Bangtan Boys–A new KPOP love.

I watched the MAMA Awards (the MNET Asian Music Awards) to see GD and Taeyang of Big Bang perform Good Boy, and to see Block B; little did I know watching this show would lead to an all new obsession. Block B was performing a friendly music battle against a band called Bangtan Boys aka BTS. I felt somewhat sorry for this band I’d barely heard of, to have to go against the energetic and zany Block B. I sat back in anticipation of the performance, feeling smug in the confidence that no one other than Big Bang could out do my Block B. This delusion didn’t last long, from the first dance battle, the Bangtan Boys weren’t happy to just give a left jab and a right hook; they straight knocked Block B’s dancers out. It didn’t end there, while Zico is an amazing rapper and music artist, this wasn’t his strongest performance; he looked nervous. It was a complete contrast to Rap Monster with his cool yet fiery charisma, and incredibly versatile style. When BTS joined their rapper leader on stage for their song Danger, Block B was down for the count. I love Block B I really do, but while they seemed happy to coast through their MAMA performances, BTS came to win it. They definitely won my attention. After the show I had to know more. Who is this Rap Monster, and BTS? And so began my Rap Monster and BTS addiction.

I looked up all of BTS’s music videos, not surprised that I loved all that I heard and saw. I also wasn’t surprised that they write and produce their own music, much like Big Bang and Block B. I naturally drift to music artists that create their own songs, and I think you can usually tell the difference from songs that are personally written, and those that are homogenized for any band to do. Then I moved on to their interviews and behind the scenes shows, and I was happy to see they seemed genuinely nice, happy, funny, and energetic. Big Hit Entertainment was brilliant in finding and putting these seven guys together. They are a serious threat in the kpop world, because they don’t have a single weakness that I’ve seen. They can sing, dance, rap, write and produce. They seem to truly be enjoying their careers and each other, which makes them fun and enjoyable to watch, with personalities that are great for variety shows. Considering they debuted just a little over a year ago and they are already this good…as I said–a serious threat.

BTS’s songs were addictive enough, but then I discovered Rap Monsters solo stuff along with some covers he did (pre-debut I guess) and fell completely in lust with his rapping, which led to a bit of a crush in general. Damn you Rap Monster. He’s one of the best rappers I have ever heard. In a single song he can go from growling out his raps, to rapid fire, to changing pitch, tone, and tempo. I’ve never heard a rapper be so diverse and exciting to listen to. And that’s just rapping; wait till you hear him sing. To quote a Queen Latifah movie, “You’ve got me straight trippin boo”. Warning his solo stuff has a fair amount of cuss words (which is kind of funny coming from such a young angelic looking guy), but it is in these solo songs you see how he can claim the name Rap Monster.

 warning a fair amount of cuss words in this one, but his flow is just crazy good.

If you need something softer…

Based off a track by Drake, Rap Monster wrote his own lyrics, just wow.

So I would suggest extreme caution regarding checking these guys out. With their ages ranging from 17-22 (American age) they are one of the youngest groups out there, but with their addictive music, and just the boys themselves, they will storm your bias/crush lists without mercy.

If you have no desire for self-preservation here you go.

Things I find delicious

Under the category “Things I find delicious” I just have to have a sub-category “Men so hot it should be illegal”.

There are some things in this world that are just so amazing, so delicious, so sexy, they should be illegal. I’m talking about men of course. With my love of Kdrama and Kpop it should be no surprise that Korean men dominate my MOST WANTED list.

top

If you haven’t caught the Kwave yet, don’t worry you will, and one of these guys may be the reason why. For many, myself included, Rain is their first Kcrush.

rain

This quadruple threat is everywhere-Actor, singer, dancer, martial artist. You might get your first glimpse of him in American movies like The Prince, Ninja Assassin, or Speed Racer. If you’ve caught the Kdrama bug already, it could be one of his many Kdramas like Full House or the one that suckered me in, Runaway Plan B. Last but not least it could be his music videos. With his unparallelled dance skills and soulful voice, he’s hard to resist.

