Posts

K-Pop Unmuted: Jazz & K-Pop

On Episode 28 of KultScene’s K-pop Unmuted, Stephen Knight is joined by musician and podcaster Rhodri Thomas to discuss Jazz and Kpop. We talk about the influence of jazz on a dozen Kpop songs. We also discuss our K-pop Unmuted picks, The Snowman by Jung Seung Hwan, and Bboom Bboom by Momoland.

You can listen to this episode, and previous ones, of KultScene’s K-Pop Unmuted on Soundcloud, iTunes, and Stitcher.

Let us know what you think of K-pop in 2017’s latest and KultScene’s K-pop Unmuted 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.

KCON 2016 NY’s M! Countdown Day 1 Concert Recap

Courtesy of CJ E&M

Courtesy of CJ E&M

It hasn’t even been a year yet but it’s already that time when all things Hallyu are celebrated in one convenient location here in the States. After its first installment last August, KCON returned back again to the East Coast, bringing its M! Countdown concerts to the famous Prudential Center in the NY’s metropolitan area. This time, not only did the convention grow from being a one day event to a two day event, spanning from June 24 to June 25, but KCON 2016 also saw a lot of new faces and talents. KCON 2015 NY felt like a pilot episode in comparison.

On Day 1 of KCON 2016 NY alone, popular rookie group Seventeen met senior boy group BTOB at both their first KCON experience. Soloist Ailee drew both female and male Korean pop fans in throngs, while Amoeba Culture’s Crush and Dynamic Duo made their second KCON appearance and welcomed Korean hip-hop philes to the 18,000+ seat venue. The roster this year was a significant upgrade from last year, which haphazardly seemed to throw together a bunch of repeated acts from previous cons. What’s more, the lineup for KCON 2016 offered more diversity, reflecting the careful planning that went into maximizing concert turnout (as of now, the attendance is still TBA).

But the music is just one aspect of Hallyu, with K-Drama as another. A new addition to KCON 2016 NY was the special guests, which included idol actor Yim Siwan (“Triangle,” “Misaeng”) and actress Park Bo Young (“A Werewolf Boy,” “Oh My Ghostess”). Together, the two stopped by the South Korean entertainment network tvN booth during the convention and acted as special MC’s for a segment of the night, giving the regular hosts a break.

Courtesy of CJ E&M

Courtesy of CJ E&M

As per usual, the MC’s were selected from the pool of performers. Ailee, a native English speaker slated to perform during the first night, was an obvious pick. As the she ascended from the stage lift, however, the fans cheered doubly for not only her but also for co-host, Rap Monster from BTS, who made an early appearance ahead of his scheduled Day 2 performance (in hindsight, the two also served as MC’s for KCON Abu Dhabi back in March so perhaps it was my bad for not seeing it coming). While introducing the event in both Korean and English, the bilingual duo quickly became half the attraction with their charming chemistry. And with their rallying cry “Let’s KCON! Let’s M! Countdown,” the other half was shortly set in motion as well

Rookie King Seventeen Makes Their KCON Debut

Emerging out of 2015 as one of the hottest rookie groups, Seventeen didn’t fail to deliver a remarkable performance. Under the dim lights, a VCR of the members dancing to the intro song “Shining Diamond” segued into the real deal. A chorus of screams at the appearance of 12 (rapper Wonwoo is sitting out of promotional activities at the moment due to health problems) half clothed in black, the other in white, indicated that the show was finally underway. They wasted no time as they dove right into their latest hit “Pretty U,” blithely working a couch into their choreography in front of a color pop of city streets backdrop. They really set the standard for the following track, the EDM-trap mix “Chuck,” which varied stylistically from the musical-esque number from before, but still sustained the same austerity of in-sync choreography.


