Posts

CL’s ‘Doctor Pepper’ Song Review

CL Doctor Pepper
The time is finally here for K-pop’s greatest hope in the West to begin her attack. As K-pop fans, we have seen many before her attempt and fail to break the musical holy land, America. BoA, Se7en, Wonder Girls did not have what it takes. They, however, did not have the backing that 2NE1’s leader CL has at her disposal. Her overall style since her debut has generally taken a greater influence from the West, anyway. She seems to believe in and love her music which, whether true or not, is more common to a Western pop artist. Her performance style is more about putting on a good show than delivering crisp choreography. Moreover, she always has the famous friends like Jeremy Scott, Diplo, and M.I.A. Collaborations with them could raise her profile in the future.

It comes as no surprise that Doctor Pepper is a sleazy hip-hop track so relevant to the US musical environment right now. Does this live up to the hype of K-pop fans though? And is it going to push her career in the US?

Song

Given that hearing Major Lazer on mainstream radio stations is very common these days, Doctor Pepper is the ideal jumping off point for CL. It’s a heavily synthesized piece of hip-hop that we have come to expect from everything Diplo works on. Musically, it doesn’t deviate from its stabbing electro riff for the most part. The clip clopping drum beat behind it keeps things interesting though. It’s a far cry from what most K-pop listeners will be used to. Yet, like Diplo said, K-pop is broad enough to be able to accept and promote just about anything, even super weird Atlanta hip-hop.

This is really a showcase of the rapping talent featured with CL taking centre stage. It is here where the song really delivers. The repeating hook which CL lays at the beginning is a lot of fun. At first listen, it comes across as pretty cheesy, but there’s a wry cleverness to the lyrics that I like. It’s not a silly little rhyme about a soft drink, but an introduction of the baddest female.She’s letting the US public know how cool she is. Ice cool, if you needed help getting that.


 Also on KultScene: Artist Spotlight: Giriboy

Her rap that follows is similarly simple in its lyric. It contains, however, some slight similarities to CL’s K-pop roots. The vocal inflections and auto-tune recall for a small moment more popular elements. Not to say this is exclusive to K-pop though, most rappers do switch from rapping to singing within one verse a lot. Here though, it seems much more natural due to CL’s incredible vocal range. It appeals to CL’s die hard fans and the party loving Western fans she wants. It’s a pretty good verse to officially open up herself to the public. But in order to leave room for supporting acts, it’s her only verse though.

Those supporters are RiFF RAFF and OG Maco. Raff delivers a typically wacky and fun time while Maco has the Atlanta style flow that perfectly suits this music without overshadowing anyone else.

The Future

The success or failure of Doctor Pepper will have a big impact on CL’s future American career. How the public reacts to it will probably affect what kind of music she continues with, i.e. sticking with Diplo’s signature sounds or going in a more popular root. The success of Nicki Minaj and Diplo’s own work on the charts with Major Lazer show that the style should not be a problem though.

What will probably be the biggest issue is race, unfortunately. The public’s reaction to an Asian pop star getting involved in rap, especially Atlanta style since it’s so local, could be contentious, to say the least. Even though it’s very much in the popular realm now, rap fans have a strong loyalty to their music and artists, not unlike fans of K-pop. The roots of rap are also found in oppression and suffering, whereas CL is a well-travelled superstar who has seemingly never suffered a day in her life.


 Also on KultScene: YG Entertainment and Authenticity in K-Pop

It might seem unfair to assume that people will think this but it’s happening right now to Iggy Azaela, so we know it can happen again. Iggy is constantly being accused of cultural appropriation and it seems to have started hurting her career. I hope the difference between Iggy and CL is that CL actually makes good music. A lot can be forgiven for music that really speaks to people.

While Doctor Pepper may not work as a complete song it does give out good vibes for the future. The style is at once popular and legitimate. The big name connections are there. CL herself is devoted to her music and wants to connect with new audiences. If this isn’t enough to push CL further than those who have tried to break America before, then I hope K-pop stops trying. No one else can do it.

