[review] SHINee’s 2012 Gayo Daejuns & SM The Performance’s “Spectrum”

KBS Gayo Daejun

(1) Sherlock (Clue+Note) [Remix], SHINee

Does not Minho look totally fat?!

Does not Minho look totally fat?!

First impressions– Minho’s outfit is terrifying. The rest are okay, and I guess can appeal to my hipster tastes, but why is Minho always put with these awkward knee-length suit combinations? With pink highlights to boot? Just because he is the tall one in this group with model looks does not mean he looks good in everything. In fact, these pink highlights are absolutely in the wrong positions; they make him look look chunky instead of svelte. However, you will be happy to learn the Minho was on key! Twice! Even if barely. In fact, this whole performance was nothing short of wildly impressive. I was so moved that I am downloading the performance as I type.

This performance was completely live, though sadly, the MR backing was too loud for most of the members except Jonghyun. Nonetheless, despite Jonghyun having the loudest natural volume, sometimes the MR even crept up upon Jonghyun. Overall, Jonghyun was incredibly energetic in this performance, growling into the microphone all over the place and channeling beasts. Perhaps he has a special lady friend he was thinking of as he performed? This was one of the more aggressive performances of his I have ever seen. Jonghyun’s scatting was amazing, throwing caution to the wind, and came out sounding studio-recorded–it was a pity that the MR was fighting his voice for prominence. Jonghyun needs to be punted back to Immortal Song or better yet, Jonghyun should become a solo act (likewise, S.M. The Ballad should release more material).

Key handled the first chorus, Jonghyun got dibs on the second chorus, and Onew rounded off the third, though only for one line. Key really is a power singer, and I do not think I give him enough credit because I am always hounding him about his raspiness. Good job, Key, really. I think being in a musical has really helped him strengthen his voice for longer periods of singing and more intense choreography. That being said, I wish Onew could sing power parts more. If there is one New Years’ resolution I could give to SHINee’s producers, it is have Onew and Jonghyun swap parts–Onew handles the higher pitched power wailings and Jonghyun handles the smooth basses. Onew and Jonghyun are both extremely competent singers at any range, and that should be showcased and used more.

The dancing was sharp, as usual, and in sync. I never have much to say about dancing because from the past five years, SHINee has been very responsible for dancing, and I have come to expect nothing less. They have not delivered below par, ever.

Overall, the song performed was not the complete song Sherlock (Clue+Note), but a remix version, including the scatting and bridge of Clue, and then ending with Note. Musically, the connection from Clue to Note could have been handled a lot better; essentially, it was just like an awkward pause, or a “we must have something” moment. Perhaps a dance break would have disguised the awkwardness a bit more. Speaking of awkward, this was the performance in which Taemin ripped his pants.

(2) 90s songs medley, Idol Super Band

*most of the videos have been removed. When I have time, I will try to find a video to put here, otherwise please Google the songs yourself for the time being, or watch the full show.

For reference,
Guitar: Jinwoon (2AM) & L (Infinite)
Bass: Jinyoung (B1A4)
Drums: Minhyuk (CN Blue)
Keyboard: Taemin (SHINee)
Vocal: Jonghyun (SHINee), Changmin (2AM), Yoseob (Beast)

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[kpop/review] Taemin and that abyss on Immortal Song: ep. 3, 4, 5

Third performance; “I Don’t Know” by Uhm Jung-hwa

In terms of emotion and connecting to the song, this was much better than Taemin’s first performance. It was like he had monitored his first performance and then methodically worked out what needed improving. Even so, I still could not shake the feeling that it was still rather stock. Taemin hit everything, he modulated his voice correctly, he looked down when he was supposed to, and yet, what still frustrates me is that he never makes one movement that seems unrehearsed, that seems spontaneous, that disturbs one piece of hair on his perfect head. At his climaxing note, it was all very correct, but at the same time, did we really feel the buildup to this climax? Did we really feel a sense of relief when he returned to the chorus?

Of course, we must return to my number one complaint against his voice; his ‘thickness’. It much more regulated this time around, but it still lacked clarity. When I mean ‘clarity’, I do not mean we understand everything he sings, but rather we can distinguish it from background music, and indeed, in some cases, the background music overwhelmed Taemin’s vocals.

Taemin seems like he does not wish to take risks, or even worse, he knows he cannot take risks and come out the stronger.

