QRIMOLE – September 2019

It’s time once again for QRIMOLE – let’s take a look at some questions from Kpopalypse’s lovely readers!

Hello Mr Kpopalypse oppar sir!!!!

This is my first time asking a Qrimole question so I’m low-key excited lol. I just wanna start by saying that I really do enjoy your blog and reviews even though I only agree with maybe 10% of your music tastes (I absolutely love everything Day6 and Stray Kids have put out, even the slow ballad-type songs and that’s THAT XD). I also like that you take the time to give us more information on the technical aspect of music coz it really does help us appreciate how complex the process of making a song really is. So thanks, even though u ARE a salty old Grinch!

Now onto my question. What do you think about the Western perception that kpop is “manufactured” or “unoriginal”? I get that most if not all kpop songs are based on Western pop sounds but they still seem to be able to come up with a lot of fresh music that we haven’t heard before while the Western pop music scene largely stagnates. Also I feel like when people call kpop manufactured they’re mostly referring to the fact that kpop idols are trained in everything from singing to dancing to rapping, and then the company chooses who to debut with what image. But tbh, doesn’t that happen in Western pop too? EVERY mainstream singer has had vocal training or even choreo training if they dance, that’s part of what it means to be a singer. Its like training for any sport; if you wanna be good at it, you gotta train for it. So why do kpop idols get shit on for this? Even One direction was put together externally, their image and music was largely decided by their agency, and yet it’s only kpop groups that are seen as fake or whatever . It baffles me.
A second question (if u feel like answering it) is what do you think about the perception of ‘idol rappers’ not being legitimate rappers? For example, BTS fans like to hype up Suga and RM a lot because they used to rap in the underground scene before they became idols, and I’ve seen them try to separate these two from other idol rappers because suga and RM are somehow more authentic? But from what little I know of what criteria makes a person a good/legit rapper, there are MANY so called ‘idol rappers’ who fit the criteria. Stray Kids Chan, Changbin and Han for example. Or Ravi, or MONSTA X Jooheon. Why do you think these rappers are seen as less authentic and what do YOU think makes a legit rapper?

The rapper question is answered in great detail here.

As for the broader question, it’s actually two questions because we’re talking about two different terms, “manufactured” (i.e constructed by external market forces) and “unoriginal” (i.e sounds like everything else out there) and they don’t mean quite the same thing.  It’s possible to be either of those two things, or both, or none.  Yes, it’s true that those two things often go hand-in-hand (as they often do in k-pop), but definitely not always.  A good example of a group who were very manufactured but also very original (at least for their time) would be The Clash.  To find examples of very non-manufactured and also unoriginal-sounding groups, pretty much any low-tier heavy metal band will do!

Obviously “manufactured, unoriginal” groups exist in great numbers in k-pop, and obviously they also exist in the west, and in other music scenes.  I think the reason why k-pop gets a lot of heat for it, is that in the west there’s always this veneer of “creative artistry” that’s put on top of it all, a certain point that the group or their management won’t go beyond in terms of artifice – whereas in k-pop there are no barriers, which makes the “manufacturing” more obvious.  For example, even in western groups where the members don’t write their own songs, changes in the performers’ image are still often “sold” to the public as a new direction in the artist’s self-expression, some kind of reflection of who they truly are as people at that moment, that they’re “growing up” or whatever.  An obvious example is how Madonna sold herself as “evolving sexually” with the “Sex” photobook when her “Erotica” album and the “In Bed With Madonna” movie came out – but it’s not like she wasn’t having sex beforehand.  In k-pop, there isn’t that same element of expressing (or more frequently, pretending to express) the persona of the individual, concept changes are more obviously positioned as marketing.  When Apink transition from “cute” to “sexy” we don’t necessarily expect that their lifestyles have changed in any way, we know that it’s just the look that the video producers went with because they thought it suited the girls more.  When Blackpink race around in KIA sports cars, we know that they’ve probably never even sat inside a moving one but are cosplaying as rally drivers because their company thought it would be a cool way to sell a car.  If someone who was in One Direction does the same type of thing, if nothing else we would expect that he might like sports cars.  In this way I feel that k-pop is actually more honest, even though that honestly probably isn’t deliberate, but more a side-effect of the cultural distance between East and West in terms of values, celebrity culture and the need for some sort of “credibility”.  This is also address somewhat in the previously linked rap post.

what are some of your favorite & most disliked Twice songs?

Just go through my favourites list and worst-of lists plus honourable and dishonourable mentions for each year, and you’ll find these.

Someone on youtube made a ‘better mixed’ version of Take The Wheel but oppar honestly I can’t tell the difference, possibly because I am half-deaf. Thoughts?

The changes in the new version:

  • More compression, which smoothes over some of the lumpier parts of the original mix (such as that weird volume hike at 0:24 in the original)
  • Equalisation has changed – less mids, more highs and lows
  • Some reverb has been added so the vocals sit a bit better within the ambience of the song rather than sounding dry and “right out the front”

To be clear, these are mastering changes, not mixing changes, because the person doing this doesn’t have access to the original multitrack unmixed version and hasn’t added anything in terms of actual instruments etc.  Honestly they did do a pretty good job at compensating for the shortfalls, and Lana certainly sounds more “like a k-pop” in the redone version.  I feel like the changes are a little too much however, the new version, while still good has a really “crowded” sound.  I actually prefer the original’s slightly undercooked production, I find it less fatiguing on the ears.

I was watching this video regarding the recent Katy Perry/Flame copyright lawsuit (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0ytoUuO-qvg), and I wondered if it could have implications for the k-pop world. What do you think? We all know how much you love to write about copyright “controversies!”

