#20 TINT – Wolf is Stupid

Every now and then a KPOP group sprouts up overnight that doesn’t seem like anything special, but is so brilliant they become false gods that convert fans with one wink from their visual. TINT, an adorable five piece outfit fresh out of the trainee oven, is one of these anomalies; they have cemented themselves with their new single ‘Wolf is Stupid’, as the Aegyo Aphrodites of KPOP and my go-to girls for cute concepts. Statistically their across-the-board slaying doesn’t compute – they don’t offer up an entirely new take on cute KPOP, million dollar music videos, incredible Operatic lungs, or amazing dance moves, yet despite all this they manage to defy the laws of the universe by coming out on top.

This phenomenon which has stumped the world’s brightest minds and been the product of countless research papers and Discovery channel documentaries has worked wonders for TINT. Not only are they my new favourites, they’re also the top cute troupe in the industry and have relegated A-Pink and Kara to obscurity, making them the definition of redundant without even trying. This isn’t the first time they’ve come in like a pack of terminators and annihilated everyone with their sheer effortless at being better than everything on this planet, their debut was just as amazing as this single, which is in fact only their second one to date – they’re so comfortable, charismatic and they own the spotlight, that it feels like they’ve been in the game for decades not a few months.

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#19 E-girls/RYDEEN – Dance All Night

Surprisingly I’ve always found Japanese girl-group tracks, the perfect marriage of the bizarre and girlish to be very hit and miss. Truth be told, my ears have found them tuneless since day one. The reason behind this has plagued me since I was a brooding teenager harbouring a vicious obsession with everything Asia and the explanation I came up with then still rings true today – due to cultural conditioning my ears are on a different frequency. Girl-group music hailing from the Land of the Rising Sun doesn’t sit right with my ears because well, I didn’t grow up in the archipelago and as a result wasn’t conditioned to like this type of music. Naturally, I’m not on the same cultural wavelength either. Now I’m not talking about language, that is superfluous, rather the cultural influences and subtleties, the country’s musical history, and the psyche of the people. This all matters a great deal as it plays a large role in the development of taste. It’s a shame because visually J-POP girl groups are right up my alley – they’re cuteness is off the scale, new born babes got nothing on them, ’nuff said.

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#17 CREAM – Nobody

Cream have just dropped ‘Nobody’, the first single off their upcoming second album and it’s the best and most magical thing to have happened since the immaculate conception. It doesn’t seem like much time has passed since the duo’s debut, but according to official sources it’s been over a year since Dreamin’ body-slammed shelves and converted me to a Cream stan. To me, it’s like they never left as their inaugural masterpiece and equally flawless follow up ‘Wonderland’, a mini-album of biblical proportions kept me sustained and blissfully unaware of the passing of time. Despite spending the year wandering through a musical desert it wasn’t unpleasant as just like those 40-year trekkers in the Old Testament, the gods were on my side – instead of being blessed with renewable sandals I had ‘KISSING’ and the rest of the Cream pantheon available on repeat. It’s safe to say, Minami and Staxx T had a lot to live up to with this proverbial ‘promised land’ of an album, and if ‘Nobody’ and the title track ‘#NoFilter’ are a taste of what’s to come, they’ve scored a hat-rick, a home-run, and a bullseye.

The song is a retro, upbeat number with a Jackson Five ‘Want you back’ Je n’ais sais quois that has the distinctive sound we’ve all come to know and love stamped all over, however it doesn’t play like a rehash of their previous works. While it has the right amount of creaminess, picture a thick helping of icing atop a cupcake, the bop sounds fresh. The fact they haven’t rigidly followed their iconic recipe-book for success, proves that they’re Asia’s most talented pop-stars. Why? Because these smarties understand the gravity of experimentation and a constantly evolving sound. ‘Nobody’ clearly shows that the pair aren’t content with sitting complacently in Xanadu. They want to grow and continue to surprise so they stay relevant. If they pursue reflection, the sky’s the limit for their budding careers and it’s only a matter of time before they take their rightful places as the royal rulers of the Japanese archipelago and outlaw burikkos and snaggle-tooth fetishes.

