Archive for category Rants

Rant #24- English in Kpop (I swear this one is different from #23)

I know it’s been said by a lot of critics, but I feel like I have to address this here… There is way too much of it.

In Korea speaking English is VERY popular, and foreigners are still a kind of oddity (not so much in Seoul, but in other parts). I lived there for 10 months, trust me. I’d be stopped in the street for someone to take their picture with me, or interviewed, or filmed by the news because they wanted a shot of a foreigner for their report (this happened twice).

English is hugely popular, and most schools require at least some English courses. I get that groups want to sound cool by including the English in their songs, but I think the composers and lyricists take it way overboard.

Companies like JYP and SM are iffy, sometimes there is a lot of English, and sometimes they hardly have any (Hands Up by 2PM is pretty saturated, but It’s You by Super Junior is fairly weak on that edge), but the companies outside of the big 3 (SM, JYP, and YG) are where you see this a lot (and YG seems to be having more and more lately).

It seems the more obscure and unknown a company is the more English is in their song. Yeah, you’ll attract the foreigners because they can understand more, but I think it looses its… Korean-ness (for lack of a better word).

Korean music, in my opinion, should be IN KOREAN. Little lines in English are fine, but songs like ZE:A’s “Mazeltov”, 4 Minute’s “Muzik”, and T-ARA’s “YaYaYa” are way too saturated. It seems lately these three groups are swinging back towards having more Korean-oriented music, and that’s a relief, but a lot of groups still use far too much.

I was trying to get my older brother into SNSD/Girls’ Generation because I thought he’d like their music and I was in Korea so I could send him home a CD if he wanted. He tool one listen to their song “Mr. Taxi” (he studied Japanese for years and prefers it to Korean) and he said “Ugh, no way. The song is JAPANESE, but there is WAY too much English.” and I’ve heard the same thing about their Korean songs from other friends.

I really hope the general trend continues swinging back towards more Korean-oriented K-pop. It’s kind of disappointing how English-saturated the field is becoming.

See? Told you it was different from Rant#23 (which is about how said English usually makes no sense grammatically or within the song itself).

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Rant #23- English in K-Pop

I copied this from “Mini-Rant #1: If You’re Gonna Use English…”. When I wrote this I was commenting on SM Entertainment, but I’m expanding it to include CUBE Entertainment and just a rant in general on the topic.

Within the last few years English has crept further and further into K-Pop. Now almost every song has English somewhere in the lyrics. Early on the pronunciation was bad and the English was awkward at best, but as companies started importing members from the US or Canada, or added members who had lived in the countries for a time, the English improved… More or less.

Let’s just go on a case-by case basis for a bit so you can see what I mean:

SM ENTERTAINMENT
You can almost set a clock by when they added English-speaking trainees. The overall quality of their English improved incredibly. Some songs were just awkward in their wording, others were awkward in their pronunciation. Now the recorded songs are much better, though sometimes pronunciation does play a part in misunderstandings with the lyrics. Here are some of the more awkward songs:

1) “내 여자친구가 되어줄래?”
Artist: DBSK
Album: Tri-Angle
Complaint: There is a pronunciation issue here with the word “heartbeat”. I think the line is “I only want your heartbeat”, I can’t quite understand what they’re going for. But anyways it sounds like they’re saying “I just want your herpies”. I may not know what they were trying to say, but I’m pretty sure that’s not what the composer was going for…

2) Sorry, Sorry
Artist: Super Junior
Album: Sorry, Sorry
Complaint: This isn’t a real complaint, just something kind of funny. Now I’m not sure if it’s the Korean accents doing this, or if it’s legit. Listen to them saying “Sorry”, especially in live performances. Well, I guess how they say it it’s more of “sOrry”. The members suddenly say that word Canadian style. Now I wonder where a Canadian pronunciation could have possibly come from??? (that’s sarcastic and said with a grin, for those of you who don’t know, Super Junior has had a Canadian member with them since 2007).

3) She Wants It
Artist: Super Junior
Album: Neorago (Sorry, Sorry Repackaged)
Complaint: Again, this one is more funny than a legit complaint (though aren’t these all?). Ryeowook gets the English line in the song that, surprise, is “she wants it”. But his Korean accent makes it come out as “Shit, woman.”. lol, I was a little surprised when I first heard it and had to backtrack to check. You hear it mostly in the recording, he seems to have improved for Super Show 3, though not by much!

