K-Pop Unmuted: KCON & Produce 101 Releases

In the 22nd episode of of KultScene’s K-pop Unmuted, Stephen Knight, Alexis Hodoyan, and Tamar Herman discuss what it was like being backstage at KCON 2017 LA and New York, and how Produce 101 is shaping K-pop right now. We also discussed new music, including Henry Lau’s sentimental “That One,” Sunmi’s groundbreaking “Gashina,” and HyunA’s age-defying “Bebe.”

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

Let us know what you think of K-pop in July 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.

Henry’s “Fantastic” Music Video & Song Review

It was quite a surprise when SM Entertainment dropped a teaser for Henry‘s second solo album, Fantastic. With much anticipation, fans looked forward to the Fantastic music video; I personally hoped that it would be as eventful as f(x)‘s Red Light. Was it a fantastic comeback?

Music Video

To be completely honest, I’m not a fan of the cheesy opening. However, I still managed to stay focused for the actual song and video, which was pretty cool. While the box dancing sequences returned, I have to admit that the violin theme is awesome! I also have to mention that I’m in love with how SM is showing off Henry’s musical talents outside of just singing for each of his solo releases.


The grayscale introduction to the video gives off this mysterious, albeit overplayed, feeling in which you’re not sure what’s going to happen. The fog gives way to color as Henry walks up to an electric violin, and the soundtrack sounds like it’s coming straight from a blockbuster movie. I’m serious. It reminds me of when Superman finally puts on the suit and flies into the sky, which isn’t very different than what actually happens.

You see, Henry takes ahold of his destined instrument and plays this badass intro that really made me think that this music video was going to turn into an action film. There’s a tension that breaks once the beat drops, which transitions quite nicely. Basically, you feel apprehensive, but the familiar tempo of pop brings out new energy that gets you back on track.


Is there really a plot? I’m not really sure. Besides the beginning and random parts in which Henry pursues and holds the mystery girl, there doesn’t seem to be a point in the video. Of course, there’s the “music gives Henry life” metaphor with tubes connecting the violin to his body that piques my interest.

When the tubes disappear into the girl, I’m led into thinking that perhaps his pursuit of the lady in white is actually his attempt at finding his passion and truly accepting it. When he finds her, he holds onto her shoulders, as if he’s getting ready to keep her in his life. Also, I think it’s important to notice how he closes his eyes in both scenes with the violin and his co-star; this goes to show how he puts all his effort and trust into both his abilities and the violin itself.

Henry Lau Fantastic Review 2

She then reciprocates his actions, so it’s as if she, as the violin, accepts him after he accepts her, further establishing their relationship.

The TV screens? They could be representing his struggle with coming to terms with himself, seeing himself as someone who really can go far with his instrumental talents.

Or I could be totally off, and there really is no story to the video. All I know is that this guy’s dancing inside a violin, and it’s kind of really creative.

Fashion & Makeup

Henry sports similar attire from his previous releases, with a contrast between suits and urban, street-style clothing. The color scheme for his outfits depend on which scene he’s in; his dancing sequences focus on black and white, while his scenes with the violin and the metaphoric girl involve him with the primary color of red.

As for makeup? He’s just going for the simple, clean-cut look with (most likely) just light foundation with a slight, dewy finish and groomed brows.


Since he’s pretty well-known for his gliding moonwalk and violin playing combination, I wasn’t surprised to see it in this video.

Accompanied by back-up dancers, he implements a lot of body isolation and smooth transitions in his choreography. Even when the chorus comes in and he starts hitting the moves harder, Henry still retains the fluid control in his dancing.

The majority of the choreography seems to be influenced by popping and locking, which appear to be his specialties.


Much like Red Light, I wasn’t immediately liking this song when I first heard it. I did grow fond of Fantastic as time passed, but I still felt as if there could have been more variety.


Make no mistake about it: I am in LOVE with the violin presence in this song. If Henry had went through with less pop and more power ballad (or even rock), it would have still worked. Not only is the violin instrumentals a great beginning to the song, but it remains a strong force throughout the composition.

It’s not a one-time deal, which I’m extremely grateful for. The violin just adds an extra dash of spicy and epicness that the song would have otherwise missed!