What do you think of CL’s Doctor Pepper? Share your thoughts in the comment section below and be sure to subscribe to the site and follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Tumblr to keep up with all of our posts.

SM Entertainment: The ‘Brand’

sm entertainment smtown sm artists idols groups

A few weeks back I wrote about the idea of authenticity that YG Entertainment uses to sell its artists. While I stand by most of my opinions, I feel it comes across as too one sided. I was ready to slam YG and I didn’t stop to consider the ideals of other companies. By other companies I really mean SM Entertainment. They are the yang to YG’s yin. My YG article clearly misses that yang, there is a sense that I prefer a different approach to the YG one, but don’t touch on it. I don’t know if I prefer the approach, but I do prefer SM’s music, so that probably influenced my opinion.

The Asian idol system is a thoroughly transparent one. Fans are allowed to see all elements of how an idol comes to be, their extensive training in not just singing and dancing but acting, PR, and fitness. It is not an entirely glamorous regime, but it’s what it takes to be a star. This transparency means, however, that fans are also under no illusion as to the creators of the music and its authenticity. SM makes no attempt to hide this or push their artists beyond this. So why is SM so popular and yet have no discernible musical figureheads?

Another writer on KultScene got to the heart of this when she wrote about how SM and Disney are very similar companies. It wasn’t totally positive either, equating the recent controversies of SM to Disney’s own troubles with diversity and such. In the context of the companies actual content though, for me, it boils down to the “brand.” These companies are loyal to their brand and what will make their brand the most money. SM has time and again shown that the overall company is more important than any individual. From apparent slave contracts to over-worked idols, no company has had as many high profile departures than SM. The amount of cases show it be a serious problem for young idols and show a lack of understanding from an imposing company.

While groups like Shinhwa and Fly To The Sky left SM after their contracts expired and achieved much success, leaving SM Entertainment prior to the end of the contract has meant difficulties.

The worst of all, of course, is the case where three members left former-quintet TVXQ,  which left Junsu, Jaejoong and Yoochun  (who formed JYJ) unable to attend any Korean television programs. If they do, the station that shows them will potentially not get any SM coverage in the future, losing the station a ton of potential viewers. So JYJ is essentially blacklisted (although Junsu just performed for the first time on television in six years, thanks to EBS.)

 


 Also on KultScene: What Will SM Entertainment Look Like In 2015?

Like Disney, people have grown to essentially worship the brand of SM. Even after all these controversies, loyalty remains and the fans nearly always side with the group and not the individual. This sort of attitude can lead to a company becoming a Disney-like juggernaut, and that’s a problem. If SM continues growing and accumulating smaller companies, like Woollim Entertainment, they can build a possible monopoly. This might not seem so bad since Woollim has been proceeding business as usual with their affairs, but they’re still under SM’s control. If this continues, the whole Korean music industry would revolve around SM, making it possible that if SM goes under, so does all of K-pop.

Let’s steer away from the dramatics for now and back to a real, current problem for SM: the treatment of individual stars. Maybe it’s not a problem, but just a clear difference in style to YG. Emblematic of SM’s love of the brand, they prioritize cohesive groups over individual talents. It was actually listening to F(x)’s Pink Tape and realizing how replaceable they are as a group that gave me the idea for this article. Yet I still think it is one of the best full length albums in K-pop history. Apart from TVXQ and to a lesser extent, SHINee, all of SM’s groups feature members that could be left out and would make no difference to the quality of their music. Similarly, no group has a defining creative head like G-Dragon, CL or even Bobby, whenever iKon debut. Even TVXQ who are possibly the most talented group in K-pop history, do not have a creative head, merely extremely proficient singers and dancers. This lack of strong individuals shows SM are not interested in people who leave the group or company, in order to shine on their own right as solo artists, overshadowing their previous SM-related efforts. When one of them threatens to possibly do this, they are swiftly taken care of, like former Girls’ Generation member and head of fashion line Blanc & Eclare Jessica Jung.

