The crash course: the evolution of GFriend, K-pop’s unlikely heroes

[Update: the “anything drastic happening” at the end of this entry took place – GFriend’s Manila gig has been moved a week to Sunday, 26 August, because of the closure of NAIA’s runway.] This Sunday sees me take this K-pop thing further: I am watching my first K-pop concert. As it turns out, this is also Shalla’s first – and I thought the person responsible for introducing me to this world would have seen at least one Super Show. (She did see Siwon in the flesh, though.) We’re watching GFriend, and she’s really excited about it – she’d call herself a Buddy. I wouldn’t, mostly because I’m a stick-to-one-group guy, but I’ve learned to appreciate these girls enough to make sense of just what makes them tick, in that overanalytic way so-called music critics do. And that means a crash course, which might be unusual considering this is a girl group that hasn’t quite reached astronomic levels of fame (at least compared to Twice or Blackpink) – but then again, I’m writing.

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The crash course: Shinsadong Tiger? Is he okay? (Yes.)

First, an update from an entry we wrote three months ago: Momoland’s “Bboom Bboom” has become a legitimate hit. (Just when I got cautious in making that prediction.) It never quite topped the official Gaon charts (they were held off by Ikon) but it lingered in the top ten for months. And, in a scene where songs have a relatively short lifespan, it finds itself stretching its arms out around the world, a feat usually reserved for groups from bigger agencies. I’ve just seen two cousins of mine, who’d otherwise not post about K-pop, talk about how “Bboom Bboom” is stuck in their heads – and they’re just among many others on my feeds. So, we’re reacting to that by featuring five songs from famed Korean producer Shinsadong Tiger, he who’s responsible for that earworm – and many others across this wave of K-pop success.

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The crash course: George Michael’s faith in music

Perhaps it’s a bit of poetry, or, if you’re looking at 2016 as the year that made so many people sad, it was just being cruel. George Michael died on Christmas day at age 53,6 on the day one of his signature songs, “Last Christmas” – a sad song, for sure, but a jolly-sounding one nonetheless – gets a lot of play. Of course, that wasn’t his only popular song: he was the force behind some of the biggest pop hits of the 80s and 90s, and continued to create music until just recently. So, with the words “the very next day, you gave it away” ringing in our heads, we find ourselves diving into George Michael’s work.

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The crash course: Everybody calls him Giorgio

Giorgio Moroder's career spans five whole decades.

Kids these days might have heard him first from that nine-minute Daft Punk track. “My name is Giovanni Giorgio,” he began, “but everybody calls me Giorgio.” Thus began the unlikely return of Giorgio Moroder to the pop scene’s cool parts, culminating in the release last year of Déjà Vu, his first album in 23 years. Throughout his fifty-year career the Italian record producer has shaped pop music: coming from the bouncy sensiblities of Italian pop, he was a leading beacon of the disco sound, and later produced many iconic songs. As he performs in Manila on Saturday, 27 February (unless there’s another postponement) here’s an attempt to cover all those five decades – well, there was a break – in five songs.

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