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Writing the Book I Wanted to Read – Soul in Seoul: African American Popular Music and K-pop

Image: University of Mississippi Press

Soul in Seoul: African American Popular Music and K-pop (September 2020, University of Mississippi Press) is a scholarly book that examines the ways that Korean pop (“idols), R&B and mainstream hip-hop of the Hallyu (Korean wave) era incorporate elements of black popular music and how global fans understand that influence.

As a senior scholar in transnational American Studies and Global Asias and writer on K-pop for the past 10 years, I thought a book on black music and K-pop should be the follow-up to my first book, Beyond the Chinese Connection: Contemporary Afro-Asian Cultural Production.  It’s a labor of love and it has something for everyone.

What’s In It for Fans

It talks about people you know. It covers K-pop as a 20-year-old music tradition with genres that have developed over time and significant musical acts. It recognizes the development of “idol” acts ranging from veterans to their successors as well as the Korean and African American music producers behind the music, including Yoo Young Jin, Teddy, Teddy Riley and Harvey Mason Jr.  It explores Korean R&B singers and groups as well as mainstream Korean hip-hop artists. Musical acts covered include g.o.d., Shinhwa, 2PM, Wonder Girls, SHINee, TVXQ, Rain (Bi), Fly to the Sky, 4MEN, Brown Eyed Soul, Big Mama, Park Hyo Shin, Lyn, Zion T., Wheesung, Dynamic Duo, Epik High, Primary, Jay Park and Yoon Mirae.

What’s In It for Scholars

It critically engages K-pop through an interdisciplinary lens. Soul in Seoul draws on popular music studies, fan studies and transnational American studies to examine the intertextuality at the heart of K-pop music, an intertextuality that includes African American popular music and distinct Korean music strategies. This intertextuality sounds different through time, across genres and among artists because it draws from a variety of aspects of black popular music. At the same time, the book highlights the critical function of fans, who are responsible for its global spread and function as its music press. It places African American popular culture within a global context, thereby disrupting the homogenizing tendencies of globalization that obscure the impact of an African American popular culture with a complicated relationship to the West. The book is accessible to undergraduate and graduate students and suitable for courses in music and ethnomusicology, ethnic studies, Asian studies, African American studies, American studies, popular culture and media studies.

What’s In It for Everybody

Soul in Seoul is about the music, so it is for anyone who is curious about the ever-changing phenomenon that is K-pop.  Look for the Soul in Seoul Playlist leading up to the book’s release in September 2020 on KPK: Kpop Kollective to hear what all the fuss is about.

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Writing the Book I Wanted to Read – Soul in Seoul: African American Popular Music and K-pop by Crystal S. Anderson is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.

Featured

How We Get Down: KPK Documents Your Stuff!

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

As part of KPK’s decennial year, we are launching K-pop Commons, a repository of K-pop project ephemera – documents and artifacts that were not created for formal publication or commercial display (e.g., books, book chapters, galleries/exhibitions), but that are meaningful to the creators of the items and that reflect the impact of K-pop on those who know it best: fans. 

Continue reading “How We Get Down: KPK Documents Your Stuff!”

What We Are Listening To: “Rising Sun” by TVXQ!

 

chris-slupski-eKYgEj1U97k-unsplash
Photo by Chris Slupski on Unsplash

TVXQ! (also billed as Dong Bang Shin Ki/DBSK in Korean and Tohoshinki in Japanese) was a five member group from 2004 to 2010. In 2011, the group continued with two members (Jung Yunho – U-Know, and Shim Changmin – MAX). The group is known for their harmonies and sensual dance moves, and “Rising Sun” choreography is one of the group’s more dynamic musical and visual accomplishments. 

“Rising Sun” is from the group’s second Korean studio album and was also featured in an American film. In a review of the album, Pop Reviews Now asserts that “Rising Sun” “is one of DBSK’s most technically-challenging and most remembered songs and for good reason.” Every member’s vocal or rap ability is highlighted, with Changmin’s signature range/ note-holding on display. As a note to the longevity and importance of this song, the two-member group continues to perform it live.

