“오늘 나 나 예쁜 거 맞지?”

“맞지?” by Unnies | Considering how (pretty much) obsessed I have become with the second season of Korean variety show Sisters’ Slam Dunk these past few months – it just ended last week – it was inevitable that I write about this song. To recap: the show combines seven Korean personalities in the pursuit of a girl group. They did it last season – it was the “dream” of a former cast member, actress Min Hyo-rin – but this time the stakes got higher, so high that the show didn’t realize it was on borrowed time and, when it became clear the ratings weren’t going higher and the show won’t go past the original sixteen episodes, ended up rushing through the process. I was meaning to mention this show earlier, as an example of the system that made K-pop so dominant on their side of the world, and slowly becoming prevalent elsewhere (just look at the traction BTS got at the Billboard Music Awards a weekend back). But then I continued watching for the chemistry, particularly the inspired casting of actresses Han Chae-young and (clasically-trained vocalist!) Kang Ye-won, peeling away their cold exteriors to reveal dorks deep inside. (And, later, the many mukbang faces of trot queen Hong Jin-young.) The show’s over, for now, so that’s one less thing to watch on Mondays. I really made time for this, but I know I’m not a Korean who holds sway over television decisions over there. If you have time, watch the sixteen episodes. Binge if you must. [NB]

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Swap week two, day three: Niko takes on Epik High

Swap Week 2015“Happen Ending” by Epik High featuring Cho Won-Sun | I’m still posting the official music video here, for I’m a sucker for rules, but it’s really more for their other single “Spoiler”; the song only kicks in four and a half minutes into the whole thing. Thankfully the YouTube page of the hip-hop group (and recent Manila visitor) is nice enough to compile their live performances of the song, where they collaborate with several female singers, mostly under the YG banner. Lee Suhyun (of Akdong Musician) is a little too young for this, I think. Lee Hi is cold… and I like it. (Obvious bias.) Minzy (from 2NE1) is similar to Hi, but it’s not as gloomy. Younha surprisingly brings gravitas to this – it’s a mix of acceptance and sadness, and her blending in really plays nicely. And Cho Won-Sun (from Roller Coaster – not a pop band, I must add), who performed it in the album version, gives a wizened feel to the female vocals. Okay. I haven’t talked about the actual song. It’s nice. Or maybe I’m saying this after listening to it repeatedly? [NB]