WWLT, Vol. 2, No. 5

Image by donations welcome from Pixabay

Welcome to WWLT, or What We’re Listening To, which features mini music analyses that provide context and introduce readers to K-pop music that may be new-to-them.

This issue features analyses of tracks by U-KISS, TVXQ!, WOODZ, Bobby, and Billlie by members of HWAITING!, KPK’s K-pop music research accelerator.

U-KISS, “내 여자야 (She’s Mine),” Moments (2013)

Nykeah Parham

As the nostalgia train rushes into the land of K-pop once again, after surprise comebacks from many 2nd generation K-pop groups, it would be wonderful to appreciate the group that is U-KISS. For many, U-KISS is regarded as one of the most underrated K-pop groups. Despite a somewhat lackluster debut as a 6-member group in Korea in August 2008 under NH Media with the song, “어리지 않아 (Not Young),” U-KISS initially debuted in Japan and was considered for a Japan-Korea collaborative project as rookies. Although original members Kibum and Kevin had previously been a part of the short-lived group XING, they later joined group leader, Soohyun, Eli, Alexander, and maknae Dongho and began to prove the group’s ability to be the “Ubiquitous Korean International Idol Super Star” as their name claims. Their break-out song, “만만하니 (I’m Not Easy)” in 2009 came with a line-up change adding seventh member, Kiseop, and garnered newfound popularity in Thailand and the Philippines. They were the first K-pop group to hold a fan meeting in Cambodia and, in that same year, were the first Asian act to perform at the “Los 40 Principales” in Columbia. Throughout the group’s career U-KISS has performed and/or recorded songs in Korean, Japanese, English, Chinese, and Spanish and were usually one of the first K-pop groups to do so.

U-KISS’ eighth EP, Moments, marked a change in musical styles for the group. This album, with its title track, “내 여자야 (She’s Mine),” displayed the group’s experimenting with R&B and hip-hop. Composed by Brave Brothers (formerly of YG Entertainment, now CEO of Brave Entertainment), War of the Stars, and miss lee, and written by Brave Brothers, Maboos of the hip-hop trio Electoboyz, and Cha Khun, the track immediately begins without warning. It’s in-your-face nature of starting with Eli and AJ’s tag team rapping over steady drumbeat and bass guitar. The first singing verse continues this tough and strong vocal until the refrain comes with a smoother Kevin and Soohyun that only lasts for a few moments before starting the chorus. The underlying play with Korean lyrics and the rhythm of speaking and singing against the repetitive drumbeat that rarely changes throughout the song shows that it was written by rappers, mainly. Fun, but direct in saying that “she’s mine,” U-KISS ends the song with Kevin and Soohyun’s refrain and fading music, so that you heed their warning. It was a welcomed change, as the group continued to utilize the musical styles in later albums.

Sources

Ladymarsy. “U-KISS-Man Man Ha ni HD.” YouTube. 05 Nov 2009. https://youtu.be/04v7dRrHvbg (09 May 2022).

MBCkpop. “U-Kiss – Not young, 유키스 – 어리지 않아, Music Core 20080927.” YouTube. 11 Feb 2012. https://youtu.be/AKu_0dA6yCI (09 May 2022).

U-KISS. “U-KISS 유키스 – 내 여자야 (She’s Mine) – Music Video Full ver.” YouTube. 30 Oct 2013. https://youtu.be/lL2Gasb6QTg (09 May 2022).

TVXQ!, “12시 34분 Nothing Better,” 2009 Summer SMTown – We Are Shining (2009)

N Lina An

This song was part of 2009 Summer SMTown – We Are Shining which was released in mid-August. The album has a total of 4 tracks featuring TVXQ!, Super Junior and SHINee; each group releasing 1-track, and a collaboration track with all 3 groups. According to the article by Yoon-se Song of Newsen, the 4-tracks were released sequentially on Korean streaming sites. 12시 34분 Nothing Better is the 2nd track in this summer release and was the last to be released out of the 4 tracks.

Most information on this song can be found on Korean streaming sites such as Bugs! and Genie. Both sites credited John Paul Lam and Brandon Fraley as composers, Max Changmin as lyricist and Brandon Fraley as arranger. Then 5-member group TVXQ! (Hero Jaejoong, UKnow Yunho, Micky Yoochun and Max Changmin) who in 2009 were highly successful after the release of their 4th studio album Mirotic the year before. The group is known for their rich vocal harmonies, brought out various colors of the song 12시 34분 Nothing Better.

12시 34분 Nothing Better is a mid-tempo pop ballad. The 2 key features of this song is its use of advanced harmonic structures and vocal arrangements. The harmonic structure uses a lot of ii7-V7 chord progression (also known as secondary chord progressions) allowing flexibility to use chord tensions which is often used in jazz music. Hence, the jazzy R&B vibe is felt in this song. It is also interesting to note that the verse is in the key of G, whereas the chorus is in the key of Bb. This is quite special in terms of a typical pop song tonality which normally sticks to conventional tonic-dominant key structure.

Another interesting observation to note is that the chorus is more rhythmic and the verses are more melodious. The song opens with the chorus with Xiah Junsu taking the lead and the rest of the members providing the harmonies. The canon-like vocal arrangements creates a polyphonic weave of melodic variations, indicating advanced vocal arrangements, but apt for a vocal group like TVXQ!.

Sources

SM Town – Topic. “12시 34분 Nothing Better (Sung by TVXQ!)” Youtube. 2 Aug 2009. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uzdZoiEFhsc (12 May 2022)

Yoon-se Song. “TVXQ-SJ-SHINee SM Summer Album Released in 2 Years” Newsen. 11 Aug 2009. https://www.newsen.com/news_view.php?uid=200908110848501002 (11 May 2022)

WOODZ, “난 너 없이 (I hate you),” COLORFUL TRAUMA (2022)

Vitoria F. Doretto

Cho Seung-young, known as Woodz (and Luisinho in Brazil, given his teenage days as a football player in the Brazilian football club Corinthians), is a Korean singer, composer, rapper, and producer. His musical career started in 2004 as the principal rapper in the Sino-Korean boy group UNIQ. Along with his solo schedules, the singer appeared in the fifth season of Show Me the Money and later on Mnet Produce X 101, in which he debuted as part of X1. His tracks as Woodz have a mix of genres, but most are deep in alternative R&B. 

