It’s time for another episode of AustralianSana and Kpopalypse!
Once again Twitter celebrity pariah and erudite k-pop-savvy cultural observer AustralianSana got together with problematic caonima blogger Kpopalypse and went through reader queries for this series. Questions were almost exclusively directed at AustralianSana only this time around. If you’d like to make your own questions for the next series (which will happen after both the Australian BlackPink concerts and AustralianSana’s TV appearance on Hard Quiz), don’t forget the link at the bottom of this post!
Hi, how have you been!
Good, just busy with work and Uni, the typical boring stuff!
Let’s get into some reader questions! Here’s a good one: So, is AustralianSana going to see that bitch who used to beat her in YG’s audition? [Rose from Blackpink]
Yes! I’m paying to go see her in the Sydney concert. I won’t advertise what ticket, because I don’t want to get jumped!
I’m going to the Melbourne one, so I’ll get to see Rose in her hometown.
Yeah, I wanted to go to the Melbourne one too, it’s just obviously funds as a Uni student – it’s a fair bit to fork out for tickets to both shows and then flights. I think the Melbourne one’s actually sold out now – their impact! – so I was [originally] like “I’ll go to Sydney now while I can easily get the ticket, and if there’s tickets still left then maybe I’ll go to Melbourne as well”, but Melbourne sold out, but I’m happy to go to Sydney.
Yes, it’s about time that a girl group actually came here, right?
Fuuuucking hell! We’ve both been talking about this on Twitter for ages. I’ve been yelling at anyone who will listen for the last SIX FUCKING YEARS to try and bring me one, and it finally happened, I’m just so happy, I’m finally getting a girl group! Everyone always brings up the KCON that happened and I’m reluctant to even count that, because it was one girl group and four boy groups per show and that’s a BULLSHIT ratio.
Yeah it was pretty poor – I saw the one with Girl’s Day, it was one group and four songs.
Yeah that doesn’t count as a girl group concert.
Feel free to borrow my Powerpoint presentation if you need to convince some folks.
Excellent – whatever it takes!
Do you think it’ll actually have an effect and we’ll get more girl groups now, or not?
I’m optimistic because of how well the tickets actually sold, because it’s Qudos arena and then an arena in Melbourne (Rod Laver) that’s nearly 10000 capacity, that’s bigger than what a lot of the mid-tier boy groups keep doing here in Sydney which is like 2000. No offence to Monsta X who are doing their tour in Sydney but I’m pretty sure they’ve overbooked themselves and the venue isn’t really selling beyond VIP tickets. That should hopefully be enough to break even or whatever, I know that the full size capacity is 5000 and I don’t think the other tickets, the cheapest ones, have been selling all that quickly, so we shall see. I don’t wish for anyone to do badly, because obviously the more bad concerts that we have, the less likely the chances of getting others in the future, so there’s no bias against any groups. It’s more that I feel like they’ve oversold themselves thinking that… how do I say this without sounding like one of those “BTS-pop” dickheads – it’s like the promoters tend to associate any k-pop boy group as being popular because BTS is popular, and they think that all teenage fangirls are idiots and they’ll go to anyone that comes: “hey, this is a cute guy who’s Korean, so if you like BTS you’ll like these guys too… and pay $200 to go and see them!” – we’re stupid but we’re not that dumb! So I feel like there’s a bit of an issue with the way concerts are promoted, and it’s also quite “meninist”, because they think “girls only want to see BTS, they don’t want girl groups” – fuck off! There’s a lot of people who want to pay and go see these groups. It’s ironic because I’m a BTS fan myself, but not everyone who is a potential customer is a BTS fan. There’s a lot of other people who exist, that don’t particularly care about boy groups, that are willing to fork out big money for girl groups, and who have been trying to push this for so long, and the fact that it has sold so well is like “YES – validate me!”
I do notice that trend with concert tickets in general – when I went to buy Blackpink tickets, all the VIP stuff was sold out before I even got online, and the very cheapest stuff was also sold out, so I had to get somewhere in between. I think k-pop fans tend to go in hard for the VIP as opposed to general admission which seems to be really hard for ticket-sellers to move.
