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”:
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 fromrockandpoptorap. In 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
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:
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.”
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.
A recent Rolling Stone article discusses the major thread of American R&B in Kpop music. A producer notes the attraction towards the genre, sharing, “Korean pop music likes differentiation and changes,..the average American song is four melodies, maybe five. The average K-pop song is eight to 10. They are also very heavy in the harmonies. The one-loop beat doesn’t work over there…” (Leight, 2018)
Well – we stan complexity.
In this edition of “Let Us Introduce You To…” we showcase a song that highlights how that nostalgic R&B feel is built in Kpop by using numerous beats, harmonies, and even rap cadence to hook listeners by producing a new sound that simultaneously feels familiar.
Press Play to Hear “Lock You Down” from SHINee’s album The Story of Light EP 3 (released June 25, 2018).
Lock You Down’s beats echo…
Artist: Vanity 6
Press Play to Hear “Nasty Girl” from Vanity 6’s album Vanity 6 (released August 11, 1982).
Associate Professor of English, Longwood University
A recent clash of opinions over the status of Kangin, a member of the Korean pop group Super Junior, exposes fault lines that can occur with transcultural fandoms.
SM Entertainment issued a statement about Kangin’s recent DUI accident. Not satisfied with the common period of self-reflection that typically follows a scandal, a group of Korean fans created a petition to have Kangin leave the group entirely. Citing Kangin’s previous drunk driving incident and other controversies, the fans argue that Kangin’s continued presence will damage the group’s reputation: “We see this series of acts not benefiting Super Junior’s image and career at all. Instead we view them as actions that only cause damage. From our position as fans who support Super Junior, we cannot help but discuss this issue that will influence their image greatly” (soompi). However, comments on soompi’s Facebook post for the story reveals criticism of those who support Kangin’s departure. This is typical of several posts: “Not true fans of Super Junior, if they want Kangin to leave the group.”
Such opinions reveal fault lines in the fandom that fall along lines of national identity. The original petition was brought by members of the Korean community site DC Inside, which cannot be accessed by those outside of Korea. While all who support Kangin’s departure are not Korean, the non-fan and anti-fan characterization of those who do certainly applies to the Korean fans who created the petition. Such statements overlook the contextualization of these fans. Operating within Korean culture, they reveal the danger they see to the reputation to the group, which plays differently inside of Korea than it does outside of Korea. Subtly, fans who criticize the Korean petitioners ignore the Korean context and unwittingly impose their own cultural expectations.
Bertha Chin and Lori Hitchcock Morimoto argue that transcultural fandom offers “the possibility that a fannish orientation may (at times) supersede national, regional and/or geographical boundaries” (99). This certainly describes times when the transcultural fandom is in agreement. However, controversies often reveal how national perspectives inform how fans interact with one another over a controversy. Fandoms contend with notions of authenticity generally, creating hierarchies to determine who is a “real” fan. However, a scandal seems to make these existing fault lines even more pronounced.
With no in-depth knowledge of the petitioners, some fans question their identity as real fans. This is particularly odd given the history of the E.L.Fs, or Everlasting Friends, the Super Junior fandom. These fans reportedly have a history of taking action surrounding the membership of the group. Reportedly, they protested at SM Entertainment when it appeared the agency planned to add additional members to the group. Others have suggested that E.L.F’s pooled their money to buy SM Entertainment stock to become stockholders and have a say in such decisions. Documentation of such events are difficult to locate, but such stories point to the tendency for this particular fandom to be deeply concerned about the membership of the group. Moreover, given that this is a Korean pop group, it is intriguing that fans largely outside of Korea would question the fan identity of the petitioners.
Adrian. “Some Fans ‘Abandon’ Kangin; Ask Him to Leave Super Junior.” hellokpop. 26 May 2016.
Chin, Bertha and Lori Hitchcock Morimoto. “Towards a Theory of Transcultural Fandom.” Participations: Journal of Audience & Reception Studies. 10.1 (2013): 92-108.
You’ve finally convinced a friend/co-worker/parent/spouse/transit-seat partner/random stranger that your favorite group is worth taking a closer look at, and *gasp* they’ve asked a K-pop Fan Gateway Question (while feigning nonchalance): “which one is [member]”?
As a K-pop fan, you already know this game: such a question is already an indication that the questioner would like to know more…way more. But you don’t want to overwhelm them with information – rather, just give them a comprehensive overview of the group or member. You know…to “satisfy” (read: further ignite) their “casual” curiosity. To prepare for this moment – and help emerging K-pop fans everywhere – what can you do? Where can you send them?
ThingLink is a web and mobile application that allows its users to create interactive images and videos for use in social media, on websites, and more. Users can augment photos with links to websites, videos, audio, and more. After images/videos are posted to ThingLink, community users can search for images and “Touch” (like) other interactive images and videos, too.
If you make ThingLinks for several groups from different entertainment companies, consider organizing them by Channels – a feature in ThingLink. You can also decide what you want everyone to see by choosing if your TLs will be public or private. One drawback: if you want browsing users to locate your work, you’ll need to make a title that has the search term(s) you think people will use since ThingLink doesn’t really make use of traditional hashtags as a finding aid.
ThingLink is free and also offers expanded options for different fees. It is available onGoogle Playand theApp Store!
Here’s a ThingLink I made for …well, you know…(drag your mouse over the image to interact with it):
P.S. Taemin is on second left. You know, in case you were wondering…casually. 🙂
Kpop is subject to a lot of criticism. A LOT. The most repeated charge against Kpop is that it is manufactured. But is that really true? Usually when critics level this charge, they make sweeping generalizations about the whole landscape of pop. In doing so, they perpetuate stereotypes about the lack of originality in Asian popular culture.