Shinhwa: Music and Video

Shinhwa

By Crystal S. Anderson, PhD

Associate Professor of English, Longwood University

Shinhwa’s longevity is in part due to the quality and consistency of their music production seen in their comeback releases.

The Return is Shinhwa’s highly anticipated release following a four-year hiatus. Overall, critics note a  dual nature to the album, juxtaposing the classic sound of the group with more contemporary flourishes. Many praise “Venus” as the title track.  “On the Road” elicited positive reviews as well. Jung Bae (hellokpop) notes that the track “is an unexpected Brit-rock track, courtesy of Shin Hye-sung; while he rightfully takes control of the track, the other members join in and do their parts.” Nicole Rivera (Pop Reviews Now) notes the simplicity of the track, “with soft drum rolls laced with a pretty piano line and some cymbals here and there, before a very low-key verse that just spirals into this tear-jerkingly stunning chorus.” Testamentvm‘s (McRoth’s Residence) description of “Red Carpet” focuses on “its clubby supersaw lead and progressive house anthem,” while Rivera focuses on “the presence of a melody, and how the vocals deliver it in relation to the rest of the song.”  Jung Bae was impressed with “Let It Go,” which breaks “ballad molds and instead opting for a deceptively uptempo melody powered by electric guitar.”

Reviews of We are mixed. There was no critical consensus on the best tracks on the album aside from “Sniper,” the title track. Pakman (allkpop) identifies musical key elements:  “The whistle by itself is enough to pique anyone’s interest. The pre-chorus and chorus is what make you stay. Those impassioned vocals, the smooth, high-pitched turns accompanied by that lean-back dance move just scream all kinds of cool. The beatboxing interwoven in the instrumentals is a total bonus and a complete throwback to the 90’s.” Tam Huynh notes the centrality of Eric, Jun Jin and Andy, the rappers of the group, on “Give It 2 Me. Guest critics for seoulbeats points out “I Gave You” as an unusual track, with its acoustic instrumentation and harmony.

Shinhwa also brings a sophistication to their music videos.  In “Sniper,” Vincenlya Susanto (The AU Review) points to how Shinhwa “is again experimental in incorporating a classic and contemporary structure not only in their sound but also in their music video settings and wardrobe choice. The music video contrasts Junjin’s typical destroyed underground set with Hyesung’s chic white maze and contemporary framed art display Eric inhabits.” Maria Hunt (Ppcorn) points to experimentation in the choreography: “The seventh and final scene is a group scene of SHINHWA accompanied by backup dancers. With the set designed as an empty dark room with a center square-raised stage, the members and dancers perform the choreography. SHINHWA is known for usually having bold and energetic dance routines, but the last couple of years have seen SHINHWA experimenting with their dance style.” Minnimonmon (Kpop On My Mind) points to the choreography for “This Love“: “All of the movements were so crisp and well-rehearsed.  Whereas a lot of dance songs with fast, complicated dance moves often feel rushed, this dance was detailed, yet very refined.  I loved the hand movements in the first chorus and how the members looked like they were tapping piano keys in their dance moves during the piano parts.”

For more commentary on Shinhwa’s music and video, see Shinhwa: Unchanging

Sources

Guest. “Shinhwa’s Comeback: The Legend and ‘The Classic’ .” seoulbeats. 23 May 2013. (28 Mar 2016)

Jung Bae. “Album Review: Shinhwa – The Return.” hellokpop. 15 April 2012. (9 Apr 2016)

Maria Hunt.”Shinhwa: ‘Sniper’ Music Video Review.”   Ppcorn.  16 Mar 2015. (28 Mar 2016)

Minnimonmon. “Shinhwa ‘This Love’ Music Video Review.” Kpop On My Mind. 2 Jun 2013.

Nicole Rivera, “Shinhwa – ‘The Return.” Pop Reviews Now. 23 Mar 2012. (9 Apr 2016).

