April 29, 2012 § Leave a Comment
I just got home from my brother in laws birthday drinks in down town Stockholm. I had to leave early due to work in the morning, though most people have taken tomorrow off because of national holiday on May 1st. As I also live kind of down town and since Stockholm is small I decided to walk home in the warm pre-summer night. Stockholm City is a favourite to walk in at night and this evening was just as beautiful as ever. Slowly, watching the people out in the streets and at bars with Infinites Nothings Over playing in my ears. It actually kind of felt like that, like nothings over and something great is just about to start.
And I wonder what Key is doing at the moment.
/The Future is Idol
April 26, 2012 § Leave a Comment
This might be their best looking video so far. Kevin never looked as good before. Also, I like the little tapping dance.
/The Future is Idol
April 26, 2012 § Leave a Comment
I started watching the fancams from SHINee Arena Tour in Japan because I wanted to see the weird little movie they’d done. And although the movie itself was awesome, what made the deepest impression was rather the fangirls in the background. Their weeping, groans, desperate crying out for their favourite members and general sounds of complete dedication made me both creeped out and jealous. They sound like they are completely losing themselves in a way that feels so far away from me and my way of life. But when I watch the fancam as if I were standing in the audience, I feel like I come just a little bit closer to seeing the world through their eyes.
Are those the eyes (and the sounds) of a real fangirl?
April 22, 2012 § Leave a Comment
There’s a feeling of circular movement as I stand in the audience on the evening of Super Show 4 at Zenith de Paris.
Most of the people present are not in any way fluent in Korean, some of them might not know a single word of the language, but as fans of this Kpop group we have worked hard to incorporate the music and lyrics of the Korean pop songs performed this evening into our lives. We are all able to sing a long to the lyrics and we almost know what they are about. Fans might do this out of love and passion, but it still is hard work doing it. To grasp the meaning of lyrics, jokes and meaning of everything going on the stage takes time. It’s fandom on a hell of a serious level.
Many of the fans has also added gestures, sounds to display emotions and words to every day life that in some ways could be described as Korean. My own way of expressing feelings, I must confess, sound like something out of a K-drama from time to time. And when I for the first time watched Super Juniors version of Song Gol Maes A Chance Encounter I started learning about, and burried myself in older Korean rock and pop music.
Super Junior on the other hand has also worked hard as hell, with assimilating western culture into their performances. And of course, why not. Even if Kpop is on the march and spreads over the globe it is but nothing in comparison with the pop cultural grip the western world still holds on the planet. There for, it is perfectly natural that most of the performances in Super Show has an aura of west surrounding it.
At the beginning of the concert, as the MV intro is shown, Super Junior grow wings, shoots out of water and flies in over a city landscape. Is it Seoul, Tokyo, Shanghai or some other extremely cool and urban city in East Asia? No the city is of course New York, the symbol of western and all the worlds modern culture.
At one point all of the members comes in on stage dressed in costumes. Shindong as Britney Spears, Kyuhyun as Steve Jobs, Sungmin is Marilyn Monroe, Yesung Chuckie, Leeteuk Hulk Hogan, Donghae Charlie Chaplin, and so on. Parts of western pop culture used by Super Junior while performing all over Asia, and now also by doing so in Europe, stuffing it with a bit of new context . What is Charlie Chaplin really to the Super Junior members?
Every member also gets to do there own solo, and most of them are remakes of western global pop songs. Leeteuk, the leader of Super Junior plays a bit of Chopin but then moves on to a performance of SHE. Kyuhyun imitates Stevie Wonder and performs Isn’t she lovely. And I for one never really cared for Moves like Jagger before Ryeowook started doing this track as his solo performance at SS4.
The exchange of cultural understanding is almost laughable. How very strange and wonderful this world is.
/The Future is Idol
April 19, 2012 § Leave a Comment
I obviously think a lot about fangirlism, being a fan of a real, living person, and being a fan of the persona a real, living person adopts as an idol. I think about life choices, secrets and admiration. I think about reality, day dreaming and what desire or attraction means. I think about what it would be for me to actually face an idol.
