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[WS] United Asia What???

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

Photo Credit: Sports Seoul, MTVk

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.

Source: CNA
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Other sources: MTVkKBS Global; Korean Source: Nate

Thoughts on 2NE1’s “Lonely”

Less than a month ago, YG’s main girl group 2NE1 released the digital single, “Lonely.” It’s a fun, fresh track, in two senses: It’s a nice contrast against the tide of poppy and/or electronic-based songs that has saturated the Korean gayo (domestic pop music) market, which YG is well aware of; people who have succeeded in pop music know that it’s as much about contrasting against what’s dominant in the market as keeping in mind the mainstream taste of the public, and YG’s top male group Big Bang also voiced their same intention of going against the electric tide with their recent release of “Tonight,” their fourth mini-album from February of this year. It’s also a different sound for the 2NE1 girls themselves, who rode the pop dance wave albeit with heavier beats.

However, I do have a few qualms with the song. You’ll notice that it’s an acoustic track, pretty much all string sounds with the guitar as the main and some background (synth?) orchestral strings. No rhythm instruments like drums or beat tracks. With this change in sound, the instrumental being literally instrumental, I find the entry of some of the vocals to be too piercing for the song, especially CL’s. (She has the first few lines of the song, but also check out 0:25.)

When listening to the song for the first time, it seemed to me as if the girls couldn’t shake off their in-your-face club style of singing. Some would say that these vocal qualities are what make 2NE1 recognizable, and while this may be true, I think retaining the same singing approach is at the expense of a singer’s skill to gauge a song as well as compromising the song itself. It is understandable to employ a forceful, even, penetrating technique when you’re backed by boomy basses and rainbow synths, but for a more sensitive song, I think the sound could have been adjusted to reflect this change while still remaining strong (like at 1:47). Instead, the voice of member Sandara Park (0:21), who has the weakest vocals of the group, comes off as the most fitting, although Minji’s vocals (0:11) are a nice medium.

Actually, I find the most enjoyable part of the song to be the lyrics. While typical “lonely” songs sung by pop groups are talking about being abandoned by or apart from the other party, 2NE1’s “Lonely” is expressing the feelings of loneliness and restlessness even when you’re in a caring relationship. It kind of follows in the vein of American female singers’ “gentle independence” songs, e.g. Fergie’s “Big Girls Don’t Cry” and Kelly Clarkson’s “Already Gone.” After understanding the lyrics, I found the content really refreshing and interesting. In that respect, “Lonely” is really different and rather mature compared to other songs around. To listen to the song along with the lyrics and translation:

All in all, it’s a decent track that’s recognizable thanks to the titular chorus and YG magic. While I wasn’t totally satisfied with the delivery of the song, the girls’ vocals are steady as ever, and they’re enjoying continued success with “Lonely.” It’s been playing everywhere, and I even woke up to it blasting near my apartment building one morning.

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