What about the music these large, anonymous groups are releasing though? This is where it gets tougher to pin SM down. SM is known for creating songs it dubs SMP, SM Music Performance. This is a type of song that is created together as a complete song and performance, which cannot be separated. Essentially, these are incredibly complex songs that go above and beyond what a pop song is expected to be. Examples are SNSD’s I Got A Boy and TVXQ’s Rising Sun. What’s really interesting though is that these are the type of songs that big brands would never dream of releasing. They play with structure in strange ways and swap genre without any notice. Pop songs were designed to lull you into security, make you feel at ease so you won’t go against the system. SM does the opposite and its makes for an interesting case.

To find out why SM does this though, is not easy to find out. We can look at the producers of the songs. A lot of them are outside producers, people like Teddy Riley, Will Simms and The Stereotypes. SM would not let them produce such weird tracks without their consent though, and probably would have even specifically picked out songs like this. This comes across as more of a negative in reality, as it makes SM seem uninterested in even their own artistry not just their groups. Always using outside producers gives them an image of business people rather than musicians, but this is not wholly true either. There are many in house writers and producers like Yoo Young Jin, who has worked on almost every great SM song since its inception.


 Also on KultScene: Artist Spotlight: DaeNamHyup

My last and most likely theory has more to do with the Korean public than the music itself. South Korea did not have pop music as we know it until 1992 when Seo Taiji and The Boys burst onto the scene with their musical fusion. They mixed rap, metal, dance, and many more genres to create something never heard before in the country. At the time they used this music to criticize Korean society (see Gyosil Idea,) which Seo Taiji still does to this day, and it worked thanks to the genre mashing and structure bending forms of their songs. They were so popular, however, that this style of music eventually became commonplace in K-pop. So maybe SM’s songs today are not as strange and revolutionary as I thought, but merely the norm in the country.

One thing I can be sure of though is that SM Entertainment and YG Entertainment have completely different ideologies when it comes to their brand. Of what I have written about, they do share at least one thing in common, having lots of great, artsy teasers, but not delivering with the final product (WINNER for YG and EXO for SM) and I hate them both for it. Ultimately, I don’t know what side I come down on in favor anymore. I prefer SM’s music, but I don’t respect any of their individuals as much as I respect CL and her brazen individuality amongst idols. Either way I’m supporting a big brand whose only goal is to make lots of money.

Let’s support neither of them. Go find a smaller company whom you can get behind and encourage by rewarding quality music and artistry with your support. Like Chrome Entertainment, home of Crayon Pop, whose DIY attitude is already changing K-pop or Source Music who have been accused by netizens of making deals with journalists so G-Friend can get on the charts or any other of the large number of smaller, less corporate companies currently struggling to stay afloat.

What do you think of SM Entertainment’s system? Who do you prefer SM or YG? Share your thoughts in the comment section below and be sure to subscribe to the site and follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Tumblr to keep up with all of our posts.

[This article was updated on April 21, 2015.]

Is CL Collaborating With Grimes For Her American Debut Album?

CL’s debut american album has been hyped a lot since it was announced last year. With an anticipated early 2015 release, we just can’t help wondering which direction she will take and who she will collaborate with. 2NE1’s leader has been praised by American media on her versatility with not only her talents, but her ability to transform herself with her looks. Grimes, an experimental Canadian singer-songwriter and producer is a known fan of K-pop, and a recent picture that she uploaded to her Instagram account makes us wonder if they are just friends hanging out together or if Grimes will have a hand in producing CL’s album.

CL and Grimes
There are a very few names that have been already mentioned before that could possibly be collaborating with CL for her album. Diplo, a friend and frequent collaborator may have a big and important part on her album. His beats paired with CL’s fierce rap and vocals create a perfect match that was already seen in their live collaboration for the Style Icon Awards.

Moreover, Black Eyed Peas frontman will.i.am. has previously collaborated with 2NE1, with an alleged full album, and has featured CL and Park Bom in one of his songs, and has now enlisted CL to join him and Black Eyed Peas on their new album. CL will feature on their 20th anniversary album to be released later this year. Without a doubt, CL is in the right track with the aforementioned collaborators, but what CL needs is a producer like Grimes.