View the visuals and hear the vocals of five-member TVXQ’s “Rising Sun”:

 

And two-member performance, as well:

Sources

DBSK – “Rising Sun.” Pop Reviews Now. 28 Jul 2014. http://popreviewsnow.blogspot.com/2014/07/dbsk-rising-sun.html (25 Feb 2020).

Kpopcorner2. “DBSK [Mirotic Concert] – Rising Sun.” YouTube. 10 Feb. 2010. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0bLxrl5NRfM (25 Feb 2020).

laura bustamante. “TVXQ! – Rising Sun – Special Live Tour T1STORY in Seoul.” YouTube. 15 Jun 2015. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HEQ7ICbYhYg (25 Feb 2020).

Let KPK Introduce You To…The Use of (Gospel) Choirs

Kaetrena Davis Kendrick, M.S.L.S.

University of South Carolina Lancaster

The use or application of the (gospel) choir aestethic or sound is a staple in popular Western music, and the artists who have used the imagery or sound go from rock  and pop to rapIn an essay discussing how the African-American creative and cultural tradition of gospel music is preserved or transformed as it moves around the globe, Burnim links the original context of gospel music and its role in the African-American community to its unexpected introduction into American mainstream music (solidified by creative and consumer success markers):

As a genre that came to most strongly define the worship of the vast majority of African Americans regardless of denomination, gospel remained largely in the domain of African American congregants — that is, church folk — until the late 1960’s, when Edwin Hawkins released Let Us Go into The House of the Lord, with its ever-popular single “O Happy Day” unexpectedly hitting the radio airways, claiming unparalleled chart success and subsequent sales in excess of one million copies… (2016, 471)

While gospel music is primarily the vehicle by which African-Americans practiced aspects of their religion, it is also a form of music that has close ties to the continent and cultures of Africa. With those multitudes of cultures come expanded channels of creativity, and you can hear those elements in gospel music, including:

  • call and response
  • syncopation
  • cross-rhythms
  • improvisation (Rucker-Hillsman, 2014)

Noting links to commercial success and the musicality imbued in the gospel choir,  international artists have also incorporated the sound into their music.

Let’s take a look at the gospel choir’s entry into K-pop:

Artist: Jonghyun

Press Play to Hear “할렐루야 ” (Hallelujah)” from Jonghyun’s album Base (released January  12, 2015).

In a 2015 interview, Jonghyun noted that he did not originally intend to have a choir but that his interest in gospel music spurred him to update the arrangement. 

Jonghyun documents choir members recording the background vocals for “Hallelujah.”

Works Cited

Burnim, M. (2016). Tropes of continuity and disjuncture in the globalization of gospel music. In S.A. Riley & J.M. Dueck (Eds.), The Oxford Handbook of Music and World Christianities. Oxford University Press (pp. 469-488).

Rucker-Hillsman, J. (2014). Gospel music: An African-American art form. Victoria, BC, Canada: Freisen Press.

 

This Week In K-pop: July 20-26, 2019

 

Finding All Kinds of K-pop Stuff So You Don’t Have To

Crystal S. Anderson, PhD

Director, KPK: Kpop Kollective

New pop releases in K-pop this week include three title tracks from the new EXO sub-unit, EXO-SC, including “What A Life.” Woosung (of the band The Rose) released “Face,” while Kang Daniel finally debuts as a solo artist with “What Are You Up To.” Younger groups round out this week’s releases, including NCT Dream with “Boom” and Boy Story with “Too Busy” (ft. Jackson Wang). Additional pop songs were released by Monsta X, Mamamoo, GWSN, CIX, Taeyong, VAV, 1TEAM and Hyo.

Notable hip-hop releases include BewhY and the epic video for “Gottasadae,” the collaboration of nafla, Loopy, Lee Young Ji, and Pluma for “I’m the One” and the laid-back summer jam by ph-1, “You Don’t Know My Name.” Veteran rock group Crying Nut released “다음에 잘하자 [Let’s Do Well Next Time], while UHA (“dawn”) and Red Chair (Insomnia) bring more mellow sounds to this week’s releases.  Additional songs came out from Far East Movement, UHA, Perc%nt, Onsu, Shin Youme, Electric Pad, Kimhwol, Heera, Jungmo, The Electric Eels, Seoulmoon and Kizan.

