Tuesday, October 20, 2009

A Real Boy Band

I used to have a thing for boy bands. Well, one in particular (Lance Bass will always make my heart sing, gay or not!) But here in the US, they have become a thing of the past as is per our lousy next bigger, better, louder, faster, one-hit-wonder custom. Lucky for me, the US isn't the only country putting out pop music.

I've spent time actually living in other countries. It's a sad fact to state that the US is completely wrapped up in their own music. When I lived in Germany, I heard French pop on the charts. I listened to German pop when I lived in Poland. Trust me, there are borders in Europe, but they are not quite as thickly defined as our own.

So where is the next generation of real pop coming from? Asia.

I've followed the Korean boy band machine that is Super Junior. They began as a 13 member all-boy super group. Due to their popularity (and smart business moves of their label) they have also been divided into smaller sub groups, simultaneously targeting different music industries and audiences. Super Junior KRY target a more mature audience using R&B ballads, Super Junior T use Trot music for their fanbase, and Super Junior Happy is all about the bubble gum pop. (You want to see real bubblegum pop? Check out their video for Happiness. It's so sweet it'll make you sick.) Super Junior M focuses on the Chinese market (they're actually the first international music group in the Chinese music industry to have members of both Chinese and Korean descent.)

What I love most about Super Junior is their simple style. They dance. They sing. Nothing is ever over the top. Story lines in their videos are never complicated or over-sexualized. Their music is fun and catchy. They are truly what pop is meant to be.

Here is the latest video from Super Junior M, Super Girl

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Another Hopeful Fallen Idol

Katherine McPhee...what the hell happened to you?

She was the runner-up on the fifth season of American Idol (sadly losing to Taylor Hicks). Her first single, Over It, did well on the U.S. Billboard charts, and topped the charts in both India and Asia, eventually going gold from digital downloads of the song. McPhee had stated however that it was not "[her] favorite song" and she did not want her "song to be something that [she] was a part of." The video, while cute and singer-centric, is nothing but a few boring shots of her in cute clothes, lamenting or following around her ex-boyfriend.

What I remember most from Cathering McPhee however was that she could sing. The girl had a phenomenal voice and a natural grace and ease to her stage presence.

Her Idol audition:

And who can forget this:

Now, this was all back in 2006-07. She released a video for Love Story which showed off much more of her R&B sound, and while still singer-centric, was much more fun to watch with its Tina Turner/French Beatnik throwbacks.

And here we are in 2009. McPhee has released a new single, Had it All.

What. The. Hell.

She looks like some coked-up blond model. The red lipstick is ridiculous. Her voice sounds like a hot mess. Where is the powerful singer we once knew? Is this new McPhee supposed to be pop or country? What kind of boring cross-over shit is her label making her produce?

'Tis a sad day indeed. The death of a career from McPhee.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

GaGa does it again

She is the queen of all that is weirdly talented. You know you can't ignore her. She was the musical guest on SNL this past week and honestly, this is just fun to watch.

The thing that really gets me about her though is that she can sing in tune. It's a sad pop state we live in where everything is so mass produced that it doesn't matter whether you can really carry a tune. And here she is, singing, performing, dancing. Doing it all but always the music comes first.

Best of all though...she knows how to have fun. Even with Madge in the picture.