Well, everyone, it finally happened. A friend of mine said to me, “I’m trying to get into Red Velvet. What do you recommend?” Those are the most beautiful words under Heaven. It more than made my day; it answered with the sweep of catharsis a long-running anxiety I’ve had about the art of recommendation itself, that it’s been lost, that people don’t really mean it when they ask anymore because criticism and curation have been so thoroughly decentralized, but here she is: “What do you recommend?” … More My Red Velvet Spotify Playlist [Podcast]
I’m currently embroiled in one of those arguments where the stakes are not even and things could get messy. Podcast guest host Stella took exception to a recent comment I made on QNA about the venerable Star Wars series, how I was uncomfortable as a kid watching the Prequel Trilogy because so many of the Jedi were men. It was only with Rey in The Force Awakens that I felt “Maybe this could be a universe for me, too.” Stella, a far more ardent Star Wars ardherent, with a trove-like knowledge of the Expanded Universe beyond my reckoning and a more intense investment in female representation in fiction (as a female in non-fiction), countered that there are, in fact, Jedi who are non-men. … More There Are No Female Jedi
Red Velvet has already come back, so soon after the ReVe Festival 2022, kind of compounding my anxiety that the lead single “Feel My Rhythm” will be forgotten — or, if not forgotten, uncalculated in the Best of Red Velvet calculations to come. I say this because — and this is personal heresy — it might be my favorite Red Velvet song? … More Enough
By the third viewing, I’m beginning to see what they’re doing with “Feel My Rhythm” and perhaps The ReVe Festival 2022 altogether, as this video feels like a spiritual remix of the three lead singles from the Festival trilogy, “Umpah Umpah,” “Psycho,” and maybe especially “Zimzalabim.” I’m seeing some of the key dance moves, the costumes, similar camera work and visual motifs. … More speechless.
I can’t focus, so let me share something real quick. There are certain Korean words I’ve picked up listening to K-pop, watching K-dramas, and mostly, watching and rewatching the same Red Velvet videos (Level Up Project, behind-the-scenes, V-Lives, fan edits, you name it), and while it isn’t enough to call a starting point, I’m surprised every time I recognize anything. Some words are so specific to the people who said them that they’re indelible, like how Seulgi says “Bashta” about a beer, or Eunji with (I think) “그래” in a scene from Cheer Up, and Yeri the same in a V-Live. Wendy says “Yorubun” a very particular way at some point, but I don’t remember the context. … More Kamjagiya
May this come in a little late but find you, nevertheless, well. Only appropriate; this could be the first year I’ve been current with K-pop groups enough that a ranking is even possible. I’m still digging through the archives, but 2021 was a big year for comebacks. Strangely, none of these entries are group efforts. I guess that while the industry is recovering still, they’ve found that solo outings are more manageable? Either way, I heard some great stuff. What were your picks? … More K-Pop 2021: Top 3
So, in the world of K-pop, SM Entertainment recently put together a supergroup made up of members of Girls’ Generation, Red Velvet, and Aespa, all led by the Queen of K-pop BoA (as if they weren’t busy enough?). With the rush of the holidays, I barely had time to even process this, because it’s an unreal lineup: you have the superstar vocals of Taeyeon and Wendy, the crazy dance talent of Hyoyeon and Seulgi. It’s also an opportunity to educate myself, as I’m not studied enough to be able to tell BoA from newcomer Winter. I know, it’s shameful, I’m sorry. Karina is easily identifiable because she’s the one who looks like Taeyeon. I mean, it’s uncanny. And the group is called Girls on Top, a BoA callback that’s only too appropriate given the star power. They debuted their first song at SM Town Live 2022 over New Years, and, uh, I don’t know. I don’t even want to say it for fear of turning into a pillar of salt, but it’s bad. … More 01/02/2022 – I Really Wanted to Love This
I know I still have a long way to go on my K-pop journey, and am in no way claiming the authority necessary to even ask this question. But sometimes there’s music so compelling that the only way to express my feelings is with superlative. It’s shortsighted, and I’ve been burned on listicles before (because I live dangerously, apparently), but this is my current thought process. Sometimes I think I know which is number one, but then it changes. I do know better than to ask for input, unless the spiders have opinions, but if you’re reading this sometime in the future, let me know your take, and your top three. And don’t forget to like, comm– oh, right, spiders. … More 10/08/2021 – The Three Greatest K-Pop Songs?
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
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