Why You Should Hear K-Pop at Least Once

Music is often viewed as an escape from the banality of life. Thankfully, there’s a growing genre everyone seems to be curious about: K-POP.

There’s so much interest within this genre, that fandoms for every possible K-POP group exist. One notable example can be seen in the popularity of the group, BTS. However, several people are asking the same question: what exactly makes K-POP popular, especially to American fans?

K-Pop is influenced by a variety genres and styles, such as Western Pop Music, rock, jazz, reggae, electronic dance, hip hop, rap, Latin, and more. K-POP is essentially a wide variety of music sung in the Korean language. This style of South Korea music originated in the 1940’s, athough the first official group to fit this category is the group, Seo Taiji and the Boys. The three member all-male group was active from 1992-1996, during which they experimented with various styles of music from the West (America). Just as Los Angeles is joined to hip-hop, Seoul is joined to K-POP, as most of the recording and music industries have their buildings within the city.

Fans can thank the internet & social media for increasing the popularity of K-POP to spread worldwide, especially with honorable mentions such as PSY with “Gangnam Style” and BTS “DNA”. Although they have become internationally famous through their songs, there are several other groups that I believe are worth knowing, since they have paved the way for PSY & BTS to become a worldwide sensation.

As an avid K-POP fan of 9 years, I wish is to share a few of my favorite artists that I believe would be great for beginners who are developing an interest in K-POP.

One of the first groups that deserves attention is Girls’ Generation (aka SNSD), a 9 member all-female group as determined by their name. With members Taeyeon, Seohyun, Sooyoung, Jessica, Tiffany, Hyoyeon, Sunny, Yoona, and Yuri, each girl brought something specific to this group such as vocals, dance, visuals (beauty), and rap. Girls’ Generation began their career in 2007 as part of the second generation artists of K-POP. One of their most famous songs online is, “Gee” and “Run Devil Run.” While the group unfortunately does not retain all its original members, due in part to Jessica’s leave in 2014 and certain members’ contracts ending, there still remains 6 active members in this group who recently created the single, “Lil Touch”. I believe that Girls’ Generation paved the way for girl groups, since their empowering style is an obvious influence found in many following groups.

Another group whose popularity I’d like to acknowledge is Super Junior, due to their influence on the male groups in K-POP. Super Junior originally started as a 13 member male group, but debuted with 12 members. Through their active time as a group, there have been 5 different units created for Super Junior to allow members to do projects in smaller groups within the official 12 members. However, over time this group has decreased to 8 active members: Leeteuk, Heechul, Yesung, Shindong, Eunhyuk, Donghae, Siwon and Ryeowook. A few of their greatest hits include “Sorry Sorry”, “Mr. Simple”, and their most recent release, “One More Time (Otra Vez).” One reason I chose to highlight them is because their music style has begun to shift towards a Latin influence, as they’ve begun collaborating with artists such as Leslie Grace & Reik. With this new collaboration of Hispanic/Latino music and Korean Pop, there is definitely going to be a rise in popularity for this group in the near future.

Additionally, I’d like to shout out Hyuna, a solo artist who has demonstrated her dedication to her singing career despite being embattled in the middle of a controversial issue in Korea. She started her singing career as a trainee for the group Wonder Girls in the late 2000s, but went on to become an official member of the girl group, 4Minute, from 2009-2016. As the main rapper & dancer of the group, she rose to fame with her unique on-stage personality. She had released solo projects on the side such as songs like, “Change” and “Bubble Pop.” Once 4Minute disbanded in 2016, she continued to follow her solo career and releasing songs like “Lip & Hip” & “Babe”. She was also part of the trio Triple H with two members from the group, Pentagon, Hui & E’Dawn.

Unfortunately, just a month ago, her company, Cube Entertainment, decided to release a statement online about removing her due to her secret relationship with Triple H member E’Dawn because of a strict no dating policy. Though they retract their statement by stating it was not officially confirmed, she decided to leave the company with E’Dawn so that they can be free to date without a company destroying their feelings for each other. I have hope that she will continue to succeed without Cube Entertainment holding her back.

Now, of course, as a fan of 9 years, there is one group I hold in higher regard than any other. The girl group 2NE1 will forever remain my favorite for one sole reason: their love towards their fans.

2NE1 formed officially in 2009 and remained active until 2016. This girl group stands out above other 2nd generation artists as they were considered the “girl crush” type of style in their performances. The members include CL the main rapper, Bom Park as main vocals, Dara as the overall visuals of the group, and Minzy the main dancer. One of their most viewed songs on YouTube is “I Am The Best”, which will seem familiar as most commercials have featured this song for electronic products. During their active years, they had their own show called 2NE1 TV, where they allowed fans in to see their bond with each other behind the scenes from their busy lives as artists. 2NE1 also competed for MTV Iggy’s Best New Band in 2011 & won this title where they were able to perform their music for fans worldwide on MTV.

Unfortunately, when the member Bom Park’s name started appearing in the news for a controversial scandal involving medication and being prescribed them in a different country that doesn’t follow South Korea’s laws, the girl group fell into a hiatus for about a year and then appeared in the 2015 MAMA Awards in South Korea for what would be the last appearance as a group. A few months later, the girls officially announced their disbandment, and ended their time together with their heartbreaking song, “Goodbye”.