Also on Kultscene: KCON 2015 NY’s M! Countdown Concert Recap

To finish off their half-hour set, the boys threw it back to the classics that shot them to where they are now (though would it be much of a throwback if it was only to last year?). Starting with “Mansae,” the audience transformed into a sea of arms swaying to the beat of the “mansae,” the point choreo that the members took time out to teach beforehand. It’s always a welcome sight to see the union of fans and artist, even if it’s just in such a simple gesture as waving an arm. Even in “Adore U,” which marked the end of their set, there’s that familiar point dance – a literal point dance – during the hook that’s easy enough for even the average caveman to follow. When they are on stage, Seventeen just exuberates overflowing youth and spryness. The only drawback to this, however, is because they are still maturing as a group, they are still stuck playing by the books, which means they couldn’t make full use of the stage that was given to them. A forgiving qualm, though, for the group with the insane vocals and an entertaining live show to boot.

Crush Gives New Meaning to One Man Show

Being a soloist on a stage of such a grand scale is always going to be nerve wracking. Projection becomes all the more important, and hyping the audience up requires extra effort. Fortunately for Crush, he’s got that covered, and all in just a-less-than-usual three songs too. No introductions were needed here for the R&B singer who went straight into his 2014 slow jam “Sometimes” as soon as the music cued him to the stage. From start to finish, he single-handedly turned the M! Countdown concert into a lounge party, belting out a string of long notes and ad libs to a round of cheers in the process. Besides his interesting Canadian Tuxedo x French beret collaboration that he donned – which must be a fashion faux pas in at least ten different cultures – the guy really did no wrong.

Courtesy of CJ E&M

Courtesy of CJ E&M

“Sometimes” was only warm-up for what’s to come. The palm leaves that decorated the LCD displays behind him were very appropriate for the summer vibe-y single “Oasis.” Crush even revealed his knack for rap when covering for an absent Zico in his “It G-Ma”-styled verse, during which he doused crowds with bottled water while jumping around on the extended stage. By this time, the crowd was already so amped up that his request for the audience to put their hands up seemed superfluous. This revelry continued well into “Hug Me,” which featured help this time from Dynamic Duo’s Gaeko, and even more of a water show. Things were only now just getting heated.

Queen Ailee Makes Her Return Home

Ailee’s just one of those artists where even if you are not a fan, you are a fan. Her vocal prowess cannot be denied, and she was able to demonstrate it once again during an incident that happened while she was performing her routine to “Mind Your Own Business.” About halfway through the song, a technical malfunction caused the backing track to stop, leaving a visibly rattled Ailee to finish her verse acapella. Audiences applauded her diplomacy, even when she stepped backstage to resolve the issue (one concert go-er in my section made the snide remark that someone was getting fired that night) and when she came back for her second take.

Courtesy of CJ E&M

Courtesy of CJ E&M

“This has never happened to me before,” the New Jersey native says before making light of the situation and viewing the glitch as a welcome home gift. One thing remains certain, and it’s that we can at least count on Ailee to provide fans with honest stages, which is something that cannot be said about all idols in the K-pop industry.

After going through both break-up power anthems “Don’t Touch Me” and “I Will Show You,” the diva also disclosed how nervous she was to perform that night (“I’ve never been nervous before, not even my debut performance, not even my first solo concert”) in front of all her friends and family for the first time, all the while holding back tears. The sincerity of her words compounded by the overall pathos of her homecoming were probably what compelled audiences to stand for her closing song “U & I.” Fans could not even be pressed that she did not perform “Q&A” with Seventeen like some thought she would. Cute as it may have been, this was all about her.

BTOB Did That!

Ever since their first music show win with “It’s Okay,” BTOB has swapped out their charismatic boy band image for something more softcore, which has still been working out in their favor. Presented by an enchanted forest visual display and a LCD light show that signaled the coming in of the members clad in rose quartz suits, they opened with the ballad “Remember That,” riding on the same success the aforementioned “It’s Okay” amassed for them. Rappers Minhyuk and Ilhoon still served with their subdued raps, while the vocalists never once faltered in their department.

