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Best K-Pop Music Videos of 2018

One of the most important aspects of any K-pop single is its accompanying music video, and though 2018 is over, it’ll be a while before we’re over the MVs released by Korean artists throughout the twelve month period. Taking a look back, the KultScene team took a look at what exactly makes one music video better than another, and several writers shared their perspective on why one K-pop MV or another from last year is superior and memorable in its own way.

“IDOL” by BTS

Doesn’t matter if you look into BTS’ music, videos, performances, fan-dedicated released content or even the fandom-driven activities on or offline. Whatever it is, there is always so much going on that you might either get confused or fascinated, but never bored. The music video for “IDOL” is no different. Filled with dozens of references (some that only fans will get, some that only Koreans or Korean culture aficionados will get), the music video plays with a lot of stereotypes that are often attached to BTS, to K-pop “idols” and just generally for being Asian men. Displaying a powerful choreography and a deliberate overwhelming aesthetic, the boys show that they don’t have a problem with whatever is it that you think they are (“idols” or “artists”). Because, at the end of the day, they are confident enough in their skins to be anything —or everything at once— while still being, above all things, themselves.

—Ana Clara

“Lullaby” by GOT7

“Lullaby” was not only a blessing to the ears but visually just as impactful. Aesthetics, aesthetics, on top of freaking aesthetics. There was never a dull moment visually or sonically throughout the three minutes and forty-two seconds of the music video. With the exception of the first three seconds, the video was never without vibrant colors, compelling backdrops or snazzy outfits. Colors aside, GOT7 kept the viewers anticipating what was to happen next with each scene, especially since each member had separate sets and themes. And although there were many individual scenes, the members always brought it back together with a unified group choreo and some fancy footwork. But speaking of footwork, the highlight of the music video definitely goes to go to Mr. Dance Machine Kim Yugyeom, as the astounding dance break and sharp moves of his solo stole the show. Even if you didn’t like the music video as a collective whole (don’t lie to yourself, you liked it), there were more than enough things about it individually that should’ve pulled you in.

—Tam

”Apple Box” by nafla

On paper, nafla’s “Apple Box” reads like an organized crime agenda (“put the money in an apple box,” possibly referring to a common way of accepting business bribes), but in action it reveals to be much more comedic. Under the creative direction of Digipedi, the music video portrays gang activities rather facetiously — a brutal beating in one scene is mitigated through deliberately cheesy special effects and nonsensically looped clips. In another, gambling is done with apples instead of currency. Ultimately, these all act as red herrings for, as the least suspecting character (a hostess perhaps?) makes off with a chest of golden apples, we are forced to contemplate the ignorance of these traditionally male organizations. Because of its quirky approach to one of film’s most enduring genre’s, “Apple Box” may be nafla’s best work to date.

—Shelley

“Singularity” by BTS’ V

Captivating in its theatricality, the music video, or comeback trailer as it was dubbed, for V‘s “Singularity” ahead of the release of Love Yourself: Tear is an exhibit of the sort of artistry that BTS has thrived on over the years. With a luxurious blue-red-purple color palette recalling that of the group’s 2016’s “Blood Sweat & Tears,” this new music video stunningly represents the struggles with one’s self and the various masks that we wear. With watery allusions to the Greek myth of Narcissus littered throughout, the vivid cinematography enhances the impactful song as V explores the lush neo soul sound. And if that weren’t enough, the music video for the song graced us with one of the year’s most inspired choreographies, giving new meaning to the idea of dancing with oneself.

—Tamar

“1, 2, 3!” by Seungri

Big Bang’s Seungri breathes life into “1, 2, 3!,” his first solo comeback in five years, with a ’50s-inspired video set in the singing and dancing world similar to that of Grease. Like the musical, the music gives insight into his character, our hotshot hero who only loses his cool once he is bewitched by the heroine, played by a stunningly gorgeous Anda. As he grabs her hand and pulls her into a swing, he sings: “When I count to three, you’ll fall for me.” An ensemble dance cast, all outfitted in mid-century modern pomps, tea-length dresses, and oxfords faithful to the era, further integrates song and video by filling out the percussive claps and the hook’s polyphonic three counts. After taking us from one period set to the next, it all comes together celebratorily at the end with a nod to the iconic dance scene from Pulp Fiction between our leads and in a single freeze frame moment, we know he was right. It’s this kind of happily ever after that can make society nostalgic for a past it never knew. Between this and the one-take style reminiscent of Broadway productions, “1, 2, 3!” just feels like an immersive experience that is more motion picture than music video.