This doesn’t change anything really, just like the “Blurred Lines” case also didn’t change anything – apart from to underline the fact that these type of cases should never go to jury trial.  Regular jurors have no place in a trial like this, because the average juror simply isn’t qualified to make a judgement on this type of case.  It would be like asking me to make a judgement on something which requires highly specialised knowledge such as complex chemical reactions or something, and having an expert scientist advise me – I’m not going to be able to absorb his decades of scientific knowledge in the required timeframe, how the hell am I to know if he’s right or wrong?  It’s highlighting a flaw in the copyright legal system.

Hi, good night, first, i’m from Amapa, a state of Brazil, so know that even here in the amazon you have a reader of your blog hehe, what i want to ask is something i’ve always wondered, if what you say is true and the kpop performes are almost always so in debt with their companies that they never see the money they make with shows, so is safe to assume that the faceless back dancers who are always in the background of the inkygayos and etc, are actually making more money than our faves? Or is more likely that they are in fact trainees who are paying as much as the performers for The company in the end? Happy thoughts from Brazil, keep the blog going pls

The back-dancers probably at least get a wage.  It’s rare that back-dancers are trainees, usually they’re paid staff.  So yes, they would make more money than oppar, at least until the debts are all paid back… which could take years, if it even happens at all.

Hi there, I don’t know if you have ever covered this before, but what with all the scandals happening, here’s my question: do you think idol dating is destined to end in a bad and quick way? We’ve all seen the Kai/Jennie couple, and the Zico/Seolhyun couple(?) and the other numerous ones that haven’t continued. Would there be a reason as to the repetitive behaviour?

Another question: will you do another fic? I love your style of writing creepy-themed ironic fanfiction and there hasn’t been another one for ages..

Thanks and have a nice day!

I think there’s no reason why idol dating can’t last a very long time, but with so much outside pressure on idols from fans, and also pressure to conform to schedules, it’s probably hard for idols to date generally speaking.  Those sort of pressures can make a relationship difficult, and on top of that it’s quite normal for dating to be a more-misses-than-hits type of situation regardless of who you are and who you’re dating.  Most of my own dates over the years ended after a few months or even weeks, finding that person who you click with for the long term isn’t easy for anybody.

Hope this inspires your cat to become a kpop!

We shall see.  I think my cat would have a hard time sticking to an idol’s diet.

The C-pop industry is trying really hard to surpass K-pop or get on its level but why is the music so lackluster? they have the budget, the talent, the production but NOT the bops. Everything sounds like third rate kpop which is bad because kpop is already a third rate copy of wpop aka western pop. They try really hard to get it but somehow can’t, similarly to when jpop tries to imitate kpop but with less cringe (?). I like some c-pop groups but I can’t follow them when they keep putting out atrocious music.

Why can’t chinese companies poach kpop composers the same way they poach mistreated chinese kpop idols? is the composer job that cushy or what lol

K-pop has a long tradition of borrowing everything from other countries, including songwriting teams, whereas I think the Chinese are mostly trying to do it themselves and don’t hire outside songwriters as much.  As a result China is a little bit behind in things like music fashion, production style and so forth, their pop system isn’t as “globalised” and so they’re not getting that same level of expertise.  Not saying that western producers are objectively “better” but rather the west has had a much longer history of making this kind of music and with experience comes the honing of a craft, the Chinese songwriters who are working in the commercial pop realm are probably all relatively new at it and learning certain aspects as they go.

Why is North Korean pop (NK-pop?) so outdated looking? I say “looking” on purpose because it’s been known that the NK regime uses k-pop propaganda covers and they do stan k-pop because it’s smuggled inside the country* . The songs and instrumentation have very high quality production despite being so campy and they’ve been taking cues from k-pop girlgroup choeographies for some time.

The NK regime is very image conscious and is extremely aware of how the rest of the world perceives them. Surely they know their music looks laughably outdated, so why do they keep at it? “NK citizens/officials are brainwashed and don’t know how bad the music actually is” is a shitty excuse and also fake because NK citizens are aware of their bullshit regime and of the existence of Girls’ Generation thanks to the aforementioned smuggling.

Could they be doing this on purpose?Trying to hide the fact they’re extremely calculating and waiting to strike at the right moment under a clumsy exterior, a la Boris Johnson?. I’d like to hear your thoughts on NK-pop some more. I’ve been meaning to send this question ever since this video came out

(she also has a couple of interesting videos such as this one  and this one. It’s rare to find kpop youtubers who actually reject the trainee hell process instead of glorifying it)

I think that it’s a similar answer to the one about Chinese pop.  China is certainly a modern and technologically advanced country, but when it comes to pop music they just can’t quite “get it right”, and that’s because pop music isn’t entirely about technology, it’s also about culture and specifically cross-cultural exchange, at the highest level anyway, which is something China is less good at.  It’s a realm where culture and technology meet – SM’s “culture technology” slogan isn’t an accident and shows that they understand this, SM were also the first k-pop label to actively employ western producers, and their Chinese-market stuff is some of the only music in that market that actually sounds “like k-pop” as a result.

Now let’s think about North Korea where the cross-cultural exchange factor is basically nil apart from what comes through “black market” channels, and add in other aspects like the general lack of resources… it’s a really huge barrier to overcome.  Kim Jong Un doesn’t decide everything, he would obviously delegate at least some of the musical decisions to trained people, and those people only have whatever limited exposure that the State would allow, plus limited resources to make it happen.  Within those constraints it’s a lot easier to play something old than something new – also everyone’s probably paranoid, they don’t want to appear too innovative because what if they cross some sort of forbidden line and get locked up?  Sure, Kim Jong Un might like something like Fiestar’s “Mirror” – but presenting something like that to him would be a risk – what if he hates it?  If you overstepped the mark and got it wrong, you probably wouldn’t get a second chance.  In a totalitarian dictatorship people are worried about their survival first and foremost, so they’re not going to be in a rush to innovate, they’ll stick what has been proven to work in the past, something that they know will keep the leaders happy and keep them out of prison.

