Tag Archive | Big Bang

20 Most Played on iTunes

I’ve turned up my iTunes DJ and mixed up some favorite Asian and American music. I realized how much I missed bygone days, like back in the 90s (and 80s) when:

Backstreet Boys and ‘N Sync rocked girls’ lockers and bedrooms

Backstreet Boys were still young hearthrobs; now they’re just old, but the talent’s still there

‘N Sync before Justin and JC went solo and changed the whole dynamics; the other 3 were just… there

Britney Spears was my pop idol, before she made a big “Oops” and married a hobo dancer, popped out a few babies, picked up a bad smoking/drinking habit, and copied Voldemort’s hair-do

Christina Aguilera wore clothes

Mariah Carey broke wine glasses with her love ballads and not yet a cougar

Madonna could pull off skimpy outfits and didn’t have such manly biceps brachii

Jessica Simpson had a stable relationship and wasn’t so desperate in life

LFO still had a living Rich Cronin looking like an Abercrombie model

Ricky Martin didn’t come out of the closet and had babies

Rob Thomas was still part of Matchbox 20, even when I thought he was solo already

Savage Garden still existed… I still have a weakness for “Truly Madly Deeply” and “I Knew I Loved You”

Spice Girls ruled my 4th grade treasure chest: stickers, lollipops, books, magazines, posters, dolls, every merchandise that was out to drain my dad’s wallet

Michael Jackson… He’s still a timeless sensation… RIP

And now? I’ve added Katy Perry and Lady Gaga to my “Love-it” list. I’m really hooked on Katy Perry’s “California Gurls,” “Teenage Dream,” and “Hot n’ Cold.” And Lady Gaga? I love “Bad Romance,” “Just Dance,” “Love Game,” “Telephone,” and “Alejandro.”

My gym jams and study music are still predominantly C-pop and K-pop: DBSK 東方神起, SNSD 少女時代, Super Junior, 2PM, 태양 Taeyang, 빅뱅 Big Bang, SS501, Jay Chou, JJ Lin, Lee Hom, etc… I like how K-pop is funky, upbeat; basically, I like rap, hip-hop and R&B by Asian musicians, because there’s no blasphemy, no sexualization, no violence, just pure talent and incredible dancing! I like C-pop, mainly from Taiwan, because 1) I can understand it, 2) I can boost my Mandarin proficiency, and 3) sappy love songs help me study. Here’s my Top 25 playlist since it came into existence 3 years ago:

  1. 童 話 Fairy Tale – 光良 (Michael Wong) –> 466X
  2. 내 머리가 나빠서 Nae Moriga Nabbaso (Because I’m Stupid)- SS501 –> 455X
  3. Stand By Me – 샤이니 SHINee –> 324X
  4. 約 定  Yue Ding – 光良 (Michael Wong) –> 316X
  5. 아쉬운 마음인 걸 Yearning Heart – 에이스타일 A’ST1 –> 311X
  6. 只對你有感覺 Only Have Feelings For You – 飛輪海 Fahrenheit & Hebe –> 309X
  7. 說愛你 Say I Love You – 蔡依林 Jolin Tsai –> 293X
  8. 不得不愛 Gotta Love – 潘瑋柏 Wilber Pan ft. 弦子 XianZi –> 286X
  9. 就是爱你 Only Love You – 陶喆 David Tao –> 278X
  10. 聽媽媽的話 Listen to Mother’s Words – 周杰倫 Jay Chou –> 271X
  11. 霍元甲  Huo Yuan Jia – 周杰倫 Jay Chou –> 264X
  12. 日不落 Sun Will Never Set – 蔡依林 Jolin Tsai –> 263X
  13. 半糖主义 Half-Sugarism – S.H.E. –> 260X
  14. Love Love Love – 蔡依林 Jolin Tsai –> 260X
  15. 你和我 You and Me – 王力宏 Lee Hom –> 258X
  16. One More Time – 나무자전거 Namu Jajeongeo –> 251X
  17. 給我一首歌的時間 Give Me a Song’s Time – 周杰倫 Jay Chou –> 251X
  18. 放開你的心 Let Go of Your Heart – 王力宏 Lee Hom –> 250X
  19. 玩酷 Play It Cool – 潘瑋柏 Wilber Pan –> 248X
  20. 주문-Mirotic – DBSK –> 247X

You get the idea… It looks like chicken scratches above. I’m a super-Asian. Maybe there will be an eventual avalanche on this Top 20 list, a great disaster waiting to happen.

