BTS Takes Over America & the World

I hate to admit it, but I hadn’t listened to one song or seen one of their music videos before BTS made their appearance on ‘Saturday Night Live’ on Saturday, April 13th, 2019 – the first ever for a K-pop band.

As CBS Sunday Morning described the sensation:

“One of the most popular Korean pop groups in the world is the boy band known as BTS (for “Beyond the Scene”) – the first Korean act to sell out a U.S. stadium; the first K-Pop group to present at the Grammy Awards; and the first Korean pop band to be featured on Time Magazine’s Most Influential List. Seth Doane interviews the group’s members – seven young men between the ages of 21 and 26 who consider themselves family, who’ve trained, composed music and grown up together, and who all live in the same house – and goes behind the scenes in a Seoul rehearsal studio.”

I have to say that I’m quite taken by their dance moves and kind of like their K-pop sound. Take a look at their performances from SNL:

and their second performance:

I really like the official music video of ‘Boy With Luv

BTS is taking the U.S. by storm, as well as the world, as they kick off their extended world tour in May in U.S, Brazil, England, France, and Japan.

8Tracks Review: ‘Love Yourself: Answer’ by BTS

Love Yourself: Answer by BTS
Big Hit Entertainment 2018

The new BTS compilation album (with 7 new tracks!) dropped August 24, and if you know even one person who’s a BTS fan, you knew about it probably a couple of weeks in advance because BTSers could not shut up.  I can’t say for sure, but I’m pretty sure anticipation of the new album even brought one of my friends out of Twitter hibernation.

Fake love

Until a few years ago, I was a high-school teacher, so I’ve seen boy-band crazes come and go, but there has never been anything like this BTS thing.  Among those in my life who can’t stop are a retired middle-school teacher, the esteemed restaurant critic of the Honolulu Star-Advertiser, and one of my college friends who took her daughter (or daughters? I’m a bad friend) to Los Angeles to see the group in concert.  I’m in my late 40s, and each of these women is in that neighborhood, something I only mention to highlight the fact that something very unusual is going on here.  This did not happen with N*Sync.

I’ve heard snippets, you know?  Never a whole song, but little bits of music in people’s Instagram stories, and nothing stood out for me.  It was K-pop and it sounded like K-pop and it didn’t sound to me any better or worse than any other K-pop.

I get it.  For those unfamiliar with a genre, it all sounds the same.  I’m a metalhead and I realize that to casual observers, all my favorite metal bands sound the same (that is, mostly terrible) when nothing could be further from the truth.

These are people whose opinions I value on wide ranges of topics including music and art.  One early-30s blogger I’ve become online acquaintances with turned me on to emo-screamo band Thursday, and I dig a lot of the music she likes, but now she’s all about BTS.

(l to r) the cute one, the smart one, the quiet one, the rambunctious one, the ladies’ man, the kind one, the animal lover, the future televangelist

Two weekends ago I made a commitment to give it the fairest shot I could.  I was going to listen to Love Yourself: Answer all weekend long, and only this album.

And I didn’t care for it, but by the end of the weekend, I could name (and even sing along with) a couple of tracks I actually like, and most of the time the rest of the songs weren’t bad.

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Umamiya Goin’ Crazy for Umami Burgers

Whoa. What the heck is Umamiya?

Umamiya is a five-member R&B/Pop Pan-Asian girl group headquartered in Los Angeles, California. Managed by S-Cube Entertainment, the group is the brainchild of international music mogul and impresario, Sang Sung Song, and Cold Tofu Productions. Their first music video for their debut single, “Hot, Sour, Spicy, and Sweet”, was a huge hit and with this, it seems that this sexy group is only going up from here on out. It’s also pretty neat how Umamiya is now the pitch women for Umami Burger and for those of you who don’t know what that is, it’s DELICIOUS.

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L.A. ticket giveaway: Concert of Korean pop performers Shin Hae Chul and N.EX.T. on July 4


My 4th of July* is usually associated with fireworks, barbecues, carnivals, picnics, concerts, baseball games, and various other events celebrating the history, government, and traditions of the good ol’ US of A. If I hadn’t already made plans to be with family this July 4th, then I’d definitely be at the Ford Amphitheatre. Why?

This 4th of July marks the first US performance by South Korean pop legend Shin Hae Chul and his band N.EX.T. at the Ford.

One of Korea’s most famous celebrities, Shin Hae Chul is regarded as a “genius” of Korean music who, along with his younger cousin Seo Taiji, transformed the Korean music industry in 1992, paving the way for the contemporary K-Pop genre. Shin Hae Chul is known for his musical experimentation, artistic excellence, controversy, and has often been compared to John Lennon.

His progressive stance on social and politic issues, including the legalization of marijuana, government control of the school system, and North Korea, has made the “Prince of Darkness” a liberal icon in South Korea, a radical voice representing a significant portion of the population. N.EX.T. (New Experimental Team) is widely acknowledged as Korea’s greatest and most exciting live rock band, known for the ability to switch through a multitude of genres.

Presented by the Los Angeles County Arts Commission and Asiatic Empire, Shin Hae Chul and N.E.X.T. will appear at the historic Ford Amphitheatre in Hollywood, on Saturday, July 4, 2009 for one night only.

Out of respect for the recent death of former South Korean president Roh Moo Hyun, who had a close relationship with Shin Hae Chul, N.EX.T. canceled all of its shows in Korea. So the only chance to see N.EX.T. this summer is actually at this performance.

Los Angeles is the first stop of these artists’ Awakening World Tour, but expect a solid turn-out as L.A. has the largest Korean community outside of Korea. I know from personal experience in attending concerts and performances of Korean artists that the community does come out to support. Regardless, this show is not just for the Korean community but for anyone who appreciates world music and wants to enjoy the rare treat of one of the best international rock bands that has never played in America.

