We're a long way from Danny Wood's Zubaz
December 14, 2012 11:45 AM   Subscribe

BigBang, "Fantastic Baby" (slyt, K-pop).
posted by Diablevert (42 comments total) 18 users marked this as a favorite
Why? Because hair, outfits.
posted by Diablevert at 11:45 AM on December 14, 2012 [3 favorites]

Whenever I watch K-Pop videos I imagine that Korea is in an alternate universe where the 80's didn't stop happening but kept evolving and multiplying all over everything.
posted by rouftop at 12:01 PM on December 14, 2012 [13 favorites]

Very little "dance dance dance dance dancing" in this video.
posted by JoeBlubaugh at 12:14 PM on December 14, 2012 [1 favorite]

I've been LOVING k-pop lately, in part because of mefite mandymanwasregistered getting deep into it for her internet radio show and sharing it with me.

Current favorite? I'm The Best is my motherfucking jam.

(I do feel that when listening to music like this, this maximalist joyful pop, that it so quickly shows why concerns over irony and authenticity are threadbare. This is awesome, and while some of it is goofy, that's part of the charm — just like life, man!)
posted by klangklangston at 12:18 PM on December 14, 2012 [3 favorites]

They're even prettier than the Spice Girls.
posted by four panels at 12:18 PM on December 14, 2012 [1 favorite]

They're even prettier than the Spice Girls.

The Spice Girls were recently on Chatty Man and they looked absolutely gorgeous.
posted by Foci for Analysis at 12:22 PM on December 14, 2012 [1 favorite]

Yeah, klangklangston, I love me some 2NE1 too, especially I am the Best. Got me through some shitty times in London this year.
posted by ursus_comiter at 12:51 PM on December 14, 2012 [1 favorite]

I've recently created a compilation of K-Pop songs that I found catchiest and the most entertaining (With BigBang's Fantastic Baby being a track on that).
I'm pretty new to the genre, so there won't be any surprises for people already familiar with K-pop, but feel free to click through those if you're curious and would like more of the same:

[Attention: all links go to youtube, because the only thing better than listening to K-Pop is watching K-Pop music videos.]

01 - 2NE1 (투애니원) - I Am the Best (내가 제일 잘 나가)
02 - Secret (시크릿) - Shy Boy (샤이보이)
03 - Hyuna (현아) - Bubble Pop!
04 - Sunny Hill (써니힐) - Is the White Horse Coming (백마는 오고 있는가)
05 - f(x) (에프엑스) - Electric Shock
06 - After School (애프터 스쿨) - Bang! (뱅)
07 - 4Minute (포미닛) - I My Me Mine
08 - Big Bang (빅뱅) - Fantastic Baby
09 - Girls' Generation (소녀시대) - Run Devil Run
10 - Younha (윤하) - Run
11 - Dal★shabet (달샤벳) - Supa Dupa Diva
12 - GLAM (글램) - Party (XXO)
13 - Brown Eyed Girls (브라운 아이드 걸스 ) - Abracadabra (아브라카다브라)
14 - Wonder Girls (원더걸스) - Be My Baby
15 - Lee Hyori (이효리) - U-Go-Girl (With 낯선)
posted by bigendian at 12:54 PM on December 14, 2012 [20 favorites]

KPop and JPop, especially the boy groups, definitely seem to operating in this weird space where you can actually look like a superhero or a vampire or a cyberpunk extra (or all three) and still be taken completely seriously.

It's like if glamrock David Bowie went over to these countries and infected the population and now there is like a whole host of GlamPop Bowie clones doing weird but cool stuff.

I don't know if it's just that rule of cool completely trumps any longing for " authentic or earnest" or if we just get the more bizarre acts and don't get the singer-songwriter stuff but whether you like ridiculously large girl groups doing elaborate dance routines (SNSD) or boygroups with lots of really pretty guys with crazy hair (like Big Bang) the outlandishness of KPop and JPop is completely fascinating.
posted by vuron at 1:06 PM on December 14, 2012 [3 favorites]

Aw, man, now I'm almost sorry a linked to it, since you're obviously way more knowledgeable than me. I just hoped to share the giddy joy of watching a dude's neck tattoo defrost.
posted by Diablevert at 1:06 PM on December 14, 2012 [4 favorites]

I wonder it's the fact that I can't understand the words that makes KPOP fun and enjoyable to me where most english language pop is terrible.

