04/19/2021 – Congratulations, Apink!

Today is the ten-year anniversary of Apink, one of my favorite K-pop groups. I don’t have anything big planned to commemorate such an achievement, but I have been working intermittently behind-the-scenes on a podcast episode dedicated to them, something like “Apink: A Musical Journey” or “The Art of Apink.” I don’t know, whatever sounds less dumb. But I don’t mind being dumb, because Apink makes for sometimes simple pleasures, with their easy, listenable sound. This is their overall character, “soft” or “cute,” so they lull you and when the surprises come, they hit hard. There’s the gradual “maturing” in tone they’ve developed in the past few years, with hits like “I’m So Sick” and “Eung Eung” — both excellent — but I don’t want to look at that as a change of style. I think it’s all one thing, that there’s a central driver behind songs as disparate in theme as “My My” and “Dumhdurum.” We’ll talk more in-depth about their artistry later. … More 04/19/2021 – Congratulations, Apink!

04/05/2021 – Sir, this is a WENDY

What did everyone think of Wendy’s solo debut? We have the video for her single “Like Water,” and a mini-album with — appropriately so — great B-sides, including a duet with Seulgi adorably titled “Best Friend.” It’s been a long, strange journey, but for Wendy, she’s arrived. After suffering an injury around Christmas 2019 during a rehearsal, she spent 2020 recuperating, and while Red Velvet fans (myself included) imagined that’s all she did, here she comes with another stunning SM production. The album itself Like Water may not have the sheer dynamism of the Iseul debut before it, cleaving entirely toward the Velvet concept — no wild synth here or colorful bubblegum — but it’s a long-awaited showcase for Wendy’s vocals. … More 04/05/2021 – Sir, this is a WENDY

K-Pop Pick of the Day: “Into the New World”

My God, I’ve only been listening to this song since Friday and I already feel nostalgic about it. It’s just got that power, so I can’t imagine how it is for longtime Girls’ Generation fans who grew up with “Into the New World,” looking back at the full lives suggested in the video, now lived, through triumph and heartbreak (and probably less plane-flying, but given the nature of Korean variety shows, you never fucking know). … More K-Pop Pick of the Day: “Into the New World”

K-Pop Pick of the Day: “About Love”/”Taste”

The linkage between these two songs is immediately felt: they bounce. Wikipedia might classify “Taste” as pop/dance, and I can abide that, though it’s generic enough to be applied to all of the Red variety songs. It may be afield to say, but I’d almost hazard the application of “R&B” here. Both songs flow through with again, a bouncing rhythm, but are also laidback enough to eschew the frenzied energy or melancholic touch of other tracks. This is a specific zone. … More K-Pop Pick of the Day: “About Love”/”Taste”

K-Pop Pick of the Day: “NoNoNo”

This is where it began with Apink and I, and what a perfectly succinct introduction to this group’s bubblegum and surprisingly sexualized style. My frame of reference being Red Velvet, I do find Apink videos to be much calmer and still, willing to let the girls spend time with a single activity (in this case, baking cakes?) rather than run them through several at lightning speed (baking cakes, getting lost in the woods, stepping on cakes, breaking things, finding ants in cakes). That reduction in variety doesn’t also reduce the character: there’s still plenty of big smiles and goofing around. What could be cuter than Eunji poking Naeun with a cupcake? … More K-Pop Pick of the Day: “NoNoNo”