It’s ME, It’s WE, it’s TEMPEST

Rookie K-Pop group TEMPEST discusses their debut

A storm’s brewing at Yuehua Entertainment and K-Pop septet TEMPEST is here with “Bad News.”

TEMPEST debuted just a month ago with their first EP It’s ME, It’s WE, but they’re an experienced group of rookies. Leader LEW (21) and vocalist Hyeongseop (22) were contestants on season 2 of Produce 101 and later debuted as a duo in 2017 while independently making appearances on variety shows and as actors.  Hanbin (24) was the leader and founder of a viral dance team in his native Vietnam before becoming a contestant on I-LAND. Hwarang (20) was a contestant on Under Nineteen and a backup dancer for KARD. Main vocalist Hyuk (21), vocalist Eunchan (21) Taerae (19) complete the group. 

TEMPEST follows popular Yuehua Entertainment acts like UNIQ, WJSN, EVERGLOW, WOODZ, and YENA (Iz*One) with their dynamic title track “Bad News.” Co-written by LEW and Hwarang, this anthem is a perfect introduction to the members’ unique talents and charisma. LEW’s confidence, Hanbin’s sunny disposition and distinct voice , Hyeongseop’s passion, Hyuk’s golden vocals, Eunchan doe-eyed elegance, Hwarang’s charisma, and Taerae’s deep vocals all make for an impressive debut song. 

Through the magic of email, The Concordian interviewed the members of TEMPEST to talk about their debut. 

THE CONCORDIAN: Describe your feelings about debuting in one word.

HANBIN: Amazing.

HYEONGSEOP: Second chapter of my life.

HYUK: Bliss.

LEW: True beginning.


EUNCHAN: Growth.

TAERAE: Emotional.


TC: Who or what inspires you?

HYUK: Recently, we’ve been watching a lot of the senior artists perform whenever we’re on standby on music programs. I’ve been learning a lot and getting inspired by just watching their performances.


TC: LEW, how did you become the leader?

LEW: I naturally became the leader. I gained my know-how through my long trainee days which made me often lead the practice sessions. Also, the members were cooperative and treated me as a leader and I was able to learn and grow through the process.


TC: How did you build teamwork?

LEW: I think teamwork builds up naturally while spending time together. I think we create our own solidarity through active communication in the process.


TC: Hyeongseop and LEW, what did you learn from Hyeongseop x Euiwoong? Will the duo ever make a comeback?

HYEONGSEOP: We are currently focused on TEMPEST’s promotions for the time being, but it would be great to make a comeback as a duo should the opportunity arise. And no matter what form, we are still TEMPEST. During the promotion, I was able to learn my strengths, stage presence, and a lot more.

LEW: If given the opportunity, I think it would be possible as a unit group within TEMPEST. I think the promotion would be a gift for the fans who liked Hyeongseop x Euiwoong.


TC: Hanbin, how has it been adjusting to living in Korea and learning the language?

HANBIN: When I first came to Korea, it was difficult for me as it was my first time with everything. But now, I’m fully adapted to everything. The experience became easier, especially after joining this group. Thanks to my members, who are always by my side and thoughtful, I’m having way more fun with everything.


TC: Pre-debut you uploaded a few covers on YouTube, what song or artist would you like to cover next?

HWARANG: Before our debut, “Horangi” (Korean for tiger) was one of the choices for my stage name. In that sense, I would like to cover SuperM’s song “Tiger Inside”


TC: A lot of you participated in survival shows pre-debut, what was the biggest lesson from your experiences?

HANBIN: I think being on an idol survival-reality show is a valuable experience that trainees cannot easily experience. Through the experience, I learned to understand myself better and realize what I am capable of. As a result, I gained more confidence.

HYEONGSEOP: Enjoying is the best thing to do. It is best to enjoy it as you please since you started it because you liked it.

LEW: Opportunity comes to those who are ready and I should be grateful and humble every moment.

HWARANG: The memories and emotions that I felt on my first stage were just the beginning.


TC: How were the preparations for your debut, what was the biggest challenge?

