About K-Pop in Europe (an interpretation)


As it may not be common knowledge yet, I was teaching Italian secondary school students in Ireland for a month for pocket money while spending the summer here with Herself and +1. It has been fun.

Of course I explained to them that I did not actually live in Ireland, and that I was a resident of Korea (no not North, South). This got a reaction sometimes, and other times it didn’t. The students I was teaching were nice, with a decent standard of English, but I was lucky to have the higher levels, as there were other teachers who were considerably less fortunate. But anyway.

With one class the students were mostly around 17, they liked music, boys/girls, fashion, and having a good time, like most people their age. They were, for want of a better word, normal. At the end of an early class, some students came to me and asked me if I listened to K-Pop (note: they didn’t ask if I knew it), but they gave me an appropriately skeptical look as they asked me. In their defence I think they were looking for a way to start a conversation.

Well, anyway, it turns out they were familiar with all the hit makers, and they were particularly fond of Shinee (or however the fuck you spell it). I wretched, naturally. “No, you don’t like it?” they asked. I shook my head with pursed lips and explained about the noise pollution and saturation in Korea. They looked like they understood.

“Well”, said one, “I like it. It’s fun. I mean I don’t love it. It’s fun. It’s something to listen to. But, like my favourite band is Muse, so… “. I think she was hoping I wouldn’t judge her too harshly. And we left it at that.

I suppose because I am not left with K-Pop burnt ears that I can approach this subject with a mature outlook. What I got from this exchange was that, yeah we know it’s poppy manufactured crap but it’s got a certain amount of quirkiness to it that makes it different from the usual manufactured pop crap. Which I can recognise from a musical perspective.

What’s also emerged from this thought process was that, you know the way you see those programmes in Korea showing millions and millions of European kids going to a K-Pop showcase in Paris or wherever, the reason why people are excited is because they’re at a concert and concerts are exciting, and people will say anything when a camera is put in their face when they’re excited.

Anyway, maybe I’ll look a little more favourably on the K-Pop in Europe thing as something musically different, and that’s why people listen to it, for a change, and because it’s fun. Which I suppose it is when you aren’t subjected to listening to it all the fucking time.

From this lesson maybe I’ll try to be less of a cynic. Actually that won’t happen. Maybe I’ll be more mature in my cynicism. Perhaps.

This Saturday…


If you’re not doing anything this weekend, allow me to suggest this event I covered which is featured in this month’s Groove Magazine:

HBC Fest Just Wants To Rock!

The HBC Fest has seen it all: rock, punk, hip-hop, folk music, poetry, Shakespearean drama, comedy, even a large balding man painted head to toe in green and smashing watermelons over his head.

The festival now regularly attracts musical acts from cities all over Korea. More and more local businesses are vying to join as venues, and organizer Lance Reegan-Diehl has had to turn musical acts away, as he can’t accommodate the large number of willing participants.

Never before has the festival received this much publicity. Not only did this magazine give it a three-page feature last October, but all the other major monthly expat magazines, newspapers and websites also featured the festival. On top of this, the festival’s reputation grew as a place for people to get together and listen to good music, all under the banner of a music festival designed with expats in mind.

Continue reading on Groove Korea’s website »−›

Why do we Hate Christmas Songs?


It wouldn’t be an overstatement to suggest that many people despise Christmas songs. There’s something about them that gets people’s spines shivering. Their over jovial and upbeat tunes chiming away in the background while we’re struggling over dilemmas, such as whether or not we should get Uncle Billy or Jimmy the pink scarf, seem to encourage our inner Scrooge to fester.

It’s not that Christmas songs are bad, it is more like we are just sick and tired of them. It’s like listening to a whole back catalogue of reasonable enough number 1’s all at the same time, but more than this it’s the catchy poppy over enthusiasm of number 1’s singing about the same thing – Christmas. Oh, and the fact that you have to go through this every year at the same time is another reason to not look forward to having to hear Christmas songs over and over and over again. Did I mention that most Christmas songs never even reached number 1 status?

Continue reading

Letter from Korea, October 2011


Suwon, South Korea
20/10/2011

Dear Ireland

There are probably two moments in my life which I regard as life defining. Of all the moments which made a difference, the two most important really changed who I was and where I was going in my life. If I could be astute I could claim that they gave me a greater sense of purpose, allowing me to understand who I am more. One of these moments was coming to Korea. The other was the first time I heard The Stone Roses play. Continue reading

HBC Fest – Rock n’ Roll (and some folk) Photos


Here are some more pics from May’s HBC Fest, this time I’m keeping all things musical this time and focusing purely on the live acts. I have a few more pictures of the crowd’s antics to post but I’m going to give the people who make the Fest worth going to some credit – in fairness it wouldn’t be much of a music festival without much music, right?

These photos are going to start from the beginning, around 1 or 2 in the afternoon. I didn’t get to see everyone, but everyone I did see did get a photo included. I decided to go with a slideshow this time.

Enjoy!

 

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By-the-by, let me know what you think of how this was presented – did the slideshow work? I have other options for displaying photos that I’m currently exploring. I want to avoid the big long post of photos I’ve been doing in the past.

If you’d like me to send you some photos, please contact me.