One of my favourite idols all time is Shim Changmin of DBSK. I watched this video yesterday, and thought about how Changmin’s also one of the most beautiful people I know of. But I have always had problems with that. One reason for that is that he is so much of a guy; there isn’t really any (to me) visible ambiguosity or blurred lines when it comes to that. Another is that though he – almost ten years after debuting – is almost perfectly trained at being an idol, I don’t think he’s very comfortable with it. He seems, in many ways, to actually wish for something else than his idol life. I have, at a couple of times, tried to explain the unease I feel at the thought of meeting him as a fan meets an idol as something that comes of him being to real to me for that. But tonight, when I rode my bike home after having spent an hour or so with two people who have actually seen him in person and could definitely tell me that it really was like meeting a star, I realized that it’s not about him being real to me. No. That’s not the problem. The problem is that I actually wished he were, and there is something in that, that makes me very vulnerable or maybe even slightly pathetic, and something I’m very, very uncomfortable with.
April 11, 2012 § 2 Comments
If you happen to be in Paris and also to be a fan of Kpop, there are atleast one adress you have to visit. Why? Because there are not that many other places in Europe to buy Kpop cds and merch in shop.
The nearest Metro stations are Porte d’Ivry or Porte de Choisy and the adress is 44 Avenue d’Ivry, then take the stairs to the first floor. TAI YOU and Musica are both shops with a surprisingly wide range of CDs, posters, stickers and other important things for a Kpop fan. Both me and my friend bought at cushion with f(x) Amber as the print! I also bought a SNSD poster from the repackage version of The Boys and a pin that says I ♥ Key.
Would have bought more if I had room in my luggage, Guess it gives me reason to go back to Paris soon. If you want more pictures from the Super Sow 4 weekend in Paris, go to our Facebook page and have a look at the album Kpop in Europe.
/The Future is Idol
April 10, 2012 § 1 Comment
The Super Show 4 Paris experience.
As it was announced that Super Junior would hold their first concert ever in Europe on April 6 2012, it was also quite soon decided that I would be attending. I have written this so many times before and will probably keep on repeating: Super Junior was the reason for me to become, and also a reason to remain a Kpop addict. Since then, I’ve been so extremly nervous of how this concert would turn out, and eventually I had to get angry with myself for becoming quite the imbecile of fandom.
But, never trust an idol beforehand is a motto of mine. Do it afterwards when you really know how great it turned out.
The epic evening starts as this boyband of nine men are introduced with a screened hd-music video, showing them half-naked swimming under water, growing wings, rising to the sky over Manhattan, and then land ready for performing their Super Show. It is unbelievably beautifully done and in some ways, extremely Kpop. Very much what the audience is craving for.
The concert then really kicks off when Superman, a track from the autumn of 2011 is blasted out over the arena as the members rise, backlighted in red simultaneously out of the floor.
For me, this dramatic track has taken the place of a lament over Super Junior and the groups past, not always so cheerful history and it ads something really bombastic, a serious side and an aire of sadness to the glimmering show about to happen. For everyone who can count this is at least partly relevant, as they could have been 13 members on stage. Many of us will remember and miss those of different reasons not present this evening. What remains are nine members, on a moving stage that slides out in the audience while Superman continues and who just the same are about to take their group to the very top of fame.
And as Super Junior continue the evening with Opera, another newer track, there is little room and time for gloom and you are taken back to the fact that Super Junior there and now at Zenith de Paris, is more popular then ever before. The arena is lit by thousands of blue light sticks, the official colour of this group and there are no mistaking why people are there.
As Super Junior has been at the very center of my attention for quite a few years now, I was hoping for and expecting a couple of things from this concert, and I believe I got most of them this Friday evening in Paris.
First of all, the fact that I ever got the chance to witness Super Junior do a live performance is still a bit hard for me to grasp. I have followed them closely since 2009 and watched many of their concert performances on YouTube, getting to know their type of shows and longing to see it live. When all of a sudden the members run out in the audience (They keep doing this over and over through out the show) and you have them only a couple of metres away from your seating you finally begin to understand that this is happening.
Second, what makes a Super Show different from many other concerts is to what extent the members of this group play out their dorky personas on stage. To watch a Super Show is not merely a concert with peformances of their top tracks, but also a cavalcade of stupid costumes, non coreography, jokes and many moments of spontanious confusion as they make the audience fall in love with Super Junior. A recipe that has proved to work more then well with the fans. As the concert closes in on four hours we have been able to witness Super Juni0r dressed among others as Steve Jobs, Britney Spears, Hulk Hogan, Chuckie, Marilyn Monroe and the entire Von Trapp family. To see this makes it worth all the money and time spent.
Every member as always, except this time Shindong(!) of some weird reason has their own solo to show of their individual talents. Mostly remakes of international English pop music. Strange examples as Kyuhyun with a version of Isn’t She Lovely and Leeteuk with SHE. The ones that really stands out is lead singer Yesung with his incredible voice and smooth ballad sung in Korean and Ryeowoks upbeat Moves Like Jagger. All of this is done in close interaction with their audience. Super Junior is highly aknowledged for these abilities and it is of huge importance to their fanbase.
