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Aquaria

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Gender: Do not display
Hometown: Texas
Member since: Wed Oct 23, 2019, 01:35 AM
Number of posts: 1,076

Journal Archives

Texas shoppers - HEB Update

All coupons have been discontinued, including digital coupons.

They're expecting most supply chains and inventory to stabilize within 2-3 weeks after this initial panic wave dies down, but a warning to all those asshats who bought 2000 rolls of TP:

HEB will probably NOT honor returns of TP and some of the other hoarded items. The majority of non-perishable items have a 90-day return window, but HEB also reserves the right to refuse any returns, when necessary. They don't hide this fact, either. It's right on the website, for anyone to see (scroll all the way down):

H-E-B reserves the right to limit or refuse any refund.


https://www.heb.com/static-page/article-template/H-E-B-Refund-Policy

And they are wanting to put TP at #1 on that list right now. So it sucks to be you, hoarders.

The funny news from HEB:

An item that one would expect to get wiped out hard that hasn't been? Coffee. My husband says it's taken a hit, but a lot less than most items. His store, at least, still has an adequate supply of it on the shelves.

Chocolate, too, is doing just fine.

Go figure. Those are two major food groups in our household!

Notice to Texans: HEB major changes

My husband works for HEB, and the word just came down of some major operational changes they’re having to make.

Thanks to the panic buying, all HEB stores are changing their store hours to 8 am to 8 pm until the supply chain stabilizes. Their overnight crews stocking shelves and doing inventory simply can’t keep up.

They will also suspend all ads until further notice.

No word yet on if they’re suspending all sales or their coupon programs.

I will update as soon as I learn more.

My KPop Playlist: APink Nonono, Sans Video or Content Commentary, because that's Spam. Really.

Apparently, the admin of this site considers my commentary about the music that I listen to as "commercial content" or "spam," rather than having a geeky taste in a niche music genre, along with a penchant for making observations about that genre and other aspects of the culture associated with it, from a fan perspective. Never mind how I haven't shared videos from only one artist, or even artists for only one label--as would seem typical of a commercial content promoter. Funny, I've covered a variety of artists, from all kinds of labels. I also haven't linked to any of the artists or the labels directly, and only once to a social media account for any of them (and that was in relation to US Politics, NOT over music!). My links have otherwise been to Youtube videos and pictures of the artists from a variety of sites for general information purposes, and not from the actual artists or companies they work for. All of this is unlike anything commercial promoters do in the real world.

And how anyone could see commercial content in someone ragging on a group for being overly cutesie, as the deleted post about this very group and video did, I'll never know, but there you have it. I'm kinda hard on some of these artists and especially the labels. If I were an artist or label, I'd fire someone like me if the things I talked about regarding them was my idea of promoting something.

I guess that liking a niche music genre that not many know about, and OH DEAR FSM PASTA BE UPON HIM, committing the cardinal sin of expressing opinions about it, makes me a shill for it, in some bizarro land notion of "commercial content." Heaven forbid I have an OPINION about what I see and hear or what I consider interesting information about the videos I like, and even worse, express any of that! OUT LOUD, no less! That's just beyond the pale.

So I guess I'm not allowed to share videos of the MUSIC that I APPRECIATE in a MUSIC APPRECIATION forum, and I can never never never never never comment about the artists, their music, the industry, or the greater cultural issues around them on top of that. Never mind how the purpose statement says that this forum exists for just that. Apparently that has only selective applications. Because I might be guilty of shilling "commercial content" otherwise, since, you know, there can't be any normal reason for someone to talk about the aspects of a little-known music genre that affects their APPRECIATION of said genre. Nobody can do that for the love of music. Nope, it just has to be about personally profiting off it, amirite?

You know what: If I'm the spammer/commercial content promoter I'm accused of being, I'd sure like to know when the FUCK I'll get paid for it. I'd damned sure demand some $$$$$$ if someone was putting me up to yammering about any topic to make someone else rich. But as of yet, I'm still some working class stiff housewife living in a working class neighborhood who is deciding if this is the month she should tackle the pile of medical bills from her cancer treatment and three surgeries, or ignore all that to pay the electric bill.

Of course, on the bright side, maybe I should find it flattering that some idiot with a power complex thought I was good enough to pass for a "commercial content" promoter. I must be a better writer than I thought!

My KPop Playlist: APink - NoNoNo

APink debuted in 2011 with Plan A, wait--A Cube, sorry--Play M Entertainment. Obviously, the company has tried to settle on their name, but APink and their success have both been a constant for them. And this girl group is very popular. Scary so.



Left to right: HaYoung, BoMi, EunJi, ChoRong, NamJoo and NaEun.

Who does what:

ChoRong (Park ChoRong): Leader, rapper, vocalist

BoMi (Yoon BoMi): Vocalist, rapper

EunJi (Jung EunJi): Lead vocalist, face of the group

NaEun (Son NaEun): Vocalist, rapper, visual

YooKyung (Hong YooKyung): Former rapper and vocalist.

NamJoo (Kim NamJoo): Vocalist, rapper

HaYoung (Oh HaYoung): Vocalist, rapper, maknae

Notice that YooKyung is a former member. There wasn’t any controversy here like an arrest or suing her company for sexual harassment or any of that. Come on. This is APink, who doesn't do things even hinting at controversy. No, YooKyung left for a sound and practical reason in 2013: To focus on her college studies.

