Category Archives: articles
Ack ack ack ack ack ack ack ack!
I’m over the moon about this, you guys. I seriously think it needs to happen.
I get email alerts from the Grammy Museum, and today I saw one on an initiative called Give Fans the Credit. It’s for:
Real music fans want to know who wrote, produced, and played on their favorite tracks. Making credits available so that fans can find out what other songs a songwriter wrote or a producer produced will lead to more music discovery.
The Recording Academy®, the organization internationally known for the GRAMMY® Awards, has launched “Give Fans The Credit” – a new campaign that helps enhance fans’ discovery of new music by working to ensure all music creators are credited for their work on digitally released recordings. Honorary Ambassadors for this campaign include: 12-time GRAMMY-winning producer T Bone Burnett; GRAMMY-winning songwriter Lamont Dozier; singer/songwriter/percussionist Sheila E; singer/songwriter Skylar Grey; five-time GRAMMY-winning producer/songwriter Jimmy Jam; two-time GRAMMY-winning producer/songwriter RedOne; GRAMMY-winning singer/songwriter, producer and multi-instrumentalist Ryan Tedder, and three-time GRAMMY-winning producer Don Was.
An online petition for fans to sign along with further information is available at www.givefansthecredit.com. Get involved and help us convince digital music services to let fans know who made the music they enjoy!
Honestly, this accreditation is so long overdue. On my music blog, I got slammed once for putting up the wrong co-songwriter credit on a Jason Mraz, which I had pulled from Wikipedia (I had searched multiple sites and Wiki seemed the best out of the ones I found). And it was so bogus because Wiki then started using my blog post as a citation source! The internet is just a whirlpool of very potentially bogus information, especially when it comes to truth and origins of data, so trustworthy sources and authorities in different fields really need to be available.
Back to my blog story, I only found out who the proper songwriters were from a tip someone left in the comments – music performing rights royalty organizations like ASCAP, BMI and SESAC have a search portion of their site where you can verify who actually worked on a song, but it’s a big hassle (and in some cases, there’s still a disclaimer regarding accuracy of information!). Because each person involved may be under a different music organization, you may end up having to search all three sites using different terms to find what you want. And think of what search errors you can find if you’re looking for a song with a very common title, or that has been remade by the same artist!
This kind of information should be available, for matters of verification as well as for the benefit of fans. I can’t think of a person in music who wouldn’t want their name to be credited in their work, and it doesn’t sound at all difficult for digital music services to add on. I’m sure all the documentation exists already, so a lot of it would just be some sort of copy/paste algorithm to have the information automatically attached to songs.
One of the primary plusses of the internet and digital services is that they’re supposed to make things easy and convenient for users. This sort of feature would really add to that aspect, and I see it as incredibly beneficial to anyone involved and/or interested in music: A dance fan who loves the production on a catchy track can search by production team and find more songs in the same vein. You’re a songwriter and you think a song is dope; now you can find the names of whom you would potentially want to work with. A young listener, inspired by a certain sound, finds out who’s playing guitar on a track and can easily locate other songs the guitarist has played on.
If you’re into this, please please please get involved and sign online – it’s so easy, all you enter is your name and a valid e-mail address.
They’re bringing the singing competition show, The Voice, to Korea!
Kangta is appearing on Mnet’s “The Voice of Korea” as one of the coaches, along with singers Shin Seung Hoon, Baek Ji Young, and Leessang’s Gil. […]
“The Voice of Korea” is the officially licensed Korean version of music survival program “The Voice.” “The Voice” is originally from Holland and aired as “The Voice of Holland” on September 17, 2010. Mnet’s “The Voice of Korea” will air its pilot episode on on February 10 at 11PM KST.
via Soompi’s Kangta Wishes to Make 2nd Generation H.O.T..
I was first introduced to The Voice last summer, when I was still in Korea, watching it through Hulu as it aired in the U.S. under NBC. I was hooked by the blind auditions phase and have proudly reeled in other friends to watch it as well. While in Korea, I told my apartmentmates about it, and just this past winter break I got a friend who was visiting me sucked in! Can’t wait until it restarts on Feb. 5th.
Now that I know there’s a Korean version coming out as well, I’ll be keeping my eye out for it. Korea has some really great singers, but it’s interesting that none of the chosen coaches are “really big” vocalists in terms of belting out or vocal aerobics.
