Jul 072019
 

One of the biggest downsides to being a kpop fan (and avid kdrama-watcher) is that eventually your faves are going to have to enlist in the military, which is mandatory for Korean men regardless of celebrity status. Being American, this was maybe one of the biggest culture shocks when I started really deep-diving into all things Korea and while it’s a HUGE reminder that the Koreas are still technically at war with each other, it’s also refreshing to see that at the end of the day, make celebrities are still Korean citizens who are required to serve their country.

4/5 of BIGBANG have been in the military since 2018, but TOP was the first to enlist in 2017 so he actually was just discharged yesterday and friends, what a big fucking sigh of relief.

TOP is better than entire rap-lines of other groups put together and his talent transcends kpop and Korea entirely. FIGHT ME.

The Korean media is always seemingly routing against BIGBANG and loves to drag their name through the mud. And TOP had a big drug controversy shortly after enlisting. Allegedly, he had smoked pot at his home with a kpop trainee a few months before enlisting and “someone” narc’d on him later on, causing him to have to leave the military and go to court (marijuana is a big deal in Korea) and then he ended up in the hospital after taking too many pills so this is how stressful and high-pressure it is to be a celebrity in Korea. In America, no one would give a shit if they found out their fave was smoking! But it’s a different culture and as an American, who the fuck am I to judge.

Thankfully, TOP recovered and the military accepted him back as a civil servant, but his discharge date was pushed way back to make up for the time he missed. It was really sad and scary, not knowing what was going to happen to him and I was so afraid he was going to try and commit suicide.

Because of this, the korean media has been rabid about his discharge and a huge crowd of them surrounded the facility he had been assigned to, waiting for him to come out. What they didn’t know was that one of the BIGBANG fansites has arranged a secret meetup between VIPs and TOP, who snuck out through a back door, totally ditching the media, and arrived at the secret location where he greeted the special group of fans who were privy to this! I watched a bunch of videos of it and it was so fucking heartwarming!

My favorite Kpop group’s fandom did this. They came together in an intimate, organized manner, gave the man his space while showing him support and love at the same time. VIPs are so amazing.

Now that TOP is back, I hope he takes as much time for himself as he needs, plus some. And then when G-Dragon is discharged this fall, I hope the two of them pair up and deliver the biggest clapback that Kpop has ever seen.

May 092019
 

I love it when there is an incredible comeback on days when I’m working from home because I can fucking blast that shit full volume on repeat all day and answer to NO ONE. (Except maybe our next door neighbors when I wake up the babies.)

Today, the Chinese subgroup of the NCT conglomerate—WayV—released the MV for their new comeback song and I would say “I’m here for it” but I was doing a PopSugar workout the other night and one of the background broads said that an estimated 58 times and it was nauseating so now I’m trying to completely freeze that out of my repertoire. But, you get the idea.

I was not prepared to like it as much as I do! Halfway through the first viewing, I was struck by the Arrow of Obsession. I don’t delve into other Asian pop very much; I recently tried to watch a Chinese drama and couldn’t get hooked and I honestly think it’s because the reason I’m so into Kpop and K-dramas is literally because my ears are embroiled in a steamy love affair with the Korean language. It’s a linguistic thing, you guys. But WayV…I don’t know, maybe it’s because I was already familiar with some of these members because of NCT, or maybe it’s just because SM Entertainment is really that masterful at churning out polished hits, but something about this collection of talent really grabs my attention and it suddenly doesn’t matter to me that they’re not singing in Korean. I do like how the Chinese language (I don’t know the difference between Mandarin and Cantonese, so I’m not sure which this is) has a lot of “sh” sounds since “x” is so predominant in their words….OK, sorry, I got carried away with typing out the conversation I was having with my other personality inside my head.

My WayV bias is Ten and he is NOT PLAYING AROUND in this song, you guys. My favorite part of his starts at 1:37 and I also love the dance breakdown later on! I AM SO ENTHRALLED WITH THIS VIDEO!

I was going to write something deep and meaningful on here today, but my one-track mind is occupied with a train to WayV Town, so maybe tomorrow. LOL j/k, I never have anything deep and meaningful to share on here. I’m all roller coasters and Korea. Byeeee.

Mar 042019
 

So many good songs dropped over the last several days that I have no choice but to share them on here today. Seriously, no choice. It must be done.

And the first one on my list is this new one from SHINee’s Key, which came out the day before his military enlistment (*tears*) and features Soyeon from (G)i-dle. The first word that came to mind when watching this MV last night was “smooth.” It goes down smooth like honey and the color palette is, oh my god I’m going to sound like some prattish lifestyle blogger here, inspiring. I want a room with green and black orb things protruding from the wall now and my house is definitely lacking in the red department. HENRY, GET THEE TO HOME DEPOT.

We went rollerskating yesterday and THIS is what was missing. This would be such a cool mid-tempo jam to glide around to. Dumb American skating rinks.

Since that last song featured Soyeon, let’s talk about her group’s new comeback song! Henry is on the fence with it, but the more I hear it, the more I love it. Really, I just love Soyeon.

I never really liked or disliked Spanish music before (I mean, I liked Shakira for a hot sec though) but there is some kind of magic that happens when Korea meets Spain, man. It just works somehow! So far, I have really loved all of (G)i-dle’s music – I love how their effortless edginess, their concepts, Soyeon’s rapping, and that interesting “fwoofwoo” sound that they make in this song and also in HANN. What is that!? I don’t know, but it sounds cool and unlike anything else, and it’s so much better than just saying “lalalala” or “Whoa.”

Next up is a slow-burner coming from JUS2, the new subgroup of Chooch’s favorite Kpop group Got7, featuring JB and Yugyeom.

I am all about this song. It’s so chill! It reminds me of when the local urban radio station had a late night program called Quiet Storm where they played all kinds of slow and smooth r&b and I would lay in bed, that on in the background, writing in my journal about whatever current boy I was essentially preying on.

Look, I love Got7 a lot (not as much as Chooch does, probably) but if these two want to take some more time off to serve up the public with more juicy JUS2 jam sandwiches, I’ll allow it.

This next song is a POWER JAM, my chingu. Henry’s grandson Calvin is here right now and is straight up celebrating while this song plays on the TV. I like to imagine that Shindong and UV are walking next to me, cheering me on the entire way to the trolley platform every morning. (Calvin just put a unicorn headband on me and then, after inspecting it, said “Eh” and toddled away. Oh Calvin, if only you knew how accustomed I am to that reaction.)

And this last song is the killer: Queen Sunmi is back with another awesome song and even better MV full of social media commentary. Those images hit home, man. This was me at one time. I cared so much about the Internet and the image I portrayed, and I was turning into a gross caricature. Everything got so much better in my life and my head when I left Facebook, which I truly believe is the WORST of them all. Instagram is getting there for me, too: I refuse to participate in IG stories. I sometimes go days without posting anything and it doesn’t stress me out like it would have in the past. And even this thing here that I’m writing on – I don’t care who reads it – I mean, if you’re reading it, I do appreciate it but I’m not losing sleep over losing comments; leaving Facebook really makes you realize how disposable you are as a human being–the “out of sight out of mind” mentality people have these days is out of control!

On that note, squirm uncomfortably at how fucking fake the world has become with Sunmi’s beautifully raw “Noir” video:

Well that’s all for this edition of “Erin Posts Kpop Videos for Her Imaginary Blog Audience.” Annyeong, dingdong!

Feb 232019
 

Yo yo yo, I’m back with another kpop concert blog recap and I know you’re like, “Wow, I didn’t know Erin likes kpop” but it’s true. I do. Now you can’t say I never told you any secrets.

So this particular concert was for Red Velvet, a five-member girl group from Kpop juggernaut SM Entertainment, and also one of the very first groups I started to pay attention to at the beginning of my k-aerobics journey. The first video of theirs’ I ever watched was for “Dumb Dumb” and I was instantly entranced by the creepy quirkiness of it and immediately shared it with a bunch of my co-workers for Friday Video and even they were like “This is weirdly good.”