As you might have surmised from the above revelations, and from the photo of them, APink is a cutesie girl group. In fact, they may be the cutesiest of cutesie girl groups. I’m sure everyone by now is aware of my aversion to such an animal, so it must come as a surprise that I have a song by this ultimate cutesie KPop girl group in my playlist.

Call it the Momoland “Bboom Bboom” effect. I’m not a fan of the majority of APink’s catalogue, but “NoNoNo” was one of those earworms that worked its way into my brain and wouldn’t let up. Now I like its uplifting message and killer beat. Plus, EunJi’s soaring vocals make the tune irresistible. English lyrics make it clear how deathly cutesie this song is. Click on the CC to see what I mean:



Are your teeth hurting yet? I know mine have all but rotted from my head from that much sweetness. This is the kind of song or group you listen to when you want a reminder that the world can be a good place, full of innocence, kindness and light. Sometimes, we all need that.

The song has become iconic not only for the fluffy pop perfection that it is, but also for its rear view, butt-swishing dance. Nearly every boy band gets tasked with imitating it on variety shows or during their own concerts, sooner or later. BTS has one of the more famous examples that is easy to find on YouTube.

You won’t see many songs like this from me in the future, so if your thing is super-girly KPop groups, enjoy this one while it’s here. It will have to sustain you for a good long while.

If you don’t live in any danger of a diabetic coma, then here’s the live version:



-- -- -- --

Trivia:

Fandom name: Pink Panda (OMG—Make it stop)

Fandom color: What else? Strawberry PINK.

I’m afraid to learn more about them. I’m diabetic. I can stand only so much sweet before I have to worry about the coma.

My KPop Playlist: SHINee - Replay (Bonus: This is when KPop intersects with US Politics)

SHINee (pronounced “shiny”) is an SM group that started out with five members in 2008, but now has only four after the 18 December 2017 suicide of their lead vocalist (and frequent songwriter) Jonghyun, who was the subject of my very first post about KPop here.

Even though he’s passed away, I include a picture of them when Jonghyun was still with the group, because once SHINee, always SHINee:



From left to right: ONew, MinHo, TaeMin, the late JongHyun and Key

Who does (or did) what:

ONew (Lee JinKi): Leader and main vocalist

JongHyun (Kim JongHyun): Former lead vocalist extraordinaire and songwriter.

Key (Kim KiBum): Vocalist, rapper.

MinHo (Choi MinHo): Rapper, visual of the group

Taemin (Lee TaeMin): Lead Dancer, (now) lead vocalist and maknae

So what's the political tie-in? It's a small one but it does exist. Take a look at who name-checked them at an international conference in 2017 while discussing how globalization was making young people more aware of each other’s cultures:



I have a feeling, though, that the actual SHINee fan in the Obama household is Malia or Sasha. Or both. It's that, or Obama did his homework before speaking at the conference. You just know that the disgusting traitor trash pig pretending to be Obama's replacement has not one fucking clue that KPop exists, never mind who SHINee is, and wouldn't bother to find out anything about it, even if someone told him about it.

Anyway, SHINee members were in awe that Obama even knew who they were. English-speaking Key thanked the former President for his kind words, and vowed to continue working hard for the growth of global culture:

https://www.instagram.com/p/BWE_rxpjdZT/?utm_source=ig_embed

Imagine them taking pride in hearing something like that from Dolt45.

In another intersection between SHINee and American politics, a video went viral of MinHo upstaging the treasonous racist HOTUS:



I would have refused to appear with that filthy tramp, but KPop stars don't always get a say in what publicity stunts they have to play along with.

Well, enough about that. Back to the music.

SHINee was the group that got me into KPop, in a big way. Granted, I didn’t get there through a typical route. My path was from being a fan of the Japanese manga, Hana Yori Dango, and the Koreans (among many others) did a live-action version of it in 2009 called Boys Over Flowers, which is what ‘hana yori dango’ means. The show was meh, but SHINee had one of the songs on the soundtrack called “Stand By Me,” which is not the same as the BB King version we all know. No, theirs was a sweet and pleasant pop song, not all that interesting, musically…except for the vocals, which were so good that I couldn’t get the song out of my head.

Well before Boys Over Flowers aired, SHINee was famous for their first release, “Replay,” which most KPop fans and critics consider the greatest debut from a Korean group, ever. The song is about a guy in love with an older woman, as the repeated references to "noona" makes clear. For those who don't know, "noona" is the honorific that males use for women senior to them. Technically, it means (a guy's) "older sister," but it's used as an endearment outside of sibling relationships. Anyway, the song being about guys in love with an older woman had SHINee appealing to a market with far more buying power than teenagers, something most labels struggle to appeal to. Ever since "Replay," SHINee has had the most diverse fan base, age-wise, of any KPop group.

Musically, "Replay" has a definite Boys II Men type of vibe that may not suit every taste; however, when SHINee released this song, the age range of the group was 14 (Taemin) to 18 (Onew). For guys that young to release a song with so much vocal prowess and sophistication was remarkable, and a mere taste of what was to come with the band. Starting with their debut, SHINee established a reputation as one of the best vocal groups in all of KPop, and even beyond Korea’s borders. Four of their singers could have easily been lead vocalists in other groups. They are that good, and “Replay” told us from the beginning that they would be:



If you think the dense harmonies and raw talent demonstrated in Replay had to be a fluke or studio wizardry, well, here’s the live performance:



Like Mamamoo, SHINee has the kind of vocal chops that encourages them to take risks with their music, but they can be even more experimental, when it suits them. Example: Tucked into the Everybody "mini"-album (when did 7 songs = a mini-album?) is a strange tune called "One Minute Back" that plays with sounds and tempos moving backward and forward through time. Pet Sounds or Sgt. Pepper's, it isn't, but it's not all that far off from fitting into one of those albums, either. You never know when you put on a new SHINee album what decidedly non-KPop type of tune will come out of your speakers. They can be surprising that way.