Through out the show we have also been able to see modern classics, tracks such as Pyjama Party, Don’t Don, A Man in Love, Mr.Simple, Superman and Sorry Sorry being performed. For those of you reading this not familiar with the tracks listed it will be hard to understand the deep pop cultural impact some of them have had on East Asia and other parts of the world over the last couple of years. But these are facts that a simple google search can verify.
Super Junior is a super group, not only to it’s scale but also to the extent they are known and listened to at the moment. The single release from the autumn of 2011, Mr.Simple, has just achieved more then 40 million views on YouTube, which must be said is quite well done by a track sung in Korean.
Who would have even dared to guess back in 2009 that I, that we, would have reached this point of fandom? If Johanna, my companion to this concert would have told me back then that we would buy tickets to a Kpop concert in Paris, travel all the way there and think of it as something of utmost importance or that there would be a fanbase this big in Europe, I would probably see that it could happen, but not really think that it some day would.
The fact that it does happen and continuosly seem to do so in Paris also deserves to be mentioned. France seems to have become the base for Kpop in Europe, the first stop for any Korean artist embarking on the European market. Paris have the biggest Korean population in Europe and there are more then one shop to buy Kpop albums and merch in. Kpop groups are also doing their best to please this European market, but as they do so the confusion of languages emerge.
Europe is in a Korean way of thinking probably just as homogenous as East Asia is in a European perspective. Therefore much of the speaking parts in this concert is simultaneously translated, into French. As a service for the European fanbase and for the interaction during the show. Understandable in some aspects, but on the other hand a dilemma since probably almost half of the arena are unable to understand what is going on. Because even if fifty percent of the audience in the arena are of French origin, the rest is not. My own French is quite rusty and some of the magialc interaction with the group on stage is of this reason lost.
As two girls are invited on to the stage and they are given instructions in french by the interpreter. The problem is that one of the girls is not French at all and does not understand a word until Siwon repeats them whispering in English in her ear. When time comes to congratulate Siwon and Eunhyuk on their respective birthdays, the song though is not in French but the English standard version of Happy Birthday. Also understandable for a group from South Korea, on of the most amercanized and westernized countries in the world. The members of Super Junior have all practised hard learning greetings in French, a nice gesture but again it goes a bit wrong since so many people present are not French at all.
It is hard to make comparision to other big acts, lets say from America, but really, English will probably be a more useful language for Kpop groups in Europe since the fans come from all over. The intentions though all the best.
One thing that comes to mind as critique has got to do with choices. The choices of songs to perform. This is a group with five albums and dozens of mini albums to pick material from, but who picks the songs? The third and magic album Sorry Sorry is only represented with one track, Sorry Sorry itself which is saved to the encore performance, something that leaves me with a tiny bit of a question mark in my head. I’m fully aware that the latest album is the more important album to perform, but looking at it in perspective of quality of music they clearly could have done other choices for this tour. To miss out on performing top tracks like It’s You and No Other is in my eyes quite unforgivable.
The quality of music is, on the other hand only one of many aspects as you attend the a concert such as Super Show, and it is impossible for me to leave Zenith de Paris with out thinking that I’ve just been a part of historical magic.
The Future is Idol – and EverLastingFriends
April 7, 2012 § 2 Comments
I was never a boyband fan. I didn’t really get the deal with Backstreet Boys – maybe I was just a tad too young, though I should have been a kind of appropriate age for N’Sync or 5ive, or at least for Spice Girls. But though I could understand the catchiness of the songs, my feeling of otherness was too strong for me to participate in pretty much anything that my classmates liked. I tried, a couple of times. But the Spice Girls era never really drew my in as much as my books did, and when I got into my tween years, I got online for real and continued shaping the alternative identity I had already gotten started on years before. I liked other stuff than my classmates. I also liked that stuff because my classmates didn’t like it. It was either finding a pride in that or giving blending in another try, which I was simply convinced I would fail at.
My obsession with Morrissey was partly dependent on his outsider mentality, though clearly expressed with a lot of self-irony. I would, half seriously, halv as a joke say: “Only Morrissey understands me”, knowing that this was a common chant around the world. But I was always looking for music where I could recognize a self I thought unique, both to accentuate the uniqueness and blur the loneliness.
