October 29, 2009 § 13 Comments
“Why do you like listening to music you can’t understand?” people have asked.
Well, there are many reasons for that, but my question for them is, why would that inhibit me? Music is aural pleasure; comprehension is not completely necessary.
When I listen to music in English, I listen very intently to the lyrics — as a vocalist, I enjoy being able to sing along. If I listen to a song too many times, however, the lyrics start to get old, and then I can’t stand listening to that song anymore. Foreign songs, though, present a distinct challenge to learn [if I bother trying], and usually take much longer before fatigue settles in. For example, I’ve listened to the same Lee Jung Hyun songs since middle school and still have yet to evict them from my iPod.
If I like a song enough, though, I’ll look up the lyrics to find out whether my impression of the song rings true. Even if the lyrics turn out to be tasteless and puerile, at least it won’t greatly impact my experience — although I feel like America has the most issue with retarded lyrics.
As much as I love French, Spanish, Japanese and Chinese music, my addiction is specific to Korean pop.
I’ve written before that I’ve always had an appreciation for Korean music, limited though my knowledge of the industry was. I don’t like using the term “fangirl” because of the squealing teenage image it evokes, and I’m not nearly as hardcore as some can be.
I attribute LC as my biggest influence in this area; over the summer and even a bit last semester, she fed me with Kpop photos and videos and the like, fanning what had been steady embers into a full-fledged forest fire. I take ownership of my addiction now, but I couldn’t have made it without her.
Anyone who assumes that all Asian music sounds the same is stupid. The majority of mainstream Chinese music is wimpy. Some of it is lovely, but I have a very low tolerance for weak vocals and pining lyrics. Japanese music is great too but can get comparatively weird [it’s Japan after all]. Although Korea has been infiltrated by our hated enemy, autotune, they don’t overuse it to the point of giving singing careers to people who clearly can’t sing, and Kpop always has a kick to it — I love music I can dance to.
America churns out lively pop music too, you could argue. Of course: Lady Gaga will always be my hero. But the American music industry as a whole is in a disappointing state right now, with very little originality flowing through. Having watched innumerable music videos, I feel justified in saying that Kpop feels like it’s of a higher quality than its American equivalent. What I hear on the radio sounds like people have simply stopped trying, and I refuse to support their half-assed efforts. I can’t fully describe how refreshing it is to go from the countless U.S. music videos of the singer(s) swaying lamely in a club to actually choreographed, visually stimulating music videos from Korea. Even their phone commercials have ridiculous full-length songs with corresponding choreography!
Kpop stars also seem more charming than the drunken deadbeats we have in the States. The Korean music industry is much more controlling of the lives of their stars [living together in dorms and prohibiting dating is unheard for people of such celebrity], which surprisingly doesn’t make them turn out emotionally unstable even if they start their training young. This also means that they do a lot of fun collaborations, makeovers, and variety & reality shows.
More importantly, it means that these stars actually have talent. Kpop stars can sing and dance, AND they’re attractive! These kinds of celebrities are difficult to find in China, which I am very sad to admit. Knowing all this, though, Kpop can seem very contrived, but for those who really care, there are groups that play their own instruments and many who write their own songs.
When I think about the situation, it’s about quality of product [apart from the obvious aural appeal]. And I have found that the most consistent success in caliber lies within Kpop, so I shall unabashedly air my preference. I qualify that statement by noting that I have not completely given in to Korean culture — I refuse to watch dramas or learn the language. Music is all I want.
To conclude, I leave you with a screenshot of me watching a DBSK mv against my DBSK wallpaper [:D ILU JaeJoong!].