I’ll come back to SHINee more often later, after other groups get their time in the spotlight. I can’t ignore them beyond that because their catalogue of brilliant pop gems could easily take a month or more of daily posts to cover them all.

Still, I wanted to start with where they began, because “Replay” remains an iconic song to this day. It also has a special place in the hearts of all Shawols, as the fandom of SHINee is known. When JongHyun died, tens of thousands of mourners sang this song at impromptu memorial gatherings in his honor that took place around the world, because “Replay” is and always will be the ultimate SHINee song. Plus, JongHyun is the one who made this song (and thus SHINee) famous with the amazing ad-libs he lays down throughout the track. That he was only 17 when he recorded it makes the achievement all the more remarkable.

---------

Trivia:

The Shawol fandom name is a portmanteau derived from SHINee World, the title of their first album. SHINee World is also the name of their subsequent major concert tours.

Fandom colors: Green and white

Key got his stage name not only because it's a clever take on the way the first syllable of his given name sounds (KiBum), but because Kim KiBum of Super Junior was already performing under that name. And that's not counting the Kim KiBum in U-Kiss, who goes by the stage name Allen Kim, to avoid confusion with the other two KPop Kim KiBums.

SHINee has long had a wardrobe consultant who created what became known as the “SHINee look,” of skinny pants and colorful shirts or jackets. While they don't always wear that look anymore, the innovative look made them fashion leaders on the KPop scene upon their debut.

At one time, SHINee had the most costly choreography ever arranged in KPop for their 2011 hit single, “Sherlock.” The price tag came from SM acquiring the services of Tony Testa, former choreographer for Michael Jackson. He taught them a “Cossack”-style maneuver that made the video an instant classic. He also did the choreography for their subsequent hits, "Dream Girl" and "Everybody."

There’s a video online of ONew holding a note for over 40 seconds without losing any power or clarity. In fact, the video quits before he does.

ONew is also notorious for his finger-slap, a move where he puts a hand against a surface—usually a forehead, pulls back his middle finger, and lets it go to hit something. His finger-slap is so strong that he can break walnuts with it.

A woman filed sexual harassment charges against ONew for groping her while he was out partying in 2017. The charges were later dropped and declared a misunderstanding from his drunkenness at the time. He apparently didn’t grope her boobs or pull a Dolt45, only touched her leg or ankle when he was falling down. I don't know what to believe, so I'll only go with the one thing that was clear from all reports: He was drunk out of his mind, even before he got to the club, so bad, bad ONew for getting that shit-faced.

SHINee had to make the heartbreaking choice to continue after the suicide of their lead vocalist and songwriter JongHyun in 2017. Their first concerts were tearfests, and they left blatant references to him in their first major MV release after his death, “Good Evening.” The reason they had to put out something—anything—was because most of the surviving members had to join the military soon, and they didn’t want to leave their fans with only a tragic memory to sustain them until the group could return.

Since the three eldest members are in the military now, maknae TaeMin is carrying the SHINee torch alone. The others will pick it up when they have completed their tours of duty (MinHo should be out by 2022). And that will be right when TaeMin will have to join up himself. I understand the group will do one final comeback as a quartet before he enlists.

It's still weird to me to think of them as having only four members, not five. It seems...wrong, somehow. But the reality is that JongHyun is gone now, and he won't ever come back.

RIP, JongHyun. You did well, and are still my KPop bias. Always will be.



Now excuse me while I go cry for a while. Two years later, and my heart can still break over his death.

My KPop Playlist: BoA - Woman

I realized the other day that I haven’t shared anything from my playlist that was a woman soloist. Bad Aquaria! So let me rectify that by introducing BoA, the “Queen of KPop.”



If I were to caption that, it would be, "Look upon me, mere mortal, and tremble."

BoA (Kwon BoAh) is yet another SM artist, but one who’s been around a L-O-N-G time. In 1998, she accompanied her brother to his audition at SM, but the company saw her potential instead. They offered her a contract before the day was out.

After two years of training, BoA debuted in 2000, at the ripe old age of 13. Her first album was successful in a respectable, but not spectacular way: Top 10 material, 150,000 plus units sold. Not bad. To expand her popularity (and SM’s international reach), her agency had her concentrate on pursuing success in Japan over the next two years. She released an album that had mediocre sales in 2001, but she persisted in building her popularity and name recognition by performing in Japanese clubs. In 2002, she released an album called Listen to My Heart, and hit the jackpot: It debuted at number 1 on the Oricon charts and sold over 1,000,000 units, both firsts for any Korean artist in Japan.

A month later, she released her second Korean album, No. 1, and the initial pressing sold out in a matter of days. After that, the album sold well over 500,000 units. In Korea alone. Which has a population ¼ of ours. That is crazy impressive.

