Jinbo – KRNB
Release: August 29, 2012
Distributor: Independent (released for free via Bandcamp)
Note: The artist has released this album for free here: http://jinbothesuperfreak.bandcamp.com/
Jinbo has been prolific since his masterful 2010 album Afterwork, but KRNB (pronounced Korean-B) is his first actual release since then. It’s a done-to-death approach on paper: take a handful of hit songs, change them up some, then release as a remake album. But Jinbo approaches that “change them up” part from a totally different direction; rather than merely adding new arrangements or employing samples, he elects to rebuild songs from the ground up, keeping only the fundamentals. It results in an interesting balance, where you can just barely recognize a theme here or there, but most songs sound like they may as well be unrelated.
It’s a curious selection of tracks, as well. Most of them are 1990s ballads and pop tunes, but there’s also a handful of good idol music – to the tune of SNSD, BoA, 2NE1, and Taeyang. Regardless of source, all of the songs go through a rebirth into various shades of urban R&B. The creativity in these transformations is palpable. SNSD’s infectiously cheery Gee becomes Damn, a sticky slow jam that even remixes clips of actual SNSD members’ voices (according to Jinbo, he recorded these during an interview with the girls as he explained his song’s concept) to build a tastefully suggestive narrative. Kim Gun-mo‘s 빨간 우산 (Red Umbrella) becomes 아름다운 그녀 (She’s Beautiful), a groove-heavy funk track. BoA’s Game becomes Love Game, which keeps the original’s exhilaration but achieves it with a buzzing neo soul instrumentation. And so on.
If you’re looking for Afterwork’s breathtaking sound design, you won’t find it here. Instead, you’ll be getting an ideal of how remakes should be done – not a mere new coat of paint, but a proactive, imaginative reinterpretation. The ability to do this sets producers like Kanye West and Bangladesh apart. Jinbo is now getting to that level.
Tracklist (recommended tracks listed in bold)
1. Intro: KRNB [Originally "감싸 안으며" ("Embracing") by S.E.S., 2001]
2. 아름다운 그녀 (She’s Beautiful) [Originally "빨간 우산" ("Red Umbrella") by Kim Gun-mo, 1996]
3. 알고 있었어 (I Knew) [Originally "알고있었어 (I Knew)" by Deuce, 1993]
4. I Need You Girl [Originally "I Need A Girl" by Taeyang, 2010]
5. Damn [Originally "Gee" by SNSD, 2009]
6. 너와 함께하면 행복해 (I’m Happy When I’m With You) [Originally "너와 함께한 시간속에서" ("In Time Spent With You") by Seo Taiji and the Boys, 1992]
7. Interlude: Not Too Young At All [Originally "Too Young" by Nat King Cole, 1951]
8. 나빠 (Nappa) [Originally "아파" ("It Hurts") by 2NE1, 2010]
9. Love Game [Originally "Game" by BoA, 2010]
10. Best Friend [Originally "오래된 친구" ("Old Friend") by Bitkwa Sogeum (Light and Salt), 1994]
11. 너와 함께한 시간 속에서 (In Time Spent With You), Take 3 [Originally "너와 함께한 시간속에서" ("In Time Spent With You") by Seo Taiji and the Boys, 1992]*
12. Late Night Interlude: Listen Girl [Originally "아끼지 못했던 사랑" ("Love I Couldn't Cherish") by Solid, 1995]
13. Yes and No [Originally "Yes or No" by Solid, 1996]
* This eleventh track is not included in my copy of the album – even the track numbering doesn’t acknowledge it. It appears to be included in certain review versions or copies distributed from other than Bandcamp.
FIESTAR – Vista
Release: August 31, 2012
Distributor: Loen Entertainment
Loen Entertainment is quickly becoming one of the most consistent agencies in the idol scene. The debut of FIESTAR, the company’s next ambitious project, helps that cause. This is the first Loen release in a while to not feature a Lee Min-soo track, but KZ and TEXU fill in well enough with the two colorful songs Vista and Wicked. The former takes a page out of Lee’s playbook and casts an abundance of real-session sounds ranging from brass to organ. This richness boosts the track’s bombast in the verses, pre-choruses, and lengthy bridge; it does seem like there’s a bit too much melody void in the chorus given the build-up, but it’s still an enjoyable song.