Over the years, we’ve seen numerous comebacks from Red Velvet and they have really evolved into something special. They have a dual concept: the cute and poppy “red” side, and the sultry r&b “velvet” side and it really works well for them. It makes them more well-rounded, multi-dimensional, and less of a one-trick pigeon-holed pony.

Chooch also really likes Red Velvet a lot so when they announced their first North American tour a few mths ago, I apologized to my bank account, begged for financial forgiveness, sold Henry’s right kidney on the dark web, and bought us two tickets, which were nosebleed even though I sat there for 45 minutes before tickets went on sale, staring at the countdown page.

There has got to be a better system. Someone, please give us a better system. Can we go back to, I don’t know, standing in line outside of Kaufmann’s, waiting for the ticket office to open? Am I dating myself? DO I CARE?

You know, it’s not even so much the price of the tickets that kills me, it’s the fact that these shows never come anywhere closer than Newark or Toronto, so no matter what, we have to road trip, so now on top of the ticket prices, we have to add in the cost of travel and hotel rooms and then skip a few meals but whatever, it’s all for the experience and the chance to talk about it at some funeral wake twenty five years from now, am I right or wrong.

This damn concert landed us in Newark again which is fine, whatever. I was just happy that we had the opportunity to see these awesome girls!

I even had our clothes all picked out in advance!

In honor of their song “Red Flavor,” I bought Chooch this cool watermelon shirt which will be mine once he outgrows it, and I wore my Strawberry Milk sweater. Henry was like, “Yes, I get it” and then begrudgingly took our picture.

The concert was the the NJ Performing Arts Center, right near our hotel. It was literally a two minute walk, but Henry said that on his way back (we made him walk us there, lol), there were people at our hotel getting an Uber to take them there?! Hopefully they just didn’t realize how close it was, otherwise, I have officially lost all hope for mankind.

This picture is super blurry because I was walking when I took it, but this is the fucking merch line. It wrapped around three floors! We got there right after doors opened, and it was already like this. That’s a big hard NO. Also, when we were still in the lobby, someone behind the merch table started yelling that all the white shirts were sold out, so I wasn’t even about to get in line at that point. Luckily, a limited number of shirts were made available online a week later, so I was able to get a black one then. Sucks that I had to pay for shipping, but at least I didn’t have to wait in that line just to be disappointed!

We were all the way up in the fourth tier, but! We were in the second row smack dab in the middle, so it was actually a great view even though we were up high. And the people around us were inoffensive. There were three Korean girls behind me, probably in their late 20s, and I heard them gushing about Taemin’s comeback before the show started! I had this strong urge to turn around and butt in, but I hate talking to strangers and also Chooch was like PLZ DON’T EMBARRASS ME.

He’s at that awesome age where everything I do is embarrassing.

Or am I at that awesome age where everything I do is embarrassing?

Guys, this old couple in the row in front of us was so fucking cute, I couldn’t stand it! Who knew there were such old ReveLuvs (the name of Red Velvet fans) in America!? I love it. Kpop is for everyone.

The show started at 7:00 with a video of Red Velvet at EVERLAND and we were excitedly whispering, “We were there!” to each other. The video was adorable and tied in with the whole “Redmare” concept by showing them waking up from naps and having weird things happen to them, like disappearing and appearing on a stage in….Newark (sorry girls but at least NYC is nearby!), turning into animals and being hunted by zoo keepers, and getting lost in a haunted house. It was split up into several parts and shown throughout the show. As soon as the video started, I had tears streaming down my face. I have zero hold over my emotions anymore. WHAT IS GOING TO HAPPEN WHEN I HIT MENOPAUSE????? I can’t think about that now.

The first song they performed was Russian Roulette and it was a strong choice! Everyone was screaming their dumb faces off, me included. I had the dumbest face of all the faces probably.

I might be way more into boy groups these days, but in the beginning of the descent down the kpop k-hole, it was all about the girl groups for me and I have to say, this concert was everything that I didn’t know I needed — the girls just bring a totally different charisma and charm to the stage. Obviously, it was fun to the maxxxxx, but it was also a huge sense of camaraderie – there is nothing quite like the feeling of being in a beautiful venue with thousands of other people who understand how invigorating and joyous Korean pop music is.

This song is special to me because it came out right after I had a Korean lesson on “here, there, over there” so when I heard this song for the first time, I screamed, “I KNOW WHAT THEY’RE SAYING THERE!” and then I explained it to Henry who gave negative fucks about it. But for me and my remedial Korean education, it made a big impression.

They did a bit of talking here and there – Wendy is Canadian so her English is fluent, and Yeri gave a strong effort. The rest of them relied on an off-stage translator at the end when it was time to talk about their feelings, and I’m glad that they were able to have that opportunity to communicate with us their excitement and appreciation. I’m going to be honest here – I wasn’t sure how much I was going to like this show because their KCON performance was so short and some of the Korean performances I had seen (music countdown shows, award shows, etc) sometimes came off feeling a bit stiff and emotionless. But on this night, they were IN IT and the emotion was strong. There was a video floating around of Seulgi losing her hairpiece during one of the songs and Irene couldn’t stop cracking up—it was so cute to see them looking so relaxed and enjoying their time on the stage!

Seulgi is my RV bias, but I came super close to Henry’s bias Yeri. HER HAPPINESS IS GODDAMN PALPABLE.

Chooch was so engaged and invested through the entire show, whereas he was definitely losing interest at the BTS concert and even during parts of all the KCON concerts we’ve attended. Red Velvet had his undivided attention though!

We both agreed, at the end, that it was 100% worth the trip to Newark.

SETLIST:

ENCORE

***

Before we left the venue, I texted Henry to come and meet us so we wouldn’t have to walk back alone. He said NO!? That he was TOO COMFORTABLE?! I thought for sure he was kidding, no way he’d let his precious cargo stumble along the dark streets of Newark alone.

NOPE, HE WASN’T KIDDING. We got back to the hotel and he was watching The Princess Bride in his underwear.

Jan 132019
 

What’s up, Diva cups, I’m checking in to show you the new non compos cards Valentine set for 2019. I have had this collection on the back burner for a minute now and am so pleased to finally have finished it this weekend.

The Cure is my all-time favorite band, as in: cash in your savings account and fly to Australia to see them after they hastily announce that they’re not going to tour again after that but that was in 2000 and you have since seen them like 6 more times because Robert Smith lied but that’s ok!

True to form, this is a cringefest so get your groans ready.

The set contains 16 different mini-cards, just like the kinds we used to pass out in elementary school except much cooler because, you know, The Cure.

Henry was like I DON’T GET IT and I’ll tell you why – it’s because he’s not actually a “fan” of The Cure.

This set is now available in my shop and I am so happy about it! Part of me wants to track down all my old friends from the long defunct chatroom I used to frequent in 1998/1999 called Darkchat and send them all one of these cards (and by frequent I do mean I used to stay up until like 5am private messaging with all of my goth paramours). God, those were the days! Now when I tell people that The Cure is my favorite band, the general response, “I don’t know who that is.” Well, just break my goddamn heart.

I think this set goes wonderfully with all the serial killer ones, the vintage porn star collection, the Golden Girls series and of course all the Kpop varieties in my Hello Hanguk shop too! I’ll repost all of those ones throughout the week in case you missed them last year. I love Valentines so much!

Interested in purchasing a set of The Cure valentines for all the lovecats in your life? Click right here!

Jan 042019
 

I’m one of those super uncultured losers who aren’t into the theater at all, especially musicals, and I have someone managed to make it to the year 2019 without hearing a single song from the soundtrack. But I at least knew the gist of it though, because I’m a moderately-educated American.

For instance, Chooch was surprised when I mentioned something about Aaron Burr the other day.

“You know about that?!” he asked, incredulous at the prospect of his lame mom knowing anything at all about Hamilton.