Courtesy of CJ E&M

Courtesy of CJ E&M

The group also filled their slots with their lesser known singles, such as “All Wolves Except Me” and “Beep Beep,” the former a jazzy swing track bursting with all kinds of brassy sounds and the latter a similar funky saxophone-centric piece that seem more in line with their personalities. The youngest member Sungjae even worked in some aegyo (a cute display of affection), sneaking a quick “bbyu” before the lights lowered, causing fans to giggle.

Personally, the main highlight of their stage wasn’t even their live performances off of their own discography, but their impromptu rendition of One Direction’s “History.” As if he was not already savvy in the art of rap, main rapper Ilhoon wowed the audience with his overwhelming high notes. Sometimes it is actually stressful how underrated this group is, but hopefully KCON bringing them out for the first time will lead to future invites and more recognition.

If You Didn’t Stan Seventeen Already…

…Then you probably did after seeing their special stage. Part of the appeal of KCON’s “M! Countdown” concerts are their exclusive performances in which the acts cover the hits of others or collaborate together to produce something greater than the sum of their parts. This year, in a phenomenal medley Seventeen returned back to the stage with a cover of After School’s “Bang,” the bop that made being in a marching band cool again. They even looked the part in their ornamental navy military jackets topped with epaulettes, cheering “S-V-T” with Pledis pride. This transitioned smoothly into a modern, more synth-y (if that’s even possible) version of Super Junior’s “Sorry Sorry.” It may not be the first time the group has shown us their spin on the iconic dance (check out their “Weekly Idol” appearances), but it’s exciting nevertheless seeing it done on American soil. To wrap it all up, Seventeen paid homage to the reigning kings of K-pop TXVQ with their bubbly render of the 2006 song “Balloons,” which is, like, oh my god, the last time they did this was when they were still trainees shooting for their mini series “Seventeen TV.” Not tied down by any choreography, the twelve were finally able to make full use of the extended stage, merrily greeting their U.S. fans for the first time.


Also on Kultscene: Tips on How to Maximize Your KCON 2016 Experience

Dynamic Duo Brings the Club Over to KCON

Debuting in 2003, Dynamic Duo made the most sense as headliners. But more than just seniority, they also possess the attitudes and the finesse of a headliner. Before they even stepped foot on stage, their digital selves were already initiating a call and response tactic, asking “Who Are We?” followed by concert attendees hollering out their names. When they did make their noble entrance, they came in full-force from the get-go with “BAAAM,” employing more call and response approaches. Jiving freely to the upbeat tempo that the DJ on stage was mixing, they had genuine fun on stage and the audiences reciprocated that.

Courtesy of CJ E&M

Courtesy of CJ E&M

By the time they were performing the EDM infused hip-hop jam “Shoot – Goal In” the crowd were already on their feet, dancing in place. Again, who knows how many folks actually knew the song, never mind the lyrics, but the manner in which members Choiza and Gaeko were able to hype each other up (e.g. – rapping to each other as opposed to with each other, echoing each other’s words, etc.) was entertaining to watch and exhibited real artistry.

The rest were an honest blur. The duo picked up enough momentum and was not about to break it as they went straight into Gaeko’s own percussion based “Rhythm is Life.” When the time came to conclude the night already, they were bouncing around to their dance party anthem “Friday Night,” which could it be any more fitting? In the midst of the smoke and light sticks, the place was a full fledge rave, and everyone was high.

And with the customary shower of confetti, Day 1 of KCON 16 NY was over. A vast improvement from last year’s KCON NY, it really set the bar high for future ones. One day of KCON NY fun still remains, however, who knows what will happen then?

Did you attend KCON 16 NY? What’s your favorite KCON artist? 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.

Amoeba Culture’s Ode to Dancers [Updated]

During the last week of February and the first week of March, Amoeba Culture released the choreographed versions to some of their artists’ hit songs. Dynamic Duo’s AEAO and Crush’s Whatever You Do were the two songs chosen. Both videos use the original recording of the song but with choreography performed by professional dancers. Both videos add a new element to the songs and show the appreciation for the art of dance.