The latter is a bouncy moombahton track that dutifully follows the current hip-hop-heavy girl group trend: between Tiger JK and FIESTAR’s rappers, Wicked probably features the lengthiest rap portions of any female idol release this year. I’m actually pretty impressed by the rap tones here – Yezi does her best Yoon Mi-rae impression and Cheska embellishes with creativity – but as is the case with most idol releases, an actual judgement of lyricism is next to impossible in Wicked. Vista shows lots of promise, albeit little that we haven’t seen before.
Tracklist (recommended tracks listed in bold)
3. 달빛바다 (Sea of Moonlight) – FIESTAR version
T-ara – Mirage
Release: September 4, 2012
Distributor: Loen Entertainment
Even if it wasn’t a questionable PR decision, Mirage would still be an abortive effort. This repackage of Day By Day adds paltry little to T-ara’s discography. One new single, Sexy Love, is a Shinsadong Tiger-composed, retro-themed tune with a disco base, club tune embellishments in the form of abrasive synths, a sing-along chorus with a little oldie pop feel… in other words, the exact same thing that we’ve heard a few times too many by now. None of it is done any better than in Bo Peep Bo Peep or Lovey-Dovey. The weightless electronic sound is still limp; the chorus still achieves only the gaudiness of retro and none of its attractions; the lyrics are still unhappily stuck between excruciating triteness and F(x)-like unorthodoxy. (Not to say that Sexy Love has much in common with that group’s more interesting deconstructionism.)
The other new song, 낮과 밤 (Day And Night), is marginally better – although this one too lacks an engaging element, the performances (with two featured vocalists plus Areum, the new T-ara member) are nuanced. But there are plausible allegations that the song plagiarizes Chu Ga-yeol‘s debut single, so that’s another potential hit to a group that could ill afford any more. Mirage achieves two things: one, it proves that Areum is a serviceable (if not perfect) replacement for Hwayoung, and two, it’s yet another exhibit that shows pairing Shinsadong Tiger with this group is a really bad idea. So there’s that.
Tracklist (recommended tracks listed in bold)
1. Sexy Love
2. 낮과 밤 (Day And Night) – Featuring Gunji of Gavy NJ, Shannon
3. Day By Day
5. 떠나지마 (Don’t Go)
7. 사랑놀이 (Love Game)
Note: The views and opinions expressed in this article are solely of the individual and not of hellokpop as a whole.
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JYJ‘s Yoochun was recently voted “Best K-Pop Idol-Actor” in a poll by Kookmin News. Kookmin News asked ten drama critics to vote on who they thought was the most impressive idol actor. Yoochun snatched the number one spot after appearing in Korean dramas like Sungkyunkwan Scandal, Miss Ripley and Rooftop Prince. In the eyes of the critics he is now an actor, instead of a singer who acts. They commented:
“He is definitely the idol actor who no longer faces any sort of acting criticisms or questions.”
“He knows exactly what kind of acting he is good at.”
“He has the voice and pronunciation of a male actor.”
The second place in the poll went to A Pink‘s Eunji who debuted as an actress in Respond 1997. Other contenders were Miss A‘s Suzy and T-ara‘s Eunjung, getting the 3rd and 4th place spots, respectively.
What do you think of the results of this poll?