This week’s playlist:

  1. EXO-SC, “Closer To You” | 2. EXO-SC, “Just Us 2” | 3. EXO-SC, “What A Life” | 4. NCT Dream, “Boom” | 5. Woosung, “Face” | 6. Kang Daniel, “What Are You Up To | 7. Monsta X, Breathe For You | 8. Mamamoo, “Gleam” | 9. GWSN, “Red-Sun(021)” | 10. CIX, “Movie Star” | 11. Taeyong, “Long Flight” | 12. Far East Movement, “Glue (ft. Heize & Shawn Wasabi)” | 13. Boy Story, “Too Busy (ft. Jackson Wang)” | 14. UHA, “dawn” | 15. Jun, “Switch” | 16. BewhY, “Gottasadae” | 17. Crying Nut, “다음에 잘하자 [Let’s Do Well Next Time]” | 18. Perc%nt, “9” | 19. Onsu, “The Rain” | 20. Shin Youme, “Wanna Be Ur Love” | 21. nafla, Loopy, Lee Young Ji, PLUMA, “I’m The One” | 22. Electric Pad, “Small Fruit” | 23. Kimhwol, “Down” | 24. Shin Youme, Nights Without You | 25. Red Chair, “Insomnia” | 26. Heera, “Fantasy” | 27. VAV, “Give Me More (ft. De La Ghetto & Play-N-Skillz) | 28. ph-1, “You Don’t Know My Name” | 29. 1TEAM, “Ice In The Cup” | 30. Jungmo (ft. Henry), “Peach” | 31. The Electric Eels, “Yacht” | 32. Seoulmoon, “Last Summer” | 33. Kizan, “Give Me The Star” | 34. Hyo, “Badstar”

 

 

 

 

 

On The Passing of Jonghyun

Like many K-pop fans, the members of KPK: Kpop Kollective are extremely heavy at heart about the passing of Jonghyun. Both Kaetrena and I are Shawols, and just saw the group in Dallas.  We know that for many, SHINee was the group that introduced them to K-pop, and Jonghyun was not only an integral part of the group, but shared his songwriting gifts with others.  He will be deeply missed.

Kaetrena has written “A Little Less SHINe(e), The Big Loss of Bling,” for her blog The Ink on the Page, which I believe is entirely fitting.

Let KPK Introduce You To…Black Greek Fraternity/Sorority Stepping

Kaetrena Davis Kendrick, M.S.L.S.

University of South Carolina Lancaster

Choreography and costuming for: “Maximum”

Group: TVXQ

Album: Keep Your Head Down

Album Release Date: January 5, 2011

Press Play to watch a live performance of “Maximum” by TVXQ.

“Maximum” choreography and concepts echo the traditional stepping performances of …)

Fraternity: Alpha Phi Alpha (AΦA) (the oldest African-American/Black Greek Letter Organization).

Founded: December 4, 1906 at Cornell University

AΦA’s signature stepping choreography: “Train,’” including synchronized hand or arm movements evocative of ancient Egyptian culture.

AΦA’s common performance elements, particularly for neophyte (new member) debuts: militarized or stealth-like costuming and/or masks/face coverings and hoods.*

Press Play to watch AΦA members perform a “train” step sequence (timestamp 2:51).

Press Play to watch AΦA neophytes (new members) debut on their campus.

ELEMENTS OF NOTE:

Introduction of individual members with ultimate group performance

  • Performer entrance is intense with high drama
  • All-male performers
  • Presentation points are to manifest gravity and high levels of athleticism, endurance, and self-confidence
  • Train step (footwork)
  • Synchronized and staggered arm movements
  • Hoods and covered faces, use of black military-like/stealth-like costuming
  • Songs or chants center on challenging others and overcoming obstacles, male posturing is performed (see English interpretation of “Maximum” lyrics)
  • Call-and-response performance

TRADE OFFS:

  • AΦA’s Egyptian hand formations vs. TVXQ’s mostly neutral hands or closed fists (TVXQ’s choreography includes general index-finger pointing throughout and a quick Kung Fu salute at 4:21)
  • AΦA’s call-and-response limited to fraternity members vs. TVXQ’s call-and-response with fans (who are not TVXQ group members)
  • AΦA’s militarized costuming evokes Black Panther significance in African-American culture vs. TVXQ’s stealth costuming evokes history of martial arts reconnaissance and stealth in Asian culture.

