Friday, January 07, 2011

TVXQ U-Know and Max Have Kept Their Heads Down Long Enough...

Wordiest blog title of 2011 so far! {Oh, right.}

So now I'm chillin'...But I don't feel like I'm healin'. Or whatever it is Changmin tries to say in English. *squee* The expression is "feel like a villain", Minnie (remember, like how you shredded your shirt to pieces at SM Town?). Or "feel like I'm killin'" as in killing that song, because you are. Or...something. ::shrugs:: Now that I think about it, it's all really awkward Engrish but I wouldn't have it any other way.

If you've read my Twitter account at all recently and are not into KPop/TVXQ, I feel really really sorry. Allow me to take this time out to apologize. However, if you have not done your civic duty and taken a listen to TVXQ U-Know/Max's brand new single, "Why (Keep Your Head Down)", you really aren't my friend. And I mean it.

Yes, I'm biased. Yes, Changmin is my favorite. Yes, I'm a TVXQ! fan (but you can thank Nikki for that). Honestly, you should have expected this post by now.

The whole K-Pop community is talking, and it's about this cut. The video is a beast, the song is epic and full of immensities that have taken me a long time to completly digest beyond the fangirly "DSFLKDJSFKDLKJF CHANGMIN, I WANT TO HAVE YOUR BABIES." Please allow me this digression. It's part of my writing process.

In case you have been living under a rock don't listen to KPop music, check out the video below. However, heed caution. It may cause spontaneous combustion.

Ahem, down here. Remember me? Mel? I know you probably forgot because you've pressed the 'play' button over and over and over again just now, but I forgive you. These type of things happen when you're dealing with the Gods of the East.

I may be a "recent" Cassie (celebrating my anniversary and whatnot), but the wait for your KPop bias to reappear is kind of unbearable, simply because of the sheer speed and visibility of these teen idol singles in South Korea. SHINee's "Lucifer" can only hold my attention for so long people, and while 2010 was a pretty good one for me in KPop Land (aforementioned SHINee, 2NE1's 21 album, 2AM's "I Did Wrong" and Saint O' Clock album, Narsha/Ga-In's from Brown Eyed Girls EPIC solo dalliances, 4minute "Huh", Kara's "Jumping" and "Lupin", and a little (sub-)group you might have heard of on this blog perhaps called JYJ), there is no real feeling like seeing the reason why you ventured into an entire effing genre of music return to your iTunes "Recently Added" list. True, JYJ had a phenomenal year (in a few ways, at least), but with the return of their two groupmmates Yunho (U-Know) and Changmin (Max), the five that made up TVXQ officially have all returned to us.

For those of you who don't recall, may I present the Cliff Notes version. TVXQ! (or DBSK) is a five-piece vocal group from South Korea who basically pwned all other groups out there from the time they debuted in 2003 till around 2009 when three of the members (now known as JYJ) decided to file a lawsuit against their entertainment company SM Entertainment. U-Know and Max, the two remaining members, decided to stay behind, and thus a huge Heaven vs. Hell, JYJ vs. HoMin fanwar erupted between quite literally the largest fandom in KPop, arguably the world. As I said, 2010 was good to me. JYJ released an English album, worked with Rodney "Darkchild" Jerkins (and Kanye West), and in a stunning capstone to my year as a KPop fan, came to New York and performed right in front of my very own eyes for free. It all remained bittersweet however, because no one in the Hammerstein Ballroom that night was there because they weren't a TVXQ! fan first. It was particularly bittersweet because the one in the group I'm particularly fond of (Shim "Choikang" "Max" Changmin...where have you been? Try to keep up!) was not present.

He's back now, with leader U-Know by his side, just in time for the upcoming television release of his drama series Paradise Meadow/Paradise Ranch/Paradise (you choose), and I hadn't realized how much I had invested into TVXQ until the moment of supreme relief at not just the full album (which dropped in Korea this week) but the single itself in particular.

JYJ is noted for being the "core" of TVXQ. They are the three middle voices, and arguably hold much of the  fan(girl) popularity. HoMin, on the other hand, remain to be the extreme ends of the TVXQ quintet sound (U-Know providing bass vocals/rapping and Max providing the high tones/"screaming"). To add add insult to injury, "Micky" Yoochun recently won a slew of awards in Korea for his role in a different Korean drama. Meanwhile, in the wake of the lawsuit madness, U-Know and Max stayed silent. Whether that was their own personal choice or a choice made for them, we'll never really know, but we do know how maddening it was to sit back and just wait for any news and then jump on it like fiends. The wait was finally over this past week, and to say it was welcomed would be a supreme understatement.

