Super Junior AND Big Bang, not OR

I just came from looking up ‘Super Junior and Big Bang’. I was under the impression that groups from rival entertainment companies aren’t supposed to be pals but when I mentioned this to my sister, she was like, ‘why not?’

Funnily enough, I went to find a live performance of ‘Bang Bang Bang’ to convince my sister to like Big Bang and what else did I find? I found a video in which SeungRi is singing on KangIn’s lap and beside KangIn is YeSung. And my Teukie MC-ed for the event! In 2016!! That’s this year!! That made me very excited because I like when my favorite bands are friends with each other.

Naturally, that led me to look for more evidence that my now favorite Korean groups are less than rivals and more than friends. What my search led me to was forums with polls on whether Big Bang or Super Junior is better. Of course, people felt the need to include reasons for their choice, i.e. SJ is not even relevant, BB has more digital sales but SJ has more physical sales, BB has a bigger fan base. Mostly negatives about SJ. That made me upset.

Before discovering BB, I thought SJ was the most popular Korean group. 🙁 But apparently Big Bang was recently named best band, beating even Maroon 5, which I think is huge… And I understand that now because BB is a boundary breaker, a trend setter, a game changer, blah blah blah. You can’t deny their on-stage presence and the marks they’re making in the fashion and art world.

Does that mean BB is better than SJ? Here’s where I have a bone to pick. We can like something and not bash its competition. We can compare two things but there isn’t necessarily a right or wrong answer for some things. Some of the comments I saw were really angry and forceful. Unnecessary, I think.

For me, comparing BB and SJ is like comparing apples and oranges. Teukie and GD are the leaders but the way they act is so different. Teukie is the main speaker of the group while BB’s is Seungri, not GD. Teukie seems to have taken a parental figure role and does a good job of keeping everyone together while GD has more of a hands-free way of managing the group. You get the picture, right?

At the end of the day, each group does things differently and if it works for them – and it has – then good for them. Why must there be an absolute answer to who is better?

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Here’s a gif of ShinDong (SJ), DongHae (SJ), YeSung (SJ), and G Dragon (BB).

This post is also dedicated to Teukie. I know it’s weird to be saying something like this since I don’t know him personally but thank you, Teukie, for all that you do and please take care of yourself. Super Junior’s Kiss The Radio program ended today after 10 years which is very sad because it’s basically what Teukie has poured his life and soul into for 10 years.

To me, Teukie is one of the people who is the kind of person you just know you connect to even though you’ve never met in real life. He’s also the kind of person you want to protect because he takes on too many things and gives too much of himself to the people around him.

Anyway, here’s to less critical comparisons and leaders who deserve a hug of encouragement. Thanks for reading.

Raine
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Big Bang – no, not the scientific explanation

Falling in love with Korean music has been one of the many turning points I’ve had in recent years. There’s more variety in my playlist now and it’s a good thing. In the last week, I have discovered yet another band that I would have been uncomfortable admitting I had feelings for 10 years ago. Nope, not that person anymore.

The big reveal? Big Bang.

Big Bang - no, not the scientific explanation

Daesung, G-Dragon, T.O.P, Taeyang, Seungri

I feel like I should be shocked at myself but somehow I’m only surprised and tickled. Not ashamed, either.

I know Big Bang. After the explosion of K-Pop 10 years ago, Big Bang became one of the names I couldn’t miss in conversations, tweets, and whatnot. I ignored it all. I had no interest in Korean bands. I was also a judgmental teenager who didn’t quite know how to accept others who weren’t like her. I may cringe at the thought of my old self but I don’t hate myself for that; I can only be happy that I’ve become more open and accepting of others for who they are and what they like. It’s all in the process of becoming a better you and I don’t think it’s ever really too late to do that. Aaand I’m traipsing down the ‘digression’ path again.