*KPK recognizes that masks are also used in Kpop talent training to disguise the identity of company trainees (those who are “pre-debut”). We also note that masks are worn by Black Greek neophytes to protect their identity until they are finally revealed at their probate (debut) show.

Learn more about Alpha Phi Alpha.

What is stepping?

See also: SHINee echoing Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Incorporated; Rain/Bi echoing Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity.

Happy Watching!

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License

Now at KPK: A Digital Library!

Now at KPK: A Digital Library!

Kaetrena Davis Kendrick, M.S.L.S.

University of South Carolina Lancaster

A Screen Capture of the Otlet's Shelf Tumblr Theme.
A Screen Capture of the Otlet’s Shelf Tumblr Theme.

Over at my Academia.edu profile, my analytics place my Hallyu Bibliography posts in my top ten. Since the bibliography posts are helpful to KPK readers, I want to further assist Hallyu scholars and those working in the Digital Humanities (DH) field. To that end, I’ve been working on a project to make even more items (books, mainly) discoverable. As a result, I’m happy to present KPK’s Digital Library, housed in Tumblr using a cool theme called Otlet’s Shelf.

Otlet’s Shelf is a theme that displays books in Tumblr, and it’s also a bookmarklet that allows me to mine Amazon.com for books and insert them into KPK’s Tumblr page. The application pulls book abstract information from Amazon and allows me to add keywords as needed. The keywords help users locate books that cover similar topics in the KPK Digital Library.  The theme displays most recent entries first – when you click the “Next” button, you are accessing older entries. By the way, the first book that had the honor of inclusion is Hallyu: Influence of Korean Popular Culture in Asia and Beyond by Do Kyun Kim.

The first KPK Digital Library Entry
The first KPK Digital Library Entry!

In accordance with KPK’s mission, the KPK Digital Library includes monographs that discuss Hallyu from all of its interdisciplinary aspects – from music and media studies to politics, sociology, and of course fandom research. Because we are also interested in the development of the DH field,  books covering DH are also included. At press time, there are 108 books in the KPK Digital Library, and more will be added as items are published.

Keep in mind that the KPK Digital Library is a discovery resource, not an access portal. Your ability to access items will depend on several factors, including your proximity to and ability to use your local public, academic, or special libraries and their services (don’t forget the glory that is Interlibrary Loan). Additionally, some items may be available electronically via databases or downloadable for use in e-readers. If you want to find out if an item is available for checkout within a certain mile radius, try out WorldCat or WorldCat Mobile (for Android and iPhone)!

To keep up with what’s being added to the KPK Digital Library, login to your Tumblr account and add us. When a new book is uploaded, you’ll see the book cover and its abstract appear in your dashboard. You can also stop by the KPK website anytime and click on the “Resources” link at the top of the page to see the latest activity. And of course, you can always just go directly to our Tumblr page and click on any book to get information.

Consider using the KPK Digital Library as a complement to the Hallyu Bibliography posts. Together, the bibliography and the library are robust tools designed to help scholars develop and expand the Korean Studies, Hallyu Studies, and DH fields. 

Please send your feedback to me – I hope you find the KPK Digital Library “pop”-sitively useful.

Happy Reading!

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License

BTS: Dark and Wild

BTS
BTS

BTS, also known as Bangtan Boys, stands for the Korean name of the group (Bangtan Sonyeondan), which translates to Bulletproof Boy Scouts.  The members include leader Rap Monster (Kim Nam Joon), Jin (Kim Seok Jin), Suga (Min Yoon Gi), J-Hope (Jung Ho Seok), Jimin (Park Ji Min), V (Kim Tae Hyung) and maknae Jungkook (Jeon Jeong Guk). The group debuted on June 13, 2013 with Big Hit Entertainment. 

