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

What is going on with the battle for K-pop juggernaut SM Entertainment?

In recent weeks, the biggest topic in the world of K-pop has undoubtedly been, yes, a series of high-profile releases, including high-profile ones from the likes of BTS (Jimin and J-hope), EXO (Kai), and a forthcoming aespa album (more on that later). But the biggest story, by far, is the battle for SM Entertainment. There are a few pieces I’ve seen that go into the business dealings, interpersonal drama, spoken with parties, and/or have discussed the entertainment industry issues that led us

Meet NewJeans, the Girl Group Bringing Retro Vibes to K-Pop, and Sprinting Up the Charts

Awash in Y2K nostalgia and youthful vibrancy, NewJeans is rapidly becoming K-pop’s newest darling. Arriving under the auspices of Hybe Corp. subsidiary ADOR, NewJeans — comprised of members Minji, Hanni, Danielle, Haerin, and Hyein — dropped their first, self-titled EP in August with no warning. As the group has taken off, so has its stream counts. On Feb. 8, NewJeans celebrated its latest milestone: that “OMG” had surpassed 100 million streams on Spotify, just four days after “Hype Boy,” one o

Korean Celebrity Fashion Trends To Fall In Love With This Valentine's Day

Korean Celebrity Fashion Trends To Fall In Love With This Valentine's Day Whether it’s furry hats or satin miniskirts, TWICE’s Scientist fully dedicated itself to pink throwback styling. The nine women also have a variety of work-to-date night looks featuring fitted button-downs and blazers that are perfect for whenever Valentine’s Day lands on a weekday, as it does this year. NCT 127’s Touch offers up a casual but sporty feel in a variety of knit and neatly-collared looks. Pastel pink and peac

How to get into entertainment journalism, and writing about K-pop?

A few weeks ago, I hosted a Space on Twitter that was essentially an intro to my career and a Q&A about getting into covering entertainment journalism, with a focus on K-pop. It’s a topic that’s very close to my heart, and I really wanted to create a record of it to point people to. I realize it’s not ideal to people who may have specific questions, but from now on I’m going to direct all people reaching out to me for advice about starting a career to this recording. I apologize for that incon

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
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