Also, I wish that I too could live in an anime.
posted by sparklemotion at 1:31 PM on December 14, 2012 [1 favorite]

My favorite Big Bang MVs are Lies and Haru Haru. They're one of the (increasingly rare) K-pop groups who can pull off drama MVs better than dance-y ones. Probably because G-Dragon is such a drama queen and TOP a ~conventionally handsome~ leading man.

But dance delivers most of K-pop's value for me. My top three Kpop dance MVs this year:

3) SHINee - "Sherlock" (dance version)
Choreography by Tony Testa

2) BoA - "Only One" (dance version)
Choreography by Nappytabs of SYTYCD fame. BoA is the best female K-pop dancer today, imho.

1) TVXQ - "Catch Me"
Choreography by Tony Testa. SM hit the jackpot taking a chance on this relatively new/upcoming choreographer

All of my top picks dance-wise are SM acts despite my not-at-all concealed animosity toward the company. It kind of disturbs me that SM's tastes in dance are so well aligned with mine.
posted by fatehunter at 1:34 PM on December 14, 2012 [3 favorites]

This is really old, but it's funny to see it storming all over the internet for a SECOND time as people discover it via year-end lists.

Big Bang thread on I Love Music has career highlights.

I wrote up an analysis of the video, give me a second and I'll link that to.

Big Bang are a dangerous group if you're at all prone to depression or mania, just incidentally.
posted by subdee at 1:35 PM on December 14, 2012 [1 favorite]

The last time I was in Raleigh, NC, I was eating at Beasley's and I noticed a lot of Korean men being flocked by women. I thought: "wow. I like Raleigh. A fellow like me might be able to score a date here!"

The last time I was in NY, I was introduced to Big Bang - Bad Boy. And though I didn't have much time to wander around Brooklyn, I thought: "wow. A fellow like me sorta has crazy hair, too!"

Errors, all around. For the former: there was a StarCraft II tournament going on. Hence the Koreans. I am not a very good SC2 player. For the latter: I realized that I'm just looking for the opportunity to get far enough into a relationship to apologize to a goodbye. Then I went back to Mineola and cried, not being sure I learned any lessons. I still find myself wanting a giant, jeweled skull necklace to wear.

Bad Boy is a GREAT song. Big Bang is a GREAT band. How does one go from Brooklyn to... THIS?! And still inspire the stamping of feet and the punching of fists?
posted by herrdoktor at 1:57 PM on December 14, 2012 [2 favorites]

G-Dragon - One of a kind
posted by metaplectic at 2:04 PM on December 14, 2012 [1 favorite]

HerrDoktor, I'm pretty sure that Bad Boy song was filmed in my old neighbourhood.
posted by Diablevert at 2:15 PM on December 14, 2012 [1 favorite]

fatehunter, that SHINee MV brought to mind DBSK/TVXQ/Tohoshinki's "Mirotic" from a couple of years ago - makes me miss the original five member lineup. SM does always seem to have the best choreography.

In reading some of the Korean year-end articles on the state of Korean pop music, there's concern that "idol groups" may be on the wane. As of November, more than 30 new idol groups debuted this year, but none had made it big - "According to Gaon Chart, which takes in stats from six major music download Web sites, not one new idol group made it onto the hottest 100 chart from January to June."

Notable chart toppers in Korea this year have been Busker Busker, runner-up in last year's Superstar K competition, and Lee Hi, last year's K-pop Star runner-up. And there's of course that dude with the horsey dance.
posted by needled at 2:28 PM on December 14, 2012 [2 favorites]

Analysis of video, by yours truly.
posted by subdee at 2:36 PM on December 14, 2012 [3 favorites]

Also, GDragon was recently interviewed in XXL magazine and he talks a bit about the director behind the "Fanastic Baby" music video there.
posted by subdee at 2:39 PM on December 14, 2012 [1 favorite]

"Mirotic" was such a treat - DBSK's 4th Korean comeback in 2008 was a glorious occasion, despite Changmin's awful haircut. This may be one of my favorite dance!Yunho moments of all time, and that's really saying something. It's like Yunho was born to make me happy unbutton his clothes on stage! Also from that time: the best cover of It's Raining Men in the history of pop music.