BTS is a group that draws heavily from hip-hop but is also extensively involved in the production of the group’s music. As the group released music, “the sound started to morph from the clear underground hip-hop influence that the rappers brought in to something with more balance and depth. And as the boys experimented, they all started to become more comfortable with writing their own material” (The Daily Dot). Some have characterized the group as being more outspoken than the average K-pop group: “BTS isn’t the first Korean act to speak about substantial topics, but it is one of the acts doing it in a clever, shrewd way–and it’s only getting more popular by doing so” (Fuse).

The fandom is called ARMY, an acronym for Adorable Representative MC for Youth. ARMY signifies the military in English, as the body and the military are always together, so too are BTS and ARMYs.

Websitehttp://bts.ibighit.com

Image: 1

LABEL MATES

Homme | Lee Chang-min | Lee Hyun | Rap Monster | 8eight

COLLABORATIONS

BTS X GOT7: 2015 MAMA | 2PM X VIXX X BTS: Power Performance MV | MFBTY X LE (EXID) X SUGA (BTS) + Rap Monster (BTS) X Baro (B1A4):  2014 Letv Dream Concert | Zion T X Jungkook: KBS Collaboration | SoYou X Rap Monster X Sandeul X CNU X P.O X Kyung: 2014 KBS Song Festival | BTS X Block B: 2014 MAMA | BTS X GFriend: Family Song MV

RELEVANT SOURCES

Articles

Jeff Benjamin. “K-pop’s Social Conscience.” fuse. 4 Dec 2015. (8 Dec 2016). Evernote.

Colette Bennett. “How BTS is Changing K-pop for the Better.” The Daily Dot. 12 May. (8 Dec 2016). Evernote

Videos

BTS X GOT7: 2015 MAMA. Fatima Aliriza Aguil. “[151202] BTS and GOT7 Collaboration (Intro) + If You Do for MAMA 2015.” YouTube. 8 Dec 2015. https://youtu.be/bjZLVU-lmLE, (25 Nov 2016).

2PM X VIXX X BTS: Power Performance MV. KBS World TV. “2PM & VIXX & BTS – Power Performance [2014 KBS Song Festival / 2015.01.14].” YouTube. 23 Jan 2015. https://youtu.be/ZaE4F8R9Hag, (8 Dec 2016).

MFBTY X LE (EXID) X SUGA (BTS) + Rap Monster (BTS) X Baro (B1A4):  2014 Letv Dream Concert. “MFBTY ft. LE (EXID) + Suga + Rap Monster (BTS) + Baro (B1A4) – Monster @ Letv 2015 Dream Concert.” YouTube. 30 May 2015. https://youtu.be/kvwT7Di957Y, (8 Dec 2016).

Zion T X Jungkook: KBS Collaboration. “2015 KBS 가요대축제 1부 – Zion.T&정국(방탄소년단) – 양화대교. 20151230.” YouTube. 30 Dec 2015. https://youtu.be/VzNCyL2Tydc, (8 Dec 2016).

SoYou X Rap Monster X Sandeul X CNU X P.O X Kyung: 2014 KBS Song Festival. KBS World TV. “SoYou & Rap Monster, Sandeul, CNU, P.O, Kyung – Collaboration [2014 KBS Song Festival / 2015.01.14].” YouTube. 22 Jan 2015. https://youtu.be/yuIyTuIMvL4, (8 Dec 2016).

BTS X Block B: 2014 MAMA. Mnet K-POP. “2015 MAMA [Boys In Battle] BTS vs BlockB (2014 MAMA) 151127 EP.5.” YouTube. 30 Nov 2015. https://youtu.be/fnjQB4xpYG8, (8 Dec 2016).

BTS X GFriend: Family Song MV. Jungkookie. “[ENG SUB] BTS X GFRIEND Family song MV smart school uniform.” YouTube. 6 May 2016. https://youtu.be/z3tfGe2HH70, (8 Dec 2016).