Tag Archives: music

2ne1

2NE1’s ‘Crush’ Appears on Rolling Stone’s Top 20 Pop Albums of 2014 List

by JAMES S. KIM | @james_s_kim
jamesskim@iamkoream.com

America has been a tough market for K-pop acts over the past decade, even with the success of “Gangnam Style” back in 2012. Leave it to the ladies of 2NE1 to “crush” that precedent.

Last week, Rolling Stone named 2NE1’s Crush, the quartet’s first full album since 2011, No. 6 on their list of Top 20 Pop Albums of 2014. Crush beat out some stiff competition, including Ed Sheeran’s X, Pharrell’s GIRL and Sam Smith’s In the Lonely Hour.

2NE1 was the only Asian artist to be featured on the list after Crush quickly jumped up to No. 61 on the Billboard 200 list after its release and became the highest-selling K-pop album ever in the U.S.

“The album itself was no stiff,” Rolling Stone wrote. “In fact, it’s a canny downshift from the wigged-out ‘I Am the Best’ maximalist mash-ups of the past.”

In particular, Rolling Stone praised Crush for “Happy” and “Good to You” while singling out “MTBD,” CL’s solo track that sparked some controversy for its use of Quran quotes.

2NE1 has had a busy year in America. Since releasing the album back in February, they’ve made appearances on The Bachelor and America’s Next Top Model. 2NE1 and their fellow YG labelmate Big Bang have been consistently among the most recognized Korean artists by Western media for the last few years. G-dragon and CL, for example, recently collaborated with Skrillex and Diplo’s track “Dirty Vibe.”

Screen Shot 2014-11-20 at 1.34.59 PM

MelOn Reveals Top 20 K-pop Artists and Songs of 2014

by REERA YOO | @reeraboo
reera@iamkoream.com

To mark its 10th anniversary, popular Korean music site MelOn released an infographic that compares music fans’ top 20 favorite artists and songs of 2004 and 2014.

SG Wannabe, Buzz and ballad singer Kim Jong Kook were ruled as the top three favorite artists of 2004 by both male and female listeners. For female audiences, the top three songs in 2004 were Kim Jong Kook’s “Standstill,” Yoon Do Hyun’s “It Must Have Been Love” and MC Mong’s “I Love U, Oh Thank U. ” Male listeners, on the other hand, preferred M to M’s “Three Words” over MC Mong’s song.

Both male and female listeners chose IU, Busker Busker and 2NE1 as top three artists of 2014. The most favorite song for both genders was Soyu and Jungigo’s duet “Some.” Meanwhile IU’s “Friday” ranked second place on the female listeners’ chart and third on the men’s chart.

Below is the infographic and the full list of top 20 artists and songs from 2014.

 

 

Screen-Shot-2014-11-19-at-11.17.04-AMScreen-Shot-2014-11-19-at-11.15.59-AM

melon-top-20-2014

Photos courtesy of MelOn and Soompi

c24cbf079eca45e0b1b53ab835398f82

San Diego Asian Film Festival ‘Remembers Queer Korea’

by JAMES S. KIM

Gay South Korean filmmaker Kim Jho Gwang-soo and his partner, Kim Seung-hwan, made headlines in the media last year when they held a public wedding ceremony and attempted to register as a married couple in Seoul. It was hailed as a “trailblazing” act in a society where same-sex unions aren’t recognized, while traditional values and religious conservatism keep a tight lid on any LGBT discourse.

It was certainly a bold move in modern Korea, but it definitely wasn’t the first time LGBT issues came up in Korean history and popular culture, according to Todd Henry, an assistant professor and acting director of the Program in Transnational Korean Studies at the University of California, San Diego.

“As someone who is studying history, I just have to say to myself, maybe this is just a media play, that newspapers want publicity,” Henry told KoreAm. “But in terms of historical background and [record], why is it that South Korean society wants to forget that it has a tradition of same-sex people who try to dignify their relationships through matrimony?”

