2013 Media Map – Music (Part 1)

This post was originally posted on Livejournal.


Hoo boy this is going to be a big one right here. I expect many of the videos/pics/gifs that will be included here just may be included in other Media Maps for 2013 because there needs to be a more localized map for this topic.

As mentioned earlier, 2013 was my year to expand my horizons as a fangirl. I deliberately set out to find the road to K-pop without really intending to stay very long, but when I finally let myself in discovered that I was really freeing myself from former prejudices that prevented me from doing certain things. In a very real and profound way, the music I listened to in 2013 became more than just iTunes playlist fodder, but a positive and life-changing force that made my year not just tolerable, but in many ways, quite wonderful.

K-pop was a massive force that impacted my life this year, and to do up a TOP TRACKS OR TOP ALBUMS list for 2013 would probably be more of a short-term goal with a timeline rather than one lengthy LJ entry. So here’s what I’ll do – this music map will chart the important points of the fandom as I moved through 2013.

In K-pop, specific singles (and/or albums) will be promoted in set time periods known to the fandom as “eras” which can last anywhere from a few weeks to a couple of months. I think I fell into the fandom gradually in “eras” too, so that’s how I choose to present my 2013 Media Map for Music.

The “What The Hell Did I Just Watch?” Era

K-pop videos are fun, they said! Super colorful, they said! Well B.A.P’s “One Shot” was the first K-pop music video (MV) I stumbled onto over on Youtube and I swear even now, its plot points elude me. Guys, I just wanted my glossy art direction, colorful outfits and light pop music. These ingredients were glaringly absent from this MV. Instead I got feature-film level production values, a narrative that paid homage to “Infernal Affairs” and a hyper-produced complex hip-hop influenced pop track. Nope. Not ready for the hottness of Bang Yongguk and company. This went right over my head. Brain in denial of the awesomeness of K-pop. Needed something more basic.

Oh, there was also Teen Top, whose violent fan-service boggled my mind but I didn’t get into them musically until much later.

Meanwhile a well-meaning co-worker who casually listened to K-pop foisted me with a copy of Girls’ Generation’s “I Got A Boy”. It didn’t come with this

so I completely missed the point.

The Big Bang Era

I’d heard about Super Junior, Rain and BoA in 2005, and also about the Big Three music companies that powered the Hallyu Universe (YG, SM Entertainment and JYJ) but was still too ignorant for my own good to appreciate good K-pop when it hit me in the face. BigBang seemed like a good starting point musically, because of the following arbitrary criteria:

1. number of group members is less than ten (Check. Bigbang has five.)
2. relative familiarity of at least one group member (Check. I asked casual listeners who they thought Sandara Park’s bf was and they came up with G-Dragon)
3. “easy-to-remember” names (Check. G-Dragon, T.O.P., V.I, D-Lite and Sol)
4. structurally, songs not that different-sounding from Western-based pop music (Check. I liked “Blue” the best)

Bigbang Tracks That Would Have Grabbed Me by the Balls If I Had Balls:

1. Blue
2. Bad Boy
3. Lies
4. Last Farewell
5. Monster
6. Fantastic Baby
7. Love Song
8. Stupid Liar

The only two members I cared about were (predictably) G-Dragon (so talented, so sexy) and T.O.P (so good-looking, so sexy) so when I heard they put out a mini-album together a few years ago, I checked it out.

Are you fucking kidding?! Please lay on T.O.P of me.

Then, also

I also liked “High High“, even though I was the LAST person who would have this club anthem as her jam. One writer once said that the setting for most of BigBang tracks took place inside of a club, but I loved this about them because when I was listening to their songs I could pretend to be the type of person who *would* frequent clubs but you know, without feeling like a social climber.


The SHINee World Era

Moar, please. Someone hipped me to “Internet War” after I said I wanted to see fan-service in K-pop. People, this is the last video you should watch if you want to get into SHINee because it makes no sense except to us thirsty fangirls. It took me several months before I could appreciate it fully.

The following performance should be included in Hallyu courses as a study in high-level K-pop training. This performance is seamless, even though what happened during the performance could have been disastrous in the hands of less capable musical groups.

If you didn’t notice anything wrong, it’s okay. You weren’t meant to (and also props to the show’s floor director), but:

Soft power – HAH!

I could have probably escaped K-pop after G.D and T.O.P, but this song was the Devil’s Trap because their Whisper Was The Lucifer.

I needed to get to know this wonderful group, and I found out they did a few reality shows, so I checked out “One Fine Day”/”Wonderful Day” to find out more about each member. Also I thought this would help me pick out my SHINee bias, but I was more confused and torn when I got through all the episodes than I was when I started: Jonghyun always appeared to be in a bad mood when performing (this was mainly because of his “dinosaur looks”, which were already “addressed”) but was a total sweetheart (and workaholic); Key was the DIVA whom I wanted as my spirit animal; Onew was the weird and anti-social one; Minho I wanted to dislike (but no, impossible because sweetie) – he felt like K-pop’s John Lloyd Cruz; and Taemin was so very special but also I suspected he had *mild* Asperger’s.

This is still the best SHINee track IMO, and the one that I listen to when I am in a “mood”. This restores the balance in my world, the first single the group released back in 2008:

Whew – told you guys this was gonna be a huge post!


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