K-pop's love affair with luxury fashion is wonderful, but bittersweet

I have a terrible relationship with fashion. My mother, a particularly artistic soul, has always been eager, overzealous even, to ensure that I always look well-dressed by her definitions ever since my childhood. In adulthood, this has obviously led to some clashes because as much as I love her she and I have very different taste. To this day, my mother, bless her soul, regularly sends me links to clothing items she thinks I should invest in, and when I don’t she’ll often find an excuse to buy t

Omega X & Loona contract wins open up 2023 as a year for change in K-pop

It feels like every year we proclaim this one a Big year for change in K-pop in January and December, but as I write this on January 16, 2023, it really feels that way. The year has just begun, but courts have already given two major wins to K-pop stars alleging abuses and breach of contract, namely Omega X and Loona. At the end of last year, I wrote about Omega X’s situation and Loona’s briefly as it was just beginning. If you missed it, here’s what’s going on: Omega X was on tour in the Amer

5 Minute Focus: Astro's Moonbin & Sanha Discuss favorite scents & 'Incense'

Welcome to the first Notes on K-Pop interview! This is the launch of 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. My aim is to bring a sense of intimacy and bite-sized depth about topics ranging from musical inspiration to their favorite foods in a different format than we usually see among K-pop and K-pop-related interviews. This is an opportunity to h

Notes on K-pop album faves 2022

A bit late, but I hope everyone enjoys this 2022 K-pop albums list. All the same disclaimers as the song’s list remains the same, so please head over to read that explainer about why I’m not doing a Best of K-pop (and K-pop-adjacent) list, and why these aren’t ranked. TLDR: If your favorite release isn’t here, it’s not because I don’t like it and absolutely hate your fave (I don’t, for the record), I just didn’t have an emotional connection with it last year, and that’s fine! This is a personal

Notes on K-pop song faves 2022

A recent edition of the electronic newsletter First Floor presented a case for not doing “best of” end of year lists but rather favorite lists. Being perpetually late at my solo listmaking, I kept that in mind while revisiting all of this year’s K-pop and K-pop adjacent releases. It was already on my mind, and Reynaldo helped solidify my plans to present this list as nothing more than my personal favorites in 2022. Then I had a conversation with a friend about what exactly people think “best of

BTS, Blackpink and More: The Year in K-Pop

As each year passes, K-pop develops in new directions, with key moments and moves defining not only the year but also the future. In 2022, long term and newer acts made waves, with music and business decisions impacting what’s to come in 2023 and beyond. New adventures for BTS When BTS announced in June that they’d be taking a bit of a break from group activities, it felt like a pin drop could be heard around the world before a tumultuous questioning of their future. Initially misconstrued — o

2022 in review: What I wrote

To be honest, I don’t want to write today. That’s sort of a lie, because I have a few ideas for this newsletter and articles buzzing in my head at the moment. But over the last few days I’ve been really frustrated by the state of covering pop culture due to a variety of instances and interactions with other journalists, industry sources, and fans alike. I don’t really want to share my thoughts with anyone, not because of fear of what others think but because it feels absolutely futile; I want t

I like K-pop storytelling, actually

On Sunday night, November 27, I was at one of the most popular venues in the Tri-State NY area for a K-pop concert, the Prudential Center. Since I moved back to NY from Hong Kong back in March, I’ve been to the venue several times, including for NCT 127, Blackpink, and Stray Kids concerts. None of the previous ones had pirate ships, though. ATEEZ didn’t actually bring a whole pirate ship, for the record, but it felt that way based on cool CGI and staging fixtures. While ostensibly a great ass

Omega X, K-pop contracts & Hollywood's Golden Age

In recent weeks, there’s been an ongoing situation surrounding the boy band Omega X, with videos and a variety of reports alleging there is a history of long term abuses the members have faced at the hands of their former CEO, and just in general mistreatment throughout their careers (this is the second debut for all of the members). Everything erupted after a rather disastrous tour in the Americas in September and October, which culminated in the band members not having plane tickets to go back

Blackpink Mixes Exuberance and Intensity to Dazzle Adoring Fans in New Jersey

What do you do when you’re one of the most popular stars on the planet and get nervous during a performance in front of thousands of fans? Laugh it off and let everyone know. At least, that’s what Blackpink’s members did Monday night at New Jersey’s Prudential Center when their energy was, to them at least, less than typical for a show during their Born Pink world tour. Although their last concert tour in the U.S. was in pre-pandemic 2019, it wasn’t actually so long ago since Blackpink last gr

The communality of K-pop lightsticks

Tonight, Blackpink will be in the Tri-State area for their first concert in the area since 2019, bringing their Born Pink tour to the Prudential Center in New Jersey. I will also be at the Prudential Center, covering the event. And I will be there with a plastic pink hammer, one of the quartet’s signature lightsticks. It’s one of over a dozen that I own, both second-generation stick-like lightsticks, and newer, more complexly designed bluetooth-able 3D ones. A source once described K-pop ligh

K-pop's third place love affair

RM: Sometimes as I grow up — and I’m between my chapter one and two, like I said, the group and solo; maybe I’m between music and maybe [visual] art, between that. So sometimes I really feel afraid, like, “What if I don’t like music anymore?” I love art. But it’s somewhat different. RM: It is. Music is like, it’s everywhere. I’m sad, but it’s everywhere. Sometimes I really feel afraid — like, music, it’s not my first thing anymore, sort of like that. Williams: Yeah. Then all of a sudden you go,

Rina Sawayama live in New York City: pop’s rising queen brings dance therapy to Brooklyn

“We have ninety minutes together, you and I,” Rina Sawayama tells the crowd at New York City’s Avant Gardener. “We’re going to go through a little journey.” There are no surprises set for the first of two nights in Brooklyn for Sawayama’s ‘Hold The Girl’ tour. She tells the audience exactly what to expect. “First, it’s going to be a little bit of rock pop,” she says. “Then we’re going to get a little dark and maybe a little bit of industrial, electronic pop. And then maybe we’ll get a little s
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