EUNCHAN: Before our debut, I had a challenging time because I didn’t have faith in myself. But thanks to the support and advice from the people at our company and our members, I gradually gained faith in myself. I think I have improved a lot now and I’ll continue to believe in myself and work hard.


TC: LEW and Hwarang, what’s your songwriting process like?

LEW: We spent a lot of our time and effort participating in writing the lyrics. We prepared five to six verses each time and spent hours writing the lyrics when other members went home. I’m thrilled to see that our efforts have paid off.

HWARANG: While writing the lyrics, I think I drew a mental picture from the emotions and feelings I got from the song. I would make the basic sketches of the song in my head and then continue to develop the picture by filling it with colours through my lyrics.


TC: Are the other members interested in songwriting, composing, or production?

HYUK: As the main vocalist, I help out with the details and vocalization when we practice the songs for our album. So, I would love to try composing or producing in the future.

HYEONGSEOP: I have a keen interest in writing lyrics and I’m quite emotional. So, people around me encourage me to write lyrics. I also read in my spare time to build the foundation for writing lyrics.


TC: What concept would you like to try in the future?

HYUK: I want to try various concepts that are new and fresh. For example, something like a vampire concept or a cyberpunk concept would be interesting.


TC: What’s your favourite song on the mini-album and why?

EUNCHAN: “Find Me.” I like it because I think it is a B-side track that shows TEMPEST’s powerful energy.

TAERAE: “Just a Little Bit.” I chose this song because I like songs with warm feelings.

HANBIN: “Bad At Love.” I have liked this song ever since I heard the demo version. It has a very cute and catchy melody. We had a good time practicing this song, and the lyrics and choreography are very cute as well.


TC: What are your goals for the rest of the year either as a group or personally?


Courtesy of Yuehua Entertainment



Keep your eyes on LUMINOUS

 Rookie K-Pop Group LUMINOUS talk about their first comeback “All eyes down (advance)”

K-pop quartet LUMINOUS shine bright — wear sunglasses if you need to.

Youngbin (23) is the leader, lead vocalist, and a dancer. He was a contestant on the popular reality survival competition show Produce X 101 . Suil (22) is a rapper, dancer, and sub-vocal in the group. Steven (22) is Korean but hails from Sydney, Australia. He’s a rapper and sub-vocal, and like Youngbin, he was a contestant on Produce X 101 . Woobin (21) is the main vocalist and “maknae” (youngest) of the group. 

During our nearly 40-minute talk, the guys seemed genuinely close, they laughed, interrupted each other and fit on a single couch. Actions speak louder than words though, or an interview with a journalist. LUMINOUS was once known by a different name and they were meant to debut under a different company. While the details aren’t clear, whatever happened, they left and stayed together to end up at WIP Company, run by Kim Sung-eun who has been a vocal coach for acts like BTS and TWICE.

Finally, after their years as trainees, reality show stints, a few company changes, and a case of COVID-19, they debuted with their first EP YOUTH and the lead single “RUN” in September 2021.

They’re back now with their new project Between Light and Darkness (Self n Ego) which, as the title suggests, echoes Jungian concepts of persona, self, and ego through confusion, loneliness, and anxiety, to represent youth struggling with some of the big questions in life. 

With help from a lovely translator, The Concordian sat down with LUMINOUS to talk about their comeback, debut, and hopes for the future.

TC:  I read that originally you were going to debut in 2019 and you, of course, debuted in 2021. There was a two-year period, what was that time like for you guys?

Woobin: So although we were supposed to debut in 2019, because it got pushed back we were disappointed and wondered ‘When are we going to debut?’ When we finally did debut it was almost like a relief. It was like turning over a new leaf so that was really exciting.

TC: How did you all originally become trainees? Did you audition? Were you scouted?

Youngbin: I auditioned.

Suil: I received a DM asking me to come in.

Woobin: I went to an arts school so I was doing a lot of auditions so I got contacted by the previous company. The current one, I met with the CEO.

