Friday, August 24, 2012

Chad Future Brings Out the Flaws of KPop

I wanted to do a video response to DailyPSA's reaction video, but I have a lot to say about Mr. Chad Future's worldwide debut into the kpop scene. For those who are not familiar with him, I'll give you a brief history.

David Lehre or Chad Future most notably was introduced to kpop fans through a boy group by the name of Heart2Heart. This group was brought together by N'SYNC's Lance Bass and showed their kpop skills and influence in their debut music video "Facebook Official". The initial response from viewers was a mix of confusion, amusement, and negative criticism. The whole thing seemed like a parody like MTV's 2gether, but far less entertaining. To this day, I'm not completely sure if it was a joke or something serious. My mind is leaning more toward a joke. Although I heard initially from Lance Bass that this was a serious effort, but was later taken back by stating that it was a parody when the overwhelming response to the video was negative. Way to go by sticking to your product, Lance~

I guess I missed the memo that Chad Future was coming to Koreatown, but when I saw DailyPSA promoting him this past week or so, I was confused who this kid was. With a dumb name like that, I thought it was another talentless solo Korean guy. To my surprise, it was that American guy with the funky haircut in "Facebook Official". His first solo video was posted last week and the same response from Heart2Heart flooded the comment section of YouTube. It took me a while to realize that kpop's true colors were showing from the viewer reactions to the actual video.

Overall, I didn't like it at all and my dislike has nothing to do with his race or nationality. The rapping was nonsense, the choreography was silly, and some parts of the video felt unnatural. If you're wondering if it stacks up to typical kpop videos, then I would say yes. It follows your generic formula of kpop artists today with a little more racial diversity. But will this bridge the gap in the music scene, I highly doubt it as kpop fans are very harsh judges to outsiders and Chad lacks the talent to convince them otherwise. Although, he is equally if not slightly more talented than some male kpop artists with his same skill set. But because he is non-Asian, he has to go beyond the standard...unless Chad Future is actually trolling the industry with everything they dish out on a daily basis with better English.

Not only does this video point out the true low standards of the industry, it also points out the weakness in the fanbase. A former top comment explains it well:
"When you think about it, if this same concept was done by [a Kpop group], they would be sucking his or her dick and digging deep into the recesses of their soul to find some ridiculous connection that makes the song infinitely more meaningful than it actually is. Yet, because this is a white dude doing K-pop, people are either angry at the idea of it or just straight insult the whole concept."

This is the reason I had to explain my feelings toward it in such a different way. I don't care what nationality or race he is, I still wouldn't enjoy it. His take on Big Bang's "Bad Boy" was painful to listen to and I couldn't finish it. But like my previous post concerning foreigners in jrock, I find it contradicting how kpop fans label him as bad or whatever because of his race/nationality, especially when they believe that kpop is so "international". Kpop boys dish out poor choreography, unnatural music video choices, and nonsensical English and rap lines all the time, but fans eat it up without harsh criticism.

If Chad Future is a serious character, then I'll give him props for trying to bridge the international gap and being brave enough to face the rabid kpop fans alone. I won't be supporting his music anytime soon, but apparently he does have some musical supporters who can look past his race which is good for others who want to try in the future. Otherwise, I think Chad has a lot of things to work on to be taken more seriously by the rest of us.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

The Contradictory Standards in Asian Fandoms

Race has always been a slightly touchy subject in my book. I try not to get into debates about it, especially in a general sense. That's just dangerous territory and doesn't flow with the content of Muddy Cult. I have ranted some about it in concern with the Jenny Hyun and MBC incidents, but there's so much more I can say about the kpop industry and foreigners. In this rant, I want to focus on the fandom who bashes their own when it concerns the Asian entertainment and subculture.

I have thought of bringing this up earlier during cosplay season and there was a massive debate on who and who shouldn't cosplay. But I held back until I listened to Seremedy's first major Japanese album and skimmed the dumb comments of It brought back memories of ignoring anti-fans while listening to Sai, a Swedish visual kei band. Recently, Chad Future has entered the kpop scene with harsh criticism. So, why are some people so harsh to their own kind when it comes to enjoying and actively participating in a hobby they love as well? I can understand Asians from those countries being narrow minded, but, it doesn't make sense.