The stuff that I find really objectionable out there in the music industry, “I do my best to stay as quiet about as possible, just so nobody else finds out about it and says ‘well, actually I really like Beyonce…’ ”
Fuck dude, now you got me itchingly curious. More details please?

Well, Beyonce.  I mean, obviously.

Imagine sending a message to an entire generation of young black American women with the world at their feet, that the pinnacle of aspirational black American artistry is trash like “Crazy In Love” and “Single Ladies”.  The Ku Klux Klan probably couldn’t have thought up a more effective scheme to keep an entire culture of people from excelling.  In fact I’m not entirely convinced that they’re not secretly behind her success.

In January I started reading your roundup posts every week to get a full picture of all the songs that come out this year and damn, after 8 months I have a newfound appreciation for your patience and dedication; like, 85% of the songs are UTTER SHIT, sure there are some gems here and there but most are just so awful… I’ve read and listened to every single roundup completely and just wanted to thank you for putting yourself through that and letting us read your content for free. I’m so fed up with the shitty ballads and shitty trap and shitty EVERYTHING god. Thanks, bye 🙂

You’re welcome!

Hi oppar! I was reading your first interview with Chris P in preparation for the new one and he mentioned the genre electronic rock, which I didn’t know about. I listened to a bit of some compilation and I’d say it sounds good, so my question is: do you have any song or artist from this genre that you could recommend me? Thanks!

I don’t even know exactly what he means when he says “electronic rock”.  This is a question you might want to ask him directly.

Here’s an observation that I’ve been making for a few years now: just like songs whose producers are mentioned in the title are bound to suck, groups whose names or initial concepts are based on the number of members they have are destined to have a change of line-up sooner or later.
There are many examples: EXO, WJSN (went from 12 to 13 even though their concept was about the zodiac signs), DAY6, Up10tion, Apink (their first EP is called “Seven Springs of Apink”), gugudan, and even Celeb Five, the gag group that’s around these days. Of course, it cannot happen to the “Produce” groups, which are named in a similar, lazy fashion, but surely my theory will further be confirmed by GOT7, fromis_9, or even – yikes – Loona, in the foreseeable future.
Questions are:
1. Would you accept this as trufax?
2. Do you know of any other “phenomenon” like that in K-Pop? Something other than the producer-name-in-the-song-title thing.

Well with the sheer number of people in k-pop groups, I think line-up changes are an inevitability anyway.  Even when looking at western rock groups, which are typically between three and five members, line-up changes within these groups are common.  There are very few western groups that have been together for any length of time and never had members come or go.  The more members you add, the more mathematically likely a line-up change is, the fact that Girls’ Generation stayed as a nine-piece for all those years is nothing short of miraculous, and it’s equally impressive that Twice are doing it now.  So I’d say that you’re right, but also that even if they don’t have “numerical concepts”, eventual line-up change is almost guaranteed.

There’s definitely a lot of “signifiers” in k-pop and I might devote a future post to a list!

Would you consider reviewing all the songs in albums? The Needledrop on YouTube has done a few video reviews, but not many and not of the albums I own.

Probably not, for the reasons outlined here.  Also, the fucking time-sink would be huge, plus reviews are really boring content generally speaking and I already do way too many of them.  Only in very specific circumstances will I ever be doing full album reviews.

Do Kpop idols get blacklisted from performing on shows or auditioning for other companies by their agencies? If yes, what might have the idols done to get blacklisted? Is this more likely to happen with larger agencies that have more power (eg. the Big 3)?

Sure they get blacklisted.  Everybody knows everybody, so “you’ll never work in this town again” threats are quite real and can be backed up.  They can’t blacklist someone from auditioning, but they can certainly blacklist someone from passing an audition.  Korean pop is basically organised crime with a beat.  Piss off the cartel and nobody is going to want to touch you, because then the cartel will exert pressure on them if they give you a chance as a blacklisted artist.  It can happen with labels big or small, but obviously the bigger the label the more areas they probably have their hooks into.  Think about YG and how heavily connected they are to so many other areas of Korean life, including the Korean government, which is why nothing all that big is going to come out of the whole Burning Sun thing.  If that thing unraveled completely, too many important heads would roll, and it could actually even bring down the current presidency.  Instead a few people will be the “fall guys” and the rest will get hushed up.

I imagine it would be business aspects that would make someone get on a blacklist (demanding better deals, switching agencies) or perhaps more personal things, such as threatening to expose someone for crimes etc.

Hello, have you watched any interview videos from the channel ‘GRAZY GRACE’ on YouTube? Grace has interviewed Alex from BP Rania and others who are in the k music industry.

Yes some have been linked here before in previous QRIMOLEs and also roundups.  I did also ask to interview Grace myself but never heard back.  Oh well, her own channel does the job anyway without my help, and some of her videos are really good, like this one:

You can bet your ass Grace is on a few “blacklists”.  Whether people agree with her or not, she’s brave to say what she’s saying, and that always comes at a price.

Wow, you really could be a first guy who could say “I’m against gay marriage” without sounding like a homophobic 😛

Actually I would say the whole “romantic” aspect of marriage is just a way businesspeople to make money, as well as to keep the marriage running – because without these kind of stuff, the game won’t last for too long.

