The other side of K-pop: taking the Korean music industry back to basics

The other side of K-pop: taking the Korean music industry back to basics

There’s a fine line between being a musician and an idol.

We’re all familiar with the latter, as K-pop grew from a genre into a cultural lifestyle. The global music phenomenon turned its fans to loyalists who call themselves either a “stan” or “trash” of countless “biases.”

In English, these K-pop listeners have turned into obsessive fans, identifying themselves as belonging to multiple fan bases of idols from different entertainment companies.

It’s easy to spot an idol. Usually belonging to a group, idols often sport identical or thematic clothing. Their crazy-colored hairdos also make them hard not to miss. They also have synchronized group greetings that, by now, fans have memorized.

Fans look forward to each idol group’s comebacks, and these dictate the next concept the group partakes. Each concept is a representation of something new and fresh—making idols change into skin that are always crazier than the last.

We also know how a K-pop star’s story usually begins: They audition in their early teens and spend years training to finally debut as an idol.

Idols are groomed to become what they are today. While we get a glimpse of their personality on variety shows, short interviews and behind-the-scenes clips, a bulk of their image is built on trends and strategies.

They sing chart-topping music that take the global stage by storm, but how much of the music actually resonates with those that perform them?

On the other side of K-pop are Korean musicians who are starting to give idols a run for their money. The country’s current music trend is shifting the focus on individual artists.

K-pop undeniably redefined the music industry, but its local market recognizes the need to go back to basics: Discovering artists who create their own content, and honing homegrown talent that no longer needs to be dictated upon. And the rest of the world is starting to take notice, too.

Getting into Yokohama’s Pikachu madness

Getting into Yokohama’s Pikachu madness

YOKOHAMA, JAPAN—Tokyo is a quiet city.

Besides the sounds of trains on railway tracks, the pedestrians stomping on street crossings, employees shouting their oishi menu promos, and even the noise of crickets at night, the city of 13 million people generally lives in serene silence.

But that silence can easily be broken by seven syllables, said by a familiar voice that goes: “Pika-Pika-Pikachuuu!”

You’ve probably seen viral Facebook videos of Pikachu mascots in droves dressed in different costumes. In their yellow tubby form, with an ever-smiling face and thunder-shaped tail, we see them walking in sync, waving hello and dancing—making them cuter than they already are.

Outside of your screens, these Pikachus can be seen in the city of Yokohama every day of the week starting Wednesday, Aug. 9. The Pikachu shows run until Aug. 15 this year.

Confessions of a K-drama stan

Confessions of a K-drama stan

One last episode, I swear.

This is possibly the most common lie K-drama fans tell themselves; and before we even realize it, we’ve finished one whole series in a single night.

If we could only list binge-watching a drama as a skill on our resumés, we would have done so—a long time ago.

Filipino K-drama “stans” (obsessive fans) all have that one show that made them ride the Hallyu—Korean Wave—along with the rest of the world. In the early 2000s, our local TV networks would dub high-rating East Asian dramas in Tagalog and these easily became part of our daily afternoon and primetime routines.

A bulk of them came from Korea. Who could forget about “Full House,” “Coffee Prince,” “Lovers in Paris,” “Princess Hours,” “Playful Kiss,” “Boys Over Flowers” and how much kilig these made us feel?

These were the shows we looked forward to in the latter part of our days—and are also the topic of our conversations come the next morning.

Cookies that match your Butterbeer

Cookies that match your Butterbeer

Accio, cookies!

The moment I saw PRESS by Fully Booked post about their Harry Potter-themed cookies, I knew I just had to get my hands on them. I loved sugar cookies, after all, even if it stained your tongue with the crazy colors of its designs.

YEIN redefines classic

YEIN redefines classic

YEIN is a siren. Her voice sounds delicate, often with a seemingly whispered flow, but her serene storytelling floods listeners with emotions. Her first digital album “5” is available on Spotify. Here, she talks about pioneering her genre, Future Classic:

I just love to sing. I say what I want to and represent myself whenever I sing.

I think these are what I do best even when I’m still so into so many art forms. I like combining them. I consider art as one—you can separate and categorize them, but eventually they are one in a big way.

There are different stories in each and every song I write and sing. When I finish one, I listen to it and it makes me feel really peaceful—and I want people to experience the same thing. That’s why I think I try hard to bring in that kind of naturism feel, that kind of atmosphere into my music. I’d like to think that the tone of my voice could make them feel at ease and relaxed.