In his latest solo album, Woodz presents tracks immersed in pop-rock with lyrics intending to help his listeners overcome their bad memories and hard times. The third song, “난 너 없이 (I hate you),” is a pop-punk and pop-rock song. The solid track with explosive energy talks about someone getting over a toxic relationship and moving on but, in reality, still wants the ex-lover. It is written and composed by Woodz, Nathan (네이슨), and Hoho and produced by Nathan (네이슨) and Hoho. The highlight is the pre-chorus in a slower tempo and the English lines “I hate you, I forget you” because it surprises the listener and leaves a strong impression. The chorus is a more traditional rock with electric guitar and bass drum. His capacity to wander between sentimental, ferocious, and rhythmic moments and the rawness of his performance suits the genre and delivers a satisfactory and enjoyable song.

Sources

Stone Music Entertainment. “WOODZ (조승연) – 난 너 없이 (I hate you) MV.” YouTube, 4 May 2022. www.youtube.com/watch?v=VCHk9zoFIr8 (10 May 2022).

Bobby, “RaiNinG” (feat. Ju-ne), Lucky Man (2021)  

Luisa do Amaral

Korean rapper Bobby, born Kim Jiwon, was first introduced to the public in 2013 during the survival show WIN, in which he and his future group mates — then known as “Team B” — competed for the chance to become YG Entertainment’s first boy group since BIGBANG (2006). After losing to Team A (which went on to become WINNER), it would take another two years for him to become iKON’s Bobby, in 2015. Before that, in 2014, he competed on season 3 of Show Me The Money, the popular Korean rap competition. He became the first, and so far only, idol to win the show in its ten seasons, a victory which secured his place as one of the best rappers in the Korean music industry. He has so far released two solo albums; Love and Fall (2017) and Lucky Man, released on 25 January, 2021, with 13 tracks plus 4 skits, and featuring fellow iKON members DK and Ju-ne. 

Lucky Man tells a story of success, love, and heartbreak; the b-side “RaiNinG” (feat. Ju-ne) comes right after Skit 4, starting the final portion of the album, which deals with the struggle to reach closure, but eventually moving on. The skit is a recording of Bobby arriving home, and pouring himself a drink, with rain sounds in the background. The song is credited to Bobby and producer HRDR, and it uses moody weather references to discuss pain and isolation. The swing rhythm gives it a jazzy sound and amplifies the melancholic feel of how the song is carried, with enough playfulness in the pace for it to be considered upbeat and hopeful, despite its gloomy subject. Even though the track has a clear sense of build-up, the melody and the hook — “I said it’s raining, raining, raining, raining” — make several repeated movements, giving it a feel of cycling through emotions. Ju-ne’s distinguishing raspy voice is one of the highlights; his vocal color matches the energy of the song, and Bobby’s, very well, and he’s able to convey the most intense emotions and tone it down when the track spaces out. On the bridge, he repeatedly sings “Save our soul”; Bobby is very open about his Christian faith. Even though Ju-ne isn’t credited in the lyrics, he’s also openly Christian, and thus able to deliver the lines with just as much meaning as they were intended to carry. “RaiNinG” was the third time that Bobby and Ju-ne worked together on a track, after the remake of Jeon Yu Na’s 1995 song “Even if I love you” (2019), a special stage for a competition show, and “Deep Night” (2020), a special song dedicated to iKON fans. 

Sources

BOBBY – Topic. RaiNinG ft. JU-NE. YouTube. 25 Jan 2021. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CKiie6btN2Q&ab_channel=BOBBY-Topic (12 May 2022)

[HOT] BOBBY, Junhoe – in love with you, 다시 쓰는 차트쇼 지금 1위는? 20190205. 5 Feb 2019. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_TpF4h4ytrw&ab_channel=MBCentertainment (12 May 2022)iKON-ON : BOBBY & JU-NE – ‘깊은 밤’ (Deep Night). YouTube. 23 Jan 2020. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vWDG4dpgG9s&ab_channel=iKON (12 May 2022)

Billlie, “GingaMingaYo (the strange world),” (2022)

Tan Puay Shuang

Since the early 2010s, the K-pop industry has already seen many examples of idol groups creating their own ‘universes’. Notable examples are EXO and its ‘twelve forces nurturing the tree of life’, members of B.A.P representing alien rabbits called ‘Matokis’, and not to mention BTS’ infamous universe that spanned across multiple albums. Fast forward to the new era of metaverses, we now have SM Entertainment and the enigmatic GWANGYA, making it the biggest fictional universe that has ever been created in the industry thus far. However, Mystic Story also has their own way of introducing the element of storytelling through their artists’ repertoire – the six original members of Billlie (Haram, Moon SuA, Suhyeon, Sheon, Tsuki, Siyoon, Haruna) were originally known as Mystic Rookies and debuted in October 2021 and most of them have already stepped foot into the industry, most notably Moon Sua who started as a 10-year YG trainee (and was one of the members of ‘Future 2NE1’) and leader Suhyeon who previously contested in the first season of Produce 101 and a main character of the hit webdrama A-Teen. Their seventh member, Sheon, was later added to the group after her elimination from the final lineup of Girls Planet 999. In an interview, the members have explained that Billlie is defined as ‘an internal self that anyone can have and sympathize with’, and their fictional universe emphasizes on the significance of the number ‘11’, which is an essential part of the story that they want to tell (Aquila). A notable fact about this group is their unwavering intention of immersing their listeners into their lore by frequently referencing the number 11 and the ‘disappearance of Billlie’ in their lyrics.