Following the airing of Lee Jangwoo‘s and T-ara member Eunjung‘s last episode on MBC‘s We Got Married, Lee released a special goodbye track titled Words That I Couldn’t Bear To Say on August 25 and unveiled the music video on August 27. Words That I Couldn’t Bear To Say is a heartfelt ballad track that showcases Lee’s power vocalizations and emotions towards saying goodbye. Lee Jangwoo is set to perform his song on music programs this coming September. Check out the music video below:
Girl-group T-ara debuted exactly three years ago on the 29th of July, but instead of relishing their successes thus far this year, the group has been involved in a scandal that threatens their image as a group. On the 30th of July at 1pm (KST), Core Contents Media president Kim Gwang-su announced that member Hwayoung‘s contract had been terminated, and that she would be leaving the group due to her “unacceptable behaviour”. Hwayong’s exit amidst bullying controversies have resulted in a T-ara crisis: the creation of online café T-Jinyo (We Demand the Truth from T-ara), the loss of fans on their fan café, the return of tickets to their concert, and even demands for the group to be disbanded.
T-ara originally consisted of six members: Eunjung, Hyomin, Jiyeon, Boram, Qri and Soyeon. Releasing their debut single Lies on the 29th of July 2009, T-ara has since then grown in popularity and also in size with the addition of Hwayoung in July 2010, and Ahreum and Dani in 2012.
Core Contents Media had recently held an opening ceremony for the official fan-club on the 14th of July 2012 to celebrate the anniversary of T-ara’s debut. However, rumors of bullying and “evidences” to go along have overshadowed the group’s successes, embroiling the T-ara members in their worst controversy yet.
The problem began with posts on Twitter. On the 25th and 26th of July 2012, T-ara staged their concert ‘T-ara Jewelry Box’ in Tokyo’s Budokan Arena. Member Hwayoung had injured her leg a few days prior to the concert, and as she had to wear a cast, she could only participate in the performance of Day By Day in a wheelchair.
After the concert, T-ara members have posted on Twitter comments that seem directed at Hwayoung, raising an outcry over supposed bullying of a member. On the 25th of July, Hyomin posted: “the difference in wills. Lets hold on to our determination, fighting!” Eunjung then re-tweeted Hyomin’s post and added in her own comment, saying, “one’s position in life is made by oneself. In the same way, self-determination is forged by the self. Sigh, it is a pity. You have to know how to take care of the people around you”. Also, Jiyeon replied to Hyomin’s post: “The difference in wills. It is a concept. Always modest. I applaud the acting genius.” Soyeon also replied, “the differences in will + etiquette + consideration for others, let’s all stay strong for today as well.”
The posts on Twitter did not seem to contain any other special meanings, but when Hwayoung left a post on her Twitter contradicting her members’ tweets, the attention of netizens were aroused. On the very same day, Hwayoung wrote, “at times, it is impossible to accomplish some things even with determination. It is upsetting when things like that happen, but I still believe that heaven stands for all that is positive. God, you know everything, right?”
As the word ‘determination’ was mentioned repeatedly by the members, netizens then began to speculate if Hwayoung was being ostracised by her own members. President Kim Gwang-su has since clarified that the tweets about ‘determination’ were references to the concert in Japan and Hwayoung’s injury, but stressed that the members were against Hwayoung’s participation in the concert only because they were worried about her leg and wanted to her to be able to rest and recover.
However, a post in reply by Hwayoung’s older twin sister Hyoyoung from 5dolls implies that Hwayoung has indeed been given the cold shoulder by the other members. She said, “my other half is suffering. My heart aches. Whatever anyone says, Ryu, I believe you can get through this.” Hwayoung then replied, “Only you (believe in me).Ah…” Also, Hyoyoung’s next moving reply – “What can one do with a pretty face? It’s the heart that has to be pretty. Is not a person in pain also human? I am also in pain. Really want to cry. Let’s just have practice together” – has been regarded by netizens as evidence that Hwayoung has been badly treated.
On the 28th of July, Hwayoung took to her Twitter again to express her thoughts, saying “to me, family and fans have been a priceless [and treasured] backbone. Please keep watch over me.” Although this was not a solid reference to the issue of ostracism, member Boram’s ‘un-following’ of Hwayoung on Twitter on the very same day indicated that there was existing friction in T-ara, as ‘un-following’ someone on Twitter carries the implication of not liking the person and not wanting to be friends anymore, and this action alone functions as a means to end relationships. Arousing the attention of netizens, previously published images of T-ara have since then been posted onto internet communities as supposed evidence of Hwayoung’s ostracism. Speculation has become rife as more “evidences” have been uncovered, and members’ treatment of Hwayoung in the past are now under public scrutiny.
