Tag Archives: music

The Voice - Season 7

Q&A: ‘The Voice’ Contestant Clara Hong Talks About Her Musical Journey


When KoreAm got in touch with Clara Hong yesterday, we were supposed to discuss last week’s blind audition on NBC’s The Voice, in which she brought down the house with her stellar performance. The young singer was trying to process what had happened since then, including random strangers raving about her on social media, her much-talked-about “You’re silk” comment, and of course, Pharrell Williams.

Then, she realized what the date was.

“Today is Sept. 30, right? Oh my gosh,” said Hong, apparently slightly freaking out over the phone. “I moved out of my house to Atlanta exactly a year ago. That is so crazy! I remember I moved in on Sept. 30 and went to the studio the very next morning. … But that’s so crazy!”

It’s been a long and explorative year for the Georgia resident, who put her college education on hiatus and moved to the city to pursue a career in music. But even before her recent milestone on The Voice, Hong said she was exponentially happier than when she was in school.

Despite the “silk” comment, Hong surprisingly chose Maroon 5’s Adam Levine over Pharrell to be her coach. Her sessions with Team Adam haven’t started yet, but whether The Voice plays a significant part in her future or not, the vocalist says she is definitely glad to be in her current position.

How do you feel about your blind audition, now that you’ve had some time to digest what happened?

Clara: I think when you’re onstage, you know what happened, but it’s almost like now, it didn’t happen. It’s been overwhelming, and it’s really cool to see the reactions on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram — it’s surreal. It’s really cool to see the reactions from legitimate strangers.

It’s almost like you can’t believe you can do it sometimes, for us musicians. I talk about this with my friends all the time, but we’re so used to the idea of — and this is not to sound negative — things not working out sometimes, so we almost prepare ourselves for the worst in a way.

Music isn’t … an instant gratification kind of industry where things always work out the way you want it to. In my case, you almost have to be like, whoa, that’s me. That’s not someone else’s life. That’s my life. So it’s been really nice and cool to believe in myself again.

How have your parents responded to your successful blind audition?

It’s been positive. It’s been nice. My parents were very keen on me pursuing education since I came here [from Korea] when I was 8 years old. It was never something where they pushed me to take piano lessons, or pursue music. As soon as I got the idea to leave school and pursue it, they were really against it.

Eventually, I was like, you know what, I’m an adult, so I’m going to move out regardless, but it would be nice to have their support.

It was kind of a struggle for a year. The only reason they were okay with me pursuing music before The Voice was that they saw how happy I was as a person. The light changed on my face, my attitude on life — I felt like a really beautiful person. I felt like I had purpose, and I felt really OK. And then when the three judges turned around for me, that was [my parents’] way of knowing, she’s going to be OK.

The Voice has been a gift in many ways, but I think that’s one of the biggest ways it has been good to me. It opened my parents’ eyes to my potential.

Why did you choose “Chuck E.’s In Love?”

There’s a process that goes into choosing the song. It’s not 100 percent the producers; it’s not 100 percent me. It’s kind of like this conversation we have going. Ultimately, I really wanted that song. It probably was a risk … because it’s not a tune everyone is familiar with. It’s a song that parents nowadays, they reminisce about that song, and might say, “Hey, that came out while I was in high school!” I really love Rickie Lee Jones, too, she’s cool and funky, and she’s always done her own thing.

In hindsight, I’m really happy I chose that song, but really I think I picked that song because I love it. … I think when you find the song, and you sing it once and it feels right, you know that’s your song. When I sing it, it just feels really good to me.

What did you think of the judges’ individual pitches? Adam, Gwen and Pharrell each went all out to try and recruit you.

That was really cool! To be honest, when I saw the episode on TV, I remembered a lot of the things they said to me, but when I was up there, there’s so much adrenaline, one, and two, it’s also a very out-of-body experience. I remember when I was singing, I almost saw myself in a bird’s eye point of view where I watched myself. It was really bizarre. I just remember hearing a lot of words, and I did comprehend them, but I don’t think I really heard them. I do remember the whole “silk” part, and I’m still like, “Why did you say it like that?”