“Well, yeah,” I cried defensively. “I went to school!”

But in reality, I only know about Aaron Burr thanks to that Got Milk commercial from the 90s, but hey – AT LEAST I KNEW.

Our tickets were for this past Wednesday, January 2, which was perfect because it was still close enough to Christmas that it felt like a Christmas present for Chooch, and it was the second performance of the Pittsburgh run. Part of me was like, “Cool let’s get this over with” but there was definitely a part that was curious as well. People kept telling me that I had to listen to the soundtrack first or else I probably wouldn’t “understand” the show, but I never got around to it. Guys, when I’m obsessed with something, I have blinders on. There was no room in any of my days to listen to this.

Henry brought Chooch downtown on Wednesday. When I walked over to the car to get him, Henry was like, “Um, watch where you stand” and I was like, “?????????”

I looked down at my feet and there was a puddle of something near them.

OH, JUST CHOOCH’S PUKE, YOU GUYS.

Apparently, he drank bad egg nog at school and by the time Henry brought him downtown, his stomach had had enough and he puked outside of the car.

I started to panic. Was he going to make it through this night? Was I going to have to quickly sell these tickets? But Chooch was like, “No, I’m fine! I’ll be OK, I swear!” I had planned on taking him to V3 for pre-show pizza, but he was like, “I had pizza for lunch…” meaning, the puddle on the sidewalk was his pizza. He was like, “I just won’t eat, I’ll just get a drink” but then he agreed to split a personal pizza with me. He seemed to perk up after that, but I had flashbacks to when I was the same age as him and my mom took my best friend Christy and me to the Fulton Theater downtown to see Annie, the only musical I have ever truly loved. (OK, and RHPS, too.) Prior to the show, we stopped and had pizza. Christy started to complain halfway through the show of a stomach ache.

By the time the show was over and we were leaving our seats, she had apparently gotten worse. I kept jokingly pushing her down the steps in the aisle, in spite of her warnings that she was going to puke. I laughed like the greatest friend that I am and said “Yeah right!” as I gave her one final push. Her final plea was cut off halfway through as her words were replaced by a spewing geyser of vomit.

It was one of those AND TIME STOOD STILL moments. I vividly remember this little girl walking by with her rich-bitch mommy in a fur coat and screaming, “EW MOMMY LOOK!” Christy was mortified, my mom was like, “She’s not with me” and I was laughing because well, I was a dick even back then.

To this day, Christy gets mad when I bring this up.

Was Chooch going to yak during Hamilton? Did we have an aisle seat?! WAS IT TOO LATE FOR HENRY TO COME BACK AND TAKE MY PLACE?!

But, by the time we finished the pizza, Chooch was feeling fine. I knew he didn’t want to miss this show  but I still kept asking him over and over because PLEASE DON’T EMBARRASS ME. Karma, come back another day!

He seemed completely back to normal once we walked over to the Benedum – maybe seeing the lights and all of the Hamilton posters chased the spoiled egg nog away (his idiot Communications teacher gave it to him and it was from the class Christmas party THAT HAPPENED BEFORE CHRISTMAS BREAK. WTF was she thinking?!). We had about an hour before the show started but I’m always nervous before any type of event so I was like, “WE’RE HERE SO WE MIGHT AS WELL JUST GO IN OMG YOU DIDN’T BRING A SWITCHBLADE DID YOU?” as we walked through the security checkpoint.

He didn’t, thank god. And I brought a tiny purse with nothing other than my phone and lipgloss in it so we breezed right through and then got in the merch line to pay a fucking $40 t-shirt (a steal when compared to the $50 water bottle that Chooch originally wanted. A FIFTY DOLLAR WATER BOTTLE.)

After that, we had 30 minutes to kill before we were allowed to go to our seats (which, btw, were not on the aisle) so we sat near a balcony and judged people.

“Even with all  these rich people here, I dare you to find a nicer coat than mine down there,” I challenged Chooch, and after craning his neck for several minutes, he reluctantly conceded that my awesome goldenrod tapestry coat was indeed the best coat in the whole house. *blows on fingertips*

Our seats weren’t as terrible as I thought! We were in the balcony but the view was great.

Our seats were right next to my friend Lori from work and her mom. Lori and I went and bought our tickets at the same time at the box office several weeks ago so the box office guy gave us seats next to each other, which was cool. She took a picture of me looking at my phone and posted it on Facebook with the caption, “Sorry Erin, there are no Koreans in this production” or something and of course all the people liking it were our fellow co-workers, ugh! It’s true though that I did look up the cast in advance to see if any Koreans were in it and I was excited for a second when it looked like  the guy playing Washington was Korean but it ended up being a different traveling cast, ugh.

I’m not gonna lie – I was nervous when the lights went down and the first scene started, because like I said, I hadn’t listened to any of the songs and people were essentially shaming me for this. But I got into it very easily! Maybe just people who aren’t familiar with rap/hip hop should listen to it first? I don’t know, but that’s the music I listened to for most of my teen years so I wasn’t like, shocked, and if anything, even though it did have a lot of flava to it, it still mostly sounded like a musical to me.

I won’t go into every single detail here but my lord, that by far surpassed the hype, in my opinion. And I’m one of those people who’s extremely stubborn and will often hate popular things right away without giving it a chance because I’m not a very agreeable personality. This is also why I was glad that we got tickets for the second night because it seems like nearly our entire department is going to see it at some point and I feel like if I had to sit there and hear people around me talking about it every day, I would probably get tired of hearing about it and lose interest, maybe? This is the type of person I am. You’re learning lots about me today!

BUT WAIT BACK UP — this is really about Chooch. I was scared that he would lose interest at some point because he’s like that – even when we’re at concerts for bands he likes, he’s like checking his phone for Fortnite updates and getting fidgety. But on this night, he sat up straight, never took his eyes off the stage (except for a few times when he was trying to look at things in the program, which was adorable), and he fucking applauded like this was 1942 and he was wearing gloves at the Opera. I kept sneaking peeks at him and it was absolutely heart-warming to see the expression on his face! 100% worth the hassle and cost of those tickets (Henry has reminded me numerous times that my G-Dragon tickets cost nearly 3x what I paid for Hamilton LOLOLOL all the way to the poor house).

By the end of the show, my face was wet from all the tears. “I KNEW you would cry!” Chooch laughed.

I wasn’t prepared for how emotionally draining it would be! I am so happy that we went. I learned a lot too, lol! I would 100% not only recommend this to everyone I know, but I would go see it again for sure. It really felt we were watching the theatrical masterpiece of our generation.

When we got home that night, Chooch had to do his homework still so he put on the Hamilton soundtrack and started writing Hamilton-related sample sentences using prepositional phrases, but only after he opened up the program and underlined all of his favorite songs after seeing the show live. So, I think it’s safe to say that this really was Chooch’s “big” Christmas present — and he didn’t embarrass me by puking!

[P.S. Someone on Instagram asked if we “let” Henry come too and 1. we aren’t rich people who could afford three tickets to that, thanks;  and 2. Henry preferred to stay home and have his own private musical called “Henry Has the House to Himself.” Act 1: Whoa, Time to Watch AMERICAN TV! Act 2: Sleeping on the Couch with the Cat.]

Jan 032019
 

The best part about the end of December is that all of the major Korean broadcast networks put on these huge televised “song festivals” where the biggest songs of the year are performed and some of the bigger Kpop agencies put on “special stages” full of collabs and mashups, medleys and rearrangements. It’s really fun and some of the stages are CRAZY. I wanted to share some of my favorites here because I’m excited about them OK and I was a big advocate of “show and tell”  in preschool. SO LET ME SHOW AND TELL.

