JYJ - Back Seat
Next up is the return of the kings, back together after solo activities JYJ have finally released their long awaited comeback track, Back Seat.
With an impressive TS and a branding ad costing a reported 1 billion Korean Won (over £500,000) expectations have been high for the JYJ return, one that is thought to be their last before enlisting on their mandatory military service.
Unsurprisingly the trio have delivered, and impressively so.
Back Seat mixes the styles and strengths the members are known for to make a catchy track. From slow, sensual ballad stylings, to pacey dance worthy beats, Back Seat encapsulates everything fans of the group love.
As the, for once strong, English suggests with Ima put you on my back seat, this track has a more adult nature, and the imagery supports that.
The mv takes many popular and/or effective styles and combines them to form a video that doesn’t so much have a narrative, but is cohesive and strong.
Most of the settings for the mv are vast and for the most part empty, there are even a couple of ‘box’ sets, that might make you think of the trio’s former company SM. Technically SM’s mv style is the one that fits their target audience best, and contrary to the belief of some is far more elaborate than simply dancing in a box.
Alongside this style, we also see wasteland, and neon signage upon rooftops - often used setting.
Yoochun’s scene includes signage for The Belasco Theatre, located in Manhattan is an extremely famous Broadway theatre, not only is Yoochun an accomplished actor, but member Junsu is one of the most high grossing Korean idols to feature in musical theatre, currently playing Dracula in the Korean translation of its Broadway counterpart.
Notably, Yoochun’s car in the mv is a classic Jaguar, the exact model and colour used in TVXQ’s Something. TVXQ made reference to their ten years and origins as five in that mv, is this JYJ doing the same?
Jaejoong’s car is set in the centre of a yard of destruction. Desolate areas and wasteland are Kpop mv commonplace, but it is Jae’s styling here that is most important. He is the most casually dressed member of the three in his solo cuts, this making a clear reference to his more alternative musical stylings, and referencing his Just Another Girl mv.
In a similar vein, Junsu’s styling could be seen as a reference to his blond hair, navy suit look in Tarangtallegra.
One of the most striking visual elements in Back Seat is the scenes between the members and females. Taking on a style probably most memorable in 2PM A.D.T.O.Y, although you know which member you are watching you will never see the female in full focus.
This filming style allows the female to stay anonymous thus giving more opportunity for the viewer to reflect themselves into the scene they are seeing, enhancing the users interaction in the media.
As always JYJ show off their dance skills in the choreography section, filled with passion and determination the choreography too supports the more adult nature of the song.
Although my personal opinion is, if you’re not going to wear a shirt under your suit jacket you should commit to it. Of course with such a young main fanbase modesty is something that is probably promoted, but I doubt with a 15 rated mv that revealing their chests would make too much difference - it isn’t like JYJ haven’t been topless before.
Possibly one of their strongest songs, and most certainly their strongest mv to date, Back Seat is better than fans could have anticipated. With heightened user interaction and all the strengths of the trio, Back Seat is one not to be missed.
After a short, unplanned ConceptLore hiatus I plan to cover some of the more prominent releases I have missed over the past month, and we start with the return of Korean reggae artist, Skull.
Returning with his first regular album in ten years, KING O’ IRIE, the album apparently boasts five unique mvs (two already released) filmed in locations around Cuba, Jamaica, Hong King and the US.
The first mv release comes in the form of DEH PON TOP. The video has faced much criticism for only focussing on the negatives of the lifestyle surrounding his genre, and the deprivation surrounding those areas associated the the culture.
With scenes in Jamaica and Cuba we see depravity, poverty, areas mid development. Some areas of Cuba are of course, post-Castro and the revolution, still rebuilding and developing, and it is no secret that Jamaican areas such as Kingston are plagued by poverty and some of the highest crime rates in the world.
DEH PON TOP focuses on these areas, and the negatives that come with such poverty, for example the crime and the drugs.
As the main reference point for reggae in Korea one would hope Skull would be keen to show positive images of a culture so often stereotyped, but it appears here, even with a strong song, that isn’t on the top of Skull’s priority list.
The TS for Who Gives A Shit? has been criticised for similar reasons.
The second mv is for the track I’m Getting Married. Featuring Eugene of THE SEEYA the song comes from BraveSound - top producers of Kpop in Korea - and actually sounds a solid track. Essentially a break up song, I’m Getting Married has a lot of promise, showing a different side to Skull, but then we get to the mv.