Let's start with cosplay standards. From what I see, it's foreigners that are guilty of trying to enforce this standard. They say you have to be a certain skin tone, weight, or even Asian to be a great cosplayer. Of course, I don't believe in these standards as a non-Asian, colored crossplayer. I've seen some amazing cosplayers that are people of color and not a size zero. I've also seen bad Asian cosplayers. It's the quality, effort, and passion you have that makes a good cosplay. If we all followed these crazy standards then no one could cosplay. Not all anime characters have Asian features, non-POC couldn't cosplay either, and people who lack certain body types couldn't join the fun either.

If you're going to be critical with these, look at yourself and see if you qualify. Most times the accusers do not. I've met two elitists or self proclaimed perfectionists who have openly criticized others' work as not being accurate to their standards yet they can't back it up in their own work. Now I'm not saying I'm the best either, I'm still learning and improving along the way. Cosplay is meant to be fun and we should try to support each other in our craft to express our love for Asian pop culture.

Next I would like to address jrock and kpop fans that criticize non-Asian visual kei bands and more recently kpop artists. Yes, there are some that exist that actually have talent and understand the basics of visual kei. Even the bands that are inspired by the genre respect it and try to show their appreciation like German bands Tokio Hotel and Cinema Bizarre. But some fans want to be all high and mighty about it when these bands get positive recognition especially from Japan. Also, this rant can apply to those who bash jrock bands that have a more western sound.

Once again, the usual accusers are wannabes who eat, breathe, and live visual kei (and kpop) in an obsessive manner. They are usually foreigners themselves. Looking back at Sai and Seremedy (and even AKADO), I don't think they even claim to be visual kei, but just inspired by the genre or just visual or glam rock. It's the fans and the media who label them as visual kei. Every country has a different label for visual bands, so there's no reason to bash them, especially since they do create decent music. Even if they didn't, because I know there are some that fail with their skill set, it shouldn't be something to use to generalize everyone's talents that try to go in the same direction. I also find it interesting that this problem only occurs when it is a non-Asian participating in such things because I haven't seen any hate on Chinese visual kei band Silver Ash. Don't they fit in the same category as they are not Japanese and visual kei originated from Japan?

It seems that having a foreign member in a band is a little more acceptable than a full band of foreigners, but even then some fans are not open to the idea. There are plenty of great jrock bands that have or had foreigners as members such as Blood Stain Child, Chemical Pictures, and Oblivion Dust. Perhaps I haven't paid too much attention to the fandom responses, but it seems like they have done well for themselves despite having a foreigner in their band.

For me, I don't mind if visual kei inspired bands and foreigners join jrock bands as long as they have talent. Music is music and it's all been borrowed from elsewhere. I can understand if there is some sort of fear of losing something special like visual kei to being exclusively Japan and I've seen that same fear when it comes to rap music being a more global genre. In the end, if you don't like foreigners being apart of the visual kei scene musically, then don't listen to it and keep your comments to yourself. Because if you say that foreigners shouldn't be apart of the visual kei world and you're a foreigner yourself, then start selling your possessions and start listening to your country's music.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Top 5 Recommended Music Videos

"STRoooONG" by DOG in the PWO
It's good to have some positive energy rock that isn't overly cute. These guys always deliver the fun aspect of jrock and I always appreciate it when they release something. The PV is a little darker than usual, but it still has their typical bizarre edits and effects incorporated throughout the video. It might seem like a little too much at times, but it fits the band's sporadic style.

"RIP" by Angelo
For some reason I get these D'espairsRay "Death Point" vibes from this song with a nice Angelo twist. I'm seriously enjoying the chemistry between these guys and it makes me love them even more. Kirito's voice sounds amazing, the guitar section is quite powerful, and Kohta and Takeo's subtle attacks really highlight the tone of this song. The video has a nice balance of story and band focus. Not too dramatic, but still emotional enough to lose yourself in the dark atmosphere. I have a feeling RETINA is going to blow BABEL out the water.

"Burning" by PHANTOM
It's been almost a year since "Hole in Your Face" and the trio has finally released their debut mini-album. You have no idea how pumped I am about this. Like many Phantom fans, I've been waiting for this moment and this video truly highlights everything I love about this group. The music is deep and emotional, matching the tone of the lyrics. The visuals match as well in a simple, but artistic way. They don't over do it with the effects and I find it interesting that there's a lack of color compared to the usual. I'm looking forward to hearing PHANTOM CITY.

"We're a Bit Different" by EvoL
Alright, once again I can understand the 2NE1 comparison, but for some reason it feels like they have something that 2NE1 lacks. I'm not sure what it is, but everything seems more. I know that totally doesn't make sense, but once you watch it perhaps it will make sense. I really love these girls and I've been listening to their first release on repeat this past week. I love their voices, style, and energy. It seems fresh despite the familiar electronic beat and the visuals of the video is quite appealing. I am looking forward to future releases by these fine ladies and I hope they don't lose their initial spark either.