The reason for this, from personal experience, and from speaking to other people who also go for expensive VIP stuff, is that even the general admission is still pretty expensive, so if you’re going to be forking out big money, you may as well go all-out and get all the good shit that you possibly can get with it. Even the general admission tickets in the cheapest sections for k-pop concerts are still in the hundreds of dollars, meanwhile when I went to go and see Dua Lipa last year, her tickets were all $70, and when I went to see Greta Van Fleet they were all in the $50 range. If you compare them to a standard musical act they’re a hell of a lot cheaper, whereas if you’re a k-pop fan pretty much everything is going to be super-expensive so if you’re going to be sending yourself borderline-broke to go, you may as well go for broke!
The questioner added also: Also, imagine AustralianSana being under YG, with her intelligence she’d have done Edward Snowden’s level of undercover shit and exposed YG and every other sleaze.
I’m flattered! I think they’re overestimating me a bit! I’ve joked about that on Twitter as well, imagine if I passed the audition and got in, I would have been kicked out in three days for calling YG a cunt to be honest! I don’t think I’ve got the interpersonal skills or the social skills to actually work undercover and do an expose because I don’t tolerate bullshit, so I wouldn’t have lasted very long!
Yeah, I’m sure you would have had to tolerate quite a lot.
Yeah. It’s funny because people think “Rose beat her for the audition so she’s bitter and hates her for it” – no, not at all mate, I would not have survived under there for a week let alone for the amount of time that Rose stuck it out for in that godawful company! It’s a weird sort of admiration, I’m like “holy shit, I could never have done that, but the fact that you can makes you a superior being to me”, but then at the same time it’s like I don’t understand how you could actually do that. It’s almost sympathetic but it’s also admiration at the same time, it’s an interesting conflict.
How do you think Rose is coping with it?
From what I’ve heard she come from a wealthy background, so it’s a bit of a weird thing to try and break down. I think because she has supportive parents, her father was the one who encouraged her to go to the audition, and because she also has what you could potentially call a Plan B – if everything didn’t work out, she’d have a family that was supportive for her to go back to, and they would have potentially worked with her to figure out another way for her to meet her dreams, or to have a new career path. I think we’ve discussed this before – you need to have a solid foundation to stand on before you can really even attempt to be involved in this industry, and I feel like her family was a really good grounding block for her, and the idea that she had a Plan B where if everything doesn’t go well she’s at least got that home to go too, whereas we talked about that girl from KARA Project, who had non-supportive parents and when DSP didn’t work out for her she took her own life because she felt that there was nothing else left for her. I think with Rose, she has those things that are going to be there fore her besides obviously YG, I feel like that would have been a really huge help for her.
Let’s move onto the next one: (sorry in advance Kpopalypse) Produce 101 Japan was recently announced, being the third export of the Korean series following Produce China (with multiple unlicensed Chinese copycats) and an in-the-works Produce Thailand. With the world’s current top boy group being a Korean act, what do you think the likelihood of Produce becoming a global talent show export like The Voice, X Factor and Idol is like?
I guess it’s something I’ve never given much thought to, but if you think about King Of Masked Singer, that got exported to the US. I don’t know how well it’s doing because I just haven’t been paying attention to it, but I know that’s an example of something being exported and remade. I feel like the biggest hurdle that show would overcome is the fact that groups don’t tend to be as much of a thing in western countries as they are in Korea, for example there are a hell of a lot more groups than there are soloists in the idol industry, whereas the west likes to pretend that everything’s “organic” and put out soloists who pretend to work on their own music (although I’m pretty sure anybody who knows then would probably disagree with that because of ghost writers and all that kind of stuff) so I think [Produce is] too inorganic to really take off in western countries. That would be my thought, whereas in Japan they embrace the shit out of that kind of stuff, after all that’s where they got the idea for that whole series in the first place, AKB48.
I thought the question was interesting as well, because what do we mean when we talk about “global” anyway, I mean if it’s already been exported to three highly-populated countries you could argue that it’s becoming global anyway, but maybe people don’t think about it as global because they’re Asian countries – whereas if they ONLY exported it to the US and nowhere else, people would say “it’s gone global!”