Researchers in South Korea and the United States, including Henry have traced LGBT and queer themes through Korean history, but they’ve never been able to gather in one place—until this past weekend. The Pacific Arts Movement, in partnership with UCSD, held a landmark retrospective on the subject this past weekend at the 15th Annual San Diego Asian Film Festival. Titled “Remembering Queer Korea,” the program featured screenings at the UCSD campus for six South Korean films, a video exhibition featuring an all-female musical troupe and a three-day academic symposium.

“The program represents our interest in giving context to Asian cinema and Asian cultures,” said Brian Hu, the artistic director for the festival, “that there is a history to the kind of independent production and self-represenation going on in Korea and elsewhere.

“When we think of seeing no limits, we also want to inspire audiences to see beyond the limits of the present, in addition to seeing beyond heteronormativity, especially as it has shaped discourses of the nation and globally in Korea,” Hu continued, speaking on the theme of the festival, “See No Limits.”

The six films, in particular, evoke the “remembering” among different genres. Dramas like The Pollen of Flowers (1972) and Sabangji (1988) were released into a repressive environment during the presidential dictatorship period. Other films, like the drama Broken Branches (1996), which dealt with the subject of homosexuality and family, were released at a time when South Korea was experiencing a wave of social changes.

Broken-Branches-2-770x433Broken Branches (Photo courtesy of San Diego Asian Film Festival)

Sabangji-2-770x433Sabangji (Photo courtesy of San Diego Asian Film Festival)

Henry was a graduate student in South Korea in the 1990s, and became involved in some of the movements taking hold. Human rights and student organizations, as well as film festivals, were leading the discourse, particularly in LGBT topics.

“I was very curious to know the deeper roots and origins of the kind of phenomena I was witnessing in the 1990s,” Henry said. “It occurred to me that it probably wasn’t the first time that a film dealing with LGBT issues was screening, nor was it probably the first time that two people of the same sex were seeking to get married or falling in love with one another.”

“Remembering Queer Korea” came from that curiosity and eventually took tangible form once Henry took up his position at UCSD in 2009. After Henry met the members of the Pacific Arts Movement (then called San Diego Asian Film Foundation), the project began taking shape.

“The idea was that filmmakers were doing a lot of the same kind of work that academic historians were: doing interviews, writing their own narratives of modern Korea,” said Hu, now in his fourth year with the festival. “Meanwhile, there are queer images from the 1970s and ‘90s in Korean cinema that serve as an archive of a similar counter-history. So we put together a slate of films that allow history, curiosity, cinema and memory to speak to each other in creative and provocative ways.”

On the academic side, Henry said there was a “scattered discourse” of “scattered people” working on LGBT topics in South Korea, which is why the symposium over the weekend was so special. Nearly a dozen researchers from South Korea and the U.S. led a three-day discussion on LGBT themes in modern Korean history, from the early 20th century and into the present.

Henry said the goal is to publish a book with the other researchers that would challenge what people may think about same-sex marriage in South Korea. The book would also aim to provide an overview of how queerness has appeared in modern Korean history and how we might rethink that history from this new perspective.

“In Korea [same-sex marriage] is seen as something relatively new,” he explained, “as in it just happened in the past 10-15 years, or it’s simply an import from the United States or Europe–that is to say, foreign and not indigenous to Korea.

“My work aims to debunk that national myth by showing that throughout the post-1945 period, discussion and debate about women who, although not officially and legally marrying one another, were nonetheless unofficially and symbolically marrying one another was a very frequent and important part of South Korea’s low-brow popular culture.”

Yeosung gukgeuk, a traditional form of all-female musical theater, was also popular in Korean pop culture during the 1950s. It’s the subject of artist siren eun young jung’s project “(Off)Stage / Masterclass,” her latest exhibition in exploring gender roles in traditional Korean performances. Siren spent years studying the possibility of yeosung gukgeuk translating to the modern feminist perspective and through the subversiveness of gender politics, according to Blouin Art Info.