4) Beautiful (Obviously)- Bonamana
Artist: Super Junior
Album: Bonamana
Complaint: This one lies solely on member Kyuhyun. I’m not the only person to notice it though, this one is legit. When he says “Winner” it sounds like “Wiener”. Just watch the MV and listen for it.

5) Hug (English Version)
Artist: DBSK
Album: Hug (Japanese Version)
Complaint: … the wording in this song is just overall awkward. It’s not necessarily wrong, most of the sentences are grammatically fine, but… IDK, that’s just not how English-speaking people speak English…

SM easily has the most English-speakers of any entertainment company in Korea.

Their English-Speakers:
Kim Kibum (Super Junior): Kibum lived in LA for a while, so his English is… well… understandable… sometimes.

Stephanie “Tiffany” Hwang (SNSD/Girls’ Generation): SNSD is really the first group to have non-awkward English in songs, and I blame it on their English members ^^ . Tiffany lived in California from 1989-2004.

Soo-Yeon “Jessica” Jung (SNSD/ Girls’ Generation): Jessica was born in San Francisco and raised in California until 2000, when she went to South Korea and joined SM Entertainment. She was there throughout the SM Awkward English phase.

Soo-Jung “Krystal” Jung (F(x) ): Jessica’s little sister was also born in San Francisco. She joined SM along with her sister in 2000 and worked for a bit as a commercial actress until she was trained as a singer and debuted with F(x). She’s the longest trainee SM has, with 9 years of training under her belt.

Amber Liu (F(x) ):  Amber is from LA. She lived in California until 2008.

Henry Lau (Super Junior): Henry is the only Canadian to debut with SM Entertainment (though they probably have others, since they hold auditions in Canada every year and have for at least 3 years). He’s been with SM since late 2006, and also with Super Junior since then. Fans often credit him with improving the members English, as after he joined them their pronunciation improved sharply (though that could be a coincidence).

Former SM Member: YooChun “Mickey” Park (DBSK, formerly): Mickey lived in Virginia for a few years as a child. He admitted to often teaching the other members of DBSK English.

CUBE ENTERTAINMENT

Cube has the least amount of foreigners at 1 (G.NA, who is Canadian).

Their English is easily the worst of ANY company in Korea. I can’t even give you specific song examples, it’s just awkward and bad all around.

Usually the English is PRONOUNCED correctly (or pretty close), but the words themselves are weird. I’ll give 3 examples:

Shock
Artist: Beast
Album: Sock of the New Era
Complaint: “Every day I shock”… … … what?

Bad Girl
Artist: Beast
Album: (not sure)
Complaint: This whole song- any time they use English it makes no sense. I can’t listen to the song anymore, I just don’t understand what the hell they’re trying to say~

Mirror, Mirror
Artist: 4 Minute
Album: 4 Minutes Left
Complaint: In the very beginning HyunA (who usually is pretty good with English pronunciation) says “4 Minutes Left, 4 Minutes Left, 4 Minutes Left, 4 Minutes Left”… Except… OK, I live in Korea right now, so let me explain how this happens. When a word has an “S” at the end Koreans tend to push the sound on to the beginning of the next word. OK. So following that you go from “4 Minutes Left” to “4 Minute Sleft”. Now, Korea doesn’t have the “f” sound. It’s pushed to the “p” sound, the closest they have. “4 Minutes Left” = “4 Minute Sleft” = “4 Minute Slept”. But when a “p” and a “t” are next to each other Koreans get a little tongue tied and tend to just push it together or leave it out entirely instead of the “p”. Here is where HyunA’s pronunciation fell apart (and really surprised me at first): “4 Minutes Left” = “4 Minute Sleft” = “4 Minute Slept” = “4 Minute Slet”… But Koreans pronounce “E” sounds as we would pronounce a “u” sound… you see where this is going? Instead of “4 Minutes Left” HyunA sounds like she’s saying “4 Minute Slut”. Listen to the song~

I know the trainees are there to TRAIN, and probably don’t take part in the actual recording process doing things like checking English (though they might, SM has admitted to using Super Junior’s Chinese member ZhouMi or F(x)’s Victoria as a pronunciation coach when recording Chinese songs). But the more English trainees a company has the better their English gets. CUBE Entertainment DESPERATELY needs either an English coach or more English speakers to pick up their work… Some composers speak English very well (I know for a fact 2 SM composers are very good at English (they are friends of a friend)), so they can cover and check pronunciation themselves, but…. IDK, Cube needs serious help and I’m glad SM’s English isn’t as awkward anymore…

One company who does a pretty good job overall is JYP. They had English speakers right from the beginning, and work heavily with English-speaking composers, so their English has always been pretty good.

