June 28, 2012 § Leave a comment
What I’m going through at the moment, waiting for the next Super Junior album, Kangin back in the picture and the concept photos being this amazing, is hard to describe. These last couple of years with this group, through better and worse, with Kibum, Hangeng and Kanging, waiting for albums and concept photos and finally traveling to Paris to see them live, it’s all been worth it.
Kangin was never my favourite member the sore looser and macho guy he is. And in the end of 2009 and in the beginning of 2010 he was more of disturbance then of joy to us all. He felt tired and angry and perhaps all that happend back then was for the best in the end. But as an ELF I of course support the idea of 13 members and of 15 aswell, so I’m happy to see him back. Also very happy to see that his picture fits well in with the others.
And as the years passes on the circulation of Super Juniors original members might very well work. There is always someone you want to come back from the military to fill a gap.
As an extra plus this time, the release is one day prior to my 30th birthday. The best of presents.
/The Future is Idol
April 22, 2012 § Leave a comment
There’s a feeling of circular movement as I stand in the audience on the evening of Super Show 4 at Zenith de Paris.
Most of the people present are not in any way fluent in Korean, some of them might not know a single word of the language, but as fans of this Kpop group we have worked hard to incorporate the music and lyrics of the Korean pop songs performed this evening into our lives. We are all able to sing a long to the lyrics and we almost know what they are about. Fans might do this out of love and passion, but it still is hard work doing it. To grasp the meaning of lyrics, jokes and meaning of everything going on the stage takes time. It’s fandom on a hell of a serious level.
Many of the fans has also added gestures, sounds to display emotions and words to every day life that in some ways could be described as Korean. My own way of expressing feelings, I must confess, sound like something out of a K-drama from time to time. And when I for the first time watched Super Juniors version of Song Gol Maes A Chance Encounter I started learning about, and burried myself in older Korean rock and pop music.
Super Junior on the other hand has also worked hard as hell, with assimilating western culture into their performances. And of course, why not. Even if Kpop is on the march and spreads over the globe it is but nothing in comparison with the pop cultural grip the western world still holds on the planet. There for, it is perfectly natural that most of the performances in Super Show has an aura of west surrounding it.
At the beginning of the concert, as the MV intro is shown, Super Junior grow wings, shoots out of water and flies in over a city landscape. Is it Seoul, Tokyo, Shanghai or some other extremely cool and urban city in East Asia? No the city is of course New York, the symbol of western and all the worlds modern culture.
At one point all of the members comes in on stage dressed in costumes. Shindong as Britney Spears, Kyuhyun as Steve Jobs, Sungmin is Marilyn Monroe, Yesung Chuckie, Leeteuk Hulk Hogan, Donghae Charlie Chaplin, and so on. Parts of western pop culture used by Super Junior while performing all over Asia, and now also by doing so in Europe, stuffing it with a bit of new context . What is Charlie Chaplin really to the Super Junior members?
Every member also gets to do there own solo, and most of them are remakes of western global pop songs. Leeteuk, the leader of Super Junior plays a bit of Chopin but then moves on to a performance of SHE. Kyuhyun imitates Stevie Wonder and performs Isn’t she lovely. And I for one never really cared for Moves like Jagger before Ryeowook started doing this track as his solo performance at SS4.
The exchange of cultural understanding is almost laughable. How very strange and wonderful this world is.
/The Future is Idol
April 11, 2012 § 3 Comments
If you happen to be in Paris and also to be a fan of Kpop, there are atleast one adress you have to visit. Why? Because there are not that many other places in Europe to buy Kpop cds and merch in shop.
The nearest Metro stations are Porte d’Ivry or Porte de Choisy and the adress is 44 Avenue d’Ivry, then take the stairs to the first floor. TAI YOU and Musica are both shops with a surprisingly wide range of CDs, posters, stickers and other important things for a Kpop fan. Both me and my friend bought at cushion with f(x) Amber as the print! I also bought a SNSD poster from the repackage version of The Boys and a pin that says I ♥ Key.
