02/25/2021: You Are the Product, You Feeling Discomfort

In the inarguable blog post for With Eyes East — a feature I’m hoping will equate to semiregular content on this, you know, blog site — I got some problems. Number one being the sexual confusion I experience while watching Steven Seagal movies, but that’ll be our last item because it’s horrifying. First, and only appropriately so, Irene’s movie Double Patty came out (at the domestic box office), and no, netizens are not over “the Irene thing.” Via email alert, I was greeted by this happy headline the other day: “K-pop idols, such as Red Velvet’s Irene, are bombing at the box office as they seek big film careers,” over on the South China Morning Post (or Korea Times?). The article cites a number of idols trying their hands at acting, apparently poorly, but I only recognize Irene here, and as previous posts on this site have well-established, on this I get a little touchy. … More 02/25/2021: You Are the Product, You Feeling Discomfort

Top 10 YouTube 2020

Well, it’s that time of year again, where we count down the best YouTube videos of the past 12 months (I’d already used “year” in this sentence, so I couldn’t use it twice). What do you mean “again” doesn’t apply in this case? Well, true enough this site and its correspondent YouTube channel launched this year — and what a year! So exciting, wow. Primarily, what helped me through was YouTube, and what a year! Seems like everyone, from Yoona and Yuri to Hayoung started up their channels, providing so much wonderful c-o-n-t-e-n-t to pick up and watch. … More Top 10 YouTube 2020

And Have Another Irene

Still me, still trying to make sense of this — my feelings as we spiral toward the end of the United States. I just feel awful. I’ve been thinking about this all day. Barely got any sleep last night. There’s a lot of stressors in my life — like with everyone — but this has been the most vibrating needle in my eye, and that’s my fault. I made the mistake of reading as many news stories about it as I could, including from gossip site AllKpop. What I couldn’t stand about that one was how much people seemed to delight in the thought of Irene’s end. How do you even find out about someone like Irene and decide you don’t like her? There are K-pop groups I don’t really like, but I don’t even think about them. I wrote up that last post before I had a sense for people like that. … More And Have Another Irene

My Statement on the Irene Situation

Christ, a finger wag in word form. Words don’t have hips or hands to put on those hips, and yet, there they are: “My Statement on the Irene Situation.” Your reaction to that is my reaction to the whole thing. And what is the “whole thing,” even? How far does this frustration stretch back? To the beginning of cancel culture? To Tiger Woods on the television apologizing to you for his infidelity? I don’t want to be one of those people who gleefully “cancels” until the canceling becomes inconvenient. Donovan and I have spoken extensively on the subject on our podcast Questions: We Don’t Have Answers — inconclusively, as you might expect. But here’s a collision of cancel culture and idol culture that I need to untangle before I spontaneously combust. … More My Statement on the Irene Situation

Top 5 K-Pop Songs

Yes, this is the absolutely definitive top five K-pop songs of all time, according to someone who’s been listening to K-pop for, like, a year. I trust that this list will evolve as I continue on in my Koreaboo journey, so maybe I’ll make it a recurring feature. There’s just something about this music that makes me want to surrender to hyperbole, to shout superlatives and classify things as number one best, not to evangelize but simply to accurately express my feelings. And this isn’t a one-way thing, man. I need to know your top K-pop songs, however you reach me. Email, Twitter, a thrown brick upon the temple, message wrapped around it. Two notes before we begin: first, I’m doing one song per group, so that this doesn’t become a Red Velvet show. And second, you may be frustrated to discover that all these songs are by girl groups. Whenever I say “K-pop,” you know, on the street, a brick in your hand, that’s pretty much what I’m talking about, though that obviously makes for somewhat serious omissions. Whatever! Everybody ready? … More Top 5 K-Pop Songs

K-Pop Pick of the Day: “Jelly”

I have mixed feelings about “Monster.” I know — who asked me, right? Who am I? Well, how about Seulgi’s number one fan? That’s right. Now don’t you look silly. It’s got a certain earworm quality, and it is growing on me, maybe more like a parasite than what I’m used to. Even before you see the video, the cynic in me feels like they’re playing it safe for the new subunit, double-dipping into that “Psycho” bucket. And look, I love “Psycho,” but it’s a belter. “Monster” is far more low-key, as if “sexy” necessarily comes at the expense of “energy.” With a growing understanding of other groups, the label that most characterizes Red Velvet to me — in music and personality — is weird. These girls are some of the weirdest people I’ve ever beheld, with that conversation in Vietnam about crushing crickets to feed to the baby chicken ripped straight out of A Scanner Darkly*. Undoubtedly, that’s part of the charm, and that’s what’s reflected in the eclectic music. … More K-Pop Pick of the Day: “Jelly”

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: “The SOOTORY #3”

This day, our K-Pop Pick of the Day is a little different. Not a song, no. In fact, lately, I’ve been weighing which Girls’ Generation song to talk about here, and as a very newcomer, I’ve only got three favorites so far: “Girls’ Generation,” “Gee,” and “Hoot.” My number one is actually “Girls’ Generation,” which I can’t get out of my head. But as you may tell, that song is from the beginning of the group, and they are very much babies in the video (which looks like it was indeed filmed the year of their births, or perhaps on a videotape?). Half, or more than half, of my experience with K-pop so far is videos like this, glimpses into the idols’ non-stage personas (I hesitate, firmly, to say “the idols’ personalities,” because I’m trying very hard to not fall into parasocial traps). … More K-Pop Pick of the Day: “The SOOTORY #3”

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”