Before this, I only knew Big Bang by name. I knew little else about what they had to offer. I had no idea the band comprises of 5 members or that G-Dragon is in the band or that their song ‘Fantastic Baby’ loved by my classmates and my sister’s classmates is by them or that they’re under YG, another famous South Korean entertainment company. I simply thought all popular K-Pop bands were under SM Entertainment and the less famous ones were not lol. Having stopped following mainstream news, I had no idea their latest songs hit #1 on so many charts either.

I recall my sister and I trying to watch one of their music videos a few years back. We couldn’t make it through the halfway point of the video before we closed the video. Some things are an acquired taste. Big Bang might just be one of them. Big Bang makes Super Junior members look like preppy mama’s boys (not necessarily in a bad way because beautiful DongHae… I mean… never mind). The only way I feel you would understand is if you Googled Big Bang…

A girl I call an acquaintance yet befriended on Facebook posted a clip of a Big Bang interview and they looked so oddly clean-cut that I couldn’t help playing the video. I played it without sound the first time, reading the captions and succeeding in being amused till the end. I scrolled down but found myself scrolling back up and turning the volume up.

I was fascinated by that video. Not all the members spoke but I concluded that they exude a certain charm. And yes, I was surprised to find out that G-Dragon, T.O.P, and Taeyang (whom I assumed was the same person as Taeyeon for years) are all Big Bang members (I knew them by name and vaguely looked at their pictures but never got around to reading the part that mentioned their ties to Big Bang)…

What did I do next? I did what felt most natural – I went to look up more of their interviews on Youtube. It did feel strange to be looking them up and voluntarily watching their videos but it ended up all good.

One evening was spent watching their interview on a popular Korean variety show, Happy Together. I was sold. I still didn’t know much about them but I knew that they have chemistry and personality. (Side note: I watched another band’s interview and they had very little chemistry and that was clearly reflected in their music too, ugh.) The member that stood out the most to me was G-Dragon. He wasn’t the big, scary punk with crazy hair that I had pictured in my head for years. He’s actually soft-spoken, easygoing, and polite. And he’s not even 30?!?! Um, what?

Oh, my misconceptions. T_T

Okay, then I Wikipedia-ed them, and watched a live performance of Bae Bae and didn’t completely hate it which is usually a good sign. Bang Bang Bang followed, then Loser, then even Fantastic Baby. Then I knew I’d gone too far down the Big Bang path. Oh well, here I am. I can recognize all five of them now – G-Dragon, Taeyang, T.O.P, Daesung, Seungri. Thank you very much. I don’t have a favorite but I do like Taeyang’s voice the most.

Their music is more diverse than I expected. I specifically want to point out their album MADE because I haven’t quite finished listening to the rest of their albums. The songs fuse R&B, rap, hip hop, and dance (and other genres but mostly these) so seamlessly that it almost seems like a genre of its own. Actually they’ve been constantly proving themselves to be a group who doesn’t stick any labels to themselves or limit themselves to just a handful of things. I like that. I guess you wouldn’t really call them a K-Pop group since they don’t lean towards the pop genre?

My mom and sister would most likely not would not imagine themselves going to a Big Bang concert but I’m quite sure they’ll be surprised at how much of a good time they’re having when they eventually follow me to one. ROTFLTTM (roll on the floor laughing to the moon).

I’m sorry this post was all over the place – I tried really hard to get my point across while combining some history. I’m going to go watch their MADE tour on Youtube now because I really like their MADE album. Bye.

Pretend this is tiny font: I hope my sister will like at least one song of theirs so that we can karaoke and talk about G-Dragon together ahaha.

Raine
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Musical confessions and such

Six years ago, I fell in love with Super Junior.

Wait.

What?

Six years ago? Surely you mean six weeks ago?

A lot of things that I didn’t say in the past make me sound pretentious in the present day. I have tons of those moments. We all have those moments. When we thought what we liked was uncool but later on it became cool and then you were like, dang I could’ve started a trend!

But, I will tell you that if I had been pushed harder, “six years ago, I fell in love with Super Junior” would’ve been a fact today.