Fourth performance; “Terminal Mapo” by Silver Bell Sisters

The first thing I typed while watching it was, “good god not more dancing this song is not his style at all”.

As I complained in my second review and in my review of his fifth performance (below), having Taemin dance so much is a mistake. Especially this time around, because this kind of doo-boppy, sort of happy piece is not a place to choreograph Taemin’s signature pop-and-lock. Compare to Kyuhyun’s performnace of an upbeat, happy duet with Kim Min Jong, in which they choreographed this silly dance at 1.59s:

Notice another thing? Both Kyuhyun and Kim Min Jong were smiling and so obviously enjoying themselves. Mapo Terminal is likewise a fun song, but Taemin’s facial expression for the majority was a stoic stone. Notice one more thing? Other than silly dance in the middle, Kyuhyun does not do any complicated dancing for the rest of the song, and yet delivers a performance, in my estimation, even more upbeat and engaging than Taemin. It would have been better if Taemin had minimal choreography so he could focus on bringing the best vocal performance to the stage. That is what a singer is; someone who can move others just by opening their mouth.

Likewise, with his third performance, Taemin is missing clarity. He is missing dynamic modulations; the entire song was mostly just one volume. He had lots of backup singers. He got covered by background music sometimes because he did not project. I do not usually comment on clothing, but he could have worn something colorful to emphasize the upbeat nature of the song.

There is, however, one golden spot: 3.19s. Taemin just lets go for a bit, and it is actually quite beautiful. But then after a few seconds of looking into the black abyss, Taemin runs back to his safe cave.

Fifth performance; “Wrongful Meeting” by Kim Gun-mo

When considering Taemin the performer, I actually quite liked the performance.

When considering Taemin the singer, I was highly dissatisfied.

f(x)’s Amber guest appearance! Taemin three dance breaks! Pretty trance lights! Trance clubby music! All in all, a very exciting performance. Yet–

Like with his second Immortal Song performance, Taemin falls back on his go-to crutch, dancing. Some people may say it is playing to his strengths, but I disagree. This show is called “Immortal Song”; naturally, everything but voice is supposed to be secondary. Then why does Taemin have so many dance breaks compared to the other participants? Even in the original song, there are only two places where one can have epic dance breaks, but coincidentally, Taemin’s song is arranged so that there are three dance breaks. Hmm.. Taemin is really sticking to his cave this time..

From the start, Taemin had heavy backing vocals (singers whom you can see at 7.05s), and his high note was safe and boring. I was impressed by his accuracy but then immediately dissatisfied with how he elongated the note and let it die out so ignominiously. It was a good stock performance by Taemin, his thickness of voice did not show as much, but then again, this song was not as hard to sing as his previous choices. He simply did not have to bring out his terrible throaty voice; moreover, he did not have the time and space to do so as he was vigorously dancing; in this way, this performance is very true to Taemin’s real ability as a singer (which is a sad revelation as I head off to listen to SHINee’s Sherlock).

This was an example of a performance that drew perfectly from everything, from the environment, the music, to the performer itself, to hide weaknesses in each. To distract from Taemin’s emotionally flat voice, we had the dance and flashing lights and orange jacket. Additionally, the arrangement of the music was terrible– the rough transitioning from trance to live band music and back to trance, and back and forth, but then we did not pay attention as our attention was riveted to this young man in a orange flashy jacket, this young idol, this young entertainer, this young performer.

read review on Taemin’s first performance, second performancesixth / seventh performance on Immortal Song

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.

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[kpop] who’s gay in kpop?! hilarious summary of 6theory thread & Michelle’s thoughts

I like working the night shift at the library because it’s quiet, but the thing is, I always do my homework beforehand, because I know I am terrible at concentrating at night. So oftentimes, I’m bored, and that one day–yes, that day was April 7th–I stumbled across a huge thread on 6theory, the companion forum to Allkpop. This thread was dedicated to surmising who may or may not be gay in the kpop industry, and it had me laughing in tears. Fangirl logic really is the best.

I will list the people most named by the forum members, and what people have said about them: various well-said logics and/or so-funny-I-could-die comments, peppered in with some of my own comments in grey italics. At the very, very end, I will tell you what I think in general. As for specifics on Key of SHINee, read the previous post.

warnings: (1) Unless the grammar / spelling was egregious, I preserved the original form of the comments. (2) This post is rather image-heavy, so be patient while the page is loading if you have a slow computer/connection.

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