It’s weird how America kind of centralises itself as being global. I guess that’s another problem with the whole BTS side of things and their “global stardom” or whatever, they’ve been very popular for a very long time, and suddenly now it’s not just the fact that it’s in America but that they’re #1 on Billboard that suddenly validates [them as globally successful]. It’s like there’s other charts that exist besides Billboard, they’re not just #1 in America, they’re #1 in 40 countries or something ridiculous right now. It’s very ethnocentric.
We get the American lens view on a lot of stuff. I’m not going to add to the Produce question because I don’t really watch it! I don’t follow it, there hasn’t been a song I’ve liked so far out of any of it. With all these sort of shows, while the show is going on I don’t care. Once they actually form a group and then the group starts doing something and there are songs, then I care, but until then I don’t keep track of it.
To be honest a lot of these shows are becoming over-saturated because there’s so many that are coming out now because of their popularity. Twice is a huge example of a group that was made that became super popular, Momoland obviously aren’t Twice-level famous, but they were created from a survival show. It’s been this huge trend since Produce. It was like Twice, Produce, then all of a sudden everyone’s doing one and then it’s over-saturated. I think there was rumours that JYP’s new girl group Itzy was meant to be going on a survival show. It’s kind of like when Bravesound used to produce everything in 2012, and it’s like Sistar’s “Alone” was a smash and there were a couple of other songs that came from him as well, but because he was then everywhere, doing everything, everyone got sick of him, and now you don’t even know what he’s doing this year, because it’s just too much of the same thing, and everyone will get sick of it very quickly.
I guess on the one hand people could dial it back, but then on the other hand people are probably thinking “while I’m on the wave I might as well ride it as high as I can, because next week it could all come crashing down”.
This industry is very very difficult to predict. The thing is, I can talk all the shit I want on a Twitter app, but I’m not an investor and I’ve got nothing riding on it, and it’s a huge reason why I don’t want to go into the industry – not that I’ve exactly got all these open doorways, but there’s nothing I’m interested in pursuing, that’s for sure.
Next question: I’ve seen that lots of kpop groups have done collabs with western artists with more frequency nowadays, and it doesn’t really seem to help them much. The fans themselves don’t really seem to enjoy them as it cuts into their members’ lines and western fans aren’t really the type to support anything and everything their star does if they don’t like it. Do you think these collabs are a miscalculation by kpop entertainment companies in how helpful it will be to their artist, or that the media-play they can get for doing them is worth it in their eyes?
That’s a good question. I’m obviously a huge example of someone who doesn’t like them very much. The fucking Chainsmokers did something with BTS and I think it’s the worst song in their entire discography. The lyrics were nice, but the lyrics were done by BTS, the beat is just a rejected B-side from [The Chainsmokers] album and their album was garbage. It’s just a really terrible basic EDM instrumental that’s probably made up of three whole chords. I got annoyed when the BTS comeback was announced as a collaboration with Halsey, I was like “did they not understand that they did the collaboration with Nicki, but the version without her charted better internationally?”. They seem to think that by attaching a western name that it’s going to generate interest to the public, but that’s not really how that works. But then the comeback that they’ve had with Halsey has now been their biggest comeback internationally that they’ve ever done, so that puts a very new flip on things, but for the majority of things, it’s not something I like. But I will also give credit to Steve Aoki, because everyone was saying “he was just using BTS and now he had his collab with “Mic Drop” he’s now just using Monsta X and now he’s trying to get in touch with BlackPink” – mate, he worked with Girls’ Generation back in 2013, it’s not him just jumping on what’s popular, this is something he’s done before with this particular industry. He did a remix of “Mr. Taxi” and it was actually a really good remix.
Collabs are also too restrictive on the artist they’re working with, and that then becomes a problem, because anyone who is a fan of the western artist that they’re potentially trying to expose their group to, not enough of that sound is left over, and if anything the western fans probably resent the k-pop group that they’re trying to get exposure for because they think they’re holding their artist back. For example when Aoki did Girls’ Generation’s “Mr. Taxi” it was a legit remix and it slapped, for someone who doesn’t have much interest in EDM it was a really good EDM remix. But there was a time difference, the original song was in the three minute range, his remix was in the five minute range, the beat was different, the arrangement was different, he almost changed the entire song except for the lyrics and actual melody of the vocals, a lot of other things were changed entirely.