Steven: I first got casted on Facebook. They just DMed me like, “Oh, we’re in Australia, we’re nearby, do you want to try to audition?” So I thought it was a scam [at] first. So I was like “Okay yes, let’s meet up here,” and then I was scared so I brought all my friends to be with me in case I got kidnapped [laughs] but yes, I realized it was actually real. So I took the audition, I somehow passed and then later on… connections with the company right now and the CEO.

TC: Does anyone remember what song they auditioned with?

Steven: This company I don’t think I did an actual audition or anything, but then my previous company I think I sent a Taylor Swift song [everyone laughs]. I didn’t know how to sing or anything so “I like this music, I’m just gonna sing it,” and yes, I sang it spoken. I don’t know what the song was, it was Taylor Swift… “Star Struck”? “Star…” I’m not sure, I forgot.

TC: It might have been “Starlight”?

Suil: Tom Odell.

Youngbin: Maroon 5.

TC: And who are your biggest musical or performance role models?

Youngbin: Baekhyun (of EXO). He’s so bright, can always capture the stage, and he’s cool. I really respect him.

Steven: For me singing wise it’s IU “sunbaenim” (Korean honorific for someone older or with more seniority in school or the workplace). And then for rap, Eminem got me started rapping. And then I think I got more interested in rapping with Logic and Joyner Lucas, and Tory Lanez.

Woobin: Kang Seung-Yoon (of Winner) has great melodies and songs that are really my style. 

Suil: I don’t have a specific role model, I respect so many artists and I look at what they’re good at, kinda digest that, and try to put it in my own music and style.

TC: As a group, what do you hope to do with your music?

Suil: As artists, we’d really like to bring comfort and good vibes to everyone who listens. If you’re in a bad mood or you want to cheer up we hope you listen to LUMINOUS. But at the same time, the members want to have fun, this isn’t just a job but something we really enjoy.

TC: This is your first comeback, congratulations by the way! It’s been a few months since your debut now, how have you guys changed and grown since then?

Youngbin: We’ve become a little more mature and our… aura has become cooler.

TC: The new EP is called Between Darkness and Life (Self n Ego). What’s the concept?

Suil: In the album, we’re looking at the fake self versus who you really are. And LUMINOUS fighting through going through those motions to really figure out “Who am I?”

TC: I read that “Joker” inspired the performance, how does he fit the concept?

Steven: We kind of tried to get that beastly vibe from the Joker. Like a werewolf kind of vibe. So that’s what we tried to put into our choreo. And then for our concept, I think the Joker has two sides, and he’s just struggling to be himself. 

TC: The first song on the EP is “MATRYOSHKA.” Steven, you co-wrote that song, do you want to talk about it a little?

Steven: It was one of the songs that I wrote quickly because I was short in time so I couldn’t really, you know, spend time on it and be like, “Oh, I think this will be better and then try to improve these parts.” It went by really quickly.

TC: What’s your favourite song on the EP?

Steven: Mine is “Want it more?” When I hear that song it just gets me motivated, it makes me wanna work harder for the things I want.

Woobin: I like “MATRYOSHKA.” I’ve been listening to it a lot lately, I feel a bit more hip when I listen to it. One of the fans said it would be a good song for a bride to walk down the aisle at a wedding [collective laughter].

Suil: I really enjoy “Trouble.” When we were recording I thought it was so great it could be a title track if we didn’t have “All eyes down (advance).” 

Youngbin: “Scintillation” really brings an innocent unique feel to the EP. 

TC: As individual artists and as a group, what are your goals for the rest of the year? 

Steven: For me as a group and personally I think my goal is to stay healthy, not get hurt. At the end of the day, that’s the most important thing. If we’re sick or hurt we can’t make music.

Youngbin: I hope everyone listens to LUMINOUS and looks to us for healing. And like Steven said I hope all the members and staff stay safe and healthy.

Suil: As LUMINOUS since we’ve received more of the fans’ love, we hope we can become deserving of all the love the fans give us and really show our best side as artists. Personally, I’d like to participate in writing one of our songs. 

Woobin: We’d love to have a world tour, perform in front of everybody, if we can do it we’d love to. My personal goal is to be the best. 

TC: To finish off, do you have a message for your fans? 