Let's leave the drama for your mama, and focus on the song (although, if you're interested, the album is full of some very fun tracks, including "Maximum", "Our Game", "She" and my Changmin's solo song, that was self-composed, called "Confession"). Highlights:
  • U-Know and a Whip = Mel saying, "Well, hello there, Yunnie."
  • Max and a (MJ) Glove with Dance Moves that Don't Suck = Mel saying, "WTF was I thinking three seconds ago."
  • I see you, "Lucifer" set. Snaps for your "Supernatural"-esque re-use of sets, there, SME.
  • Changmin's Engrish is just to DIE for. "YOU KNOW WHAT TIME IT IS? IT IS...RETURN UFF ZA KING!" (Um...shouldn't it be kings, bb?)
  • "It is return uff zah" Changmin rock screams, and a very happy Melismatic.
  • The vocal delivery is so arrogant, and cocky, and aggresive and masculine -- I. CAN. NOT. EVEN.
  • MARCHING BAND breakdown? Yes, please.

  • WEH WEH WEH? (Why Why Why?) {What everyone in KPop who is trying to make a comeback at the same time as HoMin will be saying in regards to their terrible timing.}
  • WEH WEH WEH? {What every GOOD Cassie should be saying in regards to why did HoMin take so long to come back to us?}

  • Changmin raps. This is important to note because never before has he been recorded rapping (while U-Know was one of the main rappers for the group alongside Micky Yoochun). And he doesn't sound half bad. HURRAH!
  • "It is return uff zah" creepy "Purple Line" U-Know rapping. Yay? ::hesitant slow clap because I'll be honest, it kind of scares me::
  • Those owl/fur leisure suits are wrong in about three myriads of ways, and puts the shame I felt at SHINee's "Hello" outfits to, well, shame.
  • CHANGMIN IN A LADY GAGA SUIT. I should hate this. I should hate this. I should hate this. So why am I turned on by it? (Ohright,Ibelieveitsthefactthatyoucanviewhisabsunderneathit. /bricked)
  • Personal Thought: I'm kind of surprised that U-Know is Fire, while Max is Ice. I always kind of assumed that Changmin was a bit hot-headed (and snarky), while U-Know, as leader, was more likely to calm everyone down and be reassuring. Perhaps it's a nod to his fiery dance moves and Changmin's screams that can leave chills down your spine. Ahhh, there's the rub.

  • The song has sparked a unnecessary debate of JYJ's "Ayyy Girl" vs. HoMin's "Why (Keep Your Head Down)" in terms of which was a better debut single. To this, I say...irrelevant, because bias will always prevail. I think we've all kind of agreed that "Ayyy Girl" wasn't really the best JYJ could do, either (throw me "Be My Girl", "Empty" or "Be The One" ANY DAY and I'd be a very happy fangirl), so that's not being quite fair. ;)
  • If we are on said topic, while JYJ sounded somewhat nervous and nowhere near their incredible vocal potential during their English album (and the nerves were rightfully so seeing as they are delving into a brand new world, literally), HoMin sounds remarkably on their A-Game, especially from the two in the group who many shrugged off as the "least" vocally competent. People, get with the program -- in TVXQ there is no such thing as vocally incompetent.
  • Fans are already divided and upset by the lyrical content, as it describes a man being put through the ringer after a bad breakup, but he's standing up for himself now and saying to the girl, "Keep Your Head Down". Or at least, that's what SM alleges. Because, it wouldn't be teen pop fandom if the fangirls weren't already hard at work to point out a series of prime examples as to why this clearly a jab at JYJ. Seeing as the duo didn't write this (and also considering I can't really understand it to begin with), I refuse to cow to speculation and paranoia, just as I refused during JYJ's time to shine -- with, if you can recall, a handful of songs that were allegedly about HoMin. 
  • To be fair, the cases with those all seemed to be tearfully vulnerable and sad (except for the case of the in English/supposed second American single "Empty"). This may be why lines that translate to "Erased, disappeared, you’ve burned to death in my heart/(Keep Your Head Down)/Erased, disappeared, you’ve died in my heart and you no longer exist" are rubbing fans the wrong way. Personally, I feel like you will always find meaning in poetry if you are intent on finding it, and it pains me that this fandom has become all about choosing sides. 
  • Although, I'll admit, the "Our love has ended, I’ve let you go, and now my heart is empty" is a little bit damning. But let's be real. If JYJ were the ones who came out with "Why (Keep Your Head Down)", it would be a little bit of a rallying cry, wouldn't it? None of us know what really has gone down between the Godly Five, who are we to say who's in the right/who's in the wrong?
  • On the other hand, I remain optimistic regarding the repairing of the clearly broken friendship between the five, mostly because it hurts to have never truly experienced them when they were together as a five-piece group. A part of me is saddened that HoMin's comeback is so tainted by smear words (real or alleged) when JYJ had literally almost a whole year of spotlight time. They even released an album together called The Beginning..., and yet when U-Know and Max return as TVXQ (a name they have every right to use), they are ridiculed for it. Makes no kind of sense. Fangirls, your bias is showing...Can't we all just love all five of them?
  • Sigh. On that note, I'ma watch it again. And again. And again...

Don't believe me on it's epicness? Check out fellow reviews by my friends, Nikki and McRoth. The fact that they are positive should not surprise you in the slightest.

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