Whereas when you hear the “Mic Drop” remix, it was the exact same BPM, the exact same time of the song, he was really restricted in what he could even do for them, so it was interesting in that regard. The restrictions seem to limit both artists to the point where there’s no real payoff for either one. There needs to be better negotiation, and better work between what the companies allow. That turns to Halsey because she was involved in producing the song, and BTS were involved in producing the song, and they were involved at the same time vs one of them remixing something that the other had already entirely created on their own, which is what Aoki had to do with “Mic Drop” with a whole lot of restrictions because they had to be able to dance to it and use the same choreography that they already had for the original version.
A lot of k-pop music is of course a western collaboration anyway, even if it’s not billed as such, because often the songwriters are in Sweden or wherever. Do you think that if Halsey wasn’t billed in the song and didn’t have a vocal part, and they did what they did with “Idol” and Nicki Minaj where they had one version with her and one without her, do you think the one without Halsey would have done better?
I’d like to hope it would, because I genuinely do love this song and I want them being popular on their own merit instead of because of an attachment to someone else who is already popular in the west. So that’s my ideal version, but if anything I might be too biased to give an answer to that properly!
Still on the BTS subject: Isn’t it stupid that ARMYs still claim that BTS have so much artistic control over their work when for the past few years, all of their title tracks have been fine-tuned to appeal to their target market, effectively relegating the signature sound they established early on to only b-sides, and that their producer pdogg actually being the highest paid producer of 2018, not any one of the members themselves.
I think it’s because P-Dogg has the actual capability to be able to just sit in the studio and write, because he’s not on tour, so he doesn’t have to deal with the same level of performances that they do, whereas the other members will always have a writing credit on the songs. Whether it’s Namjoo or Yoongi or Hoseok, a lot of the times it’s a mixture of them, but there’s not a single song in their discography that doesn’t have one of those three members’ names on [the songwriting credit], so I won’t write them off entirely, but there’s definitely been a noticeable change ever since “Wings” and ever since they shifted to “Love Yourself”. A lot of the [BTS fandom] Armys who are saying this stuff, they’re judging based on statistics of album sales and follower accounts etc, a lot of these new members have become fans since the Love Yourself era began, and while they may go back into a quick look into their old discography, if you look at YouTube views as a measurement standard, they’re a hell of a lot more interested in the new material. It’s almost like they want to pretend that the era they got into them was the best era because that’s when they found them, so that must be when their best music was released. It’s a weird thing to try and put into words. My favourite era of them was “The Greatest Moment In Life” series, HYYH, and I’ve backtracked through a lot of their discography, and there was this vague way that I was involved in helping someone get a writing credit in “Danger“, so I knew who they were, I really liked their music, and I really really liked what they came out with when they did HYYH, but then there’s the problem of them now being so insanely popular that they’re off on a stadium world tour selling out Wembley’s 80000 capacity twice. It’s an interesting conundrum where BigHit want to market themselves as this genuine, organic, indie kind of artistry when in reality they’re sacrificing their artists’ health and ability to create, because they’d rather send them off on stadium tours and make literally tens of millions of dollars per show. I don’t know if it’s tens of millions, but it’d be in the multi-million per show. So they’re trying to be an indie group whilst essentially being a soulless operation at the same time so there’s definitely a bit of double-standard hypocrisy there, company-wise. That’s the company, not BTS, I’m not insulting my boys! But yeah, there’s definite criticism to be had in that regard.