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Drama roll: IRIS 아이리스 OST

The music to 2009’s hit drama IRIS is immaculate, a mix of touching love ballads, one Big Bang rap song, and plenty of instrumentals!

IRIS OST (2009.11.17)

01. 잊지말아요/ 不要忘記 (Don’t Forget)-백지영 (白智英) Baek Ji Young
02. Love of Iris -신승훈 (申昇勳) Shin Seung Hoon
03. 꿈을 꾸다/ 做夢 (Dreaming)-김태우 (金泰優) Kim Tae Woo
04. 할렐루야/ 哈利路亞 (Hallelujah)-빅뱅 (BigBang)
05. Empty -쥬니 (Juni)
06. Main Title
07. Mission of Destiny
08. Assassination
09. Fight factory
10. Destiny Love
11. Pretty Love
12. Sad Love
13. Hard Day
14. Midnight Run
15. Bullets
16. No Way Out

IRIS Special (2009.12.22)

[CD-1]
01. 꿈을 꾸다/ 做夢 (Dreaming)-김태우 (金泰優) Kim Tae Woo
02. 잊지 말아요/ 不要忘記 (Don’t Forget)-백지영(白智英) Baek Ji Young
03. 사랑하면 안되나요 /不可以愛你嗎 (Can’t I Love You?)-서인영 (徐仁英) Seo In Young
04. 할렐루야 /哈利路亞 (Hallelujah)-빅뱅 Bigbang
05. Love Of Iris-신승훈 (申昇勳)
06. 사랑 참…/愛情 真是… (Love is So…)-디셈버 December
07. 어떻게 눈물 참는지/ 該如何忍住眼淚- 이정현 (李貞賢)
08. 너라서 좋았다/ 因為是妳 很好 (Because of You, Very Well)-지훈 Ji Hoon
09. Empty-쥬니Juni
10. 돌아올순 없나요/ 不能回來嗎 (Can’t You Return?)-디셈버 December

[CD-2]
01. iris main title
02. mission of destiny
03. assassination
04. fight factory
05. destiny love
06. pretty love
07. sad love
08. sad love-gtr version
09. chase 140
10. chase 150
11. tension 80-2
12. hard day
13. midnight run
14. bullets
15. no way out

Drama roll: IRIS 아이리스

If you’re looking for a break from comedies or mopey romance dramas, then check out Korea’s 2009 hit drama, Iris. It’s a twisted mix of espionage, conspiracy, action, romance, and mystery. There are 20 episodes, each ending with a major cliff-hanger, an upcoming showdown, and more questions that complicate relationships. It’s a story of betrayal, revenge, fate, love, and domination.

Cast
Lee Byung Hun as Kim Hyun Joon (SK, NSS agent, Assassin)- Former soldier with the Special Forces, Hyun-Joon gets recruited to the NSS, a national security administration for SK, because of his strength and insight. He knows little about his mysterious past, but unfortunately learns he’s a target to be killed.
Kim Tae Hee as Choi Seung Hee (SK, NSS expert profiler)- Respected as ‘team leader’ of NSS, Seung-Hee is integral in recruiting Hyun-Joon. Beautiful and smart, she quickly becomes Hyun-Joon’s love interest.
Jung Joon Ho as Jin Sa Woo (SK, NSS agent)- Best friend and ‘brother’ of Hyun-Joon, Sa-Woo has experienced life’s ups and downs alongside his close buddy. Also recruited into NSS, Sa-Woo finds himself working with and eventually fighting against Hyun-Joon. Both men fall in love with Seung-Hee, setting off feelings of jealousy and selfishness.
Kim Seung Woo as Park Chul Young (NK, Top Intelligence Agent)- The main man of NK’s security team, protecting top leaders at diplomatic meetings. He’s an avid supporter of the Worker’s Party of Korea (WPA) of the DPRK.  He works alongside his superior, the Chairman, as the North-South issue escalates.
Kim So Yun as Kim Sun Hwa
(NK, Spy)- Working alongside her superior Chul-Young, Sun Hwa takes orders and protects important political leaders.  Sharp, skillful, and strong, Sun Hwa assumes her responsibilities and kills when necessary, but her feminine, emotional side gradually dominates.