Kangta’s a pop crooner, Shin Seung Hoon and Baek Ji Young are balladeers, and Gil is a rapper…
Well, it should be fun still! It’s always interesting to see the coaches’ style and abilities in drawing out the best in their teams. (Did you know Kangta has been a judge/mentor on a similar show before? There are some old clips where Junsu, formerly of TVXQ, and Eunhyuk of Super Junior auditioned and then placed on teams).
Kind of obnoxious that in the U.S., we get to call the show simply “The Voice,” whereas other places have to tack on their country name. I guess we did have the biggest judge lineup though. Personally, I enjoyed Ceelo and Blake.
Did any of you have a favorite coach?
I wrote a piece for Seoulist that recently got released on their website after Seoul had its first “real” snowfall. It’s a mix of ten songs in a number of genres, ranging from fun to thoughtful. The youtube link hosts the playlist that allows you to listen to all the songs in succession. Read on for the article:
The first snow, like many events and holidays in South Korea, possesses a romantic leaning. Aside from themes of innocence and purity, the first snow of the season especially signifies first love, pulling many into the realm of nostalgia, but can also simply denote the meeting of lovers.
Depending on which side of the K-drama coin you fall on, that kind of romantic takeover can either have you compulsively grabbing the next Korean hottie you meet to make a K-drama of your own, or hidey-holing in your one room, Armageddon-style, until the utter chaos of Valentine’s Part IV (a.k.a. Christmas) is officially over.
Whether you’re a starry-eyed newcomer to Seoul or a longtime scoffer whose eyes only see plastics and crazies, my hope is that you’ll get to indulge, even embrace, both sides of that diametric psyche, while learning a little more about K-pop in the process. Now turn down the lights, cozy up with your honey (or cry into your soju), and give this mix a whirl.
1. Hope by Yiruma (이루마)
To start us off is this instrumental piece by Yiruma, a Korean pianist and composer. Yiruma is well known for songs that have become themes to some of the biggest Korean dramas, and Kiss the Rainfrom his 2003 album is still one of the prettiest, most wistful melodies I’ve ever heard. “Hope” is from his 2008 album, P.N.O.N.I, and is a fitting sonic backdrop to the first snowfall, which seems to always pull you back to that first time you saw the world turn white.
2. Can I Love You (사랑해도 될까요) by Yurisangja (유리상자)
Beginning the vocal tracks is this guitar-tinged ballad from Yurisangja. A male duo formed in 1997, Yurisangja is known for their sweet songs and gentle vocals. This track was released in 2001 and is one of those classic confession songs about a man tentatively revealing his love.
3. Fate (인연) by Lee Seon Hee (이선희)
We go from old school to ancient in this song by Lee Seon Hee, former trot singer and mentor of popular singer Lee Seung Gi (이승기). And just to clarify, by ancient, I’m referring to the context of the song, not the singer. The theme song of 2005 runaway hit and historical film, The King and the Clown, “Fate” employs traditional Korean instruments and Lee Seon Hee’s clear vocals. Personally, I love how the track gracefully walks the line between joy and despair. Watch the subbed video with scenes from movie (very beginning is cut off).
4. First Snow, First Kiss (첫 눈 그리고 첫 키스) by Yoseob from B2ST (요섭, 비스트) & Drama of Dalmation (드라마, 달마시안)
Taking a step back (or should I saw forward?) from sounds of the past, we jump into a song that is thoroughly modern pop. In the spirit of innocent first love, “First Snow, First Kiss” fits all the criteria. It’s fluffy and light, and if you’ve been wondering what first snow is about, this song is here to tell you. Both of these boys are from groups who have released some fun songs, and together they make a pretty catchy mid-tempo track.
5. That Place from the Start (처음 그 자리에) by Lee Boram (이보람)
This song is also sweet and light, but takes a turn coming from the female perspective with Lee Boram, vocalist of female group Seeya. The charming opening chords and lilting beat might sound familiar to fans of the 2004 K-drama, Full House, which helped shoot Bi and Song Hye Kyo to the forefront of the Hallyu Wave.
6. Confession (고백) by Hot Potato (뜨거운 감자)
Back to confessions! But here’s the updated contemporary male, as voiced by indie band Hot Potato (Ithink the name sounds better in Korean… maybe). This song saw a lot of exposure last year after it was released in mid-2010. I’m guessing listeners were charmed by the conversational lyrics and the fun, offbeat arrangement.