Youngbin: Thank you so much for all your love and support, we’ll work towards becoming a better LUMINOUS. 


Editorial Note: Youngbin, Suil, and Woobin’s answers have been translated from Korean to English with help from a translator. Editorial liberties were taken not to change what they said but to account for translation. Unfortunately certain details and nuances have likely been lost in translation. Global PR & Marketing by MJTONZ.


[spotifyplaybutton play=””]


Music Quickspins


 YUJU lets herself fly solo with her new EP  

YUJU is back with a new EP for the new year! The K-pop artist released [REC.], her first material besides singles since she left the group GFriend. The girl group formed in 2015 and were active until they disbanded last year in May for multiple reasons, the main factor being COVID-19. YUJU of course is her stage name, her real name being Choi Yu-na.

The first track is “Bad Blood (Intro),” which would have benefited from being longer. YUJU comes in with a generic pop-y guitar after a reverse gated reverb effect. It’s a song about revenge, and includes original Korean lyrics such as “The violent word that became a knife, This is the recording I leave for you, oh” Clearly to YUJU, sharp words definitely hurt more than sticks and stones, and the instruments in the background are also in tune with that message. Once the chorus comes in,  the edginess ramps up with the compressed BABYMETAL-esque guitars.   

Though the first track is short-lived, it’s followed by a smooth transition into “Play.” YUJU takes elements of well-known pop artists to mix into this song. With the same chord progression and timbre, it almost sounds like a slowed-down version of “Love Again” by Dua Lipa. She even uses vocal trills and isms similar to those of Ariana Grande. 

“Cold Winter” is the only song from the record that includes a feature, courtesy of Mad Clown, a Korean rapper. This song truly feels like it’s about relationships during the winter, what with keeping each other warm as Mad Clown raps in Korean “I’m your consonant and you’re my eternal vowel, if you’re cold, I’ll put my fingers together.” With the ballad-like atmosphere, the duo mesh well together, creating a 2010 pop/rap ballad.        

The piano from the previous song is switched up with guitar and the BPM is anted up in “The Killa.” In this song, she recycles the same drum machine samples from “Bad Blood” and follows through with the same message: her lover is a bad boy and she likes to compare him to her drink of tequila which is suspiciously roofied…?

The finale is a nice twist. “Blue Nostalgia” sounds like Fergie’s “Big Girls Don’t Cry” was turned into an anime outro, feeling ever more nostalgic. In this song, YUJU is  currently passing time alone, and she’s upset that she can’t relive the past, but there is hope because her lover isn’t far off, calling them her “blue, blue butterfly.”  

Even though [REC.] was an EP release, it would have been better if she were able to actually “extend” the running time. In the music industry, it is normal to have almost 30 minutes if not (more than) that for half an album. Unfortunately, 15 minutes is hardly enough for fans to enjoy the music she put together.       


Score: 6.5/10

Trial track: Bad Blood


[spotifyplaybutton play=”″]

What BTS’s “Dynamite” says about the American Music Industry

Will the success of these global superstars help bring change to a fundamentally xenophobic industry?

After seven years in the music industry, Bangtan Sonyeondan (better known as BTS) have undoubtedly become one of the biggest boy bands in the world, national treasures in South Korea, and a real threat to the historic dominance of English language music in the world’s biggest music market: the United States.

BTS have the Twitter account with the most engagement. They’re the first group since The Beatles to have three Billboard No. 1 albums within the span of a year. In 2019, Time named BTS among the 100 most influential people in the world, and they have one of the best-selling albums of 2020 globally. They have won the most Daesangs in history (a grand prize presented by the Mnet Asian Music Awards, a major award show in Asia). Despite these accomplishments, their literal ARMY of fans, and their undeniable talent, the group has still struggled to gain recognition and respect in America. That might be changing. 

After having already released a Korean and a Japanese album, collaborations with Korean singers Younha and IU and with American singers Lauv and MAX, a song by member V (Kim Taehyung) for Itaewon Class, a song on SoundCloud by member Jungkook (Jeon Jungkook), and a surprise solo mixtape by member SUGA (Min Yoongi) under the alias Agust D, all in 2020, the group released their single “Dynamite” in August.