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#16 BESTie ‘Thank you very much’

“You’re goddamn right I’m fabulous” Yes, yes you are Hyeyeon. No-one’s disputing that.

BESTie, the quartet coalesced from the cutoffs of one of the best girl-groups in KPOP, EXID, haven’t had the best run with material thus far. First release ‘Pitapat’, was flawed and forgettable while ‘Love Options’, despite being a fan favourite and to some the KPOP industry’s version of a B-Movie cult classic was cute enough but insanely boring. However, ‘Thank you very much’, their newest bop, has to some extent made up for these past offences. It’s genuinely enjoyable and I’m not ashamed to say that I’m unabashedly in love.

As a whole, it’s everything you’ve come to expect from a KPOP release – bubbly, cutesy, manufactured pop with an accompanying music video saturated with neon lens-flares, fluorescent furniture and one blonde, but it’s much more than that. The song doesn’t take the frequently overused and predictable route of describing a girl pining for the boy she fancies à la Hello Venus. No, it’s a girly pop, breakup song that screams female independence. Collective sigh of relief. Instead of taking the sad route, the girls have decided to concentrate on the positives which is even better. Anger at their ex-boyfriends is brilliantly conveyed in the spunky verses, in a sing-song half-rap, half-singing delivery.

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#15 SunMi’s Full Moon is everything

Twerking on a rooftop is a sacred ritual, performed every full moon (If only!)

Ex-Wonder Girl, and usurper to the K-Diva Kingdom, Sunmi has made it abundantly clear with her sophomore single that she isn’t settling for Lady in Waiting;  her almond eyes are firmly fixed on the throne. This ambitious campaign for power couldn’t have come at a better time. Not only a welcome respite from the current hegemony of boy-bands it’s also a breath of fresh air to the stagnated K-diva scene which has long been over due for a shake up; Hyori’s Monochrome was very grey.

I heaved a huge of sigh of relief when I heard Full Moon’s post-chorus bars of sexy-sax and trance-like ‘eh’s because like many fanboys I was scared that Sunmi’s first solo-venture was going to be a one hit wonder. Thankfully, Full Moon is just as flawless as its predecessor. Despite the recycled bits and pieces from Brave Brothers discography and the lack of a strong melody which is typical of their hits (almost a signature), the song is an urban, flowing tune with an almost bewitching nursery rhyme allure. This is especially apparent when the tempo slows down before and after the final chorus. It feels like Sunmi is lulling us to sleep in this small snippet, in the best way possible of course – so she has full reign on our unconscious bodies to do what she wants. Judging by the video this includes a set of sharp fangs, an exposed neck ripe for the picking and blood, lots of blood.

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#14「Trend Alert」Statement Necklaces

This week I investigate the trend for statement necklaces or as I like to call them mother cluckin’ gigantic ones! This necklace modeled by one of the members of NU’EST was also spotted on Sulli from f(x).

Opulent, oversized necklaces with geometrical emphases were undoubtedly one of this summer’s hottest trends! Everywhere you looked, there was a deliciously chunky necklace adorning someone’s neck and bust; on Pinterest, in KPOP music videos, and walking down the runway! Unfortunately for us folk in the Southern Hemisphere, temperatures weren’t warm enough to rock this trend. Doubtless, the odd fearless-fashionista gritted her teeth and sacrificed comfort for fashion, but the vast majority of us didn’t even entertain the idea of exposing our necks, let alone go through with it! Thankfully, summer is just around the corner which means we can finally rid ourselves of those pesky scarves without fear of pneumonia. That’s right, no more hiding beneath layers of fabric, it’s time to slap on that t-shirt and bling bling!

That’s all very well and good, but if you’re like me and you find selecting jewelry really hard, then you aren’t out of the doldrums just yet! I’ve always struggled picking out jewelry for myself. I’m worse than most because I aggressively double-check all my fashion choices, I analyse them to the point of insanity! You see, I consider myself a rather strange looking individual that has limited options when it comes to fashion, that’s why my decisions go through a rigorous screening process. In my defence, it can be excruciatingly hard to find things that suit me and don’t exaggerate my shortness! Another qualm I have is that I don’t want pieces to swamp me, making me look like an afterthought. I want to be the master of the item and pull it off! There’s nothing worse than being smothered in one’s clothes and accessories, drowning in apparel is a fate worse than death! 