Also on KultScene: 5 Fantasy Collaborations with Non K-Pop Artists

Grimes had already expressed admiration towards CL before. She posted on her Tumblr the music video for The Baddest Female with a caption, “CL is so cool.” Then when her American solo debut was announced, she couldn’t help but express her emotion via her Twitter. Even Lorde couldn’t resist and retweeted Claire’s (her real name) excitement.

Grimes Posting CL's Music Video

via Lorde's Twitter

In order for CL to achieve success in the American market she needs to come out with a very new and fresh sound that will set her apart from the current Pop artists that reign American Top 40. Yes, she has to have that commercial appeal in order to gain attention, but Grimes can give her that innovative sound that will make stand out. Grimes’ music is so different; she experiments with different sounds and genres that are not that far from what’s being produced in K-pop. She’s definitely not afraid of trying new things.

Take Grimes’ most recent track, Go, which was originally penned for Rihanna. This song is Claire’s attempt to go into the commercial route, but it still has that Grimes feel of her unique music. The song has dubstep, trap, synths, and other experimental sounds that she creates herself. If Claire takes this route with CL, she could seemingly showcase her beautiful vocals and rap on a song like this.

If both ladies want to work on a more danceable track, but with a serious topic, then Grime’s Oblivion would be a perfect example of what they could come up with. Grimes’ tracks usually deal with sexism, misogyny, drug abuse, and alcoholism, and Oblivion deals with sexual assault. Her dark and obscure lyrics create a perfect juxtaposition with the music she does, but also bring awareness to these topics. CL has already stated that she wants to represent Asian women and break the typical Asian female stereotype. “I want to break that. I want to tell the world that there are some badass Asian female girls and that we can be cool. That we’re nothing different. I want to break that standard and stand up for all the girls,” she stated in an Elle Magazine interview. Grimes and CL could make the perfect girl power anthem that we have been longing for.

Also on KultScene: K-Pop’s Cringiest Moments Of 2014

Grimes producing CL debut American album would be ideal. Not only producing her music but also giving creative direction. Did we forgot to mention that they are both Jeremy Scott’s besties? Her visuals are always stunning and have a very different approach from what’s already out there. Claire’s music can’t be put in one genre given that her music is very unique, making it the perfect sound match for CL. Both artists are chameleonic in their artistry. What these women could achieve together would be amazing; their personalities and talents combined will be like a match made in heaven.

Would you like to see CL and Grimes collaborate together?Let us know in the comment section below and be sure to subscribe to the site and follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Tumblr to keep up with all of our posts.

K-Pop Idols And The Formidable American Debut

CL joins a line of K-Pop idols who have decided to enter the American music market, but the history of idols in the United States isn’t something that the 2NE1 leader will want to necessary emulate. The most talked about idols to have attempted to enter the American market to date are Rain, BoA, Se7en, Girls’ Generation, SPICA, and The Wonder Girls. Their efforts have done much for Korean music in the US, but the popularity that Korean idols find in many countries didn’t transfer over, and no Korean idols became superstars in Hollywood.

K-Pop made national headlines with the explosion of Psy’s Gangnam Style, the success of which Psy himself admits was a complete accident. In comparison, the other attempts to break into the US were hardly accidents, and were met with varying levels of success.

Rain

In one of the more bizarre debuts into the American entertainment industry, Rain gained national attention after beating out Stephen Colbert for the number one spot on a reader-ranked Time 100 Poll in 2007. Rain had already appeared on Time’s 2006 World 100 Most Influential People list following his immense popularity in Asia, and on CNN’s TalkAsia in 2005. But Stephen Colbert took Rain’s win personally, and his Comedy Central audience soon learned a little bit about Rain.

Rain continued being ranked on Times’ lists for the next few years, and had a short guest appearance on the Colbert Report where the two had a dance off.

Even though he gained fame in Asia first as a singer before becoming an actor, Rain made his formal debut in the U.S. as an actor, taking roles in Speed Racer in 2008 and Ninja Assassin in 2009. He even won MTV’s Biggest Badass Award for his role in the latter film.