Also on KultScene: 8 Misheard K-Pop Lyrics Pt. 2

AEAO

Dynamic Duo released their digital single A Giant Step with DJ Premier in 2014 with the singles Animal and AEAO. Both tracks produced their own music videos, but it wasn’t until February 2015 that Dynamic Duo released a new music video that featured freestyle dance by Monster Woo Fam (Bucky, Youngster, Monster Woo, and Boram) and J-Black.

This music video is a beautiful way to showcase the expressive art of freestyle dance. The backlighting and minimal flashing lights help provide a bit of anonymity for the dancers so only their moves are the main attraction. For a song like AEAO, you don’t necessarily have to use facial expressions to help convey emotions. Instead, the mid-tempo beat, scratching, and contrast between the pace of the music and of the rapping create a freestyle landscape full of possibilities for the dancers.

All of these dancers express how the song makes them feel through their powerful and sometimes elegant movements. It adds an extra element to the song and music and creates a story of its own that could be interpreted differently by every person who watches it. For instance the rough, abrupt, and aggressive moves may show anger, frustration or even dominance. Whereas the more elegant, fluid, and subtle motions show confidence while not flaunting all one has.

Whatever You Do

One of the songs off of Crush’s first full-length album, Crush On You, features Gray, and now has a dance-focused music video. The song is choreographed by Bucky, a member of the Monster Woo Fam. Bucky starts the song off solo in a barren warehouse parking lot. He is then joined by Trix as the two completely crush the synchronized moves throughout the first part of the song.

Unlike the first part of the song where Bucky begins solo, Monika takes the solo reigns for the second part of the dance inside one of the warehouse buildings. She is then joined by fellow dancer Youngster. Like Bucky and Trix, Monika and Youngster are always in sync. Bucky and Trix appear again, inside the warehouse, and soon join Monika and Youngster (after their second duet) as the four dance together through the end of the song.

Their movements and interactions with each other create a storyline that is compatible with the lyrics of the song. Their light movements correlate to the strings in the song and the happy, warm vibe they give throughout the song. The use of a male-female partnership for Whatever You Do emphasizes Crush’s lyrics about pulling the girl into his arms, and being next to each other. The lyrics that are clearly portrayed throughout the choreography is

Whatever you do
Whatever you feel Whatever you see
Just stay like that
Whatever you do
Whatever you feel Whatever you see
Just stay by my side

The partners are always by each other’s sides (aside from the brief solos). They move with each other, breathe with each other, and feel with each other. They relay Crush’s words into movement.

It’s nice to have these types of videos for a few reasons. One, it allows the choreography and dancers to have the spotlight as opposed to being in the background. Dance is a beautiful art form and where some idols do dance their choreographed dances very well, there’s always that extra something special when the choreographer and trained dancers perform it.

These videos shed light on the masterminds behind the scenes and help express a different art form other than singing and rapping. The dancing and choreography videos help connect listeners and audiences in different ways than if only the music video was available. Focusing on only the dancing performed by the choreographer allows them to put their story to the song and express it for fans.


Also on KultScene: Best K-Pop Music Video Fashion: February 2015 Releases

Dynamic Duo and Crush, along with Zion.T, will perform in NYC and Atlanta at the end of March as part of the Amoeba Culture Tour 2015 hosted by Music Enkor. Our previous article has more details.

Do you like the idea of these types of music videos where the choreographer and professional dancers are the only ones dancing? 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.

Zion. T & Crush’s ‘Just’ Music Video & Song Review​

It’s been two years since Zion. T and Crush’s last collaboration, but these guys are back to melt hearts with their soft and mesmerizing voices in Just. For many of those Amoeba Culture fans out there, the anticipation for this collaboration has been at an all time high. And since they’ll be going on tour Stateside this upcoming March, they’ll surely sweep everyone in the audience off their feet with their latest release.