The documentary The Girl Princes (2012), which also screened at the festival, chronicles the short-lived rise and brisk fall of yeosung gukgeuk and follows many of the former performers today as they reminisced on their careers and legacies. During their heyday, Hu writes, the stars were idolized by fans to the point of even stalking and suicide. The women were able to explore a much broader range of emotions and experiences than what was socially acceptable in the 1950s as they formed strong sisterhoods, while some even found love.

Girl Princes 2
The Girl Princes (Photo courtesy of Indie Plus)

Girl Princes 3

Girl Princes 1

“Art brings another medium through which we try to remember the past and which has resonance in the present,” Henry said. “It’s interesting to me that in contemporary Korea, you have a female director [Kim Hye-jung] who makes Girl Princes, [and] you have siren’s art piece, which is also about the same topic. … In Korea, you have various individuals who are also writing academic papers about the same all-female theatrical group.

“I think what’s really changed in the present is that since the 1990s, the public discourse is not only dominated by outsiders who are gazing at queer things, or using them for their own exploitive or sexploitive purposes. Instead, filmmakers, authors, and speakers who represent a queer way of life, or certain kinds of queer identity have become increasingly active in representing their own interests, and on their own terms.”

AOMG

Win a Pair of Tickets to AOMG’s L.A. Concert This Friday

Do you have plans for this upcoming Friday night? Cancel them.

AOMG is kicking off their U.S. tour in Los Angeles at the Belasco Theater, and we want to get you in for free! We have a pair of tickets to give away to one lucky individual, who will be able to see Jay Park, Simon D, Gray, Loco and DJ Pumkin perform for free! They’ll also be able to join the after party at Supperclub in Hollywood.

Here’s how you can win: Tell us who is your favorite artist out of the performers at the concert and why. Leave your comment below, or on this article’s Facebook post.

The winner will be announced at 1 p.m. Pacific Time on KoreAm‘s Facebook page. The KoreAm staff will choose the individual whose response shows the most passion for their AOMG artist!

Rules: Contestants must be age 21 and over. Tickets will be available only by will call at the box office. Concert stubs will grant free entry to the after party until 11 p.m.

Even if you don’t win the tickets, take heart! KoreAm readers can get 40 percent off general admission tickets. Instead of paying $50, you’ll only be paying about $30! Click here for more details.

AOMG

EXCLUSIVE DEAL: 40% Off Tickets for AOMG Concert in L.A.

If you live in Los Angeles, you have plenty of places to be out and about on Friday nights. Allow us to present a very good reason to drop those plans.

AOMG is kicking off its U.S. tour this Friday at the Belasco Theater in Los Angeles, and they’re inviting KoreAm readers to join the party! General admission tickets are 40 percent off when you use the code “youtube” at checkout, which drops the price from $50 to $30! You can buy the tickets here.

The spectacular lineup features Jay Park, Simon D, Gray, Loco and DJ Pumkin. Get your tickets soon before they’re sold out!

Time: 7:30 p.m.; Doors open at 6:30 p.m.

Location: The Belasco Theater
1050 S. Hill Street Los Angeles, CA 90015

If you’re 21 and over, be sure to hit up the after party! Your concert stub from the show will grant you free entry until 11 p.m.

After

After Party Time: 10 p.m. – 2 a.m.

Location: 6675 Hollywood Blvd. Los Angeles, CA

Those of you on the East Coast, fear not — AOMG’s tour continues in New York and Washington D.C. on Saturday, Nov. 15 and Thursday, Nov. 20, respectively.

CS-FM-1010-Group2

Far East Movement Releases K-Town Mini-Doc Ahead of New EP

by JAMES S. KIM

Far East Movement has been touring all over the world and the United States in recent years, but they’re bringing their music back home to Koreatown, Los Angeles for their upcoming EP.

In anticipation for K-Town Riot, which drops next Tuesday, Oct. 28, Far East Movement premiered the first part of a mini-documentary series exploring the 1992 L.A. riots through L.A. Weekly. It features a number of first-hand accounts from individuals who were in Koreatown during the riots, including Paul PK Kim and Roy Choi.