7. Let It Snow by S.E.S
It wouldn’t be fair to make a K-pop playlist without giving a nod to the original pop players. S.E.S, a female trio under SM Entertainment, debuted in 1997 and was the first modern idol girl group in South Korea. Their success helped pave the way for other girl groups like Fin.K.L (which Lee Hyori was in), and every now and then Girls Generation/SNSD (소녀시대) will perform one of their songs in homage to their company seonbae’s (선배, or senior). SM has been releasing seasonal group compilations for a while, and “Let It Snow” is from the 2000 SM Town winter album. That’s just over ten years ago, but I can almost guarantee you that today’s idols were listening to this as they thought of falling in love around Christmastime. At least the older ones. Ten years is a long time in K-pop. (Wants the lyrics? Click here.)
8. Loved Even the Pain (그 아픔까지 사랑한거야) by Jo Sung Mo (조성모)
This song has seen so many remakes that I think it was originally performed by Jo Seong Hyun (조성현) in 1989. Since then, a number of male vocalists, from crooner Sung Si Kyung (성시경) to most recentlySuper Star K Season 3 contestant Min Hoon Gi (민훈기) have done their own covers. There’s something old-fashioned about the melody and the lyrics read like a love poem, so I don’t know if this song will ever be able to get away from sounding sentimental. But it’s a good kind of sentimental, if you’re in the mood for it, expressing that idealized unrequited love that Koreans do so well, and the titular line just makes it. I’ve chosen balladeer Jo Sung Mo’s 2000 version for his expressive vocals. (Translated lyrics here.)
9. Snow Flower (눈의꽃) by Park Hyo Shin (박효신)
Another song tied to a successful Korean drama, “Snow Flower” was the theme song of 2004’s I’m Sorry, I Love You (미안하다, 사랑한다). Okay, so that drama was incredibly sad, but the song is great, if bittersweet. Actually a remake of Japanese singer Mika Nakashima’s Yuki no Hana (雪の華, also meaning Snow Flower), it showcases Park Hyo Shin’s haunting vocals. Park is reputed as one of best singers in Korea, and I’d likely jump on that boat. Honestly, that man needs to get on Survival, I Am a Singer as soon as he’s released from the army.
10. Eve by Yiruma
Ending this list on a reflective note is this twinkly piece, also from Yiruma’s 2008 album. It can be heard as either dark or light, lonely or romantic, depending on your mood. But despite its slower tempo, it doesn’t sound like things coming to an end, only winding down. It carries a hint of something to come, which is a great way to approach the first snow, whether you’ve got someone to hold hands with or you’re still waiting for your magic moment.
Interesting. NY Times writer “reviews” SM Town’s Sunday performance but seems to try to keep opinions as neutral as possible. Doesn’t say much in the way of music or performance other than naming a lot of other entertainers to compare the Korean ones to.
The article really reads more like a restrained intro into K-pop, all of which is understandable I suppose, coming from a Western writer and geared for an audience likely unfamiliar with Korean music. I still would’ve appreciated more of an opinion though. The most interesting comment I read was in the opening paragraph about America being “a country that’s still starving for them [teen pop stars/idols],” but unfortunately Mr. Caramanica doesn’t elaborate further.
Read on for the actual article from nytimes.com:
Korean Pop Machine, Running on Innocence and Hair Gel
This is a little old, from back in April, but it still unsettles me. While goals of cooperation and sharing know-how sound nice enough, and can be great in and of themselves, this new organization seems like it will only augment the Korean market’s greatest weaknesses, the lack of competition and (perhaps therefore) diversity. The Korean music industry’s tendency for hyper control and monopolization doesn’t help either. If you don’t know what I’m referring to, read on:
Top Korean talent agencies form new comapany to push K-pop overseas
SEOUL: Korean superstar Bae Yong Joon’s talent agency KEYEAST Entertainment revealed Friday that it will form United Asia Management (UAM) in conjunction with five other top Korean talent agencies to push K-pop overseas, reported Korean media.
KEYEAST Entertainment’s partners are Korean talent agencies MEnt, Star J Entertainment, SM Entertainment, YG Entertainment and JYP Entertainment.
“We will be pooling each company’s business knowledge and network systems to form the foundation of our new agency.