I’ll close this post on my first Kcrush with one of Rain’s many sexy music video’s.

Shinee

If Big Bang or Block B has a little to much edge, or rapping for you, you might enjoy Kpop band Shinee. You can consider them the softer side of Kpop. They have gorgeous melodies and a smooth style. You might also enjoy their many sweet and funny appearances on Korean variety shows, like Hello Baby.

Here is a Wikipedia’s excerpt on them.

Shinee (pron.: /ˈʃn/ SHY-nee; Korean: 샤이니; Japanese: シャイニー; more commonly known and stylized as SHINee) is a South Korean contemporary R&B boy group under the management of SM Entertainment.[1] Formed in 2008, the group consists of Onew, Jonghyun, Key, Minho, and Taemin. They made their debut on May 25, 2008 on SBS‘s Inkigayo with their single, “Replay“.

Since their debut, Shinee has released three full-length albums (with one being a separate double-album release), four mini-albums, one live album and various singles. They have also won many awards, held three concert tours and starred in their own reality shows. Shinee is considered to be a fashion icon having started the “Shinee Trend”[2] and are known for their highly synchronized and complicated dancing.

shinee

Kpop band Block B

Block B is my second favorite band, and interestingly they get a lot of comparisons to Big Bang. I can see why this is, but I definitely think Block B has their own charm and style.

 

Again, to make it faster for me I am including an excerpt of Wikipedia on Block B with a couple of additional notes from me.

 

Block B (Hangul: 블락비) is a South Korean group created by Cho PD under his label Brand New Stardom. On April 15, 2011, they made their debut on KBS Music Bank with their promotional single, “Freeze!” (“그대로멈춰라!”). The group consists of seven members: Zico (Woo Jiho) the leader, Lee Taeil, B-Bomb (Lee Minhyuk), Ahn Jaehyo, U-Kwon (Kim Yukwon), Park Kyung rapper, and P.O (Pyo Jihoon) rapper. The members of Block B have dancing, rapping, composing, and singing experience.

 

They are a newer band with not a lot of music or videos out, but what they do have is definitely addictive. Narina and Nillili Mambo in particular will refuse to leave your head for weeks. The videos are great too. They’ve also done several variety shows like MTV Match Ups. Their recent album named Blockbuster released in 2012, was able to reach #10 on the “Billboards World Album Chart”. In this new album, the band members were heavily involved in writing and producing, and I think that individuality shows in the music. I look forward to anything they do in the future.

blockb

My favorite band Big Bang

Nope, I’m not talking about the TV show, or the scientific theory; I’m talking about the Korean band Big Bang.

I will list the members of Big Bang by oldest to youngest, stage name first, then real name in an English name order. In Korea it would be last name first.  

TOP, Seung Hyun Choi–songwriter, rapper, actor and model

Gdragon, also goes by GD— Ji yong Kwon—the leader of Big Bang, songwriter, singer/rapper

Taeyang, Young Bae Dong— singer, dancer

Daesung, Dae Sung Kang–singer, actor

Victory, Seung Hyun Lee –singer, actor, host

 

I am including Wikipedia’s excerpt about Big Bang too, since it has a lot of great information.  

Big Bang or Bigbang (Korean: 빅뱅; stylized as BIGBANG) is a South Korean male group under the management of YG Entertainment. Formed in 2006, the group consists of G-Dragon, T.O.P, Taeyang, Daesung, and Seungri. Big Bang is known for their unique urban-originated music and fashion style. The members’ involvement in composing and producing their own music, most notably leader G-Dragon, has earned the group respect and praise from music industry experts.