Would have bought more if I had room in my luggage, Guess it gives me reason to go back to Paris soon. If you want more pictures from the Super Sow 4 weekend in Paris, go to our Facebook page and have a look at the album Kpop in Europe.
/The Future is Idol
April 10, 2012 § 1 Comment
The Super Show 4 Paris experience.
As it was announced that Super Junior would hold their first concert ever in Europe on April 6 2012, it was also quite soon decided that I would be attending. I have written this so many times before and will probably keep on repeating: Super Junior was the reason for me to become, and also a reason to remain a Kpop addict. Since then, I’ve been so extremly nervous of how this concert would turn out, and eventually I had to get angry with myself for becoming quite the imbecile of fandom.
But, never trust an idol beforehand is a motto of mine. Do it afterwards when you really know how great it turned out.
The epic evening starts as this boyband of nine men are introduced with a screened hd-music video, showing them half-naked swimming under water, growing wings, rising to the sky over Manhattan, and then land ready for performing their Super Show. It is unbelievably beautifully done and in some ways, extremely Kpop. Very much what the audience is craving for.
The concert then really kicks off when Superman, a track from the autumn of 2011 is blasted out over the arena as the members rise, backlighted in red simultaneously out of the floor.
For me, this dramatic track has taken the place of a lament over Super Junior and the groups past, not always so cheerful history and it ads something really bombastic, a serious side and an aire of sadness to the glimmering show about to happen. For everyone who can count this is at least partly relevant, as they could have been 13 members on stage. Many of us will remember and miss those of different reasons not present this evening. What remains are nine members, on a moving stage that slides out in the audience while Superman continues and who just the same are about to take their group to the very top of fame.
And as Super Junior continue the evening with Opera, another newer track, there is little room and time for gloom and you are taken back to the fact that Super Junior there and now at Zenith de Paris, is more popular then ever before. The arena is lit by thousands of blue light sticks, the official colour of this group and there are no mistaking why people are there.
As Super Junior has been at the very center of my attention for quite a few years now, I was hoping for and expecting a couple of things from this concert, and I believe I got most of them this Friday evening in Paris.
First of all, the fact that I ever got the chance to witness Super Junior do a live performance is still a bit hard for me to grasp. I have followed them closely since 2009 and watched many of their concert performances on YouTube, getting to know their type of shows and longing to see it live. When all of a sudden the members run out in the audience (They keep doing this over and over through out the show) and you have them only a couple of metres away from your seating you finally begin to understand that this is happening.
Second, what makes a Super Show different from many other concerts is to what extent the members of this group play out their dorky personas on stage. To watch a Super Show is not merely a concert with peformances of their top tracks, but also a cavalcade of stupid costumes, non coreography, jokes and many moments of spontanious confusion as they make the audience fall in love with Super Junior. A recipe that has proved to work more then well with the fans. As the concert closes in on four hours we have been able to witness Super Juni0r dressed among others as Steve Jobs, Britney Spears, Hulk Hogan, Chuckie, Marilyn Monroe and the entire Von Trapp family. To see this makes it worth all the money and time spent.
Every member as always, except this time Shindong(!) of some weird reason has their own solo to show of their individual talents. Mostly remakes of international English pop music. Strange examples as Kyuhyun with a version of Isn’t She Lovely and Leeteuk with SHE. The ones that really stands out is lead singer Yesung with his incredible voice and smooth ballad sung in Korean and Ryeowoks upbeat Moves Like Jagger. All of this is done in close interaction with their audience. Super Junior is highly aknowledged for these abilities and it is of huge importance to their fanbase.
Through out the show we have also been able to see modern classics, tracks such as Pyjama Party, Don’t Don, A Man in Love, Mr.Simple, Superman and Sorry Sorry being performed. For those of you reading this not familiar with the tracks listed it will be hard to understand the deep pop cultural impact some of them have had on East Asia and other parts of the world over the last couple of years. But these are facts that a simple google search can verify.
Super Junior is a super group, not only to it’s scale but also to the extent they are known and listened to at the moment. The single release from the autumn of 2011, Mr.Simple, has just achieved more then 40 million views on YouTube, which must be said is quite well done by a track sung in Korean.