I know this question is very controversial (and a lot of people would probably hate me for this, including you), but I honestly want to know am I the only one around who think Jennie and Lisa of Blackpink looks absolutely dreadful? Although I acknowledge as an Asian my taste might be different than you guys, every time I look at their faces, I always end up thinking why YG would let Jennie in the first place + why Lisa looks more like a guy than a girl. (BTW, among Jennie’s Chinese detractors, a derogatory nickname of her is “catfish”, which IMO is not completely without merit……)

Alright then, a 10% upfront of USD$500 million. That’s a Deal. Prepare to experience some intense BDSMs 🙂

The answer to any question starting with “am I the only one…” is always no, however I’d say that others who feel like you do are pretty rare, because if they weren’t there’s no way Jennie and Lisa would have gotten those spots in Blackpink.  Agencies don’t just throw ugly girls into the mix for the hell of it, what are you kidding?  This is a business, everyone is trying to make money and they’ll use the most universally attractive people they have access to.  Jennie was groomed specifically to be in Blackpink for many years.

My opinion because I know you want it – Jennie is really cute, she looks like an ex-girlfriend of mine right down to the speech patterns and facial mannerisms and I’m always a sucker for girls in k-pop who look like girls I know in real life that I’ve dated (or wanted to date).  Lisa has more of an athlete’s body which I’m not into but a really cute face, in fact Lisa stood out to me in the group first before anybody else, she’s got that really fresh-faced thing going on.

My Patreon is ready to accept your $500 million donation.  I don’t mind if you do it in smaller chunks, but not too small, I’d like to spend my millions before I die kthx.

Although I always appreciate the opportunity to find new music through your weekly roundup, one of the things I look forward to the most when reading a new post is the “BONUS RANDOM VIDEO OF THE WEEK”. Would you ever consider making video content that interests you a more prominent part of your blog? I always seem to enjoy what you post in that regard and it would be cool to see more videos that you find interesting on a regular basis!

I think that the current roundup bonus videos already fill that role fairly nicely, and I think I’ll continue with random vids as a regular roundup feature after this year is over.  I wouldn’t expand on the feature too much though, because honestly I don’t have enough time to sit around watching videos as I wish I did.  I also have to work for a living and pay my mortgage!  If the above person donating me the $500 million comes good at least on the first $5 million, that might allow me to quit my other work and free up more of my time.

Do you ever write songs in your head? How often? What sort of songs are they? And how do you come up with it?

Well, not these days, but whenever I do write a song the general idea exists in my head first, even if the songs itself does not.  I don’t start off with music, I start off with an idea – what do I want the song or tune to broadly be about, what the concept for it – and then everything else comes from that.  I think the best songs are always ones that stem from a really strong, well-defined idea.

For instance, to take a really simple example, I wrote and played all the keyboard music in “Try Not To Have Gay Sex With Yves“.  (Excluding the Loona songs that Chuu plays in-game, of course.)  The title tune, how did I write that?  Well, I thought about what the idea for the game was, and what I wanted to say.  Basically, the game is (at heart) a troll game where the objective of the game is designed to feel (almost) impossible, because the aims of “you the player” (i.e don’t have gay sex with Yves) are 100% opposed to the objectives of “you the character” (i.e have gay sex with Yves).  I wanted people to hear the tune and think to themselves “oh boy – Kpopalypse is gonna fuck with me somehow”.  So the tune extends on this troll concept by deliberately combining some of the things that I have documented that I specifically don’t like about music:

  • Pentatonic-based melody
  • Fender Rhodes sound
  • Heavily improvised blues/jazz feel

The result is a tune that is kind of jolly but also deliberately kind of crap and worthless, it’s sort of poking its tongue out at the listener, and it sets the tone for the rest of the game.

The other big piece of music is a lengthy organ tune that comes in right near the end of the game, where Chuu has a “religious experience” of a sort (if you don’t rush through this scene in the game but just wait, the piece is about three minutes long).  I wanted a piece that was 100% all light, no shade, like going up to heaven, so I used the “four chords” progression of I-V-vi-IV which is associated with bright happy pop music, and constant suspensions and resolutions, played in a kind of church-organ way, to get the appropriate divine feel going.  So once again, the idea comes first, and it’s the idea that dictates the sound.  Keep this in mind when trying to write any music, if you start with your idea first, the rest of what you’re trying to do will fall into place a lot easier.

Do you like music sung by guys or girls more? For me girls somehow

Although I don’t have a preference for vocal tone, in k-pop, I find that girls on average have better songs.  In other genres it doesn’t seem to really matter though, seems to just be a k-pop thing, because in k-pop women get different types of songs, whereas a punk band with girls will sound much the same as a punk band with guys, once you remove the vocal pitch factor and maybe the lyrical topics.

Did you look more 1/4th chinese when you were younger?

Probably not.  Nobody ever mentioned it.  My mother would get occasionally recognised as part-Asian, but I wouldn’t.

What’s a song that you think has a very good melody but weird composition, and what would you change about the instrumentals then?

I go pretty deeply into this type of thing when it appears in year-end lists.  However I’d say that the reverse scenario is much more common.

Hello, I’m a reader of your blog, I really enjoy it and look forward to your posts as a way to distract from some of my troubles. I need advice from you. I’ve started college and major in theater, but I’ve been learning violin for 2 years and planned to audition for the orchestra. As college started, both are demanding a lot from my schedule (orchestra overlap with theater and it’s all week) plus I need 30 hours from working in the scene shop for one of my classes and I have more advanced classes from being apart of this program. I don’t want to give up violin but my mom has been saying I’m wasting my time and her money for classes. I just want a career in lighting design but I don’t want to give up my violin. I’m just a freshman in college and it’s just going to get more busy. What do you think of my situation?