The group’s turning point came with their hit song Lies, which stayed at number one on Korean charts for a record-breaking seven consecutive weeks. Their follow up releases, Hot Issue and Stand Up, furthered their success, spawning hits such as Last Farewell and Haru Haru.[4] From 2007 to 2008, Big Bang received many awards, including “Best Male Group”, “Song of the Year”, “Artist of the Year”, and the Grand Award at the Seoul Music Awards.

From 2009 to 2010, Big Bang expanded their endeavors to Japan, and were voted “the Korean group that Japanese fans wish to see the most”. They became the first foreign group awarded “Best Newcomer” from the Japan Cable Broadcasting Station and “Best New Artist” at MTV Japan. Amidst their Japanese group promotions, the members branched out to do solo activities. Taeyang, G-Dragon, and Seungri have released solo albums. G-Dragon and T.O.P also collaborated on an album under the sub-unit GD & TOP. Seungri and Daesung have acted in both TV dramas and musicals. T.O.P became a highly acclaimed film star. Daesung also hosted many of Korea’s most popular variety TV shows.

After nearly a two-year hiatus in Korea, Big Bang reunited in 2011 with their successful album Tonight. However, promotions were cut short when multiple members encountered legal issues. In November 2011, representing the Asia-Pacific region, Big Bang emerged as the inaugural “Best Worldwide Act” winner at the 2011 MTV Europe Music Awards.[5][6][7] This was the first time in six months all five members were seen together. In 2012, Big Bang released their fifth Mini Album Alive in Korea and Japan before embarking on their first ever World Tour which concluded in early 2013.

 

          I was lucky enough to go to their sold out Alive concert at the Honda Center in Anaheim, and I can easily say I have never seen a band give so much on stage. The concert went on for at least three hours and they practically crawled off in exhaustion. Even though they are internationally popular they still have such a great appreciation of their fans. Their music is addictive and with their constant evolution you are kept continually enthralled. The bonds between the members will charm you, their variety show appearances will make you laugh, and their music will make you dance. Obviously I can’t hide how fangirl I am when it comes to Big Bang. I hope you enjoy their music as much as I do.

bigb fav pic of bb

 

Kpop is much more than Psy

kpop1

Most Americans only know Kpop because of Psy, but for those of us that discovered Kpop before him, we know there is so much more. The first Kpop artist I started listening to was Rain (internationally known singer, dancer, and actor from Korea). His Kdrama, Runaway Plan B, was also my first Kdrama. Rain, I blame you for my addiction to all things Korean. Anyways, many people find it strange that someone would listen to music when they don’t know the words, but funnily they don’t find it odd that people all over the world listen to American music and don’t know English.

 

A quick background of the Kpop world—In Korea, much like the old Hollywood studio system, young people are recruited and put under contract and spend many years training. They get singing, dancing, instrument, and language training. You’ll find many Kpop artists who are multi-lingual. The band members are put together by the label and they live together in dorms, which can be great if you get along with all your members. There used to be a five year expiration date on Kpop bands, but no longer. The big three major entertainment labels in South Korea are—YG, SM, and JYP. You will often hear them referred to as the YG family or the SM family. Psy, Big Bang, and 2NE1 are part of the YG label aka family. Shinee, Girls Generation, and Super Junior are part of SM. 2PM, and MBLAQ are part of JYP.

 

An odd bit of info to be aware of—in South Korea when an artist comes out with a new song or album it’s termed a comeback, even if it hasn’t been that long since they last released something. It’s odd to Americans who are used to that term meaning someone who has been out of the industry for a long time. Here’s a fact you might want to know—South Korean males have a two year military requirement, and even celebrities have to do it. They are allowed to postpone up to two times, and then they have to enlist. Most Korean celebrities wait till they are in their mid to late twenties. Rain will finish his enlistment July 2013.

 

Believe it or not many Americans and non-Koreans are listening to Kpop. Why? Speaking in a general sense, Kpop is usually very upbeat and fun. The videos can be very colorful, sexy, fun, theatrical, and/or have great dance routines. Honestly I rarely look up the English subtitles or English lyrics unless it’s a band I really like. If you’re wondering where Kpop fans watch the videos, it’s no surprise, YouTube of course. Kpop is so popular that it’s pretty easy to find the music video you’re interested in with English subs if you want them.