—Shelley

“One and Only” by Go Won

Of all the videos for LOONA’s pre-debut project, none feel as suited to and in need of its trappings quite like Go Won’s. As the second to last girl of the month, Go Won’s “One and Only” came late into the game. And it would almost seem that she would have too many obligations to the lore to have any sort of personal identity. Instead, along with LOONA regulars Digipedi, she finds herself within it all. Unlike her lyrics, which are confident from the start, the video shows this self-discovery in action. She begins covered in shadows, trying to embrace whatever light she can, but is still afraid of the temptations of Choerry’s apple, or the chase of Yves and Chuu. It’s in the act of watching herself where it comes out. Looking and singing into a mirror, watching her shadow dance to her own song, or imagining herself a princess with a crown on her head. The 1:1 aspect ratio helps her, making each image have an obvious and single point of focus. One image, one thought. Despite this, allusions to David Lowery’s A Ghost Story from 2017, reminds of the dangers of the never ending cycles of LOONA’s own universe as well as that of our own. Go Won finds a way out of her draping, suffocating sheet but how long is it before her time comes back around and she has to do it all over again?

—Joe

“Dally (feat. Gray)” by Hyolyn

Hyolyn is a hip-hop diva in full control of her life, her body – and of your attention! – in “Dally,” the second music video released under her own label, BRID3 Entertainment. The artistic concept of the video is pretty simple – but seriously, do we need anything else when we have a team of such skilful dancers, led by a magnetic performer like Hyolyn, executing one of the most difficult choreographies seen throughout the year? In “Dally,” it’s hardly possible to take your eyes off of Hyolyn, or to doubt that she has everything it takes to keep wowing us with her self-managed works from now on.

—Ana Clara

“Now or Never” by SF9

As time passes, SF9’s concepts continue to get more charismatic and sexier *phew, wipes sweat.* And it is totally working on their behalf. The group’s previous tracks and music videos had flavor to them but “Now or Never” really took it up a few big notches. The song and styling were both executed to perfection as the concept had just the right doses of cool, seduction, and dreaminess. The choreography was simple but alluring, and it played well with the bass. And how about that Michael Jackson homage? Classy. The cinematography was exquisite; the colors and abstract backgrounds made this music video fitting to be played at a museum. The track itself is solid but the visualization and styling gets an A+.

—Tam

“What Is Love?” by TWICE

Sometimes it pays not to take yourself too seriously, and when ruminating on the immensely philosophical question of “What Is Love?,” TWICE served us up with one of this year’s most fun music videos. Throughout it, the nine women parodied the likes of La La Land, The Princess Diaries, Romeo & Juliet, and a wide range of movies from across the globe while trying to depict what the idea of love look likes. They then paired casual scenes of the nonet chilling at a slumber party while watching the films with elegant scenes where they perform the questioning choreography, serving up one of the most fun visual experiences of 2018. Since their start TWICE has always exuded a sense of infectious vibrancy in their music videos and “What Is Love?” overflowed with that to the nth degree.

—Tamar

“Moonlight” by Neon Punch

Neon Punch’s “Moonlight” is how you make an effective K-pop music video on a smaller budget. It’s a classic example of the genre with no real story, just the members dancing, singing, and looking pretty in random locations. Its first minute is so brilliantly made though that all those tropes feel fresh. Song and video seem to become one, as they bounce off each other, reacting to each turn. Extremely simple but great visual effects are used to make this melding feel real, as the music bends the visuals while it builds and releases. This also makes the editing feel musical all by its own which gives the video great impetus to keep moving. As the effects start to dwindle the editing keeps the same sense of pace and wonder that they had built up. The funkiest bass line of the year feels at home among these vibrant visuals.