If you’re at potential-orchestral level with violin, what do you seriously even need a teacher for?  Maybe dump the violin classes, or at least cut down their number significantly, but keep up the violin practice and audition.  Once you’re above intermediate level you can pretty much safely self-teach yourself any instrument, and doing this will at least assist with the money situation so that’ll be one less issue to juggle.  When I stopped having guitar lessons, it wasn’t because I had given up, it’s because I had outgrown my teacher’s advice.  When that happens it’s a good thing, it means your teacher did their job well enough to impart on you everything that is necessary for you to then self-direct your own learning.  You may be closer to this point than you realise.

I was very amused to see the display of marketing logic when commenting on his costume coming apart, Taemin says “I have to hide my body since it’s a million-dollar body”

Taemin has been a profitable idol longer than most, he knows the score.

Hi Kpopalypse! I was looking for you for advice on how to deal with going to college far from home. I’ve started to attend a four year university that’s a day’s drive from my hometown and I was wondering what your advice was for meeting other students and how to deal with being away from parents for the first time. Thanks!

It’s easier to stay connected than it used to be with social media etc, so any advice that I have on how I dealt with these kinds of issues probably isn’t going to apply to you.  Just enjoy the benefits of still being able to see your family while also having freedom from their behaviour-policing.  Meeting other students is easy, just look for university clubs and stuff.  More info at this post.

There’s an anime called “Carole & Tuesday” that’s a music-based anime with really great songs! They’re in english so it’s not jpop haha. If you have the time to listen to some, what do you think about them?

I recommend checking out “The Loneliest Girl” and “Galactic Mermaid” from the Carole & Tuesday anime. Especially Galactic Mermaid, there’s a lot of cursing in it which reminded me of you!

I watched a few of these and the lyrics of “Galactic Mermaid” perfectly expressed how I felt about all this garbage music, you now owe me those minutes of my life back.

I am shocked, SHOCKED, that you like Red Velvet’s “Umpah Umpah.” I assumed you’d dismiss it as boring vocalwank that was too slow for the mood it was trying to convey. What makes the song good for you, given that it seems to have a lot of the elements you dislike in k-pop?

Well settle down there, I didn’t say I “liked” it, I said it was “their best song since Rookie”.  That statement doesn’t mean that it’s as good as Rookie, it means that out of all the songs that Red Velvet have done after Rookie, it’s the best one.  Difference!  Of course, every single other song Red Velvet has done since Rookie has been more or less a bucket of festering pig shit, so it’s really not that high a compliment.  People need to read the fine print on these roundup reviews sometimes.

Hi oppar! I have to pick a difficult decision: this fall there will be 2 important concerts that I wanna go see in my country and I have to pick one because I can’t afford to go to both. One is a concert of one of my favorite artists (Marina, which I know you don’t like that much but okay), the other one is the Dreamcatcher concert. Being in Europe I know I could very likely have a chance to see Marina again in a few years, while Dreamcatcher will surely be a lot more difficult. Given that I like Marina more than Dreamcatcher (which I like a lot too) what should I do? I will also wait to read your Dreamcatcher concert review before taking a final decision

I know the feeling of not being able to afford to see all the stuff you want.  I think wait for my review, I’ll try to give you as much information as possible so you can make an informed decision.

Do you agree with this bitch?

No.  I think there’s a fundamental misunderstanding here by the person who made this video, about what melody is, and how it’s used in pop music.  What he’s specifically ignoring is the relationship between melody and harmony which I think is underrated by all music theorists and which will form part of the “meta-knowledge” of the music theory series (which I haven’t gotten into yet).  At some point in my music theory post I’ll talk about melody writing and I’ll go into more detail at that time.

Hello k´popalypse recently i wanted to undestand music a little better than catchy lyrics or “high notes” [btw thanks for your music theory lessons] could you recomend a couple of kpop songs and western songs if possible that actually have “amazing production/mixing/mastering…” that kinda stuff. Thanks

In k-pop almost everything is really, really well produced.  It’s actually quite hard to find examples of k-pop that doesn’t have great production values.  However if you want the very best production in k-pop I’d just say go anything YG.

They’ve consistently gotten production right for the past 10 years or so.  Sometimes the songs are great, sometimes they’re average and sometimes they’re utter shit – but regardless, they always nail the technical aspect, you can’t fault them on it.

I’m so out of the loop on western pop artists these days that I don’t even know who is doing it the best in the west right now.  Probably someone from Sweden who also produces k-pop.

I don’t know if you’ve talked about this before, I haven’t checked your blog 100%, but I hope you can answer me anyway.

Since I don’t know anything about music, I’d really like to know if kpop can be considered a genre? or a subgenre? Or is it just an industry?

I would be very grateful if you answered, apart from “yes” and “no”, with an explanation of why it is one thing and not the other.

Thank you! and I’m sorry if my english is very basic

K-pop is really just pop music.  It all belongs to that genre broadly, while also borrowing from others from time to time, as pop music just means “popular” so it actually draws off other styles.  However I also do use k-pop itself as a genre identifier in a looser sense, just for categorisation purpose.  Realise that all genre labels only exist so people who work at record stores and for online retailers know how to file things, so that people interested in certain things can find the shit they want to listen to.  It would be harder to find k-pop if it didn’t have a k-pop label on it, so that’s what the label is for, it doesn’t really tell you about the sound of the music, because in fact k-pop can sound like many different things.  I wrote fairly extensively on genres within k-pop here and here.

Hi oppar! Can you please help me define the structure of this song?

From my music-noob point of view, it seems to be:
Pre-riff (simpler version of the main riff)
Riff 1
Riff 1 + (more elements added to the mix)
Verse + (more elements are added to create a build-up)
Chorus/Beat drop 1
Chorus/Beat drop 1 + (occasional vocals)
Riff 1 +
Verse + (some additional elements)
Pre-chorus/beat drop
Chorus/Beat drop 2 (different melody)
Riff 2 (different melody)

Ugh, did you have to pick this sort of trash?  Oh well, it could be worse I suppose.

