Tuesday, December 18, 2018

G.C.F. 3J @2018 MMA Practice: The idol as modern day shaman

When BTS performed “Idol” at the Melon Music Awards (MMA) on December 1, 2018, they included a special intro. The dance line--Jimin, J-Hope, and Jungkook--each had a short folk dance-inspired solo. The juxtaposition of the shamanistic folk dances with BTS as contemporary Korean idols touches on a deeper understanding of what it can mean to be an idol. It’s something we see from Japanese idols like Takizawa Hideaki and his long running stageplay Takizawa Kabuki but I hadn’t yet really come across anything like it from Korea. The linking of the traditional art forms with the modern aesthetic, drawing parallels between the old folk culture and a new folk culture still being developed.

(A trailer for Takizawa Kabuki 2018 (滝沢歌舞伎))

The MMA performance was good--don’t get me wrong--but it wasn’t great. Not when your point of comparison is Takizawa Kabuki or, indeed, the women of the Takarazuka Theater Troupe who specialize in just this type of performance.

(Long trailer for the Moon Troupe’s Nobunaga, which I wrote about here.)

The stage lighting was distracting, a large screen projecting a swirling mass of colors behind the performance, as if the producer had been unsure of the dancers’ ability to hold the audience’s attention on their own. The drape of the Jungkook’s and J-Hope’s coats did not flow right, concealing rather than emphasizing their movements. To properly showcase a stage dance like this, the fabric needs to flare out, a swish of the arm or leg should move the fabric outwards, a real life echo of the movement. Jungkook and J-Hope’s coats bunched up and hid their figures.

I’m sure I would have forgotten all about this stage in the rush of end of the year performances if Jungkook hadn’t released another of his Golden Closet Films: “G.C.F. 3J@ MMA Practice.”

Set to the jangly beat of Alex Lustig’s Under Pressure, Jungkook shows us what the performances were supposed to look like, drawing more shamanistic energy from the movement of their bodies, filmed in black and white, dressed in simple rehearsal clothes, than the full performance overly busy stage set managed to do.

Just compare the way Jungkook captured J-Hope’s plain t-shirt flowing with his movements to how the costume coat bunched and concealed.

Jungkook gets it.

The film is short, just about a minute and a half, but it is powerful. The long sweep of Jimin’s arms as he wields the fan; J-Hope crouching, all coiled tension like a tiger ready to pounce; and Jungkook himself, face concealed beneath a hat, displaying the formidable power in his body as he leaps into the air, the fabric he’s holding flowing perfectly around him, highlighting the graceful movements of his arms.

They are not in costume. The music is far from traditional. And yet the magic is there. The idol as modern day shaman.

Jimin rehearsing the fan dance

My favorite sequence: Jungkook captured in the mirror as J-Hope dances. The way his shirt flares out with his movements is beautiful. It is such a shame the way the MMA costuming concealed rather than emphasized.

Jungkook-Director, face hidden for the mask dance. The way he leaps into the air as if gravity is nothing...

Friday, December 14, 2018

Filmi Girl's Idol Cast Episode 8

Episode 8 covers the rise of JYP Entertainment, the start of K-pop's frustrating relationship with America, the surprise hit "Gangnam Style", and a discussion of how BIGBANG and Arashi were both the biggest band in the world in 2012. The setlist for episode 8 is very heavy with American R&B and Soul influences so prepare to have more horn sections and backbeats than could possibly exist on American radio today.

And just a note, my schedule has been busier than I expected coming into December and this is probably going to be the last episode before the holidays. I will try but I can't promise.

Anyways, please enjoy today's show! And let me know if you have any comments or questions. I'm having fun talking about things I want to talk about but I'm more than happy to answer questions or get some other discussions started.

The songs played are:

1. "Hadakanbo" by Yamashita Tomohisa, performed live on Hey!Hey!Hey! on January 31, 2011

2. "Elevator" by Jin-Young Park

3. "Intro" by G.O.D.

4. "Ain't No Sunshine" by Bill Withers/"그대 날 떠난 후로" by G.O.D.

5. "Tell Me" by Wonder Girls/"Nobody" by Wonder Girls

6. "Gangnam Style" by PSY

7. "Fantastic Baby" by BIGBANG

8. "Cotton Candy" by Daesung/ "Turn it up" by T.O.P./ "Wedding Dress" by Taeyang/ "High High" by GD & T.O.P./ "VVIP" by Seungri

9. "Tonight" by BIGBANG

10. "Cafe" by BIGBANG

11. "Alive" by BIGBANG

12. "Bad Boy" by BIGBANG

13. "Love Situation" by Arashi

14. "Tokei Jikake no Umbrella" by Arashi, performed live at Arafes

15. "Face Down" by Arashi/ "Meikyuu Love Song" by Arashi

16. "Wild at Heart" by Arashi

17. "P.A.R.A.D.O.X." by Arashi

18. "Disco Star" by Aiba Masaki

19. "Sakura" by Arashi

20. "Fukkatsu Love" by Arashi

21. "Can't Stop Feeling" by 2PM

YamaP with a live performance of "Hadakanbo" and my apologies that this isn't the one I played in the show. I had my files confused.

JYP performing a medley of his hits at the 2015 MAMA Awards:

The futuristic "Fantastic Baby" where Big Bang fight the forces of NO MUSIC:

A live performance of "Cafe":

"Wild At Heart" live with choreography:

And for comparison, this is how groups like the O'Jays performed.

And one of my favorite television performances from Arashi over this period, the dramatic "Sakura":

Friday, December 7, 2018

Filmi Girl's Idol Cast Episode 7

In this week's episode, I talk about what was happening in Japan while SM Entertainment was getting sued by Super Junior and DBSK. Listen to Arashi make it to the top, the saga of A.B.C-Z and Kis-My-Ft2, and about Japan's weirdest male idol group... Golden Bomber.

The songs played are:

1. "A.Ra.Shi" by Arashi, live at the Asia Song Festival in Seoul, Korea, 22 September 2006.

2. "Love So Sweet" by Arashi

3. "Truth" by Arashi

4. "Believe" by Arashi

5. "Let Me Down" by Arashi

6. "Kis-My-Calling" by Kis-My-Ft2

7. "Daybreaker" by Kis-My-Ft2 and A.B.C-Z

8. "Everybody Go" by Kis-My-Ft2

9. "Za ABC Five Stars" by A.B.C-Z

10. "Hara Hara Hira Furu" by A.B.C-Z

11. "Heavy Rotation" by AKB48

12. "Memeshikute" by Golden Bomber

13. Yanya Yanya Night by Golden Bomber

14. Japonica Style by SixTones

15. "Neeeeeee!" by Golden Bomber

Here is the trailer for "Takizawa Kabuki", the Japan-focused revue put on annually by Takizawa Hideaki aka Tackey & Tsubasa's Tackey:

Here is the video for SixTones's "Japonica Style", produced by Takizawa:

And the Gachupin Challenge Series, a takeoff on the Gachapin Challenge Series:

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