—Joe

”Instagram” by DEAN

Sitting alone in a warehouse full of random objects, DEAN strums a skateboard as if it were a guitar. He sports a short mullet under his cap, along with generously slitted eyebrows, a (potentially appropriative) grill, a bandage under his right eye, and black overalls that cover part of his sweatshirt. Like the feed he scrolls through, he is a mess of different aesthetics and styles. “Instagram” the song is about endlessly scrolling through the app in moments of sleeplessness, reflecting our loneliness and insecurity back to us as we see others enjoying themselves on our screens, and the song emulates that.

From the warehouse room’s walls leak black paint, becoming screens that play a stream of videos and images characteristic of a social media feed. As the images spread further across the room, the video abruptly goes black. “Sometimes I feel alone, even when I’m with a lot of people,” a strange voice says in the dark. The video cuts back to the warehouse, and DEAN begins laughing hysterically, overtaken with the misery of his sleepless Instagram scrolling.

The video is simultaneously simple and complex, capturing a very unique relationship between phone and human, account and user. Using social media is repetitive and endless, an unhealthy distraction we know all too well. In bringing the feed to life in all its chaos and stress, the video highlights the emotional and psychological toll we endure in using social media every single day.

—Kushal

“Playlist” by DPR Live

“Playlist” is a colorful adventure following DPR Live as he vies for the attention of a mysterious woman. The song incorporates tribal and bossa nova beats as Live maintains his signature rhythm and swagger. While the song is a new turn for DPR Live, the music video expands the Latin trend in Korean music by including some aspects of African influence in Latin American culture through instruments and religion. From the beginning we are met with vibrant colors, gravity defying visuals and psychedelic art transitions set in a replica of a Peruvian neighborhood. Stand out moments include the shaman’s rain dance and spinning neon umbrellas during the instrumental breakdown of the song, as “Playlist” offers a glimpse of the creativity DPR Live has in store for the future.

—Nnehkai

“Kiss Me Like That” by Shinhwa

Simplicity is key and Shinhwa had that and then some in the “Kiss Me Like That” music video. The styling was sharp and neat; the linen button ups and suspenders? Crisp. Those blue silk suits? Elegant. “Kiss Me Like That” doesn’t have a pivotal climax but that worked out perfectly because it really didn’t need one. The music video gives a sense of relaxation. It doesn’t make you think or analyze. You just gotta kick back, grab a mojito, and enjoy the guitar strings. The video wasn’t over the top, just very clean, straight forward, occasionally flirty and wholeheartedly fun to watch. Shinhwa’s just really out here living their best life on that ship though. Next course of action, petition to have Shinhwa do a yearly cruise with fans (like New Kids on the Block)!

—Tam

“Egotistic” by Mamamoo

Kicking off with a guitar riff, tropical plants, and neon buildings that add an Old Havana-like vibe to the video, Mamamoo is bold in aesthetics throughout “Egotistic” as they issue a warning of a lover scorned. How can anyone forget the intensity Hwasa’s stare-off with a jaguar?
The Flamenco inspiration is apparent in the core of the beat of the song, the choreography, and the flowy dresses the ladies wear in the video. Their take on Latin-inspired tracks plays up the girl crush concept Mamamoo has become known for with fiery makeup, confident attitudes, and sexy dance moves. They also included the ultimate girl crush move: dancing in a ring of fire in front of buildings while executing a choreography filled with hair flips and and seductive shimmys. Overall, “Egotistic” captures a small portion of Latin America’s musical richness and is welcomed contrast to the highly mainstream trap beats that accompany the usual Latin trends in K-pop.

—Nnehkai

”Something New” by Taeyeon

Inspiring fan speculation and theories since it was released in June, Taeyeon’s “Something New” music video is, like the artist it belongs to, uniquely enigmatic and hard to place. Beginning on the red carpet at a ritzy celebrity event, the video quickly transitions to a hotel, where Taeyeon instigates a fight by suddenly throwing a hammer at a suited man during an elevator ride. The fighting then continues with her hotel room’s maid-turned-murderer, who leaps at the singer with a knife during a room service delivery.