I just remember feeling very overwhelmed and wowed by these coaches giving me compliments and … I was just in disbelief the whole time. Of course I knew it was happening, but it was a lot at once. I just remember feeling so bad and awful having to pick someone. I really wanted to work with all of them. It’s hard! It’s a funny role change, because you would think it would be the other way around, where you beg them to take you in, but the chairs are turned — pun intended — and the coaches fight for you.

The Voice - Season 7

What have you been able to do in the past year since you moved to Atlanta?

I’ve been trying to put together an EP, [but] because of The Voice, I wasn’t able to finish that project. But outside of the studio, I’ve been going out as much as I can and meeting people and making connections. Meeting inspiring musicians around the area, and jamming with them — it was really cool.

“House shows” are probably my favorite thing. They’re really casual. You can mingle with people, and then jam to really original music. The best part about it is that you’re so close to the artists and you see every facial movement that they make, and I love watching people’s faces when they sing because all the emotion is right there.

I think they really inspire me to always write genuine songs. That kind of setting, you can’t fake your way in with this song you wrote because you thought it was catchy. It’s not a fancy stage set-up with lights and mics; you really just have your voice and your instrument to impress the crowd.

I’ve done a few house shows in Atlanta where it’s just a bunch of twenty, thirty-somethings having a really chill time. I really think that’s where the real music scene is. Atlanta is packed with so much talent, it’s hard not to be inspired.

The Voice - Season 7

What have been your greatest challenges?

My biggest struggle [is that] I’ve never had consistent support, so I really wasn’t sure if anything was going to work out. And I’m pretty sure that’s the question I’m going to ask for the rest of my life. One moment or one blind audition isn’t going to change that mentality, but it has worked out well, and when I say “worked out,” I don’t mean that I made it or I crossed the finish line, but I think it’s a lot easier when you don’t worry too much.

If you’re centered, and your head is in the right place, and you wake up with a smile and do what you need to do … things will always fall into place.

It’s weird. Sometimes I feel really overwhelmed, but other days, I think, it’s quite simple really. You get up, you show up, you do life, and you call it a day. But it really depends on how you look at it and how much you want out of everything.

Photos courtesy of Tyler Golden/NBC

Happy Seoul Thumbnail

[VIDEO] #HappySeoul’s Contribution to ’24 Hours of Happy’


When Pharrell William’s “Happy” comes on the radio, take heed: You may find yourself clapping along, whether you are happy or not.

Cities and countries around the world have been uploading hundreds of music videos as a contribution to Pharrell’s “24 Hours of Happy” campaign. South Korea already submitted several of their own, but we think that this one, which was uploaded yesterday, might be the best of them all.

The video features several prominent locations, including Gangnam and Hongdae, while also showcasing Seoul residents of all ages. We’re pretty sure most don’t break out into song and dance all the time, but they certainly look capable of doing so.

Also, the hanboks and sunglasses pretty much sealed it for us.

Image via Happy Seoul

Clara Hong

[VIDEO] Clara Hong Kills It at ‘The Voice’ Blind Audition


Have you ever heard a voice that made you stop and turn and find its source? Atlanta’s Clara Hong did just that with her voice on this week’s The Voice. Her rendition of “Chuck E.’s in Love” got judges Adam Levine, Gwen Stefani and Pharell Williams literally spinning in their chairs within seconds of her first effortless note.

Watch her performance here:

When it came down to choosing which team to join, Hong found herself being fought over by the three judges.

Pharrell was enamored with her tone, comparing it to silk, to which Hong replied, “You’re silk. … Your voice!”

“[Your voice] feels very you,” remarked Gwen Stefani, who, after complimenting Hong on her stage presence, gave her an impromptu coaching display of how to command it. “Your singing voice, it’s so alluring.”

Adam Levine went all out and wrote a poem for Hong as the other judges gave their pitches. “Clara is great, and so am I. Why should I coach you? Let me tell you why. I’ve been in this chair for three solid years. I know what it takes, so please, have no fear. So Team Adam it is. So glad you could be the triumphant victor. Let’s make history.”

“I’m a really competitive person, and I will kill for you,” Levine later emphasized.

In the end, Hong chose Levine–her gut feeling, she said–over Pharrell, who she had been a fan of since middle school.

Hong, whose parents moved from South Korea to the States when she was eight years old, took a break from college after two years to pursue her passion in music. After moving into the city, she also took on a banquet server job to pay the bills.