OK, first up is the one I have gone back and watched the most because it’s nuts. It requires some background info for any non-kpop fan to fully appreciate: So, one of the big Kpop agencies, SM, did this really genius thing where they created something more than just a Kpop boy band. They put together a literal LEAGUE of talent called NCT which stands for Neo Culture Technology and the whole point is to have members from various cities around the world (for instance: Johnny is from Chicago and Mark is from Vancouver). NCT is then split up into sub-groups: NCT 127 (127 is the longitudinal coordinate of Seoul on a map); NCT U; NCT Dream; NCT 2018 (features all of the members); and the upcoming Chinese subgroup slated to debut this month, WayV. I know, it’s kind of a lot to absorb and even I don’t fully know all of the members. For instance, Mark just “graduated” from NCT Dream and I don’t know what that means!? And I also just learned that the members of NCT U change based on each concept. IT’S TOO MUCH. But I think you probably get the gist.

Now, knowing all of this, one of the big stages saw each NCT unit performing a snippet of a song before coming together as NCT 2018 for the final song. It was so powerful and exhausting to watch, especially because Mark (the Canadian!) is in each unit and had to run from each stage to join the next group. There are days when I come home from work and don’t want to do anything but lay on the couch, but then I think of the NCT boys and I’m like, “Fine, I’ll do an old person walking workout or something, ugh.”

My NCT bias Haechan was sadly missing from this performance because he’s recovering from an injury. :(

Related image

This next one doesn’t really need an explanation because Kai’s rose-in-teeth dance intro is um, more than enough:

Mino, a/k/a G-Dragon’s apprentice, has killer stage presence, and Winner as a whole always put on such fun and joyful stages – how can you not smile during this?! (Also, that’s my bias in the YouTube thumbnail for this, le sigh.)

Seulgi (Red Velvet) and Daehwi  (Wanna One) joined Sunmi for a collab of her song Heroine and I felt it:

I know, I know, where’s the BTS videos?! They were all over the end of the year shows, but what I really liked the most, even more than the medley of old songs they performed, was that they each did a portion of their solos. I really like when they get to shine as individuals because that’s when the casual observer can really understand why Kpop groups have so many members sometimes: everyone adds something to the mix! They are so talented on their own, and this really shows it:

(Not to sway your decision, but J-Hope’s and Jin’s solos are my favorites.)

However, while we were watching these over the weekend, I couldn’t help but feel that there was something lacking, and then of course I realized it was BIGBANG. Ugh, I hate this military hiatus! BTS might be the current kings of Kpop (well, let’s just call them the princes) and you guys know I love them a lot, but IN MY OPINION, they don’t have quite the effortless stage presence as BIGBANG. When I first started to poke around the rabbit hole of Kpop, I was instantly snatched by BIGBANG. I remember thinking, “Well, I like them but I probably won’t like, ever know their names or anything.” LOL flash forward to me watching video compilations of G-Dragon eating, learning Korean, and booking a flight to Korea. BIGBANG was my gateway drug, you guys, and I miss them so much that I will put on old videos of their music show performances and cry (I was doing that this morning, you can ask Henry).

Also, BIGBANG is UNDENIABLY the best-dressed group in all of Kpop Kingdom.

I miss you, GD.

Well, there you go. Some videos to distract you from work or whatever boring thing you’re doing right now (watching your kids?).

Dec 132018
 

I said a few days ago that I was feeling anti-Christmas so I have been trying to casually immerse myself in the season my own way and participating in Secret Santa at work also helped nudge me half-past Scrooge, more toward Stoked. I’m usually so freaking selfish about everything in life but I LOVE BEING SOMEONE’S SECRET SANTA! I get so much joy out of it.

And then I stumbled across this wonderful, pure video from years and years ago when SHINee and Kara did a Christmas performance together on Music Core and my heart melted like a fucking marshmallow in hot cocoa, you guys, ugh.

Maybe you need some Christmas spirit in your life, or maybe you need a good dose of cute Kpop, or maybe you’re just a chronic YouTuber constantly looking for new videos to click. In any case, here it is!

(Side note: Seungri and Daesung MCing in the beginning gave me even more life!)

I think I’ll make it through this Xmas season after all. :)

Nov 282018
 

Taking a break from words today to share four kpop MVs that are getting lots of play in my house.

  1. The new NCT 127 slays, as expected. I think I finally have an NCT bias, and it’s Haechan! Now I have a curiously sudden urge to bedazzle my gas mask:

2. This song by newcomers Fanatics-Flavor reminds me of the girl group songs that originally got me into kpop: it’s quirky, colorful, and VERY kpop:

3. Guys, Key from SHINee released his first solo album and it’s *fire emoji*. This is the second MV from it and it features Crush, whom I also love. Support Key, support SHINee!!!

4. This next song came out last week and I must have watched this MV 100 times on Thanksgiving. EXID was one of the first girl groups I stanned, and this comeback is significant because it’s the much-anticipated of their leader, Solji (second from the left in the YouTube thumbnail below), who sat on the sidelines for over a year due to complications with hyperthroidism.  This new song is DAEBAK and the MV is classic EXID. It’s all saturated colors,  simple yet mesmerizing choreo, and effortless comedy.

SO THERE YOU GO. Four music videos that you can either ignore or watch, maybe even send to a coworker or show the guy next to you on the bus.

Nov 202018
 

Ugh, I have tried to keep Wanna One at arm’s length because I knew my heart would eventually be broken if I gave in and let full Wannable (their fan group name lol) mode take over. Wanna One are the product of a Korean music survival show, where trainees from different agencies compete to be in a Kpop group. I don’t watch those shows regularly (and there are numerous) so I’m not sure if they’re all this way, but the show Wanna One was born from gives their groups expiration dates.

And Wanna One’s is coming up quickly. There have been rumors of an extension but it still doesn’t seem like any rule is going to be broken for them to stay together as long as they want. Once the contract is up, they’ll all go back to their respective agencies and hopefully have a bright future, like (most) of the winning girls from the first season of this show did.

Anyway, then they had to go and release this new song yesterday and I’m over here blubbering and finally admitting that Kang Daniel is my bias (I’m basic). But oh, this video! It sure lifts my bleak November mindset! I love the color palette and the choreo (when they do that plié/squat thing, my knees hurt for them) and the song and their cherubic faces and and and, ow my heart.

Nov 072018
 

It’s crazy to think that I was going to shows (alone, mostly) 5 or more times a month before my life did a 180. There just isn’t much in that scene that has grabbed my attention since I felt in love with Korean music, even though I thought I would be able to maintain both lifestyles. But then Emarosa announced a very small and limited run of super-intimate club shows and I was like, “OK, I’m in.”

Still, it was hard to get back into that “changing clothes and leaving for the show straight from work” groove that used to be my norm! It was a struggle man, especially when we got to the South Side and had a hard time finding a parking spot because there were at least two other shows going on Thursday night.

And it was raining.

And I was tired.

And I was hungry.

But…Emarosa.

The show was at Smiling Moose and I was stoked for that because I love that little spot so much. I feel at home there and not super anxious like some other venues make me feel – like Mr Smalls; I don’t mind that place when Henry is with me but anytime I went alone I felt like I was slowly dying.

This was Chooch’s first time at Smiling Moose, somehow! He’s been to nearly every other venue in the city but this one so I was excited to scratch it off his list (I don’t think he cared either way; he’s 12 and only cares about Fortnite and, thankfully, school).

The show started around 7 with local band Milly who I swear I have seen before but after googling, I think maybe not?! OMG I WAS WRONG ABOUT SOMETHING? I have to be honest here and say that I was kind of in a mood and was sort of prepared to be unimpressed, but these guys proved as usual that I am a prejudiced asshole because they fuckin’ slayed, OK? At least I can admit when I’m wrong!

I saw Chooch pull out his phone and add one of their song names to a Note, so that is like the ultimate seal of approval – an opening band not only holding my kid’s attention, but inspiring him to make a note to check them out at home?! Well done, Milly.

Apparently, they toured with Bradley (Emarosa’s frontman) years ago, before they were Milly and before Bradley was in Emarosa, so that was interesting to know! I like full-circles.

I would definitely go see Milly again. They held my attention and I didn’t drift off into a daydream once, which is surprising because I was really tired that day.

