everyone but SHINee review, SMTown NYC 2011

I will discuss by groups, not by performances like I did with the SHINee SMTown NYC review. I will discuss them in the order that they appeared.

I sound rather caustic in this review, be warned.

f(x)

They were the opening act, and I basically wrote down three things total for f(x) throughout the whole concert:

  1. clearly f(x) is weakest group
  2. huge cheers for Amber
  3. lip-synced

They remind me of SHINee at their debut stage, where only Onew and Jonghyun had polished enough vocals to comfortably perform live– f(x) has only Luna and perhaps Krystal at this point, and the rest is just lip-sync. SM knows this, so that’s why they were primed for opening act, they are more like a warm-up compared to the more seasoned performers that show up later on. I should also mention that I generally am indifferent to girl groups because most of the time they sound too high-pitched and are too ‘cute’. I like harder-sounding clubplay, one of the reasons I liked SNSD’s “The Boys” substantially more than SNSD’s “Gee“. At this point, f(x) repertoire only consists of things like “Gee”.

My personal theory on why Amber is so popular is that there really is no one like her in kpop right now, so outwardly tomboyish, so she attracts a lot of attention for this, and she has a passable personality. Plus, she is American, and SMTown NYC is, after all, in America.

Krystal and Jessica’s cover of Tik Tok was just grating to my ears. Ke$ha is unapologetically white trash (“Kesha also uses a trademark talky “white-girl” rapping style with exaggerated discordant phrasing and enunciation“), and watching Krystal and Jessica sing/rap this song in such sweet, dulcet tones made me gag inwardly.

I suppose one could say that performers reinterpret meanings in covers, valid point. But really. Can you sing these following lyrics without being a little bit rough and trashy? It is like Taemin singing Britney’s “Circus” without much sex appeal.

Ain’t got a care in world, but got plenty of beer
Ain’t got no money in my pocket, but I’m already here
And now, the dudes are lining up cause they hear we got swagger
But we kick em to the curb unless they look like Mick Jagger

I’m talking about everybody getting crunk, crunk
Boys tryin’ to touch my junk, junk
Gonna smack him if he getting too drunk, drunk

Kangta

He seemed a bit out of place, to be honest, since he is age 32 and some performers are still in their teens. Nonetheless, he delivered very seasoned performances and I felt that though I did not particularly prefer any of his performances, he kept me entertained for the present, and I got addicted to his song, “Breaka Shaka“.

One thing I did love about Kangta was how low he bowed during his introduction. Though f(x) was the opening act, Kangta gave the proper introduction for all of SMTown, and I highly respect his regard for us as an audience. None of the other acts bowed during introductions or even the ending (if I recall correctly), which I found disappointing, since SHINee is also apparently well-known for their deep bowing.

Kangta bows deeply at 0.42s.

Super Junior KRY

One of the best performances that night, completely live, because sometimes their voices just barely made it over the backing vocals. Kyuhyun, Ryeowook, and Yesung are all formidable singers; their harmonies were well done and this performance cemented their professionalism.

(I even wrote, “Wookie so cute”–  he really is adorable in his pink suit.)

Kyuhyun later sang a duet with Seohyun (SNSD), “Way Back Into Love“, and I am afraid Seohyun did not measure up to Kyuhyun’s singing. She was a little shaky and was overwhelmed by Kyuhyun’s more dulcet and sure tones– even Kyuhyun initiated the skinship.

SNSD

SNSD are gorgeous live. Squint your eyes, and they look like little toothpicks prancing around. Those two phrases are probably the best things I have to say about them. Their repertoire and their performances were rather stock, what you would see on Music Core, Music Bank, Inkigayo (perfectly lip-synced and choreographed).

It was actually the first time I listened to “Run Devil Run”, and “Oh!” and it really just confirmed that I was correct in not giving them tries.

SNSD has beauty and subsequently stage presence, but unless you are invested in the beauty in the first place, their performances were not very exciting or moving. Point in case, I was sitting next to two fanboys who would always start bopping their head when SNSD came on but would scowl a bit when I started screaming for Super Junior and SHINee. Their performance of “The Boys” in English confirmed how awkward it sounds in English, though I find Sunny’s accent to be quite endearing.