Who would have even dared to guess back in 2009 that I, that we, would have reached this point of fandom? If Johanna, my companion to this concert would have told me back then that we would buy tickets to a Kpop concert in Paris, travel all the way there and think of it as something of utmost importance or that there would be a fanbase this big in Europe, I would probably see that it could happen, but not really think that it some day would.
The fact that it does happen and continuosly seem to do so in Paris also deserves to be mentioned. France seems to have become the base for Kpop in Europe, the first stop for any Korean artist embarking on the European market. Paris have the biggest Korean population in Europe and there are more then one shop to buy Kpop albums and merch in. Kpop groups are also doing their best to please this European market, but as they do so the confusion of languages emerge.
Europe is in a Korean way of thinking probably just as homogenous as East Asia is in a European perspective. Therefore much of the speaking parts in this concert is simultaneously translated, into French. As a service for the European fanbase and for the interaction during the show. Understandable in some aspects, but on the other hand a dilemma since probably almost half of the arena are unable to understand what is going on. Because even if fifty percent of the audience in the arena are of French origin, the rest is not. My own French is quite rusty and some of the magialc interaction with the group on stage is of this reason lost.
As two girls are invited on to the stage and they are given instructions in french by the interpreter. The problem is that one of the girls is not French at all and does not understand a word until Siwon repeats them whispering in English in her ear. When time comes to congratulate Siwon and Eunhyuk on their respective birthdays, the song though is not in French but the English standard version of Happy Birthday. Also understandable for a group from South Korea, on of the most amercanized and westernized countries in the world. The members of Super Junior have all practised hard learning greetings in French, a nice gesture but again it goes a bit wrong since so many people present are not French at all.
It is hard to make comparision to other big acts, lets say from America, but really, English will probably be a more useful language for Kpop groups in Europe since the fans come from all over. The intentions though all the best.
One thing that comes to mind as critique has got to do with choices. The choices of songs to perform. This is a group with five albums and dozens of mini albums to pick material from, but who picks the songs? The third and magic album Sorry Sorry is only represented with one track, Sorry Sorry itself which is saved to the encore performance, something that leaves me with a tiny bit of a question mark in my head. I’m fully aware that the latest album is the more important album to perform, but looking at it in perspective of quality of music they clearly could have done other choices for this tour. To miss out on performing top tracks like It’s You and No Other is in my eyes quite unforgivable.
The quality of music is, on the other hand only one of many aspects as you attend the a concert such as Super Show, and it is impossible for me to leave Zenith de Paris with out thinking that I’ve just been a part of historical magic.
The Future is Idol – and EverLastingFriends
March 8, 2012 § 3 Comments
This picture is a part of the inside of Ryeowooks version of Mr.Simple. It might very well be the most perfect version of them all.
A couple of days ago two more copies of this album arrived to me from South Korea together with my fiends belongings after a very long wait. The Ryeowook and Heechul verisons arrived this time and two more are on their way. I wanted Ryeowooks because it’s one of the best photos and HeechuI… well, just because it’s him. I got the Yesung copy from the very same friend as a present this New Years.
Is Super Junior really the only thing this man(me) is thinking about? You may ask yourself now. And yes it is, for the time being.
Thank you Elin. 감사합니다!
/The Future is Idol
March 5, 2012 § 2 Comments
Yesterday, I was trying to explain fabrication and the concept of idols to a couple of friends. But some of this is impossible to try to explain to someone just like that, after dinner with come cognac and pear cake, and one of those things is Kim Heechul, his concept, his role, his person and exactly why I find him so intriguing. So I didn’t. But on my way home, I thought a lot about him: how important a part he has played in my growing interest in kpop, how I just get more confused the more I try to understand what the hell he’s actually up to, and exactly how unique his role is in kpopverse. The eternal exception to so many rules, he had a whole talking round on Strong Heart dedicated to the subject ”Because it is (/I am) Kim Heechul, it is okay”, meaning he can get away with stuff other people can’t simply because of who he are. I guess it is a persona with a great load of freedom, and pressure, to act controversially, sometimes to the point where it’s actually rather obnoxious. And some things are still taboo, of course.