Pakman. “[Album and MV Review] Shinhwa – ‘WE’ .” allkpop. 4 Mar 2015. (9 Apr 2016)

SHINHWA OFFICIAL. “그룹 신화 (SHINHWA) – 표적 (Sniper) _Official Music Video.”: YouTube. 25 Feb 2015. https://youtu.be/y_VJHT6y-NI (12 Jun 2017).

Tam Huynh. “Shinhwa ‘We’ Album Review.” KultScene. 4 Mar 2015. (9 Apr 2016)

Testamenvm. “[Review][Album] Shinhwa – “The Return.” McRoth’s Residence. 2 Apr 2012. (18 Jul 2012)

Vincenlya Susanto. “Music Video Review: Shinhwa ‘Sniper’ (South Korea, 2015).” The AU Review. 5 Mar 2015. (28 Mar 2015)

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Shinhwa: Music and Video by Crystal S. Anderson is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.

Global Promotional Strategies in K-pop

Credit: Pixabay

by Crystal S. Anderson, PhD

Globalization remains key to K-pop’s spread around the world, but it is not one size fits all. As time goes on, Korean agencies adopt a range of promotional strategies to spread K-pop throughout the world.

It is not secret that K-pop utilizes globalization. Writers have sought to identify singular strategies and apply them to the entire K-pop world. In the article “The Globalization of K-pop: Korea’s Place in the Global Music Industry,” Ingyu Oh focuses on the “L” component in what she describes as the G-L-G globalization process:  “K-pop’s differentiation strategy to make the ‘L’ process attractive to a global audience is roughly threefold: (1) numbers; (2) physique; and (3) voice-dance coordination” (400).  Patrick St. Michel argues in his Atlantic article, “How Korean Pop Conquered Japan,” that “K-Pop stars out-sex their J-Pop counterparts. The members of Girls’ Generation show a fair amount of skin in their music videos, while many fans were drawn to KARA by a chunk of choreography Wikipedia dubs “the butt dance.”  He mentions BoA, but doesn’t apply this theory to explain her longtime success in Japan. His argument also does not explain the success of male groups in Japan, including TVXQ, SHINee, BigBang and 2PM.

Instead, Korean agencies use a range of strategies to promote their groups globally.

Language and Training

Oh does a good job of summarizing the training process for Korean “idol” stars: “Trainees go through vocal, dancing, language, and theatrical acting lessons for at least five hours a day in the evening after school” (402). While the results of vocal and dance training is evident in performances, language acquisition is key to appealing to global audiences because of the appearances where fans can see the group.  For example, Key from the K-pop group SHINee shows off his multi-lingual skills, sharing the group’s greeting in Chinese, Korean, English and Japanese:

Increasingly, members of K-pop groups are learning different languages. GOT7‘s member Jackson speaks Cantonese, Mandarin, Korean and English. Rookie group Varsity features members who speak Korean, Chinese, English, Arab, and French. The choice of languages that K-pop members speak is not random. They reflect areas of the world to which K-pop agencies seek to spread. While the acquisition of Chinese and Japanese would allow the group to engage with potential fans in China and Japan( the largest music markets closest to Korea), the acquisition of English, Arabic and French belie aspirations that go beyond East Asia.

Releasing tracks in Korean another language

Korean artists will debut in various countries in addition to debuting in Korea. BoA debuted in Korea, but developed a substantial career in Japan. More recent groups tend to debut in multiple countries. UP10TION debuted in Korea, China and Japan.  SF9 debuted in Korea and Japan.  UKISS also debuted in Japan after debuting in Korea. Such debuts increasingly involve releasing their  Korean tracks in other languages.  EXO releases entire albums in both Korean and Chinese. SHINee rereleased some of their most popular early Korean hits in Japanese as part of their debut in Japan, including “Juliette,” “Lucifer,” and “Replay.”

