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.
They were the opening act, and I basically wrote down three things total for f(x) throughout the whole concert:
- clearly f(x) is weakest group
- huge cheers for Amber
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
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 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.
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.”
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.
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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