After Milly’s set, I was reminded of the only thing I dislike about the Smiling Moose and that is the super awkward stowing of equipment along the sides of the room. There is no “backstage” so all bands have to load in and out from the front, which means that you’re in the way if you stand in the center of the floor, and then they stack all their shit along the walls near the stage, so you’re in the way if you stand to the side as well. The only place I haven’t been in the way was all the way in the back at the bar and in the bathroom.

SPEAKING OF THE BATHROOM, the last time I was there, I lost a brand new lipstick in there! It fell out of my pocket and I didn’t realize it until I got home and I was sad but at least it wasn’t any of my good Korean lip stuff, just some lame Cover Girl thing probably I think who cares, IT’S OVER NOW.

Oh, did I tell you that Henry wasn’t even with us for Milly? He was at the bar, being a cool boy. But then he encroached on our spot near the stage in between bands and was all cocky because Bradley saw him back there and said hi. Get over yourself, Hank.

The second and final opening band was another local one – Secret Eyes. Immediately, we were annoyed because one of their people, a very nice girl, kept asking us to move because she was setting up some extraneous, gratuitous light fixture on both sides of the stage, and of course one of them needed to be planted exactly where Chooch was standing. We all took a step back, but the guy next to me was unwilling to move so it was tight quarters during the entire soundcheck and set, but thankfully that was cut short due to technical difficulties which prevented one of their guitarists from performing with them so they had to play as a three piece and it really threw them off big-time. I felt bad but at the same time I was like maybe you shouldn’t have worried so  much about these dumb lights that aren’t even adding anything special to your set, boys.

I’m not sure if I would have liked them or not, and it was hard to tell based on the version of the band we got that night, but the singer did at times sound like the guy from A Skylit Drive, so I was into that. Until they played a cover of the Weeknd and then they lost me.

We were elated when the girl came back to retrieve those lights afterward,  freeing Chooch to dip back into his corner spot. That dummy next to me still wouldn’t move though even though he and his girlfriend had a wealth of space next to them, but whatever. I wasn’t trying to let my inner stodgy old person get the best of me on this night. TIME AND A PLACE, ERIN.

TIME AND A PLACE.

Emarosa came out, no frills, no gimmicks, and proceeded to rip our faces off. The stress almost immediately melted off my shoulders. I had no idea how much emotional weight I had been lugging around, and how much I needed to be there that night. My sanity needed it.

The music is obviously what keeps me coming back for more, after all these years, that long hiatus, lineup changes, and a gradual but progressive change in sound, but what REALLY sets these guys apart for me is the stage presence, the inter-band camaraderie, the fan engagement, and the easy-going humor that shines so naturally in between songs. Bradley could easily stand up there, belt out every song with the sheer perfection that we all know and love, and call it a day. But instead, he treats the audience like we’re in on a joke, like we’re part of a club (#peachclub represent), like we’re actual people and not just faces in a crowd. And he is FUNNY. Like Chris Pratt-funny. Like dad joke-funny.

It’s been a bit over a year since we last saw them, and even longer since they delivered their last album to our eager ears (2016, I believe). But they’ve been hunkered down for the past year, writing the new record, and it’s scheduled to drop this February! In the meantime, they embarked on this super quick run of intimate shows before jumping on another tour to support Hands Like Houses, and Pittsburgh just happened to be the FIRST STOP on this tour. Which means that we were the first ones to get a sneak peek at the new jams! They performed two of them for us that night, and Bradley made us swear we wouldn’t record it.

He told us to just be in the moment, but then laughed and said it was also because they weren’t even sure if these new songs were in final form, lol.

I don’t have anything to share, and I wouldn’t do that to them even if I did, but I can tell you that one of the songs had major Carly Rae Jepsen vibes to it and it fucking slapped.  If it’s any indication to how the rest of the album is going to flesh out, then get ready to hear a lot more about Emarosa, you guys. I think they’re not going to be my little secret for much longer.

But I’m ready to share them! They deserve all the exposure.

I love that Bradley was wearing a vintage Michael Jackson shirt and that the two girls in front of the stage were dramatically singing every song to each other and that some guy in the back kept screaming, “YOUR DRUMMER LOOKS LIKE POST MALONE!” and finally Bradley was like, “I KNOW, MY DRUMMER LOOKS LIKE POST MALONE” and that the crowd was just so pure and involved and THERE FOR IT.

I’m awful at remembering set lists, but I looked at the one for the show after ours, and I’m 99% sure it was the same:

  • Blue
  • Young Lonely (I love screaming this one)
  • Helpless
  • *new song*
  • Miracle
  • People Like Me… (so stoked for an older jam!)
  • Cloud 9
  • *new song*
  • A Hundred Crowns
  • Hurt
  • Sure

Afterward, we begged for more and Bradley said they had time to do one more, but everyone had to agree on it, and it had to be something they already played (wtf lol) so of course everyone started screaming their choices, which Bradley narrowed down to “Helpless” and “Cloud 9” but then we all had to agree on one of those and Helpless won so I was so excited!

But then they played Cloud 9 again too! I KNOW THAT SOUNDS DUMB LIKE WOW THEY DID THE SAME SONGS TWICE BUT IT WAS SO FUNNY AND THE ENERGY IN THAT ROOM WAS OFF THE CHARTS!

Oh I felt cleansed.

Afterward, we hung back so that we could say what’s up to Bradley, but he ended up coming over to us on his own and gave us all hugs (I was annoyed that Henry got one too, though, because it made Henry feel like he was special or something lol) and we got to chat with him a bit about Emarosa’s upcoming album, more tours, special surprises — it was just really cool and I was so happy to see them again. It’s always a pleasure and I’m so glad that this went from something that I was into by myself to a band that my whole family loves, as Kumbaya as that sounds (I’m still Satan, so don’t get too excited).

Is it weird to say that I’m proud of them? Because I really am. That band was nearly decimated by their old singer, but they forged ahead and haven’t looked back. They are so much more than the post-hardcore band I first fell in love with ten (!!!) years ago.  Long live Emarosa. <3

To conclude, here are some Emarosa videos that I love a lot, in hopes that maybe some stranger out there will too!

Oct 252018
 

Hey guys hey: let’s take a break from the amusement park spam and watch some fun/creepy/haunting Kpop videos, because I am so fucking deep into the Hallospirit and that is all I want to be doing is splooging the black and orange and purple and green all over this screen and yes that rhymed because welcome to my new career as Hallopoet. I couldn’t be anymore in my zone right now even if I stepped into a pantsuit made from jack’o’lantern flesh and candy corn.

  1. Twice – TT

This was the very first Twice video I ever watched and I haven’t looked back since. A gaggle of cute girls, a catchy song, a haunted house, AND Halloween costumes? Yup. I’m snatched.

2. SHINee – Lucifer

You came to PLAY when you name your song after the motherfucking Devil, you guys. Fun fact: this song actually plays in the background of an episode of that American show Lucifer, which I have never watched, but maybe you watch it and now you know that you inadvertently listened to kpop so you might as well just surrender and watch the whole video.

3. BIGBANG – Monster

Sorry BIGBANG, you guys still look great even as monsters. G-Dragon and those icon devil horns tho, oh god I miss him please come back from the military now. They’ve had for you like 8 months, that’s enough.

4. EXO – Wolf

Off the top of my head, there are three EXO vids that fit this Hallotheme (sorry I can’t stop, I’m running on lots of caffeine and very little sleep), like one from sub-group EXO-K that starts with creepy chanting. But I went for Wolf because it makes me want to binge-watch Teen Wolf (especially since I never watched the last season because we cut cable and THAT MEANT NO MORE MTV…), but also I love the dance formations in this choreo, and the howling! I might blast this on repeat on Halloween to spike up the treat-or-treating mood, even though we never get any trick-or-treaters anymore. WHAT IS HAPPENING!?

