can't help but feeling

exploring fandom and doing my spazzing exercises :) hope to the end

Fashion Follows Yoochun
Chaos Under Control
You Captured Me
Pretty Boy Power
Red Playground
Sapphire Pearls
One Pine Tree
Tokyo Bopper

The secret's out

This week my friend N and I went into a Chinese cute-stuff gift shop and it took a moment to register the song that was playing: Dong Bang Shin Ki's Survivor! Wow! I was inwardly super-excited and weirded out to hear it in public instead of just having it coming from the computer.Turns out they had the album in stock too!! Now I have to seriously consider buying it.

The point of this whole post is, now I really 'get' The Secret Code and I love it. It really does have a different vibe to their previous albums. Perhaps you could say a more mature, thoughtful, engaging and lively feeling.

So here are some of my favorite pics from The Secret Code pamphlet (not to mention the great 2U snaps) to celebrate. There are even two of Junsu because he's awesome and very compelling in these photos. Truly in charge of 'charisma'!

All photos via Fashion Follows Yoochun.

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It's Super Junior

Hooray, finally a HD video of Super Junior's It's You performance! (Too bad it takes a century to load for me.) This dance is so amazing. Their clothes are kind of weird in a boring way though- only Eunhyuk really looks sharp. I prefer the clothes in the mv, strange jumpsuits and all. So these are just caps from the music video.

Heechul looks so evil in this video, haha. The mv screencaps give a lot of lol-worthy moments!

Screencaps from here.

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Seriously, can someone let me know when there is a HQ version of this picture? Because Hankyung is soooooooo cute. Ok, the rest are acting pretty amusing too.

Super Junior for Cosmopolitan

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I've been listening to a lot of Kangta & Vanness' album Scandal lately. Well I say 'alot' but it's actually a really short album! Haha. Kangta & Vanness are the first Kpop act I got into so I'm quite fond of them. I really like the album because it has a very summery feel to it. Also, Kangta & Vanness are such an unlikely duo it's fun to think about why they work so well together.

To me, Kangta has such an elegant appeal. Even in the outlandish H.O.T. outfits he was graceful- his presence is quiet but strong. Maybe it has something to do with his unbelievably feminine appearance.

However as weird as he may have looked at various parts of his long pop career (which basically requires strange style at some point or the other) next to Vanness, Kangta looks like the normal guy.

Although it would seem Vanness' body-conscious style started to rub off! Hahaha. (Ok, I know Kangta also has had some crazy oily moments in his solo careeer but this is still funny.)

Vanness on his own produces such hilarious pictures though, I've never seen another pop star with so many lol-worthy photos. Sometimes it's more refreshing than the *shexxy* type photos (anyway Vanness' *shexxy* photos are soooo bad, just stick to the funny ones!).

Vanness ftw! On a more serious note, Kangta has such a wonderful voice and I think Vanness is the perfect counterpoint with his less polished and relaxed sound. This short album (like an EP, really) has great songs on it that can stand on their own. I hope when Kangta gets back from the army they'll work together again!

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Whatever They Say

Wow, I feel like I was a little bit harsh in the last post! Haha. There are definitely tons of Dong Bang Shin Ki songs that I do love, in any case. For some reason Beautiful Life is one of my favorites.

Anyway, the feelings are what make being a fan interesting. In fact I think one of the most interesting things about Kpop, and to a lesser extent Chinese and Japanese pop, is fan culture. Of course the best part is the positive aspects and that's why I love certain fan blogs (see links in sidebar) because of their upbeat and inspiring message.

Then there's the flip side of antis which is not so pleasant, but what is often unspoken in fandom are the doubts or things you actually don't like about your favorite artists. That's why I was so amused to find kpopsecrets where readers can reveal their innermost ideas about kpop.

A lot of them are hateful, some are super personal but the best are obviously the ones that make me laugh because they're either so true or I can really identify with them. Here's one that I really liked:

Lol! I think it's a good thing to once in a while get grounded about the object of your fandom ;)
Back to regular programming now.