Since this group had been my favorite for years, it broke my heart…to the point where it almost felt like I was going to quit my interest in K-POP. But being part of this fan-base reminded me that, even though they are no longer together as a group, we should still support them in their solo endeavors. As of right now, CL is trying to debut as an artist in America, Bom has made a recent appearance in the Netflix show YG Future Strategy Office and has been teasing a possible comeback, Minzy is a solo artist who just graduated university, and Dara is back home in the Philippines doing talk shows & traveling the world.

As a K-POP fan, I can wholeheartedly tell you that the dedication you put towards the genre goes a long way into helping you connect with not only the artists, but the culture surrounding the genre.

With that said, there’s actually a lot more that goes into supporting an artist’s music. Of course, you an buy merchandise from trusted sites or shops, attend K-Con Los Angeles or New York for an ultimate K-POP experience, and create forums to connect with other fans around the world. Honestly, just being an international fan allows you to gain so much respect for the artist and their dedication to become a well-known sensation. There’s so much heart and soul that goes into the music and choreography alone, that fans are willing to make the artist has taken the time to take care of themselves. They will even ensure that an artist eaten or slept enough before seeing them live.

Overall, I recommend that everyone jump into the so-called “bandwagon” and show your support for the K-POP community. It’s amazing to see that K-Pop as a whole is finally being represented in the United States with plenty of support from American celebrities. One thing is for certain; K-Pop won’t be fading away anytime soon.

Written by: Sofia Gomez

Interpol @ Open Air Theater

People thought rock was dead; Interpol showed us otherwise.

Legendary post-punk band Interpol came to shred underneath the disco ball at the CalCoast Credit Union Open Air Theater, just one of many stops on their North American tour promoting their sixth studio album, Marauder. Completing the night’s bill were indie-rock trio Sunflower Bean and punk duo The Kills – a lineup which had several of my friends drooling with envy when I told them I’d be in attendance. Which, if I’m being honest, left me more than a little confused. Who listens to rock anymore? Punk hasn’t been cool since the Arctic Monkeys abandoned ship and indie-rock is teetering on the edge of irrelevance post-Mac Demarco. Although these claims may border on outrageous, it cannot be denied that the rock genre has been eclipsed in recent years by pop, EDM, and hip-hop.

Clearly none of the groups on stage got that memo.

Kicking off the night in outfits that would make any art hoe scream “yassss queen,” Sunflower Bean came to rock n roll. Straying from the Fleetwood Mac-influenced sound of their studio recordings, the trio amped up the energy with ripping solos from guitarist Nick Kivlen and raw, throaty vocals from singer/bassist Julia Cumming. With their blonde heads a-banging and trousers a-sparkling, Sunflower Bean’s entire existence pays homage to the genre which birthed them. Unfortunately, the band did suffer from the Indifferent Crowd Syndrome (ICS) that commonly plagues opening acts. Despite seemingly fazing the band, they still left the stage with this bold statement: “We’re Sunflower Bean and don’t you forget it!” Don’t worry, girl, I won’t.

Tunes to scope out: I Was Home, Twentytwo, I Was a Fool

Up next came the skinny-jean clad duo The Kills. The most notable aspect of their performance was the “the strut;” considering it’s been 15 years since their first LP, singer Allison Mosshart’s ability to own whatever stage her leather boots find themselves is downright impressive. Limbs rolling, long blond hair flowing, her control and ease over the environment is almost enough to compensate for the incomplete sound produced by the two guitars and drum kit. With moody, analog interludes, experimental guitar synths, the Kills are looking to take the genre somewhere. Where exactly, they have no definitive answer.

Tunes to scope out: Doing It to Death, Baby Says

At this point in the show, I was still inclined to believe that rock n roll is dead. Sunflower Bean and the Kills were both great bands, but neither seem to have the potential to revive the ailing genre. But as I furiously typed notes into my phone, I heard it. Life. The audience roars and rises to their feet as Interpol arrived to save us all.

Photo credited to the San Diego Union Tribune

Let me paint the scene for ya. A dark stage. Simple white spotlights cast light from behind the band, creating an eerie shadow of a band already dressed black. Then a single white light behind center stage rises to meet the disco ball, splaying light out to the crowd. It’s a simple set-up, but effective; Interpol’s music can speak for itself. You get the feeling they are at the service of the music. The band has mastered a suave rock sound that seduces you with every melancholy lyric singer Paul Banks wails with his haunting twang, and I am hit by a wall of sound, filled with textures and colors I’ve seen before, but perhaps not in this combination. Every song “bangs” and I can’t help but move my body to the beat, swaying my head back and forth so that I could hear every note. You can listen to Interpol’s entire set with your eyes closed, the music is a show in and of itself. And then it’s over, and I feel as if I’ve been abruptly woken from a sweet dream. The band humbly exits, it’s duty to the music completed: “We are Interpol, and that’s what we got.”