Super Junior 

Same thing with Super Junior. They are pretty boys with stage presence, but with substantially better-sounding music (in my biased opinion). Though I have to say, blonde-haired Eunhyuk was looking really, really good in this concert. When he took off his shirt (he was wearing a wife beater underneath) at the end of the concert to throw into the crowd, his arm muscles just sort of glimmered in the spotlights, and yes, he was extremely good-looking, that I concur.

During the performance of “Mr. Simple”, Donghae was the only one wearing a silver suit, the rest were wearing white suits, so perhaps a wardrobe malfunction occurred; perhaps I have OCD. They did make an effort to sing the song live, but they were noticeably off-key in the bridge.

After listening to this performance, I wrote, “The more I listen to SM, the more it is about making catchy music, not good music.”

BoA

The more I listen to and watch BoA, the more I am so utterly surprised that in this long period, SM has managed to not ruin BoA à la TVXQ, HOT. BoA is the single best performer that SM has now. BoA sang everything live. I also might be a little unfair to the performers who do not know English well, but she kept up some banter on the stage, even mentioning checking her Twitter during the concert at one point– this little bit of talking gives a much more personal connection with the audience, and I liked her and her performances all the more for it; she was not just walking through the schedule.

All of her songs were dance, and she sang no ballads. Extremely impressive, all that dancing and still singing live. BoA performed quite a lot from her American debut album, which I was a little sad about, because her best songs come from Japan, but I suppose it is too much to hope for a performance of those songs. I wish they at least granted her one ballad, because really, if BoA can sing and dance, she can also stand still and belt out an incredible song.

If I ever got a chance to see BoA in a solo concert, I would definitely go. I cannot stress how amazing she was, especially in the sea of smiling-pretty lip-synchers.

TVXQ

So, the concert started at 7:20pm, and TVXQ came on at 10:15pm.

I suspect it is because now that three members of TVXQ are gone, there is significantly less repertoire TVXQ can perform; they only performed four songs total, compared to SHINee’s seven.

I initially was extremely impressed with Changmin’s high-pitchedness, but then Patricia (I went with her to SMTown NYC, by the way!) informed me later that they only sang one song live, which I believe is “Keep Your Head Down”. Disappointing.

Watching TVXQ as two members is sad. Even though I am not a Cassie of any sort, when “Mirotic” started playing, I felt sort of empty for them, and TVXQ is just a painful experience, it’s a reminder of what a horrible company SM can be and how that can eventually affect groups that I like (i.e., SHINee).

Their entrance was a little sad too, as “Rising Gods of the East” (which is what their name translates to), “Keep Your Head Down” opening riffs were played, they floated over the stage, seemingly exhorting us to rise up in respect of their godliness. It was extremely awkward. After the first few minutes of fangirl screaming, it sort of died down, and we were wondering when the riffs were going to stop repeating and when TVXQ was actually going to get down to business.

Changmin had rather curly hair this time, and he looked faintly like an ahjumma. It was sort of adorable. He was also sweating profusely, if that has any importance. I could not decide if this was an ick point or an attractive point.

Previously, I only heard BoA and TVXQ were amazing live. BoA definitely delivered, TVXQ did not (though it is more because they are missing three members, rather than defects on Yunho or Changmin’s parts), and everyone was blah and lip-synced as anticipated, though Super Junior KRY was pretty good. SMTown NYC was a great beauty pageant, but even then, I cannot say it was a great spectacle. A great spectacle implies there is something else other than the gorgeousness of SNSD or the handsomeness of Super Junior to focus on, that there are intricate sets and new dance sets and unconventional uses of lights, etc.

It was a good concert for fangirls and fanboys.

Nonetheless, for others, who do not know Eunhyuk’s favorite color, do not know what Amber’s last name is, and do not know who named Jonghyun’s puppies, I can only imagine their indifference at SMTown NYC 2011.

Looking for SHINee review? Here it is!