My sister’s friends were performing Sorry, Sorry for some high school event. When the song came on, I felt like dancing. And when I feel like dancing to a song, it means serious business. Those kids who were straining their necks to watch that performance? I was one of them.

I believe I tried to listen to the song after that, but it just felt too weird. Repetitive songs weren’t a big thing back then. So I mostly felt embarrassed and strange, and that was why I did not fall into the big Kpop thing that was spreading so rapidly across Asia.

Last year, when I started listening to Korean music, I only stuck to girl groups. I imagined myself liking boy bands, imagined myself cheering at some bleached blond dude on my screen and felt a chill run down my spine. It was a lonely feeling. How was I to convince my sister to like something like that? What kind of expression would my mom make? Who was I going to tell ‘oh, I just found out that cute kpop guy #1 likes spaghetti’? I faced that kind of loneliness before my sister joined in on all the anime fun and it was frustrating, not being able to make those kind of comments on impulse.

It turns out that my mom and sister continue to surprise me again and again. I have finally realized that a large part of this is caused by my own false perceptions and harsh self-judgment.

Well, it’s been only two months since I started listening to SJ’s songs. Hard to believe. All that fun makes it seem like two years. Here’s to many more months!

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The moment you’ve been waiting for: the plunge into Korean music

It has begun. Last year around this time, it was Chemistry every. single. day.

This time it’s Korean music. What is up with this time of year? Okay, so maybe this was coming… My parents have been serious about learning Korean – they text each other in Korean now – and our household as of last year has been very influenced by all things South Korea.

I’m literally 10 years late to the party. Throughout high school, my classmates were into Kpop. The explosion of Kpop started around 2006 and it hasn’t stopped since. The first Kpop band I remember my classmates being crazy about was Super Junior.

My thoughts 10 years ago: EWWW!!!!!

My thoughts now: -tears of joy-

I was not impressed at all. I wasn’t into the whole eyeliner, synchronized dancing, 10-people-in-one-band thing. Then there was the excessive plastic surgery to make themselves beautiful (though beautiful is so subjective). I couldn’t understand that. Most of them looked kind of scary to me.

Tastes change and now I find myself totally loving ALL THAT JAZZ – eyeliner, dance, huge guy group. In fact, give me more. Miles away, my mom is horrified. Okay, the plastic surgery thing is still not okay with me but now I accept that it’s their thing and while some of them aren’t really my type, there are some who are.

We always find things at our own pace so 10 years later, here we are. The irony of it all??? Super Junior is my favorite Kpop group. While Super Junior is still relevant, I feel that the newer groups like EXO and BTS are more current and growing in fan size.

Disclaimer: I’m not into the girl groups (yet, I think) but my sister is. She will hopefully do a post on that soon.

Kpop is usually bright and lively, the dance moves are killer, their makeup and fashion are always flawless, and no, you should not be envious of their ‘perfection’ because take away their makeup and clothes – and video filters – and they are no different from you and me. I feel like this is important to say because my sister and I had a discussion about this.

If we were younger, their ‘perfection’ would have no doubt influenced us in some ways and it might have been something we would have wanted to achieve or have. Knowing what we know now, we can watch these videos and look at them without feeling like they are some unattainable creatures of perfection.

Oh yeah, this post isn’t just about Kpop. I am rather – no, very – fond of ballads and the ballads I’ve discovered have been extremely pleasing.

1. Super Junior

Our favorite songs right now are Magic and Devil from their 10th anniversary album. Magic is the song that successfully reeled us in. There are 10 – or was it 11 – members altogether (I found a picture where there are 15 guys, I have no idea why) and it takes a while to distinguish between some of them but you’ll figure it out. Because they have to complete their military duty, you’ll notice that some of them are missing during different years.

I still have to wade through their previous albums to find songs I like. We’ll get there.

Someone saved me the trouble of getting screenshots from the Magic music video.