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Rant #22- The Reshuffle of U-Kiss

Alright, I’m finally going to address this issue.

Just before 0330 was released it was suddenly announced that NH Media (the company in charge of U-Kiss) had, for lack of a better word, fired Kibum and Alexander, two of the most popular members. They had done this two months before and kept it secret.

The fans, needless to say, exploded over this. There have been mixed reactions to the two members who took their places.

It took me a long time to figure out exactly where I stand on this. I get that the company wanted to reinvent U-Kiss, but I think what they did was wrong- Alexander and Kibum were key parts of the group. At the same time I think the remixed group sounds better… though I’m still a die-hard Alexander fan.

In the new song U-Kiss sounds better, but it’s hard to say if that’s the song (because they are indeed pursuing a new style) or if it’s the new group… Unless they perform an old U-Kiss song I really can’t say if they sound better or not.

OK, don’t kill me, but I have to break a fact to you: I’ve lived in Korea for 6 months now, and I can tell you that U-Kiss is not very popular here. Half my friends here didn’t even know who U-Kiss was, and the ones who did only knew of them from the “Shut Up” dance. Most of U-Kiss’ popularity comes from overseas fans, in Korea they’re pretty low key.

That’s why I can understand wanting to remix the group. They added Kiseop and changed their image, but it still didn’t gain them recognition. So now they change members. Again, I don’t think that was the right way to go about it, and again I can’t deny they sound better in “0330”…

As you can tell I still don’t really know where I stand on this issue. I understand why Kibum and Alexander were thrown out, but that doesn’t mean I agree with it. It only means I can figure out what NH Media was thinking.

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Rant #21: JYJ and Hangeng

I’ve been watching both of these issues since the news of them first broke, and I’ve been thinking through them to try and see both sides of the argument and figure out where I want to stand as a fan of both DBSK and Super Junior on this issue.

My point here will make a lot of you mad, but let me explain first. I think the lawsuit of JYJ and Hangeng was in the clear. I don’t know their contracts with SM Entertainment, and don’t pretend to, but regardless of who was in the right, the lawsuits have forced the Korean Government to look more deeply into entertainment companies and force them to give artists more fair contracts. Some companies were forced to improve their contracts before the government got involved in order to save face, SM Entertainment was doubly pressured, and I think that was a good thing. Some companies have been found to have outrageous contracts that can only be defined as “Slave Contracts”.

So I believe it was good that they drew attention to this issue. They helped to improve the lives of many celebrities in Korea.

OK, here is where my rant will probably piss off the fans.

However in the clear I believe JYJ and Hangeng were when they filed their lawsuits, I think they’ve overstepped their bounds now. I’ll explain on a case-by-case basis.

 

DBSK vs JYJ

When JYJ first filed lawsuit they stayed with DBSK up until SM Entertainment finally stopped allowing the group to promote. This fostered a lot of bad press and tension between the members and the company must have been extreme. After they broke away the two groups went quiet for a while, before JYJ announced they were grouping together under a new company to return to the music scene.

You can set time by what happened.

1) They file a lawsuit that set off a huge bomb in the K-Pop world and fans vs Entertainment companies

2) Things start to quiet down

3) They suddenly announce they are re-grouping under a new company, fans go crazy

4) Things start to quiet down

5) They do a big US tour, gaining lots of popularity

6) Things start to quiet down

7) They release a big CD about how mean SM Entertainment was to them and how sad they were

8] Things start to quiet down

9) They freak out over “Keep Your Head Down”

10) Things Start to Quiet Down

Anyone else starting to see the pattern? It seems like whenever they fall out of the spotlight  JYJ comes back to talk about how hard their lives were and how much they suffered, as if they were the only people in the world to feel so. However true their words may be, what they’re doing surprised me. From an outside point of view (I’m not a huge Cassiopea, I think DBSK is funny and hard working, but their music isn’t my style 89% of the time) it just looks like they are using Cassiopea to make money. Whenever people stop paying attention to them they find some new way to dredge up the past. They don’t seem interested in moving on and making their own way, when they keep bringing up the topic like this they seem only interested in milking the media for all the album sales they can get.

