Mini Note #2 - F*ck It All

Read the first Mini Notes on K-pop here. I feel like everyone’s cursing on K-pop lately. And by everyone, I mean Seventeen and KARD, both of whom have recent releases happily declaring the English curse word “fuck.” On April 24, boy band Seventeen released their FML EP, fronted by the singles Super and F*ck My Life. I am rather obsessed with how rough of a time the members had explaining in interviews what the “f” in the album title stood for, because typically K-pop acts don’t quite so blata

Putting a phoenix borne from trauma to rest

Back before I ever thought this could be a career, I started writing for K-pop blogs while studying abroad in Seoul. One of them was full of amazing people, and we all worked hard to make it something great. The owner of it was far from amazing, however, and to say that we all came out with PTSD would probably be a bit of an understatement. We were unpaid and overworked, and very, in retrospect, abused.* But we did come out with a lot of experience, and each other. A few of us ultimately decided

10 most criminally underrated Stray Kids songs

Since their first introduction on the 2017 reality show Stray Kids, the K-pop group of the same name have carved out a lane for themselves with their experimental, theatrical “noise” music. They’re known for their vision and energy that overflows with raging against the system, angst about everyday life, and empathy for themselves and their peers — creating anthems about it all, with the band members playing a serious role in guiding the artistic direction. As one of the most popular K-pop grou

5 Minute Focus: Elise Hu on Beauty & 'Flawless'

Welcome to the second Notes on K-Pop interview! This is a five-minute segment featuring industry talent and insiders discussing their relationship and feelings about a certain topic for five minutes freely via voice note with no interruptions. You can listen to the short interview, or read an English-language transcript. writer, NPR journalist, and Ted Talks Daily host Elise Hu ruminates on beauty, the broader topic her more specifically K-beauty-focused book, Flawless: Lessons and Looks and C

Mini Note #1 - Parasocial reliance

I often have bite sized thoughts I want to share with you, and completely forget to put them in a Google Doc or something for a future edition of Notes on K-pop. So going to try really short, quick fix edition of Notes. I’ll try not to spam you, don’t worry. Let me know if you like it, or to stfu Tamar! I appreciate all feedback, and appreciate you reading always. I keep going back to a very astute response Kirsten Han’s sent me after seeing a screenshot I shared recently, of an email to myself

Balming Tiger is the 11-member collective with an alternative vision of K-pop

With their debut album in the works and so many people involved, the 11 members of the Seoul-based collective Balming Tiger have instituted an in-studio schedule from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. during weekdays — and latecomers get fined. The fine doesn’t necessarily stop people from coming late, but it is padding the rest of their wallets. bj wnjn, for instance, recently bought a flute. (He attempts to play it during our interview, but he just got it two weeks ago and is still getting the hang of it.) G

Korea's ticketing model should be taken into consideration for the US live music market

What’s the most, and least, you’ve ever paid on a concert ticket? Whatever it was, I bet you that those prices are doubled nowadays for equivalent tickets. Last week, I got a text from a doctor I know, questioning if she should start asking patients for Taylor Swift tickets instead of financial payment, because bartering seems to be the only way she’ll be able to get a ticket when resale is currently a minimum of $1,000 per ticket, even in the nosebleeds. “So only rich people can go to shows n

K-Popping in with some reads & watches

I’m on a Twitter break and haven’t posted on Tiktok or written here for a few days, so I want to apologize and say sorry for going AWOL, pretty much on all platforms except IG recently. I did join bluesky and you can find me at there, though I honestly have no idea what I’m doing and am mostly confused about all the geese honking. Some personal and professional stuff is going on at the moment, and then I got sick and my apartment is falling apart to the degree that I feel it’s h

Ep 31: Tamar Herman Always Knew It Would Be ”The Chaser” | This Is The Greatest Song I’ve Ever Heard In My Entire Life

Writer and Editor Tamar Herman joins to talk about having to sneak to listen to Radio Disney, falling and staying in love with K-Pop as a journalist, and the greatest song she's ever heard in her entire life, Infinite's "The Chaser". You can follow Tamar on twitter @tamarwrites or tiktok @tamartoks or subscribe to her substack Notes On K-Pop. Her book, BTS: Blood, Sweat & Tears, is available wherever books are sold.

