Sampling of kpop and jpop that I have liked recently. Any recommendations?
On Saturday, I attended the sold-out Boston Symphony Orchestra and heard legendary violinist Anne-Sophie Mutter perform Dvorak’s violin concerto and romance for violin and orchestra. I will be the first to admit that this repertoire is not my preferred listening– but keeping this in mind, I took along the score so I could be at least intellectually engaged.
I was completely floored. Her technique is astounding and yet, it never goes over our heads, and she pays prodigious attention to the phrasing, to the music. Usually I would do some kind of review, but Mutter really is as intense and phenomenal as one could imagine, or fail to imagine. The BSO was tightly oiled and fluid, like always.
Most importantly, Mutter personally spoke to everyone when signing CDs, even though there must have been over 100 people in line for her signature, and she had performances two nights before where she also signed CDs. I have attended BSO concerts– Yo-Yo Ma and Lang Lang in particular, both classical music superstars– where the soloists did not even bother doing CD signing. Mutter is as big a superstar as either, and she certainly does not need to sign CDs to sell them in mass droves (case in point: she just released a 40-CD collection of her past 30 years; there must be a substantial market for this kind of excessive stuff). In addition, I have been to other CD signings, like Emerson String Quartet and Li Yundi, in which they merely sign and grunt on. I definitely understand the musicians are tired after playing concerts and do not expect much, which is why I am so pleasantly surprised that Mutter seemed full of energy and smiles, even having the usher take photos of her signing CDs.
Heart hammering away, I did speak briefly with Mutter, and I babbled how my favorite recording of hers was Tzigane. Her eyebrows knitted together and told me that she would be playing it in a concert cycle in 2016 in the United States, and I told her I’d see her there. Fingers crossed Tzigane is with a full orchestra and not piano accompaniment. But heck, she is Sophie-Anne Mutter– she can snap her fingers and any orchestra will come running. Mutter has the rare ability to appeal to a wide audience and critics alike, increasingly difficult in a “everyone-is-a-critic” world.
Over the past few days, a maelstrom has been gathering at Wellesley College– and no, it was not the snowstorm on Wednesday– it all had to do with Tony Matelli’s life-like sculpture of a sleepwalking man (the “Sleepwalker”) in his underwear placed in a prominent location on campus.
A few Wellesley students have stated that the Sleepwalker endangers our campus and for those that have experienced sexual assault, makes them feel unsafe and is a “trigger” to many of the horrifying memories of their struggles with sexual assault. As they remind us, Wellesley is a “safe space” and we need to be cognizant of their plight. Nonetheless, administration has said the statue will be remaining there until June and highly praised the statue’s ability to create intense dialogue about the nature of art.
As I watch the debate unfurl, the ugly underbelly at Wellesley begins to show itself.
At Wellesley, there is a running joke about our imagined model student, named “Wendy Wellesley,” most recently known for her precise political correctness, self-righteousness and liberal use of the phrase “I’m offended.” Yet as exaggerated as this caricature is, it reflects an integral part of Wellesley culture: the accepted and ubiquitous privilege to be offended, to be “I’m offended you’re offended I’m offended.” Regardless of whether the movement to remove the statue is correct or not, the image of Wellesley as smug, self-righteous liberal arts students is being propagated. The media blankets the entire student body, saying we are all “frightened” or “creeped out”, and yes, even the New York Times is guilty.
Let me begin by assuring you, my dear readers, that the majority of Wellesley students are simply amused, bemused, and neutral about the sculpture. Yet, I read an article from a previous Wellesley alum who blasted the sculpture and who almost nonchalantly cited the fact that 1 in 6 women have been victims of sexual assault and that she herself suffered from PTSD. Two questions: (1) what about the other 5 in 6? (2) does having PTSD or having suffered from sexual assault make you qualified to speak about the sculpture in a significant manner?
The second question has frustrated me continuously, namely the way some Wellesley students have been using their experiences as a way to step over valid arguments and assert their authority in addressing this topic. Anyone who tries to challenge this dubious authority is labeled as “insensitive.” It is ironic to me that Wellesley College is supposed to a “safe space”, yet many of my friends, and including myself, hesitate to voice our real opinions, because we know that it may not be as “precisely politically correct” as Wendy Wellesley demands, and even the smallest things can be demonized.
I really wonder sometimes– is there anyone on campus that legitimately feels frightened of this sculpture? Or is this just a fabrication, because an almost-naked man is just such easy bait to latch onto? It is easy to imagine and I agree, quite logical, that some people will have an adverse reaction to it. Nonetheless, this is still imagination, creating a problem that really isn’t there.
I have trouble differentiating at Wellesley sometimes: are we offended because we can or are we offended because we actually are offended?
A few years ago, I came across a Sorry Sorry rock cover, and subsequently fell in love with Royal Pirates and their emo-punk rock inspired style, epitomized with their own single Disappear– my 11th most played song of all time.
Royal Pirates made their debut in kpop summer 2013 with Shout Out and were disappointingly bland, bright and cheery, sounding nothing like their emo selves from four years ago. CNBlue, FT Island, and LEDApple all have varying shades of cheeriness, but none of them are “emo” bordering on screamo, and I thought Royal Pirates would really have a chance to differentiate themselves if they stuck with their roots.
Royal Pirates have released another album and single, Drawing the Line (with a fantastic head-banging teaser that recalls their emo days!), and yet again, paired with a few funky electro-synths and happy vibes. Yet, the music video is interesting and the song slightly more punky with quite delicate vocals from Moon-chul, almost like LEDApple’s Hanbyul in some respects. Due to the band being from California, there is an expected pleasure in the album– an English version of Drawing the Line.
Listening to the rest of the album, it is disappointingly produced and full of electronicky-instrumentals. Just another kpop band.
I hope you enjoyed the past two weeks of busy activity! However, I am sad to say I must declare hiatus again because of various uncontrollable and often unpredictable commitments that will take up most of my time.
I promise that no matter how late I am, I will continue to offer my thoughts on SHINee’s major activities. I also made a resolution to blog more about economics, so any posts not about SHINee will probably be centered around economics.
Yours truly, Michelle