As the title track to Billlie’s second EP ‘The Collective Soul and Unconscious: Chapter One’, ‘GingaMingaYo (the strange world)’ once again showcased Billlie’s distinctive, experimental musical colors. Although sounding like a thread of gibberish, the phrase ‘Gingaminga’ from the title is, in fact, a Korean expression of ambiguity and uncertainty, and the general message of the lyrics alludes to a person struggling to adapt to the changes in life as they grow older. Most people would recognise this synth-heavy dance-pop track by its chorus, especially the line “Wae GingaMingaYo?” which shares the same melodic phrase from the children’s song ‘Old MacDonald’ that has been engraved in most people’s minds. Above all, it was the choreography that received great attention for its eccentric use of facial expressions and sharp movements to mirror the ‘quirkiness’ that was being reflected in the lyrics. This was also the source of Tsuki’s newfound fame among netizens. Having prior experience as an idol in the J-pop scene and later proceeding to train in SM Entertainment, she brought out the essence of the choreography through her animated expressions and was widely praised for her exceptional professionalism through her viral fancam. With a member lineup with great potential in the industry and a compelling story to tell through their discography, there is no doubt that there is much more to receive from Billlie soon.

Sources

ARIRANG. “[플리캠 4K 가로] Billlie TSUKI ‘GingaMingaYo(the strange world)'(빌리 츠키 직캠) l Simply K-Pop CON-TOUR Ep.508.” YouTube. 25 February 2022. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mpCM_NDyPuI (12 May 2022).

Billlie. “Billlie | ‘GingaMingaYo (the strange world)’ M/V.” YouTube. 23 February 2022. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YKKh8d4wZbU (12 May 2022).

T. Aquila. “Meet Billlie: The K-pop Group with Mystical Lore.” Envi. 22 February 2022. https://www.envimedia.co/meet-billlie-the-k-pop-group-with-mystical-lore/ (12 May 2022).

Creative Commons License
WWLT, Vol. 2, No. 5 is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.

Featured

WWLT, Vol. 2, No. 2

Image by Pexels from Pixabay

Welcome to WWLT, or What We’re Listening To, which features mini music analyses that provide context and introduce readers to K-pop music that may be new-to-them.

This issue features analyses of tracks by Super Junior, ATEEZ, Shinhwa, TVXQ!, Sam Kim, Suho, B.I., and Jo Jung Suk by members of HWAITING!, KPK’s K-pop music research accelerator.

Super Junior, “Why I Like You,” Sorry, Sorry (2009)

Ngan Tran

The year is 2009. Super Junior still has 13 members. (Deep breath and say it with me now: Leeteuk, Heechul, Hangeng, Yesung, Kangin, Shindong, Sungmin, Eunhyuk, Siwon, Donghae, Ryeowook, Kibum, Kyuhyun!) Everybody is rubbing their hands together and apologizing without really meaning it to the addictive tune of “Sorry, Sorry.” Indeed, four years into their career, the group gave K-pop one of the most iconic songs in existence with the release of their third album Sorry, Sorry. We all know how great the title track is, so this review will be dedicated to the slightly underappreciated B-side off of the album: “Why I Like You.”

The song is written by Shiro, with music composed by Jimmy Burney, Steven Lee, Sean Alexander (Avenue 52), and Pascal Guyon. Steven Lee also handled the production. Coming right after the earworm title track, “Why I Like You” has a lot to live up to – and it wastes no time in getting to the point. It is a moody dance number, driven by a thumping drum beat and catchy guitar loop. What’s so great about straightforward pop music like this is how it creates an atmosphere of urgency and tension that begs to be resolved. And the climax comes, like an overflowing confession of love, in the bridge leading to the soaring final chorus. Ryeowook’s bright, youthful timbre and the honeyed warmth of Kyuhyun’s voice sound especially gorgeous together here, stacking another layer of emotional pain on top. This is the sound that Super Junior excelled in early in their career, and would be explored further in the brooding, dramatic “It’s You,” the lead single to their repackage album later that year.

Nearly 13 years down the line, perhaps the biggest strength of “Why I Like You” lies in the sheer nostalgia of it. Okay, it’s mostly the gratuitous autotune on their vocals. But as time goes by, the autotune adds a special charm to the song, reminding you of a time when things were simpler. When it was 2009, and Super Junior still had 13 members…

MBCkpop. “Super Junior – Why I Like You, 슈퍼주니어 – 니가 좋은 이유, Music Core 20090314.” YouTube. 7 February 2012. https://youtu.be/7hgqPXXQ_GI. (4 February 2022).

SMTOWN. “SUPER JUNIOR 슈퍼주니어 ‘너라고 (It’s You)’ MV.” YouTube. 8 June 2009.  https://youtu.be/7ErgffP0wVw. (4 February 2022).

ATEEZ, “Answer,” Treasure Epilogue: Action to Answer (2020)

Andrew Ty

“Answer” is the lead single of the release that concludes the “Treasure” concept around which ATEEZ debuted in 2018. Despite two years of narrative and thematic buildup, the anthemic power of the song itself makes it a striking introduction for anyone new to the sound of the group’s eight members: Hongjoong, Minji, Seonghwa, Yunho, Yeosang, San, Woosung, and Jongho. 

ATEEZ rappers Hongjoong and Minji contributed lyrics to music strongly shaped by Ollounder and LEEZ who both wrote, composed, and arranged the song, alongside EDEN on writing and composing and BUDDY on composing and arranging. “Answer” eschews the heavy guitars so essential for the songs that LEEZ and Ollounder make for Dreamcatcher. Instead, the synths in the ATEEZ song generate an EDM sound tinged with slight hints of Latin pop and hip-hop parts. 

“Answer” still rocks hard though, less club-friendly and more arena-ready. The crucial element is a melodic component where the song’s hook is placed front and center with the song beginning with the chorus from singers San and Jongho. San’s part, when it reappears, switches to Seonghwa, and a new addition to the chorus, punctuated by an epic group “oh-oh-oh-oh-oh-oh-oh,” introduces Wooyoung in a single line that nevertheless stands out for its catchy phrasing: “불러 불러 우릴 지금 불러” (“bulleo bulleo uril jigeum bulleo”).

The song has many other elements to it: the transitions from  Hongjoong’s rap parts to those of Minji are thrilling and Yunho has a pre-chorus chant made memorable for how its percussive feel creates tension for the chorus to release, but the chorus is really a standout, for both its composition and its position within the song’s structure.

Many of the singles released prior to “Answer” share a trademark sound that clearly identifies ATEEZ music: larger-than-life emotions expressed musically through in-your-face compositions often built around the darkness of a predominantly minor-key tonality. Steadfast commitment to this musical identity is a strong part of the group’s appeal. “Answer” is no exception, but I feel it also achieves something different.