T.O.P as Vick (Assassin)- One scary guy; he kills with precision and without mercy. Obeying orders from an underground organization and a hidden Mr. Black, Vick mounts killing sprees to eliminate important people and sensitive information.

Whoa, hold the bullet there buddy!

Here’s an attempt at a concise synopsis to a convoluted drama. Best friends Hyun-Joon and Sa-Woo become top agents to the National Security Service (NSS) of South Korea after gruesome torture to test their strength and willpower.  Aside from their line of work, they have independently encountered Seung-Hee before the recruitment, each vying for her affection after meeting her again in NSS.  Initially, Seung-Hee resists Hyun-Joon’s advances, but begins to fall in love with him. In one scene, she asks, “Do I seem easy? Or does NSS sound like a joke to you?” in an attempt to discourage his pursuits. He responds frankly with his reason for entering, “Risking my life to carry out those missions, isn’t because of deep ambition. It’s that, for the first time, I felt something was exciting.  After barely managing to find this path, I had a thought ‘Ah, this must be my destiny.'” He commits to what he finds exhilarating in his work, up to the ‘bitter end.’ His devotion, honesty, and daredevil attitude are what charms Seung-Hee.

They meet Director Baek San (Kim Yeong-Cheol), who describes NSS’s purpose: a SK-secret organization that works to thwart foreign threats and terrorism and protect national security interests. After their first successful mission in protecting the presidential candidate, HJ & SW are invited to the Blue House. Here, HJ experiences deja-vu, flashbacking to images of his childhood. Puzzled, HJ cannot shake off the strange sense of familiarity. Briefly, we enter Shanghai, where assassininator Vick makes his appearance and kills off an central political figure.  He plans to move on to his final target, Hong Seung-Ryong, a North Korean scientist leading a nuclear arms initiative.

After the success, the three agents get vacation time. As SW hops on an unexpected mission to rescue Hong in Hungary, the lovebirds HJ & SH take an excursion to Akita, Japan. Little do they know their brief stint at happiness… In one scene, SH shares a classic Japanese legend of Lake Tazawa. Along the shore stands a bronze statue of beautiful Lady Tatsuko. Legend says she drank special water and fell under a magic spell.  She became a guardian dragon for the lake. Likewise, Taru, the lover, became the guardian dragon for Lake Tohada.  Though sadly separated, both lovers meet every winter to reunite and share their love. Due to their everlasting, passionate love, the waters never freeze, in spite of Akita’s frigid, blustery winters. SH reflects on their great love, and yet, they survive as monsters. SH and HJ both love each other deeply, but with their jobs, SH fears they will become monsters themselves. Will they break apart like the dragon lovers and roam in sadness and suffering?

Upon return, the 3 agents are sent to Budapest to protect Hong, while the Blue House considers granting Hong political asylum. After much action and danger, they manage to safely bring Hong to several agents who will take him to the South. However, another surprise kill foils the plan, as HJ is handed a one-man mission to assassinate a North Korean prime minister. Baek San dictates the importance of its fruition, as it is set to alter the course of history and HJ’s life. Unaware of the dire situation, HJ is placed in ever-greater danger. Suspicious yet?

Pissed off North Koreans...