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Reading a lot of the analysis at Seoulbeats has gotten me thinking about the meaning of Kpop (or any pop really) to me. Especially 'The Five Most Overrated and Underrated in K-entertainment' was really interesting.

Since there's so many angles on this, right now I'll just discuss Dong Bang Shin Ki, perhaps even as the cardinal example. Putting DBSK on both 'most overrated' and 'most underrated' really nails the mixed feelings I have about the band. On the one hand, I'm a big fan and I certainly feel very loyal to them. However, what is it exactly that I'm loyal to?

I mentioned before that one of the elements leading me to DBSK fandom was the Bonjour Paris dvd. This, I think, illustrates the 'personality' part of their appeal: as people, they seem really likeable. Perhaps as with any fandom, the more you get to know them, the more you like them; their great group chemistry doesn't hurt either. However, liking a music group just on personality is like hiring your friends just because you're friends. Wrong merits.

The main element that tipped the scale for me was DBSK's comeback with Mirotic. So, luckily it wasn't all about the cult of personality *phew*. But I'll admit it had a lot to do with the whole image they presented at the time- personally I loved Micky Yoochun's (controversial?) hairstyle. In any case, all the elements of Mirotic, music/image/dance, are very important elements of fandom induction. And when I learned more about DBSK, it was their dedication and vulnerability that touched me most (Proud of course).

However, I'd already known about DBSK long before I became a fan. I knew their hits, videos and vaguely their names. And now, I only have the music from two of their albums although I follow their activities on a nearly daily basis. What part here does not equate?!

It was another article on Seoulbeats (Review: Mirotic) that really articulated for me what I have been mulling over but not been able to pinpoint: "I really like DBSK, but most of their music is not music that I enjoy listening to." *gulp* In comparison, I have all of Big Bang's (Korean) music and I have listened to it dozens more times than any of the DBSK albums. And I'm not even a VIP.

That's not to say I don't like DBSK's music. A commenter on Seoulbeats put it very well: "I don’t think DBSK are under or over rated. They either get it sooooo right (Love In The Ice, most live performances, their Korean album title tracks,etc.) or soooooo wrong (most Japanese singles, Korean album fillers, etc) so it balances out in the end." Well, it's maybe not that easy to pinpoint which of their music is good and which is regrettable, but the point is clear.

Without a doubt one of DBSK's most notable strengths (appeal, charm, whatever you want to call it) is their live performance. Perhaps you could even say this is where their personality, talent and interaction come together: many fans have admitted that such-and-such song did not appeal to them until they saw DBSK perform it live. I know for sure I'd rather watch a DBSK live than any mv.

I guess this finally addresses the problem of the DBSK equation, namely that their potential and star-quality is not matched every step by the material (the music) they are promoting. In other words it's no wonder they are underrated. Who can produce eight albums in five years and expect a consistently high standard? How can an artist expect longevity if they are too busy to develop themselves? Of course, DBSK haven't gotton to where they are in popularity by sitting back and taking it easy- but I hope they are a band who will match their progress with growth.

I love DBSK, because those 'golden moments' in their music definitely make it worth it. And I think they know what they want and how to get there, and it will certainly be an interesting journey for us fans too.

When asked what music meant to him, Hero Jaejoong said: "I am not sure. I don't know why I started singing. I don't know why I want to sing. Music has made me who I am today. I don't know why I work so hard to sing. But if there is a reason, it should be... This is because I am a member of Tohoshinki."

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New Rain

It's a rainy morning today. I live on the fifth floor and I have a view over the rooftops towards the harbor; this morning the sky is gray but bright. The rain gives me a hopeful feeling for a second chance.

Junsu Rainy Night

Jay Chou Heart's Rain

Kanjani8 Osaka Rainy Blues

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How much do I ♥ the new Shinee image? Even from their debut Shinee has been a band with a super eye-catching image with their ice-cream colors; I remember taking notice of them even without knowing their music just because they looked so colorful and different. I also read that they were styled by a Korean designer so maybe that's why their image was so unique.

In any case, even though I haven't gotten into Shinee fandom, I love to see whatever they are wearing. Some reactions to their new look have been really *wtf* from what I've read, but the great thing about Shinee is that they have the youth and credibility to pull off these crazy outfits.