I think your analysis is pretty much what I would conclude.  Obviously there’s some subjectivity with things like this.  If you can even create an analysis like this at all, them you basically understand the “point of the exercise” and the exact labels aren’t that relevant really, you could call it banana, apple and peach instead of verse, chorus and riff if you wanted, but I use the terms I do because there’s a commonly accepted concept behind them.  The important aspect is that you can differentiate the different sections, not what precise labels you give them.  Structure is all about differentiation, that’s the main purpose – once you differentiate, then you can recreate.

Hi hi Mr. Kpopalypse oppar sir
(if you’re getting tired of seeing this fecking title, please tell me and I’ll shorten it respectfully to “Almighty Cunt…sir” or not)

It’s me again for a third Qrimole in a row! I actually wasn’t planning on sending another Qrimole this month but I had a few questions and wanted to give you some news.

So I did it. I finally got a blog site running here on WordPress and posted my first blog post tonight! Yay~ It’s a trash of a post but it’s a start. It’s only an introduction but I have a few other posts lined up and some ideas as well. I think the key for me is to just keep writing no matter how bad the writing might look for ME. I’m very self-critical to a fault so to others, my writing may just be okay or not. I’m finally getting over the anxiety and telling myself to just write, don’t compare (or at least keep it to a minimum) and relax cause no one’s reading your crap right now anyways. I believe you’ve offered to read samples of our writing before, right? So maybe if ever I need an extra pair of eyes and a good advisor could I send you a sample or two?

And don’t worry, I’m still planning on translating those posts of yours if I ever wrap my head around this blasted Korean language. Speaking of which, I’ve safely arrived in South Korea and will be here until late December, so hopefully I can make the most of my stay here though I already feel like I’m failing a bit despite being here less than a week lol.

Ah, but before I forget, the main reason I wanted to send in a Qrimole is because though I set up my blog, I still am struggling to make it all nice and pretty. For instance, what widgets do I need? What’s the best plug-ins? What else should I get for my blog? I’m overwhelmed by the main dashboard of WordPress to be honest. I’ve used WordPress.com before but this is my first time using WordPress.org stuff and it’s so much more overwhelming and convoluted than the .com. So any website maintaining advice is very much appreciated before I crash or accidentally erase my blog. Or hackers attack though I doubt it. I know there’re vids and articles to look this up but I wanted to ask a WordPress veteran directly.

Once again, thanks for all the help and hopefully I won’t have to bug you next month crying for help like the little idiot I am, haha.

Oh, and have fun at the DC concert! Have a good day/week/month

~감사합니다 Thank you~

I’m fine if you send samples of your writing!  This goes for you or anybody.  However keep in mind that it’s still just one person’s opinion, and plenty of people hate MY writing, so following my advice may not be the best thing depending on your writing goals.  Happy to offer advice anyway.

I use wordpress.com so I can’t advise you with wordpress.org – sorry about that, there’s lots of material about there that you can consult however.  You’d actually be better off asking Asian Junkie about this as he’s a wordpress.org user.  Although then again maybe not, you can see from how he codes his site that perhaps he’s not the best person to ask, unless you want advice on how to make your site as annoyingly ad-encrusted and difficult to navigate on mobile as possible hahaha.  He did accidentally erase a bunch of his own shit a few years ago so he could probably talk to you about that and maybe he can at least tell you what button not to press.  Hopefully he finds time in between deleting my comments from his site and taking false credit for the Way’s Girls concept to give you some assistance here.

I need advice 😥
I work as a waitress in a small restaurant near my house, and to summarize things, they have a bad administration, they have few workers for the amount of tables they have, and they expect you to do magic to attend 5 tables you just without making mistakes (because no they give you training) the first day I got there was one of the worst days of my life, they basically put me to work without knowing anything and scolded me a thousand times for things that they didn’t explain to me just until I made the mistake, they pressure you a lot, the new ones who come to work after the first day do not return, the waiters are the ones who blame us for everything (when the real fault is the owners for their poor administration and lack of organization) the reason why I continue That’s because I need money to pay for the cell phone that I just bought and I also have to pay for things from the university, and since it’s my first job, I don’t know if they’ll accept me anywhere else without much experience. I worked there daily for two months, and when I was going to leave, the owner insisted on working only on weekends (since I am one of the few people who has endured her attitude and I have lasted a long time, I think the lady I wasn’t willing to lose myself). Now they have got a little heavier, especially the lady’s husband, (it’s really intimidating). I no longer want to work there, I can’t stand them anymore, I feel that one day I will break in front of them and it will be embarrassing (I don’t have good self-esteem) But I’m afraid of not finding another job with my little work experience … What do I do? Do I take risks and quit before they trample my self-esteem more? Or if you have any advice on how to cope with the situation while you can?

P.D: I’m sorry, my English is not very good, but I hope you understood me

I think you should start looking for other work.  It’s probably not worth the pressure to keep going with this and also university.  It’s only a waitress job, there’s plenty of them around so why not put your resume out there while continuing to work at this one in the meantime just to keep the finances good?  Some places to work at actually don’t suck.  That’s all I can really say about it.