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10 thoughts on “everyone but SHINee review, SMTown NYC 2011

  1. Funny thing is that the first thing I thought to comment on was that I’ve heard that Changmin sweats the easiest. XD But yes, every single point you mentioned, I could generally concur without needing to, sadly enough, watch fancams or attend anything live. :/

  2. “SNSD are gorgeous live. Squint your eyes, and they look like little toothpicks prancing around.”

    HA HA HA. I know I shouldn’t laugh at that statement, but your blunt sense of humor really gets to me… or maybe you were just being honest, who knows.

    Anyway, this post has finalized my feelings about SMTown NYC 2011 – 1) I didn’t really miss anything worthwhile, 2) SM disappointed in general. SHINee, f(x), and SNSD are the three groups of SM that I actually know anything about, and the fact (er, opinion I suppose) that none of them performed anything mind-blowing saddens me… oh well, there’s always next time. Hopefully.

    Scratch that, I regret missing Key and BoA’s performance together, but that’s it.

    Another great review Michelle!

    • ha. I think it’s a mixture of honesty and humor. It really is amazing how SNSD moves with such military precision so it’s not a very far stretch to think of them as linear toothpicks marching around on stage ><"

      Yes, I think this SMTown wasn't as good as previous ones, I wish Jonghyun had sung something solo, since he is one of the main vocalists of SHINee, but someone has whispered a rumor to me that Jonghyun's voice is 'on the decline' (WHAT DOES THAT MEAN). But I DO think it was a good concert for people that really do like the performers, but from an outsider's point of view, it was meh.

      thank you for reading and commenting as always ^^;
      Michelle

  3. Michelle, I always want to write you epically long comments for some reason. You really provoke me in a good way!

    Good point about Amber getting a lot of attention for being so DIFFERENT in a sea of cookie-utter-cutesy girls. I am not really a fan but I do admire her a bit for bringing that difference. (I think she could work on being a more interesting rapper, but I am quite a harsh judge when it comes to rap – High Standards.) But good for her for at least representing that you can be more tomboyish if that’s your thing, because it would be all too easy to get some extensions & slap on a dress. You would think that the execs would pick up on & realize that the more unique someone is, usually the more interesting they are, but as we know deep in our hearts, this is Pop Music & it’s about MONEY – not creativity & artistic expression, so get back to the cookie-cutters. (lol)

    Ok – the Tic-Tok cover seems like something better reserved for a small television music show special or something. I might be bummed if I paid to go see a certain group that is not mainstream in America & they sang a cover of a song I hear on the radio ALL THE TIME. I am a secret Ke$ha fan (shh – I can’t help it!) but to be honest the cover wasn’t very dynamic & seemed a bit karaoke-ish to me. And is it just me or do the choreographers reserve the really good dances for the male groups? Because with the exception of BoA, (who is a really great dancer & singer & can basically do no wrong in my book,) I find myself wincing a little watching some of these young ladies “dance”. (Also another reason I don’t really get into SNSD all that much. They sometimes seem out of sync with each & don’t hit the hard marks often or well, in my opinion & just from what I have seen. To be clear I don’t HATE them AND I actually really love the song Run Devil Run! lol) But in general, to me, the female dancers seem kind of rubbery & soft, but maybe that’s the intended look? I don’t know what it is, but something bothers me about the girl groups’ dancing.

    I had not been familiar with Kangta before this SM Town performance, but he seems lovely & is voice is rather nice. Maybe it is because he is older & more traditional, that he kept the bowing. Perhaps some of the younger acts saw it as, “Hey we’re in USA, people don’t bow here, so let’s be like them!” Or, maybe SM told them NOT to bow, so as to be more “current” or Americanized. Who can say. All I can do is guess but I also find it disappointing that more acts didn’t bow, because I really like the look & the sentiment of a bow. It seems very gracious, sophisticated, polite & humble. All traits I admire.