No matter. I was heartbroken and relieved at the same time when he went to do his desk job military service, and at the same time that I’ve hoped the time away does him good, I’ve missed seeing him in action (and should go on a Heechul variety binge soon again sometime). But I also felt a small pang of idiotic guilt at how, during this time, my attention has steered towards other kpop people in his stead.
And then, as though an answer to my thoughts, twitter provides me with this.
So. Heening letting Hong Seok-cheon, pretty much South Koreas only openly gay man, tweet a picture of the two of them all cozy together at a wedding? I’m not sure exactly what his reasons are, but I most certainly apporove of this displayal of comfortableness. Every little step, etc. Also: How awesomely good-looking Heechul himself is in that picture.
What can I say? 우유빛깔 김희철! 사랑해요 김희철!
January 5, 2012 § 3 Comments
This is the strangest of times for fans of Super Junior. As an ELF, a fan of this group, 2011 has come to an end with a notion of the future for our beloved boyband.
Because even though you love to see them perform, show up at varietys and watch behind the stage footage of them, as has been possible again since their return in the second part of 2011, we all know what is about to happen. The largest boyband on earth(13 members+2) have started to disolve, and this time there is really no going back.
Super Junior made their appearence quite late in my life, but was an instant hit. Sorry Sorry had just recently been released that year and I got stuck after the first viewing of the MV. 13 members in the same group. Doing that dance. Who can not fall for something as epic?
The impact that this MV had on me back then, and many many others all over the world can hardly be overestimated. The choreography and the catch-phrase refrain is known to far many more people then just the average kpop lover. I believe that I, in some ways have been a part of an historical era of pop culture, kpop and Hallyu, in which Super Junior plays an important part.
When they were formed in 2005 by SM Entertainment the idea was not for them to last at all, atleast not with the same members as in the beginning.
Leeteuk, the leader of Super Junior reminded us of this well known fact once again on an episode of SBS Strong Heart as he explained that SuJu was put together as a project group to last only for 3 months, kick start the careers of SM trainees and then reform with new members, over and over.
But this never became the reality, as there were to much invested in this group, and to many people had gained interest in them. Super Junior became an official group, adding it’s last and 13th member Kyuhyun and closing the door for trainees next in line. Such as Henry Lau and ZhouMi, who instead became members of mandarin promotional sub group Super Junior M.
The years with Super Junior can, if you want to, be looked up on as a drama, with a plot better then any soap opera there is, including severe car accidents, member losses, epic success and fanservice to die for. Leeteuk performs as the organized and (mostly) polite leader, Shindong as the funny(fat) guy, Siwon as Prince Charming, Kim Keechul as… himself. Every member fills a role or a space, it doesn’t have to be the same space every time and since they are so many, someone can be missing from a fan meet, a concert or a showcase without it being the end of the world. Brilliant.
One of the saddest parts of this boy band theatre is perhaps Henry Lau, the member of Super Junior M that was included playing violin on Super Juniors Don’t Don, but couldn’t make it in to the actual group as a full and 14th member, since the fans protested wildly. Threatening for example to buy enough shares of the company to keep future members out of the group.
Yes I have lost myself completely in this group, over and over. Not in every member, but in many enough to have no need for any other pop cultural input for long periods of time. And since there are so many of them, you can find a new Super Junior favourite with time if you need to.
Super Junior Full House, Super Junior mini drama, Super Junior exploring the human body, Intimate note… A long list of varietys that shaped me as a fanboy, made me laugh my head off and hide of embarrassment. For the first time in my life I fully understood that it was ok to love something that was not European, not in english and nothing else then main stream pop culture. Kind of a liberation of someone who was hiding inside of me. But with the help of two friends and this group, I was finally able to be that person.
Shortly after the release of Sorry Sorry there was one member missing on stage while performing. It was reported that Kibum was not to take part in the promotions for that album, but rather focusing on his acting career. And since back in 2009, he has not yet returned, but is still an official member, included when counting.