When ATEEZ performed a rearrangement of this song for the Mnet show Kingdom: Legendary War, choral parts from Beethoven’s 9th Symphony (“Ode to Joy”) performed by South Korean classically-trained vocal group La Poem were combined with chugging rock guitars. The result was pretty much symphonic metal performed by K-pop idols on television, a dual gesture to the grandiose emotionality of Romanticism and the arena-ready sounds of metal. As impressive as that was, they are simply enhancements that made explicit the power the original recording of “Answer” already possessed. 

Sources

Stone Music Entertainment. “ATEEZ (에이티즈) – ‘Answer’ Official MV.” YouTube. 06 January 2020. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dTT3MRODUsA. (07 February 2022).
Mnet K-POP. “[풀버전] ♬ Answer : Ode to Joy – 에이티즈(ATEEZ).” 27 May 2021. YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YDOYmJedFF8. (14 February 2022).

Shinhwa, “T.O.P (Twinkling of Paradise),” T.O.P (1999)

N Lina An

The sudden sforzando to the trembling sounds of the strings before the oboe comes in, almost lament-like. Suddenly, synthesized sounds echo that melodic lament, and the drum beat drops before the rap takes place. The melody to the opening of Act 2 from Tchaikovsky’s famous ballet Swan Lake Op. 20 is synonymous in K-pop, belonging to the longest surviving idol group, Shinhwa. Shinhwa has 6-members (Eric, Minwoo, Dongwan, Hyesung, Junjin and Andy) debuted under SM Entertainment on 24th March 1998.  T.O.P is an acronym for Twinkling of Paradise, written by SM’s resident composer Yoo Youngjin with lyrics by both Yoo and member Eric was released in 1999 in their second studio album also titled T.O.P.

There are 2 main themes to the slightly less than 3-minutes opening of the ballet. T.O.P samples both themes, using them in different sections of the song. In fact, Shinhwa’s melody of the chorus is the first melodic theme, and the second melodic theme is heard in the bridge when member Hyesung sings 니가돌아오는 길에 내가 서있을게. The lyrics itself presents multiple uses of acronyms, most of which may not present any proper English meaning to it, but merely a rhyme to the song title itself. Some of the meanings to the acronyms were briefly mentioned in a group interview in 2012, showing SM Entertainment’s heavy use of acronyms in their early days (for example H.O.T, S.E.S).

In the music video, all members wear white against a backdrop of greenery dancing on what looks like a lake. The choreography incorporated what looks like movements of swans, but it was mostly towards the hip-hop/dance genre of which the group is known for.

Sources
Shinhwa Official. T.O.P. Twinkling of paradise (audio only).  Youtube. 2 Aug 2019.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kE9TXY4gazk (Accessed on 12 Feb 2022)

SHINHWASubs&Cuts. SHINHWA (신화) – T.O.P. (Twinkling Of Paradise). 12 Nov 2013. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ORFX3yIe6Kw (Accessed on 12 Feb 2022)
Note: meaning of acronyms are in the video descriptionMarcel Simader. Tchaikovsky – Swan Lake Ballet, Act II, Op. 20 (Sheet Music). Youtube. 28 March 2018. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q_kJosheX7k&t=0s (Accessed on 12 Feb 2022)

TVXQ!, “Maximum,” Keep Your Head Down (2011)

Mariam Elba

TVXQ!, acronym for Rising Gods of the East (or Dong Bang Shin Ki, Tohoshinki in Japanese), released this album over 10 years ago, their first since becoming a duo (Max, Shim Chang-min, and U-Know, Lee Yun-ho– the group was originally a quintet but splintered in 2010).  The album set the stage for how TVXQ would move forward in their new circumstances. “Maximum,” written, composed, and arranged by the frequent SM Entertainment songwriter Yoo Young-jin, is the third song off the album. The song starts with gayageum (a Korean zither) in its intro, then shifts into a high-energy dance-pop song mixing in traditional exclamations (“ulsooh!”), held together by bass drum and clapping rhythm. The lyrics prominently portray overcoming hardship and developing a pride and love for oneself. A notable aspect of the chorus is the chanting of: “소리쳐! 너는 세상에서 제일 아름답다!” or in English, “Scream! You’re the most beautiful in the world!” 

As the duo affirmed in their recent performance of “Rising Sun,” at SMTOWN: SMCU Express 2021, their brand of pop, frequently mixed with orchestral arrangements, hip-hop, and R&B with some of the most elaborate choreography from their contemporaries, and continues to stand out and influence contemporary K-pop. “Maximum” had its live debut at SMTOWN 2010, the first TVXQ performance since the quintet split. It was received well by fans and reviewers, Soompi described the song as “a great fusion number tying Eastern and Western elements into one.” SeoulBeats praised the song, calling it “ it’s dynamic without being heavy or overdramatic.”

Mnet K-POP “TVXQ_Intro+Maximum.” YouTube. 11 February 2011. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sJyLqUS3wjg. (Accessed 02/14/2022) 

TVXQ! “Maximum.” Youtube. 2 August 2019. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QWKkc3JwRAE. (Accessed 02/14/2022)

Sam Kim, “The One,” Sun and Moon (2018)

Nykeah Parham

If the neo-soul genre was looking for a new generation to which to pass the torch, one person emerges to the forefront in the name, vocals, and musicality of Sam Kim. Sam Kim first stepped into the K-pop scene as the runner-up to SBS’ reality competition show, K-pop Star 3, which debuted names like Bernard Park, Jamie Park, Akdong Musician (AKMU), Lee Hi, and Winner’s Hoony. After signing with the legendary Yu Hee-yeol’s label, Antenna Music, Kim released his debut EP, I Am Sam, in 2016 which featured collaborations with R&B singer, Crush, and labelmates Kwon Jin-ah, Lee Jin-ah, and Jung Seung-hwan. His debut could have prepared listeners for his first studio album, Sun and Moon; however, as the lyrics to his song “The One” says, listeners are already “in deep” and cannot let go.