I think this is their promotional poster for Magic. I’ll name them for you to save you the trouble of Googling for a specific one if you happen to be like: oh, that one’s cute. AHAHA.

From left to right:

Row 1: EunHyuk, RyeoWook, KyuHyun

Row 2: KangIn, SiWon, DongHae

Row 3: HeeChul, LeeTeuk, YeSung (MY FAVORITE)

And this is just another picture from the music video.

The original music video was meh since there were scenes I found dull. I much prefer to watch the dance version. It’s not so much that their vocals are great, more like they make fun pop music and music videos.

2. Chen (from EXO)

Everybody loves EXO – your neighbor, your friends, the store clerk at FoodMaxx, the person sitting beside you on the plane, that girl you don’t know, you get the drift. They are huge right now and there are also 10 of them. I watched some of their music videos today and they were not to my taste.

Chen is a member of EXO and his voice is decent. His solo work is good. He’s NOT 15.

Chen’s double eyelid game is strong.

3. JunggiGo

JunggiGo leans more towards R&B/soul, which after Chemistry, I appreciate more and more. He’s only becoming popular now so he needs to sing more. My sister introduced me to his music and now I love it.His trench coat game is extremely strong. If you didn’t already know, Koreans have this thing for trench coats and until I find someone who wears it better, JunggiGo is the winner.

He’s also kind of cute, behavior and expression-wise. Shhhhhhhh!!!

4. 4men

Okay, these are the oldest guys out of everyone I’ve talked about and they are the real deal because they can sing the real-est. Their music genre is R&B/ballad.

My mom discovered them first and because our taste in music is similar, I naturally started listening to their music.

Thank you for your undivided attention. This was fun to write about. I hope you find something you like. If you’re already into Korean music, I’d appreciate any recommendations.

I’m sorry this post isn’t as thorough as I wanted it to be. I’m struggling to balance everything on my plate. PRIORITIES.

But first, not coffee, but Super Junior. See you at KCon 2017.

Raine
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Old friends, new stories

Just when I was leaving an event the other day, I saw someone familiar. It was my old friend, Watson, whom I met in my first semester of college. I caught up to him and asked him how he was. He said he was fine and somehow we ended up talking about mesa boogie 6l6 tubes. I was reminded of his interest in music. He used to play the guitar but stopped because he was taking too many classes. He said that he was trying to get back into music by managing his time better.

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A short post about music and movies

Good evening! Let’s start my post with a lovely picture of the sunset. It’s funny how the same sky and sun that we all live under can look so different in another country.

sunset1

I guess this is the part where I type hashtag ‘no filter’.

Moving on to the movies I watched recently and what’s new on my music playlist because I just, you know, find strange joy in updating everyone about my latest interests.

I watched Focus on the plane. The story begins with how con man Nicky met Jess, an amateur con artist. He takes her under his wing and she soon becomes even better at his game of cheating. In the process, they become a couple. Nicky decides he doesn’t want romance mixing in his type of lifestyle and breaks up with her. A few years later, he meets Jess again. This time, she’s a professional con artist, but he doesn’t know it yet.

Without giving any spoilers away, I found the synopsis a little misleading because it sounded as if the movie was about Nicky meeting Jess years later. In reality, half of the movie was about how they met and how things went from there. The ending seemed a little underdeveloped and rushed for me.

To my surprise, I enjoyed this movie more than I thought I would. I thought it was just another action/romance flick, but I was deeply entertained by the chemistry between Nicky and Jess. Margot Robbie as the sexy and sophisticated Jess was absolutely delightful to watch. I was surprised to find out that she’s Australian. Will Smith as the lead was surprisingly different in a good way.

I also watched Cinderella. Finally. I think the story emphasizes a very important message that everyone should remember: Have courage and be kind. I loved how the modern retelling of this fairytale explored new themes like perseverance, loss, and humbleness. The Prince had his own story, which made him better than the usual romantic blockhead in previous adaptations.