She would later expand her brand into China, with great success, and made a go at trying to conquer America, her first “failure.” Although she did a duet with Sean Garrett and “Eat You Up,” her initial release in fall of 2008, reached #9 on the Billboard dance chart, she never gained much traction here, possibly because she had a harder time learning English. She did appear in the film Make Your Move 3D. It got mixed reviews, and has mediocre scores on the usual film critic sites.

Despite some occasional hiccups in her career, though, BoA remains one of the most popular and beloved KPop artists, even though she’s no longer a girl. Maybe that’s why her 2018 hit, “Woman,” is BoA telling the world that, like fine wine, age has only made her better. I’m not about to argue with her:



I love how she includes women of all ages, sizes and races in the video to show that it’s not what’s on the outside that makes women so awesome, but who we are as people. So, yes, even Korean women get the concept of grrl power—and aren’t afraid to express it.

This is the song I put on when I have to take on a bunch of idiot Texan men and (of course) win. Or when I’m feeling feisty and ready to take on the world.

Hm. Maybe that’s the same thing.

Oh—and a live performance, because BoA is no exception to the scary SM ability to find and develop amazing vocal talent:



Bow before the greatness that is Queen BoA.

-- -- -- --

Trivia

The clacking high heels at the beginning and end of the video are actually part of the song.

My KPop Playlist: Super Junior - Evanesce

Warning: Very long post ahead, because this is one of the most important and acclaimed groups in KPop.

Super Junior debuted in 2005 with SM Entertainment, and they have since become one of the biggest groups in all of KPop—and far beyond Korea’s borders. Their list of achievements is long and impressive:

* Most awards and nominations of all time on the Golden Disc and Melon Music Awards, the equivalents of Grammys and American Music Awards in Korea.

* Their 2009 megahit, “Sorry, Sorry,” was #1 on Taiwan’s music chart for 121 weeks. No, that is not a typo. “Bonamana” would top the same chart for 63 weeks, while “Mr. Simple” would stay at the top for 46 weeks.

* They are the group credited with starting the Korean Wave (Hallyu) in the West with the international success of their smash hit, “Sorry, Sorry” in 2009. The reason you know about BTS now is thanks to Super Junior.

* First Korean group to win an award competing against Western artists at a US awards show, the Teen Choice Awards. And then they did it again for the next three years as well.

* The first KPop group to reach 100 million online views for a music video (“Mr. Simple”).

* First Korean group to have a Korean gold single (250,000 units sold).

* First KPop group to have sub-units. So far, they’ve had five. I’ll cover some of them in later posts.

* The first Korean group to tour South America.

* First group to have 100 tours around the world.

* The first KPop group to collaborate with Latin artists: Dominican-American Leslie Grace for “Lo Siento,” and Mexico’s Reik for “Otra Vez.”

* The first KPop group to top charts in multiple countries outside of Asia. “Otra Vez” took the #1 position in 25 international charts after its release, from South America to the Middle East.

And that’s not going into the massive numbers of chart-topping hits and albums they’ve had in Korea and Japan.

All of this is why Super Junior, or SuJu as millions of fans call them, are known as the “Kings of Hallyu.”

While SM Entertainment probably had high hopes for the group, they had no idea Super Junior would turn out as huge as they became. They certainly never expected that it would be with the same core of members who started with the group.

That’s because SM didn’t envision Super Junior having a permanent roster. Instead, they wanted a group sort of like Menudo in Puerto Rico, where there would be a rotating membership with younger members replacing older ones who needed to be let go or chose to move on to other projects. They thought this would give the company not only more control of the product, but also keep the band fresh for years to come.

But it didn’t work out that way, because the fans fell in love with the initial lineup—and fell hard. Those original 12 members were:

LeeTeuk, AKA “Teukie” (Park Jung Soo): Leader and vocalist.

HeeChul (Kim HeeChul): Rapper and vocalist.

HanKyung, AKA “Hank” (Han Geng): Lead dancer and vocalist.

YeSung (Kim JongHoon): Main vocalist.

KangIn (Kim YoungWoon): Vocalist.

ShinDong (Shin DongHee): Rapper, choreographer.

SungMin (Lee SungMin): Lead vocalist.

Eunhyuk, AKA “Anchovie” (Lee HyukJae): Main rapper, main dancer, rap lyricist.

SiWon (Choi SiWon): Vocalist and visual.

DongHae (Lee DongHae): Vocalist and songwriter.

RyeoWook, AKA “Wookie” (Kim RyeoWook): Main vocalist

KiBum (Kim KiBum): Main rapper and former maknae.

And for better or worse, here’s what they looked like then (WARNING: Ugly 2000s fashion and hairdos ahead!):



Standing (l-r): YeSung, KangIn, Hank, SiWon, SungMin, LeeTeuk, ShinDong. Sitting: DongHae, KiBum, HeeChul, RyeoWook and EunHyuk.

My poor eyes! But that was considered smoking hot in 2005.

In keeping with the idea of a rotating membership, SM added another member to the group in 2006: my birthday twin, KyuHyun (Choi KyuHyun), as the new maknae and vocalist extraordinaire:



And that’s when the Super Junior fandom, known as ELFs (for Ever Loving Fandom) lost their ever-loving minds. Sure, it’s only a little crazy that thousands of them protested outside of SM Entertainment headquarters to try to get SM to give KyuHyun the boot. But that was nothing. When SM refused to budge on that decision, the fandom came up with the idea of buying stock in the company to have a say in what went on with “their” band. And they really did start buying massive shares of SM.