“The One” is the epitome of Sam’s musical style and playfulness with a genre, lyrics, and language. Composed and arranged from the minds of Sam, producer and keyboardist, Hong So-jin (aka Hong Ttochi/Hong Ttochi Soulchild, because that says a lot about her), and Jukjae (initially known for his work as a former guitarist and arranger for IU, Taeyeon, AKMU and Sam Kim), this B-side track invites listeners to this intimate and wistful confession of Sam’s. Albeit short, the track has a kind of start-and-stop, push-and-pull flow with the drumbeat, complete silence, and vocals. It seems quiet at first, but around the first chorus, trumpets, brass, and saxophones are introduced. Lyrically, Sam begins in all Korean, and then whips in the English where both languages play on the rhythm of the bass and drums. Every few seconds of the song, there is a beat drop that creates this bass and snare snap and groove that continues throughout the entire song. It’s difficult to not dance, groove, snap, or bob your head to this. 

In the middle of the track, there is another beat drop pause that, at first, only allows Sam to repeat the words, “I know.” He does this in a way that is reminiscent of Bill Withers’ “Ain’t No Sunshine” (1971) and it seems listeners are finally in on this hidden joke of love. He laughs joyously and knows exactly what to do with that guitar solo, particularly in the live performance of this song. Sam must be in something “better than dreaming” since he “won’t sleep” and “won’t dream.” So, “catch [him] if you can, Z, Z, Z.”

Sources

안테나 Antenna. “샘김 Sam Kim ‘The One’ / Live Performance.” YouTube. 08 March 2019. https://youtu.be/kvyq6JKOyME. (Accessed 14 February 2022).

안테나 Antenna. “샘김 Sam Kim ‘The One’|Official Audio.” YouTube. 27 November 2018. https://youtu.be/qqyMt6PdHtc. (Accessed 14 February 2022).
Bill Withers. “Bill Withers – Ain’t No Sunshine (Official Audio).” YouTube. 12 June 2015. https://youtu.be/YuKfiH0Scao. (Accessed 14 February 2022).

Suho, “O2”, Self-Portrait (2020)

Vitoria F. Doretto

In his debut as a soloist, Suho, the leader of the Sino-Korean group EXO, brings a mini-album full of poetry and heart, and it is not different in “O2”, the first track of Self-Portrait, an album with concept and visual style inspired by Vincent van Gogh.

Along with “사랑, 하자 (Let’s Love)”, “Made In You”, “암막 커튼 (Starry Night)”, “자화상 (Self-Portrait)”, and “너의 차례 (For You Now)”, featuring Younha, “O2” is a powerful and emotional track. As Conway (2020) said, “the heart of Suho’s vulnerable self-portrait is his emotional lyrics,” and “O2” provides a picture of some of the complex emotions that the idol overflows in the album. Titled after the chemical formula of oxygen, the song starts calmingly, almost like holding the breath before the start, and some seconds pass until his voice washes over us, singing about lovers who need each other like oxygen. Suho’s words soothe the listener; wrap in tranquility, comfort, and peace. It is like a breath of fresh air. Merging breath and water, Suho is capable of transporting us to a beautiful beach immersed in a dream-like reality.

The track is a dreamy, slow-tempo acoustic pop song with string instruments and was written by Ryan Colt Levy, Bryan Cho, Cliff Lin, and Suho himself and arranged by Lin, Levy, and Cho.

Sources

EXO. “SUHO 수호 ‘O2’ Live Session.” YouTube. 30 March 2020. www.youtube.com/watch?v=5Ydjda6SBlQ (10 February 2022).
Conway, Sara. “Suho Blends Musical & Artistic Inspiration with “Self-Portrait”.” Seoulbeats. 5 April 2020. https://seoulbeats.com/2020/04/suho-blends-musical-artistic-inspiration-with-self-portrait/ (13 February 2022)

B.I, “해변 (illa illa)” WATERFALL (2021)

Luisa do Amaral

25-year-old rapper B.I has often remarked on the importance of movies and poetry in his songwriting, as means of experiencing, feeling or articulating things he hasn’t experienced for himself, but that can result in vivid images and evoke strong feelings from listeners. The song “illa illa”, released on 1 June, 2021 as lead single of his first full-length album, is no exception to his style of painting strong images – the song’s Korean title 해변 [haebyeon] means “beach”; the English title, although a nonexistent word, bears close resemblance to the Korean ideophones that represent the undulating movement of waves. The whole track, along with its cinematic music video, make use of seaside metaphors to talk about finding yourself washed up on the shore after nearly being swallowed by the waves of an ocean which, in this story, is made of his own tears – “at the end of my sleeves there’s a beach/ because of the tears that I wiped from my cheeks.” This specific metaphor, which structures the song, was taken from the poem “The Taste Of Candy And Beach” [사탕과 해변의 맛] by poet Seo Yun-hoo.

Originally the leader of 7-member boy group iKON, which debuted under K-pop powerhouse YG Entertainment in 2015, he was credited for every release of the group up until his departure, in mid-2019, being awarded “Songwriter of the Year” in 2018 at the Melon Music Awards, one of South Korea’s major awards shows, after their megahit “Love Scenario”, crowned “Song of The Year” at two major award shows that same year. Much like “Love Scenario”, “illa illa” doesn’t come across as particularly happy nor sad on a first listen; the production favors a minimalist approach, but without ever losing depth, with enough room for the layering of sounds to boost the vocals to an echoed atmosphere that intensifies a catchy chorus that perfectly encapsulates the spirit of the song. However, unlike his movie-inspired songwriting, these lyrics feel very personal; when  his album was released, B.I was still under public scrutiny due to allegations of illegal drug purchases, the reason for his withdrawal from his former group and agency. Though still awaiting final sentencing when the song came out, in the swirling of waves, as much as it is about the sinking, “illa illa” is about the emerging; like Kat Moon (2021) writes for TIME, “On the other side of the water is dry land, and in the song’s final verses the artist triumphantly sings of not shedding new tears. “Though I know it will crumble/ I’ll probably build a sandcastle again,” he declares. With the breadth and depth of emotions he conveys, B.I. shows he’s as much a storyteller as he is a songwriter.” The music and arrangement are also credited to Millennium, Sihwang, Kang Uk-jin and Diggy, who had previously worked with B.I in iKON, as well as other artists associated with YG Entertainment, such as AKMU, WINNER and Lee Hi. 