MAWI necklace, japanesestreets.com

However, despite these ever-present worries, I’ve decided that one shouldn’t limit oneself! While these worries have some relevance, they shouldn’t be taken too seriously. In reality, they’re mere guidelines and can often be broken with little or no collateral damage! What I’m trying to say is that one doesn’t have to stick to a narrow range of clothing, there’s room for experimentation! If you like an audacious necklace but you’re afraid it will look terrible on you, just go for it! You may be surprised to find that this necklace you hastily deemed as being inappropriate for your person, in fact looks swell on you! If it doesn’t, what’s the big deal? You have nothing to lose! Surprisingly, what made me realise that these worries are paltry, was a new haircut. People who knew teenage Patrick will remember that I spent high-school with very conservative locks! I never did anything exciting with my mop and I haven’t since (expect this one time at university, when was compared to a skunk!) Since my tween years I’ve desperately wanted to go crazy and get a really gangster haircut, like corn braids or an afro. However, I’ve always hesitated due to self-confidence issues (I’m using corn-braids and afros as examples. I’ve never seriously considered getting them, I was just making a point OKAY!).

The other day when I was sitting in my trusted barber’s chair, I decided to set these worries aside and get a line shaved along my natural parting! This small, innocuous act is actually the best thing I’ve ever done. To the average observer it’s barely noticeable, but to me it represents a massive step towards being more comfortable and confident with my fashion choices. Now I feel like I could get a tattoo or a piercing without worrying about complexities!

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#13「Review」Ariana Grande – Yours Truly

What English-language pop on Patrick’s blog? This is unheard of! Where did you put the real Patrick? Has he been abducted by aliens for insemination? I guess those thoughts, or similar went running panic-stricken through your minds. Don’t worry, it’s still me. I decided to review an album that I think you die-hard cuties will really enjoy listening to (not you in-betweeneers!).

BTW I’m going to be posting a lot more, maybe once a day even (okay, let’s not make promises we can’t keep Patrick!).

Unlike many of her Disney and Nickelodeon contemporaries, I see an iridescently bright future in store for Ariana Grande. If you don’t have any clue who this girl is, then you’re seriously missing out because she’s arguably one of the most talented performers of her generation. Having started out performing The Star Spangled Banner on an ice-skating rink and sharpening her chops on Broadway, she found fame playing ditzy, lovable, Cat Valentine on teen-sitcom Victorious! Despite being part of the supporting cast, Grande managed to garner a sizable tween fan-base; in large due to her genuinely-sweet portrayal of Cat, but also due to her amazing pair of lungs. While not receiving many chances to showcase her impressive vocal range and whistle register (more on these later), it was only a matter of time before her full potential was realised.

Look at those pronounced dimples and that adorable mouth! Sometimes Ariana looks like Cheryl Cole (best looking celebrity IMO).

Fast forward past a bubblegum-pop release in 2011, to March this year, when The Way reared its beautiful head. Nothing like Grande’s first foray into pop music, The Way was a breath of fresh air to an otherwise stagnant music industry. The Nineties-throwback style, the Mariah Carey delivery, and the bouncy-ball piano beat made a perfect package, ever so fitting for the summer. From the moment I heard the breathy introduction, I knew this was going to be a hit! Thankfully it didn’t disappoint. Making a cannon-ball splash in America, it managed to squeeze into the Billboard Top 10, moving thousands of singles in the process. That is an incredible feat for someone fresh off a tween-oriented sitcom, it took Selena Gomez a lot longer to hit the big time. Not only did it sell handsomely but Grande proved that her voice was the real deal, putting the smoke-and-mirrors rumors to rest by performing throughout the USA. I have to admit, the first time I heard this song I did have my doubts over how much of the recorded voice was actually hers. Firstly, I didn’t think a teen-idol could ever possess a strong enough voice to hit whistle tones and secondly, having never watched a Victorious episode she was a completely new face to me and thus, I was dubious about her authenticity. Thankfully, I found that my doubts were unsubstantiated, when I watched her live performance on Ellen.

