Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Let's be weird together

Been so busy lately. Days pass by swiftly and we're now two days away from Thanksgiving. I have much to be thankful for this year and will make the time to make a gratitude list.

Heading out to Disneyland with the kiddos so the list will have to wait. Meanwhile I know there is one thing I'm thankful for. That is, the courage to be myself no matter where and how I am. I know many people still struggle with this as I did but thirty something years later, I'm finally okay - and happy- with who I am.

I'm a little weird. I have unusual interests and have control issues. I turn into a total bitch when I'm hungry and hubby says I'm difficult to deal with sometimes. Sorry.  

Yet I like me. I like being uniquely me.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

BIGBANG Alive Galaxy Tour 2012, Honda center

It took me nearly a week to get back into my normal routine after seeing BIGBANG's live performance at Honda Center last Friday and Saturday. Yes it was THAT GOOD. I may be a little biased because I've been a little more than obsessed with their music and waited nearly seven years to finally see them in LA.

Most people don't understand my obsession with them. They think they're just another k-pop boy group and call me a teeny bopper for liking their music. I noticed many non-Korean fans love BIGBANG along with other boy groups but I have no interest in any other musicians or celebrities.

I love BIGBANG because they write and produce their own music. They create their own styles and experiment with various sounds. They're not your usual corporate produced B-rate talents. They're versatile, creative, fashion-forward musical geniuses.  They're not perfect, and I love that about them. But I don't need to convince anyone because I have enough fans to compete with already...

I almost let the world convince me that my obsession is a little unusual...until I got to witness their talents in person. Now I realize it doesn't really matter who understands and who doesn't...they gave me THE BEST WEEKEND EVER and I'm a proud VIP for life.

I was fortunate enough to go to the concert both days, VIP on Friday and suite seats on Saturday. Both proved to be complete different experiences and even though getting VIP was more of a hassle, I would do it again in a heartbeat. I got to see them very close and got to feel the synergy between the group and the fans. They sounded amazing live and the energy, talent and overall vibe of the group was phenomenal.

I've been a fan of K-pop since the 90's and I FINALLY found a group who is worthy of my time and energy. Their music & performance are so vibrant, energetic, captivating and versatile. Their first U.S. tour in LA & NY has been successful and are creating quite a buzz among young fans of k-pop as well as other media journalists. Honestly I hope they never go mainstream in America and continue with their cult following because they're too special to go mainstream. ;)

This past weekend also taught me a few life lessons, one of them being the importance of enjoying and living life to the fullest. So many people limit themselves and their interests and feel as if they need to conform to their surroundings. They do what others do; they like what others like. If others don't agree or understand, you keep it a secret, or convince yourself that your passion is inappropriate.

I think otherwise. If you want something, go for it. If you have a passion for something, live it and love it to the fullest. Don't allow room for excuses. You are never too old, too busy, too tired or too ____ for anything. As long as you are confident in who you are, what others think or say doesn't matter. In fact, being unable to follow your true passions because of others will bring down your confidence and make your life less fulfilled.

Life is too short to worry about other people. They'll never completely understand you anyway. Your life is precious and whether or not you live it out or inhibit yourself, you leave this world alone, as you were born into it alone.


So one of my dreams of seeing TOP and GD up close and personal came true. Then I came across a fortune that reads, "YOUR MOST MEMORABLE DREAM WILL COME TRUE."

My dream partially came true but I want to keep dreaming. The dreams I hold inside my heart today, WILL come true as long as God wills it.

Thank you Lord for all the excitement and blessings you bestowed upon me. Now I can go back to normal life with amazing memories that I'll hold dear to my heart forever.

And for those of you who still believe Korean music is just a teeny bopper sensation, I'd like to ask,

Why so serious? :)

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

BIGBANG: why I can't and won't stop loving them.

Seungri, G-dragon, Taeyang, Daesung, and TOP

It must've been about five years ago when I first came across him in a Korean drama. I grew up watching Korean dramas as a young girl so checking out a new popular drama series was nothing unusual for me. What was unusual though, was this new young male actor with the most intense, dark and beautiful eyes that I've ever seen. I didn't know who he was and where he came from.

My mom, who was sitting right by me, commented that he looks like he's wearing eye makeup and went on to talk about how kids nowadays knew no boundaries when it comes to fashion. I, on the other hand, was intrigued by his mysterious look and a deep curiosity was triggered.