“We are looking forward to this collaboration and the synergies it will bring for the advancement of not only Korea’s entertainment industry, but Asia’s as well,” KEYEAST Entertainment CEO Yang Geun Hwan was quoted as saying.
UAM will represent artistes currently managed by all the six companies involved, on the Asian stage.
This move will effectively bring K-pop luminaries like Rain, Big Bang, Kim Hyun Joong, Super Junior, Girl’s Generation and the Wonder Girls under one management agency when they are promoted outside Korea in Asia.
According to a press statement from KEYEAST Entertainment, UAM will also manage the international copyrights of its stars as well as implement a new media production system for dramas, films and other media projects.
By Lucy Williamson
BBC News, Seoul
South Korea’s pop industry is big business in Asia. As K-Pop sets its sights on Europe and the US, will this force a change in the way it treats its artists?
Selling singles is no way for a pop star to make money these days. Most artists find that touring and merchandise sales are more lucrative. So when it comes to concerts, size matters.
Teenage crushes come here for a once-a-year date in a national love story, where commitment is measured in coloured balloons, and devotion is knowing all the words.
But the industry also has a less glamorous side: a history of controversy and legal disputes over the way it treats its young artists, which it is still struggling to shake.
K-Pop is a massive industry: global sales were worth over $30m (£18m) in 2009, and that figure is likely to have doubled last year, according to a government website.
Industry leaders are also ambitious – Korean stars are beating a path to Japan, America and Europe. This month, South Korea’s biggest production company, SM Entertainment, held its first European concert in Paris, part of a year-long world tour.
In April, Korea’s king of pop, Rain, was voted the most influential person of the year by readers of Time magazine. And earlier this year, boy band Big Bang reached the top 10 album chart on US iTunes.
Follow the moneyKorea is excited by what this new musical export could do for its image – and its economy.
But some of K-Pop’s biggest success stories were built on the back of so-called slave contracts, which tied its trainee-stars into long exclusive deals, with little control or financial reward.
Two years ago, one of its most successful groups, Dong Bang Shin Ki, took its management company to court, on the grounds that their 13-year-contract was too long, too restrictive, and gave them almost none of the profits from their success.
The court came down on their side, and the ruling prompted the Fair Trade Commission to issue a “model contract” to try to improve the deal artists got from their management companies.
Industry insiders say the rising success of K-Pop abroad, and experience with foreign music companies, has also helped push for change.
“Until now, there hasn’t been much of a culture of hard negotiation in Asia, especially if you’re new to the industry,” says Sang-hyuk Im, an entertainment lawyer who represents both music companies and artists.
Attitudes are changing, he says, but there are some things that even new contracts and new attitudes cannot fix.
Rainbow is a seven-member girl-band, each singer named after a different colour. If any group could lead to a pot of gold, you would think they would.
But Rainbow – currently in a seven-year contract with their management company, DSP – say that, despite working long hours for almost two years, their parents were “heartbroken” at how little they were getting paid.
A director for DSP says they do share profits with the group, but admits that after the company recoups its costs, there is sometimes little left for the performers.
K-Pop is expensive to produce. The groups are highly manufactured, and can require a team of managers, choreographers and wardrobe assistants, as well as years of singing lessons, dance training, accommodation and living expenses.
The bill can add up to several hundred thousand dollars. Depending on the group, some estimates say it is more like a million.
Musical exportsBut music sales in South Korea alone do not recoup that investment. For all their passion, home-grown fans are not paying enough for K-Pop.
The CD industry is stagnant, and digital music sites are seen as vastly underpriced, with some charging just a few cents a song.
Bernie Cho, head of music distribution label DFSB Kollective, says online music sellers have dropped their prices too low in a bid to compete with pirated music sites.
“But how do you slice a fraction of a penny, and give that to the artist? You can’t do it,” he says.
With downward pressure on music prices at home, “many top artists make more money from one week in Japan than they do in one year in Korea”, Mr Cho says.
Company representatives say concerts and advertising bring in far more than music sales. “Overseas markets have been good to us,” says one spokesman. South Korean musicians need to perform on home turf, but “Japan is where all the money is”.
As acts start to make money overseas, he says this “broken business model” – underpricing – is creeping into their activities abroad.
