Thursday, December 30, 2010

Year-end Parties and...Is K-pop the Greatest Genre for Mash-ups?

New Year's Eve parties: Ten Magazine continues its excellent work of scouting out and posting news of all the action going on in Korea.

Next: I love mashups.  They fit with the way I envision culture working these days, where everything is mixing together and touching each other in unexpected ways, thanks to our confusing, communication society.

Every year DJ Earworm makes a year-end mash-up of the top pop songs from the year.

My personal favorite is this one, built around the etherial hook from that one Coldplay song.  It just really, really works.  And it features a lot of Alicia Keys, and a lot of Pink, two of my favorite voices in current top-40 pop music.

This year, there's another one: it's alright - I prefer Alicia Keys featuring prominently over Katy Perry and Key$ha, though I do like (cheesy as it is) this song: "Just the Way You Are" by Bruno Mars.  I don't know if I'll join the Bruno Mars fan club and buy the t-shirt (I'd rather have this t-shirt), but this is an awesome song to have come on the radio while you're driving (which is how I first encountered it).

And, now that I've run it down a bit, here's the 2010 mash-up.

But readers if you're only watching one mash-up on this post, watch this one.  This is the K-pop 2010 mashup, from mmixes' Youtube channel.

and here's the challenge:

I don't think anyone can find a genre of music that lends itself better to awesome mash-ups than K-pop. If you can think of one, with some example of mash-ups that are as awesome as this, let me know.

And here's why:

The fun of mash-ups is recognition.  See how many songs you recognize from this one track by Girl Talk.  Girl Talk is amazing.  I don't know if Girl Talk can play a single instrument, but he can throw lines and hooks from all kinds of songs together, so that five minutes of listening touches on a billion memories of drives, dances, parties, and awesome people who played you music, and the music also rocks: it fits together, it works, and it's a musical journey that's awesome and nostalgic.

Well, the fun thing in mash-ups is putting hooks together, so that people can recognize those familiar hooks.

K-pop is all. about. hooks.  Critics argue that's all it's about, and argue that if you will (some are), but when you're making a mash-up, that's beside the point, because the hooks alone matter.  So go watch that K-pop mash-up I posted above: it's like listening to the best parts of the entire year of k-pop, and not having to wait through weak verses, lines of songs where "the one who dances" has to sing to get equal stage time, unneeded dance interludes, unneeded "the music stops and we're going to act out a scene that somehow involves ambulance lights" breaks, or the other three minutes of a song that only has one good hook, or any of the other excesses or filler that puts people off K-pop, and enjoy it in its purest, most concentrated state.

Only the best hooks, only the famous dance moves, only the cutest close-ups, and then it's done.

Mash-ups, baby.  yeah!

What's your favorite mash-up?  Put the youtube link in the comments.


This Is Me Posting said...

Ugh. I have to disagree.

The beauty of a truly great mash-up is putting two songs (or more) that you wouldn't think would work together and... have them work together.

I think KPop mashups are proof positive of why KPop is the most useless, talentless drivel in music today and why it needs to die in a fire. ALL those songs sounded exactly the same. All that mashup needed was a 4-on-the-floor beat (check) and the remixer was able to mix every song in there seamlessly (double check).

The reason Earworm's mashups are so mindblowing (even the average ones, like this year's) are because he makes songs from a variety of genres work together. TALENT; on the part of the remixer and on the part of the individual artists.

What boggles my mind is that Korea is such a rising force of creativity for film and yet their music scene is the complete antithesis. The fact that KPop is gaining popularity anywhere in the world should be a very, very, very depressing thing because it's rewarding a complete absence of talent, creativity, vision or risk. These are absolutely not things Korea and Koreans should be exporting to the world, nor should they be proud of it.

The Student's Guide To Nail Polish said...

I /love/ DJ Masa. In fact, he's what got me into K-pop just over a year ago. (I have no connection to Asia or anything, just stumbled across a J-pop song in my FIFA 07 game one time which led me to investigate j/kpop) I personally think he's hella talented.

K-Pop does lend itself well to mashups, doesn't it? I agree with you there. Recognising all the hooks for me, was most of the fun. One minute I'd be like, "Oh, that's MBLAQ" and the next I'd hear IU, Co-Ed or f(x.

That might well say more about me following every K-pop release avidly than it does about the mashup itself, to be honest :P

The Student's Guide To Nail Polish said...

Sorry for the double comment, but the 2008 mashup is my favourite DJ Earworm mashup as well :P

@This Is Me Posting:
Not to sound like a crazy K-pop fan or anything, but some of the groups do actually have talent and can sing/dance.

K-pop is easy listening with nice eye candy and cute choreo. It doesn't pretend to be anything else. Perhaps that's why it's so popular. Isn't Korea's music industry very young compared to say, America's or Japan's? You can't expect a huge amount of diversity from such a young, small industry. Yes, it is very idol dominated and that doesn't lend itself to too much creativity etc. but that doesn't mean things will stay that way forever. Already companies are beginning to debut groups with alternative images and music, and non-idol artists are beginning to gain popularity (such as Supreme Team).

Meh. That's just what I've gathered from my year or so in the (western) international kpop fandom. I might be completely wrong, lol.

TWEffect said...

Mashups are fun.

This is my favorite mashup of all time, tons of fun.

Unknown said...

I love the k-pop mashup... and I agree that k-pop lends itself well to it... but I think that is because they all sound the same.

Of course, I love k-pop and I LOVE this mashup...

Roboseyo said...

From TIMP: so in your opinion it would be more accurate to say K-pop is the EASIEST genre for mash-ups. You're probably right about that.

Have you seen some of the k-pop remixes posted by James at The Grand Narrative? Bringing a D&B, or electronica, or some other sensibility into a Kpop song can work really well sometimes too... but again, maybe because it's an easy template tow work with. Regardless, the videos of said remixes are usually fun eye-candy.

You're right that Earworm's mashups are awesome... personally, I'm wild about Girl Talk, who will span four decades of music and ten genres in one song.

SGNP: some of the bands do have talent... but unfortunately, often the performing talent is emphasized (singing, and DANCING - a LOT of kpop performers, especially in the boy bands, are amazing dancers), while musical talent (songwriting, playing instruments) is downplayed. For people who prefer Jang Ja-in or Kim Kwang-seok, that's disappointing.

TWE: That WAS an awesome mash-up.

Here's one of my favorites: Beyonce's "Work it out" vs. Jimi Hendrix's "Foxy Lady" -- fantastic.

I also like the mash-up of "Come Together" by Beatles and "Closer" by NIN, just because it manages to put together the line "I wanna f@#$ you right now... over me"

Roboseyo said...

kindly ignore the video on the beyonce/jimi video: it's all I could find in a rush.

I've got to say, as a side-note, that the musical genres that make me happiest when they turn up in a mash-up are - 60s and 70s motown and seoul - al green, marvin gaye, aretha franklin, and the like, and 70s guitar rock - Jimi Hendrix, Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple, The Who, and such.

Unknown said...

Speaking of Mashups, we've taken on a new hobby of singing kpop songs in a noraebang in screaming death metal voices. You'll be amazed at how well 4Minute can be covered by Rammstein.

Roboseyo said...

Singing k-pop in screaming death-metal voices until I'm hoarse is a great way to pass 15 minutes.