The music video for the disco-pop infused “Dynamite” broke the YouTube record for biggest video premiere and the most views in 24 hours with 101.1 million views, while the song itself is the fastest to achieve number one on iTunes in 100 countries. It also had the biggest digital sales week for a song since 2017’s “Look What You Made Me Do” by Taylor Swift, and debuted at number one on the Billboard Hot 100 — an  achievement that makes them the first Korean artists to achieve this feat, and the first Asian musicians to do so since Japanese singer Kyu Sakamoto’s “Sukiyaki” in 1963.

It’s an incredible moment in BTS’s career; a breakthrough for them into a market which has historically been very averse to non-English music. The catch is that BTS sang “Dynamite” entirely in English, a first for the group who have been credited with helping to spread the Korean language and culture through their music, which is why they became the youngest ever recipients of the Hwarang Order of Cultural Merit from the President of South Korea in 2018.

Before “Dynamite,” the highest a BTS song had ever charted on Billboard was at number four with the lead single from Map of the Soul 7, “ON.” What made the difference this time is that American radio played “Dynamite.” The Hot 100 factors in not only physical and digital sales and streams, but also radio play. Up until “Dynamite,” American radio had largely refused to play the group’s music.

In an article entitled, “Radio, Why Won’t You Play BTS?” for NowThis News, writers Brian Patrick Byrne and Ahir Gopaldas found that BTS had only been played 83,000 times in the past year in the United States, in comparison to Harry Styles who received three times those spins, Taylor Swift who got 18 times that number, and Post Malone who got 27 times that number.

When complaints are made, DJs and radio stations claim American audiences don’t like non-English music, which is simply not true. Map of the Soul 7 was the best-selling album of 2020 in the United States until it was recently beaten by Taylor Swift’s Folklore. Furthermore,  BTS had easily sold out venues like the Staples Center, Rose Bowl, and Citi Field.

When it was announced that BTS would be releasing an English single, fans were interested to see what radio stations would do. If they didn’t play a successful English-language song it would be clear the reason was simply that a Korean group sang it. On the other hand, if they did play the track, it would be clear that the reason prior hits like “Boy with Luv” and “DNA” were ignored was that they were in Korean. As it turns out, radio did the latter.

American award shows also have a bad rap when it comes to BTS, or K-pop and POC in general, but we’ll get to that. When it comes to award shows they tend to only be nominated for categories like “Top Social Artist”  — minor categories not related to their music — so shows can pretend to be diverse and inclusive without having to actually award the group for their talent.

BTS is used to being snubbed but some cases are a little more difficult for award shows to justify. At the 2020 VMAs, BTS was not nominated for “Best Quarantine Performance,” despite setting a Guinness world record for the largest audience for a paid virtual concert with 756,000 viewers for their Bang Bang Con: The Live Concert.

At the 2020 Billboard Music Awards, the group was not nominated for “Top Touring Artist,” despite ranking number three in Billboard’s own year-end chart for Top 40 Tours. The BBMA nominations instead included the number one, two, four, five, and six tours of the year. Maybe someone just needs to teach Billboard how to count.

You could argue that BTS’s music isn’t good enough to be nominated but you’d be wrong, according to critics. 2019’s Map of the Soul: Persona had an average score of 74/100 on Metacritic, while 2020 Grammy nominees Lil Nas X and Ed Sheeran received scores of 57/100.

You could also argue that these awards are meant for American artists, but you’d be wrong again. At the 2020 VMAs, nominees in major categories included The Weeknd, Justin Bieber, Ed Sheeran, Coldplay, The 1975, Harry Styles, and Dua Lipa, who are all Canadian or European. Yet none of them were put in a World or British or Euro category because they all sing in English. When the Beatles got three number one albums in a year they won three Grammys, when BTS did the same they couldn’t even get a nomination.

