More Kpop for the World

Recently, Kpop has regained international attention when BTS (Bangtan Sonyeondan) won Top Social Artist at the Billboard Music Awards 2017. To be honest, their nomination came as a surprise to me but their win was not as surprising. Firstly, the award is based on social media trend through which any international Kpop fan can participate. Secondly, any Kpop fan would know the true power of Kpop fandoms. Kpop fans are extremely devoted if not obsessed with their favorite bands and they would do anything. Moreover, Kpop fandoms always support each other when a Kpop act has the chance to compete at the international level. Although I do not identify myself as an ARMY (BTS’ fandom name), I am still very happy that a Kpop group is being recognized by Western media. BTS really deserved the award as they are loved by so many because of their talents and commitment. If you have not already Googled BTS, you should definitely do it now!

CNN also did an interview my favorite Kpop group of all time, SHINee, who had a US tour and recently celebrated their 9th anniversary! As a global media network, CNN has a lot of influence on the global public and it is great that SHINee is being mentioned in such a prominent media outlet. I’m really happy that they have stayed together for this long. Some of the members have had solo projects but they did not drift apart. This year they will be in Thailand in June for their world tour. Unfortunately, they are not coming to the UK and I cannot just fly back to Bangkok. For some reason, I have absolutely no luck with these things. I have never been in the right country at the right time. I am determined that one day I will go to their concert!

As a fan of Kpop, it is a pleasure to see Kpop groups being recognized internationally, especially by the Western/American media. These recognitions highlight that there are Asian acts that are popular internationally. Unfortunately, there is also news that racist remarks have been directed towards BTS by those who did not recognize them. I hope more Kpop acts will be recognized in the future and that people would become more educated about the variety of music and performers that are popular internationally.

 

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Why Kpop?

I am a proud listener of Kpop. I must admit that I don’t listen to it as much as before, not because I started to dislike it or have an interest in another genre, but because my overall consumption of music has declined. As a non-Korean listener of Kpop, it was very difficult for others to understand why I like to listen to Kpop. It is an experience shared by many international Kpop fans. We often get comments like, “why listen to songs that you can’t even understand” and “you only like them because of their looks”.

What is Kpop? (Although the following definition is neither official nor academic, I think that it perfectly explains my understanding of Kpop.)

“K-pop is a music genre originating in South Korea that is characterized by a wide variety of audiovisual elements. Although it comprises all genres of “popular music” within South Korea, the term is more often used in a narrower sense to describe a modern form of South Korean pop music covering a range of styles and genres incorporated from the West such as Western pop music, rock, jazz, hip-hop, R&B, reggae, electronica, techno, rave, nu metal, folk, country and classical on top of its traditional Korean music roots. The more modern form of the genre emerged with one of the earliest K-pop groups, Seo Taiji and Boys, forming in 1992. Their experimentation with different styles of music “reshaped Korea’s music scene”. As a result, the integration of foreign musical elements has now become common practice with K-pop artists.”

Source: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCsEonk9fs_9jmtw9PwER9yg/about

I began listening to Kpop in 2009, the best year to join the Kpop fandom.

At the age of thirteen, I was extremely impressed a five-member boy band called SHINee after a friend showed me their music video for their song “Replay”, I fell in love. At the time, I thought that it was the best music video that I have ever seen and I thought that they looked so cool.

Then I began to find out everything about them, bought Kpop magazines, watched all the shows that were in, and joined an international fan forum online. As I learned more about Kpop, other popular groups at the time also captured my attention including TVXQ and Girls’ Generation. I spent the majority of my teenage years listening to Kpop, watching K-drama, and completely ignoring the English language “international hits”. Consequently, I have very little knowledge about the mainstream English language songs that the general international community listened to during those years. SHINee is still my favorite Kpop group of all time, I genuinely still love their music and they are my idols.

So, why do I like Kpop?

It’s fun. For me, Kpop is pure fun, the songs are extremely catchy and give you earworms. More importantly, the music videos are great fun to watch with the cool backgrounds and well-designed choreography. You don’t need to understand Korean to enjoy K-pop. Kpop music, like any other forms of expressions, the consumers have their own interpretation and understanding. So, you don’t need to know the language to appreciate it, you can just enjoy the beat and the dance.

It’s an escape. Kpop shows the viewers a perfect world of well-dress talented good-looking people having a great time. It provides an escape from the chaotic nature of the real world.

It’s easy to access. It is relatively easier to find websites to download Kpop albums for free than it is to find the mainstream pop albums. There are many popular websites for free Kpop song downloads that have been operating for many years without being subjected to closure for copyright violations. From what I have experienced, free Kpop music download has not stop dedicated fans from spending money on other related products. Allowing for free music download might have benefited the Kpop by increasing its exposure, consumption, and popularity which, in turn, increase the sales of physical CDs, official merchandises, and attending concerts.

Kpop is not just a genre of music but it is a community that has its own practices and language. The practices include tweeting and making their favorite group a trending topic, rewatching music videos on Youtube to reach a certain amount of views, learning concert chants, learning the choreography of songs, and buying merchandises to show your affection. The language or terms used in discussing Kpop can include, sasaeng (dangerously obsessive fan), netizen (citizen of the internet), skinship (touching, any physical contact), and bias (favorite member of the group). Moreover, some would say that Kpop is a way of life because the fans would have to take on the discussed practices and language. For the more obsessive fans, their lives revolve around Kpop. Being a part of the Kpop fandom is a very unique experience.