“There’s some pressure to prove to my parents that I can succeed with music,” Hong said. “They came here initially to give us a fine education, and I think it would be a relief to know that they feel okay with me doing this.”

You can watch Clara’s full blind audition segment below:


Linkin Park’s Joe Hahn To Make Directorial Debut with ‘Mall’

Joe Hahn has directed more than 30 music videos for Linkin Park, along with a number of other projects, so turning his skills over to film probably was a pretty natural transition.

The Linkin Park musician will be making his directorial film debut with Mall, based on Eric Bogosian’s 2001 novel. The story follows five dissatisfied suburbanites who find themselves in a shopping mall when a man begins firing at people. The incident not only radically changes his life, but also those of the others who are forced to deal with the life-threatening situation.

“It’s about the cycle of self-destruction,” Hahn explained to Mashable. “I find it refreshing to see this kind of point-of-view in contrast to today’s society that interacts digitally.

“The thing with life through devices, Internet and apps is that people are self-editing themselves. They are picking the best selfies and showing how cool they are, very one-sided. … When I read this script, it felt real and refreshing to show how ugly people can be, as they hide their inner beasts after cracking their facades.”

Mall will receive a North American theatrical release on Oct. 17, according to New Noise Magazine. The film will be distributed via Paragon Pictures. The movie stars Vincent D’Onofrio, Gina Gershon and Cameron Monaghan.

Hahn hosted an exclusive screening of the film, plus a question-and-answer session, during the 5th annual Nerd HQ event at Petco Park in San Diego. The video for the Q&A is below.

Image via Mashable


VIDEO: Girl Group SPICA on U.S. Debut at KCON 2014


Many K-pop acts have tried to play their hand in the U.S. market, all to varying levels of success. Girl group SPICA, however, may be one of those to catch on here in the States, as they got a running start with their American debut at KCON 2014 this past weekend.

KoreAm had the opportunity to interview the ladies before their set on Saturday. The group, which features Juhyun, Boa, Narae, Jiwon and Bohyung, were just as excited as we were to see them hit the stage for the thousands of fans who made their way out to Los Angeles this past weekend.

SPICA’s English debut single, “I Did It,” is an empowering song that fits their vocal talent and nothing-held-back personalities. In our exclusive interview, the ladies talk about what they’re proud of so far, and what they’re looking forward to as a group. Check it out!

SPICA debuted in 2012 under B2M Entertainment with their single “Potently.” Since then, SPICA has released four singles, including “Tonight,” which shot to the top of Korean music charts. Former Fin.K.L member Lee Hyori served as a mentor figure for a time, and she collaborated with Boa to write the lyrics for “Tonight.”

“I Did It” is just one of the tracks on a yet-to-be named, full length English LP. We’ll keep you posted on any news. Meanwhile, check out the music videos for “I Did It” and “Tonight.”


August Book Giveaway: Win A Visual Guide to the K-pop Revolution!

Attention, book lovers! KoreAm is partnering with Tuttle Publishing to bring you some exciting new titles by internationally recognized authors and thought leaders in Korean language, culture, art, history and business. Did we mention these books are being offered to you for free? We will be giving away books every month from now until the end of 2014.

We’re going to start the giveaway with Mark James Russell’s K-Pop Now!: The Korean Music Revolution, a visual compendium of all the stars in the K-pop universe. Choe Sang-Hun, the New York Times Korea correspondent, said this about the book: “With K-pop being the most talked-about product coming out of Korea today, Koreans and non-Koreans alike ask: So what is K-pop? Between the covers of this book, you will find the closest thing you can get to an answer. This is a comprehensive and timely guidebook on K-pop by someone who can describe and explain it better than any other person I know, by a Western expert who has been following K-pop more closely and with more passion than Koreans.”

Russell, who has lived in Korea since 1996, has covered Korean pop culture for the New York Times, Billboard and Newsweek.

Three copies of this book are up for grabs. All you have to do is tweet at us (@KoreAm) with photo proof of why you’re one of the biggest K-pop fans in the world—or want to be. Show us a poster of a favorite boy or girl group, snap a shot of your album collection, or be creative and surprise us!

Whatever it is, tweet it at us with the hashtag #KpopRevolution, or comment on the article below with your photo (click the small icon to upload images). You can also reply to the Facebook post on the KoreAm page and attach a photo along with your comment.

