I know this is a total cop-out to my usual posting of news and opinions, but stalking tumblr lately has made me realize some things.
I made a list of some personal questions and answers that you can selectively read if you’re interested and want to have a deeper understanding of what this blog is and where I’m coming from.
What is your ethnicity? Ha. I know you were all trying to squint at my picture and figure it out by my last name, “Lam.” My dad is from Hong Kong, so that’s how I got the Cantonese “Lam.” I’m Chinese-American.
What do you want to do with your life? One thing I definitely want to do is live in China and Italy someday. I speak Mandarin, Cantonese, and Italian. I went to Italy to study the past summer, and I fell in love. Though I have many other goals, this goal is perhaps the biggest and hardest to achieve, because I’ll need to get a extremely well-paying job.
What is your music taste like? I really like electronic and classical music, which sound like they’re on opposite ends, but they’re not.. they’re both ingeniously and precisely crafted to provide auditory pleasure! I think the reason I like kpop so much is that it is going through an electronica phase right now—before kpop I was very into European dance-pop and techno, and I still am. I’m playing lots of September right now. She’s amazing, she definitely does not get enough recognition. However, in the broad scope of things, I just like songs if they catch my attention—even though my library has a lot of electronic and classical, I have plenty of pop, rap (Jay-Z & Kanye love! I can rap most of early Kanye.. most people are highly surprised at this, I wonder why), r&b, new age, alternative, metal etc.. I’ll give anything a listen.
What sort of news do you read? I’m very heavy on world news and politics, along with technology. A sampling: NYTimes, The Economist, WSJ, BBC, Slate, Boing Boing, TechCrunch, Gizmodo, Washington Post, and many, many more. Of course, SHINee as well! I subscribe to a lot of blogs and tumblrs via Google Reader. This blog was actually inspired by my Google Reader, in which I share news stories I find interesting.
Why did you start this blog? I started this blog as an experiment to see if anyone would read my opinions. Because, you see, I have lots of opinions! It helps me let off some random thoughts that are stewing around in my head that I really can’t say anywhere but here.
Can readers contact you? Other than commenting on the blog. Of course. You can like me on Facebook, follow me on Twitter, ask random questions on Formspring, and e-mail me.. I’m always open to communication with people who read and their reactions, because of course, I’m not the only person who enjoys kpop or being a nerd. I always try to type back replies quickly, though some difficulties (like college, the life-killer and sleep) will make it impossible for me to respond on the dot all the time.
Why don’t you use tumblr? Though I stalk tumblr, I don’t use it because it has reliability issues—it’s down very frequently. Moreover, the type of people on there—I don’t mean to sound pretentious—are more driven by mass media hype and bandwagoning than by actual analysis and reflection. In essence, it’s less of a professional community, so that is why I chose WordPress instead. There is a slim chance in the future I will use tumblr, but only to post the updates that I make on WordPress.
How did you get started in kpop? By popular vote on Time.com, Rain was the most influential person of 2007, I wikipedia-d him, and then I watched his video “I’m Coming” and I was pretty impressed by the level of sophistication that the kpop industry had. However, I wasn’t really following kpop, and just listened to an occasional Rain songs. I stumbled across some Se7en and BoA too, and probably the first good kpop song that I listened to a lot was SHINee’s 2008 “Love Like Oxygen”.. but that didn’t mean I actually liked SHINee very much. Actually, the first few times I heard “Ring Ding Dong”, I was thinking, “wtf,What is this Engrish? Elastic, fantastic? What does that mean?” I gravitated more towards Big Bang and 2NE1, because their music is probably the most original rather than obvious rip-offs from American trends. I admit, I had a brief infatuation with G-Dragon’s blond hair. Again, I really didn’t follow the kpop world too much, except I had an occasional Big Bang wallpaper.