Okay, I really have to confess that I cringed when I heard the opening lines. Really? “Girl, you’re fantastic” is probably fine to many fans, but it’s just so cheesy… Looking past that one fault, let’s examine this translation I got from kpoplyrics:

Yo girl you’re fantastic (you know that)
You make me fly

I was so immature
A child, who didn’t know what love is
I always won in this strange game of love
I was never even serious
I was always too proud

But you make me wanna be a better man
You make me reborn into a real man
You, who called my name
The fantastic you
The reason I chose you
Is because you’re the biggest gift in my life
Because you lift me up high
It’s gonna be fantastic

It’s gonna be really great, be excited
It’s gonna be fantastic
I’ll give you the world and more
It’s gonna be fantastic

I was like a swirling hurricane
Not even knowing myself
I only ran forward
But the very precious you came into my arms
Like a hot and small comet
You melted my frozen heart

You make me wanna be a better man
You make me reborn into a real man
You, who called my name
The fantastic you
The reason I chose you
Is because you’re the biggest gift in my life
Because you lift me up high
It’s gonna be fantastic

It’s gonna be really great, be excited
It’s gonna be fantastic
I’ll give you the world and more
It’s gonna be fantastic

You move me, you’re special
You make me be able to start everything
I found the answer to a fantastic dream
I hope your end is me as well

You make me wanna be a better man
You make me reborn into a real man
You, who called my name
The fantastic you
The reason I chose you
Is because you’re the biggest gift in my life
Because you lift me up high
It’s gonna be fantastic

It’s gonna be really great, be excited
It’s gonna be fantastic
I’ll give you the world and more
It’s gonna be fantastic

I didn’t know this was a love song, but it sounds like it is! The dude is admitting that he was pretty much too vain to even comprehend what love was, thinking that he kept winning the game. When this girl runs into him, he gets hit with the realization that the best thing in the world isn’t him, but her.

Half of the lyrics scream “BALLAD,” but the repetition and finalizing touch of “fantastic” tie everything together to make it fit into a pop song.

Style & Vocals

I feel like Henry decided to play it safe and go with his usual style of pop, and that’s perfectly fine! He’s good at this genre, so I’m not complaining. Did the genre and lyrics complement one another? They do, to a point, but I do believe that perhaps a ballad may have been just as great.

Henry’s known for his higher-range voice and good vocals, and he definitely showcased them. The ad-libbing hits strong notes, and there are moments of really nice harmony; while I don’t think he necessarily improved tenfold, he certainly has matured since his last comeback.

Overall ratings

My opinions regarding this video and song are more balanced than the last review, but I’m still not totally enraptured by this comeback. It’s pretty good, but it’s not the most amazing thing that Henry has done. Nevertheless, here’s my final verdict:

MV: 7/10
Song: 7/10
Both: 7/10

How did you feel about Fantastic? What genre do you think Henry should venture into next? Be sure to share your thoughts and follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, and Bloglovin’ so you can keep up with all our posts.

Let’s Discuss: Is Henry The Most Successful Chinese K-Pop Idol?

Yes. The answer, despite the fact that he may not be as popular as EXO-M or Han Geng, is a “yes.” Success and fame are completely different things. With Henry‘s upcoming comeback with Fantastic, it’s worth taking a moment to realize how successful he has become.

Canadian-born Henry Lau, who debuted in 2008 as a member of Super Junior-M, has become more and more popular throughout Korea throughout the past few years. Despite some rough times, when Super Junior fans resisted Henry and fellow SuJu-M member Zhou Mi (regardless of how Super Junior’s other members felt), Henry ended up coming out on top of just about every other artist of Chinese descent to pass through SM Entertainment’s doors.

Let’s look at where Henry is now:

Last year, he debuted as a solo artist, making him SM Entertainment’s first male solo artist in thirteen years. Since then, he promoted his first album Trap successfully, and ended up becoming a variety favorite by appearing on the military-variety show, Real Men. Even though he’s not Korean and doesn’t have to serve in the military, Henry’s shown Korean audiences that not only does he value their country’s military service, but he can learn from it. And do it with a smile on his face.

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When Henry joined Super Junior to promote as a Super Junior-M member with fellow Chinese singer Zhou Mi, Korean Super Junior fans protested. Super Junior was thirteen members, they claimed. Since then, Super Junior’s had a whole slew of changes to its line up, but fans still won’t accept Henry and Zhou Mi. Which, personally, I think is ridiculous. Not only is Henry talented, but the other Super Junior members have begged fans to accept Zhou Mi and Henry just like fans have accepted every other member.