Hangeng, the only Chinese member within the 13 left the group in the beginning of 2010 by suing SM Entertainment, the company that created and owns everything Super Junior ever have done and ever will do. Hangeng felt treated unjust and wanted to get out of the 13 year contract that down to every detail controlled his life.
Not much later, Kangin also left after scandals with bar fighting and performing a hit and run while drunk. He was not kicked out of the group though, just kept away for two years mandatory militar service. It was a weird period of the fandom, as I did not really like Kangin at all, but still desperately wanted the group to keep togheter. It felt like a great loss when the epic 13 became 10.
On the third of august 2011, they released Mr.Simple, one of their best tracks and MVs ever. While writing this post, the MV has passed 32 039 583 views on YouTube.
And then a couple of weeks later the bomb dropped, as second oldest member Kim Heechul, born in 83, informed that he would enlist in the army by September 1. Every one knew that it would happen sooner or later, but I believe that most people thought it would be later, in 2012. Not in less then two weeks. Also, this is no random member of SuJu, this is the main reason I got stuck in this idol industry in the first place. The reason so many did. This beautiful man that did exactly what he wanted to and did not seem to care what others thought of him, moved the boundaries of how to perform on and off stage and made people fall in love.
He was also part of the first fanfic-couple that ever caught my attention. The passion and drama of SiChul (Siwon and Heechul both of Super Junior) can never be forgotten. I’m still not sure if they ever where for real or not… (SiChul is for real!)
Seven years has passed since it all began for SuJu and there is really no given ending, but at the same time, the insecurity and lack of active members will surely tear on us ELFs.
When Superman, simultaneously promoted with Mr.Simple, was released it was with an MV that can not only be viewed as a gift to their loving fans, but also as a lament and closing act to an era of Super Junior:
They will keep promoting as an 8 member group for now, Siwon preoccupied with acting at the moment, but soon their leader Leeteuk have to enlist in the army, and then Yesung, and then…
It will just go on and on and on. Love, agony, laughter and pain, Super Junior Love.
/Ever-Lasting-Friends at The Future is Idol, Stockholm, Sweden.
January 3, 2012 § 1 Comment
On the last day of 2011 I met up with my very close friend Elin who has been living in South Korea for a big part of 2011 with another friend of us. She gave me a present that still, a couple of days later makes me smile like a stupid person. Out of her suitcase she pulled the Yesung version(Yesung happens to be my favourite) of Mr.Simple and a Mr.Simple bag to put it in. This is a present that almost outshines everything I got for Christmas, I’ve longed for this LP-sized cd for a very long time now. Now I’m just waiting for the other four versions that the same friends are shipping by boat from Korea to Sweden with the rest of their belongings…
/The blood in my veins – The Future is Idol
November 21, 2011 § Leave a comment
So I just watched the fancams of Ryeowooks performance at Super Show 4. I had read about it in fan accounts and worried that I would cringe at Ryeowooks sudden sexiness. That man has always had a cute image, and he didn’t enter SME for his looks or his dancing, but for his voice. He always mentions non-showy ballad singers as his rolemodels and idols, and studied composing and piano in school. All and all, although his image seems to have changed a little during these last promotions, it could have been a bit of a gamble for him to put on a sexy image like this.
But it turned out to be really awesome. Just watch it:
Over the time that I’ve followed Super Junior, I’ve gradually become fonder of Ryeowook. He’s not really one of the artists that make me go HNNNG!!!!!!!1 but I like him to the point that I would say that he is one of my favourite SuJu members. One of the reasons is just his sweetness (combined with sudden displays of evil) and his undeniable nerdiness. And I usually don’t like these kinds of displays of charismatic, manly sexiness – I often suspect that their performers were teenage bullies that just keep getting attention from girls. But this time, I was happy for him. Has he hoped to do something like this for a long time and not gotten to do it because of his image? Has he simply not dared? But although I did ask myself if this was really something he wanted to do, I would be surprised if it weren’t. I was happy for the high school nerd who only had female friends, who dated a girl for a year without kissing her, who was overweight as a kid and never really got to have a sexy or cool image until now. Ryeowook wouldn’t take sex appeal for granted, he’s earned it – and I feel like he deserved it.