The above photos are various scenes that have been singled out and said to contain subtle indications of the bullying of Hwayoung by the other members. Although it is known that variety shows allow members to showcase their close relationships while playing pranks on each other, some netizens, on hindsight, felt that the jokes made on Hwayoung’s expense had been too extreme in nature. In the above photos, Hyomin is seen poking Hwayoung in the eye by accident while doing a group pose, Eunjung is seen stuffing rice cakes into Hwayoung’s mouth during a game, and Jiyeon makes an “unkind” remark to Hwayoung. Although many regard these photos as signs of bullying, the nature of these entertainment shows requires artistes to jest with each other in order to make programmes more interesting to the viewers, and cannot be taken as proper evidences.
If these and other pieces of evidence (ranging from captures and various testimony to an alleged anonymous online post by Hwayoung in November), this could spell disaster for T-ara, as this would prove that Hwayoung was indeed a victim, and that she had been treated unfairly by the other members because she was an addition to an already established and popular group. However, as reports and “evidences” seem to contradict one another in this T-ara saga, it would be prudence to regard all the members as possible victims before the truth finally comes to light.
On the 30th of July, Core Contents Media had declared that Hwayoung was expelled on the basis of her “unbecoming attitude”, and this was “in consideration of the 19 staff members who had suffered greatly under her mistreatment” – five stylists, seven hair and make-up artists, five on-site managers and 2 team managers. According to a press release, in acknowledgment of their complaints pertaining to Hwayoung, the agency then discussed this issue with the other T-ara members who wanted Hwayoung to stay on, but ultimately decided that the issues with the staff could not be resolved unless Hwayoung left T-ara.
After news of the termination of Hwayoung’s contract was released, Hwayoung expressed her frustration online with her tweet, “facts without truths”. Hyoyoung also posted “………..…” on her Twitter, a vague but likely indication of her own shock. This has again led many to believe that the honest reactions of the twins are retaliations against the “biased” reports made by their agency, and Hwayoung’s sympathetic supporters appear ready to fight against the apparent injustice in the meting out of the “punishment”.
As of 30th July (22:45 hours, KST), it was reported that as many as 6,000 fans had left T-ara’s fan café, an obvious sign of support for Hwayoung and indicating displeasure with the agency and group for dismissing the rumours of bullying by expelling the alleged victim. Furthermore, the online café T-Jinyo has already amassed more than 270,000 members at time of writing, exerting pressure on Core Contents Media and T-ara with their ultimate wish of having the “truth” revealed. The number of anti- cafés has also risen, with netizens calling for T-ara to be boycotted and for member Eunjung to be kicked out of programmes such as We Got Married, which she is currently filming for, among many other demands.
Although talk of Hwayoung’s possible re-entry into the group has also surfaced, many have deemed it rather difficult as group dynamics have already been altered drastically as a result of the damaging controversies. In recollection of the happy Tweets that members shared last year on their second year anniversary of their debut, this year’s posts have ignited a fire which will leave them burnt and hurt, but which hopefully will also uncover the truths behind the allegations of bullying and clear the name or names of those who have been wrongfully accused.
Photos of top idol stars filming SBS’s Running Man have been recently running the online community.
Running Man’s version of the 2012 Summer Olympics in Seoul Olympic Park, features the hottest idols. The photos contain: 2PM’s Nickhun, T-ara’s Eunjung, Super Junior’s Eunhyuk, MBLAQ’s Lee Joon, CNBLUE’s Jung Yong Hwa, B2ST’s Yoon Doojoon and ZE:A’s Lim Siwan. T-ara’s Jiyeon was one of the original cast but got switched with member Eunjung at the last minute.
A confirmed air date for the episode has not yet been announced.