It’s around this point when “Something New” begins to feel more like an action-packed spy blockbuster than a music video for an SM Entertainment artist. The scenes are fast-paced and cinematically captured, and they move artfully with the pace of the song. Most interestingly, Taeyeon takes the fights in stride, seemingly unfazed by them after they happen.

The end of the video, in which Taeyeon shoots suitcases of cash over a cliff facing the sea, is probably the subject of the most interpretation and discussion. Worth noting to most theorists is that Taeyeon has never been shy when discussing the hardships of celebrity life. Is the cash a representation of the net worth she’s built over the years? Are the fight scenes emblematic of encounters with online and offline haters? While it seems that “Something New” is an in-depth commentary on the difficult life of a celebrity, the beauty of the music video lies in the fact that it is truly up to interpretation. For dropping one of the most cinematic and mysterious MVs of the year, Taeyeon gets a nod from me.

—Kushal

What were your favorite K-pop MVs of 2018? Let us know your picks in the comment section below and be sure to subscribe to the site and follow us on FacebookTwitterInstagram, and Tumblr to keep up with all of our posts.

Playlist Sunday: K-Pop in Wonderland

alice in wonderland kpop k pop korean theme concept mv music videosBecoming a fan of the K-pop industry is often described as going down the rabbit’s hole that you won’t be able to climb out of. In honor of K-pop fans everywhere, this week’s Playlist Sunday is dedicated to all things ”Alice in Wonderland”. The songs that we included are all based on the concept of the beloved story, whether it’s the story of the song itself or the respective music video.

Seungri’s 2011 solo release “V.V.I.P.” is basically a Korean version of “Alice in Wonderland.” We have cricket, a mad tea party, Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum, and instead of growing bigger by drinking the antidote, Alice grows older. Seungri’s role, however, is unclear. Maybe he’s the mad hatter or the white rabbit? Moreover, instead of going for the psychedelic colorful scheme, Seungri opted for a more posh and lush color palette, given the song is all about him showing of his fame, looks, and money. Overall, it’s a fun video to watch, even if I’m not sure the relation between the song and the concept.

— Alexis


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Boyfriend took the famous “Alice In Wonderland” tea party and card games to another, deadly level in the music video for their song “Bounce.” Painting the roses red while singing about a lover who is hiding holding out on affections, this music video takes its cues from Tim Burton’s haunting version of “Alice,” with life and love on the line as the white rabbit femme fatale taunts Boyfriend with her swinging pocket watch until they follow her down the rabbit hole. Boyfriend’s a stellar, but underrated, K-pop boy band whose music videos since the release of “Janus” in 2012 have been thought provoking with their storytelling and high production value. “Bounce” continues the trend and is one of K-pop’s most solid retellings of “Alice in Wonderland.”

— Tamar

Veteran queen of K-pop Son Dambi offered her own interpretation of Lewis Carroll’s iconic story with her 2012 single “Queen.” It references sparingly with images of playing cards, a big girl in a small room, and lyrics about waking up from fantasies to become the woman you want to be. What most people will get from listening to this song in 2016 is just how dated it sounds. The autotune and synths even sound from previous to that era. If you can get past that however there’s some great sounds to be found. The variety of vocals are wonderful; from whiny raps to angelic singing, Dambi shows a range of considerable quality. She even uses different inflections for different verses. I even love the autotune which, as the song goes on longer, starts to increase turning the song into piece of abstract digital art. The second (and final!) chorus adds auto tune and more electronic wobbles and chips as the song devolves into what could be a remix of what we heard at the beginning. Through the looking glass you might say.

— Tamar

What K-pop song reminds you of going down the rabbits hole? 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.

5 Most Social Media Savvy K-pop Idols

Social media feature

The use of social media is steadily increasing along with the development of smartphones in our world and K-pop idols are no exception. Social media sites such as Twitter and Instagram aren’t just platforms for idols to update their fans about their activities, they also help to break the physical barrier separating us from them, allowing fans to directly interact with the idol. At times, the idols even reply or acknowledge the comments or tweets of their fans through fan talks, which is a great method to make a fan’s day. By showing more of their true selves through social media, idols are able to garner more support and love from their fans, which is as good a business strategy as any other. Here are five idols who are particularly social media savvy and are consistently appearing on fans’ feeds.

