.  So the video shows people all around the world from all different cultures and walks of life play out some of the visual concepts, scenes and ideas that we’ve seen in other Loona content, to symbolise the group’s growing influence.  To be clear, yes I do think that pandering to political correctness is an issue and it’s super-cringeworthy when it happens, but I also think that it’s important for people not to overreach and try and call out pandering every time they see a black person in a video or whatever, which is honestly even more cringe, not to mention stupid and damaging because it perpetuates the kind of racism which makes people get upset and then they feel the need to pander to political correctness even more, so the false claims of “pandering” only guarantee that the cycle just continues and strengthens.  “Butterfly” is honestly excellent at least conceptually, so take a chill pill and save your outrage for the stuff which is actually insulting.

Loona’s Butterfly MV certainly different from other Kpop MVs who tend to show their members only rather than other things. Do you think it’s something significant in terms of visual development of Kpop, or probably just a style that can be done by anyone and replicated now and then?

More than that, showing a clear intention to gives a picture of a social issue (or at least by how they showcase women with lots of races), it is something that can be done as a concept in the visual-oriented world of Kpop?

On the one hand, while I don’t think “Butterfly” is “pandering”, I also don’t think it’s trying to raise a “social issue” either, that’s an equally damaging misinterpretation.  Just like every appearance of an ethnic minority isn’t “pandering”, it’s equally silly to think every appearance of a minority has some political agenda behind it.  These are two sides of the same poisonous coin!  The different races and cultures that appear are certainly not there by accident, but they’re also not there to make a political point.  Rather, Blockberry are trying to make a point about the wide cross-cultural international appeal of Loona and the conceptual-continuity-laden “Loonaverse”, nothing more than this.  Sure, it’s by definition an inclusive statement (i.e “Loona is for everybody”) but that’s more to make the point about Loona’s “universal appeal” rather than to say anything specific about society at large.

No, I don’t think that it’s significant development in music videos or whatever, videos have been like this forever, you’re just noticing it here because it’s Loona and because you like Loona a lot when they get robbed of screen time it’s really jarring for you!

I’m writing here cause this has been bothering me and I know I shouldn’t give a fuck but I don’t know anyone else sane and someone actually open to ideas.

So, I don’t get “cultural appropriation”. As far as I know, globalization, as in getting your culture known globally as well as acquiring knowledge from everyone else from the world, has been quite the goal for nations for the past hundred years? And now, cultural appropriation is a step backward from whatever progress we’ve gained from it?

My problem is that I see this contradiction with Kpop fans, especially stan twitter. People shade G-idle’s Latata and Hann for appropriating whatever culture they were taking from, hate Ariana Grande and that gamer guy from yt for liking Japanese culture. And yet they want their Kpop group to succeed globally. Which if we are following their logic, listening to, making dance covers of, “cosplaying” kpop mv costumes should also be a form of appropriating Korean Culture?

I might be getting this confused with an actual cultural appropriation issue and totally just talking from the bullshit I see from twitter every day. I also really don’t care about the artists mentioned above, it’s just a really curious case for me. Do enlighten me, caonima!

“Cultural appropriation” complaints almost always come from university-educated westerners, compensating for the perceived guilt of someone else’s historical baggage by trying to find “problematic things” to complain about online (because that’s easier than actually doing something real), while at the same time the people from those particular cultures mostly either find it flattering that their culture is being exported, or conversely just don’t give a shit, and in the rare instances where they care, they usually only care after it’s been pointed out to them and the seed of cultural intolerance has been planted in their heads by academic fuckwits.  It’s particularly ironic because western cultures have exported their own shitty culture to every other corner of the world, where it of course has been appropriated in all sorts of ways and flung right back at them – k-pop being a perfect example.  Then when that process happens in ways that they don’t happen to like, it’s suddenly a “problem”.  Sorry kids, but culture is either for everyone or no-one, you can’t have it both ways.  (Personally I’d choose “everyone” over some walled-off police state, but hey that’s just me.)

Where to buy K-pop albums online according to your own experience?

I find YesAsia are good.  Mind you I’m from Australia so I get free shipping for certain quantities – if I didn’t get that I probably wouldn’t use them.

Loona’s album apparently had too few copies printed which led to the physical release being delayed and some versions cancelled. When an album is printed, is the size of the pressing commissioned by the label or does the distributor estimate the demand? Is it possible to guess who fucked up here? Thanks!