Today, I took a walk and listened to both old and new Swedish indie music as well as some of my favourite mainstream ballads from both West and East, and realized how much my view on this has changed just during the last year. When I used to seek in others for what I found in myself, I now seek in myself for what I find in others. When I got into kpop, I still could mainly listen to the happy, upbeat songs, the clean and peppy dance tracks. I liked the thought of millions of people dancing the same dance, singing along all over the world, though especially in Asia. But for “serious purposes”, I still needed music in languages I could understand, preferrably of fairly arcane kinds. If I recognized myself in the music, I identified with the singer or musician who had written it, but not with all the other people who had listened to it. If others liked it, I saw that as a sign that I might have something in common with those particular people, but not with people in general. Now I find comfort in listening to the mainstream ballads too, especially when knowing that millions of people all over the world have listened to the same music and maybe not danced the same dance to it, but definitely – oh, the wonderful banality of life! – hurt and longed the same way I hurt and long.
When DBSK had five members, they made this wonderful japanese ballad called どうして君を好きになってしまったんだろう (“Why Did I Fall In Love With You”). Some awesome stranger had put it up as a help for remembering the japanese word どうして (doushite/why) on Memrise and I’ve had it stuck in my brain ever since. Here you go (also, here is one of my favourite fan parodies ever. I mean ever.)
April 1, 2012 § Leave a Comment
Sorry. I just had to post this. I’m wearing a similar shirt at the moment… Nothing hurts.
/Mis, the fangirl
April 1, 2012 § Leave a Comment
Guerilla Date is an aspect of kpop that I can’t really handle. On one hand, I love it, because it’s all about fan service – one of the things I love the most about kpop. On the other hand, it’s usually a bit too much for me to take, and I end up having to pause the video every 20 seconds so I can blush and facepalm for a couple of minutes before I get back to watching. Too time-consuming. Not always worth it.
However, today I decided to watch the SHINee episode of Guerilla Date, and it turned out to be awesome. As anyone who reads this blog would have noticed, both Lars and I are pretty obsessed with Key, and though I do like SHINee as a group, I’m not sure I would have paid as close attention to them if it weren’t for him. However, it has taken quite some time for me to start liking Jonghyun. Thinking that he seemed to be something of a bully, I used to have a slight disdain for Jonghyun, and honestly felt a bit annoyed at how good friends he and Key seemed to be. In just the last couple of months, however, I’ve grown to like him more and more, and I have to admit, that guy is a twitter natural. Pretty much one of the best twitters I’ve ever seen. I would have followed it even if I had no idea who he was, and with Heechul tweeting less as he’s off doing community service, there was definitely a huge twitter troll void after him. Of course, it could be that I just didn’t see through to Jonghyuns awesomeness earlier, but I honestly also think that he’s grown up a bit, softening his bluntness and sharpening his sense of humor. What amazes me the most is the sheer amount of time that he must be spending on the Internet at the moment. I’m pretty sure he has always been a sneaky secret netizen, but since he joined twitter, it’s completely gotten out of hand, and I love it almost as much as I love changing my opinion about someone for the better. Whatever. I’ve always watched SHINee in varieties mostly for Key and a little for Onew, but even if Jonghyun’s apparent yearning for variety shows would turn out making him going on them on his own, I’d probably watch. A dream coming true, though, would be for the whole of SHINee to appear on Running Man together YES PLEASE CAN WE HAVE THAT I WANT IT YES oh I just realized I haven’t even mentioned how I did pretty much nothing on my free time (which is very sparse, usually, but still!) but watch Running Man for a couple of weeks earlier this year. Anyways, that would be epic.
On the other hand, someone that I’ve always liked is Onew. But it seems like I’ve liked him for other reason than lots of his fans. The famous “Onew sangtae” has never really appealed to me as such, neither have the dubu image. What I’ve found interesting is the combination of this and what I don’t really know how to refer to other than Onew’s “darker sides” – a tendency to go just slightly too far in just slightly too mean jokes, his self-proclaimed depressiveness and imperturbable integrity. And since he came back from his recent hiatus, which SME says was because of an ankle injury (seriously…?) but everybody know was because of a depression or crisis or something, this darkness seems to have become even more prominent. Or has he, also, grown up, shredded some youthful dorkiness and taken on a more serious persona? I’m not sure. However, something that I really did love about this episode of Guerilla Date is how the MC brought forth one of the most interesting aspects I know in kpop: The difference between the public persona and the actual person. So interesting.
Sigh. I could go on forever about this episode, but I don’t think that would get anywhere… Just take a look, if you haven’t already: