It’s time for another episode of Kpopalypse Nugu Alert! Let’s check out some more nugus!
The k-pop world is harsh, this is well-documented on this very site, but you don’t have to take my word for it – in 2020 evidence of the extremities of the Korean idol system is everywhere and you won’t have to search hard to find it. One aspect of harshness that seems to extend even beyond the idol sphere and into the music business in general, in every country, is beauty standards. Any performer in the public arena is constantly judged and evaluated on their appearance, which of course is only natural and makes sense given that performing is an appearance-based occupation, but sometimes the consequences if perfomers aren’t seen to “measure up” can be extreme. In Korean society the pressure to keep up appearances and present attractively to the masses seems to be heightened compared to other places even across the general public, so combining this with the already-existing pressure that comes from any performance role can possibly seem to many to be an insurmountable barrier. But what if – just maybe – there were some Korean musicians out there who just didn’t give a fuck?
Kpopalypse is all about not giving fucks about things which should not have fucks given to them, so in this episode of Kpopalypse Nugu Alert I present to you some artists who are willing to defy traditional beauty standards and bring you their music regardless of any and all societal pressure, so be sure to appreciate and support them!
Usual Nugu Alert rules apply:
- Less than 20k views on official content
- You probably haven’t heard of these people
- Relevant to Kpopalypse
6band – Love Is Like Glass
Let’s start off with this pleasant acoustic folk song, from a group called 6band. I’m not sure why they’re called 6band as there only appears to be two of them, but maybe the 6 is actually a stylised ‘b’ and they’re supposed to be pronounced ‘b-band’. Since they don’t yell their own group name every four bars like most k-pop groups these days, I may have to wait a while to find out this important information. What I do know or can at least reasonably guess is that these guys do like a good beachfront singalong, and while we unfortunately don’t get to see these boys strip down to their swimming trunks and go for a dip, we do get some tasty blue denim action, much windswept hair, a very sun-smart cap, and those with an eyeglasses fetish (raises hand) are also well catered to. Aside from all that, this song manages to actually be quite good with some lilting two-part harmonies, quite dexterous guitar work and a general lack of tired cliche that a lot of Korea’s ballad writers could learn from.
Youtube views at the time of writing: 4317
Notable attribute: comparing the length of the shadows cast at 0:30 and 3:37 and correlating it with the time of release and the geographical location allows you to calculate the exact length of time the music video took to record
Nugu Alert rating: very high
BChae – Uglypet
Don’t we all know that women generally face far harsher critique when it comes to beauty standards than men do, but if you were struggling for more evidence of this, here’s your example. Can you imagine BChae debuting under a “big three” agency? Maybe it is possible if you’re a male with the charisma of Shindong, but I doubt there are many women of BChae’s dimensions who would get past the typical k-pop audition process, if any, regardless of any other factors in their favour. It’s a shame because BChae’s “Uglypet” isn’t bad at all, the song has a cool groove to it and is definitely a cut above the usual R&B/pop jam that we see coming out of the Korean pop system, plus her vocals are very understated and complimentary to the material with some cool and subtle harmonisation – if this was a typical k-pop agency song they would be forcing her to vocal-wank all over the top of it instead, which she gratefully doesn’t do. At least the YouTube comments seem to be giving her some love (while all deftly side-stepping the elephant in the room, pun not intended) unlike k-pop Reddit which had absolutely fucking nothing to say because this wasn’t the new Busters video.
Youtube views at the time of writing: 892
Notable attribute: immaculate bedroom doll collection deserves to be seen
Nugu Alert rating: extreme
If Enough – 8:01
Now that Amber has moved back to the United States to gear up to run for the 2024 presidential campaign, k-pop fans who are interested in androgyny may be wishing for a replacement Amber to encourage them to continue to question their own sexualities. Enter Jooyeon, the guitarist from If Enough, here to meet your needs, channeling both the gender ambiguity of Amber and the aegyo squishiness of Shindong in the one package. I don’t want to misgender Jooyeon but I couldn’t find any information about Jooyeon’s true gender or in fact anything else about [insert correct pronoun here] whatsoever, so it’s hard not to say “the wrong thing”. Am I a good person for bringing up the topic of androgyny in k-pop for discussion and highlighting a new performer worthy of your interest, or am I an insulting bastard for perceiving androgyny in someone so obviously [insert actual gender here] like a grandfather in the 1960s looking at The Beatles in their mop-tops and lamenting that “you can’t tell the difference between boys and girls these days” because the hair goes down past the earlobes? I don’t know, but I tried the gentlemanly thing and researching my topic before I opened my ignorant mouth, and got nowhere fast – kprofiles.com had a mere hyphen under “Jooyeon facts” and dbkpop.com didn’t even register the entire group, I guess such is the fate of the nugu-alerter. What I do know about Jooyeon is that [insert correct pronoun here] has a sweet PRS guitar that I’m completely envious of as well as excellent guitar technique in general (thanks for those zooms, cameraperson) and it’s just a pity that the song is a bit on the limp watery side because I’d really like to see Jooyeon in a group like LA Galbi ripping shit up. We can dream.
Youtube views at the time of writing: 531
Notable attribute: bass solo from 2:39 kicks ass, but sadly this robs us of an opportunity for a guitar solo
Nugu Alert rating: extreme
That’s all for this episode! There will be one more Kpopalypse Nugu Alert before the end of 2020, so expect it fondly – and soon!