I prefer their Japanese songs, though. K-pop delivers on dance, but J-pop has better music. "Love in the Ice", "Why did I fall in love with you" and "Bolero" were friggin' fantastic.
posted by fatehunter at 3:07 PM on December 14, 2012 [1 favorite]

Subdee's link is a thoughtful and revelatiry analysis by someone who knows the genre. My thoughts were these:

1.      A man dressed as Beetlejuice sits on a throne in a factory, his hair a rug.
2.      Riot cops face off against a crowd of anarchists in monkey-face gas masks.
3.      Tattoed arms defrost
4.      A Molotov cocktail is lit. An owl.
5.      A high top fade defrosts
6.      A b-boy sits on a throne.
7.      Owl flies, riot cop van is tipped.
8.      Beetlejuice appears in a pink mirrored visor which covers his whole face but leaves his hair free. Visors seem like a thing.
9.      Beetlejuice takes his throne outside to wrecker’s yard, switches to leather Thriller jacket worn as cape over no shirt.
10.  A man dressed as Kaiser Wilhelm with a Tiffany blue pompadour and much eyeliner raps in a gilt frame. He has a throne as well.
11.  B-boy’s throne is a dias where he sits in the lots position communing with monkey gas mask folk.
12.  A man in a pointed blond bob is shirtless and chained in a dungeon. Visor shot, so he must be in the band.  
13.  Last dude has no distinguishing features, but his throne is made of women and spikes.
14.  Pompador visits the wrecker’s yard; Beeetjuice is wearing chessboard lipstick. Blond bob is dressed in a crushed blue velvet mod suit.
15.  Now everyone is dancing with victorious monkey-gas-mask folk in the factory, wearing hot rod fluorescent motorcycle jackets.
16.  There are also puppets like look like Rowlf from the Muppet show mated with a Chinene New Year dragon.

In conclusion, boom shaka lacka.

posted by Diablevert at 3:10 PM on December 14, 2012 [7 favorites]


Big Bang are known as the "kings" of Kpop. Their logo is either a crown or a skull, and their official lightstick - the thing fans wave around at concerts - is also a crown.

Anyway, in this video Big Bang, the Kings, have been discarded, frozen, trapped in pictures, chained up, trapped in dungeons, etc, by the Anti-Music Police. Their fans, wearing gas masks, fight on their behalf so that Big Bang can escape from prison and reclaim their thrones.

GDragon, the maniac with the Skrillex side-hair, is wearing the hat traditionally worn by Kings of Old Korea. But he is wearing it at an angle, showing a certain disregard or disrespect. It's a provocative video.
posted by subdee at 3:59 PM on December 14, 2012 [4 favorites]

their official lightstick

It had never occurred to me, but now it is clear brilliance.
posted by RobotHero at 5:18 PM on December 14, 2012 [2 favorites]

RobotHero, the lightsticks are definitely brilliant. From the stage. as well,.
posted by subdee at 9:06 PM on December 14, 2012 [1 favorite]

Extra punctuation left behind in my desperate attempt to submit an edit before the window closed :P
posted by subdee at 9:11 PM on December 14, 2012

If you want to hear more kpop and are lazy, mefi mail me for a dl link to a kpop mix my internet radio cohost made a while back. It won't contain recent hits, but there are some classics (aka songs from the past couple of years).