Hello! This isn’t exactly an easy question, but I’d like to hear your thoughts on this subject.
I’m a 26 years old female and I identify myself as a bisexual with a REALLY strong preference for the same gender. I’ve known this since I was at least 12. I struggled a bit at first, but now I can say I’ve accepted my sexuality. However, I still feel that I’m quite different than most people when it comes to a different aspect of human sexuality, the sex drive. I often think that there is something wrong with me because I have a quite low sex drive. It’s not that I don’t enjoy sex or have an aversion to it, not at all. But i honestly don’t think of sex as much as everyone else seems to and I can stay a long ass time without sex and still be perfectly fine. I have never felt the urge to masturbate and it’s difficult for me to get sexually aroused with just images, videos or my imagination. I really like your blog and I’m a loyal reader so I’m often reminded me of this because you mention fapping all the time lol. Every time you mention it I undertstand what you mean rationally, but I really cannot relate. I do find some idols super attractive, for sure, and I 100% admit that they’re hot and I wouldn’t turn down having sex with them, however I cannot for the life of me feel turned on enough to masturbate to a video or a pic of them, for example. I see people talking about this all the time and it makes me feel like such a weirdo…
I would be lying if I say I never get turned on with videos, pictures or even erotica, because I do, but it’s kinda rare and it’s always something subdued that leads to nothing.
I read about asexuality a while ago because I thought maybe I was asexual, but I don’t think that’s the case. Like I said, I enjoy sex. I just don’t think about that much and it’s not something essential to me. It’s not a phase either, I’ve been like this since forever. I think it might be something psychological idk.
I’m not even sure why I’m asking you this, but do you think there’s something wrong with me or is it somewhat normal to be like that? I alternate between thinking I’m the normal one and everyone else should stop being sex maniacs and feeling like I’m weird and there’s something wrong with me.

I think it’s fine to just embrace what you are?  Yeah you might have a lower sex drive than most people, and really there’s nothing wrong with that.  Honestly I wish that could have had such a relaxed attitude to sex especially when I was younger and my hormones were kind of driving me up the wall.  It’s settled down a bit as I’ve aged and also having a girlfriend helps a lot, but hey if you can go without then more power to you because while sex is fun damn there sure are some drawbacks to feeling like you have to get off all the time!

Keep in mind there’s a societal expectation that is reinforced through popular culture that everyone has to be horny all the time, and while it’s true that a lot of people do feel that way, there’s also a lot of people who don’t really care about it quite so much.  Just like how society is hetero-biased, so if you’re gay it can take you a while to realise because since heterosexuality is “normal” people are kind of expecting to grow up hetero – it’s the same thing with various shades of low sex drive, or asexuality, or whatever else.  If it’s not the norm and isn’t reflected much in what you see in popular culture, it can make you feel somewhat odd, like there’s something wrong with you.  However both of the states you’re alternating between in terms of how you think about yourself are in fact incorrect.  The correct one is “I know what I like, and so do others, and we often differ and that’s okay as long as I can get what I need and live the life I want”.  It doesn’t have to be related to any big trauma or whatever, sometimes people are just wired up differently sexually, in the same way that someone might have different physical attributes.

Oppar do you have any advice for someone who can’t leave a toxic workplace just because there’s no better option in the short term? I’ve already asked a few of my friends and former professors, but it’d be nice to have the opinion of someone of your age and experience.

My options:
1.) Stick with my current job, even if it’s hella toxic, and by toxic I’m talking about, even as someone in sales, I’m doing HR (recruitment) and admin (clerical shit, buying office supplies, etc) shit because the team is “lean” and I’m the youngest; doing implementations (we’re a software company) work, including intern shit like data gathering and encoding, because I have to “learn the processes” in order to make a proper proposal, right, I need to encode data to know how to make a fucken proposal; being the personal fucken assistant of our powertripping operations manager (like have to buy his lunch or make coffee or give him his powerbank when he is a few blocks away and in a meeting); and a whole lot of other shit. since it pays (although my salary only covers what I’m originally supposed to do, which ends up being around only 20-30% of what I’m doing every day), and there’s this pretty lady I have a crush on here in the office. Really about 30-40% of the reason I stay here is because of her lol

2.) Quit the job, but the nearest possible job opportunity is still 3 months away.

3.) Go back to the academe for my master’s degree, my parents want me to and they said they’d love to pay for it, but I don’t really want them to spend money again on me and I just want them to enjoy their retirement in peace.

4.) Try my luck on a new business venture with a few friends, will need capital, which I fortunately have enough money for, but it’s a really risky move.

If you have another option/s oppar, please advise me. Thank you so much!

When I read “crush”, well – that makes the decision easy.  Get the fuck out of that job as soon as you can!  Having a crush there is a great reason to leave, not a reason to stay!  You do of course want to try and date your crush, but not while you’re working there.  So get her number/consent/whatever if you can and she’s cool with it, then quit as soon as you’re able to pick up something better.  There’s nothing worse than dating a work colleague and then you develop feelings and then everything falls to shit and you still gotta work with them.

New business venture sounds good but they are a LOT of work and I really do mean a LOT, the self-employed people and bosses that I know certainly have money but they also never ever ever ever stop working, they literally do not get a break ever.  I’m not saying don’t do it, but it’s not something to go into lightly, you want to plan carefully and make sure you 100% have good people to do it with who are not going to fuck you over.  Even in the best business partnerships things can go pear-shaped, so if you decide on this path be very careful who you partner up with and make sure integrity across the board is rock-solid and you’re all on the same page with business goals etc.

Hey Oppar!

I got into Kpop about a year ago after swearing up and down for a long time that I didn’t give a shit and wasn’t interested. Then I watched a video of an SNSD song they were singing live in Japanese (I speak Japanese so I watch Japanese content, which probably why YouTube shoveled it at me – also, Honey Popcorn…heyyyy).

Anyway, I was all, “Whoa, these chicks are hot. Why haven’t I heard about them? There aren’t any J-pop groups like this – they’re all AKB idols and shit. This is a Korean group? WTF?”