    I loved Changmin’s hair. I thought they both looked good, but they usually do. Mirotic & Keep Your Head Down are two of the reasons I love Kpop: There are some seriously sexy, banging club tracks to be found. I thought the performance you showed seemed good, but would have been amazing say, on the stage of Saturday Night Live or some small place like that. I would sweat if I had to dance & sing in a huge coat with a fur collar, too, but I am also an “easy sweater”. Some people just are, unfortunately. I think it looked good on him, though – not so sure it looks great on me :P

    Lastly, & kind of off-topic ~ I don’t know why Will.i.Am is all hung up on 2NE1. I have one of their cd’s & it’s ok, (yeah, I probably prefer male groups, so sue me,) but WHY oh WHY didn’t he latch onto BoA instead? She should be HUGE here in the USA. She has everything needed to be a great Pop Star here, now & for a long time. Seems like he went for the gimmick instead of the solid talent. I just don’t get it & I find myself thinking about it often for some reason.

    Thanks again, Michelle, for a great review. I don’t think you sounded caustic at all! It’s nice to hear your thoughtful opinions.

    • haha, well, that’s great if I provoke that reaction!! I actually wrote a huge reply earlier but something went wrong and it never got through, so I’m attempting another reply now.

      about pop music in Korea being about the money, that is where I fear it goes sort of wrong.. in America, you get people who are “found” by scouting agents, people who genuinely love music and “want” to do it, while in Korea, you’re sort of “raised” to do it without really loving it on your own, from the start.. so in that case, idol groups will always be somewhat inferior to something more organic and homegrown :(

      I think for girl groups they try to have more feminine dances and also, more ‘danceable’ dances as well. Lucifer doesn’t have any good dance points that can be easily replicated but SNSD has quite a lot of them.. as fangirls, it’s cuter to dance SNSD than dance SHINee. SHINee you just drool over.. but SNSD you pin your hopes and wishes and mimic their movements.

      I totally agree!!!!! I wish they had bowed too. Korean pop will always be a foreign import, and they shouldn’t be afraid to show their foreign side. That’s one of the reasons we love them.

      The thing about 2NE1 is that they can seem very “Western” and very “American”. BoA from the get-go seems like a foreign import, and Americans don’t treat East Asian imports very well.. in fact the first Asian-American hit to reach #1 on Billboard was “Like a G6” with Far East Movement, and many people commented that, they don’t sound “Asian” at all, and in my mind, that’s exactly what propelled their success. I hate sounding so racist on this, but I think that’s why BoA, though she does have so much so much talent, has not done well in the United States, compared to what I believe 2NE1 can accomplish.. sometimes the American market is so weird, they’ll accept Shakira, but so many UK artists never make it past the Atlantic!

      THANKSS FOR THE SUPER LONG COMMENT ^^;
      Michelle

  4. Each review that I read, they always mention how awesome BoA is in this SMTOWN. And I can’t be more proud for being her fan <33

    As expected from f(x) and SNSD. I honestly didn't expect them to sing live. And I am glad that I didn't put my hopes up.

  5. I was wondering where’s your review on SHINee’s performance, then I saw the separate post about it. Wow, you’re a real SHAWOL, haha.
    I was sad to know that f(x) did not perform that great during the concert. Being their fan of course I’m biased but I won’t try defending them. They’re still growing and they need to learn a lot before they can be considered really good. Well anyway, I’m glad you like Amber, she’s my bias haha.
    Oh BoA, how I want to see her perform live. I know she’s not tagged as Queen of KPop for nothing. I am really amazed at how she’s so talented and must I say dedicated? Because she really performs, not pretending to sing and dance live. SM’s lucky to discover her.
    SNSD, meh, not really convinced with them being an idol group.
    DBSK. Oh well, I knew they just wouldn’t be the same anymore. They’re 5, they should be 5. I bet Cassie’s who went there were saddened to see only the two performing. I’m really disappointed that they didn’t sing live. I mean that’s what the fans loved about them, their good voices and performance.
    Thanks for this, will follow your blog. ^^

    • thank you for the kind words! :) yes, I am a really big Shawol. Sort of.

      Yes, at this point, when people say Lee Hyori vs. BoA, I support BoA all the way. I’m so happy that you are very reasonable about f(x).. to be honest, all rookie groups aren’t that great, no matter what company they come from. Even SHINee’s debut of AMIGO was terrible compared to what they are doing now. They just need some time to grow! They will be better in time.

      thank you again!! ^^;
      Michelle

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