Things move fast in kpop time.
posted by mandymanwasregistered at 9:37 PM on December 14, 2012 [1 favorite]

Best use of "Boom Shaka Laka" since Was Not Was' "Walk the Dinosaur", hands down. And the sing-songy chorus added onto the end just is one more reminder to just relax and enjoy.
posted by oneswellfoop at 9:44 PM on December 14, 2012 [1 favorite]

If we're sharing Kpop mixes, here are some of mine (from most to least recent):

After School, Perfume, LaRoux and T-ara Present: Ambient 80s (mix of Jpop, Japanese releases by Kpop groups, and critical darlings)
Music is a Fast Car (Kpop Eurobeat retrospective)
Olympics-Ready Kpop (STADIUM ROCK)
Summer Pop 2 (mix of Kpop and dancehall)
Summer Pop 1 (mix of Kpop and club RnB)
Kpop Hearts the 80s (mix of 80s club music, disco, and insanity)
Desaturated Kpop (high-concept music videos + experimental RnB + insanity)

Most of it's from the last couple years but maybe not songs you've heard before. I am working on a Christmas RnB playlist now, but it's not ready for primetime yet.

You are welcome :p
posted by subdee at 10:33 PM on December 14, 2012 [5 favorites]

Saw "One of a Kind" was already linked, but my personal favorite this year is GD's Crayon. Have yet to tire watching it and every time I do watch, I notice something new. (Which was apparently the point, as stated in this interview [which subdee mentioned above] with GD where he talks about working with the MV director, Seo Hyun Seung, who also directed "Fantastic Baby.") The whole article is worth a read, in my opinion.

Also of note is Big Bang's live performance at this year's Mnet Asian Music Award where GD not only won "Best Male Artist" and BigBang won "Best Male Group" as well as "Artist of the Year," but GD also gets the prize for fastest hair color change during a live awards show. He opened with his blond hair, but matched it with his muppet jacket when the boys performed Crayon (as a group!) and Fantastic Baby.

In fact, because of GD was in the midst of his hair change, labelmates Epik High accepted the "Guardian Angel World Wide Award" (which is a ridiculous award that I don't understand) on Big Bang's behalf. But Epik High had a pretty awesome live stage, too -- nifty and energetic visuals, even if the sound was a bit wonky. They stayed in costume -- and in character -- for the rest of the night, too.

(And I'm not too embarrassed to admit I learned the "windshield wiper" Fantastic Baby dance when I saw these boys perform a few months ago in LA. Also, I have a lightstick.)
posted by paisley sheep at 2:31 AM on December 15, 2012 [2 favorites]

Because I just remembered that metafilter is not the same k-pop fan-base as tumblr:

GD (or G-Dragon) is the leader of the five-man group Big Bang (or BigBang or BIGBANG). He's the one in the "Beetlejuice" suit and the long Rapunzel weave. BigBang came out with their 5th album Alive in the beginning of the year, and GD released his "first" mini-album One of a Kind in September of this year. He has previously released a solo album Heartbreaker, but because he didn't have as much creative control, it isn't one of his favorites.

The group debuted in 2006 and, despite many setbacks (especially in 2010), have managed to become what was referenced above as the "kings of k-pop." All the members have released solo albums (except Daesung, but we're being trolled teased by their label he might come out with a solo album soon), although T.O.P.'s solo was a double-effort with GD, known as GD&TOP (and it is awesome).

For funsies, here is my favorite of their MVs, Love Song. This was the MV that made me think k-pop was more than just ear-fluff and eye-candy, but perhaps a viable music genre. (And Cafe is probably my favorite song of theirs.)

FYI, their label, YG Entertainment, is the same label that PSY (sigh, yes that PSY) is currently under. It is also the same label as 2NE1 (linked above).
posted by paisley sheep at 3:09 AM on December 15, 2012 [1 favorite]

paisleysheep, I have a lightstick too! We should be friends.

Not a fan of Love Song or that kind of U2ish, behold-the-depths-of-my-emotion-as-I-give-myself-over-to-this-feeling stadium rock in general, but I enjoyed Love Song when I saw it performed in... an actual stadium! XD. Where it belongs. Interesting video, as well.

I personally think the song that best sells/represents BigBang is Tonight, because 1) MANIA, 2) GROUP THERAPY or the BigBang effect where every song sounds like a conversation between all of the members, and 3) it is mixed to already sound like BigBang are the biggest band in the world. Crowd cheers mixed into the instrumental.