Rain stopped all of his American activities due to military service, but appeared in August 2014’s The Prince with Bruce Willis and John Cusack. The film was poorly received and Rain has yet to announce future plans to act in the United States. However, following Lee Byung Hyun, Rain is one of Korea’s most impressive action exports to Hollywood.

Success Rate: 80% — He’s still active, and if he lands the right role, Rain could do really well in Hollywood as an action star.

BoA

BoA and Rain are best of the top solo idols that Korea has seen, both known for their singing and dancing, and both headed to the United States. BoA tried entering the American market through an album release in 2008, with the English language album BoA. The album included singles Eat You Up, Energetic, and I Did It For Love, as well as Look Who’s Talking, which was originally partially written and recorded by Britney Spears but never publicly released. The album and songs appeared on Billboard charts in the United states, as well as several foreign charts.

BoA performed at MTV Studios in Times Square and appeared at the 2008 Jingle Ball. She also performed at the 2009 San Francisco Pride Festival, where Solange Knowles also performed. The singer also starred in the movie Make Your Move, alongside Dancing With The Stars’ Derek Hough. The movie was released in 2014, after several years in post production. BoA hasn’t really pursued the American industry in some time, instead choosing to focus on Korea and Japan.

Success Rate: 40% — BoA’s songs are as great as any of her Korean ones, but they didn’t gain the attention that they deserve. Make Your Move was not very well received.

The Wonder Girls

Perhaps the most daring, The Wonder Girls devoted themselves to an American debut. The girl group had reached success with addictive hits like Tell Me and Nobody, and JYP Entertainment decided that the five member group would do well in the U.S. The members released some of their songs in English and went on tour with The Jonas Brothers in 2009, acting as the opening act. The Wonder Girls became the first Korean group to have a song on the Billboard Hot 100 Chart when the English version of Nobody entered.

However, Sunmi left the group in the middle of American promotions, and Hyelim replaced her. The Wonder Girls then returned to Korea and released 2 Different Tears in English, Korean, and Chinese. The group then went back to the United States and had several concerts. After some more Asian activities, The Wonder Girls returned to the United States with The DJ Is Mine, and appeared in Teen Nick made-for-tv movie, The Wonder Girls. After releasing Like This in Korea and making a Japanese debut, The Wonder Girls returned to the U.S. in July 2012 with Like Money, featuring Akon. Despite the efforts, Like Money didn’t reach success in the US.

Success Rate: 60% — The Wonder Girls tried really hard, but broken up international activities meant that the group didn’t spend enough time in Korea, the U.S., Japan, or China. World domination would be nice, but The Wonder Girls overextended themselves and hurt their chances in both North America and Asia. the group released some great songs and did some amazing things, so it’s really unfortunate that they didn’t reach American fame.

Se7en

In 2007, Se7en announced that he would be heading into the U.S. market. However, after a collaboration with Fabolous, This Is My Year, was leaked, Se7en’s American debut showed signs of problems, even though Verizon Wireless helped sponsor some of his events. The singer held a showcase in New York City and released Girls feat. Lil’ Kim. The song charted on Billboard‘s World Chart, and the music video aired on BET on June 2nd, 2009.

Success Rate: 30% –He’s the first one to really have tested out the waters of what it would be like for an idol to try making it as a singer in the US, but his test didn’t turn out so well. Se7en gained a major company’s sponsorship, but after the song leak and Girls failed, he returned to Korea and went back to making music that is more suited for him. It’s likely that Se7en decided to cut his losses and head back to Asia.

Girls’ Generation

With two Korean-American members (now only one, after the departure of Jessica from the group), one of the most popular girl groups in South Korea and Asia couldn’t resist the temptation of the United States and Hollywood. Girls’ Generation signed with Universal Music Group in the U.S. in 2011, and the group promoted The Boys there the following year. Girls’ Generation became the first Korean group to appear on Late Night With David Letterman and Live! With Kelly.

Since then, Girls’ Generation has performed at KCON in the USA, and has regularly had songs appear on Billboard charts. Girls’ Generation TTS, the subgroup, has also charted.