Winners will be selected on Wednesday, Aug. 6, by the K-pop-savvy members of the KoreAm staff. Those chosen will be notified via Twitter and on Facebook.

KCON-Gdragon missy elliot

G-Dragon, SPICA Join All-Star KCON 2014 Lineup


Big Bang’s G-Dragon and girl group SPICA are the latest names to join the lineup for this year’s KCON, the largest Hallyu fan convention in America, happening on August 9 and 10 at the Los Angeles Memorial Sports Arena. Billboard.com reported that the singer/rapper will headline the first of the two concerts at the festival, which also features fan meet-and-greets and panels.

G-Dragon, who performed with Missy Elliott at last year’s event, will join SPICA (U.S. debut), Girls’ Generation, IU, CNBLUE, Teen Top, B1A4, BTS, VIXX and Jung Joon-young on the stage. South Korean TV and movie stars Lee Seung-gi, Lee Seo-ji and Yoo In-na are also set to appear at the festival.


KCON expanded to a two-night festival last year, and this year’s event will feature two concerts as well. South Korean music chart program M Countdown will also be filming the performances, which might mean longer sets from the performers.

Tickets go on sale today, and more ticketing options will be available later. You can purchase them at KCONUSA.com.

Top photo: G-Dragon performed with Missy Elliott at last year’s KCON.


KoreAm’s Ultimate K-pop Summer Playlist


Tomorrow marks the beginning of summer, and to celebrate, we’ve put together a jam-packed playlist of the best summer-themed K-pop songs ever.

The first wave of hits is a mix of old and new, celebrating a few of our favorite things: the ocean, sand and sunblock.

Whether or not you live near the beach, these songs will take you there.

Cool – “Woman of Beach”’

“It’s summertime!” We jump right in with a blast to the past from Cool.

SISTAR – “Loving U”

SISTAR in Hawaii? Yes, please.

Big Bang – “Sunset Glow”

Beach party with Big Bang? Of course!

Jinusean – “How Deep Is Your Love”

How deep is my love? As deep as the big, blue sea … and as cheesy as late ’90s fashion.

Fly to the Sky – “Sea of Love”

Anyone ready to bust out the karaoke machine yet?

Dynamic Duo – “Summer Time”

The latest single off their new album, which released this past week!

DJ DOC – “Summer Story”

Another summer classic.

UP – “Sea”

UP was a short-lived group, but they did churn out some great tunes, including this one.

Clon – “꿍따리샤바라” (Kung Ddari Sha Bah Rah)

Are you somehow feeling down? Then turn this song up! There’s no proper translation for this song’s title, but the closest might be “hakuna matata.”

IU feat. Clon – “꿍따리샤바라” (Kung Ddari Sha Bah Rah)

IU brings a much more mellow feel to her remake, which also features the original artists.

Jessica (Girls Generation) & Park Myung-soo – “Cold Noodles”

We know how the Spurs won the NBA championship this year. Korean naengmyun is the perfect dish to beat the heat!

MC Mong – “Ice Cream”

Ice cream is a no-brainer. But love can be like ice cream, too. We won’t delve any further.

Yoon Jong-shin – “Pat Bing Soo” (Red Bean Shaved Ice)

The original song about our favorite summer dessert item.

Akdong Musician – “Red Bean Shaved Ice”

These two can sing about cutting down a tree and we’d still listen.

IU & FIESTAR – “Sea of Moonlight”

What if IU were part of a girl group? This is what it may look like, but it’s a short-lived vision as the other girls leave her behind on an island. Seriously, this is what happens in the video. Apparently, they didn’t want to take her on.

Busker Busker – “Yeosu Night Sea”

If you’re walking along a beach a night, perhaps with someone you care about, this is the song for you. Let lead vocalist Jang Beom-jun’s soothing voice wash over you like the crashing waves.

1TYM – “Hot”

Of course, if cooling off isn’t your thing and you always keep it hot, 1TYM understands. (Bonus: Can you spot the future Big Bang members?)

UPDATE: We don’t know how we overlooked these.

Deux – “In The Summer”

Shinhwa – “Eusha Eusha”

Uhm Jung-hwa – “Festival”

What other gems are we still missing?