BTS’ Suga Holds His Own in Moody, Theatrical Concert Debut

For Suga of BTS, D-day arrives with a storm of thunder and lightning amid a purple haze. At the opening of his Agust D tour at New York’s UBS Arena, the rain heralds a bold, and oftentimes fiery, two-hour testament to his artistry and drive. The tour kicked off on April 26 and will continue across the U.S. through May. Suga’s solo spot is the first tour by an individual member of the history-making South Korean group, and he’ll spend the rest of the spring touring across Asia. On the second of

APOKI Is A Bunny From Space, And Might Be The Future Of K-Pop

What does the next big K-pop thing look and sound like? If you’re guessing it’s a stylish bunny from outer space, you’d be right, as far-fetched as it sounds. Known as APOKI, stylized in all-caps, this virtual rabbit with a rich vocal tone first introduced herself to the world in 2019, but didn’t release her first single until 2021’s “Get It Out.” Since then, she’s steadily grown her repertoire with original songs, brand tie-ins, and cover performances of hit songs, K-pop and otherwise. Craftin

Remembering Moonbin

Yesterday, April 19, it was reported that Korean star 문빈, romanized as both Moonbin and Moon Bin, passed away. The singer-songwriter-actor-variety personality was 25. He had been active in the entertainment industry since childhood, and was part of boy band Astro, and the unit Moonbin & Sanha. His sister Moon Sua is a member of girl group Billlie. The loss of a star as bright as Moonbin is something too raw to really comprehend. I don’t ever want to write a eulogy, both as a professional and o

What makes a "good" Coachella performance in 2023?

Last Saturday night, I stayed up until around 4am. Just after midnight, I witnessed Blackpink take the stage as Coachella headliners, making history as both the first-ever girl group and first-ever K-pop act to headline the California desert music festival. And then I stayed up far later than I should have, invigorated with both energy and curiosity after watching their set. As I watched, I livetweeted and talked with several friends, all of us familiar with Blackpink. We all, across the board,

SM Entertainment is in the endgame now

Yes, it’s a double update!!! I’m going to be MIA a lot for the next week and a half due to my observance of the Jewish holiday Pesach/Passover, so wanted to get more than one piece out this week. I may do another if I have time. Hit me up in the comments if you have any topics you’d like to see talked about this week. Last week, SM Entertainment had a shareholder meeting where pretty much everything about the corporate governance of the company was revamped. New CEO, formerly SM’s CFO, new boar

Conversations about swastikas and K-pop give me migraines

A few weeks ago, in a very widely-covered story, TWICE’s Chaeyoung wore two very controversial shirts, one featuring a QAnon slogan, and one with Sid Vicious of the Sex Pistols wearing a Nazi Swastika. I didn’t write about it at the time for a variety of reasons, partially in that I’ve pitched op-eds about these sort of instances before and no editor has thought they were worthwhile so I’ve felt like maybe my writing isn’t good enough to tackle sensitive subjects. But mostly, it was because it

Notes on K-pop Interview: Fifty Fifty on dreams, reality, and hitting it big with Cupid

Last year, new girl group Fifty Fifty’s song Lovin’ Me was a fan favorite among many diehard music loving K-pop fans. It ended up becoming one of my favorite songs of 2022. But it wasn’t the only great musical moment on the new act’s first EP, and they continued releasing another addicting single this year, Cupid. Now, a lot of people are noticing, and Fifty Fifty is on track to become a breakout K-pop act in 2023. They’ve landed on several Billboard music charts, and their streaming numbers ar

Are we living in a Kpopcore world?

Like obscenity, K-pop isn’t easily definable but you know it when you see it. It’s because of this that I think everyone should stop trying say where K-pop is an industry, genre, culture, or something else. Kpopcore, your time has come. For anyone not in the know, a core, as per this handy Mashable definition, is internet slang for a grouped vibe, usually applied to audio-visual content: “In the modern internet age, the -core suffix is used to describe shared ideas of culture, genres, or aesth

The infinite pricelessness of free K-pop fan labor

Between this newsletter and my TikToks, you may have noticed that I’m doing a lot of predominantly free* labor nowadays while working off-stage on some projects I can’t announce yet, plus a few occasional pieces for outlets that pay**. This isn’t a bad thing, and it’s not even a brand new experience for me, as I got my start in the blogosphere as a college student before I was even remotely conscious that this was a career I would pursue. But it is a moment of introspection that has made me wond

BTS’ J-Hope Sees Dream Collab Realized With ‘On the Street’ Featuring J. Cole: ‘This Song Opens a Door to My Next Chapter’ (EXCLUSIVE)

Last year, j-hope of BTS released the LP “Jack in the Box” and headlined Lollapalooza. It was the first drop from a member of the history-making group as BTS publicly announced that it would be transitioning temporarily from band releases to focusing on individual projects. With “Jack in the Box,” j-hope kicked off such a period of solo development with a dark, gritty exploration of his self and career. Now he’s back with a new single that further relays new facets of the much beloved K-pop star

NewJeans Tells BAZAAR All About Newfound Success And Going TikTok Viral

With over 5.6 million followers on TikTok, and their songs used as the inspiration for countless videos on that platform and every other corner of the Internet, it is clear that K-pop newcomers NewJeans have arrived in a big way since their debut last summer. A five-member girl group from South Korean music label ADOR, a subsidiary of BTS home HYBE Corporation, NewJeans arrived via a surprise debut in 2022, with soon-to-be hit songs dropping without warning, changing up the K-pop promotional pa
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