It’s safe to say, that I smashed this song for months on end, and to this day I still love it to pieces. Why do I love it so much? Well being a Nineties child, I enjoy the nostalgia the song brings to the table, and quite frankly it’s as catchy as a swearword that I will refrain from putting in this article. Honestly, the hook is amazing and the rap is memorable and easy to sing along to, I think this is a strong contender for ‘Song of the Year’. However, I shouldn’t be too hasty with that proclamation because Grande’s two other singles from Yours Truly, are just as eargasm inducing. Amazingly, she has managed to pull off the Nineties pastiche again without sounding trite and repetitive.

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THE K.O.C IS BACK #12

I haven’t been blogging for a number of reasons:

Firstly, my computer was broken for two months solid, which sucked so much!

Secondly, I don’t like the way I write, in fact, I hate it! I have no self-confidence! In all seriousness I think I was born without any, I need a confidence transfusion!

Why isn’t Belinda popular in the English speaking world? Look at that midriff, bust and face! LOL She’s the total package!

Initially, I did contemplate asking Oprah to conduct an interview with me concerning my two months in seclusion like LILO. Although this would have been easily arranged (I have Oprah on speed dial) I thought it would make a good subject for a blog-post so I changed my mind. Also, I decided to type this up in the vain hope that I might get my blogging mojo back! It’s common knowledge that once one stops doing something it’s excruciatingly hard to pick it up again and get back into the swing of things (Don’t you just hate this human failing). Well, in June I was ordered South to the French Riviera by my pesky physician due to my consumptive condition (the winter in the British Isles takes a massive toll on my lungs) so does the London smog. Are these 19th century jokes doing anything for you?

I spent the winter, basking in the anemic sun, and reading my way through the classic novels. I started with Dracula which I found out is a surprisingly good read, I couldn’t put it down once I started it! One night I stayed up until the wee hours of the morning pouring over the book (there’s nothing like a good read to recharge your creative batteries)! I think Dracula is a fantastic character and I hate how American cinema has tarnished his image, and vampires in general for that matter. Dracula is evil, but he’s a multi-dimensional character (He’s fascinated by English culture and is a self-proclaimed Anglophile for a start!). Part of me actually feels sorry for him. Even though this isn’t alluded to in the novel, I think deep down he’s sick to death of immortality (puns are fun) and secretly wants to be put to rest once and for all. Okay, I think I better stop there and save the rest for my book club (we meet every Wednesday inside my head), otherwise I’ll just keep going for the rest of this blog-post. What else? Well I have plenty to tell you that doesn’t involve books! Instead of compiling them into one gigantic blog-post, I’ve decided to place them in a list to make things easier on your eyes (an added bonus is that it requires less effort on my part, aren’t I just the worst?).

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Why is KPOP so popular? #11

I never thought this would happen but my rendezvous with f(x) has been turned into gifs! Scroll down to the end of this post to see them, if you can’t wait! 

Dara channeling the Statue of Liberty! 

This million-dollar question, in my mind, revolves around unity. Yes, that very principle prized by graphic-design lecturers the world over is indeed the answer to this conundrum; I’m not being facetious! Of course, those fortunate enough to have never sought the elusive unity won’t understand this reference; just count yourselves lucky, okay!Fortunately, you’re going to remain exempt from this frustration that plagues designers because I’m talking about a totally different type of unity in relation to KPOP (No need to shout, I’m well aware that this is a bombshell introduction, and sadly not of the Pamela Anderson variety).Without further waffle and teasing, I present the connection! KPOP owes its status as a driving force in global popular culture to the unity of South Korean society.