Why are you primarily focused on SHINee? What changed everything for me was SHINee’s “Hello Baby.” They were so funny! I absolutely fell in love with their (stage) personalities. I laughed so hard, and from that point on, it was impossible to separate SHINee’s hilarious stage personalities from their performances and music. Since I’m an older sister, I really think of them as younger brothers, even though only Taemin is younger than me. After “Hello Baby,” I started to actively follow kpop, just in case, you know, SHINee was mentioned. :3
Why analyze kpop? In a broad, broad scope, due to the globalization, modernization (in technology and government) is occurring all over the world, especially in Asia. However, since the West was first to “modernize,” for many, modernization has often been thought analogous to Westernization, or the adoption of uniquely Western culture. Therefore, when modernizing their infrastructure and government mechanism, countries tend to adopt Western values and ways of thinking as well. This tension between modernization and Westernization highly interests me, even more so because I am Asian-American, and am a product of both East and West philosophies. We see this tension between modernization and Westernization most clearly in South Korea, where the highly developed kpop industry uses excessive English, mimics Western Hot100 song composition and fashion styling. Funneling through all this Westernization on the top layers, we eventually begin to see the influence of Asian culture, including Confucianist diligence, the value of state over individual, etc. Overall, kpop offers an intriguing perspective at the youngest strata of Asian society—and thus, I am drawn to analyzing it.
What is your general view on fangirls? I know in a lot of posts I’m always saying that fangirls are too intense, and they should refrain from commenting extensively and detrimentally on the idols’ personal lives. That is true—you have to realize the difference between a stage and personal life. It’s fine to squeal over their pictures and rewatch their reality shows—this is what you do in your spare time, so it’s your choice. However, it violates a privacy principle when you start attacking their girlfriends. It violates a sanity principle when you constantly dream about them, and have a real desire to marry X idol. Honestly, if you do either or both, being a fangirl is just a cover-up for your own issues of insecurity.
Who is your bias in SHINee? Right now, I think it is Jonghyun. After listening to “Hot Times,” I fell in love with his voice again like in “Love Like Oxygen.” Yet, after watching him in a bunch of live performances of “Hot Times,” he is having some trouble hitting pitch—sometimes he is incredibly off. That was sort of disappointing, because there’s nothing I love more than a prodigy-virtuoso.
Do you have any other favorite kpop artists? Apart from SHINee, I do not listen to any kpop group extensively. Though if I was to pick the best female group right now, it would be 2NE1—they’re consistently the freshest in the industry, and their live performances are ridiculously well done, you just can’t stop looking at them. Boy group? Well, DBSK has been lackluster in their comeback (I loved “Keep Your Head Down” but then the rest of the CD was filler), and Big Bang has yet to make their comeback this year. Otherwise, objectively, SHINee probably was the best overall boy group in 2010. My iTunes library just consists of a lot of random tracks from different artists, because kpop companies tend to release one really good single and then the rest filler, which is disappointing.
Who is the most underappreciated artist in kpop? DNT. They released “Crazily Pretty” as their first major track, and it was amazing as dance—very, very catchy. Then they released the ballad, “The Love in My Heart,” the only Korean song I can actually sing. It was so beautiful that I actually bothered to learn the lyrics. Summer 2010, they released “Knock Knock” which was also extremely catchy, the dance memorable, and the guys smoking-hot, but their agency does not promote well, and they passed by without much hubbub. My favorite member, Taeku, had to quit after “The Love in My Heart” because of health problems, but he was an amazing singer with a characteristic raspy voice, always on tune in live performances. If he continued, he probably would have been as good as Jonghyun, and perhaps even better.
Do you know any Korean? Yes, a bit. I can read and (slowly) type, but my vocabulary is minimal. I’ve made it a goal by the end of this year to learn elementary Korean, because being such an avid consumer of Korean pop culture is a brain drain, so I want to counteract that by actively engaging in learning the language.
I hope you are all more enlightened where I stand on the issues! It’s very likely that once SHINee goes off to the military, I’ll return to being normal nerd. I can’t wait until that happens, until then, listening to the ending of “Hot Times” always makes me want to cry. Of happiness, that it. :’)