Not that they’re totally in the black here. I think “Keep Your Head Down” was a bad move on the part of SM Entertainment. There is no way they should have been so surprised that fans took the song wrong. The ambiguous lyrics are definitely intended to have double meanings, they did their own share of turning the controversy into a profit-margin. But JYJ seems to have made it their mission to make Yunho and Changmin, the two remaining members, and SM Entertainment out to be the bad guys.

Hangeng

Here’s another timeline for you:

1) Lawsuit filed, fans explode

2) Kyuhyun fires back, fans explode even more (within the same day as #1)

3) Things quiet down

3) Hangeng makes a sudden, unannounced TV appearance, fans explode

4) Things quiet down

5) Hangeng suddenly announces his comeback as a solo singer

6) Things quiet down

7) Hangeng holds concert in Beijing, invites all SJ members, goes all sad-face when they don’t come

8] Things quiet down

9) Hangeng talks about how he talks to the members how Heechul visited him on the set of his MV shooting in Korea

10) SJ says he’s lying

11) Hangeng changes his statement to say he’s talking to 2 members regularly

12) Members deny this too

12) Things quiet down

13) Hangeng talks about how hard life was with Super Junior

14) Things quiet down

Honestly, just wait, I’m willing to bet he’ll make another statement about how hard his life was before. Hangeng is more shameless than JYJ about the statement’s he’s making. He’s being more obvious- in case anyone didn’t see his pattern. It really feels like he’s using ELF for all he can. He for sure is not ready to move on, and he seems determined to grab all the fame and attention he can.

In this case though I think both SM Entertainment and Super Junior have shown incredible restraint (except for Kyuhyun, who showed his anger very early on, but has since been silent). When the lawsuit was filed SM did not make him continue his work with SJ, which prevented the tensions we saw with DBSK, and Super Junior made no statements except to say they would welcome him back and to refute things he’s said about them (and only when they are specifically asked).

And as far as Hangeng making a very public invitation to the members to come to his concert in Beijing, that was clearly just a press-thing to incite the fans. Kangta was having a concert in Beijing at the exact same time (Hangeng’s concert was over 3 days, Kangta’s was on the 2nd day). I have enough friends and family involved with the music industry to know that there is no possible way he was not aware of the Kangta concert and probably scheduled his for the same time on purpose. And as for acting all sad-face when SJ did not attend, again I know that the day before a concert anyone working the performance is involved in a painfully extensive dress rehearsal, during which every performance is done as it would be the day of, and scrutinized. Stage entrance and exit is rehearsed for hours on end and it is literally an all-day event. The day after the concert too the performer is either busy with the wind-down, reviewing their own performance on tape to spot imperfections or traveling to their home or to the next venue. The key here is that there is no way the members could have made it to his concert, even if they really wanted to go. So this, one of his major “Poor Hangeng” publications, was definitely not as simple as “If you come you like me, if not you hate me”.

Hangeng is really the area where I get annoyed, because he does this more than JYJ, who just seems unwilling to move on and start again as musicians. He seems determined to get as much press as humanly possible and use whatever means he has to in order to get it.

Hangeng and JYJ left SM Entertainment, if their reasons are good or not is for the fans to decide for themselves, but my opposition to the two is due to how they are using their old fan bases to shamelessly increase their own popularity early on. Neither seems willing to truly move on and start again. I don’t think I’ll be able to take either seriously until they actually try releasing an album without making tons of statements about how hard their lives were under their old groups. That’s old news, the fans get it, don’t use them to improve your own careers like that. The fans exist to be a support for their artists, a critic when need be, and a group to raise them up while also making sure they are keeping themselves grounded. They are NOT for the purpose of making a big commotion so you can get that 2nd home or luxury apartment you’ve been wanting.

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Rant #20- The Matrix Shot (Mini-Rant)

Anyone else notice that lately SM Entertainment has been pushing the Matrix cam? You can see it in:

TVXQ: Keep Your Head Down, Before You Let Go
Super Junior: No Other (Yesung’s scene)
BoA: Hurricane Venus
TRAX: Oh My Gooddess

I kind of doubt that all those MVs were the same director, they each have a distinct sense and feel that I can’t see just one person creating- directors tend to have a tell. A few of these probably have the same person working behind them, but certainly not all, this call has to be coming from SM directly.