Can't wait to see what's next! Although it's not super-original (it reminds me of all kinds of hip magazine spreads like i-D magazine or POP, etc), it's really so refreshing after all the serious, edgy stuff other boybands are wearing...

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I found this lovely picture of miss Lee Hyori over at the Korean VogueGirl website.

While Hyori's music and style is not always in line with my own tastes, after watching her in Family Outing I really have a lot of respect for her!  She's tough, funny and hard-working.  I like it that despite her sexy image she doesn't hide her true nature as a strong-minded and outgoing woman.

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(Even as time goes by) It's You

As expected, the new Super Junior single It's You is very cool! I like videos with a simple, well-executed concept and even with twelve members to juggle the screen time, this Super Junior mv is both elegant and emotive.

ETA: As far as I'm concerned this video could have been twice as long :P
The choreography really is amazing, Heechul is so hilariously cool, and Yesung *swoon*

I took some LQ screencaps to try and show how the dance has a very narrative feel to it that really adds to the 'story' of the video. Also of course because Hankyung opens the dance :)

Since I'm only a new Suju fan I still want to discuss all their parts in detail (or perhaps all Suju fans want to do this? lol) but I'll refrain from now and just say Heechul once again manages to put his stamp of uniqueness on this performance!

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There have been a ton of photos coming out of the Secret Code pamphlet lately and all of them are hot (seriously!), but these shots of the 2U couple stood out for me. It's not common to get a good shot of them together! What's the charm of 2U couple?

I think it's like the two of them anchor the band down being the lower range voices, so the 2U couple have a very unique and solid charm. Also a coupling that's not so public has a secretive charm of its own ;)

Then of course there is their epic collaboration as the NoKy brothers in the HAHAHA series! I think it was a great idea to put the 2U couple together to show their distinct and unreserved chemistry.


Nodame Cantabile

I've already blogged about Nodame Cantabile a lot at my other blog but when I think about a 'female idol', for me it has to be this character. Nodame (played by Juri Ueno) is someone who is so lively as well as honest (about her own feelings), it's something I can only aspire to. In the face of all the setbacks and discouragements, Nodame never gives up on Chiaki and on her dreams.

Of course, a show is nothing if not also good eye candy and on this front Nodame Cantabile certainly delivers. Not only do I love Nodame's cute dresses and perfect coats, her classmates are equally adorable: think of Ryo in his spangly waistcoats, Nodame's friend who always wears shorts, or the clarinet player in RS-Oke with his rolled-up pants and neat sweaters.

This show always gives me a lot of hope and determination to keep going whenever things get tough in life. Maybe that's a lot to read from a little comedy series, but I'm very glad for the message all the same. I'll always be thankful to my friend Panida for introducing Nodame Cantabile to me!

All pictures from memento.

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Stumbling on this picture (from the set of Le Huo Nan Hai) over at Cfensi just reminds me of why we (I) continue to follow the constant updates of fan blogs regardless of the actual interestingness of the news. It's the possibility of finding a moment, be it a picture or a performance, that inspires and reminds me of what fandom springs from. That's beauty, superficial or brief as it may be, which captures a mood and moves me.

I don't even know who this is.

So far, I've only talked about male artists on this blog since that is where my attention lies. Lol! I'm going to try to talk about more girls though because they are beautiful and inspiring too. Please anticipate it!

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I was watching a fanvid where I saw this sweet Dong Bang Shin Ki photo shoot (from Arena37 08/08).

It just feels quite relevant now that Micky Yoochun has long hair again (how good does he look in a ponytail? so unfair) and also I love what he is wearing. Yunho's 'flyaway' hair is also cute- the lion color suits him and gives his face a very open expression that matches his nature, I think.

Anyway, this shoot stands out from other shoots they've done because of the simple but clever use of the pink/blue curtains. It makes the pictures instantly recognizable and also adds a graphic cohesiveness, making it more of a series than just any bunch of pictures taken at a same shoot.

Also, it sets a cheerful mood which suits my mood today :)

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