“When we were on tour, we honestly just felt like we were losing touch with where we grew up, with the community that really shined us a light when we didn’t have any opportunities,” Nish said in an interview with the L.A. Weekly. “After two years of touring, we came home and saw how much it had changed. … So we were like, why don’t we try to do something about it?”

With K-Town Riots, Nish said the group brings a “harder sound,” influenced by the gangster rap songs from the era. He mentioned that the group had around 30 songs recorded, but after a good amount of deliberation, they managed to select six songs. “We felt like these six best represented the vibes for K-Town Riot,” he explained.

The documentary had to be stripped down as well, from nearly five hours of footage in order to keep things “tight, concise, to the point.” Part two of the mini-documentary will feature a more light-hearted look at the growth of Koreatown, Nish said, and that should be out in a few weeks.

You can check out Part One of the five-minute mini-doc below. Be sure to read the full interview with Kevin Nish at L.A. Weekly here.

Screen Shot 2014-10-15 at 3.13.08 PM

[VIDEO] U.S. Marines and South Korean Army Bands Battle in Drum-off

by REERA YOO

The drums of war have never sounded so friendly.

The III Marine Expeditionary Force Band (III MEF) and the Republic of Korea Army Band (ROK) recently engaged in a lighthearted drum-off to kill time before a parade. Both bands gave impressive performances and seemed to enjoy themselves as they were seen cheering and smiling throughout the entire match, which was later ruled by a band leader as a tie.

The video has garnered more than 800,000 views after being uploaded last week. Majority of the viewers praised the two bands’ enthusiastic performances and good sportsmanship. One commenter even wrote, “This is how wars should be fought.”

Watch the epic drum battle below:

Janice Min

Janice Min Talks About K-pop’s Global Impact and Future

by JAMES S. KIM

K-pop is currently the best known product after Samsung, according to Janice Min, co-president and chief creative officer of Guggenheim Media’s Entertainment Group, which includes The Hollywood Reporter (THR) and Billboard. But as hallyu gains more international recognition, Min said K-pop still has a few more hurdles left before it could be fully embraced among Western audiences.

“Half of the top ten news reported by THR is related to K-pop,” Min said at MU:CON Seoul 2014, an annual festival for Korean music. “The world is getting more and more interested in Hallyu content.”

Psy’s international hit “Gangnam Style” was a turning point, Min noted. The song got casual music fans interested in K-pop, and it played right into the hands of an industry that was already heavily powered by social media. But in order for K-pop to stick, Min said K-pop artists need to come off as genuine, not manufactured by a larger entertainment company.

“I would say the weakness of K-pop is that it feels inauthentic and prepackaged … so there needs to be authenticity,” Min told the Korea Times, referring to Justin Timberlake as an authentic artist who gained more creative freedom after leaving NSYNC. She emphasized that music fans want to know that their favorite artists are genuine and passionate about their music, which includes writing their own songs.

In addition, Min said K-pop was still in a good place to compete in the music industry as the genre incorporates dance, fashion, beauty and music all in one.

Moving forward, Min said she expects K-pop diversify even further, with different acts that carry different sounds. In terms of breaking into the American audience, she cited Crayon Pop and G-dragon as prime examples, since the former opened for Lady Gaga at her U.S. concert and the latter is set to release collaborative tracks with Justin Bieber.

“The fact that Lady Gaga promoted the act on social media was probably the most powerful thing any Western artist could have done for a K-pop artist,” Min said. “Collaborations also get a lot of attention. The validation of a K-pop artist by a popular Western artist helps break through the clutter.”

As for what K-pop has meant to Koreans, Min said in some ways, K-pop felt like a “move forward” among the younger generation of Koreans who won’t harbor bitter memories of the Korean War and the rebuilding period.

“K-pop seems to represent total youth culture to Koreans, for reasons both good and sometimes bad,” Min continued. “But I think there is a big national pride in the phenomenon that is K-pop and the fact that it has traveled so far and wide in the world.”