Musikalischer Mittwoch: K-Pop Confessions

Among the other things that have happened in the time I’ve been avoiding my blogging duties has been my inadvertent  plunge into Korean soaps (which are really more like  telenovelas in that they have a defined arc–but they are shorter than a Latin American TN) and through this, into….<shamefaced expression> K-Pop.

Now, I was already a fan of My Korean Husband (which has been in the queue for a Time Vampire for a while…since before I went radio silent around here–it’s fabulous and I’ve spent way more time reading cartoons there than I ought), so I’d heard about K-Pop (and Korean Soaps) before, but it’s really all Amazon’s fault I actually started exploring.  They put a bunch of Korean shows up on Prime, and I’m a sucker for subtitles (“Oh, hey, look!  I’ve never watched anything from Korea before…except those random parts of Lost….”) .  Really, you can only dangle foreign media before me for so long and I just have to give in.  It’s a problem I have.  But I digress.

I got sucked into the soap Protect the Boss .  I thought that would be it.  I’d watch the show, become a little more aware of the rest of the world.  Done and done.

Then I wound up with the theme song stuck in my head.

A theme song by a K-Pop girl band called A-Pink.

What results is both my earworm for this week and a combination Musikalischer Mittwoch/Secret Heresy.

The immediate ear worm problem is called “Please Allow Us to Love*.”  But in procuring a copy of this from iTunes to put on an embarrassingly high playlist rotation, I thought I might as well get the whole show soundtrack, right?  Of course right.  And, oh, hey, maybe I’ll just look into other albums from some of these artists….

I’m more ashamed of admitting how much I’m enjoying this whole K-Pop thing than I am of knowing the words to “There’s a Tear in My Beer” (that may be a bad baseline, because as Kristy can attest, I’m not ashamed at all of knowing the words to that one….I should be, though).  I’m at least as ashamed as I am of some of the German Schlager stars I listen to**, or of the Celine Dion albums on my shelf (Shut up.).

K-Pop is, well, cheesy.  It’s all the bizarre cuteness you find in East Asia (that I don’t get….seriously, outside of the Idea Channel analysis of Hello Kitty as Minimalism, I don’t get Hello Kitty.  Or Pokemon.  Or any of the other crazy animated-stuff-with-big-eyes.  I get it’s a thing, but I don’t get why it’s a thing), plus bubble-gum-pop, maybe a touch of electronica, heavy doses of saccharine and inevitably performed by energetic and highly attractive people.  “Please Allow Us to Love” is a girl band, but there’s also an inordinately high volume of boy bands.  And when it’s not the peppy dance beat sucking you in, it’s the whole melodramatic ballad thing  (“Protect You” by Kim Jae Joong, I’m looking at you).  I kind of feel like I should be a 14 year old for my listeing to this to be truly acceptable.

It’s also–naturally–in Korean.  And I speak zero Korean.  I might actually speak less than zero Korean.  Even after a full TV series, I understand more Swabisch than I do Korean.  Hell, I know more Hindi than Korean.  It’s the first time I’ve watched that much of a show in a foreign language and learned so little.    So, clearly, I’m getting zilch out of the lyrics.  Which may be to my advantage because with a sound that bubble-gum, I doubt the lyrics are really deep enough to justify commentary.

So, nothing for me in the lyrics, and since we’ve already established that the sound itself is pop-cheese, I  have no respectable way to defend my obsession.  But, even without a way to explain it to myself and others,  “Please Allow Us to Love” has been on repeat in my queue for almost as long as the theme for “Por Ella…Soy Eva” (which, at least there I understood my obsession–I mean, Jaime Camil?  I know, right?).  And I’m not going to say I was dancing around the kitchen to this song, but there may have been some flailing in something vaguely approaching the same rhythm as the song.

I suppose it boils down to the fact that it’s fun.  It’s upbeat (in contrast to my mood of late).  Sure, it’s completely junior-high, but it’s irresistibly peppy.

All that is rational and logical says that I should stop now.  I shouldn’t embarrass myself any further.  I should limit this K-Pop exploration to the handful of songs from Protect the Boss and the few others I’ve found from artists on that album.  I certainly shouldn’t actually follow up on the My Korean Husband videos on K-Pop that I haven’t had time to watch yet.  I’m already harboring a playlist in my car that sports a lot of German Schlager musik, Bollywood songs, 80s country and Mexican Ranchera & Tejano.  It’s already like a really uncool musical United Nations.  Do I really want to include K-Pop?  Shouldn’t I be worried about cultural appropriation issues or something?

Or should I give in and just embrace the cheese?

*Probably on YouTube, but I didn’t check.
**Not Claudia Jung.  She’s awesome and I have no shame over listening to her stuff….but some of the others.  Let’s just say that unless I’m a 50-something German Hausfrau in Karlsruhe or something, there’s really no excuse here…