A former policy director at South Korea’s main artists’ union, Moon Jae-gap, believes the industry will go through a major upheaval. “Because at the moment, it’s not sustainable,” he says.
Until that happens, he says, artists will continue to have difficulty making a living.
South Korea’s government is keen to promote its new international identity, one many hope could rival Japan’s cool cultural image.
The only question is whether the industry ends up more famous for its music, or for its problems.
K-pop drives hallyu craze: survey
English speakers favor Super Junior, French and Spanish are Big Bang fans
By Kim Yoon-mi (firstname.lastname@example.org), 2011-06-13 18:31
Korean pop, or K-pop, is driving the Korean Wave abroad and Asian women in their 20s make up the majority of overseas hallyu fans, a survey found on Monday.
The Korea Tourism Organization conducted the online hallyu survey on 12,085 non-Korean visitors from 102 countries to its website (www.visitkorea.or.kr) from May 11 to May 31, to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the website. The survey asked seven questions related to the Korean Wave in eight languages ― English, Japanese, traditional Chinese, simplified Chinese, German, French, Spanish and Russian ― on the site, via e-mail and on social networking services such as Twitter and Facebook.
Asked to select a category of hallyu that interests them, 55 percent of respondents, 6,447 people, picked K-pop. This was followed by TV drama with 33 percent, film with 6 percent and others with 7 percent. Others included TV variety shows such as KBS’ “2 Days & 1 Night,” Korean food, shopping and cosmetics.
Out of the 12,085 respondents, 9,253 were from Asia, 2,158 from Europe, 502 from the Americas, 112 from Africa and 60 from Oceania.
By age group, 49 percent of the respondents were in their twenties, followed by those in their thirties at 18 percent, teenagers at 17 percent and those in their forties at 8 percent.
By gender, 90 percent or 10,826 respondents were female.
Asked which hallyu celebrity they wish to travel with in Korea among 30 stars or groups recommended by the KTO, the highest proportion of 13 percent chose the 13-member boyband Super Junior. Five-member band Big Bang came second with 9 percent, followed by JYJ with 7 percent, TVXQ with 5 percent and Girls’ Generation with 4 percent.
The interest in hallyu celebrity differed from language to language. English speakers favored Super Junior, while French and Spanish users preferred Big Bang. German speakers favored actress Kim Tae-hee and Japanese, actor Bae Yong-joon.
Japanese users showed more interest in TV drama than in K-pop and more than 50 percent of Japanese respondents were women in their 40s and 50s. Japanese in their 20s and 30s showed the strongest interest in K-pop.
Among the French speaking respondents, K-pop fans were mostly teenagers or in their 20s, and preferred going to amusement parks or karaoke to experiencing Korea’s traditional culture and history, the KTO said.
Foreign respondents overseas picked Seoul and Jeju Island as the travel destination in Korea that they would like to visit with their hallyu star.
Source: Korea Herald online
Not again!! I guess when someone told me everyone has gotten something done, he really meant everyone. While everyone in the entertainment industry is suspect, Kim Hyun Joong was one I thought who had a good shot at being a “natural.” …I’ll just shake my head for a few minutes and then move on.
For those who might not know: Kim Hyunjoong was the former leader of five-member boy band SS501, which was under DSP Entertainment (DSP tends to copy SM Entertainment in a form of combat; SS501 seemed to be their response to SM’s Dong Bang Shin Gi). He was the most popular member, known for his flower boy looks and 4D personality, and his popularity only increased after entering into acting. Now, with a few K-dramas under his belt, he’s endeavoring to take his career to new heights, continuing as a solo act under a new company after SS501’s contract ended almost exactly one year ago.
Kim Hyun Joong Admits to Plastic Surgery for First Time
In a shocking revelation, singer/actor Kim Hyun Joong admitted for the first time to having gone through plastic surgery on Thursday’s MBC “Knee-Drop Guru.”
For his flower boy image and clear-cut features, Kim Hyun Joong carries the nickname “Walking Sculpture.” So during the show, Kang Ho Dong, the MC of “Knee-Drop Guru,” asked Kim Hyun Joong, “Is the ‘Walking Sculpture’ a work of god or a doctor (plastic surgeon)?”
Without much hesitation, Kim Hyun Joong answered, “It’s god-given but the doctor put the finishing touch on it.”