5. Twice – Like Ooh Ahh

I know, I know, Twice, twice?! But look, they’ve got that playful horror aesthetic down to a science. I love this video because it’s teeming with zombies but it’s like, hard to even remember they’re there because Twice is so cute.

6. Red Velvet – Peekaboo

Guys, they’re hunting and killing pizza delivery boys in this video. Does it get more scary? DON’T KILL THE BOYS THAT BRING US THE PIZZA! Even aside from this, the song itself has a creepy feel to it, and any time I think of “peekaboo” it’s always in a horror context, like some ax murderer is looking at me through the other side of a peep hole or waiting for me in the backseat of my car.

7. Vixx – Voodoo Doll

Vixx is notorious for having a “horror sexy” concept, and I had a field day going through all their MVs for a good one  to share here today. So many to choose from! Stan Vixx, you guys – they are so good and moderately underrated as far as Kpop goes.

8. Block B – Jackpot

Are you afraid of clowns? Don’t worry, this video doesn’t have any creepy carnival visuals at all.

9. SHINee – Married to the Music

SHINee’s back…on this list again. This song has such a light, uplifting feel but then the video is like, going to a deranged dinner party and having your head chopped off. You know, typical.

10. G-Dragon – She’s Gone

Last but certainly not least, I gotta include my ult-bias G-Dragon, Mr. Kwon Jiyong, here on this list. He could chase me through a maze any day! I mean, I’d prefer he didn’t kill me at the end, but we could role play if that’s what he wants. I’m flexible.

So, there you go – some Kpop videos that stray away from the bubblegum aegyo (that means “super cutesy” in Korean you guys, get on my level) just in time to vibe with your October mood.

OBLIGATORY “PLEASE DON’T KILL ME, KPOP FANS” DISCLAIMER: These were just the first 10 that came to mind, not ranked in anyway, and I am sorry if I left off one of your faves!

Oct 072018
 

It’s been a week now since I saw BTS at the Prudential Center in Newark and I am still not over it but here I am, attempting to splash words across this broke-down blog, like a poor man’s Jackson Pollack.

A little bit of a foreword: even before BTS blew up here in the States, they were a hot commodity. When I first started getting into them two winters ago, I saw that they were doing a tour for their Wings album and thought, “Oh, that would be cool to see” and looked up tickets. LOL FOR DAYS, JOKE’S ON ME. Even then, at the end of 2016, their arena shows sold out in minutes so by the time I was looking for tickets, it was Resale or GTFO.

Same thing nearly happened this time too, even though I was prepared to buy the moment they went on sale. Henry and I had four browsers open and even then the best I was able to get was right at the start of the nosebleed section, unless I wanted to spend $500 to stand on the floor and no way Chooch was going to do that with me. Also, their brand value in my life, personally, is not worth that much. I would only do that for G-Dragon/BIGBANG and Taemin/SHINee.

Still, I was happy that we were even able to get tickets because those fucking scalpers are ruthless and the seats in the section we were in were being sold for 3x the amount I spent later on. I can’t even put into words how angry this makes me. Ticketmaster needs stopped. Pearl Jam, come back!!

OK, that’s my foreword. Wasn’t it fascinating.

We left Pittsburgh at 6AM even though the concert wasn’t starting until 6PM because I didn’t want to take any chances. Plus, I got an alert saying that merch was going to be set up outside starting at 9AM and I still didn’t have a lightstick because thanks to their insane popularity, they kept selling out at all the Kpop stores online and I wasn’t trying to buy a fake.

We rolled up around 1:00PM and it was already a madhouse out there. The general admission people were camping out and there was also a two hour wait to take photos in front of this banner which I was like, “Thanks but no thanks” so I just snapped this shot while walking by and that was good enough for me.

Luckily, it only took us about 5 minutes to buy a lightstick. Nearly everything else was old out! I was sad because I wanted to buy a Hoseok (J-Hope for you non-fans) face sign but I was thankful that we were at least able to buy the lightstick, which was the brand new version that has concert mode, so it changes colors in sync with whatever seat you’re in! We had to take it over to a booth and have it set up which was super convenient. Everyone we encountered there was extremely nice and I was thankful because my pre-concert nerves were firing on all cylinders. I can’t imagine how stressed I would have been if we had to get there at the crack of dawn to sit in the General Admission line. I’m not about that life, you guys. I’m an old lady now. Assign me a seat and I will show up approx. 30 minutes before the show starts, thanks.

When we went to see G-Dragon last year, I have the Silver VIP ticket which meant we got to arrive early for the soundcheck and standing in that line to get a numbered wristband shaved years off of my life. I had stress cramps in my stomach, I was sweating, I was wringing my hands – plus, we got screwed with the numbering system which I don’t even want to talk about again, but at least in the end it worked out and we were nearly right at the barricade. G-Dragon was worth that hassle for me. I like BTS a lot, but I can’t imagine having to deal with the horde of Armys down there on the floor.

After purchasing our lightstick (it was $55 so, um, we bought one to share, thanks; I might work at a law firm but I definitely don’t make a lawyer’s salary, lol), we checked into our hotel and got a late lunch, then it was finally time for Papa H to drop us off at the Prudential Center. I was screaming!!

Unlike KCON, we were able to practically waltz right in to the P-Center for this one, and I thought, “Wow, this is going swimmingly” until we got to the escalator that would take us to the 100 Section of the arena and some staff broad was all, “NO. YOU HAVE TO TAKE THE ELEVATOR” and we were like, “…..” so we followed some other people to the elevator bank where a large crowd was gathering and we were herded on to elevators like cattle – it was weird and also scary because I don’t like elevators and why couldn’t we have just used the steps!?

Meanwhile, you could hear music thumping and the shrill screams of Armys filtering out from inside the dome and I actually felt scared that the concert started early, but then when we got off the elevator, I peeked in and saw that it was literally just BTS videos playing on two screens and girls screaming like BTS was actually on stage. That was a good indication of what we were in for.

We were row 7 in Section 101, which was directly in front of the stage and not too bad for the price, pretty much the same area we always get dumped in for KCON too though.  When we found our row, Chooch walked in first and then stopped at the first seat that was ours instead of continuing on to the next one.

“I don’t like sitting next to people,” he mumbled, and  I had to climb over him to get to my seat, which was next to a very overweight lady and I feel like an asshole even complaining about this because we had great rapport and she was very nice, but between her spilling into my seat and Chooch man-spreading on the other side of me, I had an extremely uncomfortable night. My neighbor had me pinned back into my seat with her arm, but then halfway through the night, she needed to stretch her knees so she stood up and perched on the edge of her seat and it was like the heavens had opened up for me. Also, she laughed like Santa through the whole concert, which was satisfying and comforting.

My asshole son had an empty seat next to him for a large portion of the night before some lone Asian girl eventually sat there and quietly recording the whole concert without moving or screaming once. He was living his best concert life and I hated him.

Before the concert started, we listened to the girls behind us trying to explain BTS videos to their friend who was excited to be there but didn’t know much about BTS. She kept screaming, “TEACH ME THE FAN CHANTS!” throughout the night and it was so adorable. Her friend acted like she was some sort of BTS historian and said that the order of the names varied depending on the song and in my head I was like, “No they don’t” but then the other girl who was with them calmly interjected and said, “No, they’re always the same order” and I was proud of her for saying it in a way that sounded diplomatic and mature and not Reese Witherspoon in “Election”-y like I always sound when I’m butting in with the correct answer.

Henry hates it when I do that to strangers.

But in case you don’t know what I’m talking about, in Kpop (all Kpop not just for BTS), there are fan chants where everyone chants the members’ names in unison, and also depending on the song, there might be parts that everyone is expected to shout, usually just the last word of certain lines, you know? For BTS, the member fan chant starts with Kim Namjoon (the leader RM’s real name) and then goes from order of the oldest member and down to the youngest (the maknae), and you use their real Korean names and not their stage names. It always sounds easy in my head but I can never get the timing right and then I get nervous can’t do it fast enough!