Sources

B.I. “해변 (illa illa).” YouTube. 1 Jun 2021.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5GaVA3ebKCo  (14 Feb 2022)

iKON. “‘사랑을 했다(LOVE SCENARIO).” YouTube. 25 Jan 2018. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vecSVX1QYbQ (14 Feb 2022)

Moon, Kat. “The Best K-Pop Songs of 2021 So Far” TIME, 1 Jul. 2021, https://time.com/6077450/best-kpop-songs-2021/ Accessed 14 Feb. 2022.

조정석 (Jo Jung Suk). “Aloha,” (2020)—cover of original song “Aloha” by Cool, (2001)

H. Lee Otto

Actor Jo Jung Suk (조정석) showcases his musical talents on the OST (original soundtrack) of popular drama series Hospital Playlist (슬기로운 의사생활), earning a top spot on Melon charts 20 days following its release (Soompi, 2020). As the lead vocalist of the series’ hobby band ensemble, Jo’s character Ik-Jun covers “Aloha,” an earlier K-pop track by the band Cool (쿨), reminiscing his days in medical school with his closest friends and band members.

Whereas Cool recorded “Aloha” as a duet with a male and female part, Jo covers the song solo, perhaps reflective of the memory of unrequited love that is a prevalent theme within Hospital Playlist. “Aloha” lies between pure pop and ballad, as its lyrics are directed toward a lover in a wholesome and devoted romance typical of a ballad (You light up my life/you’re the one in my life), while the tempo is more playful and upbeat. In the original song, Cool released Aloha in 2001 as part of album First Whisper under the label SM Entertainment (Stanley, 2014). Cool member Yuri provided female vocals while both Lee Jae Hoon and Kim Sung Soo provided male vocals.   

The feature of a recording artist in new K-drama series has become an expectation of the genre, such that a contemporary OST (original soundtrack) does not lack a popular K-pop artist or emerging soloist. As Oh (2021) notes in her work regarding this pop culture strategy, “[d]rama characters and K-pop idols…affect people through their affective labor, encouraging them to engage in other types of affective labor such as transmitting the appreciation of media content throughout diverse media” (p. 16). However, unlike other featured soloists on an OST, Jo’s background is in broadway and theatre, debuting in The Nutcracker in 2004, and then moving to big screen features and series in 2012 (Rakuten Viki, n.d.). The acclaim for Jo’s cover of Aloha, sung by a star with formal musical training, perhaps makes Aloha a surprise to many, including Jo himself (Soompi 2020).  

The threads that compose the calculated and complex cultural fabric of the contemporary K-drama collectively mobilize central areas of pop culture, national pride, and economy. The convergence of South Korea pop culture media in the K drama can be seen as a historiographic enterprise, archiving a nation’s pop culture media, which did not hold the same significance in official history until recently. The valorization of Korean pop culture in music is seen in the Melon charts, as well as in series such as Hospital Playlist, which showcases K-pop contextualized in time. 

Sources

Cho Jung Seok. “Aloha.” YouTube. 26 March 2020. https://youtu.be/3DOkxQ3HDXE (7 February 2022). 

Cool. “Aloha” YouTube. 15 January 2015. https://youtu.be/004x09gOAJI (14 February 2022).

Rakuten Viki. “Jo Jung Suk – 조정석.” n.d. https://www.viki.com/celebrities/15574pr-jo-jung-suk?locale=en (25 February 2022).

Oh, Youjeong. (2021). Pop City. Cornell University Press. Kindle Edition.

Soompi.  “Jo Jung Suk Expresses Surprise and Happiness Over Chart Success of His “Hospital  Playlist” OST.” 16 Apr 2020, https://www.soompi.com/article/1394735wpp/jo-jung-suk-expresses-surprise-and-happiness-over-chart-success-of-his-hospital-playlist-ost (Accessed 10 February 2022. 

Stanley, Adrienne. 2014 Aug 30.   https://www.kpopstarz.com/articles/107129/20140831/k-pop-rewind-cool-aloha.htm (26 February 2022).

Creative Commons License
WWLT, Vol. 2, No. 2 is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.

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).

This Week in K-pop: TVXQ in Japan, New Releases, Choreo Versions (6/10 – 6/15)

Finding The Most Important K-pop Stuff So You Don’t Have To

News

The Return of the Kings

TVXQ broke attendance records by attracting one million to their “Begin Again” Tour in Japan that began in November 2017. This also sets a new record for most concertgoers in a single tour for a foreign artist in Japan. This is significant, as the tour is the first following their mandatory military service. As a veteran K-pop group that has been together over 15 years, the concert attendance shows that TVXQ remains popular in the competitive Japanese market. (See Soompi: “TVXQ Sets New Record in Japan for Foreign Artists With Most Concertgoers At A Single Tour“)

New Video

New videos this week from Longguo (aka Kim Yong Guk, formerly of JBJ) and Nano (formerly of History), OSTs for Are You Human? and About Time, newcomers DPR Live and BlackPink and veteran K-pop group SHINee.

Longguo, “Clover” Ft. Yoon Mirae

Lyn, Hanhae, “Love,” Are You Human? OST Part 2

DPR Live, “Playlist”

Hui, “Maybe,” About Time OST Part 3

Nano, “Walkin’ (ft. Pry)”

SHINee, “I Want You,” The Story of Light EP. 2

BlackPink, “뚜두뚜두 (DDU-DU DDU-DU),” Square Up

Choreography

Choreography videos from fromis_9, A.C.E and Viction.

fromis_9, “두근두근(DKDK)” Choreography Ver.

A.C.E, “Take Me Higher” Relay Dance

Viction, “Time of Sorrow (오월애)”

Sources

Choon Entertainment. “[MV] 용국(LONGGUO) – CLOVER(Feat.윤미래).” YouTube. 13 Jun 2018. https://youtu.be/-Ot30Tlslfs (13 Jun 2018).

SUPER SOUND Bugs! “[M/V] LYn, HANHAE(린, 한해) – LOVE.” YouTube. 12 Jun 2018. https://youtu.be/py4nem_e-nA (18 Jun 2018).

Dream Perfect Regime. “DPR LIVE – Playlist (OFFICIAL M/V).” YouTube. 12 Jun 2018. https://youtu.be/n0LYGzYt6DU . (18 Jun 2018).