Kpop has become more popular around the world in recent years, it is great that the rest of the world can finally appreciate this genre and it is also great that it has become more popular and acceptable to listen to Kpop.

 

 

American Late Night Talk Shows

The late-night talk show format seems to be a popular show format on American television. The show usually begins with a monologue about important news of the day, followed by a comedic segment or a comedy sketch by the host, celebrity guest interviews, and a musical performance. The shows typically have their own house band and an announcer. This genre was introduced in 1948 by The Ed Sullivan Show was popularized in the 1960s by the Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson. Now, there are a plethora of late night shows.

The most popular late night show in recent years has been The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon on NBC. I really like Jimmy Fallon, he is a very likable. What makes Jimmy’s show stand out from the other is probably the variety of games and performances Jimmy does with his guests. These games are great, it helps the audience to get to know the guests better in an entertaining way. I fell in love with many celebrities by watching this show e.g. Jake Gyllenhaal, Chris Evans, and Ryan Reynolds. On the show, Jimmy also did “Slow Jam the News” with President Obama and impersonated Donald Trump in front of Donald Trump.

People have often compared The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon to Jimmy Kimmel Live! on ABC that airs in the same timeslot. To be honest I have never really enjoyed watching Jimmy Kimmel. I just don’t find him to be funny or entertaining. In my opinion, Jimmy Kimmel does not have the charisma that Jimmy Fallon has.

Another show that is in direct competition with this show is The Late Show with Stephen Colbert on CBS. Stephen Colbert became the host of the show after David Letterman’s retirement in 2015. Moving from The Colbert Report, Stephen has continued to discuss political current events extensive on The Late Show. Stephen is very clever and witty, he can make jokes spontaneously throughout interviews with celebrity guests. The show does not need fun games because of Stephen’s ability to keep the conversation entertaining as well as being informative.

I also watch Late Night with Seth Meyers on NBC, I enjoy Seth’s commentary on politics in A Closer Look segment. Another show worth mentioning is The Late Late Show with James Corden on CBS. The show is known for its Carpool Karaoke segment where James takes pop stars on a car ride and sing along to popular songs by the guest stars.

I really don’t understand why this show format is so popular in the US. I don’t find the format to be particularly appealing, we cannot count on the show to always be entertaining because the segments are always changing. Although, most people probably like the format because of its variety. In my opinion, the show depends a lot on the host to the make the interviews, sketches, or games entertaining. Moreover, the host must have the personality and talents that appeal to a wide range of audience.

I like watching bits and pieces of the shows but I don’t watch the whole show on a regular basis. I usually watch the episodes with the celebrities that I like. Although I have been exposed to American culture and entertainment for a long time, not having lived in the US, there are still a lot of jokes and references that I don’t understand and there are a lot of celebrities that I have never heard of before. Sometimes it can be a bit weird when the audience is laughing and I’m just sitting here all confused.

Brooklyn Nine-Nine

Brooklyn Nine-Nine is my current addiction. Brooklyn Nine-Nine is an American sitcom about the detectives of the fictional 99th Precinct of the NYPD in Brooklyn. The series takes the audience through the daily lives of the detective in solving crimes, catching criminals, and doing paperwork.

I watched it a few episodes on TV a couple years ago, I’d never got to properly watch it until recently. Over the holidays, I spent three days watching Brooklyn Nine-Nine from seasons 1 to 4 (still airing). The series has won two Golden Globe awards in 2014 (Best Television Series-Musical or Comedy and Best Actor-Television Series Musical or Comedy) and one Creative Arts Emmy award in 2015 (Outstanding Stunt Coordination for a Comedy Series or Variety Program).

The thing that makes this series very interesting is the combination of characters. Jake Peralta (Andy Samberg) is the squad’s best detective but he can often be childish. He likes to eat sour candy and Die Hard. Captain Raymond Holt (Andre Braugher) is the first openly gay police officer to be appointed captain in New York city. He is very stoic and disciplined. Amy Santiago (Melissa Fumero) is intelligent, proper, resourceful, organized, competitive, and ambitious. She loves binders, she has a binder for everything. Charles Boyle (Joe Lo Truglio) is optimistic, hardworking, and clumsy. Charles is a major foodie and Jake’s best friend. Seargent Terry Jeffords (Terry Crews) is kind, caring, and hardworking. He loves his family. He is always in shape. Rosa Diaz (Stephanie Beatriz) is scary, secretive, and badass. No one really knows that much about her, but she is super cool. Gina Linetti (Chelsea Peretti) is a sassy, sarcastic, and confident. She is a civilian administrator that cares about everything more than her job. Each character is very different and their interactions create very funny moments.

Reasons why I like Brooklyn Nine-Nine:

  1. The jokes very easy to understand, they are not based on culturally specific references, it’s more about human interaction. There are so many inside jokes in this series.
  1. The characters are very relatable. I have been childish like Jake, eat weird food like Charles, and nerdy like Amy.
  2. The story always ends with a moral. The series have handled issues of tolerance, corruption, and integrity within the police force.
  3. Gina Linetti. She is the best. She drops the best lines.

It is really hard to describe how good this series is, especially when I am very emotionally invested in this series. You just have to watch it.

Huffington Post: 9 Reasons You Need to Start Watching ‘Brooklyn Nine-Nine’