Not totally unlike the situation here in the US, a pretty important label merger was recently confirmed. Media Titan SM Enteratinment (TVXQ, BoA, Girls Generation, Super Junior, SHINee, yadda yadda) has acquired Woollim Entertainment (their main clientele being boy band Infinite, who recently stopped by New York for some live shows). Now, does his mean Infinite is now a part of SMTown family and could appear in their live concerts? Well...not exactly. Woollim is now considered Woollim Label, an "independent" structure under the SM umbrella. But I suppose anything is possible. There's also rumors running rampant of SISTAR's label Starship Entertainment merging with one of the bigger conglomerates as well...
I guess I just can't stan Korean girl groups. 2013 brought us the hiatus of the Wonder Girls following leader Sunye's marriage and pregnancy (spoiler: it was a girl and her name is Hailey!). Now, news has been confirmed that not all is well in the world of KARA -- their label DSP announced rapper and American-born Nicole will be ending her contract with her company which suggests her bowing out of KARA. Rumors are running rampant that Nicole solely wants different representation but still wants to participate as a member of KARA. This type of thing is very messy regardless of the territory you're in so suffice to say, it doesn't look good. In addition, youngest member JiYoung's contract with DSP is up in April of 2014 and rumor has it she is looking to leave the company (and KARA) to further her studies. Nothing has been confirmed for sure -- and this hasn't been the first time KARA's lineup has been tweaked. Still, pretty sad considering their success not just in Korea but in Japan, as well. Ladies, we'll always have this -- the song that truly turned me on to your catalog.
YG enjoys tormenting its fans. That is just fact. This supposed 2NE1 comeback album -- we've been waiting for so long I'm not even sure if there is an album at this point. Our fab four dropped another crumb following 2012's stand-alone(?) "I Love You" and this year's "Falling In Love" and "Do You Love Me?", and no, it doesn't have "Love" in it's title. The song is called "Missing You". While the video is beautiful and includes a nude CL, the song is one of those ballads that is pretty when you hear it but lacks a tangible chorus to recall it by. It's like YG took all of the aspects that I love about 2NE1 and squeezed them dry. Yes, it's the winter and ballads will be coming fast and furious, but haven't we had enough of the midtempos from our BadAss Babes? The conundrum with 2NE1 is this: their ballads give them credibility in Korea where the group's (read: CL's) fashion and bravado often draws criticism, while their noisy uptempos and crazy fashion get them international attention. So what to do? Where to go? Fellow International fans -- I really do fear we will end up "missing" out.
I've explained the aegyo concept, right? If you're still a big confused -- Aegyo is a Korean concept that basically means acting super-innocent or "cute". It's more commonly associated with young (teenage/early 20's) girls than boys, but boys can still have aegyo. It depends on the person whether or not you find this attractive (a lot of Korean men seem to find it very attractive...which is confusing to people like moi).
Enter Crayon Pop, a idol quintet who debuted last year simultaneously in Korea and Japan. It should surprise no one that this aegyo concept is also a pretty popular idea in Japan as well. Since debut, the group's success has been striking. They are definitely not my thing, but their whirlwind success is impossible not to notice. One of their biggest hits, "Bar Bar Bar", features their now trademark color-coordinated matching outfits with bird-formation choreography and it is so nauseatingly cute it makes Girls' Generation's "Gee" look like child's play. They recently were interviewed in the UK and talked about their desire to work with more Western artists like One Direction (despite not speaking English) and "performed" with 2013's Viral Songmakers of the Year Ylvis (you know, the "What Does The Fox Say" people) at the recent MAMA Awards. I say "performed" because despite the pairing being promoted as a collaboration, it was basically just Crayon Pop doing "Bar Bar Bar" with Ylvis dancing alongside them. So...
Also at the MAMA Awards, the boys in
Speaking of albums that should have won Album of the Year (cough cough, hint hint), my SHINee bb's have gone ahead and released another Korean EP after dropping not one, but two full(er) length albums in Korea in 2013 alone. Unfortunately, the EP did very little to wow me. Lead single "Everybody" is fun, albeit redundant and monotone (and not in a "Lucifer" kind of way). Also, boys -- the dubstep thing was a little latebus when Super Junior-M did it with "Break Down", and that was back in January. However, the choreography is incredible. SHINee continues to set an incredibly high standard when it comes to dancing that I'm fearing none of my other faves can match at this point.
I haven't spoken much on this blog about solo idol Ailee, a Korean-American soulstress from Jersey who gained a lot of traction for her big voice and formally debuted in Korea in 2012. While I was never an ardent fan of hers, I was always impressed by her voice.
This month, my feelings for her changed following a scandal that has rocked the KPOP fandom. AllKPOP.com, an admittedly popular mega-portal site for international fans of Korean idol music, "broke" a story featuring a menagerie of nude images of Ailee pre-debut (I'm guessing she couldn't have been much more than 18 years old at the time). They claimed they reported the images as a part of their journalistic integrity, but as the hours passed and more details regarding the situation surfaced, it became clear this was not integrity at all, but a vindictive attempt to sabotage Ailee's burgeoning career. Ailee's company confirmed the photos were indeed of her and claimed that the pictures were unveiled at the hand of an angry ex-boyfriend who (get this) is employed at AllKPOP.