Kpop is so great.

Anyway, the concert started almost exactly at 6PM, which seemed really early but again, I’m old now so this early start was appealing to me.

This is the part where I’m a basket of emotions, so I’m not sure what to even write because I can’t be objective about it. But I will say that I’m not sure how anyone could have walked out of that arena unfazed by the charms of those beautiful Koreans. Yeah, I’m looking at you, Parents Who Got Stuck Chaperoning. Their entrance was dramatic, as expected, and the show was kicked off with a high-energy performance of “Idol.”

This is not my video – I was sitting too far up to get any good vids so I only took some short clips to send to Henry throughout the night which he GREATLY APPRECIATED especially when it was a close-up of his bias Jimin:

And you guys, it was here during their opening song when I was overcome with emotion and realized that I was fucking shaking with tears streaming down my face. I mean, I have liked BTS for almost as long as I’ve been into Kpop, but never to the point where I would call myself Army (that’s the name of their fan group, I don’t think I ever really explained that) because Armys are really insane and possessive of BTS and also most of them frown upon multi-fandoms which basically means, “I like BTS but I also like these other groups too.” You can’t do that, and I’m sorry but I’m VIP (BIGBANG fan) above all else!

Still, I have always loved BTS for their charisma (their personalities are awesome) and sick choreography (a lot of it is done by J-Hope, my bias, who got his start as a street dancer). BTS were the true underdogs in Kpop, they were met with real adversity from the moment they debuted and pretty much all the way up to last year when they started to break into the Western market, which was the biggest fuck you they could have given their haters. So while it’s mildly annoying that all of a sudden everyone and their soccer mom is blasting “Idol” in their minivan (probably the Nicki Minaj version at that), I can’t help but feel a sense of pride for them, you know? They struggled and received so much hate from their peers and Koreans in general for speaking out against the older generation and social issues, and now they’re basking in the limelight — but they earned it. And they deserve it.

However, a lot of other Kpop groups, and Korean artists in general, also work just as hard and are just as talented. So please give them love too, America!

LOL, I took these pictures for Henry during Jimin’s solo.

Oh! When we arrived at our seats, there were banners waiting for us. They were made by a group of Armys and during “Magic Shop,” a prompt came up on the screen to tell us all to hold them up so that BTS could see how much they mean to us. It was really cool and I loved being a part of it!

Oh shit, I’m crying just thinking about this, haha.

I recorded a bit of Taehyung’s solo for Janna because that’s her bias, lol. (I forced her to choose one and prefaced it with, “but you can’t pick J-Hope or Jimin, because Henry and I already claimed them.” Lol, I’m a good friend.)

SETLIST

  • Idol
  • Save Me
  • I’m Fine
  • Magic Shop
  • Trivia: Just Dance (J-Hope solo)
  • Euphoria (Jung Kook solo)
  • I Need You
  • Run
  • Serendipity (Jimin solo)
  • Trivia: Love (RM solo)
  • DNA
  • Medley: Boyz With Fun/Fire/Bapsae/Dope
  • Airplane Pt 2
  • Singularity (V solo)
  • Fake Love
  • Trivia: Seesaw (Suga solo)
  • Epiphany (Jin solo)
  • The Truth Untold (V, Jimin, Jungkook, Jin)
  • Outro: Tear (RM, J-Hope, Suga)
  • Mic Drop

Encore:

  • So What
  • Anpanman
  • Answer: Love Myself

Songs I wish they had performed:

  • Go Go (they did this during night one, ugh!)
  • N.O.
  • Paradise
  • Dimple
  • Spring Day

Rather than spend this whole sunny October Sunday ruminating over every single song performed, I will tell you my favorite parts in no particular order because it changes with the same frequency as my moods.

  1. Save Me – this was the song where BTS really clicked for me. Before that, I knew their songs, but I wasn’t on board with both feet yet. When I first saw the video for this song though, I realized halfway through that I was crying. And yes, I cried during it last week too!

2. Dope – this song gets me so hyped! It’s an older one, and one of my favorite kpop cardio routines is to this song.

3.  Jin’s solo – with so much talent in one group, some of the members tend to be overshadowed at times, but this solo is a big fat reminder that Jin’s out here, and he’s ready to sing his beautiful fucking worldwide handsome face off. I was sobbing by the time this ended.

4. Jungkook’s Gratuitous Shirt-Lifting: I’ve seen him do this a million times during the promotional run for Fake Love, but getting to be there in that arena and screaming my throat raw with all the other girls when it happened in real life was amazing.

5. The “Love Myself” finale – singing this along with them was like the next generation Kumbaya without the corn. These boys promote such a positive, inspiring message and they truly just want us all to be kind and love ourselves.

Again, not my video. I just don’t have the stamina to devote so much time to camping out and standing around idly just to get that close at a concert (though check back with me in a few years after BIGBANG has their post-military comeback). It reminds me of back during the summer of 2001: I had tickets to go to the Rolling Rock Town Fair with this guy Ken, and my friend Wonka really wanted to go but it was sold out. Stone Temple Pilots were headlining that year, so tickets were hard to get. I was sad that Wonka couldn’t go because I didn’t know this Ken guy that well and it was awkward as fuck, to be honest. But then as we were leaving that night, we passed right by Wonka! I told him I was so happy that he was able to get a ticket after all, and he said he didn’t actually get a ticket but he went out to the field where the festival was taking place the night before and hid in a porta potty ALL NIGHT LONG until the next day after the concert started. That is some fucking dedication. Would I sleep in a porta potty for BIGBANG? That depends: is it clean?

I was on a fucking high for days after this and just kept saying over and over that I couldn’t believe I got to see BTS. Kpop has changed my life, as dorky as that sounds, and I am so grateful for the beautiful people and experiences it has given to me. It’s the best medicine. (Too bad insurance doesn’t cover it because shit’s expensive.)

****

In all honesty, every single second of this concert was a goddamn delight. Chooch was a bit less into it than I was and admitted afterward that he didn’t know many of the songs, but that now he thinks he at least knows all of the members’ names.

“Wow, even your DAD knows all their names,” I said.

“Sorry that I don’t study Kpop groups like dad does!” Chooch scoffed.

Henry is definitely more Army than Chooch.

Sep 272018
 

Hi guys! I’ve been thinking a lot about the fast-rising popularity of BTS over here in America and while I am of course super stoked for them (and also 3 parts smug that something I have been trying to get my friends into has broken into the mainstream *blows on nails like it was all my doing* haha), I thought this would be a great opportunity to promote some of the other just-as-lovely Kpop boy bands that are working their asses off to bring us the quality bops & jams, daydream fodder, and music video masterpieces. (In Kpop land, we just call those MVs. Look, I taught you something!)

I have probably pimped a lot of these boys out on here over the last two years, but it’s always worth a revisit! I’m going to include two videos for each group and that’s not necessarily to say they’re my favorites, but mainly just the ones that I think would be a good introduction. Just be prepared to fall down the rabbit hole, and if you’re an obsessive personality like me, you’ll come out the other side straight into Korea. Aigoo.

(If you’re already a Kpop fan and don’t see your fave groups here, don’t kill me! There’s a ton more I wanted to include but then we’d be here all day and night!)

  1. EXO

These guys are arguably the biggest group in Korea at the moment, yes some would say even bigger and more well-loved than BTS, and this is all without having a single comeback since last summer. No, I mean LAST summer. 2017. Their fans are loyal AF! They’re constantly getting compared to BTS though and maybe it’s just because both groups debuted within a year of each other, but I really think that it’s apples and oranges. EXO can come off having a more late-90s R&B vibe, which really appeals to me. For starters, let’s listen to Ko Ko Bop and a live performance of The Eve so you can get a better feel for their beautiful choreo:

EXO is rumored to be working on a comeback here soon and I know at least one of my friends is chomping at the bit over this! It’s been a long time coming, so it should be exciting!