Cate Blanchett did a stellar performance as the Stepmother. Lily James as Cinderella was perfect in looks and expressions, though she could’ve been a little less breathy and little more natural. Richard Madden as Kit/the Prince was incredibly charming. His looks remind me of a young Brad Pitt. Loved and enjoyed the movie. Oh, and the ending song, “Strong” by Sonna Rele, is beautiful in a magical Disney way!

I watched the Backstreet Boys: Show ‘Em What You’re Made Of documentary. It made me sad in many ways because I was reminded of what entertainers have to go through while trying to put on their best show for fans. They have to smile through the thick and thin just to live up to public expectations. It made me think twice about my teenage dream to be a singer (haha). The documentary is a real treat for fans who love the Backstreet Boys. I wish that they included performances in the documentary, though.

I listened to music for more than an hour on the plane (a really fantastic way to make time pass quicker). I’m actually glad I picked up Taylor Swift’s new album during the summer because I listened to a great deal of her songs. It was fun, though the woman sitting beside me was probably highly irritated by my singing.

I also listened to my first Korean pop album… ever. I always knew I would have a K-pop phase because I love dance pop and electropop music; it was just a matter of when it would happen.

The Korean girl group is called AOA (short for Ace of Angels) and the album is Like A Cat. Catchy pop songs with a touch of amazing R&B? I had this album on repeat. I watched some of their dance videos and was reminded that Korean bands/groups have extremely tight training schedules to perfect their performances and public image. I was impressed. Synchronized dancing? Not something anyone can do. Dancing on high stilettos and in whatever outfits their managers/stylists decide? Definitely not an easy task.

If I had to pick my favorite out of the AOA members, I would probably say Choa because of her distinctive voice and her bold, blond bob that totally suits her. Yes, I’m totally in my K-pop mode right now, talking about the members and all!

That’s all from me today.

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A peek into Tuesday

1. We left for school early which came as a surprise because lately we’ve been spending our mornings karaoke-ing to Chemistry before leaving for school so we usually end up 5-10 minutes late.

Excuse for arriving late: sorry, I had to wait for Almost in Love to end.

Actually this morning we were listening to You Go Your Way which is obviously too amazing to stop midway.

We arrived early and scored the second parking spot of the row!! That’s a first! Slid right in like hot butter and got out.

Walked to our first class.

2. 50 minutes of utter boredom later, I was rushing to my next class for a test. I power-walked to my class like I always do and today I tried waiting for the elevator which is impossibly slow but I checked my watch and decided it would be faster to take the stairs.

I climbed up 3 flights of stairs and marched to my class. Before I stepped into class, I could already see that most of the seats were filled up. Ugh.

I walked in and my professor – who is the most patient lady ever – immediately called out to me and asked me to take a seat in front since there were no more seats.

Um, sitting at the very front of the class at an odd table facing the class is one of my favorite things ever (if the class is decent). While everyone had their little desk-chair-thingys, I had a long rectangular table to myself (and later some other guy).

It was only after I sat down that I realized what was strange.

My professor, whose office hours I’ve been going to quite regularly to get help on homework for, called me by my given name.

No kidding.

She called my name so casually that it just floated over my head. But it’s WEIRD because nobody has ever called me by my given name so casually or smoothly. She’s also somehow even gathered that the second part of my first name is NOT my middle name.

Amazing. It’s a pleasant surprise. Isn’t it nice when someone bothers to call you by your name without giving crappy excuses?

The test wasn’t bad but with any kind of mathematical tests, I usually always doubt my answers after I’m done.

3. Because of the test, I came out way earlier than expected and had to wait for my sister. I wondered what to do for the time being. I walked into two buildings to look for a table where I could study but none.

I ended up sitting down at a table at another building but I barely sat for 3 minutes before deciding to head over to the chemistry stockroom to check if they had any lab coats.

4. A leisurely stroll in the windy weather later, I found myself in front of the stockroom which had an ugly blue handwritten sign saying OUT FOR LUNCH, BE BACK AT xPM.