This is how insane the SuJu fandom was, only one year in. Imagine how psycho they became when the band grew even more popular. No, don’t. Because you have zero idea how nuts they can get, even now.

Anyway, by the time the KyuHyun brouhaha all shook out, the fans got over him being in the group, and a good thing, since he is now recognized as the greatest KPop male vocalist alive today. Then again, one of the reasons they got over it was a wakeup call about what was really important in this world.

Remember what happened to Ladies Code, with the horrific car accident that killed two members and badly injured the rest? Well, it came damned close to happening to Super Junior on 7 April 2007. Same bad driving in bad weather from a manager, only this time, there were no fatalities, but it was close. ShinDong suffered minor injuries (which means he wasn’t hurt enough to die, but needed a long recovery period). LeeTeuk almost got scalped in the accident, and required over 100 stitches to put his skin back on his head. But KyuHyun…

Poor KyuHyun was thrown some 50 yards from the backseat of the vehicle, and wound up with a shattered hip, broken ribs, and collapsed lungs. He was given only a 20% chance to live, and zero percent chance of singing again, even with the operation the medical team recommended. It took a doctor performing a pioneering surgery to save his life—and his voice. And then it took months of hospitalization and rehab to get him healthy again.

After that close call, even the most rabid anti-KyuHyun ELFs quieted down and accepted him at last. But SM had learned their lesson: Don’t mess with Super Junior’s lineup, ever again.

And that was after another serious automotive disaster had already left the fandom reeling. Eight months earlier, HeeChul was in an accident while returning from the funeral of DongHae’s father, and his leg was shattered. He required surgery to have pins put his bones back together, and then a prolonged recuperation. But at least he was “only” injured.

Of course, that didn’t mean that the group’s roster troubles were over, or that they were through with the drama. Not in the least. First of all, this is Super Junior, where multiple ongoing dramas are now the norm. Second, this is an SM group we’re talking about, and if there’s one thing that SM does as well as finding world-class vocal talent, it’s pissing off that same talent into filing lawsuits against them.

Take 2009, when Hank filed a lawsuit against SM for much the same reason that the JYJ members of TVXQ filed theirs: For unfair pay distribution and holding him to a slave contract. But wait—there was more!—enough that Hank made the TVXQ lawsuit look like a kindergarten production.

What made it bad—really fricking bad—started with how Hank was the only Super Junior member who was a Chinese national. Is it any surprise that he claimed SM Entertainment had discriminated against him because he wasn’t Korean? Among his claims was that, unlike the other members, SM refused to let him take time off, never mind getting a vacation to see his family. He also alleged that SM was rude and discriminatory toward his family when they came to the country to see him at all. Most terrifying of all was an incident where he was deemed sick enough to go to the ER, but one of the SM staff thought the treatment was taking too long. That staff member pulled an IV out of Hank’s arm to make him go to work again. Another SuJu member who was also there getting treated for a similar condition confirmed that it had happened.

Not long after the release of “Sorry, Sorry,” Hank stopped taking part in all Super Junior activities while the litigation worked its way through the court system. In 2011, a Korean judge ruled in his favor, and he and SM reached an undisclosed settlement that ended his association with the company and with Super Junior. He returned to China, where he has since had a successful singing and acting career.

While the Hank drama was rocking the KPop world in 2009, KiBum quietly decided to hold SM to their original concept of members getting to rotate out of the group, and chose to leave Super Junior to focus on acting. He was still part of the SM family until 2015, when he left for good.

And then there’s KangIn. In 2009, he was not only involved in an altercation with two men outside of a bar, but also had a DUI hit and run accident. For both of these reasons, he had to take an extended hiatus to “reflect on his behavior.” Which seems to be KPop agency code for “get your ass to rehab.” Then he repeated the hit and run in 2016 and got into another public fight in 2017. Was he done? Of course not! He had to make everything worse while he was still on hiatus for the second infractions when he became implicated in an offshoot of the Burning Sun scandal in 2019. I’ll go into that horror show in a later post, but KangIn’s role in that is for belonging to a private online chat group with other KPop stars where they moaned and groaned about the hardships of fame, and, for shits and grins, some of them shared videos made of women in various states of undress, often under the influence of some chemical. And some of the videos involved these pigs having sex with or even raping said women. Of course, few or none of the women knew about these videos. But it all came out last year. Korea is still rocking from these revelations.

While police cleared KangIn of harming any women or of filming or sharing videos, his association with the chat group was the final straw for SM. KangIn “announced” that he was retiring from the music industry, and good riddance. I loved his voice, but he should have been booted after the second hit-and-run.

2014 was another nasty year for Super Junior. First my SuJu bae, SungMin, made the fatal mistake of falling in love, and, worse, being goofy with his public declarations of his devotion to his soulmate. This pissed off a loud, obnoxious and spiteful contingent of ELFs, who began to find offense in everything he did or said, especially in response to their outrage, and they grew ever angrier at him. Cowards that they are, SM sent SungMin packing on a hiatus that has yet to end, all these years later, and the fandom raises a stink anytime a Super Junior comeback is in the works, to keep him out. At this point, he’s effectively out of the group, but at least he married the love of his life before signing up for his required military service in 2015. So I’d say he got the better end of the deal.