The label decides the amount that they think will sell.  Then if they do well, they’ll print more.  Obviously Blockberry decided on a certain amount and then got swamped with pre-orders from retailers so they pushed things back until they could do another run.  Because of the logistics of making physical product, it’s a bit difficult for this process to happen any other way.  There’s nothing worse than being stuck with physicals you can’t shift.

Last week I watched an old Korean (B-class) horror movie featuring T-ara’s Eunjung about her struggling girl group who suddenly famous after they perform an unknown song hidden in their new dorm. What’s interesting about this 2011 movie is, the climax scene revolves around the suspense of winning music show trophy. I think it’s imposed the culture of Kpop itself, but encountering the plot with music show win is something so significant, is it can accurately be perceived that way?

I recognized some of the similar girl groups with ‘rumors’ about stop promoting if they don’t win music show/achieve #1 spot seem able (at least in their fans narrative) to save them from disbandment. What’s probably the deal they will have if they win at least one trophy? And why for some groups or management (the smaller ones, I noticed), tend to promote this heavily?

Looking forward to your response, Kpopalypse-oppa. Thank you!

No idea, it’s all stupid.  Mature sensible people if nothing else certainly think getting awards is nice but don’t pivot their entire career on a fucking merit badge.

For anyone who wants more information on the movie discussed, click here.

Why each time I listen to this song , I want to hear this song  ? Is it even musically similar?

I don’t know what’s with all the j-shit questions this month.  But no the songs are not similar except for in mood.  And wow the j-song is fucking trash!  One of the worst songs I’ve ever heard in j-pop, it’s even worse than most k-pop songs from around 2000, and that’s really saying something because j-pop really is truly a fucking cancerous cesspool of ultra low-quality garbage music so to stand out as bad you really do have to suck hard.  Any future questions qualityfagging in response to this answer about “is this j-shit better or worse than that j-shit” will be ignored and not answered, thanks.

Hey oppar, hope you’re doing well and an unnamed Korean entertainment company hasn’t whacked you yet!

So, here’s my problem. I’m a part-time lecturer at a university in the US. (The job market for humanities PhDs is absolute shit, so a part-time job with no benefits is the best I can do for now, but that’s another story.) I’m currently teaching a required composition course for first-year students. It’s pretty basic: how to structure an argument, come up with a thesis, etc. More than half of my students are bright and motivated, but the others lack determination to come to class or turn in their assignments, even though they know this will earn them a low or failing grade and they might have to retake the class. To be clear, this isn’t an issue with my teaching: this is a pretty crappy university, to be honest, and I’ve been told by other professors that every instructor should expect multiple Fs in their classes.

I realize that a lot of this isn’t the students’ fault. Many (if not most) of the students at the university come from disadvantaged backgrounds and work jobs in addition to attending classes. I try to be understanding and supportive and to make my classes interesting, but some students just aren’t going to show up and do the work, no matter how much effort I put in. And, frankly, I’m not being paid enough to give 110% to this job.

Anyway, all this has left me feeling pretty bummed. The fact is, I find it hard to sympathize with students who lack determination to pass their classes. I was always a diligent student (despite a lot of personal/familial shit), and before coming to my current university, I taught at the Ivy League school where I did my PhD. The students there weren’t all stellar, but they at least cared enough to check their email accounts regularly and give me an excuse when they missed two classes in a row. So I don’t have a lot of experience with students who are totally unmotivated to do even the bare minimum. I’m definitely leaving the university after this semester ends, but I guess I’m asking for advice with 1) motivating my students more, and 2) just getting through these next few months emotionally if the students continue to put in as much effort as Hwayoung at a Music Bank performance.

Thanks for reading!

I don’t actually think it’s possible to motivate people – motivation comes from within.  Whenever I was ever motivated to do something (like wrote 14000 words for a Qrimole post, for example) I just did it, and whenever I wasn’t motivated, no amount of teacher pep-talks and “this is good for your future” realisations helped me.  Likewise, as a teacher, if a student just isn’t that interested, nothing will work – whereas other people are just keen and they will do the work because they want to.  I wouldn’t even worry about trying to motivate them – just do your thing and let the chips fall where they may.  One of the best things about university is the lack of mollycoddling in terms of grades and the fact that success or failure is really up to the student.  It’s their problem, don’t make it yours.

Hi Kpopalypse oppar,

The debut of Z-group (Z-boys and Z-girls) is intriguing with the members’ composition only. What do you think about it? Upon hearing them, I remember Chocolat used a similar attempt with half Korean members, and we know what’s happened to them.