This leads to another issue when it comes to not only BTS but also K-pop and POC artists at American award shows: racialized categories. In 2019, BTS’s “Boy with Luv” and Blackpink’s “Kill this Love” music videos both broke the record for the most viewed video in 24 hours on YouTube, but they were simply put in the K-pop category at the VMAs, and excluded from Video of the Year. Another nominee in the 2019 Best K-pop category was Monsta X’s “WHO DO U LOVE,” a song sung entirely in English, meaning the nomination was based on ethnicity. Though artists like BTS and Blackpink aren’t exclusively nominated in the racialized K-pop category (both were nominated for best group at the 2019 VMAs), what the “K-pop” category does is help segregate Korean artists and exclude them from major categories.

It says that what they do is different, and implies that this “kind of music” is lesser than. To even lump all K-pop artists together in one category has racist undertones  — there is no sound specific to K-pop. It’s actually known for its incredible diversity and experimentation, but the category implies that it all sounds the same because it’s sung in Korean.

T.O.P. of the K-pop group BIGBANG made a pointed jab in an interview with The Washington Post when he said, “You don’t divide pop music by who’s doing it. We don’t say, for instance, ‘white pop’ when white people make music.”

What these award shows are doing with K-pop, however, is far from new. They’ve been doing it to Black people for decades. Black artists — when nominated at all — have historically been nominated in categories like R&B and hip hop. These genres were unquestionably created by Black people, and have real characteristics. The existence of these categories is not the issue. The issue is that award shows have relegated Black artists to these categories in place of major ones, regardless of the actual genre of the music they make.

For some perspective, Beyoncé is the most Grammy-nominated woman of all time but most of her wins are in racialized categories. Though nominated three times for album of the year she has lost to Adele, Beck, and Taylor Swift.

So winning in categories like “Best K-pop” or “Best R&B” has become a sort of second-place trophy. In 2020 Tyler, the Creator won a Grammy for Best Rap Album but criticized the Grammys for placing “guys that look like me” in rap and urban categories, calling the categorization of his music as rap “a backhanded compliment.”  

A 1999 piece in the New York Times about world music written by ex-Talking Heads frontman David Byrne feels very relevant to how K-pop, R&B, hip hop, and rap are treated:

“In my experience, the term world music is a way of dismissing artists or their music as irrelevant to one’s own life. It’s a way of relegating this ‘thing’ into the realm of something exotic and therefore cute, weird but safe, because exotica is beautiful but irrelevant; they are, by definition, not like us. Maybe that’s why I hate the term. It groups everything and anything that isn’t ‘us’ into ‘them.’ This grouping is a convenient way of not seeing a band or artist as a creative individual, albeit from a culture somewhat different from that seen on American television. It’s a label for anything at all that is not sung in English or anything that doesn’t fit into the Anglo-Western pop universe this year.”

How BTS is treated is not the exception, it’s representative of an industry built on racism and xenophobia. They have been subjected to both microaggressions and outright racism both to their faces in interviews and in how the media talks about them. Complimenting leader and rapper RM (Kim Namjoon)’s English, asking them if they’re surprised about their success in America, being infantilized, interviewers not learning their names or doing research, focusing on the white people who work with them, comparing them to white people, etc.

These incidents dwell on BTS’s otherness, diminish and discredit their talent. It implies that someone from a non-English speaking country is less intelligent and deserving, and that to be successful a white person needs to be involved.

This language can also flirt with the racist trope that all Asians look alike — during their second appearance on Ellen, the host made BTS introduce themselves again because they had changed their hair. In a segment on Australia’s Channel 9, comedian Jimmy Carr said, “When I first heard something Korean had exploded in America, I got worried, so I guess it could have been worse, but not much worse.” In that same segment, the hosts called their names (half of which are their real ethnic names) “gangster,” suggested that they should get rid of four members, and joked that the group spoke about hair products during their speech at the UN.

BTS have only recently begun to speak out on the racism and xenophobia they have experienced in America. Weverse Magazine (created by the entertainment company that manages BTS) recently highlighted an incident earlier this year on The Howard Stern Show where, days after BTS visited the station, staff member Sal Governale said, “There’s no way those guys don’t have coronavirus.” In a recent interview with Reuters RM said, “Since we’re like aliens to the music industry for America so (sic) we don’t know if there’s a place for us or not.” It’s also incredibly heartwarming to see the group support the fight for Black Lives Matter, making a million dollar donation to the cause (which was matched by fans), and making a statement, cementing their status as socially conscious global artists.