 

Kpop fans are intensely passionate and loyal, and I think a part of that is the fact that Korean celebrity’s lives are much publicized. Take for instance my favorite band Big Bang. From their very beginning YG filmed a documentary of their recruitment and training all the way to their debut, and it doesn’t stop there. There is behind-the-scenes videos, videos where they are followed around in their daily schedule, videos of their tours and music videos, etc. In a way that you don’t see in America, you get the feeling you know your favorite band or actor, and so feel more involved with them. On the good side of that you have fans that become evangelists for your art: passionate, loyal and eager to help with their favorite’s success. On the negative there are the crazy fans that will stalk their obsession in a truly frightening way, although stalker fans are definitely not unique to Korea.

 

For many, the Kpop male style may take getting used to. Not only do most male kpop groups wear makeup, most noticeably eye-makeup, they can also, depending on the group, have very fashion forward style or androgynous style. One last thing to be aware of–in Korea it is very common to be physically affectionate with the same sex, it may look odd to some Americans who aren’t used to it, but after some time, you’ll find yourself impressed with their comfort in showing affection to their friends so publicly.

So are you curious to try out Kpop and don’t know where to start. I can help you with that. Obviously I am going to be biased to my own favorite groups, but I think I will make a whole separate post for that.   

 

 

 

 

Warning–Kdramas and Kpop are addictive.

kpop

What are Kdrama and Kpop?

 

          The K is short for Korean in both words. A Kdrama is a Korean drama or better described as a Korean TV show that only lasts 16-50+ episodes. Don’t let the word drama fool you; it’s just a word that groups these, for lack of a better term, mini-series shows together. There are all types of Kdramas: historical, contemporary, family drama, comedies, rom-coms, etc.

 

Next you might wonder how Kdramas differ from American TV shows. Korea has many of the same type of shows as America: news, celebrity shows, soap operas etc., but Kdramas make up a huge part of their airtime as opposed to the rare mini-series in the U.S. They usually air 2 episodes a week and most foreigners watch them legally for free online. If a show is already finished and has English subtitles it will be available in its entirety. If it is currently airing you will have to wait for the website to sub it, unless you know Korean, but this usually only takes a of couple days. The popular websites to watch Kdramas are Viki.com, HULU.com, and Dramafever.com. Korea doesn’t have a rerun season like America; when a Kdrama ends another one begins, and all the major broadcast companies have their own dramas. Dramas are a huge business in Korea, and are internationally popular.

 

As to why they are addictive—First off, since there is a limited amount of episodes, each episode is working towards the end goal, and each episode usually ends on a cliffhanger. This leaves the audience feeling like they just have to see what happens next. If the whole show is finished this could lead you to marathoning the whole show. Add to that in many cases, great writing, beautiful actors, and no holds barred romance in many of the shows, and you have the Kdrama addiction. Just like in America they have just as many duds, but I’ve found myself pulled in and marathoning even the bad ones. I said they were addictive right? I will also warn you that there are a couple of typical story lines they use a lot, mostly the rich TKJ (my term meaning typical Kdrama jerk) and the impoverished, quirky, overly naïve heroine. As time goes by there has been a larger variety of strong heroines, and some very interesting story lines.  

 

In many ways Kdramas are the gateway drug to Kpop. As you are watching a drama, you’ll start dancing along to the soundtrack, and eventually you will start seeking out the bands whose sound you like. This is how it started for me. Damn you Kdramas; I rarely listen to anything other than Kpop now.

 

The only real negative to Kdramas is you may stop having a real life because of your addiction. Consider yourself warned.

And if you’re interested in reading my kdrama inspired novel Love in the Country of Wine, here is the link. Purchase Love in the Country of Wine