1. Jae (Day6)

This guitarist from freshly-debuted band Day6 has been grabbing attention recently not just because of his group or his amazing voice but also because of his hilarious tweets and Instagram posts. Known fondly by fans all over the world as the “hashtag king”, he literally hashtags everything ranging from “#NoseBloatedLikeSquidward” to “#EveryVillainGottaHaveAFurCoat”. Popular news website Soompi also noticed that, as can be seen by their humorous interaction on Twitter with JYP Entertainment’s Twitter account regarding Jae and his love for hashtags.

social media Jae

Jae seems to be online for a good majority of the day because he is constantly replying or retweeting fans’ tweets to him, most of the time with funny comeback lines or pictures. He also made use of his internet prowess. He even went and changed his group’s “Wikipedia” page when they first debuted.

It is rare to find K-pop artists with so much freedom, especially because most artists allegedly have to check with their managing companies before they can update their social media. The other members of Day6 also seem to enjoy this social media freedom, even though they are not as enthusiastic about hashtags as Jae. Whatever it is that JYP’s doing right with this group now, I hope they continue doing it.

2. Jackson (GOT7)

GOT7 recently made a comeback with their latest album “Mad,” and Jackson announced its release proudly on his Instagram account in three languages (Korean, English, Chinese). Two days before, he also took to his Instagram account to wish his fans a “Happy 추석” (“Happy Chuseok”) or “中秋节“ in four languages (Korean, English, Chinese, Japanese). He doesn’t just use social media to practice the languages that he has been learning (such as Japanese), he also uses it to talk to more fans from around the world. For non-native and non-Korean speaking K-pop fans like myself, nothing touches my heart more than when my idol takes the effort to write a caption on social media in a language that I actually understand. It makes me feel like the distance between us just got shortened (delusional, I know) but it is an effective way for Jackson to reach out to his international fans, of which GOT7 has many. He also shows his fans that he is preserving his roots as a Hong Kong born boy and that he is multi-linguistic, along with the various other skills this multi-talented artist possesses.

 

 

 


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3. Tiffany (Girls Generation)

Out of all her fellow members of Girls Generation, Tiffany uses her Instagram account the most frequently and in the best ways. She shows various sides of herself through her posts. There’s the professional side, where she shares her group promotion pictures and advertisements; there’s the cute side, where she shares lovely selcas of herself, with her group mates, or pictures about her dog. More importantly, she also has a goofy and playful side, a side which fans especially adore. For the Chuseok holiday, she posted a cute cartoon picture wishing her fans a happy celebration and she also posted a video of Yoona, Yuri and herself on a lunch date. Tiffany uses Instagram to share her current favourite things, be it a singer or even packs of “Despicable Me” minion-shaped twinkies. It is social media users like Tiffany who remind fans that K-pop idols are humans just like the rest of us, and it definitely allows fans to relate more to these idols and feel closer to them.

 

 

 


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4. Dara (2NE1)

Dara is already well-known in the K-pop world for her quirky and adorable personality, along with her flawless beauty and fashion sense. Her Instagram account further shows off her unique character as she constantly posts cute selcas of herself, hilarious pictures of herself when she is filming, and her amazing clothes whenever she attends an event. She also seems to go overseas a lot, be it for a relaxing holiday or to catch up with friends and family in the Philippines, and whenever she does, tons of photos are bound to posted along with it. Through her Instagram posts, fans are allowed to see more of Dara’s personal life and to fall further in love with her truly cute and cheerful personality. The best part is, this idol knows it, and utilizes social media as a tool to portray herself more endearingly. She also uses her account to show support to her friends and labelmates, cheering them on whenever they have a comeback, further empathizing the YG family friendship and close bonds.