Great.

I didn’t want to wait for a whole hour so I walked away. Where to go now? I wound up at a little shady corner by a classroom where I had a class last semester.

5. I put my bag down and played a few rounds of Sudoku while a lovely breeze drifted past continuously. When I was tired, I looked up and something caught my eye.

It was a squirrel in a leafless tree.

I watched the squirrel mess around and dangle from the branches for a few minutes and then I thought to myself, nature is so beautiful.

And almost cried. Seriously. What is up with me? Lately I’ve been finding joy in all the nature around me and it makes me emotional, I don’t know why.

6. My sister’s class ended so we headed home… And on the way back, I said, uh there’s nothing for lunch -____-

I’ve been a slob lately. I haven’t been on top of this week’s menu and it’s only Tuesday. Which means there’s still time to commandeer the ship to smoother waters haha.

Seriously though, we’ve had Korean instant noodles for lunch for the past two days.

We wanted to get Chinese takeout but in the end drove past Burger King and saw that they had a 2 for $5 deal for their fish burgers. I don’t know about you but fish burgers are tasty.

McDonald’s here is different – too much bacon and ranch in everything. Burger King has been our go-to of late (and we rarely even have fast food these days) but not so much since we found out that they took the Mushroom Swiss burger off their menu.

What is wrong with you, Burger King? That mushroom burger was the whole reason we even started going to BK.

Anyway, the Spicy Big Fish that we had wasn’t too bad. It wasn’t spicy but it was decent.

7. It’s been a mellow day of discovering more Chemistry songs that we like. In 1 month, we’ve accumulated at least 50 new songs.

I’ve said this once but I’ll say it again: if Chemistry gets back together, we are so going to their concert.

Here, have some pictures in the middle of a post:

birdofparadise1 The bird-of-paradise that my sister mentioned in her post. flowers1

Vibrant flowers on campus that I adore looking at.squirrel1

‘This angle is better.’ The chipmunk said when I aimed my camera at him.

I can’t believe he/she stood so still for me to get a picture. Little fella, you’re awesome.bk1

Said fish burger.

Other things that have been on my mind:

1. I’m reading Gangsta. the manga. I don’t know where to put all these emotions and inspirations I’m getting from it. The two main characters are endlessly fascinating and the girl too.

It makes me think about humans and relationships and the complexity of both. Come to think of it, 99% of the manga I’ve read are brilliant. They are well-written as much as they are thought-provoking.

2. My friend recently submitted some of her poetry to a site and it’s gotten quite a bit of positive feedback. I’m happy for her. At the same time, I started to beat myself up over my lack of courage all these years to share my work with others.

I’ve been writing since I was 7 but I haven’t published anything that I’ve written. ‘You’re crap’ is what I think to myself when I think about sharing my writing. ‘You’re not good enough.’

I know I’ve read things about writers often experiencing this ‘your writing is not good enough’ thing but I think it’s a bit more than that for me because I also suffer from poor self-esteem.

Yay me. It’s a shitty feeling.

3. Then I confessed my crappy feelings to my sister who obviously is my sister for a reason. AND SHE KNEW THAT I WAS FEELING DOWN.

No wonder she kept asking me: why? what are you doing? why so quiet?

And I kept telling her nothing.

And in the end when I told her, she was like, I knew it. I knew something was off about you.

But yeah. Long story short, she gave me the dose of self-esteem I needed back after all those feelings. We had a long and deep conversation about feelings.

And at the end of the conversation, she said: Remember, I’m your number one fan fo-evar.

Dammit. I’m going to cry in the bathroom now.

But first, a bonus,

Bonus: my mom sent me an IM saying: hello lil me. And I was like, why? My mom said: because you look like me and cook like me. If that is not the best compliment I’ve gotten so far, I don’t know what is.

My mom is my hero. And I hope that I’m hers too.

Happy Tuesday… Or Hump Day since it’s already almost Wednesday. Keep doing you, whoever you are.

Raine
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