But Super Junior’s fanclub, ELF (Everlasting Friends) claims that Henry and Zhou Mi are Super Junior, but only if they have M to their name. One would think that this would be an end of a career for the two of the idols, and for a long time, it seemed like both Zhou Mi and Henry would merely promote as members of Super Junior-M.

But Henry’s plunge into becoming a solo singer showed the K-Pop world that being a member of a subgroup isn’t a death sentence. While Zhou Mi’s pursued an acting career in China and is one of Super Junior’s resident composers, Henry’s done everything he can to make Korean and international fans recognize him as what he is, an extremely talented musician—he’s, in fact, an excellent musician, regardless of his training from SM Entertainment.

So he’s done well. Zhou Mi has also. Why do I say that Henry is the most successful of SM’s Chinese artists?

First, let’s look at other Chinese artists at SM. There are the three remaining Chinese members of EXO (EXO-M): Luhan, Lay, and Tao. They’re popular, because EXO is popular, and are each getting recognition, but as members of EXO rather than individuals. Kris, who has since left EXO, is trying to make a name for himself in China, but many fans think of him as a traitor and no longer favor him.

Then, in f(x), there’s Victoria and Amber. Again, popular, and they each have many, many fans, but because they’re members of f(x) and have done promotions representing not only themselves, but also the group. But Henry is generally just Henry, except when he’s Super Junior-M’s Henry.

Okay, so Zhou Mi. Zhou Mi is popular. But he hasn’t been able to gain the solo fame to compete with Henry, who is able to appear on Korean television and be recognized immediately.

Zhang Liyin was extremely popular in the late 2000’s, but her popularity waned due to a large period of inactivity- her last single was released in 2009, and her last album was released in 2008. She is a member of SM The Ballad and is rumored to be making a comeback soon, but it’s almost impossible for her to compete with younger idols like Henry.

And then there’s Han Geng. He is probably the most famous Chinese person to ever walk through the doors of SM Entertainment. He’s an icon in China, having been picked out of hundreds of other Chinese auditions to be the first Chinese trainee at SM Entertainment, and then when he left Super Junior, he became a star in China, both as a singer and as an actor.

Unlike Kris, who has evoked fans’ fury by immediately starting a career in China, Han Geng obviously was unable to work due to his contract with SM Entertainment. He’s now considered to be a world star, and recently appeared in the latest Transformers movie.

Okay, so he’s famous. And popular. But is that successful? Many would say yes. But is he as successful as Henry who, despite the hardships he faced for being an unwanted member of Super Junior, still waited patiently for his day to shine? Personally, as someone who values patience and loyalty, I don’t really think so.

Just to make this clear: I don’t think Han Geng should have stayed at SM. The company had no idea what they were doing with a Chinese idol. But, as awful as it sounds, Han Geng cleared the way for Henry, Zhou Mi, and all other of SM’s Chinese trainees.

Henry was a hated member of one of the most popular K-Pop groups ever. To this day, fans of Super Junior don’t accept Henry as a “true” member of the group, whatever that means. But rather than accept his place, Henry has overcome the rejection and started slowly. He accepted his own personal fans, known as Strings thanks to his violin skills, and never really spoke up about how much it must have hurt for ELF to reject him and Zhou Mi.

He worked hard, appeared on variety shows, promoted as a Super Junior-M member, and practically forced the world to recognize him as a hardworking, talented performer. Only then was he able to promote alone as a solo artist, Henry.

While SM Entertainment has struggled with Chinese members, Henry is the most successful one because he’s done the impossible- he’s practically convinced the Korean audience that he’s a Korean idol. Everyone knows that he’s not, and in fact that’s part of his charm. It’s because of this, the fact that Henry has been able to endure until he reached acceptance from the very audience that originally rejected him, why I think that Henry’s the most successful.

His name is 헨리 (Henry), and he appears on a show that emulates Korean army service and people accept it, he speaks Korean fluently. He is a Korean idol not only as a member of a group but in his own right.

He may not be the most popular, and he may not be the wealthiest, but he is the most accepted Chinese K-Pop idol. And because of that, Henry Lau is the most successful Chinese person in K-Pop today.

What do you think? Are other Chinese idols more successful? Share your opinion with us! Make sure to follow us on FacebookTwitterInstagramTumblr, and Bloglovin’ so you can keep up with all our posts.