Sunday, January 15, 2012

Seoul Sonic

I like K-pop. I honestly do. But sometimes I feel a little sad because it seems to me that it is all Korean music is known for. I like the colorful personalities and videos and the dance beats but I always get the feeling that when I listen to it, I should be ten years younger to get the most out of it. Also, lets face it, Kpop is by and large disposable music (oh snap!). Yes, similar to the pop we have had in North America, the Kpop scene consists of several companies who specialize in scouting, creating, writing music for and choreographing dance steps for the perfect pretty-boy or sexy-girl groups at the speed of an assembly line. New groups are constantly moving in and out of the spotlight while being meticulously documented by fans, with few having the staying power of such groups as Big Bang or 2ne1. It's all about supply and demand. However, I don't really have a huge problem with this in itself. The music industry is a business after all and some great groups and songs that will go down in pop history have come from this process (such as pop giants, Big Bang or 2ne1).

Kpop Mosaic!
 But here in North America this is nearly all we see of Korean music and because of that, we are led to believe that this is all Korean music is. Heavily commercialized videos featuring pretty androgynous boys and cute girls trying really hard to be sexy singing about things like "love" and members of the opposite sex and dancing suggestively or cutely to their heavily auto-tuned tracks. As I said, I don't mind this too much, for the most part, it works, but if there is one thing you can't deny, its that Kpop is manufactured. But what about the romantic story of a hungry artist with a vision, working their way up from performing in their high-school's battle of the bands, then in pubs and clubs, then concert halls, then getting picked up by a major label (or creating their own!) and going platinum! Does this reality exist in Korean music? What about the ART?! Music is Art after all right?

Album cover for EE [Total Art]'s album "Imperfect I'mperfect"
In my experience Korean culture is often compared to Japanese culture the latter often being totted as being the more unique of the two. This argument is often backed up by references to avaunt-guard movies or bands that are somewhat well-known here in North America. For many years I've been trying to refute this argument with counter evidence, because when you say a culture is unique, the next question has to be "relative to what?". For that reason, as well as the fact that I just LOVE "new sounds", I lost my shit when I discovered, just today, the website, Seoul Sonic. I was looking up a singer called Mad Soul Child, who was featured on a dynamic duo album (my favorite Korean hip hop group) who had an awesome voice and sound. Well suffice it to say I stumbled on some pretty awesome stuff here.

Mad Soul Child
 Soul Sonic is a promotional website for Korean singers and groups that exist beyond the fringes of Kpop. Indeed this is some fresh stuff. Here are some videos I handpicked from the website of songs that I thought were awesome! In ascending order, Mad Soul Child - VIP girl, EE [Total Art] - High Collar and MADmoisellle - Superconduction Nightclub. Check em out!

 All these videos came from Seoul Sonic's YouTube channel and these videos and more are all available at 

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

New Year!

Happy new year everyone! At least I hope its happy, unlike mine so far... but yes! a new year has dawned with bright hopes for the future. I had a fairly busy holiday with my family, celebrating Christmas and all that, which is why I didn't update this thing. I felt it was kind of ominous to leave that post about Kim Jeong Il's death up there without anything new, but oh well. Now I'm back in school, learning all about East Asia again after a sadly lackluster fist semester (in regards to my marks I mean).

For Christmas a didn't receive too much that was East Asian related except for the two books, The Tao of Pooh and The Te of Piglet by Benjamin Hoff and the Atlus video game, Catherine. The books consist of philosophical conversations with Winnie the Pooh and his buddy Piglet centered around one of the most complicated Chinese philosophies out there, Taoism (Daoism). I'm not making this up, its pretty ingenious. The video game is a block-stacking puzzle game in which you help a protagonist with commitment issues, discern whether he wants to marry his girlfriend. And there's demons. Alright, I'll admit that sound ridiculous but its actually a really awesome game. Check it out if you're looking for something new, it's been out for a while so its cheap!

In other news, I've finally started working on my test website for my tutoring business, which is not so much a business as it is me tutoring people and getting paid for it. I'm advertising as an ESL tutor who specializes in teaching Korean and Japanese students. YEAH, YEAH, I know what your thinking, but I don't date students. The reason I chose to advertise it as such is because when your teaching a language to someone it really helps if you understand how their native language works. For example, because I'm studying Korean and have studied Japanese to a certain degree I understand that Korean and Japanese don't use articles the way English does. Ever wonder why Korean or Japanese ESL speakers often forget to include "a" or "the" in front of nouns? That's why. Got any Korean or Japanese friends who need help with their English? Call me! And yes... I teach males as well. Geez. Anyway, enough advertising.

I finally got around to watching the iconic Akira Kurosawa (possibly the most famous Japanese director of all time) film The 7 Samurai. I'm honestly surprised it took me so long to get around to watching it, I guess I was always turned off by the film's 3 hr and 30 min run time. For someone who "suffers" from ADHD that's a long time to sit down. Anyway, after watching it I can safely say that its praise is merited. It's a good, action packed film with great characters and a cool and interesting story. Sure its long, but its three and a half hours of solid film-making so you couldn't do much better. Oh yeah, and its in black and white too, but I've never really understood why that's a problem for some people. Seriously, watch it if you have the time, its the definitive samurai film.

Speaking of film, I have plans to restart up my web series, West of Hollywood for the new year. I've just been so lazy with it. Time to get cracking! Ah... so much to do and so little pressure.