Also in 2014, LeeTeuk’s father was in dire financial straits. He went to see his own parents, and all three of them ended up dead after dear old Dad went the murder-suicide route. So another SuJu member had to go on hiatus for an extended period. Poor Teukie…

But we’re not done with the drama!

2017 brought another round of crazy to the group. I mentioned KangIn's troubles that year above, but that wasn't all that hit Super Junior. Remember HeeChul’s 2007 car accident? With each passing year, his pain from that has gotten worse. He’s had a corrective surgery once, and it didn’t help. The pain has become so bad he had to announce that he would take part in few promotions anymore because he can’t handle the wear and tear of the dance routines. He makes appearances sometimes, but rarely to dance. At this point, it looks like he can’t come back for that, although he continues to provide vocals and appear in videos.

And as always, where there’s one tragedy, another comes along: SiWon’s family dog bit a woman and she died from complications of the incident. He took a break from promotions to avoid making her family’s pain worse.

But enough of the drama. Everything seems to have settled down with the group membership (for now), so perhaps SuJu can look forward to some much needed stability. It helps that the remaining nine members of the group have completed their military requirement. That means the roster for the foreseeable future will look like this:



Standing, left to right: ShinDong, SiWon, HeeChul, YeSung, DongHae, EunHyuk. Sitting, left to right: RyeoWook, LeeTeuk, KyuHyun.

When it comes to music, Super Junior justifies their insane fan support, record-breaking sales and the arena-filling tours around the world with some of the greatest group vocals in KPop. That gets a big boost from KyuHyun and RyeoWook being the most potent 1-2 vocal punch in the industry. It's not a close contest, and probably never will be (although TVXQ and the ONew-late JongHyun combo in SHINee gave it a try). That YeSung is there to pitch in makes them one of the premiere vocal groups not only in Korea, but in the world. Better yet, even their “average” singers are still quite good, enough to lead other groups. Even their main rapper is a good singer, and you don't do rap if you can sing. You're usually around for the fans either to get some lulz or gape at the gorgeous. So it says something that even their rapper can sing well.

That's why, despite all their flaws, their endless dramas and their psychotic fans, Super Junior has always been one of my favorite KPop bands.

Their music tends toward big, bouncy and dance-oriented, because when you have monster vocalists like KyuHyun, RyeoWook and YeSung, you can put the pedal to the medal for your sound. The list of their insanely catchy and danceable bops that are flat-out great music, executed to perfection on top of it all, could fill this page.

That’s why it may surprise people that I’ve chosen their atmospheric power ballad “Evanesce” from 2014 as today’s KPop tune. Super Junior doesn’t do ballads all that often for chart releases, at least not outside of their numerous sub-units and solo projects; however, when they get around to them, they invariably do them well. But how could they fail with such outstanding talent in their lineup?

After seeing it for yourself, you may understand why it’s not only one of my favorite Super Junior tracks, but also one of my favorite power ballads, ever:



Of course, the live performance sounds terrific—enough to give you the bonus of “This is Love,” which “Evanesce” is sort of a sequel song to (the official MVs explain what I mean):



Note: The lineup for Super Junior in the MV is LeeTeuk, HeeChul, KangIn, ShinDong, SungMin, EunHyuk, SiWon, DongHae, RyeoWook and KyuHyun. YeSung was serving in the military at that time. In the live video, ShinDong is missing because he had joined the military by then as well.

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Trivia:

Lightstick color: Pearl Sapphire Blue.

KyuHyun and SiWon come from wealthy families. KyuHyun’s father owns a chain of private schools, while SiWon’s family owns a supermarket company that is the second largest retail chain in South Korea. His father was also CEO of the largest pharmaceutical company in Korea. Super Junior members joke that he could buy any of the television stations where they appear from his pocket change, and have enough left over to buy SM as well.

KyuHyun is the quintessential Evil Maknae that all other Evil Maknaes are compared to. Do not cross verbal swords with him. You will lose.

SiWon is the drama king of Super Junior, and has appeared in multiple Korean TV series. Then again, what a surprise, given his looks. Since Super Junior is so huge in Taiwan, he and DongHae appeared in a romantic comedy series there called Skip Beat!, based on the Japanese manga of the same name.

HeeChul is the variety show king, and he often works on multiple shows. These days, he’s on Knowing Brothers, a long-running celebrity talk show with a school theme, and Matching Survival 1+1, a dating reality show that he hosts with SoYou of the defunct band Sistar.

LeeTeuk joked so much about HeeChul being gay, to tease him for being so pretty, that people started believing he really was gay. Rather than getting mad about it, HeeChul embraced the rumor, started dressing up as a girl on TV often enough to make Monty Python do a double-take, and then he weaponized the rumor to make others uncomfortable with it, particularly in bouts of dangyunhaji (AKA the "of course" game). HeeChul is a master of this Korean party contest where two people insult each other and you lose if you get mad, laugh too hard or yield to a superior insult. He had never been defeated…until 2017, when Wanna One's DaeHwi, now in AB6ix, turned the gay table on his hyung (older brother).

And because it’s funny, I’m including the video of that epic KPop moment here:


My KPop Playlist Tracks: Sistar - I Like That

Sistar was a quartet that debuted in 2010 on the Starship Entertainment label. I mentioned three of them in the K.Will post, because they starred in his videos.



The members were, left to right:

HyoRin (Kim HyoJung): Leader and main vocalist

BoRa (Yoon BoRa): Lead rapper, lead dancer and visual. As if there would be any question of her as the visual—sheesh, look at her!