I am beyond shocked that I do actually like this album. If you look at the writing credits, it is definitely their most co-written and western-influenced that any of their music was ever been. My friend took screenshots of the writing credits and put it side-by-side with the HYYH album, and HYYH was essentially all P Dogg, all Supreme Boi, all Slow Rabbit, and all of the members, and that was pretty much it. Whereas this new one is like 5-10 writers per one song, there’s a Halsey collaboration and I do not like Halsey very much, I don’t dislike her as a person, it’s just her voice, it’s really like that Vine where it’s like “welcome to my kitchen, we have avocados and bananas“, that’s what I think of when I hear her. Then there’s an Ed Sheeran song, and anybody who knows me from a bar of soap knows that I despise Ed Sheeran, and he has a writing credit, and it’s my least favourite song on the album, but even then it’s still decent, and then all the other songs, I really really like. I’m beyond shocked at that, given that I’ve been one of the most outspoken people about not liking the western influence that’s been recent in their sound. It’s a weird thing, because a lot of other friends of mine who are in similar boats and that’s why we’re friends, because we all are capable of thinking for ourselves and not thinking that every single song of theirs is magic – and understanding that this makes us outcasts within the fandom, so all the outcasts are friends with each other – it’s been a pretty common consensus as well between me and my friends that we all seem to be liking this release and a lot of our favourite songs are the same. “Mikrokosmos” is a really really great song, I like it, and “Dionysis” is the throwback that I think the questioner is talking about, with their original sound now being relegated to B-sides, like what “Mic Drop” was in the first Love Yourself album, “AnPanMan” on Love yourself part 2, but then even the songs that they relegate to B-sides they often will perform, either in the concerts or on music shows, they make it that B-side that they promote and actually give a performance to, because I know they’re doing “Dionysis”, they released fanchants online, they did “AnPanMan” a few times last year and I thin they did it at some end-of-year shows, and then “Mic Drop” was the song that they picked to get remixed. I feel quite privileged, I got to see the original version of Mic Drop when I saw them in 2017 at a recording for a music show and that was their comeback week, and they didn’t have the Aoki collab at that stage, so I got to hear the original which was superior! So, lucky me!
But yeah there has been relegation, and I again have been one of the most outspoken in how much I dislike the western influence, and how much I hate that collaboration with The Chainsmokers, and how the title tracks are made to be appealing to America. It’s like what exactly can you hope for, I feel like this album is potentially the best thing that I can realistically expect from them. I feel like they’re trying to balance the influence of their old sound while somehow becoming more radio-friendly and public-friendly, and their last few albums, the entire Love Yourself series, have been a struggle to find that balance. By struggle, I don’t mean it’s awful, I just mean that the title tracks are really hit and miss for me, I really do not like “Idol” for instance, but there’s some really really good B-sides that remind me that the group that I’ve been a fan of for such a long time is still in there, and then this album comes along and I feel like it’s really somehow managed to find that balance, ebcause I hear some of the sounds from HYYH in these songs, and then I hear “Dionysis” and peopel are comparing it to “Mic Drop” and I’m liek “fair enough, there is a link to that” but I also think it reminds me from “Spinebreaker” which is from School Luv Affair, and Namjoon’s intro Persona song is such a good song to me, and everything talking about how that’s a throwback to School Luv Affair, which it definitely is, and I feel like there is a lot of stuff that fans of theirs would be able to recognise and appreciate. For example when he’s in the music video – I’m so sorry for how long this is going to take to transcribe – he’s in the classroom, and as a throwback to “Boy In Luv”, because they filmed that music video in a classroom. In that song it’s just a typical school-size classroom that he just looks like a student in, because that was their theme at the time, whereas in his intro to the music video this time around the classroom was a lot smaller, and I feel like that was symbolism for when you go back to your odl school as an adult, or when you go back to your old primary school when you’re a high school student, and you walk through the classroom and everything just feels so much smaller. I feel like that music video really symbolised that, the fact that he’d outgrown what his old concept used to be. So somehow they’re trying to find a way to do their best, and reference their stuff but be public, but do this, but be socially woke, but don’t piss anybody off, because now you’re so popular and you don’t want to be in a controversy, I feel like they’re really really constricted now, the bigger they are, the harder it is for them to actually do anything.
Yep. My answer to the question by the way, is “yes”. [laughs]
Yeah! That’s the problem with asking an actual fan! [laughs]
These questions this time are mainly for you!
You can cut and edit as much out of my answer as you want, I don’t expect you to go through all that entire bloody thesis that I just ranted out!
I’ll probably put most of it in! [Note: I didn’t edit anything]
Who knows, a few BTS fans who read my stuff and probably don’t get thrown a bone many other times will probably appreciate it! Next question is definitely for you: What would you recommend a kpop fan planning a trip to Korea do while there (related to kpop)? Are there venues that are known for less well known acts that would be worth checking out?