Setting

​Although I wasn’t sure what to expect, I was indeed taken aback a bit. The way the teaser was portrayed and the contrast with the actual music video and song almost felt like they were telling two different stories. ​

zion.t crush just mv

via Tumblr

A majority of the music video takes place in a run down, vacant building with the classic ‘sitting in a non-moving vehicle’ shots and scenes that looked like they took place outside of a cemetery. The teaser was hard to grasp in terms of what was to come, and because of the black and white imagery, I thought the music video would portray a sad and dark image. However, the teaser’s beat was relatively uptempo and you can see scenes of Zion. T and Crush just swaying along with the music, full of positive vibes in their movements.​

Also on KultScene: 4Minute’s ‘Crazy’ Music Video & Song Review

​Videography​

​Zion. T quickly sets the tone of the song with his smooth R&B voice and, of course, we can’t leave out those various shades that he always wears. Will we ever see the day when he performs with them off? I think not. Zion. T matched his movements with the beat, from the slightest head bop, hand and brow movements, mouth covering to the shoulder leans, meanwhile still maintaining that hip hop aura.

zion.t crush mv just review gif

via Tumblr

Even if everyone watching this who are acquainted with Crush knew he would deliver on his singing, nothing prepared us for his rapping. He’s at the bottom of my list of people I’d picture rapping, but I didn’t mind it one bit! It was fresh, something different, and he did a marvelous job! The feelings that were behind the lyrics as he was rapping and singing were properly presented. ​

The artistry of this video was very well-planned out, from the locations and set-up, to the transitions between Zion. T to Crush, and that little interlude with the solo dancer and piano player, which gave off a contemporary feel. To match with the overall feel of the song and the set up itself, their outfits were very simple and chic. They incorporated that classic trench/pea coat look, with a casual yet sophisticated black attire, and casual leather and white bomber jacket.

The black and white concept added a sense of mystery to the music video, but at the same time, it was oozing with innocence. By keeping his shades on, Zion. T gives off a mysterious image, meanwhile Crush, with his baby face and sweet voice, added purity and clarity to the overall production.

crush just zion. t mv review gif

via Tumblr

Also on KultScene: Not Making The Cut On ‘No.Mercy’ Highlights Weakness Of Idol Survival Shows

​Meaning​

​​It’s a song about love, a bittersweet breakup, and the feelings that are left after everything has ended. The lyrics are direct and meaningful: ​

I don’t want your pity anymore
I don’t want to be pathetic
So I got up first
Don’t linger, I’m really okay

ziot.t crush just mv song review gif

by soo-hyuks

​It stems from being able to pull yourself together and walking away from a relationship, which was headed for a bad turn, before it was too late to leave, and to then being able to stand on your own two feet, without the weight of one’s pity holding you down. There’s so many songs out there about your stereotypical break ups and getting back together, and the hesitation that comes with all that, and in most cases, it’s usually the girl that’s in that predicament. However, I really appreciate that this song took it in a different direction and allowed viewers to see it from a different point of view.

​​Overall Thoughts

​There’s always that possibility that when two solo artists collaborate one will outshine the other, but this wasn’t the case. These two compliment each other very well; it’s almost like they’re the missing pieces to one another’s puzzles.

The music video and song weren’t over the top, nor were there unnecessary adlibs. They kept it simple, clean, but intriguing at the same time. The only complaint that I have is that it was too short! It was as if Zion. T stopped mid sentence when he finished the song, and then just left the audience hanging on, waiting for something else to happen. But that was the end!

One doesn’t think of mainstream K-pop when they think of Zion. T and Crush. K-pop is usually upbeat, energetic, and gives you automatic happy, get-out-of-your-chair, feels. But from the moment that Zion. T started singing, I felt an overpowering feeling of calmness and peace. This song reminds of me of music from Musiq Soulchild, Babyface, Anthony Hamilton, and Maxwell. You know the artist is doing something right when they’re able to portray so much emotion and feeling into a song, and make it look effortless. This is just an example of what neo-soul can do to you! This track was an amazing incorporation of slow jams, R&B, jazz, blues, and hip hop. Overall, I am beyond satisfied with this song!


What’s your take on the song? Leave your thoughts on 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.