SoYou (Kang Ji Hyun): Lead vocalist

DaSom (Kim DaSom): Vocalist and maknae

Yes, you saw that past tense usage correctly, because Sistar has disbanded, a victim of the Great Migration of 2017 when numerous established groups, especially girl groups, left the business, many of them never to return. My guess for those who left without looking back: They were tired of no sleep, no love lives, and starving to stay scary thin. It’s no way to live, and it’s the sad reality for far too many KPop artists.

And that gave me a sad, because Sistar was my favorite KPop girl group until Mamamoo came along, for the same reasons: Great vocals and they weren’t cutesie. They could be cutesie sometimes, but they did plenty of dark and sexy tracks that made no bones about the fact that they were real women with real women’s concerns and interests, not sanitized virginal dolls, like so many KPop girl groups tend to be. Sistar could be grungy and tough without getting a hair out of place or one chip in their nail polish.

“I Like That” is one of the best examples of the attitude their songs had, whether fast, slow or bubblegum: Sexy and in no mood to take any shit off a man. They convey the emotion so effectively in “I Like That” that you can feel the backhand to the face to the idiot man who doesn’t get it. And they look stunning while they do it, yet not so stunning that they seem inaccessible or too beautiful for you (even though most of them are too beautiful for the rest of us). Must be why it is such an iconic Sistar tune:




And of course a live performance:



Why I loved them, beyond the music: Whether they were being playful, sexy or pissed off, Sistar always made you think that you would love nothing more than to be their friend and hang out with them over drinks.

They were that kind of group.

The bright side: Unlike many who left in the Great Migration of 2017, Sistar’s members still have a presence in the Korean entertainment industry. HyoRin has launched a successful solo career, while BoRa and DaSom have focused on television acting. And then there’s SoYou, who has carved out a niche for herself as a variety show MC and a frequent vocal collaborator; I don’t think anyone in KPop has done so many duos, at least 15 as of this date.

So Sistar is still with us, only in different ways.

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Trivia:

Fandom name: Star1, although sometimes they were called Style.

Lightstick color: Fuchsia

Sistar was known as the “Queens of Summer” because their chart-topping hits were almost always released at that time of year.

HyoRin now goes by the name HyoLyn for her solo career. She is also the proud property of three kitties. Sometimes in live performances where Sistar is wearing midriff-baring outfits, you'll see an ugly patch over HyoRin's belly. This is to cover a large tattoo she has there. Some Korean networks or shows still ban artists from displaying tattoos because they equate skin art with members of organized crime. This is changing...but it's taking a long time to change.

BoRa’s name means “purple” in Korean, and of course it’s her favorite color. She dated Feeldog of the band Bigstar from 2017 until May of 2019. Unlike Momoland's Bad Girl, Daisy, BoRa waited until she had built up her cred with her agency, and got their permission before doing anything stupid. Even with the permission, though, two years is far longer than most dual-idol love affairs last. If the sasaengs (psycho fans) don’t lose their minds over the relationship, the demands on their time make it difficult to get together often or long enough for relationships to find solid footing. This is why most KPop stars wind up marrying after they leave the business, or they find lasting success with a civilian—i.e., someone whose life is sedate enough to be the steady partner.

SoYou is a workout fanatic, and she is even more famous for her figure than she is as a member of Sistar. Since she also trained to be a cosmetologist before becoming an idol, it’s no surprise that she has hosted numerous beauty programs on Korean television. Unlike some Korean stars, she gives common sense advice about eating healthy and not expecting too much perfection of yourself. Sure, get plastic surgery if you really need it, but don't go overboard with it. That being said, even the healthiest people can get sick when they least expect it, and being ill is why I think SoYou spends so much time lying around in the “I Like That” MV. Normally, she gets far more than her share of screen time, because Korean camera crews are nuts about her. That she has so few scenes in this MV tells me she wasn’t quite herself during the shoot.

Y’all may remember DaSom from the K.Will video, where she played the blushing bride. Here, she assumes a much sexier role. I can’t decide if I like her In the Mood for Love look or the tattooed back scenes better. I guess I’ll have to be selfish and love them both.

My KPop Playlist, New Year's Eve Bonus Track: Stray Kids - Miroh

Like Momoland, Stray Kids got their start on a 2017 reality show as a pool of contestants competing for 9 slots in a group under the management of one of the biggest and most respected KPop labels, JYP.



Left to right, top to bottom:

BangChan (Christopher Bang): Leader, lead vocalist, rapper and producer

WooJin (Kim WooJin): Former vocalist

LeeKnow (Lee MinHo): Vocalist, rapper and dancer

ChangBin (Choi ChangBin): Rapper, vocalist, producer

HyunJin (Hwang HyunJin): Lead rapper and visual

Han (Han JiSung): Lead vocalist, rapper, producer

Felix (Lee Felix): Lead dancer, lead rapper

SeungMin (Lee SeungMin): Lead vocalist

I.N. (Yang JeongIn): Vocalist, Maknae

Their debut came at last in March of 2018.

Last October, WooJin left not only the group but KPop entirely for personal reasons, so now Stray Kids is an 8-member band.

