The Growth of an Artist and the Honest Vulnerability of Their Work

Okay, for the record, I never thought that I’d be writing a blog post about Taylor Swift. And yet, when I finished my homework and checked YouTube and saw that she dropped her new single after a three year hiatus, I was curious and then promptly shook.

(man, I didn’t think I’d use the word shook in a blog post either but let me explain)

I didn’t see this coming. I don’t follow Taylor closely and I don’t really know what she did during her three year hiatus, except that one lawsuit against that DJ. I think there was some beef between her and some others? Not sure.

It seems like this is the product of fermentation of what happened because the words are hard hitting and the song is extremely well crafted. And very unlike anything we’ve seen from her before. Sure, there were other angsty-style songs but this style is fresh and more relevant to today’s music, so maybe that’s what throws me off? But also, I was getting kind of K-Pop vibes? More than that, though, the atmosphere the song created is really well done like wow.

And the artwork for the lyric video further accentuates the beating heart of the song and the repetitive nature of the chorus gives a glimpse of someone who was pushed over the edge, crazy, maniacal, but going to get what she wants, what she thinks she deserves as vengeance.  Continue reading “The Growth of an Artist and the Honest Vulnerability of Their Work”

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Let Them Shine: JJ Project’s “Verse 2” Album

For a while I waited for this album. Not necessarily this album, but an album like it, that would finally let JB and Jinyoung do whatever they wanted and let their voices shine and resonate where they’re meant to.

I didn’t ever really follow Got7 closely. I randomly reviewed their album for a class and that made me pay more careful attention to the songs’ structure, style, and the members’ voices. I felt like JB’s voice in particular was strained at points to hit high notes in songs that are often trendy/following the latest music craze. I was frustrated because I knew that his voice could sound better, richer, smoother, if only he could do what he wanted to do with it, craft a song around it rather than fit it into something.  Continue reading “Let Them Shine: JJ Project’s “Verse 2” Album”

Thoughts on Not Fully Knowing Korean, on the In Between

I was never confident of my Korean language ability.

It wasn’t because of something someone said to me; rather, most Koreans would exclaim that my Korean was good, but I think that might have done with them knowing that I’m Korean-American and thus not expecting me to be able to speak in Korean at all.

No, I always felt like my lack in Korean was a handicap. I stressed out when I watched something without subtitles. I even remember watching a movie with my parents and reading the subtitles on a different screen, my eyes darting back and forth between the actual movie and my subtitles.

Recently, I’ve tried to intentionally not use subtitles. And let me tell you, it’s like an itch that I constantly want to soothe, but then I remind myself that when I’m talking with Koreans or watching a show with Koreans, I can’t pause that moment. I can’t pause life and make it feel comfortable to me, I can’t jot down vocab in the moment and force everything around me to bend to my Korean language proficiency.  Continue reading “Thoughts on Not Fully Knowing Korean, on the In Between”

Implications of BTS winning a BBMA

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Last night, history was made. Today as I was scrolling through my Facebook newsfeed, all of a sudden, I saw video clips by CNN International, Buzzfeed, NowThis, and other such websites that had seven familiar faces on them. And then, the articles, one after another trying to figure out who BTS is, how’d they even get here, what is ARMY, etc etc

BTS, or Bangtan Boys or, in the original Korean, 방탄소년단, were the first K-Pop group to be invited to the Billboard Music Awards ceremony. They won the Top Social Media Artist, a position that also had artists like Selena Gomez, Justin Bieber, and Shawn Mendes. PSY was the last Korean artist to be invited, in 2013, for his smash hit “Gangnam Style”.

As someone who instinctively analyzes everything and is in a major that encourages such mentality, I naturally saw this as both an exciting event as a BTS fan and also as a social scientist in training. Allow me to unwrap the BBMA win and it’s implications in several fields: Continue reading “Implications of BTS winning a BBMA”

Asian? American? Both?

This is an essay I just finished for my cultural anthropology class. It was probably one of my favourites to write, as I’ve been contemplating these topics for a while and the assignment gave me the opportunity to solidify and further explore my thoughts.

Enjoy~

ASIAN AND AMERICAN?

When I visited Korea with my family two summers ago, every Korean person we met would immediately ask us where we were from. I thought that coming to the country of my heritage would grant that I would be able to escape this question, but apparently not; in Korea, I was the American, the foreigner. But when I came back to home, the same question persisted. “Where are you from?” “Montreal.” An awkward pause, and then I pick up what they really meant, and I clarify, “I’m ethnically Korean.” Here, even in my home country, I am still the foreigner, the Asian rather than the American. Why is it that people rarely identify me as I actually am, an Asian-American?

Continue reading “Asian? American? Both?”

Sam Kim’s “Seattle” Analysis

Sam Kim came onto the radar when he auditioned for Kpop Star, a talent search competition. He is my brother’s age (1998), extremely talented, and a Korean American. His Korean is not fully proficient and yet now, he is singing in the language and immersed in his heritage culture.

His story fascinated me. In his audition, while a judge is complimenting him, he shyly admits that he doesn’t know what the judge is saying. And throughout the show, he speaks in English most of the time, as he can express himself more succinctly. But now, he is in a culture and language far from his hometown Seattle. He has culture shock of going to his heritage. And yet, he pushes on.  Continue reading “Sam Kim’s “Seattle” Analysis”

When Choosing a Character’s Race…

I usually check the new book section in my university’s library. Recently, a book caught my eye by its simple design and intriguing title, “Full Cicada Moon.” I opened the book and read the inner flap and was immediately suspicious but interested at the same time:

the book was about a half Japanese and half black girl. And the author was white.

I flipped through the pages and the free verse form was cool but I still felt uncomfortable. Why would a white person write about someone who was in such a unique racial position? Just to get attention? Just for the sake of the novel? Was the author aware of the impact her writing would have?

The questions were suffocating me and I put the book down and left.  Continue reading “When Choosing a Character’s Race…”

Era-Themed Concepts!

Kpop is famous for its different concepts; one day, a group can be cute, the next day, they can be distressed, angsty teens frustrated over a breakup, then later they’ll be someone deep in love. And then there are some groups who take it up a notch and, say, will dress up like sushi or be cyborgs.

All today, I was listening to groups that took a dip into musical concepts shaped by eras. It started with the song “Whoo” by Rainbow (a group I haven’t had must interest in, until now):

I loved the music! It reminded me of something in the past, like maybe the taste of a lollipop or a sunny summer day years ago. It was refreshing and had hints of musical elements that reminded me of music from another era.

Continue reading “Era-Themed Concepts!”