"[s]hit parade" by Dali
So, I found out that this band is breaking up and I remember listening to them when all they had out PV-wise was "Placebo". I was really into Under Code and started leaning toward the label more and more when PS Company was becoming a little boring, then some bands graduated and whatnot. Anyway, this is my favorite PV from the men of Dali. The costumes are very intricate like most Under Code bands, the spotlight was a different idea, and the song has the right energy. It's a shame this band is breaking up, because there aren't many UC bands that I like anymore.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Miko vs. Kim Kwang-soo

I'm sure everyone in the kpop universe knows about the T-ara situation whether they are a fan or not of the group. I've seen comments that this is one of the biggest conflicts since Jay Park and JYP. So, I figured I'd put my two cents in there about it, since I actually enjoy T-ara's music. I was planning to do a v-log about this, but I've been facing my own unfortunate events.

It all started with "Bo Peep Bo Peep" that I started liking T-ara's music. I listened to everything that they released at that time, but I honestly never tried to learn their names. I've probably already mentioned that I'm terrible with remembering Korean names, especially if there are more than five members in a group. Their sound was fun, catchy, and actually had some sort of substance to it. Their image seemed almost contradictory to their sound, but they were easily likable to me.

In 2010, I was surprised to see the introduction of Hwayoung to the group as well as their newest video at the time for "Yayaya". Although I enjoyed this nonsensical and fun song, I was confused by the member addition. Even though I didn't know the members' names, I could tell that the line distribution with their songs wasn't even among the six members. Adding a seventh member would be ridiculous and seeing their next releases, my point was proven. They hardly utilized their newest member and their music became more like catchy hooks and lackluster substance with "Roly Poly" and "Lovey Dovey".

Finding out this year that two more members would be added to the group made me and I'm sure others very upset. I'm sure adding more members to the group wouldn't make them any better especially when only less than half of the girls sing and the material was extremely simplified. What really jarred fans about the member addition was the CEO of Core Contents Media Kim Kwang-soo who encouraged competition between the girls as well as threating their positions if the girls caused any problems. Who would've thought problems would occur? ohohoho

T-ara has been pegged as either the hardest working female idol group as well as the laziest, but I think the lazy comment comes from Mr. Kim Kwang-soo. The girls haven't had a break since their debut in 2009 and some of the girls' schedule are packed with twelve different things in the day. I've heard accounts of exhaustion causes, the girls secretly inputting that they haven't had a break, and jokes about starvation for a promotion. From modelling, TV appearances, dramas, and music, these girls probably do more than any other girl group in a day and KKS wants to call them lazy!

I thought SM Entertainment was the evil of evil, but this guy is a slave driver and apparently this isn't his first offense with a group either. So, what brought about this post against him is the situation with Hwayoung's departure that has gone completely out of control. Recently, Hwayoung decided not to attend a performance for Music Bank which a couple of the members had to learn her parts and rework choreography to make up for her absence. There were Twitter posts from some of the girls questioning her determination pertaining the group and she responded with her own reply. This brought up the subject of potential bullying within the group. There hasn't been much hard evidence whether the bullying situation occurred or not and we will probably never know, but fans and anti-fans have drawn their own conclusions on the matter causing a T-ara disbanding petition, fan cafes shutting down, netizens demanding them to be removed from guest appearances on TV, and several endorsements to be pulled from the members. It seems the majority are putting the blame on the girls for this shit storm of drama, but the real root of the problem is Kim Kwang-soo's lack of professionalism.

I already mentioned that I thought Hwayoung's addition seemed and was proven pointless until the release of "Day by Day" this year. KKS obviously doesn't know how to utilize the members he has and help build their skills to be better than other top female idol groups. Adding more members to the mix just causes more problems and as proven by the charts, makes you lose your ranking as a popular act among the masses. This is the reason I don't like too many members in a group. Perhaps I should call it the Pussycat Dolls method where only certain people sing and everyone else is just dance filler. Along with the useless member additions, the latest additions have an age gap between the existing members and I believe it's Dani that lacks a lot of skill that I'm pretty sure KKS isn't going to take care of. She's not a very good rapper and she appears to lack the ability to converse in Korean. This could cause a lot of problems with the already unsettle chemistry with the girls and having a threat thrown their way by the CEO isn't going to help.