The lynchpin of a strong entertainment industry is a devoted domestic market, which prefers to consume media created within the borders of the fatherland rather than media fashioned across seas in a foreign tongue. South Korea is this personified. The Korean public loves consuming products with the ‘Made in Korea’ label slapped on the side. Music, movies and all types of media are no exception. Not only does this demand for Korean products increase the country’s GDP by keeping, monetary gains made from the sale of media, inside the country, it also creates a sense of national pride. Once this cycle takes hold, it snowballs and the cycle grows stronger each year eventually giving the country potential to expand its cultural exports to foreign locales. The astute reader is probably curious how the Southern portion of the Korean peninsula managed to secure such a lucrative domestic market. Well, it all comes down to the fact that South Korea is an irrefutably homogenous society (the latest census figures clarify that 99% of the population are full-blooded Koreans). Homogeneity is a key player in the creation of a devoted domestic market as it gives nations’ strength and makes them impervious to dilution from external influences. Since the citizens of these countries aren’t exposed to foreign media they have no desire or temptation to consume media other than their own. They don’t need to either because everything is provided for them!  This is exactly South Korea’s deal! (I tried to make this point relatively intelligible, I’m sorry if I didn’t succeed. This is a surprisingly difficult topic!)

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Commentary on KPOP + How I got into KPOP! #10

N.B: I was going to be witty and change the ‘c’ in commentary to a ‘k’, but it dawned on me that I’m not a Kardashian (I’m pretty sure they own the copyright for that letter) Thus, to avoid an intellectual property fracas I decided to forgo this alliteration.

Unfortunately this isn’t one of my illustrations!

This may come as a shock, especially to the weak of heart, but this month marks the tenth anniversary of my KPOP addiction! I’m just as surprised as the next guy; I can’t believe it’s managed to last this long sans dissent. Actually, that’s a fib. Notwithstanding societies’ theories that my KPOP adoration was purely an ephemeral phase that would be surpassed by something else after my teenage years, I always knew that it was here to stay. However, despite my best efforts, I was never able to fully convince people of my sincere fancy for Korean pop. Many thought it strange, making me feel like a Pennsylvanian woman accused of witchcraft (bewildered by people’s narrow-mindedness and ignorance). Thankfully, my iron conviction of this genuine partiality for KPOP never waned and now is stronger than ever! Why am telling you this? Well, there’s this notorious tag on YouTube that has been tackled by many KPOP fan: ‘How I got into KPOP’. I really want to acknowledge my devotion to this genre so I’ve decided to create something along those lines. Making videos has never been my forte; instead I’ll tackle this topic using the written word (my weapon of choice!) This will constitute my inaugural celebration for this momentous occasion (others are in the pipeline, I’ll reveal them at a later date). Without further ado, let’s take a trip down memory lane!

I find this topic fascinating, as I believe that every human consumes popular culture differently; no two experiences are identical. One can make a case for the fact that the incredibly subjective nature of human tastes is just as varied as genetic makeup. In my opinion, just as the old adage states that you’re unique in terms of genetic makeup (no other person on the planet looks exactly the same as you), your tastes concerning popular culture are unique as well! No matter, how meticulous your efforts of scouring the globe for a perfect match, you’ll never discover this elusive person for the simple fact that they don’t exist. My point is, the reasons I was attracted to KPOP may differ considerably to others or they may be eerily analogous. Similarly, others may malign the songs I’ve enjoyed listening to over the years as pure trash or they might relish these at karaoke nights. In conclusion, there’s nothing wrong with your popular culture tastes; they’re just another piece of the puzzle that defines you as an individual, like your retroussé nose. We all need to realise this and stop lambasting and evaluating people on their musical tastes. Who cares if your classmate listens to Heavy Metal? Let them enjoy themselves!

How cute are these 2NE1 chibi illustrations?

Okay, it’s time to start rattling off the reasons why I started listening to KPOP:

(1) For starters, I visited South Korea in my early teens. It’s common knowledge that teenagers are an impressionable bunch throughout their existence, and especially at the outset when they’re trying to find an identity. KPOP had a clear advantage from the very beginning as I was at a period in my life when I was open to anything and at the same time had a strong desire to belong.

(2) I visited a country with a different culture from my own (this played a major role). From a young age I had an insatiable curiosity for the exotic. There isn’t a shadow of doubt that this visit satisfied my inquisitiveness. It achieved that and also developed a predilection for more. Thus, when I arrived back in New Zealand I started listening to KPOP to keep that sensation alive, ultimately satisfying this strange hunger.

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