2. BIGBANG

So if EXO is arguably the biggest group in Korea, then BIGBANG takes the crown for Kings of Asia. You guys know that this is my ultimate #1, my hard stan of all stans, and that their leader G-Dragon is my forever-bias, so you might already know some of their music! BIGBANG had their last comeback toward the end of 2016, and then one of their members, TOP, enlisted in the military soon after. Three more enlisted last winter, and a single was released shortly after, which dominated every chart without a single ounce of promotions – that’s the power of BIGBANG. They still have one member left to enlist, their maknae Seungri, so we probably won’t see a BIGBANG comeback until 2020 (tears just spontaneously sprung from my eyes), but luckily YouTube is a freaking vault of BIGBANG history so maybe take a day off and dive in? That’s just my suggestion. I’ll even write you a doctor’s excuse.

OK, let’s start with my favorite video. I love the colors, the clothes, and of course the song. I think it’s the most easily-accessible one too, for anyone not familiar with Kpop. This was one of the few that all my co-workers all agreed was “surprisingly OK.” That’s practically a gold stamp!

Fun fact: I couldn’t read Korean yet when this video first came out, and then a long time later, I learned that each of their names is hidden in the background of certain scenes, and it was one of the best, most satisfying feelings when I went back and was able to read it!

This next BIGBANG video is maybe their most popular one? I’m not a big statistic person, so I’m just making shit up as I go along, but let’s just say my words are loosely-based on half-assed google searches. Anyway, this was the first BIGBANG song I ever heard, without realizing it was going to someday change (wreck?) my life, back when I first got into KpopX Fitness in 2015. I almost passed out after that workout video!

OK, if I don’t give myself a two-video limit, I’ll end up just posting their entire video collection here and you don’t want that – OR DO YOU.

3. SHINee

My #2 group! SHINee makes my heart go so soft, and now I’m tearing up just thinking about how much I treasure them. It’s also hard to find the words, and I think I’m going to break my rule and post more than just two videos for them because they’re worth it, and they’re worth your time. I promise! My #2 bias is the maknae (youngest) of this group, beautiful, precious Taemin. SHINee makes me so happy and sad all at once, because I can’t listen to them, think of them, see pictures of them, without thinking of Jonghyun, their member who took his life last December. I have never been that affected by a celebrity death before and it has been a rough time. So I want to include some videos from when they were five members, and then one from now, when they’re four +1 in spirit. Because they’ll always be five.

Let’s start with their debut video! There is this one recent live performance of Replay where Jonghyun is straight sobbing uncontrollably and this song never made me feel sad until I saw that. So now I sometimes have to skip it when it comes up on my playlist. :(

Taemin was like 15 there!

And this is one of my all-time SHINee favorites; it has such a mature sound and they all look so beautiful:

And because I love their live performances so much, here’s a recent one for a single of their first comeback as a four-member group (I can’t imagine the strength and courage that took):

I watched all of their comeback performances for this song constantly for weeks last June and it 100% brainwashed Chooch, who would walk around the house mindlessly humming it and probably had his dreams soundtracked to it, too.

Their leader, Onew, will be enlisting in the military very soon, so I feel very blessed that they treated us to so many MVs and promotions this year. Long live SHINee. <3 (You can tell me if you don’t like anything on this list today but NOT IF IT’S SHINEE because I am super protective of them and I’ll likely take out my anger on Henry SO THINK OF HENRY.)

OK FINE here’s a bonus Jonghyun solo video:

Ugh, the talent. </3

Please support SHINee. They have given so much of themselves to us.

4. Got7

SUPER UNDERRATED in my opinion, you guys. This boy group is so much fun to watch and they are just consistently great. They’re Chooch’s favorite Kpop group (Bam Bam is his bias) so he’s been pretty happy these last two weeks because they just had a comeback with Lullaby! Also, if you’re into fun facts about members, they’re a multi-ethnic group which I think is so cool because diversity: Mark is Taiwanese but from the US, Bam Bam is Thai, and Jackson is from Hong Kong. You’d have to ask Chooch if you want more facts about them, but I’ll tell you that my Got7 bias is Youngjae.

We’ll start with Hajima, because that’s the first Got7 song I ever heard (yes, courtesy of KpopX Fitness, thank you!) and it definitely stuck with me. Also, listening to this song now makes me realize that I have somehow learned more Korean than I thought?! And here’s one of those complimentary fun facts: the girl in the beginning of this video is Dahyun from Twice (I love her):

“Hajima” was one of the first Korean words I learned (after oppa, probably, lol) and I love to scream it at the cats.

And here’s their newest MV for Lullaby – look how much they’ve grown! I think the choreo is so tight for this song (if that’s your jam, check out one of their music show performances for all of it!) (Also, that’s my bias in the green pants lol.)

5. Pentagon

It was hard for me to choose a #5 because there are so many incredible and deserving groups out there right now – like Astro, who I will be seeing this Sunday but I just shared several of their videos last week so I figured I would give this spot to another group. I went with Pentagon because they need all the support they can get right now. I mentioned this on here recently, but one of the members, E’Dawn, has been essentially removed from the group after admitting that he’s been dating Hyuna, a solo artist from the same agency. It’s a major Korean scandal, yo. And other one of their members, Yanan, has been sitting out recent promotions due to health issues, so they just had their comeback as an 8-member group and it breaks my heart. These guys have such quirkiness, so much palpable energy, and loads of talent (they write their own songs, Kpop isn’t always that mass-produced hit-factory that it’s often mistaken for).

I’m gonna give you guys three Pentagon vids too because over here at Oh Honestly, Erin, we be makin’ rules just to break ’em. First up is “Shine” and if you don’t immediately smile when this one starts, then congratulations, you’re dead. (E’Dawn is the very first one shown, in case you were wondering. And yes, he’s my Pentagon bias. #GDragonVibes)

Isn’t this just one of the most joyful things you’ve ever witnessed? Chooch and I were screaming our faces off for them at KCON last June.

This next song came out a year ago and went largely unnoticed which is insane to me because the MV is dreamy and the song is strong as fuck.

Lastly, here’s a live performance of their latest E’Dawn-less and Yanan-less song, Naughty Boy. (There is a really great explanation video for this song by one of my favorite YouTube channels, DKDK, and I highly recommend it if you’re interested in learning about the creative word-play that obviously falls short on us English speakers and some insight on how Korean culture and social issues inspired the meaning behind this song, because it’s way deeper than just a quirky bop.)

Please support Pentagon! Watch their videos on YouTube, buy their albums, listen to them on Spotify – just give them your love! They’re going through some shit right now.

Honorary mentions: IKON, Ace, NCT (there are various subgroups for this one and they are all worthy of your ears!), Stray Kids, Monsta X, Seventeen and SF9.

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And there we go, something to hopefully help you get through a boring work day, some new jams for  your workout playlist, or just some overall intensely sugared eye candy! If you found something you like, let me know! And let me know if you like these kinds of music round-up posts and I will try to do them once or twice a month!

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go and scream in a pillow because we’re seeing BTS on Saturday and I’m just ready for this. I’M NOT READY!

Sep 172018
 

Henry and I finished “My ID is Gangnam Beauty” yesterday and one of the main characters is Cha Eun-Woo from Astro, which was a group I had only mild interest in but now I’m like LET’S WATCH ASTRO VIDEOS UNTIL OUR EYES FALL OUT and Henry is like SOUNDS GREAT GOTTA GET OUR KYUNG SEOK* FIX.

*(That was his character’s name, OK?! We’re in deep.)

Fun fact: a Gangnam Beauty is someone who gets plastic surgery, in case you were wondering if you should try to get people to call you that at work.

But anyway, please enjoy this video – Cha Eun-Woo is the first guy that sings, but you can’t choose him for your bias because Henry already claimed him.

OK fine, here’s one more because I’m feeling so generous on this rainy Monday:

In other K-drama news, the finale of our other current show, 30 But 17, comes out tomorrow and I just don’t think I’m ready for that. This show is wrecking me.