My questions are:
1. I convinced the members’ composition with no Korean-members used to attract International Kpop fans. Do you think it will succeed in a long term? Internationally and domestically?
2. What risk and benefit they may have by using this concept?

Thank you oppar!

  1. No.  International fans like Korean pop partly because it’s Korean, and Korean fans are pretty hostile to foreigners too.  Nice idea but I don’t think it’s going to work.
  2. The same risks and benefits that any company has to deal with.

Oppar, although your rhythm post was very informative and good, I struggled a lot trying to hear the drum beat of the song. In general, I find it hard to hear the parts of a song that are not the melody. Is there a way I can improve my listening skills?

Listen to music a lot, and especially listen to drumming a lot, so you can learn to determine where the drums are.

This might help:

In his latest episode of Billboard Breakdown, Spectrum Pulse said that the vocal production in Please Me by Cardi B & Bruno Mars “sounds really thin and cheap around Bruno’s voice”, yet I can’t hear anything wrong with it. Can you please enlighten me? Oh, and what do you think about the song? I think it’s cool ?

I don’t like the song, but I also have no idea what they’re talking about.  Nothing wrong with the vocals, production-wise.  Remember that people who write music for major publications often don’t actually know anything about music and don’t really know what they’re talking about, so often they just make stuff up based on their audible impressions of the song which may or may not be accurate.

For my Gothic lit class I have to make a blog. My professor warned us to be careful about using copyrighted pictures but I noticed many blogs like yours use pictures of different kpop idols. Are they ok to use? Do you have special permission to use them? I was asking since I want to write a blog post about how kpop can be gothic and want to use a picture of a kpop idol and was wondering if it was ok to use.

Fair Use covers satire, as well as educational use.  My blog is therefore completely legal as it is definitely covered, content here is both satirical and educational.  Yours would be probably covered as well under some kind of academic Fair Use situation, but your lecturer is clearly teaching you about copyright and that’s good so I’d suggest just go with the flow here.  If you want to use a picture of a k-pop idol I’d find one from an easily-contactable photographer, then ask the photographer if they can let you, then show this permission to the lecturer, you’ll probably get extra points just for being mindful about this.

i, for some reason, thought you definitely weren’t the type to go to kpop concerts. also i can’t believe you also got blackpink tickets??? the real question is can you do the choreo though

Not sure why the fuck you thought that I wouldn’t go to k-pop concerts.  I went to 4minute and also 2017’s KCON.  However no I can’t do any choreo because I suck.

Hello oppar~~

I know you’re not gay but you seem to have a lot of experience with gays… I’m just curious. What makes someone gay? I mean I am gay but some people say I’m not gay enough like I look too straight and sometimes I feel like they think I’m faking it. I don’t get it…

I’ll allow Steve Hughes to explain it, he does it better than I can.

Hopefully this is helpful!


That’s all for QRIMOLE!  This series will return in a month, in the meantime be sure to enjoy the other culturally diverse content on Kpopalypse blog!

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!

2 thoughts on “QRIMOLE – March 2019

  1. When I saw Loona’s Buttefly coreography I thought “Wow that’s bold!”, mostly for 2 reasons:

    1. There is a chance in the future they will have to repeat the choreography in different skimpier outfits and that’s going to be an issue unless they tweak the choreography to maybe sit or do something else, because creeps will be creeps.
    2. Any second the idols are not showing their face to the camera they are loosing their chance to advertise themselves. In fact, the individual fancams are really boring, half of the time the girls are not doing anything, are looking away from the camera, or are doing something difficult to understand unless you watch the whole group. First time I’ve lost interest in watching individual fancams for a kpop group.

    But seriously, are people now accusing Olivia (or Loona) of doing something indecent for just sitting and lying on the floor, while maintaining a robot face through most of the song? Meanwhile, Itzy has the maknae (15 years old) show more skin, (attempt to) twerk and generally portray itself as sexually attractive and that’s of no concern?

    Sounds like IU’s pedophile accusations level of idiocy.

    Also, STAN LOONA!

  2. “That’s why Block B took their old label to court over getting paid $14 collectively and still lost – the books checked out.”

    Not quite. The court found that Block B was owed roughly $400K, but ruled that the label had not purposely kept the money from the members–basically chalking it up to incompetence rather than outright fraud.

    Of course, fast-forward a few years, and Cho PD got convicted of outright fraud….

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