The group was still a nine-member unit when they recorded and released their smash hit from March, “Miroh.” As with the 2PM selection, I list it here as a party song for New Year’s Eve celebrations. I’ll confess that it’s the only release by Stray Kids that I’ve liked, but I'm not one of those idiots who writes off an artist entirely if what they've made in the past wasn't my cuppa. A new release could be that great song I do like, as happened here. What's not to like about “Miroh?” It's a total banger, with an awesome hook for the chorus, “Iiiiiiiimmmm Oooookaaaaaaaay!” Oh yeah. Plus there’s ChangBin and Han blowing everyone’s minds with their breath control in the rap prechoruses (1:46 and 3:02). How did they get in that many words that fast, and not be gasping for air? I was panting for them before they got to the end of their lines.

Anyway, put “Miroh” on at your next party and nobody will be sitting around looking bored.




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Trivia

Fandom name: Stay

No lightstick color yet.

Miroh means “maze” in Korean, so the song is about being trapped in a situation where you never know what wrong turn you'll make trying to find your way out.

My KPop Playlist: 2PM Hands Up

Formed in 2008 under JYP Entertainment, 2PM was originally an 11-member group called One Day that got split up into two groups: 2AM and 2PM. 2PM got 7 of the members:

Jun.K (Kim MinJun): Leader, songwriter and main vocalist

Nichkhun (Nichkhun Buck Horvejkul): Vocalist, rapper, and visual

TaecYeon (Ok TaecYeon): Lead rapper, 2nd visual

WooYoung (Jang WooYoung): Lead vocalist and dancer

JunHo (Lee JunHo): Main vocalist, lead dancer.

ChanSung (Hwang ChanSung): Vocalist, rapper, songwriter and maknae. Also possesses some of the most beautiful eyes in KPop.

Jay Park: Former leader and an American citizen who had to leave the group in 2009 after his disparaging remarks about Korea on social media surfaced. The comments were from his trainee days, when he was 17 and homesick, but there are things one simply does not do as a KPop artist. One of them is dissing Korea. For any reason. He’s managed to repair his image to become a successful solo artist, but he was never allowed back into 2PM, so now they look like this:



Left to right: ChanSung, JunHo, Jun.K, WooYoung, Nichkhun, TaecYeon

In 2018, 2PM’s contract with JYP expired. Five members renewed their contracts with the agency. TaecYeon was the single holdout, signing with 51K, but he will continue being a member of 2PM.

2PM’s hook is that they aren’t a cutesie boy band, and instead are self-proclaimed “beast mode” artists. “Beast mode” is a Korean term for being unapologetically masculine. So it’s rare for them to indulge in gender/orientation-bending fan service games, androgyny, aegyo or any of the usual Asian boy band tropes. You get this group, as they are, and you’ll like it.

In honor of that, 2PM has a habit of featuring “beasts” from the animal kingdom in their MVs. In this one, it’s a horse’s head. Not a live one, but a mask that makes several humorous appearances, so watch for it. There are also women wearing kitty ears in the background of this video.

Other motifs that show up on a regular basis with 2PM MVs:

“Hands Up” isn’t the only video where masks make an appearance, and costumes sometimes show up as well. Anything in green tends to be popular.

Humor, and lots of it. 2PM likes to laugh at themselves and at ridiculous situations.

Water and suds. But not necessarily together. Haven’t figured out what this is about, yet.

In their “party” MVs: Massive quantities of alcohol, and no shyness about how booze can make life fun. Most KPop groups exhibit a great deal of Western influences, but few of them are as close to our stereotype of a hedonistic rock band as 2PM. Life is here to enjoy, and 2PM is all for that. So of course they have a fondness for the finer things in life, and often have MVs featuring lots of hot babes (frequently scantily clad), expensive sports cars, limos, yachts, champagne and fine food, first class airfare or private planes, designer fashion, hot tubs, and so forth.

You’ll see all of those things and more in 2PM’s iconic hit, “Hands Up,” which has to be one of the biggest KPop party songs, ever. You have to give them credit: When they decide to do a banger, they go all out with it, so expect to want to get up and dance to this one:



And here’s a live performance:



Trivia:

Fandom name: Hottest. But of course.

Lightstick color: Metallic grey. You didn’t expect a sissy cute color from a “beast mode” group, did you?

Jun.K’s original stage name was Junsu, but he changed it at the same time that he changed his legal name from Kim JunSu to Kim MinJun, for complicated family reasons that I won’t go into here.

A dual US/Thai citizen, Nichkhun attended high school in suburban Los Angeles and thus is fluent in English. His family is rumored to be quite wealthy, and it is his largesse that enables 2PM to enjoy those finer things in life I mentioned above.

TaecYeon lived in Massachusetts for 7 years, and attended high school there.

All of the 2PM members are on the athletic side. JunHo in particular is known for doing elaborate acrobatics, although it once resulted in a shoulder injury. As soon as he healed, he lived up to the beast mode image to go right back to his old stunts. JunHo also became an internet sensation when he broke a couple of dozen chopsticks with his butt cheeks on a game show. He sometimes is known as “HoButt” for that reason.

For now, 2PM is on hiatus while assorted members are in the military service process, save for Nichkhun, who’s exempt from serving because he’s not a Korean citizen. He has spent the hiatus working primarily in the Thai television and movie industry.

TaecYeon was discharged from the military in May 2019. Since then, he has focused on his acting career. He has a starring role in a drama, The Game: Towards Midnight, which is expected to premiere near the end of January 2020.

The other four members are currently serving their tours of duty. Maknae Chansung will be the last to return to the group in the spring of 2021.
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