Releasing original tracks in another language

Another promotional strategy is when groups release new material solely in a different language. TVXQ have a long track record of releasing singles as well as entire albums in Japanese without a Korean counterpart, including Tense, Tone, Time and Tree. 

Foreign members of groups

Increasingly, K-pop groups are featuring foreign members. Super Junior paved the way by including Chinese member Zhou Mi and Chinese-Canadian member Henry in their subgroup, Super Junior M. Since that time, Korean agencies have been trying to gain foreign fans with the inclusion of foreign members. Rookie group Pentagon has members from other countries, including Yuto, who was born in Japan, and Yan An, who was born in China. Groups will also have Japanese stage names to reach out to foreign fans, such as Hoshi in Seventeen and Wei in UP10TION.

Rather than rely on one mode of globalization, K-pop continues to diversify its promotional strategies.

Sources

EMI Records Japan. “SHINee – JULIETTE[Japanese ver.] Music Video Full.” YouTube. 7 Apr 2011. https://youtu.be/lT-iBCuoNS4 (26 May 2017).

Kwon Yoo Shin. “TVXQ – Time Works Wonders.” YouTube. 27 Dec 2014. https://youtu.be/4vKKgAO6vBQ. (26 May 2017).

Oh, Ingyu. “The Globalization of K-pop: Korea’s Place in the Global Music Industry.” Korea Observer 44.3 (2013): 389-409.

PinkyGirlxoxo. “SHINee Key speaking in 3 languages.” YouTube. 4 Apr 2012. https://youtu.be/h0we-mNztdE (17 Apr 2017).

St. Michel, Patrick. “How Korean Pop Conquered Japan.” The Atlantic. 13 Sept 2011. https://www.theatlantic.com/entertainment/archive/2011/09/how-korean-pop-conquered-japan/244712/ (17 Apr 2017).

 

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Global Promotional Strategies in K-pop by Crystal S. Anderson is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.

Not the Only One: Multi-Fandoms and K-pop

 

Crystal S. Anderson, PhD

Associate Professor of English, Longwood University

Can’t decide which K-pop group or artist is your favorite? You are not alone! Global fans of K-pop tend to support several groups and artists at the same time, while their Korean counterparts tend to support only one group or artist. But why? And which groups tend to be in a global fan’s multi-fandom? This study seeks to answer these questions in survey that uses open-ended and multiple-choice questions. Take the survey and tell your friends!

Link: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/kpopmultifandom

Data Drop: Preliminary Results for Study on Longtime and Adult K-pop Fans

Image: Pixabay

Image: Pixabay

Crystal S. Anderson, PhD
Associate Professor of English, Longwood University

Preliminary results from an academic study on individuals who have been fans of K-pop five years or longer reveals the appeal of both new and veteran groups and a focus on vocals and choreography. 192 responses collected between September 9, 2016 and November 7, 2016 are in response to the  query, “Please list your bias (i.e. favorite) K-pop groups and solo artists and briefly explain why you like them.” The entire dataset can be accessed here.

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Mini Data Note: Why Fans Like B.A.P!

B.A.P

B.A.P

Crystal S. Anderson, PhD
Associate Professor of English, Longwood University

Survey results suggest that BABYs, fans of the male K-pop group B. A.P, like the group because of its uniqueness, music and the extramusical activities of the members. These results come from the FAVORITE ARTIST: KARTIST3YR DATASET, part of the 3Year Korean Popular Music Survey. This data note is based on a small sample of 11 respondents.

Uniqueness

Respondents point to the way that B.A.P differs from other K-pop “idol” groups.  One noted that “they have a different feeling to the Kpop industry” and another stated that “they don’t just have a pretty-boy sound.” This can be seen from their debut song, “Warrior.”

 

Music

Respondents also referred to the group’s musical ability. One stated, “They have a wide variety of types of songs (‘Coffee Shop’ is mellow, ‘Hurricane’ is dance and ‘Badman’ is just hard).” Another stated, “They clearly have a passion for music and the music they make, even sometimes getting involved with its creation.”

Extramusical Activities

Several respondents noted the activities of the members beyond music making. One respondent noted, “They’re having a concert because of their charity works. They have the heart of helping others despite . . . their busy schedules.” Another stated, “The leader participates in helping children and the fans also participate in actions [by] UNICEF.”

Image: 1

Sources

“FAVORITE ARTIST: KARTIST3YR DATASET,” KPOPCULTURE, accessed December 1, 2016, http://kpop.omeka.net/items/show/695.

TSENT 2008. “B.A.P – WARRIOR (워리어) M/V.” YouTube. 25 Jan 2012. https://youtu.be/5tLooPlf2Sw, *(9 Dec 2016).

Last Fans Standing: A Multiple Case Study of Longtime and Adult K-pop Fans

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Crystal S. Anderson, PhD

Associate Professor of English, Longwood University

This survey has been revised! Click here for new survey!!!

Most people assume that the only audience for modern Korean popular music (K-pop) is teenagers. As a result, they also assume that K-pop music lacks longevity.  However, the presence of longtime fans suggests that K-pop remains appealing to some fans for years. The existence of adult fans challenges the notion that K-pop only appeals to teenagers.  This multiple case study seeks to understand why individuals remain K-pop fans for years and why adults find K-pop appealing. For three years, I will be asking questions about these atypical fans of K-pop. This survey contains several open-ended and multiple-choice questions that ask how fans see themselves and ask about their K-pop music preferences and fan activity. Please take the survey!

 

Kpop Kollective: Saving Kpop, One Profile at a Time

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KPK: Kpop Kollective is the oldest and only aca-fansite for modern Korean popular music (K-pop). Established in 2010, it has developed into a community of practice  and a thematic research collection centered on K-pop.  Kpop Kollective promotes the public’s understanding of contemporary Korean popular culture, creates resources and provides analysis and context on K-pop from a global perspective.

Fandom Case Study: Girls’ Generation (SNSD)

 

Girls' Generation

Girls’ Generation

Crystal S. Anderson, PhD

Associate Professor of English, Longwood University

Finally, the first fandom case study is complete on KPopCulture! Girls’ Generation (SNSD) Fandom Case Study contains an introduction to the discourse surrounding the group, which captures the difference between the way fans view the female group and the way commentators view the group:

Nevertheless, the group boasts one of the most active and well-organized global fandoms with fans who document the activities of the group as well as engage in philanthropic activities in the name of the group. This case study explores SNSD fans and their activities. SONES, or fans of SNSD, like the group for a variety of reasons, including the group’s music, appearance and individual members. Yet, there are some fans who are describe themselves as “not fans.” SONES well-organized websites provide fans with information about the group, images, video and forums for discussion. Site administrators also participate in philanthropic activities. SONEs also administer a variety of Twitter accounts, Facebook pages and Tumblrs, both in English and in other languages.  SONEs can be found in a variety of countries, including the United Kingdom, France, Philippines, Thailand, Indonesia, Peru, Spain, Colombia, Italy, Poland and Venezuela.  SONEs not only view videos and listen to the songs of SNSD, they perform the choreography and cover their favorite songs.

It also contains an analysis of survey data and a compilation of email interviews with fans. Read more and see downloadable and complete data sets at KPopCulture!

Image: 1

Fan Commentary: Yoon Mi Rae and Sony Pictures

YOONMIRAE_Promo_kpopfans

Yoon Mi Rae (Tasha)

The recent legal entanglement between Yoon Mi Rae (also known as Tasha) and Sony Pictures prompted K-pop fans to express their opinions about copyright, permission and global corporations.

In “Yoon Mi Rae to Take Legal Action Against Sony Pictures for Using Her Song in ‘The Interview’ Without Permission,” Soompi writer kiddy_days writes that Yoon, legendary singer and rapper in Korean popular music who is also married to veteran rapper Tiger JK, intends to sue Sony Pictures. The story reveals that Yoon’s agency, Feel Ghood Music, began talks to include Yoon’s track, “Pay Day” in the film, but Yoon contends that those talks ended with no resolution.

Comments following the story reveal that fans are concerned with issues of copyright. They also critique globalization which makes the use of copyright material easier. As of January 11, 2015, 182 comments were posted to the story.

Commenters raise the lawsuit to the level of South Korean-US dynamics. Some, like Tricia Powrie, believe that Sony’s behavior mirrors the behavior of South Korean entertainment agencies in the unauthorized use of copyrighted material:

Gross this is upsetting to hear. How much does asia and Korea included steal Americas stuff without a care in the world for copyright? This is rediculous [sp]. I hope she loses. She defenitly [sp] will lose fans or could be fans from America.

Others, like Ann Marie Hake Hughes, question the assumption that Korean agencies do not pay to use American material:

What makes you think the k dramas don’t have the rights to the songs? If they didn’t, Netflix, drama fever and Hulu would be in trouble for airing them. That’s actually something that keeps movies and old TV shows from airing on those services — lack of rights for the music. Whatever your assumptions are about Korea, broadcasting in the USA is a whole different ballgame and the big players wouldn’t stream anything without it being legal.

Other commenters focus on Yoon’s status and motives as an artist. In another comment, Powrie suggests that Yoon is an unknown artist looking to benefit from her lawsuit:

Barely anyone even knows her name and Now shes going to sue. Hah. Its just rediculous [sp] Shes just doing it to get her name out and its sickening.

However, commenters like Ryan Seo, seek to provide some context for Yoon’s motives:

For somebody who hasnt heard about her, she was selected the 12th best new female emcees dominating mics worldwide by MTV Iggy in 2011. She is worldwide female hip hop singer. For somebody who is bitching about her suing Sony, talking about free publicity or whatever, educate your dumb self. She doesnt need any publicity.

Other commenters question the legality of Yoon’s own song. Xslol suggests that Yoon used someone else’s material for “Pay Day”:

Uh so what if her song was actually taken from someone else who took the song from somewhere else? How can she sue if she’s not even the original and also did not ask permission ?

In response, commenters like Lawyerfor13Years parse the difference between sampling, plagiarism and copyright infringement:

Using someone elses copyrighted song without a legal contract is against the law and sony knows it.  “Sampling” in music is not considered copyright infringment [sp] if the sample is under 20 seconds. Most rap artists use samples in songs. Many will pay the original artist a small fee to be able to use the sample. So it doesnt matter if her song had a sample of someone elses song in it. If its under 20 seconds or she paid the original artist, it can become a part of her song legally. Sony using her song for 2+ minutes in the movie does not constitute use of a sample, and I am positive she will win a large settlement in court.

These commenters represent a variety of opinions over the matter. The issue of how Korean agencies use copyrighted material quickly enters the discourse, and questions are raised as to how the average foreign consumer of Korean popular culture would know if such copyright is not being recognized. For example, permissions are usually acknowledged in the credits that run after a program, but such credits are often edited out for foreign consumers.  Yoon’s place in Korean music also affects how her lawsuit is perceived. For those who do not know here, she may be perceived as someone mere seeking attention using a nuisance suit. However, those who are aware of her long career see her legal response as more legitimate.

Image: “Yoon Mi Rae (Tasha), Promo (Korea Fans),” Hallyu Harmony, accessed January 11, 2015, http://kpop.omeka.net/items/show/429.

Source: “Yoon Mi Rae to Take Legal Action against Sony Pictures for Using Her Song in “The Interview” without Permission.” Soompi. 26 Dec 2014. Web. 11 Jan 2015.

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Fan Commentary: Yoon Mi Rae and Sony Pictures by Crystal S. Anderson is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.