He further explained, “I broke my nose a long time ago after getting hit by a stone. So I got the bones fixed and a little nose job done.” Throughout the interview, he seemed very confident with his looks as he went as far to state, that “I’m very satisfied with my looks. Can’t you just tell? I wouldn’t switch it with Yoo Sae Yoon (the co-host of the show).”
On Thursday’s episode, Kim Hyun Joong also talked about his decision to sign with Key East Entertainment, what it’s like to work with Bae Yong Joong (head of Key East), and thoughts on his growing popularity.
The former SS501 leader has released his first solo mini album “Break Down” on June 7th simultaneously across the entire Asian region. The first showcase for his new album was held yesterday following the release of the MV for “Break Down.”
Source: soompi.com Music News
To be honest and to state it plainly, I don’t like cosmetic plastic surgery. I don’t like the subscription to a mainstream mode of beauty that furthers itself, I don’t think it makes people look better, and for those who are singers, I don’t know why you would do anything that could even possibly affect your sound. I’m not judging or holding it against those who have done it, and I know that there’s an immense amount of pressure and competition, but I just tend to feel at least a little disappointed. Especially for those who are singers, as I view it as compromising the music. However, I do appreciate when they admit to it rather than keep up a front.
Anyway, aside from his pretty boy looks, the boy does have a compelling entertainment personality, as fans of his segment on the variety show “We Got Married” can attest to, and he seems to be an average nice guy compared to people who take celebrity to its heights. Has a frank manner, as evidenced by his admission of going under the knife, and he even spotted and called out a collapsed fan at his recent showcase.
For those who want to see his new image and MV, here’s the video for “Break Down.” Personally, the new look, dance and sound reminds me of Se7en.
It’s always a plus for Korean celebrities if they can speak English well. At least, a glowing article about it always seems to surface, commenting on how impressive the actor or actress is. I remember spotting something a few years ago when Andy, the youngest member of boy band Shinhwa, had his own ten-second segment of English.
The most recent fuss has been over Park Yoochun, former Dong Bang Shin Ki (DBSK) and current JYJ member. For those who don’t remember, DBSK was the biggest boy band of the current K-pop generation until three of the members, including Yoochun, decided to engage in legal action against their entertainment company. Since then, the three boys have been effectively barred from music activities and Korean broadcast. Having been forced to turn to other outlets, each has been venturing into different fields, and Park Yoochun has been fairly successful having entered into the world of Korean dramas. Acting is not at all a bad choice though. While most Asian pop stars have a finger in all parts of the entertainment pie, the move from music to acting seems almost necessary in Korea with idol careers having such short life spans.
To be honest, as a past fan, Park Yoochun has always been my least favorite member of DBSK. But it’s interesting, and a good thing, I think, to see how these three are doing outside of and in spite of the antagonism from their former entertainment company, the ever-looming SM. So I watched his English speaking clip for fun, and while his accent isn’t bad! (he spent a few years in the USA), it always gets me, the way he pronounces his r’s. Things like “fur” or come out sounding like “fer.” It’s just so pronounced, and I suspect it might be because of the general difficulty Koreans (and Japanese) have with pronouncing r’s, as differentiated form l’s. This particular pronunciation comes out like an overcompensation from someone who’s tried to, or been trained to, overcome that phonetic hurdle.
Just to clear any potential air, this post is not meant to be malicious and is not to belittle this person’s English (even if I am amused) or Koreans’ English in general, at all. As you can see from the video clip, some of his gestures and emphases are off as well… but it makes me wonder how cautious and/or horrified I should be about how my own Korean may come off to the native Koreans around me.
Anyway, to conclude in a slightly more academic way :) – just another instance of the English language and its pedestal-ized place in Korean society (in the drama, associated with wealth, power, position, status; also approved and continued with article and viewers’ reactions). Also evidence of why it’s so difficult for Korean pop stars who aspire to make it in the US market; even for those considered to have an impressive grasp of English, the accent and language usage comes off as awkward to native English speakers, in a way that is generally “unsexy,” an opposite impression compared to people of European origins. I wonder if it is that difficult or overlooked to get a proper language consultant for these Korean celebrities (I’m serious – language and mannerism is such a big factor in the impressions of Korean pop stars who want to “make it” in America.)
For the original article I read, taken from soompi.com: Park Yoochun Impresses Viewers with his English on “Miss Ripley”
Asian stars copy Korean look, sound
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