GDragon is a huge narcissist, but the kind of narcissist who values being cool and artistic and being surrounded by other cool and artistic people, which makes him more interesting than the garden variety of narcissist who only wants to be the best-looking person in the room with the most status-symbol friends. Asked about music or aesthetics, he is very quotable.
posted by subdee at 9:19 AM on December 15, 2012 [1 favorite]

Also seconding Epik High's "Don't Hate Me" music video. Depending on how much you want to read into it, GDragon has either a single cameo (as one of the little kids representing "lovable villains") or many. "The Asian Lady Gaga" etc. I try not to be too much of a conspiracy theorist, but Kpop in general and YGEntertainment and ESPECIALLY BigBang in particular support that kind of conspiracy-theory thinking, because they are so incestuous.

I also like the video for "Don't Hate Me" because Epik High are just that little bit older than most "idol" groups (technically, they are not an idol group at all as they are self-made). So in the video, even though they'd love to run amuck like children causing as much damage as possible and starting a riot, in the end they have to uphold their boring adult responsibilities. On the inside, though, they're still rebelling.

Plus, puns. RAMPANT SHAMELESS PUNNING. There's a lot going on in the video, is what I'm saying. I also like the song, Britpop 4ever <3.
posted by subdee at 9:40 AM on December 15, 2012 [1 favorite]

Aha, it appears we are already friends. I thought your username looked a bit familiar. ^^ Nevermind, then.
posted by subdee at 9:46 AM on December 15, 2012 [1 favorite]

Just popping in on this thread again to say THANK YOU for the links, posts, and man, I am enjoying this so damn much!
posted by herrdoktor at 3:28 PM on December 15, 2012 [1 favorite]

Big Bang are a dangerous group if you're at all prone to depression or mania, just incidentally.

posted by koucha at 6:39 PM on December 15, 2012 [1 favorite]

My classmates, my teacher, and I recently did a "Korean Girl Band" lipsync-and-dance routine medley for our year-end final presentation. So fun!

I'm still waiting for a link to the final video (strictly small community continuing education amateur stuff) but the timing of this thread just makes me REALLY happy.

There's something absolutely joyous and undisaffected (I won't say innocent because it's not that) in lots of Kpop and I'm thrilled familiarity with it is growing outside of Korea.

My favorite track of the ones we performed to is Girls' Generation's "Gee".

나는 바본가봐요! ^^
posted by mistersquid at 10:12 PM on December 15, 2012 [1 favorite]

@koucha Is it just me? Maybe they're only dangerous if you're a conspiracy theorist (like me) or if something else about BigBang attracts you enough that you get really into them? I'm not trying to be dramatic, it's just that I personally went through a phase where nothing made me happy like this group, which naturally lead to a kind of dependence, while I think worsening the periods of emptiness in the long run.

This is the kind of thing I'm talking about:
One, Two, Three, Four, Five, Six.

Too much of anything is of course a bad thing, and I was going through a rough time in general, but there's a kind of malicious, sadistic side to this group that isn't apparent right away, but becomes gradually clear as you go deeper in. It's not their only side but it is there.
posted by subdee at 10:29 PM on December 15, 2012 [1 favorite]

Hm. Regarding the "dangerous" side of Big Bang -- I actually think that's something that could extend to all of k-pop. It's a bit of drug, really.

There's an addictive quality to the visual perfection of most groups and the shiny upbeat sounds they produce. For someone who is perhaps inclined to be more depressive, it can be a bit of a pick-me-up to watch these ridiculously beautiful people dance in unerring precision. And most of the music is typically simple, happy love songs that make you want to dance (or sad, simple love songs that still make you want to dance). For someone who is struggling to find beauty and happiness in his or her everyday life, the manufactured perfection of k-pop can fill that void. (Note: not saying this is a terrible thing in and of itself, as this thread has shown I'm not the only one who has felt better during gloomy days after having a k-pop dose.)