Success Rate: 60% — Just like the Wonder Girls, Girls’ Generation gained a lot of hype, but the songs aren’t gaining traction outside of the K-Pop community. With Jessica’s removal from the group, they’re down an English-speaking member, making it less likely that they will attempt further major promotions in the U.S.

SPICA

The latest girl group to try it out in the United States is SPICA. SPICA released the power, inspiring song I Did It in 2014 and debuted it at KCON the same month. SPICA also performed on a local Los Angeles morning show, Good Morning LA, and held a showcase performance, which Kultscene covered.  The group then went back to Korea and it is unclear whether SPICA will return stateside.

Success Rate: 0-100%  — SPICA has the sound and style that could make it big in the United States, but if the group doesn’t come back, then I Did It will still be a great song, but nothing more. It’s too early to really say whether the group is a success, but I Did It is possibly the best attempt of a K-Pop group to sing a song in English.

CL is trying her hand at it next, and its unclear as to how she’ll compare to the other idols who have attempted to break into the U.S. market. The odds don’t appear to be in her favor, but another imported female rapper — Iggy Azalea- is one of the most popular rappers in the world right now, so what’s to stop CL from seeking success?

How do you think CL will fare in the U.S.? Should any of these idols give America another whirl? What other idols would you like to see try their hand in Hollywood?

5 CL Outfits We Want to Wear

Has there ever been a time when you look at an K-Pop artist’s outfit and you really wish you could own it? Idols are mostly always fashionable from head-to-toe, thus having fashionistas around the world on the lookout for inspiration. But no one makes us yearn over their outfit choices quite as the Baddest Female herself, miss CL.

The 2NE1 leader wears fierce outfits like no other idol, because not only does she have the right body for it, but she also has all the sass. Her style is very versatile and always evolving; you will never see her in the same style every time. She can be seen wearing something super feminine one day, and exploring her man repeller the next. Although it’s much, much more, we’ve picked five times where CL completely slayed fashion and made us want to dress like her.

1. Unicorn dress

CL wore Jeremy Scott’s F/W 2012’S Unicorn dress during 2NE1’s promotions for their first Global Tour: New Evolution. If there is anyone who can pull-off this look anywhere is CL. Even if this look can’t be worn in the real world, we still desire and would love this dress to be part of our closet. It throws you back to our childhood and those Lisa Frank stickers.

2ne1 CL fashion

2. Moschino by Jeremy Scott

CL’s Instagram gives you a very inside look to “The Baddest Female’s” world. Moschino was revived by Jeremy Scott recently, and many fashionistas fell in love with his fast food inspired collection. CL was lucky enough to have Jeremy, his dear friend, gift her pieces of his collection for her birthday. That Moschino sweater and bag are to die for; they are inspired by the iconic McDonald’s golden arches. Who wouldn’t love to have those pieces in their wardrobe?

3. Versus by VERSACE

During the Falling in Love promotions, 2NE1 wore head-to-toe Versus by Versace. The label really brought out those iconic prints that Gianni Versace made famous in the ‘90s. This collection sold out online really fast, and the crop top that CL is wearing was one of the most coveted pieces. If we could have that crop top we could easily pair it with so many things, like ripped boyfriend jeans, a circle skirt, or joggers. It could work for anything!

Loading

 

View on Instagram

4. Kesh for American Apparel

CL wears from high-end designers to more accessible labels like American Apparel. When 2NE1 wore the acclaimed Kesh for American Apparel pieces, Blackjacks around the world were very happy. The collection had just launched and it was very attainable since it wasn’t crazy expensive.

5. Shaun Samson and Chanel

Who doesn’t love cats, especially if it’s a cat that has piercings all over his face? CL wore Shaun Samson’s SS 2013 pierced cat shirt and paired it with checkered shorts and Chanel creepers. G-Dragon also wore these pieces before during his Michi Go promotions. But seeing the way CL styled both items together, it really makes it look effortlessly chic.

Loading

 

View on Instagram


[Featured picture via LuannaMaria]  

What’s your favorite CL look? Let us know in the comments below. We’d love to hear you thoughts, and don’t forget to follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, and Bloglovin’ so you can keep up with all our posts.