NCT Dream: Go Review

KAYBOP

Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you NCT Dream’s “Go,” step three of NCT 2018 and the newest installment in this year’s most enthralling K-drama, “SM Entertainment Takes Over the World.” The agency has been explicit from NCT’s inception that the group’s ultimate goal is, if you’ll allow me to paraphrase, world domination. “Go,” the follow-up to last month’s hits “Boss” and “Baby Don’t Stop” by unit NCT U, is the next bulletpoint on that agenda. The song sees NCT Dream, the unit reserved for the youngest NCT members, taking on a brand-new mature concept after two years of strictly cute concepts. If the image change comes as a bit of a shock, the song itself doubles that shock with vicious bass and a shouted vocal hook. But the members rise to the challenge—they’re SM kids after all—and it’s their performances that make the song such a knockout.

“Go” has…

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KCON 2018 Dates - LA & NY

As The Popularity of K-Pop Expands, So Does KCON

When KCON was first founded in 2012 by CJ E&M and Koreaboo in 2012, K-Pop was still widely considered a “small” niche that happened to actually have a very large following at the time. The first KCON convention was held in California and combines every aspect of Korean culture, but most importantly, the music and pop culture in South Korea. With artists like B.A.P, EXO-M, 4Minute and many other K-Pop phenomenons who rocked the Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre, KCON soon became the “it” convention for fans of every all different backgrounds to see 10 or more of their favorite idols on one stage in a 2-3 day extravaganza.

Over the last five (almost six) years, KCON has also expanded into the East Coast and six different countries, including South Korea, Japan, France, United Arab Emirates, Mexico and Australia. Even in the United States alone, the festival continues to reel in thousands of exuberant fans as the number grows each year. From 2012-2017, this is the expansion of KCON USA.

The Growth of KCON

The performances are literally what put KCON on the map and how they were able to expand and reach larger audiences. Here’s a run-down of the several line-ups over the years.

KCON Line-Ups Over the Years

With the popularity of K-Pop skyrocketing through mainstream charts, thanks to groups like EXO and BTS over the past year, KCON 2018 numbers will most definitely reflect the influx of new fans from across the country who are now hooked on Korean pop culture. Do you have an estimate of attendees for LA and NY? Who do you think will be included in this year’s all-star line-up? Comment your thoughts below and share this post with a friend!

 

 

B.A.P

Starbucks Stans B.A.P?

Have you ever done a double take when you see a fast food restaurant or a coffee shop tweet about your faves? I have many times and this time, it’s the Starbucks account that might be my cup of tea these days.

K-pop is clearly becoming more worldwide and accepted, even through audiences outside of the typical K-pop fandoms, like famous brands with an enormous outreach. On March 13, a fan of B.A.P posted a tweet about Starbucks, didn’t @ them, but Starbucks replied anyway and made it known that they are also huge fans of the six-member group.

This isn’t the first time that a brand has tweeted about K-Pop; Starbucks has also tweeted about EXO and BTS in the past and just recently, Red Velvet’s Wendy received a very special birthday shout out from her red headed twin at the Wendy’s fast food chain.

Starbucks called out B.A.P by tweeting the full meaning of the group’s acronym, Best Absolute Perfect. Non-K-pop fans wouldn’t think anything of it, but we know better.

Starbucks Twitter

From there, the initial response. has already been retweeted and liked by over 1,000 people –way more than any of Starbucks’ normal replies. And once you get the K-pop community going, it’s hard to shut us up. Their replies were flooded with praises and song recommendations for Starbucks to check out, which they were more than willing to give them a listen.

In return, followers asked for coffee recommendations from the brand, allowing Starbucks to simultaneously do a little self-promo while also hyping up B.A.P and their fans. Of course, not too long after the original post, Soompi also caught wind of the cute interactions and briefly summarized it.

As a public relations major, it’s impossible to not look at this scenario through a PR lense and ask myself, how does this benefit Starbucks and their audience? Clearly, there’s someone on their social media team who dabbles in K-pop and knows how to reach that target market. Not only does it build a relationship with a certain niche audience, but it also promotes Starbucks even more as a brand and gets people excited and talking about them even more than before.

Dingo for Starbucks Korea

We love it when we see Korean artists influencing people and companies around the world to start talking about K-pop and other genres of music that come out South Korea. It’s a sign that our presence on social media is powerful and impossible to ignore. I’ve seen it happen so many times, where a radio station mentions BTS or EXO and talk about how wild their notifications are just after one tweet.

More organizations are starting to use our enthusiasm to their advantage and gain awareness with a newer, younger, and wider audience. Some fans have argued that they’re just using us for clicks, views, retweets, etc. But, I don’t necessarily believe that it’s a bad thing. Wouldn’t it make sense to try and get the largest and loudest audience you can find to spread the word about your company and advocate for it to achieve an objective? If it’s been handled in a genuine and respectful manner, I think it’s the smartest idea that an organization can do if it applies to them.  Overall, it seems to have been received very well with Babyz all over Twitter.

