Monthly Archives: May 2011

[WS] Mandopop taking steps toward K-pop?

Asian stars copy Korean look, sound

Photos from Derrick Hoh's second album, Change, with his new K-pop-iffied hairstyle.

SINGAPORE — As if Korean pop stars do not have enough competition from their own countrymen in the crowded entertainment industry, they now have to contend with Mandopop singers who are copying their look and sound.

More and more Taiwan-based stars are repackaging themselves in the mold of their Korean counterparts — singing fast infectious tunes with sleek dance moves complete with more adventurous styling.

The record labels of Taiwanese boy band Sigma and Singapore talents Derrick Hoh and Jocie Guo sent them to Korea to learn from dance choreographers for their new albums. Hoh also sought the expertise of Korean boy band Shinee’s stylist for his second album Change, released this year.

In addition, Taiwanese artists are also collaborating with Korean stars to incorporate Korean pop elements into their songs. Wilber Pan recruited Nichkhun from Korean boy band 2PM to feature in his new song, Drive, from his newly released album, 808.

Danson Tang worked with Amber from Korean girl group f(x) for his song “I’m Back,” released last year.

Industry insiders admit they are riding on the surge of the Korean pop wave.

James Kang, marketing director of Warner Music, which manages Hoh and Guo, says: “Taiwan has long been the place that Chinese artists go to for their training. However, over the years, we have seen increasingly similar dance moves in the hordes of artists that emerge from there every year. Therefore, training in Korea injects fresh elements into Derrick and Jocie’s appeal.

“Korean acts are known for their sleek dance moves and interesting choreography. Sending our artists to train there helps achieve something that is out of the box for the Chinese music industry.”

He cites as examples the “hot and highly synchronized dance moves complete with trademark movements” of Brown Eyed Girls’ “Abracadabra” and Super Junior’s “Sorry Sorry.”

Derek Shih, marketing director of HIM International Music, agrees that Korean dance moves are outstanding, “which is why we decided to tap on their skills and professionalism to come up with the dance moves for our new boy band, Sigma.”

For their self-titled debut album, released late last year, Sigma, which comprises Judy Chou, Mrtting Li and Tommy Lin, flew to Korea to learn from a dance choreographer who had worked with the likes of superstar Rain and girl group Wonder Girls.

Chou says in Mandarin: “The training was not easy and we practiced really hard. It is great that we get to learn from a top-notch teacher. Korean acts have very polished and sleek dance moves and we hope to be like them. We aim to be just like Korean boy band Big Bang. They can sing and dance well and are multi-talented.”

Besides that, the adventurous and unconventional styling of Korean acts — such as the bold use of eyeliner, daring hairstyles and an androgynous image — is also another distinctive factor.

Members of boy band Shinee got many fans talking about their outrageous, brightly colored hairstyles in their latest studio album Lucifer (2010). Girl group 2NE1 are also well known for their loud, in-your-face stage costumes and edgy haircuts.

Hoh has since copied such styles, going from boy-next-door in his first album to sporting a daring haircut with a more colorful getup recently.

The catchy tunes sung by Korean acts with insidiously repetitive phrases and use of unusual lingo have also found their way into, for instance, Taiwanese boy band Lollipop F’s song “Four Dimensions (2010),” which repeats the words “Crazy! Go crazy! Go crazy!” in its chorus.

It is common to find a word or phrase being repeated many times in the chorus of a Korean pop song. The entire chorus of T-ara’s hit “Bo Peep Bo Peep” consists of “Bo peep bo peep,” while boy band Super Junior’s famous song “Sorry Sorry” has them repeating the words over and over again.

Fans do not mind the K-pop imitation, saying that incorporating K-pop elements can raise the standard of Chinese pop.

Student Jaslyn Tan, 19, says: “Korean pop groups are very well-trained and they seldom make mistakes during performances. It is great that Chinese pop acts are taking a leaf out of their books.”

Marketing manager Cindy Lin, 23, adds: “I am all for improving the standard of Chinese pop. However, the industry may end up being saturated with too many Taiwanese artists sporting Korean styles.”

Monday, May 2, 2011 9:56 pm TWN, By Jocelyn Lee,The Straits Times/Asia News Network

Song 1: 어머님께 / To Mother

To Mother

Release Date: December 1998-January 1999
Sung by: 지오디 / g.o.d

박진영/ Park Jin Young
Lyricist: 박진영/ Park Jin Young
Based off: Unnamed 2pac song (As mentioned here and credited here.

