“아직 나 용기나질 않아서 말없이 또 다녀가요.”

“Around You” by LOOΠΔ | I mentioned a bit about LOOΠΔ – that K-pop girl group that will tease for a year before officially debuting, by introducing its twelve members a month at a time – a few weeks ago. Since I said that, part of that tease managed to wriggle its way into my head, and here I am, writing about it. I’m not really one for ballads, but there’s something enchanting about the production, the lyrics, the sound of this whole thing. “Around You” was the second pre-debut (officially) single from the group, released last November as it introduced HyunJin, she who looks like AOA‘s Seolhyun and APink‘s Naeun and Twice‘s Tzuyu and who else? Also, I wouldn’t have stumbled upon this song again if not for my love of Ladies’ Code‘s Sojung, who released a solo single and had HyunJin (they share a label, sort of) on to emote. I’m now resisting putting this on repeat constantly. But it is nice, this. [NB]

“When a moon hits your eye like a big pizza pie…”

“That’s Amore” by Dean Martin | Before we get to the inbox, a word about last week: I ended up doing karaoke. As you may have twinged somewhere, we had visitors to the city, and in the one day we had (and considering the terrible traffic) all we did was a lunch-dinner hybrid, a disappointing Korean barbecue, a trip to what used to be a fun bookstore, and karaoke. I did not sing this song. I did sing a few songs, which is not really something I would do (ask Shalla), which made me realize that I do not have the vocal range of Brett Anderson. Zaty sang this song, and it was a surreal experience, and here I am, writing about it, kicking this thing back to life after a week-long crisis – I mean, break. [NB]

“Sa pag-alis, ako’y magbabalik, at sana naman…”

“Nobela” by Join the Club | The circumstances behind me writing about this song aren’t exactly the best: a neighbor was blasting out the karaoke one night, and he – he was the only one singing – was singing this terribly, out loud. Shalla and I were hanging out at my place, settling in to watch an episode of Sisters’ Slam Dunk, that Korean variety series revolving around the creation of a girl group (it is educational), when we got so distracted we ended up talking about this song. She thought the band was named “Join da Club”; I was perhaps the first person to think that’s ridiculous. But then, it was a flashback. This song’s a decade old, more or less. This played a lot on the radio when I was in college – bus trips back and forth from La Salle, me listening to whatever radio station struck my fancy then. I didn’t like LS then, but they played this a lot. I’m sure NU did, too. Magic, I think so, too. Anyway, what I always liked about this song is the key change before the final chorus, how it takes the whole thing on a very sad, resigned note. It’s not a shrug. There is some resistance to it. But there’s a hovering “oh, fuck it!” over the whole thing now, and I found that fascinating. The band’s still around, but back to their underground roots. I read they’re releasing a bunch of things but haven’t really made much of a dent, arguably, outside the usual circles. It’s a shame. [NB]

“Doesn’t it feel much better when you’ve had a better day than yesterday?”

“So Human” by Lady Sovereign | I do follow through on my plans. I did listen again to Couleur 3, and while I can’t write about this French song because I can’t find any lyrics to it, I will write about this song they played on the same stretch. Also, I have a question. Whatever happened to Lady Sovereign? When I was still stumbling my way into British music, she, somehow, was up there on the list. Maybe it’s the ill-informed “novelty” of a female rapper. Maybe it’s me actually liking “9 to 5”. (As well as “Nine2Five”, the one with the Ordinary Boys.) Ah, the days when I was still stumbling towards British music, when everything was (to me) fresh and new and ripe for the learning and understanding. And now you play some songs more than others, and some songs you like fall by the wayside, only to be rediscovered. So whatever happened to Lady Sovereign? She hasn’t released anything since Jigsaw back in 2009. There’s this thing about her coming out as gay and getting involved in a spitting scuffle in Australia. And then, no leads. [NB]

A week of Meteor Garden, day four: the sort of spin-offs

“My Everything” by Lee Min-ho | All right, this is cheating. Lee Min-ho, of course, is Korean. I could have talked about the other cast members of the Meteor Garden series – I already wrote about Rainie Yang before; Barbie Hsu was a singer (with her sister) before getting into acting; even Michelle Saram, the other girl on the second season, did some songs – but that’s missing the wide impact of the whole series altogether. Meteor Garden, of course, was based on the manga series Hana Yori Dango. The Taiwanese love their Japanese culture (really, it’s everywhere) and transferred that to television first; the Japanese did it next (the theme song was Arashi’s “Wish”), and then the Koreans followed suit. That meant Lee Min-ho singing a song from the soundtrack (but not any of the theme songs; T-Max did the opening, while both ending songs were from SS501, whose member, Kim Hyun-joong, stood in for Vic Zhou’s role). That also made him really popular here in the Philippines. Min-ho became like Jerry, complete with Bench endorsement deals. So, you know, parallels. And yes, there are two more versions: mainland China has its own, and even India does. As for us, well, we didn’t do our own version of this, did we? [NB]