One of the main things I’d recommend doing if you’re a fan of a specific group already, is follow the update Twitter accounts of what your groups are doing. For example, I followed Gfriend Updates when I was over in Korea a couple of times and one time I was on Twitter and happened to see “Gfriend update – schedule performing at Yeouinaru Park tonight”, so I was like “I’ve got nothing on tonight, I’ll go to that!” and there was a free event I got to see them performing at and got to take some good photos as well. The Korean Culture Center do a lot of free promotion events and concerts that foreigners can get easy access to tickets for, so if you can find out about them through the Korean Embassy in your country. That’s the one in Sydney that I’m friends with some people from, and they can pass some information on to me about events through that, or you can follow their Facebook pages and they have a lot of stuff up on there.
MNet Countdown, that’s the way I got to see a lot of my favourite artists, they have a package, like SMTown global, that are a lot harder to get now than when I first found out about it in 2014, because now other people have found out about it to, but if you’re buying tickets from them, you can get to go to a music show as a foreigner, and because you’re paying to go, versus all the fans who wait around outside all day and go through all the hoops that you have to jump through but get to go and see them for free, we get put up the front! So you’re right at the front and you get to see the groups up close, it’s really great, so I got to see BTS literally in the front row, fuck camping for a fucking week, as some people are doing now, you show up on the day about two or three hours before the whole thing starts and you wind up in the front row for two hours… or maybe one, perhaps it feels like one because you’ve been waiting around for so long. You pay $100 versus however much a VIP ticket is, which is often in the $300-400 range, and go for however many hours vs days and you still wind up in the front row.
Myeongdong and Hongdae, those are the main suburbs where you’ll get the spontaneous performances from maybe lesser-known groups. There was a guerilla Cosmic Girls/WJSN performance when I was there in 2016. I was there for another reason and I saw a whole bunch of fans just camped out on the street and I was like “what’s going on here” and they said “this thing’s happening in a few hours” so I was like “cool, I’ll come back and watch that later”, and I did. They were promoting “Secret” at the time, so I got to see that. I met Stellar in Myeongdong because they were doing a similar type of guerilla concert as well. So if you’re in those areas, it’s not guaranteed you’ll see anyone, but that’s your best shot.
Good stuff, hopefully that’s useful advice! Now this next question, you’re going to have to help me out with this one after I ask it.
Do you think clc’s lyrics :
Red Lips? No!
High heel? No!
Was designed to go viral on TiK ToK?
Like there where a few songs recently that went viral on TiK ToK which otherwise would never have reached an international audience otherwise, like Xiao Feng Feng – Learn to Meow or Summer Cem – Tamam Tamam.
Now I have no fuckin’ idea what Tik Tok is or what this question even means, I think you might know more than me – what is Tik Tok?
It’s basically the modern-day version of Vine after Vine got shut down. It’s funny, it’s basically and app where… do you know what Musicly is?
Okay, I’m jealous of you in that case. It’s basically just an app where people can lipsync themselves recording ten second or twenty second videos and then they upload it to the platform and other people like and share it, it’s just like a specific video-sharing content and it’s meant to be short unlike YouTube which is meant to be a lot longer. I’m trying to think, was Tik Tok a big thing when CLC released “No”? I think Tik Tok was becoming a thing. I don’t think there was a target on Tik Tok specifically, but I feel like a lot of k-pop as a whole as a genre does rely on having a hook or having something that sticks in your head, like “Gee Gee Gee Gee, Baby Baby Baby” for the most obvious example, and some of them can be lyrics, some of them can be melodies, etc, so rather than thinking it was a Tik Tok specific appeal, I think that it was just a general attempt at being recognised, which has obviously worked if that person is asking you about those lyrics. It’s something that I’ve seen being shared around on Twitter a lot as well as in the CLC fandom too, so it’s like no to Tik Tok but yes to it being an attempt at being viral.
That’s all I have for us this week! Thanks very much!
That’s all for this post! If you would like to see AustralianSana & Kpopalypse discuss something in the next episode, you can submit a topic request via the form below, or if no form appears, you can click on the picture of CLC’s Seungyeon below to open the link to the request box as a separate webpage. Stay safe, caonimas!