Lyrics (Korean 한글, Romanization, Translation):

[MV dialogue] “어머니..보고싶어요..”
“Eomeoni… Bogosipeoyo…”
“Mother… I miss you…”

Verse 1
(데니) 어려서부터 우리집은 가난했었고
(Danny) eoryeoseo-buteo uri jibeun ganan-haesseotgo
Since I was young, our family was poor
남들 다하는 외식 몇 번 한적이 없었고
namdeul dahaneun oesik myeot beon hanjeoki eopseotgo
The eating out that everyone else did, we hardly ever did
일터에 나가신 어머니 집에 없으면
ilteo-ae nagasin eomeoni jibae eopseumyeon
If my mom who went out to work wasn’t home
언제나 혼자서 끓여먹었던 라면
eonjena honjaseo kkeurhyeo-meogeotdeon ramyeon
I always boiled and ate instant noodles alone
그러다 라면이 너무 지겨워서
geureoda ramyeoni neomu jigyeoweoseo
From doing that, I got so sick of ramen
맛있는 것 좀 먹자고 대들었었어
masitneun geot jom meokjago daedeureosseo-sseo
“Let’s eat something good,” I’d talk back to my mom
그러자 어머님이 마지못해 꺼내신
숨겨두신 비상금으로 시켜주신
자장면 하나에 너무나 행복했었어
하지만 어머님은 왠지 드시질 않았어
어머님은 자장면이 싫다고 하셨어
어머님은 자장면이 싫다고 하셨어

Daum, Naver music source
Alternative Translation: 

N-Train Showcase in 홍대

Attended a showcase tonight (Wednesday) for an up-and-coming boy band, N-Train, thanks to an invitation from the lovely TB. Will probably update with pictures and videos later, but wanted to at least post a little bit down while the memories are still fresh.

They appeared to be groomed as an R&B idol group, with vocal training in singing a capella together. They started off with a rendition of Boyz II Men’s “End of the Road,” which was surprisingly not too bad! It’s a hard song to pull off, and many Koreans still have audible troubles with English pronunciation, but both melody and pronunciation were passable.

Like all ideal boy bands, there are five members. I’m not sure what their ages are, but they already have a soompi fan thread which contains their profiles. They also already had a lively fan base; the venue, which admittedly was on the small side, was fairly full and kept the atmosphere lively with enthusiastic screams. The crowd seemed to be a mix of young fan girls and people who knew the members personally – at one point, a friend of a member shouted out a funny remark, was invited up to the stage, gladly rushed up and thereupon gave his boy band friend a hug before daring to show them how fan service should really be done. They mentioned something about him being a workout fanatic or 몸짱 so he might have been their gym trainer…

N-Train sang two other songs, and guests from their company also made an appearance in support of the rookie group. Sadly, much-anticipated Hallyu heartthrob Kim Hyunjoong (김현중) ended up not coming. Their company is Media Line, which is headed by Kim Changhwan (김창환), a notable producer in the industry.

Seems like their official single isn’t out yet, so no music video, but there is a live sample of their song “울면서 울어/One Last Cry” (Why give your song the same English title as such a famous Brian Mcknight song? And one that isn’t even an accurate translation?) on their youtube channel:

Learned something interesting tonight!

Found out what was causing my macbook to freeze and crash! It’s so crazy when your screen goes one shade darker and then ceases to move…

The culprit explained. Unplug my MBox2 Mini interface only after the computer has shut down and also make sure all my inputs/outputs are set to internal before turning off. I plugged it in tonight after turning the computer on though, so we’ll see if I get another kernel panic… I’m kind of scared.

Blast you, technological glitches that I can’t quite wrap my head around but can only flub my way around!! Mosquitoes, circular sports objects and electronic currents are my nemeses.

Barbra on performance

Recently, I’ve been lucky enough to run into random performers while out and about in Seoul. One not-yet-debuted group while jogging along the Han River, and another while walking with my small group girls around Nami Island. Neither are super big in terms of fame or following, but I exchanged business cards with the managers and got a word in about a possible interview later on. I’ve also mentioned and asked the leader of a fairly established local indie band for an interview as well.

As I’m thinking about what questions to ask, ideas of performance definitely come into play. Here’s an excerpt from an Oprah interview with Barbra Streisand (emphasis added by me):

O: In the coming months, what are you looking forward to?

B: On tour I want to be in the moment and really appreciate the love that’s given to me. During my last tour, when I kicked off my shoes and said whatever I wanted, I actually enjoyed myself. Performing is not about perfection. I could never perform live if it were. For me, it’s about raising the money to do good in the world. It’s about self-acceptance. It’s about believing that I am enough.
O Talks Collection, October 2006

For a singing legend who also has an almost notorious reputation as a perfectionist and well knows it, those baldfaced words seem just as much a revelation as a simple remark. I think for someone who’s had a gap of almost three decades between public concerts, that admittance on live performance has taken quite a journey to not only realize but come to terms with.

Anyway, compiling a list of interview questions, finding a dependable interpreter partner. Those are part of my tasks for this week!

Craving time?


Photo credit: getzat @

Living in the present is […] nearly impossible in a modern city, which always hungers for the future and eats the past.

-The Recording Angel, pg. 36

Silence in the city

The city is no place for listening to records. Half the time one has to use them as shields against other people’s sounds. Music becomes a substitute for silence.

The Recording Angel, pg. 36

What do you think?

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