If you’re curious about the music of the band, below you can access the mp3s of the songs they will be performing on July 4. Anyone can access the songlist and the mp3 soundfiles to the songs by:
1. Go to www.webhard.co.kr
2. Log in by typing in => id: humanent, pass: hm1021501
3. The directory to the info is => home/guest folder/20090704 N.EX.T in L.A.

Our friends at Asiatic Empire have kindly offered up a pair of tickets to this one-night-only event!

What you could win: a pair of free tickets to the one-night only performance of Shin Hae Chul and N.EX.T.
Saturday, 7/4/09, 7:30PM PDT
Ford Amphitheatre
Los Angeles, CA, USA

How do you enter?
Simply leave a short comment stating why you’d like to see this show. (Be sure to use the email address you’d like to be contacted at if you’re the winner.)

Hurry, the deadline to enter is: Thursday, July 2 at 11:59 pm
One lucky winner will be randomly selected and contacted on Friday morning.

Rules for entering:
1) Please be in the Los Angeles area (or willing to travel to LA on your own dime) and serious about using these tickets; if you’re too busy to use these, please don’t take them away from someone who will!
2) Tickets are non-transferrable; they are good for you and a guest.
3) Contributors to 8Asians and their immediate family members are not eligible to win.

Prize courtesy of: Asiatic Empire

*Happy Canada Day on July 1, Canadian friends!

Hot K-pop: After School

A lot of blogs out there seem to be following K-pop jailbait: the Wonder Girls and Big Bang Seungri’s abs have been written about by Perez Hilton, and SNSD — also known as Girls’ Generation — has been covered by Marc Ecko’s Complex Blog as well as FourFour. I’d like to scoop everyone and introduce the latest addition of the decidedly non-jailbait variety to the K-pop scene: After School.

Why hello there, sexy dance move at the 37 second mark.

Modeled after the Pussycat Dolls, After School brings a breath of fresh air to the K-pop scene currently saturated with gag-inducing cutesy sugar rot. As a fan of K-pop, it’s really irksome not to see adult women having adult-like fun, so it was really interesting to watch artists known for being sexy like Jewelry and Son Dambi perform after the 10pm watershed time during the year-end awards. Likewise, it was also interesting to see the other cutesy girl groups try “sexy” in comparison – and seeing how they have no idea how to pull it off properly.

After School’s members are under Pledis Entertainment, the same company as Son Dambi. Judging by all their performers, I would imagine they have a height requirement of at least 167cm. (You must be THIS tall to audition.) Their image, while sexy, is directly geared towards women – making men even more hot for them. People were initially skeptical when rumours swirled about Son Dambi joining the group, abandoning her solo success late last year. All of that was put to rest when the group debuted last week (January 17, 2009) with a jaw dropping performance.

I have NEVER seen a debut group take such command of the stage followed by sexually charged fan-girling on a forum. It’s GIRL POWER on a whole other level and something the Korean viewing audience seems to crave. They haven’t even been around for two weeks and already the dance craze is beginning. My office for the last week has been a repeat of Son Dambi’s ‘Bad Boy‘ feat. After School’s Park GaHee and After School’s Play Girlz and AH (see above).

I showed their debut performance to a male co-worker who immediately asked, “Are they all legal?” followed by “Pass the tissue box.

(Hat tip: 8A’s Jun, who’s a closet K-pop fan, sent me the link from Complex perhaps in hopes that I would talk about Girls Generation (SNSD), so he wouldn’t have to … sorry bud – not a fan.)

POP 88 #24 – Reel Asian Film Festival

Reel Asian Film Festival 2008
Brr, is it cold enough for you? (If you’re on the northeastern seaboard, that is.) Hopefully to warm you — or at least your ears — up, here is some new music from Anna Tsuchiya, Chemistry and Park Jung Ah. I also have an exclusive interview with Deanna Wong, Executive Director for the Toronto International Reel Asian Film Festival.

For comments, questions, suggestions, feedback and requests, leave a message on our newly revamped website or shoot me an email at christine at popcast88.com. We’ve also got some merchandise, so check out some of the stuff over at Zazzle! Tis the season of giving!

Again, if you like what you hear and would like to support the podcast, please show it by supporting the artists by buying their music via the links provided.
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POP 88 #23 – Ballad Special

For regular listeners, and those who subscribe over at POPcast88.com would already know this has been out for about a week. (Sorry for the delay in posting this here.)

In this episode, thanks to an overwhelming amount of response is the ballad special, plus a small taste of what to expect from this year’s Toronto Reel Asian Film Festival. Listen for your requests, plus Jewelry, Cheon Sang Ji Hee and some other surprises — so wave those hands in the air and sing like you’re a diva!

Again, if you would like to show your support for this podcast, I ask that you show your support by purchasing the music played in the show through the link on the site.

Feedback, comments, suggestions and requests, please leave a comment over at Popcast88.com or send an email to christine [at] popcast88.com.
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POP 88 #14 – Interview with Olivia Cheng

Olivia Cheng on POP 88Hello Everyone,

Thank you for downloading our 14th episode.

This episode includes your requests played, plus an interview/ conversation with Olivia Cheng from the new docudrama Iris Chang: The Rape of Nanking (*note there is use of cursive words – but I think we’re all adults) and highlights from the Reel Asian Book Launch.

The Reel Asian International Film Festival is going on now till November 18th (Sunday) – lots happenning so check the site for details.

For requests, feedbacks, suggestions and comments, please leave a message at Popcast88.com or you can send an email to christine [at] popcast88.com. Continue reading “POP 88 #14 – Interview with Olivia Cheng”