B.A.P Fan Responds to Starbucks

So, what are your thoughts on big company accounts making themselves relatable to K-pop fans? Do you think it’s an effective way to market themselves on social media? Does it at least put a smile on your face knowing that we have that kind of recognition and influence on stan Twitter?

 

Comment your thoughts below, like, and share this post! And don’t forget to tune into K-Pop Frenzy’s next show this Saturday from 10am-noon on Black Squirrel Radio!

NCT U Review: Boss vs. Baby Don’t Stop

As most of you know, SM has been doing a lot with NCT recently, particularly promoting this “NCT 2018” concept, which combines the 15 members who we previously knew before and adding 3 new members in the mix. The company announced that NCT would make their comeback with 6 music videos spanning from late February to March, when the full album drops. Personally, I’m a huge NCTzen and have been feeling the NCT drought since the year began, just anxiously waiting for SM to drop even the slightest hint of new music. So, I will happily welcome these 6 new videos with open arms.

The first unit to come back is none other than NCT U, the first NCT unit to debut back in 2016 and the one we’ve been waiting for ever since they left us hanging after “The 7th Sense” and “Without U.”  The first lineup in 2016 consisted of Taeyong, Ten, Doyoung, Jaehyun, Mark, and Taeil. But, with the release of the first song from NCT’s 2018 project, “Boss”, Ten and Taeil have been removed and WinWin, Lucas, and Jungwoo are now included. It gets a little confusing, especially for newer fans, but this is SM’s way of combining different members for specific concepts that will result in endless possibilities.

Like I just mentioned, “Boss” was released last week and just days later, they started teasing for the second music video called “Baby Don’t Stop”—a duet between Taeyong and Ten –which came out today. Besides the fact that one features seven members while the other only features two, both songs are very different musically and conceptually. I’m going to talk a little about each song and then compare them.

NCT-U4

“Boss” is very hip-hop oriented, like previous NCT tracks with the focus on its rap line. However, I feel like “Boss” incorporates the vocal line even more than the last releases, especially when I checked out the line distribution and discovered that Doyoung had a bit more singing time than Taeyong and Mark had raps. Not only that, but the harmonies, adlibs and high notes from the rest of the vocalists are what takes the song to new heights. I really love the hard-hitting bass that drives the song and keeps it moving forward, even through all the sudden transitions. The newest additions to NCT, Jungwoo and Lucas, fit this concept so perfectly with Lucas surprising everyone with his deep rap and Jungwoo pulling heart strings with his honey-like vocals. It’s easy to see how well they get along with the veterans of the group, which creates an even better dynamic when watching them perform full out.

Lyrically and conceptually, the song and music video describe the tension between two “gangs”, the younger members vs. the older members, and how each of them is in competition to be the one and only boss. The choreography also represents that with each move exuding aggression, edginess, and power. But, towards the end of the video, the group realizes that instead of walking seven different paths, they all need to come together and act as a team to truly thrive and reach their fullest potential. A theme that is all too familiar to the true meaning of NCT.

On the other hand, “Baby Don’t Stop” is purposefully a performance and dance driven track made for the two main dancers of NCT U. We haven’t seen or heard much from Ten since his SM solo, “Dream in a Dream” in 2017, so the anticipation for his comeback has been through the roof. I think it was smart of SM to pair him with Taeyong, since they’re both incredibly sharp dancers and have the best stage presence and charisma to bounce off each other. The heavy synths in the song are so addictive, coupled with the sultry whispers of “baby don’t stop” from Taeyong,  are enough to fulfill every NCTzen’s dreams. I feel like I haven’t heard Ten sing like this in a long time, or ever. Maybe because this is the first time he’s been given the spotlight to showcase his vocal abilities just as much as his dance skills.

nct-ten-3

Speaking of dancing, there’s something so satisfying about a music video that focuses more on the choreography than anything else. Even though “Boss” did show a lot of choreography, there were also storyline and solo shots that would cut away from the dance every now and then, which is understandable due to the meaning behind the song. For “Baby Don’t Stop”, the video is more simplistic with the camera following both members in an empty auditorium and other areas around the set as they pull off some of the smoothest dance moves. There were also many scenes where Ten reminded me so much of Taemin, specifically from his “Move” video and that in and of itself hit me hard in the feelings.

After watching and listening to both new songs so far, is there one that you prefer over the other? Or are they both just so different that you can’t really compare? I can relate to the latter—they’re both amazing individually and are perfect examples of how versatile NCT can be.

Comment, like, and share this post with any thoughts you may have on these two comebacks!

Also, don’t forget to check out other reviews of NCT’s new releases from blogs like OH! Blog, Kel and Mel Reviews, and KayBop.

Chyenne’s Ultimate Groups

Welcome to the first K-Pop Frenzy blog post! My name is Chyenne and I’ll be one of the authors of this blog, with my friend Alissa. I’ll start by giving you a little background on myself, both personally and K-Pop wise.