Featuring freelance model Huh Kkot Bun Hong the mv for I’m Getting Married is largely juxtaposed to the lyrics in which one os given the impression that Skull loves the girl.
Whether a juxtaposition or a read between the lines narrative, one thing that every viewer should agree on is that in this case you can root for the girl, be glad she left.
The narrative portrays Skull as a man whom, at best doesn’t realise just what he has and lets it slip away, at worst an abusive partner.
With shots that include Skull waking up between two girls, neither of which are his girlfriend, and Skull hitting and pushing his girlfriend in various situations with varying levels of intent and anger.
At best the message that can be taken from this mv is that loving relationships aren’t always what they seem when away from onlooking eyes, and that is the message you might want to take given the impression the narrative gives.
Seemingly, if you want a positive insight into anything slightly reggae, Kpop fans are best looking towards YG tracks created by Teddy Park. A big fan of reggae you can often hear reggae influences in his tracks for the likes of 2NE1, and symbols of the culture can also be seen in mvs such as Falling In Love and Taeyang’s Ringa Linga.
Do you know anything about the Bom thing? Everyone just seems to be saying YG is lying
One of the biggest holes being picked at right now is a supposed psychology student saying there is no reason for those drugs with depression. Point being they are a psychology student, not a pharmacology or medical student.
I was a Pharmacy Dispenser for six years and have an NVQ in Pharmacy Services so here’s what I can tell you:
Though not common now, and often criticised, psychostimulants (eg amphetamine) CAN be used to treat depression related illness.
eg. psychostimulant Ritalin has been used for chronic adult depression. The drug was probably something like Adderall, one of the most common dextroamphetamine drugs in the US, that has commonly been prescribed for off-label treatment of depression. I have made up legal psychostimulant scripts - its controlled (Schedule 2 in the UK), but not illegal if a patient has a fully legal Rx at the time of dispensing and collection.
Mostly psychostimulants are used for things like ADHD, because they can alter the mood - hence why one of the off-label uses (this means the drug doesn’t necessarily have its licence for that treatment) is in levelling mood in chronic depression.
So Ji Sub - 18 Years
Popular actor So Ji Sub has returned to the music scene after a year and a half with a three song release, including title track 18 Years. For those who maybe only became aware of So through Master’s Sun it might be a surprise that hip hop music is in fact one of his oldest passions.
He broke into the music industry long after becoming a model and actor, and with both his own work and OST work has been relatively successful.
His return, 18 Years, is a blend of electronica and hip hop, fusing current trends. The title represents the years he has spent in the industry since his debut as an actor.
Composed and written by himself the track also features vocals from singer Saetbyeol, the other two tracks on the release being collaborations with the hip hop group Soul Dive.
18 Years is autobiographical, and expresses how So feels about his life as an actor, and the loneliness such a life brings.
In the mv we see So go through the transformation from actor to rapper in what is both a commentary on his loneliness, and a commentary on his industry.
The opening scenes show the image of So most people may be familiar with, suited, well presented, looking much like he did in Master’s Sun.
This is scattered with cuts to his hip hop image, and one prominent, yet very quick flash, of him bound to a chair - a sign of something we shall see as the mv continues.
As the lights go out on his acting persona, his head falls, and we see arms, void of identity, fix his make up and restyle So.
During this scene the image cuts to tv screens, one showing a distorted, digital image of So’s face as he performs. A reference to Dynamic Duo’s Three Dope Boys?
So finds himself posing for a photo shoot in front of a super car, the driver dressed in a plaid shirt & denim shorts. A reference to Gary’s Shower Later?
The next time So is styled he is dressed in the current mainstream hip hop trends, his 34 years hidden behind the masks required by his industry, a hand even pulls his face into a false smirk.
So is styled one more time, finally into the hip hop image we’ve seen him sport in the performance cuts. Though now the flashing image from his acting scene comes back into play. So does not wake up this time, he is tied to his chair with wires, his unconscious body fighting his binds. A Tiger JK / MFBTY reference?
So is restrained and unconscious despite the constant presence of his identity-less stylists. This is a physical representation of his loneliness in his industry, and the requirement to do as directed, live up to expectations.
As the end draws near So’s eye’s open, the television screen smashes, and his chair is empty. Has so escaped his loneliness? Or at least presented himself as he would desire.
18 Years, and So’s comeback to hip hop is his chance to break free of an image he has created during a very popular period for himself on screen. So is presenting himself as he desires, not in the mask required for a drama character, or one forced on him by the music industry. We know this as he bares his soul on his track, and for a man as intensely private as his industry allows him an autobiographical release is a huge insight into So’s life.