 

 

5. Seungri (Big Bang)

YG labelmate Seungri is an active participant on a different social media platform, one that has recently become popular among K-pop idols. The “V App” was launched earlier this year, reintroducing the idea of live-streaming and adding an interactive comment section for fans. Although “Naver” used this in the past with apps like “Starcast”, the older apps were significantly less accessible and more difficult to use because the apps were all in Korean. Comparatively, the “V App” allows global fans to watch the live streams as well because there are instructions in English and even a subtitle function for some of the live streams. It is extremely convenient for the idols to use as well because they just need to install the app on their smartphones and do not need a fixed time to have a broadcast. Seungri utilizes this app very well as a tool to interact with his fans and to show them more aspects of his personal life. A notable example would be when he broadcasted his volunteer work at an animal hospital. As he helped to clean up the hospital, Seungri also conducted fanservice according to the requests of the viewers commenting on his livestream, such as spoon-feeding a fan who was at the scene. Through livestreams like this, Seungri shows off his caring nature while also showing fans that he is willing to listen to them and read their comments. If this isn’t the best way to keep his fans happy, I don’t know what could be better.

Do you follow these idols on social media? How do you think idols can interact with their fans better?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.

K-Pop Songs That Should Have Music Videos

Singers usually promote one or two songs from their mini or full-length album. And in many cases some of the songs are left without a music video or the love they deserve. Every artist has at least one song that fans think should have a music video. People’s choices will most definitely differ, but here are a few we think would make great music videos if not just for the extra promotion of the song.

Jay Park I Love You

Jay Park music videos can be extremely sexy and steamy, cute and sweet, or fun and having a good time. I Love You could be one of his sexy ones, or a video that goes the really sexy route, or one that plays with the chance of romance and steaminess. Jay actually did do a video that shows off a killer dance routine for the R&B-inspired song. And based on the dance, the whole music video can just focus on the dance in different settings with different outfits; keep it crisp and simple. The beat and music make I Love You the perfect song to showcase a sensual yet hard hitting dance routine. Sometimes all we need is a great dance music video to give us life.


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f(x) Spit It Out

Any f(x) song would have an equally awesome music video. They somehow manage to make most, if not all, of their songs stick with fans. Spit It Out is a fun, upbeat song that offers many different directions for a music video. An avant garde concept might work best based on the beat, use of ‘80s synths, and the video game sounds that are prevalent throughout. The heavily processed sounds would match a quirky styled music video and the ladies of f(x) can pull off any concept. Out-of-the-box hairstyles, clothing, accessories, and almost cartoon-like settings would create an unrealistic world that corresponds to the lyrics and the reaction of the narrator of the song.


SHINee One Minute Back

In all honesty, SHINee could make a video for any of their songs and it would be well received (in most cases). But One Minute Back has a different sound and musical pattern compared to their other singles. The guys’ vocals sound wonderful together and the chorus is inviting and somehow manages to make everyone sound like a great singer when they sing along. A One Minute Back music video would benefit with close-ups of each member as they’re singing and looking into the camera. A dance routine that utilizes a prop, possibly a chair, would have to be a stop-and-go type dance to match the music and the beat, but the perfect prop can create a memorable dance (similar to Dream Girl with the mic stands) and showcase different performers than what we may be used to.


VIXX B.O.D.Y

VIXX have intense concepts for their songs. They’re mainly dark, futuristic, and creepy in an artsy way. But B.O.D.Y is an upbeat song that’s not too cutesy or sugary. The video would definitely have a lighter theme than some of their most recent ones, but it would showcase the boys’ fun sides without being over-the-top bubble gum pop. For B.O.D.Y, a dance that has one or two moves as basically the whole dance might work best. The song itself isn’t groundbreaking in any way and an intricate dance wouldn’t fit the tone and neither would a super cute one. The guys don’t even have to dance in the video, just having a fun and upbeat VIXX song with a video would be a nice addition to their other singles.


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Seungri Let’s Talk About Love

Seungri did end up performing Let’s Talk About Love, but he never released a music video. In this music video, a concept that uses black, white, and red as the main colors for wardrobe and setting would create a classy atmosphere. Some silhouettes when Seungri sings the chorus and when G-Dragon and Taeyang appear in the song would create a sense of mystery and take the focus away from their facial features. Also close ups of GD and Taeyang as they’re singing/rapping with minimal lighting would emphasize their facial features and play with the shadows and angles on their faces; a sexy yet classy concept for Let’s Talk About Love.


What songs would you love to see have their own music video? 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.