Stone Music Entertainment. “[멈추고 싶은 순간 : 어바웃타임 OST Part 3] 후이 (Hui) – Maybe MV.” YouTube. 12 Jun 2018. https://youtu.be/-VsOrKThs3Y (18 Jun 2018).

SUPER SOUND Bugs! “[M/V] NANO(나노) – Walkin’ (feat. Pry) (Prod. HSND).” YouTube. 11 Jun 2018. https://youtu.be/rIERlXEQVKI  (11 Jun 2018).

SMTOWN. “SHINee 샤이니 ‘I Want You’ MV.” YouTube. 11 Jun 2018. https://youtu.be/IDpWeURKkbI (13 Jun 2018).

BLACKPINK. “BLACKPINK – ‘뚜두뚜두 (DDU-DU DDU-DU)’ M/V.” YouTube. 15 Jun 2018. https://youtu.be/IHNzOHi8sJs (15 Jun 2018).

Official fromis_9. “프로미스나인 (fromis_9) – 두근두근(DKDK) Choreography ver.” YouTube. 12 Jun 2018. https://youtu.be/NFJMwZQ5_zc  (18 Jun 2018).

M2. “[릴레이댄스] 에이스(A.C.E) – Take Me Higher.” YouTube. 11 Jun 2018. https://youtu.be/AsY8WqAC3OI (13 Jun 2018).

VICTON 빅톤. “VICTON 오월애 안무영상 (Choreography) 가쿠란 Ver.” YouTube. 10 Jun 2018. https://youtu.be/-oauPoQ8pRQ (13 Jun 2018).

Into the New World: Research Suggests Multi-Fandom the Norm for Veteran K-pop Fans

Source: Pixabay

While it may seem that the current norm in K-pop is single-fandom (the tendency to support just one artist), data suggests that older K-pop fans started and continue to be multi-fandom. This may be another way the overall K-pop fandom has shifted in the past few years.

With the rise of K-pop groups, their individual fandoms have also garnered more attention, leading some to focus on using a single fandom to define K-pop fandom in general. However, 316 responses collected between April 29, 2011 and March 4, 2015 suggest that K-pop fans of that era exhibited very different behaviors and attitudes. Respondents were asked the open-ended question, “How did you become interested in K-pop?”

Many respondents related their entrance into K-pop with specific groups, and overwhelmingly with one group in particular: SHINee. Other high recurring groups include BigBang, Super Junior and TVXQ. Rain was the most-cited solo artist. What is interesting is that these groups all debuted between 2003 and 2009. The first responses collected in 2011, so none of these groups were brand new to the K-pop scene at the time that respondents encountered them. For this generation of K-pop fan, the appeal of K-pop was asynchronous, meaning that individuals became fans, not as a result of debut promotion or marketing, but by other means.

More importantly, respondents routinely noted that once they discovered one K-pop group, they were motivated to look for additional groups. One noted, “My friend showed me SHINee’s Lucifer video, and I was immediately addicted to them.  So then I started looking up other groups too.”  Another responded wrote: “I started listening to more BigBang, and then other groups such as 2NE1 and SHINee, and then read a ton of Wikipedia pages about different groups and record labels and learned about the training system that K-pop stars go through before debuting. I also started watching variety shows that K-pop idols appear on, and find that whole concept really interesting too.” I call this phenomenon branching.

Some respondents go through a great deal of effort to expand to additional K-pop groups. One respondent explained how a search to find one K-pop song led to more: “However, the obsession didn’t just stop with that song. During the many hours that I spent trying to find the name of that song, I discovered many other catchy tunes and fell in love with a new genre of music that I had never heard of before.”  Several respondents use the term “research” to describe the activity of looking for more K-pop groups:  “I became interested in K-pop when I accidentally happened upon a Super Junior song on YouTube about 3-4 years ago. I don’t remember what song it was. But after I heard it I was thinking… Wow. This is good stuff. I want more. I wanna hear more. I researched, found more groups I absolutely fell in love with. Then 2-3 years ago, I found Big Bang, followed by 2NE1. And now all of the other amazing groups I love.”

For some, the quest for more K-pop groups takes them to other forms of Korean entertainment. K-drama and K-pop are linked, as members of K-pop groups often star in Korean television dramas and perform on soundtracks for the shows. One respondent noted:  “I happened across Kdramas and liked an actor in it. I found out he was a singer and then discovered other singers, groups, bands, etc.” Another explained:  “Hulu.com recommended a Kdrama to me called “Boys over Flowers” and as I became more interested in the characters and the OST for the show, I started to look up various actors/singers on YouTube.”

And while “idols” may be the way many are introduced to K-pop, the phenomenon of branching may take fans far afield. One respondent wrote:  “I think, what’s 2pm? I think my friend had mentioned groups named 2pm and 2am to me before, and I thought they were silly names. But I really liked Jason in Dream High, so I decided to look up this Wooyoung on YouTube. That day I discovered my love for K-pop. I became a hardcore Hottest, and expanded the groups and genres I listened to little by little until I was listening to anything from rap to pop to ballads to indie. All in a language I can’t completely understand.”

One respondent summed up the branching phenomenon with this formula:

JPop = discovered Tohoshinki = wiki = O.O = OMG! = google other kpop artists

Such findings suggest earlier generations of K-pop fans tend to develop more broad interests in K-pop that go beyond one group, while more contemporary fans seem to be more devoted to single groups. By only focusing exclusively on one group, they may be less knowledgeable about the larger K-pop and as a result may have distorted perceptions of it.  These findings also support  earlier findings that point to a more diverse general K-pop fandom, one that at the very least, is made up of those who support individual K-pop groups and those who support K-pop in general. Both may be needed for the continued viability of K-pop. Such findings reveal fan behavior that suggests that the appeal of K-pop is more complicated.  The K-pop landscape continues to change.

Creative Commons License
Into the New World: Research Suggests Multi-fandom the Norm for Veteran K-pop Fans by Crystal S. Anderson is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.