The release features the three tracks, and their instrumentals, those alone stand as impressive pieces of music. It might take more than one watch or listen to get used to So as a rapper if you were unaware he makes music but 18 Years is well worth the listen.
NU’EST are set to return on 9th July with their first full album Re:BIRTH. Most of their cards have been kept close to their chests with the comeback announcement coming as somewhat of a surprise, and most information about the return still being kept under wraps.
Slowly Pledis and NU’EST are releasing TS images in preparation for the album.
The first image, since confirmed to be the official album art, features the members in all in white, including straightjackets, and their faces covered.
The broken glass, straightjackets and colour tones had fans talking talking of NU’EST’s past wish to return to social issues such as depression and suicide - and alongside the title Re:BIRTH many have considered the album concept may be about NU’EST being reborn with a new image.
The next series of images released were individual member teasers. These images displayed much juxtaposition to the album cover, causing ConceptLore to consider whether initial thoughts on Re:BIRTH had been a little too straightforward.
The individual teasers may be very different to the album cover but they hold very strong, and consistent ideas. Of course the most striking transformations are that of Ren and JR, both having changed hair colour, and Ren losing his long thought of feminine image. Presenting the group as young, attractive males is very key to this series. They are being presented in a more matured light than they ever have before, their style is no longer loud but still shows their youth, and most importantly each member has a different edge of masculinity that female fans can fall for.
Comparing these to the album cover is this being reborn? Undoubtably for Ren, but questionable for Baekho for example. So is this about being reborn at all?
Looking back at the title Re:BIRTH may not actually mean to be reborn, it may in fact mean Regarding: BIRTH. What if NU’EST’s first album is not about disregarding their former image and becoming reimagined, it is in fact about finally emerging established, formed, whole - finally defining themselves? They have had time to learn, to grow, to mature and now it is time to show who they really are, in their album, regarding their birth.
All this considered we’re still left with one mystery. The faceless men. In the album cover the five members are joined by an additional sixth person in the back, in black, his face also covered. Fans have speculated it may just be a backing dancer though ConceptLore can’t overlook this. Why would a dancer be on your album cover? Simply, they probably wouldn’t, if there is a sixth person on your cover, it is with reason.
Which leads us to the anonymous person in Baekho’s teaser. Again, fans had a theory, convinced they had matched up the navel and the abs it must have been Aron, right? On his radio show Aron denied that it is him in the background of Baekho’s ts. This leads ConceptLore to believe that the mystery man in Baekho’s TS is the same mystery man on the album cover.
Who he is we can only speculate, technically NU’EST do have another member, though a sub-unit mandarin member [NU’EST M] much like Zhou Mi and Henry of Super Junior M. Jason is the only other known person connected with the group at present, and though there is nothing to say he has any involvement with the first Korean album from NU’EST the inclusion of a sixth person in their promotional teasers could have you first thinking of him. Only time will tell who the mystery person really is.
NU’EST’s first album Re:BIRTH should undoubtably present interesting imagery, and much discussion as Pledis continue to tease the release over the next two weeks.
Can you give free download links instead of iTunes?
There are plenty of free Kpop download links around and they aren’t hard to find, I’m however not willing to share them as I don’t agree with illegal downloading as you are making it harder for artists to continue making music, as the more people download illegally the harder it is to recoup any of their production costs.
If a track is free from the artist I will by all means provide that link, but otherwise I’ll always give iTunes or Korean music sites.
I’m currently answering a lot of FAQ’s or piled up anonymous questions for ConceptLore
Here’s one question I had to get a little help with:
What do people the same age as idols think of them in Korea? So, I’m the same age as GD, but British and gay, so I think he’s really cool. But as a rule what do 25 year old Korean males think of him?
A: I’m not a 25 year old male living in Korea and can’t claim to know how they think about anything - individually or collectively.
I do however have an 88 line Korean male friend, a little older than GD.
I can’t speak for him or state him an example of all men his age but I do know his knowledge of and interest in idols is near zero. Korean music made by ‘idols’ is generally for teens so I know he doesn’t really know or like any Kpop music. Anyone I’ve known him mention positively generally has a solid career in acting too, he probably doesn’t know them for their music.
p.s. I asked him if he’d read this answer, and if he wanted to approve or correct it, the only difference he may have made were a few choice words about his opinion on Kpop that I thought best not to include on here :D