So it's uplifting. At least temporarily. Then you search for more groups and more songs and something new and unique and with the turnover rate in the k-pop industry, there's something new every week, so you can forever self-medicate with the false promise of perfection these supposedly pure boys/men and girls/women provide (and is why it is such a huge deal when one of the group members are revealed to be in a romantic relationship, because profits and good-will towards the group go down when fangirls/boys discover that this pop idol is no longer theirs alone).

But k-pop itself is fully aware of its manufacturedness, and therefore the industry is swamped with pretty, perfect hopefuls who only want to make it as an idol, and that leads to a darker side of the industry (such as slave contracts and groups that are producer's puppets than autonomous artists and talented people destroyed by the wrath of netizens who hate them because that group just so happens to rivals of the netizens' favorite k-pop group).

So, perhaps it is more of a cult?

Just thinking further of how bands ask their fans not to "cheat" on them with other groups, the rampant fan-service, the epic fan-wars, how fans find ways to game voting systems to make sure their "oppas" and "unnis" win whatever inconsequential award, the thousands upon thousands of dollars spent by fans (generally teenage girls) on their favorite group's albums to ensure they win.

To me, that's the dangerous side of k-pop -- the fans who make it a life mission to be a devoted fan. It's hard to escape because the groups and their companies work so incredibly hard to make the group and the music an integral part of a fan's life in order to make sure they can continue to make money and make music.

So I can see how that can happen with Big Bang. But really, I think, that sort of cult-like drug-addiction of k-pop can happen with any group.

(And hi subdee! Yes, it's me! *waves lightstick*)
posted by paisley sheep at 12:48 AM on December 16, 2012 [4 favorites]

Oh yeah, absolutely agreed. Kpop groups go out of their way to be visually and aurally overwhelming and to create addiction in their fanbase. US pop strives for the same, but the visual side isn't quite as polished as in Kpop (which is why Youtube is the natural home of Kpop - and now Google has an interest in promoting these groups, too, because they have discovered that people who fall into the K-hole will spend hours and hours on the site, increasing their ad revenue).

I think it's dangerous with any group, but Big Bang are really on the extreme edge. They're extreme people, and that "realness" or rawness is combined with the Kpop marketing machine in a kind of self-reinforcing loop that pushes the group into ever more extreme places.

But your points are well taken too. Kpop - pop music generally - is chock full of extreme people, they're as common as dirt. I actually kind of laughed when Tasty came out with Do You Know Me? - "I'm a bit different, I'm a bit fast" - because by industry standards, they ain't all that different. (Evol even released a song that same week titled: "We are a bit different").

Korean fan culture absolutely feeds this though. All those screaming girls (and boys) chanting in unison while waving their handmade LED fansigns adds to the appeal. From what I understand, group culture is pretty rigidly enforced, as well, so if you join one of these groups, you kind of have to participate at that level.
posted by subdee at 12:16 PM on December 16, 2012 [1 favorite]

Oh, thanks for this thread! My brother and his fiancée went to see BigBang in London last week and I was intrigued enough to watch some of their videos last night, as well as falling down a wiki-hole about "cultural technology" and the Korean Wave. (I love modern Korean cinema and had heard of K-pop but hadn't thought to consider them in an overall cultural/economic context.) I was actually going to post an AskMe about K-pop and now I don't have to.

I will now scroll up and actually read your discussion, and follow the YouTube links when I get onto my computer at home.
posted by daisyk at 10:59 PM on December 16, 2012 [2 favorites]

So, my girlfriend and I are going to be in Korea starting tomorrow. One of our friends here would like some K-pop swag, especially goofy banners with pictures of the band members' faces on them. Where would I go in Seoul to pick up something like this, especially if I can get it cheap?
posted by klangklangston at 3:15 PM on December 17, 2012 [1 favorite]

klangklangston, I don't know about cheap, but there's a particular road in Gangnam where many Kpop companies are headquartered and you can buy all sorts of stuff direct from them. I know because there's a travel show about exactly this.

Apart from that, I found this guide to buying merchandise on the cheap: Myeong-dong Kpop Stores How-To.
posted by subdee at 1:59 PM on December 18, 2012 [3 favorites]

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