So, much to my chagrin, rock does live! It has bands like Interpol to keep its heart beating, and an audience desperate to consume it. The problem is that we’ve heard all these sounds before. Interpol’s music is superb, but the band has done little experimenting in their long career. I guess it’s true, if it’s not broke, don’t fix it, but sticking with a sound that just works isn’t enough to compete with pop and hip-hop artists who cater to fans with an incessant appetite for new content. Interpol’s Marauder is enough to keep rock alive, if only just alive.

Tunes to scope out: If You Really Love Nothing, Evil, Pioneer to the Falls

Review by: Michaela Alejandra

Dreams From The Stars: Apocalypse How

In this series, we expose the dreams written by our wonderful KCR members. Today, Ahmad Dixon takes us through his post-apocalyptic nightmare.

 

I remember waking up last Wednesday and everything felt just a bit off. I really can’t properly describe what I felt but it was a more… crispy version of the normal existential dread you feel on a weekday. I initially blamed the spicy food I ate the previous night and went through my normal routine. I made myself a bowl of oatmeal, poured some orange juice, and switched on the local news. I thought it was peculiar that the anchors were either throwing up, crying, or both but I continued to watch because I wanted to catch the weather report to see if I needed a jacket. After one of the anchors pulled themselves together I learned that while I was asleep World War Three had apparently declared and the United States was fighting a brutal battle against all its enemies from all sides.

I can’t say that I was surprised by this new development but as a bleeding heart liberal I was pretty disappointed that my country was fighting another pointless war to preserve freedom or something. I tried to figure out what the war was about but at that point the newscasters were mumbling incoherently before cutting to commercial. I think the war was either about oil, Russian aggression in Ukraine, the South China Sea, Syria, a used car tent sale, or Eggo Homestyle Waffles. I was really hoping that it was about waffles, because that’s a cause I’ve always been willing to fight and die for.

I flicked off the television and contemplated my next move. I did the first rational thing that came to mind and checked my email. Apparently class hadn’t be cancelled due to Armageddon, and I needed the participation points, so I decided to go to school. I grabbed a coat out the closet (the forecast called for nuclear winter), put on my trusty gas mask, and got into the car.

My commute was fairly quick; on the freeway everyone was going the other way to try and get out of the city, but I kept having the swerve to avoid landmines. I accidentally hit one but thankfully it was a dud. That’s Russian manufacturing for you, or maybe we were fighting the Chinese? North Koreans? Honestly we could have been fighting the British for all I know, I wasn’t really paying attention. While in the car I was listening to NPR and it appeared that the Washington D.C. office had been taken over by a group of far-left communists, either that or they were just playing their normal morning programming. Again, not really paying attention.

When I finally did get to school the entire parking structure was empty, so the day wasn’t a total loss. I had parked up front on the first floor of parking structure three when suddenly, a sniper shot out both my front tires. I was fairly offended by this because it was obvious that they weren’t trying to kill me, just annoy me. As I walked away they shot out one of my headlights, jerk.

As I made my way through campus, I looked around and took stock of my environment. Graffiti was everywhere (“the end is nigh,” “God have mercy on our souls,” “help!”), there weren’t many students around but the few that were seemed to be in the midst of a severe mental breakdown, many of the windows were broken, and there was trash everywhere. So really a normal day at San Diego State University, I felt kinda silly wearing my gas mask.

Picture from: The Union Tribune

Over at East Commons the only people in the lecture hall were me and my Professor, who was banging her head against the whiteboard and didn’t notice me come in. I watched her do this for a good fifteen minutes, I felt it was rude to interrupt. She eventually turned around and asked why I was there.

“I’m on the border between an A and a B. I need as many participation points as possible to maintain my GPA.” I said as I took out a pencil to take notes.

“Oh dear God! Who cares about grades it’s the end of the world!”

“Yeah well, try telling that to my parents. They were pretty cross when I didn’t get on the Dean’s list last semester.

“Listen, the only reason I’m here is because my house got shelled and I have literally no where else to go. I am not in the mood to give a lecture, especially when you’re the only person in the room.”

I snapped.

“You should have said something on Blackboard.”

“Okay, please leave…

If tomorrow ever comes I’ll give you and everyone else in the class an A. Just don’t come back.”

 

My professor turned around and started banging her head against the wall again. Mom and Dad will be so proud that I’m doing so well this semester.

After I went back outside, I noticed that the sky had turned a sickly orange and kinda looked like it was on fire. A couple of seconds later the sun disappeared and black rain began to fall, covering the concrete in a tar like substance. Usually, I try to catch rain on my tongue, but that seemed like a pretty awful idea today. I decided to skip the other class I had that day and started texting my friends to ask if any of them had access to a bomb shelter. I didn’t get any responses immediately so I found a nice spot to get away from the rain, sat down, and waited.

The rain eventually stopped, so I started to emerge from my nook when I noticed the fire had spread to our library. As I watched our library burn down, I began whistling the national anthem. Suddenly, I got a text telling me to head east to get to the community civil defense shelter. I mentally prepared myself to spend a long period of time underground and walked down the street totally alone.

Dreamed by: Ahmad Dixon