07/20/2021 – Summer Red Velvet Maybe

I realize I hadn’t done even a brief write-up on Joy’s solo debut as I had Wendy’s, but that’s partly because it dropped at a busy time. See, I’d been preparing to move from Los Angeles back home, as the dream is over or what have you. The video for Joy’s “Hello” is a sweet and surprisingly emotional piece, trading the CG dreamscapes of Red Velvet past for an indie-movie feel — the earthy color palette and road trip narrative. Joy, overcoming a Wendy-approved breakup, packs up for vacation and encounters a little girl trying to get home. Here we have very human moments like the dad squeezing his daughter in the end, which is a different kind of special effect, to be terrible. “Hello” is a really big song and Joy bursts with soaring energy. However, it’s an interesting approach to a Joy debut, not only being an album of cover songs, but I thought her whole thing was “sexy dynamite.” I expected it to be closer to something like Namjoo’s “Bird,” at least in terms of visuals. So it’s a nice surprise, and very Red Velvet — refreshing, like a summer breeze. … More 07/20/2021 – Summer Red Velvet Maybe

Seulgi: Dichotomy

There’s just something about Seulgi. She is, to me, the first K-pop idol — the one who first fascinated, with her bonkers off-stage persona and friendly, appealing demeanor. These, of course, are surface details, so what struck me with time was not only her deeper talents, but how much those talents clashed with the surface details. This is a bubbly idol girl and a woman who communicated to me that dance is an artform. You watch any given Red Velvet music video or see her on stage touring the world, and she’s so fierce and confident, and the second she steps off that stage she becomes clumsy, bubbly “Ddeulgi,” as the fans have called her. It’s something that still fascinates me, and I’d like to attempt to replicate it here, in images. … More Seulgi: Dichotomy

The Best Red Velvet Album?

This is a tough one. For me, Red Velvet has an almost spotless discography, a blunting effect on my critical thinking, because it’s always “Wow, this song is amazing,” and “Wow, this song is amazing.” Not only that, I haven’t thought about them in terms of albums, unlike other musical acts. Best Paramore album? Easy. Pound for pound, it’s Brand New Eyes. I think it’s just the time in my life I experienced these groups. As a kid, I was getting into music (late) while CDs were being phased out for MP3s, but I still had CDs, and I’m still burning CDs today because the aux jack in my car doesn’t work anymore. I only started listening to Red Velvet in 2019, and I use Apple Music, so from my perspective, Red Velvet is just a mass of songs which I discovered bit by bit and sorted into various playlists. This had the strange consequence of “headcanon,” where songs with no real relation to one another have a strong connection in my mind, like the sequence of “Ice Cream Cake,” “Russian Roulette,” and “Peek-a-Boo.” For whatever reason, that’s how that trilogy goes, despite that “Peek-a-Boo” predates “Russian Roulette.” … More The Best Red Velvet Album?

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

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”