Our history can complete
Luke McQueen’s website says he was adopted from South Korea at the age of five to Longmont, Colorado. Around the age of ten, he won a local talent competition with an original composition. Throughout grade school and college, music remained a hobby. At the University of Colorado, McQueen studied the safe path of engineering. However, it was also at the university where he accepted the opportunity to be a vocalist in a production of Westside Story. Nevertheless, after graduation, the safety of a corporate gig—ultimately fear—won out.
In late 2013, the realization of being unfulfilled in his job and life, combined with the decision to visit Korea, was the impetus for McQueen to move to Korea, search for his birth family, and change his career to music. There he has been training, songwriting, producing and performing ever since. He performs as a solo artist in and around Seoul.
What a story, right? I am a sucker for identity issues, and this one stabs me right in the heart. Personal identity, cultural identity, familial identity, and career identity? Sign me up for all of that.
I send this message out
McQueen says this is his first music video, and it’s a strong effort. I’m sucked in from the beginning, as the story plays out in heartstring-tugging symbolism. However, around the 1:30 mark, where our Korean American girl is bullied, it gets heavy-handed, and that hand gets heavier as the video progresses. I don’t mind the Korean and American flags or people’s attempts to drape them over the young woman, and while I found the cross bits kind of shocking, they work for me. The “gook” labeling and the actual, audible scream of our protagonist kind of send the whole thing over the top, though, and I can’t decide how I feel about all those faces singing the lyrics at the end.
I realize my criticisms aren’t very nice, and part of me wants to apologize for them—not for my opinions, but because it’s obvious that this is a very personal song and video, and sometimes a full-on evaluative critique isn’t the most appropriate approach. I’m receiving the video not merely as personal expression, but as a work of art that demands a response, and this is mine. If McQueen and I were acquainted, my reception would almost surely be different.
The video makes me appreciate the song more than when I was just hearing the audio via Spotify. It’s a pretty good song and it’s not a bad video, but I like the first half more than the second!
Director – Sunah Kim
Director of Photography – Ziggy Chicano
Editor – Ewen Tse
Producer – Luke McQueen
Associate Producer – Junon Kim
Still on this path
I meant to review all the singles available on Spotify, but I had to get up in the middle of the night to release a rat I caught in a live trap in my house. I don’t have wheels right now, so it took a couple of hours out of my early early morning. This set off a chain of sad events leading to my sleeping through my alarm this morning, which means I have to save my review of the rest of McQueen’s work for some other time. I’d encouage you to check it out, though. Start with “I’ll Give You Vertigo,” a nice, funky urban number with a mid-Eighties disco vibe and some sweet guitar fills. It’s my favorite of his songs.