Pertaining the tweets, KKS was too late to do the damage control that fans and antis have formulated and his cover ups were a complete failure. It was obvious everything he said was complete bs since he would change his story to a point. First, the girls' Twitter accounts were hacked, then he discussed the bullying situation that never occurred and threw the whole determination nonsense that Hwayoung seemed to be lacking. He later adds that Hwayoung contract termination was due to her "diva" attitude and that there were complaints from stylists and other staff members. They honestly shouldn't have any power over such decisions, but it's KKS. He also says that the testimonies from dancers and other staff members that support Hwayoung's case were false. While he was doing a poor job of cleaning up the mess fans and himself had made, he wanted to continue with their concert and promotions, but finally decided to postpone it for next year...if the girls actually survive this nonsense. I guess he got the hint after fans demanded refunds for their concert tickets. To make matters worse and a bit confusing was when Eunjung gave a thank you and apology message to the fans. It seemed a bit out of place and possibly unnecessary. Even more suspicious was Hwayoung's apology to the fans as well that seemed forced. Those who have been paying close attention to KKS's puppetry work may suspect some foul yakuza play going on between him, Hwayoung, and possibly her family. There was a subtle threat in one of his messages to her about her keeping her mouth shut, but on the other hand, he also offers to support her entertainment career if she accepts her wrongdoings. I honestly hope she doesn't go back to him either.

Aside from KKS being a lousy CEO, places like AllKPop are totally not helping the situation either by offering fans tabloid-esque information on such a serious situation that may involve bullying. Fans eat up the information they get without thinking and immediately lash out without logically thinking everything out. Of course, antis are quick to jump in as well since they feed off drama and negativity whenever they get the chance. I'm sure places like that do provide some good information but sometimes you can tell they're in it for the hit counts on their site. Sometimes their information isn't carefully researched either and have errors or contradicting statements. You have to have a good eye on how to weed out the bs from such articles or you get exaggerated narratives from fans and antis. Fans also need to stop making up bullying evidence as well from variety shows and hidden messages in tweets. Anything could be considered something else when taken out of context.

I think fans need to chill out for a moment and really look at the situation with the girls, Hwayoung, and Kim Kwang-soo. If you're going to be pointing fingers at anyone, it should be the CEO who has added all the stress, competitive attitudes, and drama. If he made better decisions for the direction of T-ara and even the member additions, perhaps things would be better now for everyone. For now, they will definitely have a hard time coming back from this.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Top 5 Recommended Music Videos

I was going to post this last week before this catchy tune went viral, but I couldn't find enough recent videos that were worth recommending. Anyway, I honestly don't like PSY's music, but this is quite ridiculously catchy with a silly dance. I'm glad that people outside of the fandom find this entertaining and worth sharing. It's a fairly amusing video and the song is pretty decent. Don't think I'll become a PSY fan though. I'll stick with SAN E, thanks. ^^;

"Stand in the World" by HEAD PHONES PRESIDENT
This isn't my favorite song from their latest album, but it's still pretty amazing. They haven't lost their touch and Anza is as ferocious as ever. I love her presence and emotional vocals. The music helps emphasize the tone and the simplistic video gives enough mental stimulation to piece everything together.

"Beautiful Night" by B2ST
Once again, another group did a better job than Big Bang on utilizing their abroad surroundings in a video. There's even some damn diversity in the people too! I love B2ST and I was excited to see something more upbeat and fun, not that I didn't enjoy what they had before or anything. The video is great and definitely shares the same energy as the song. Cool, fresh, and energetic. A perfect summer song, right? The styling is a little off, but it's easily forgivable since everything is right.

"I'm Missin' You" by D-UNIT
I'm sure a lot of people are comparing this rookie girl group to 2NE1 and I can see it. If you're denying it right now and you can definitely hear some similarities, I'll tell you the reason why. KUSH put his hands all over this track. The styling is simple and tomboyish. The video isn't super flashy, so it matches the tone of the message. The song is catchy and has a decent balance of electro-pop and hip-hop. The girls definitely have potential and hopefully they break out of the comparison shadow because there are differences in their vocals and style. Looking forward to more.

"sink" by 9GOATS BLACK OUT
It was announced recently that this band will be disbanding and I'm quite saddened by this. Although they hit a slight bland phase in their career, the spark was slowly emerging again. Nonetheless, this PV was their first and it sparked an immediate love for me. It's also my favorite from the trio. It's a very calming, beautiful, and somewhat sorrowful song that has great, artistic imagery to accompany it.