So, I’m a senior college and I first discovered K-pop when I was in 8th grade with the iconic Wonder Girls song, “Nobody.” Ironically enough, it was the Jonas Brothers who introduced me to them when I went to the concert in 2009 and the Wonder Girls happened to be one of their opening acts. Fast forward nearly a decade later, and now I’m a dedicated fan to dozens of groups, I’ve seen a lot of my faves in concert, and I’m co-host for my radio show, K-Pop Frenzy, which Alissa started last year. I guess you could say it’s been a wild and interesting journey.

Okay, now we’re getting to the GOOD part…this is where I tell you who I stan and why they all deserve to be to be the biggest groups in K-Pop. To avoid making this post five pages, I’ll just include my ultimate boy and girl groups. There may be quite a few ties, because I’m terrible at ranking, so bear with me. Let’s begin with the guys:

 

  1. (3-Way Tie)

EXO

EXO OT9; Members from L-R: D.O, Suho, Chen, Lay, Kai, Baekhyun, Xiumin, Suho, Chanyeol

When I discovered them: February 2015 (yes, I remember the month very well)

Favorite song: “Call Me Baby” will forever be the best EXO era, in my book. Everything from the song, music video, choreography and styling was astounding. It was a nod to the popular boy bands of the 90s, but also remained true to EXO’s sound and their performance abilities.

My Bias: Kim Jongdae, aka Chen (UB). Jongdae was the first idol that I considered my bias for any group and eventually he became my first ultimate bias, as well. Not only is he extremely handsome, but he can sing the roof off any song he’s given. I really admire his love and dedication for music.

Chen from the EXODUS album

GOT7

GOT7 members from left to right: Jackson, Jinyoung, Yugyeom, Youngjae, BamBam, Mark, JB

When I Discovered Them: Summer of 2015, it was during their fun and colorful, “Just Right” era.

Favorite song: “If You Do” …it was such a drastic change from “Just Right”, which was very fun and playful. But, “If You Do” was GOT7’s first angsty concept and it suited them so well. Plus, that footwork goes hard in the paint and makes me feel like I have two left feet, so thank you GOT7.

My Bias: Jackson Wang, prince of China (UB). I can’t explain why I immediately gravitated towards him, but he has the most explosive personality and he loves making people laugh. As extra as Jackson can be, he also works very hard to become a better person and artist every day.

Jackson posing for Lifestyle Magazine in China

BTS

BTS during their Blood, Sweat, and Tears photo shoot. Members from L-R: Jungkook, V, Jin, Jimin, Suga, RM, J-Hope

When I discovered them: April of 2015, during the fantastic era of HYYH Pt. 1

Favorite Song: Speaking of HYYH, “I Need You” is my favorite and makes me emotional, even to this day. Prior this song, I wasn’t really sold on BTS and their music but since they made a complete 180 in their concepts, I started to appreciate them a lot more and now I’m trash.

My Bias: Namjoon or his stage name, RM. From the moment I listened to his mixtape, it was like a brand-new world had opened before my eyes and started realizing how talented he is as a rapper and songwriter. His lyrics never fail to leave me speechless and his delivery is what really sets him apart from other Korean rappers.

RM posing behind the scenes of BTS' Wings: You Never Walk Alone album jacket shoot

Now, moving on to the girls:

Two-Way Tie:

Wonder Girls

Wonder Girls backstage during their promotions for "I Feel You"; Members from L-R: Sunmi, Yeeun, Lim, and Yubin

When I discovered them: Like I mentioned earlier in this post, the Wonder Girls were the first K-Pop group I stumbled upon in junior high (about 10 years ago now), thanks to the Jonas Brothers. Ever since they performed “Nobody (English version)” at that concert, I’ve been a Wonderful ever since.

My favorite song: This is incredibly hard, even harder than choosing my favorite boy group songs above. Although the retro Motown concept of “Nobody” led me to the incredible talent of the Wonder Girls, “I Feel You” is the most perfect and authentic 80s throwback that K-Pop will probably ever see. From top to bottom, the girls emulate the 80’s pop style with poise and still blows my mind to this day.

My Bias: Surprise! I do not have a Wonder Girls anymore. It used to be Yubin for a while, but then I realized that each member shines in her own way and I couldn’t possibly choose a favorite among them. Why have one bias when you can have them all?

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Mamamoo

MAMAMOOYesIAm

When I discovered them: It was during their comeback for “Um Oh Ah Yeh” and I just happened to watch a reaction video for their MV. I hadn’t heard of these four powerhouses before, but I was extremely impressed by their vocals and how charismatic they were on and off-camera.

Favorite Song: They have yet to top “Um Oh Ah Yeh” for me, it’s just unbeatable at this point. The song itself just makes you want to dance and goof around with your friends, which is the epitome of what Mamamoo is as a group.

My Bias(es): The ever-so-gorgeous Hwasa and Wheein are my two favorites of the group, because not only do they sing well together, but their personalities blend just as well and it’s easy to see how comfortable and playful they are around each other.

Hwasa and Wheein from Mamamoo pose for their Instagram

 

 

Now that you know a little bit about me, tell me who your ultimate girl and guy groups are and why? Like, comment, and share this post!