I ain’t gonna lie, hot girls gyrating around are hot. Wakes me up down there, etc. So, down the rabbit hole I went. I found quite a few Kpop songs I liked, ended up with some playlists even. Surprised the hell out of me too because I am mostly a rock and metal fan. But okay, fine. All GGs though – the boy bands – nope.

Anyway, I liked some of this shit. Then the Kpop marketing machine went to work on me. I started checking out all the peripheral stuff – the behind the scenes videos, instagram, etc. Then I encountered the gargantuan beast (beasts) of Kpop fandom. I thought “Daaaaang, these caonimas are fucking insane out their goddamn minds crazy!” And vowed never to engage with them or any of their shit.

Until now, I hadn’t really found anywhere online to go for my Kpop content. The big sites rapidly turned me off, the forums are full of idiots, most of the bloggers have their heads up their asses, etc. But as I was scrolling through the frothing screeds someone slagged you off and linked an article of yours and I clicked it and FINALLY, someone talking straight about all this shit and not giving a fuck about what anyone else thought. THANK GOD.

At first I thought you were just another asshole. Then I realized you were not just another asshole, but a very *special* asshole who actually has something to say and whose opinion is more informed and self aware than 99.9% of the Kpop fandom.

I’m not some gullible kid and I don’t need talking down to or sugarcoating, which is why I think your content’s great. I love your unvarnished opinions even when I don’t agree with them (some of the songs you like I’m all, “Please, fool, that song is like hammered shit,” and you took a steaming dump on some stuff I liked but vive la difference and all that shit, so whatever). And some of your stuff is just hilariously funny.

Anyway, I’ve been listening to songs and following groups I liked, and the more I learned about the absolute shady-ass (and occasionally outright criminal) fuckery in the Kpop business, the more I felt guilty about liking Kpop. The idols get so exploited. Spending money on Kpop felt like buying blood diamonds. So, I don’t spend money on Kpop. I watch the MVs on YouTube and that’s about it. But that really doesn’t help the idols does it?

That makes me feel guilty. I want to support the idols since they’re the ones who sacrifice themselves for our (my) entertainment, but practically all of the money you spend on anything related to them goes to their companies.

That leads me to my question – how do reconcile this lingering feeling of guilt about liking Kpop and being disgusted by the horribly shitty business of it? Do you feel that way at all, and if so, how do you reconcile it?

Well, that’s all. After a year of being adrift in the swirling sea of insanity surrounding Kpop it’s good to find your blog. And if your attitude keeps all the small-minded fuckheads away, great. Thanks and keep it up, you magnificent bastard!

Thanks for your support!

I do have a post about how to help idols without helping their companies, it’s here.

I guess the way I reconcile the aspect of liking (some of) the k-pop music, and the larger issue of the entire k-pop industry being an organised crime infested shithole, is in a few ways.  Firstly, I support the idols.  Not as “idols” as such, but rather just as “people doing a sometimes unpleasant and dangerous job, where the occupational hazards aren’t widely acknowledged”, and a lot of what I write about idols is highlighting them not as angels or devils but as ordinary people, dealing with a very extra-ordinary situation.  It’s really hard to get people to understand that aspect – even the idols themselves, in the rare cases where I’ve gotten in direct contact with them, typically take a while to process the idea that I’m not just there to either blindly worship them, spit on them, or shill their product for ad revenue.  I think also just having someone out there who is able to think critically about idols and their music, but in a subjective way, without resorting to “anti” behaviour, is a good example to fans who get swept up in the religious-cult-like vibe of fandoms.

The other thing that I do quite actively is support people who make music from outside the idol system, just to show that there is another pathway to doing things.  You don’t have to audition for a “big three” company, or any company, if your dream is to make music.  Even the music theory posts are related to this tangenitally – if you can understand how to write songs and how music works, you don’t need to as reliant on someone else to handle that aspect for you.

How successful I am in actually assisting anybody out there, either idols or fans, with this type of stuff, I don’t really know.  The impact of one person’s writing can only be very minimal compared to thousands of people with a lifetime of conditioning.  I do know however that I’ve helped quite a few people, because they’ve told me so.  I get messages every so often from people saying that I helped them reflect and return with a more mature image as fans.  I also occasionally get messages from people active within the Korean music scene, always in strict confidence – saying that they wish they could talk to me openly, but they can’t – and also to keep doing what I’m doing.  Hey let’s watch Puer Kim’s “Maanyo Mash” again, because in this context it never gets old.

That’s all for QRIMOLE!  This series will return in a month, in the meantime don’t forget to stan wholesome girls like Moko Sakura.

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!

3 thoughts on “QRIMOLE – September 2019

  1. I have a post-QRIMOLE question:

    Over the past few years, the other members of Girls’ Generation haven’t said anything about Jessica. When they discuss GG’s popularity and cultural impact, I’m not even sure if Jessica is on their minds. Do you think this is because SM won’t let them discuss Jessica, or do you think it’s simply because all 8 of them can’t stand her? Now that they’re no longer “owned” by SM, you’d think that Tiffany, Sooyoung, and Seohyun might be a bit more willing to talk about their former member.

    • The first one. Also why would they want to discuss it anyway. I sure as hell don’t want to discuss lineup changes in bands that I was in half a decade ago.

  2. I think you’re too kind to China and NK, come to find out you’re partly Chinese, so that makes sense. And given the fear factor, of course no one in those political situations would risk their lives to make good music, so I guess long story short, anything they make will continue to be utter, complete, laughable garbage, way worse than us or SK garbage… So it’s funny, a huge nation with tons of money CAN’T make good modern music…!?
    Also, just to agree with that one horny guy who likes girl groups – I fell all the way into love with Gfriend, their humor, fun, kindly nature, combined with their perfect dancing and excellent songs, does me real good in my old age.

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