It turns out that he wasn't really an actor but a rapper named TOP in a boy group called Bigbang. I had stopped following and listening to K-pop for some time so I had no clue who they were. Like Korean dramas, I grew up listening to Korean pop in the 90's but there wasn't any music or group that I found particularly endearing and captivating so I often opted for Korean ballads instead.

Even around 2006, K-pop was just K-pop..nothing brilliant or original but rather a clumsy imitation of American and UK pop music with Korean lyrics. They all sounded the same and every group sounded like a copycat version of the other. Every singer in a boy group looked like the next. With same hairstyle, fashion and voice, Korean pop music seemed like one giant blob of B-rated talents.

However, there was something different about Bigbang. First, they began their careers on a survival-type of reality TV series which documents their daily lives and struggles of five young men who dreamed of becoming a star. There were shortcomings, tears and misunderstandings amongst them and the producers and members were portrayed as humans with real feelings rather than puppets. Their talents were lacking in many ways and Top was often criticized for his lack of performance and dance skills.

Eventually the 6th member of Bigbang was eliminated and they debuted with five guys, leader GD "G-Dragon" (Kwon Ji Yong),  lead vocal Teydaddy (Taeyang / Youngbae), rapper (TOP), vocal Daesung (D-lite) and youngest member Seung Ri, who was on the verge of being eliminated from the group as well.

Their first few albums were okay, with a few good catchy songs like Lies...but nothing particularly brilliant. It was better than most songs out in the K-pop scene, but not enough to wow anyone, not even myself. Yet I followed their progress and remained a hopeful fan because I saw the immense potential and talent that lurks underneath.

G-dragon, who began rapping at age 8 with unprecedented talent, was only going to get better with training and time because he carried in him a particular style & swagger that I haven't seen elsewhere. Likewise TOP was born with this incredible voice and flow that can't be duplicated by anyone--and his voice paired with his insanely good looks were only going to attract more and more crazed female fans all over the world.

Unlike G-Dragon & Taeyang who was exposed to spotlight and celebrity life from a young age, TOP was an awkward and overweight teenager who hangs around hyung's and nuna's (older male/female friends) in the underground hip hop scene. Because of this GD is much more flashy with over-the-top swag while TOP carries a rather mature and understated charm that can melt girls' hearts with a single glance. Taeyang is hailed as one of greatest dancer and vocal even by other Korean idol stars.

Sure enough, Bigbang came a long way since their debut in 2006. They produced hit song after another and their album continued to improve in quality and talent. They refused to stick to one genre and continued to experiment with various sounds like hip hop, R&B, electronic, dance, urban, instrumental and created new blends of the mentioned and more.  In fact it's hard to categorize them into a single category because their music consists of many global influences and to this date, I believe there is no musician like them. To me, Bigbang simply sounds like Bigbang and they deserve to be categorized as its own, not compared to other K-pop idol groups and American rappers.

What's also special about this group is that each member has his own distinct style and has his own album to represent this. They perform well not only as a group but as solo artists and I can't think of any other Korean group who carries this kind of skill.

BIGBANG has produced some amazing songs and music videos that blows me away and G-Dragon's newest album One of a kind is by far, one of my favorites by the Bigbang leader. He truly perfected his craft and his musical talents seem boundless and endless. Sometimes he sounds like a masculine & energetic rapper similar to Wu Tang and Lil' Wayne while other times he sings with a delicate and beautiful voice in a heartfelt love song. He travels back and forth this dichotomy effortlessly and plays with lyrics & beat everywhere in between. He is also the epitome of androgynous music & fashion done to perfection but more about this next time.

Music is truly his playground and I have yet to come across musical geniuses like Bigbang. GD makes and produces their music and GD & TOP often work together on the lyrics.  Their music isn't mass produced, corporate recycled junk, it is a true reflection of who they are as artists and their 5+ albums document their growth from young artists to global musicians.

I had the privilege of seeing them live at Honda Center for their first US concert BIGBANG ALIVE GALAXY TOUR both nights and the weekend proved all my speculations and beliefs to be true.  I will write another post dedicated for the weekend of the LA concert. Until then, I'll be jamming to their music and being grateful for the wonderful dream-like weekend I got to spend with my favorite boys- BIGBANG.

Update: Here is a link to the latest article on the leader G-Dragon.