Sometimes the Matrix cam has it’s uses, in “Oh My Goddess” and “No Other” it fits in smoothly. “Hurricane Venus” and “Keep Your Head Down” draw a little more attention to the shot, while “Before You Leave” is the one that really drew my attention to the degree that I went looking through MVs to find it in more and more places.

My point here is this: everything in moderation. Just because there is this great new style of shooting, it doesn’t mean you should over do it. Otherwise it will become as corny as “The Matrix” itself did.

The Offenders:

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Rant #19- Steady Cam vs “Crack Cam”

I kind of vented about this in the “Black Swan” review, but I just thought I’d go off on another tangent rant. I feel bad about not posting here as much.

Ok, vocab time! Yay, knowledge *heavy sarcasm*~!

Steady Cam- A camera that is mounted on a tri-pod or on a track. Really it’s a camera that is just mounted to the floor in some way so that you get really smooth and steady shots.

“Crack Cam”- AKA Hand Cam. This is when the cameraman actually holds the camera on his shoulders and walks around the actors. It’s usually used to give a sense of you walking with the character. Think of any of the “Bourne” movies (if you can bring yourself to).

I understand that there is a use for the Crack Cam. It gives the audience a sense of being in the action with everything and makes stuff more real. But I call it Crack Cam for a reason- they always seem to give the camera to someone going through withdrawal. It tends to be really bouncy and disorienting, which again I understand is some kind of metaphor or symbolic thing, but in all honesty it makes people ILL.

My father doesn’t like to go to movies in theaters because of the growing popularity of the Crack Cam. If he does he has to take motion sickness pills before it starts or else he leaves the theater within the first half hour and just waits outside for the movie to end. I’m sure he’s not the only one either. It gives me a headache and I have to look away from the screen sometimes.

If your directing is solid and you’ve got a good mind then I see no reason to film a whole movie out of the Crack Cam. Especially for action sequences. Metaphor be damned. If there is a lot of motion in a scene you need a steady cam. And don’t make the cuts too short with Steady or Crack Cam, because that just makes it harder to follow.

OK, rant over. I never want to be a camera director~

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Rant #18- SuperGirl

For those of you who can’t tell, I go where the MV’s can be found. Usually that’s YouTube, but I’ve also ventured though other sites to see what kinds of things the fans of these different groups like. I have a facebook page (and I admin 2 fan pages there), a twitter, this wordpress as well as another (mymaggiemoo@wordpress) and I’ve recently added a tumblr page to this mix (pretendthisiswitty@tumblr).

Namely on tumblr I’ve noticed the fans recent explosion over Super Junior M’s performance of “SuperGirl” on a program they recorded over a couple of days. The fans are angry that SJM performed the song, since it was during this song’s promotions that Hangeng, the former leader of SJM, filed suit against SM Entertainment and left the group suddenly.

I just wanted to voice my opinion, since I haven’t written a rant in a while and the fan’s anger over this really surprised me.

They seem to agree that performing the song with the new SJM was a kind of disrespect towards Hangeng, a kind of “we can do this without you”. I’m going to do the whole eyebrow raise and give you that look that let’s you know I think you’re being a little over zealous.

It’s not like this is the first time SuperGirl has been performed since Hangeng left. Super Junior performed it at the 2010 Gayo Daejun with 10 members, and I myself got to see it live when I went to SM Town Live in Seoul last August. They also performed it at Super Show 3, and are still performing it as Super Junior featuring Henry and ZhouMi. So what if Super Junior M performs the song? It’s their song, they are entitled to perform it. It’s not like Hangeng wrote the song.

And as far as the performance somehow being disrespectful to Hangeng, who cares? Should SJ also stop performing all the songs before “Bonamana”? Should SJM stop anything before “Too Perfect”? Hangeng left the group of his own free will, he wasn’t cast out. Why should they blacklist a song just because he was in it? SuperGirl was one of SJM’s biggest hits, if not their biggest yet. The promotions were cut short before fans got the full impact of the song, so what’s wrong if they perform it now? Hangeng has been caught lying to the fans and media about his relationship with Super Junior (he claimed they were all friends again and that Heechul even visited him while he was in Korea, but the members have repeatedly said he never contacted them) and yet they are coming under fire for performing a song.

Nothing against Hangeng, I have no opinion on the lawsuit, he did what he thought was necessary, who is to say any differently, but he’s moved on with his life and career, without forgetting where he started. Why can’t SJM? I just don’t understand why the fans are acting like it’s some huge slap in the face for them to perform their own song that they’ve been performing with SJ for months.

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