“Dynamite” seems to be changing the tides for BTS in the American music industry: they’re getting radio play, proper media coverage, and being asked about their music rather than their favourite colour in interviews. The success of “Dynamite” is bittersweet for fans. It’s deserved of course, but it’s unfortunate that the group had to sing in English to finally get what they deserve in America, and it exposes the industry’s xenophobia.

To someone unfamiliar with BTS it might seem like they’ve finally caved after years of being asked to make music in English or like they’re selling out to please the western music industry. However, lyricism has been important to members of BTS since their debut in 2013, particularly with rappers RM, SUGA, and J-Hope (Jung Hoseok), who have songwriting credits for most of the 145+ songs in their discography. BTS is also known in K-pop for their lyrical content, which is generally deeper and more clever than the general public in America knows.

From criticizing the rigid school system in Korea, societal expectations placed on young people and generational disparities, to discussing mental health, grief, growing up, self-love, and references to analytical psychology, German literature, Bong Joon-ho’s Snowpiercer, the legend of the Pied Piper, the novels of Haruki Murakami, The Little Prince, Greek mythology, and the Japanese cartoon superhero Anpanman, BTS sing about it all.

“Dynamite” has a simple generic message of positivity which is the exception in their discography  — as is the fact that none of the members have songwriting credits for it  — so it’s a shame that the general public will continue to believe the group just makes generic happy pop music. At a press conference for “Dynamite,” RM said, “It doesn’t have an overarching macro-level message. Sometimes, simpler messages really get across.”

Language is an important part of identity and art, something English speakers often forget because our language and culture is everywhere. So despite RM’s fluency in English, part of his artistry, and the artistry of the other members, lies in the Korean language with which they create wordplay and poetry that just wouldn’t translate into English, and that is part of the beauty of it. And yet “Dynamite” was completely in English.

After hearing the demo, which was written by David Stewart and Jessica Agombar, the group thought it was perfect as it was, and thought singing in English would be a nice challenge. While doing promotions for the single, BTS have made it clear that they will continue recording music primarily in Korean, that singing “Dynamite” in English was an exception. Thus with the anticipated release of yet another BTS album before the end of 2020, it will be very interesting to see how it is handled in the United States after “Dynamite’s” triumph.

Though it’s important to criticize the industry, we also need to change our perspective that you need to “make it” in America in order to be a successful and important artist — that perspective is deeply western-centric. BTS doesn’t need a Grammy, they have already proven their talent in countless ways throughout their career and been recognized for it by fans, the UN, the South Korean government, and Asian award shows. However, they have repeatedly expressed their desire to perform a solo stage at the Grammys (the group performed “Old Town Road” alongside Lil Nas X in 2020) and to be nominated for and win a Grammy, so their fans are trying to make it happen for them.

Bong Joon-ho’s Best Picture win at the 2020 Oscars for Parasite, and the Recording Academy’s effort to diversify their membership (who vote for the Grammys) by inviting BTS and the CEO of their label to join, are signs of positive change. Not just for recognition and respect for BTS in the west or even for Korean artists, but for all non-English, non-western art. The industry can’t keep the doors closed to non-English music much longer; the world is becoming much too globalized, and fans can easily spot its cop outs and performative diversity. The industry might think that BTS have started playing by their rules, but it’ll be in a tough spot when they drop a Korean album in the next few months, which, like anything BTS touches will inevitably be successful. I’ll be keeping my eyes peeled to see what the industry does with BTS in the future.