REVISED Last Fans Standing: Veteran Fans of K-pop

Crystal S. Anderson, PhD

Associate Professor of English, Longwood University

One of the things that happens when conducting qualitative surveys is that they can raise more questions than they answer. This is what happened with the preliminary data from Last Fans Standing: Longtime and Adult Fans of Korean Popular Music (K-pop). Response rates were unusually low, which was unusual given the rising number of fans who have been fans for more than five years. I speculated that respondents may think that only adult fans who had also been fans for five years or more could take the survey. So, I revised the survey to focus solely on veteran fans of K-pop, individuals who had been fans for five years or more. This means all you fans of ZE:A, CN Blue, SISTAR, Infinite, Miss A, Teen Top, Nine Muses, T-ara, f(x), BEAST/Highlight, SHINee, UKISS, 2PM, IU, Wonder Girls, KARA, FT. Island, Girls’ Generation, SS501, Super Junior, BoA, Dynamic Duo, Epik High, Lee Hyori, Kangta, Se7en, TVXQ, K. Will, Big Bang, 2NE1, 4Minute, Fly to the Sky, g.o.d, H.O.T, Jinusean, S.E.S, Sechs Kies, Shinhwa, and any other group that debuted more than 5 years ago need to get on it!

The revised survey can be found here: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/vetfans

만나서 반갑습니다: Let KPK Introduce You To…

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

University of South Carolina Lancaster

tumblr_nz1t8knuom1u7z55eo5_540
BTS is pleased to meet you!

Korean popular music includes many genres – Jazz, Hip-Hop, Rock, Rhythm & Blueseven Ska and Bossa Nova. One of the reasons Kpop is so addictive and has continued its growth globally is because, despite language differences, the music seems so familiar to its listeners, particularly for non-Asian audiences. Fuhr (2015) writes, “K-pop producers strongly follow the formulaic production standards set by Western mainstream pop songs…, but they combine all the well-known elements in a way that audiences in the East and West equally seem to receive as refreshingly new but also familiar.” (pp. 238-239)

Not only do Korean producers strive to mix (and remix) Eastern and Western musical elements, they work closely with Western singer/songwriters and producers or purchase western-based music tracks for use by Korean artists (Note: purchasing tracks is a popular practice in the global music industry. Demo tracks, guide vocals, backing vocals are some terms you can search to learn more).

KPK members have noted that Kpop fans may not be familiar with why many songs sound familiar to them. This realization was crystallized when TVXQ released their strong R&B balladBefore U Go,” (2011) which includes a partial guitar riff from the Isley Brother’s songVoyage to Atlantis(1977) – many people, instead, could only reference Chris Brown’s song “Take You Down” (2008)  – which still echoes the musical composition of the aforementioned Isley Brothers song. Moreover, recognition gaps go beyond music composition to include singing styles, choreography, and song instrumentation or arrangement. Additionally, we’ve found that such oversights are glaring in academic literature, which overwhelmingly focuses on K-pop music as a political tool or economic commodity (Lee 2008, Jang & Paik 2012, and see this bibliography).

The “Let KPK Introduce You To…” blogpost series hopes to help Kpop fans discover links between what they hear in Kpop songs (or see in Kpop promotions) and the recent history of American music and popular culture – from a particular song or a musician’s vocal runs to costuming, training, dancing, or overall presentation.  The primarily audio/visual – and brief – blog posts will open with the K-pop artist song,concept, or performance and then readers will be introduced to the “why it sounds familiar” song, concept, or performance. The entry will end with brief biographical or explanatory text of the “original” artist, sound, idea, or concept. Simple right?

Part lay ethnomusicology and part historiography, the series offers a gateway for music enthusiasts to contextualize the foundation and development of Kpop music, and for critics to move beyond discussions of cultural appropriation in K-pop and toward the more likely premise of global creative collaboration.

If you’ve ever heard or seen a Kpop song, dance, styling, or presentation  and and thought “that sounds like/looks like/feels like/reminds me of…,” this series is for you! Look forward to it.

Sources

Fuhr, Michael. Globalization and popular music in South Korea: Sounding out K-pop. New York: Routledge. (2015).

Jang, Gunjoo & Won K. Paik. Korean wave as tool for Korea’s new cultural diplomacy. Advances in Applied Sociology, 2(3): 196-202. (2012).  http://file.scirp.org/Html/22229.html (16 June 2016).

Lee, Keehyeung. Mapping out the cultural politics of the “Korean Wave” in contemporary South Korea. In C.B. Huat and K. Iwabuchi (Eds.) East Asian Pop Culture: Analyzing the Korean Wave. pp. 175 – 189. Aberdeen: Hong Kong University Press. (2008).

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

iFans Case Studies Status Update

Infographic based on data collected by Crystal S. Anderson as part of the iFans research study
Infographic based on data collected by Crystal S. Anderson as part of the iFans research study

If you keep with research on K-pop, you may be aware of the iFans: Mapping Kpop’s International Fandom project.  The surveys that make up the qualitative studies seek to understand how the fandoms differ from one another and their relationship to the groups they support. K-pop fans know that the fandoms are unique. Because they have detailed knowledge of the groups they support, they provide a unique perspective on the appeal of their respective groups. Too often, commentators make assumptions about K-pop fans, while the iFans studies goes to the source: the fans.

As the chart above shows, fans of 2NE1 and BigBang have participated the most in the surveys, while fans of Shinhwa and Aziatix have participated the least.   Other groups with high participation rates include SHINee and TVXQ, while other groups with low participation rates include Epik High and f(x).

These participation rates are interesting, because groups like Super Junior and Girls’ Generation have very active global fandoms, yet those numbers are not reflected in participation rates.  Rates may not reflect all fans, just fans who are likely to take (and complete) a survey.  Participation rates may be affected by the activity of the groups.

The iFans Case Studies survey is still active, and now, individuals can take the survey for multiple or  individual groups.

Now that a good deal of data has been collected, look for new research reports on what K-pop fans say about their favorite groups!

iFans: Mapping Kpop’s International Fandom

IFansOmekalogo

IFANS: Mapping K-pop’s International Fandom is a scholarly research project that examines global fan attitudes and activities through surveys, collection of information on online communities and analysis of websites.  Crystal S. Anderson, PhD (Elon University) is the Principal Investigator of the studies and Curator of the iFans project site.

Continue reading “iFans: Mapping Kpop’s International Fandom”