Graphic by Taylor Reddam


When it’s time for K-Pop we will party hard

With an internationally renowned fashion designer paired with a world-class makeup artist and joined by a 23 million view YouTube sensation, a four-time Canadian Hip Hop Champion dance crew, the winner of Korea Sings, and a room packed with cheering fans, the AmérAsia Festival on Saturday  proved it still had one more big party in it before the closing ceremonies the next day.
The night’s lineup included a short fashion show featuring designs by Samuel Dong and makeup by Fang Image, multiple musical and dance performances, and an amateur K-Pop (Korean Pop) dance battle that was probably the most ridiculous thing ever.
Shortly after 6 p.m., the lobby of the Hotel Zero 1 was already filled by guests of all ages with one thing in common: Shimmycocopuffsss.
The Waterloo-based Internet star, with more than 23 million video views on his YouTube channel, was brilliant as the night’s host.
Shimmy (Mr. Cocopuffsss?) took the time to speak to each performing member backstage to build his own unscripted introductions, entertained the crowd between each performance and during intermissions, and somehow found the time to take pictures with whoever wanted one (everybody).
Mr. Puffsss took the stage at 8 p.m. to introduce the night’s first act, Inho Kim.
Kim, whose winning performance on KBS’ Korea Sings drew in 20 per cent of the South Korean population to watch it, made his Canadian debut performance Saturday night. Dressed in a simple black suit and white shirt, Kim opened the evening with a soft rock ballad alone with his electric guitar.
The performance earned a good amount of applause, but it wasn’t exactly what Kim hoped for. When asked how it went, Kim’s only answer was, “It was quiet.”
The fashion show followed and was directed by Fang Fang of Fang Image in collaboration with Hors la Loi productions and showed 12 pieces from Samuel Dong’s Fall/Winter 2011 collection.
The models were strikingly styled with bright red lips, harshly angled, thick, black eyebrows, and gelled-back hair in high ponytails. The severe look married well with Dong’s pieces, which consisted mainly of highly structured, high-colour dresses.
Each model walked out independently down a floor-level red carpet style runway while footage from the collection’s debut show at Montreal Fashion Week last May played behind her. During the changes, the screen played behind the scenes footage at Fang Image.
Fang Fang said that she was drawn to the event by the AmérAsia Festival’s mandate to promote Asian talent. Already established and successful in China, Fang made the decision to move her company to Montreal and understands the difficulties any foreign artist can face in a new environment.
Jenny Diep, who managed the festival this year, explained that she feels the AmérAsia Festival helps overcome that barrier by allowing art—whether fashion, makeup, music, dance, or film—to speak its own language, surpassing boundaries.
For Diep, the night was not only about bringing Asian and Western cultures together, but also about combining different Asian cultures. Originally, the night was scheduled to strictly be a K-Pop event. By introducing fashion and beauty produced by Chinese artists, the evening became more about cultural crossover, the festival’s core concept.
Ten minutes before his second performance, Kim went missing. A rush of people backstage scoured the halls of the Hotel Zero 1 basement to find out where he was. Questions began forming that maybe he was lost—or worse, that he was disappointed with the mild audience reaction of his first performance and didn’t want to go on again.
It turns out he was just getting awesome. Back in the holding area with two minutes to spare, a very different Kim appeared. Dressed now in what may very well have rivaled Lil Wayne’s jeggings at last year’s VMAs and a faux-fur bolero jacket showing off a sleeve of fake tattoos, Kim was ready to rock.
Flanked by two accompanying singers, Kim took back the stage to enormous cheering and applause and blew the place away with what could only be described as a mix of pop, electro house, rock, and hip hop.
Accompanying singer Taewan Kim (no relation) explains he tries to blend together elements of western music with K-Pop and was ecstatic with his group’s performance.
Then the dance battle happened.
Consisting entirely of young teenagers, the battle lasted approximately 20 minutes, in which groups of friends or solo dancers took to the stage to perform short dances they choreographed themselves. Maybe they would have looked better if Irratik, the multiple award-winning Montreal dance crew choreographed by former contestants on So You Think you Can Dance Canada and America’s Best Dance Crew, hadn’t gone on first.
At least they had fun. Noy Xayasane won the battle (measured by applause) after working multiple shirt lifting moves into his routine for an audience of mostly teenage girls.
The night ended with a dance party powered by a crazy-good DJ set by CJLO’s DJ Mike Vee, keeping the crowd entertained until well past midnight.

Exit mobile version