In Hungary, HJ succeeds and shoots the minister, despite high security regulations. Before escaping, he gets chased down by Chul-Young & Sun Hwa of the NK security team. He sustains a gunshot wound while he is hunted down. When he calls Baek San for assistance, he is abandoned and left to fend for himself. But, Baek San sends Sa-Woo over for help, in the form of an order to kill Hyun-Joon. In his hideout that is getting beseiged, HJ bleeds out and opens the door in relief to find his friend SW, only to then see a gun pointing in his face. An indifferent SW can only manage, “I’m sorry. It is an order.” Betrayed, HJ nearly escapes with Seung-Hee’s help, only to lose her amidst turmoil and a car explosion. Both believe the other to be dead. With SW behind HJ’s endangerment, a saddened HJ attempts to get away via small plane. In another climatic face-off, SW, with almost a look of pitiful ambivalence, shoots down his long-time friend and sees the plane swirl out of control.

Flash forward six months, we find out HJ was saved by a man behind a mystifying voice. HJ was taken in refuge as he recovered from his injuries. Soon enough, he learns of Iris. With nothing, he returns with a great, passionate drive to retaliate against those who double-crossed him and made him lose everything he cherished-his job, his love, his life, and his happiness.  He loses his trust in people, but maintains his focus. Amidst talks of a N-S summit and re-unification, HJ allies himself on both ends, with the President, Chul-Young, and Sun Hwa, to disentangle this Iris conspiracy that’s actually plotting to destabilize progress and peace.

———————————————————————————————————–

Here are a few favorite quotes from the drama…

1. Two graves are needed for revenge, one for your enemy and one for yourself.

2. In order for a person to change, he or she needs to hit bottom. You can get over sadness after you scrape every bit of it from the bottom of your heart. You need to suffer that much to hit bottom.

3. One who lets others bleed will have to pay with his blood.  In this world, no one will always win.

4. Living is a worse hell than death.

I really liked how the story plays upon North/South Korea relations, the scary possibility of nuclear warfare. It’s frightening to reflect on the current political tension between the two nations and the North’s threat of nuclear arms development. Imagine the touch of a button is simply enough to detonate a nuclear bomb in the heart of Seoul. A true weapon of mass destruction. Thousands of civilian lives are sacrificed, all to prevent N-S unification, trigger a military coup-d’etat, and lead to a renewed Korean Republic. That was the plan in Iris. One of my favorite parts-the shootout in the middle of Seoul (KwangHwaMun) between Hyun-Joon & the NK terrorists =) Look out for that… Very exciting and climatic.

With each episode, some other surprises pop out and new questions arise.  Who’s this dark Vick character who answers to Mr. Black and kills heartlessly? Who’s the mystery man who’s willing to help Hyun Joon seek revenge, while he joins forces with North Korea against NSS and South Korea? What is this underground military IRIS organization that promotes terrorism? What does the NSS Vice Director Baek San have to do with the mysterious IRIS list? And what about his mysterious past and his dead parents?  It’s bizarre that many people from the past and present, connected with nuclear intelligence, are hunted down and killed.  It’s Hyun Joon’s fate to uncover IRIS and snip its roots, why his parents died, and why he has been tracked and targeted by assassins since joining the secret service. It’s never safe to trust anyone in uncertain times; your closest neighbor or superiors may be your worst enemy… and HJ is blessed with a detective’s investigating skills, a bodybuilder’s muscles, an Olympic athlete’s hustles, and a wild animal’s intuition and survival mode, all to save the world from a disaster of monumental proportions. Try having to carry that on your back.

The weight of the world on his shoulders, or simply, a bomb on the back

It’s also amazing how the characters help corroborate psychologist Stanley Milgram’s infamous “obedience to authority” theory. Before ethics kicked in, Milgram showed that some people do listen to figures of authority, even when it comes to pressing a button to shock the daylights out of those tested. Of course, the shock-receivers were really actors who pretended to be in unbearable pain and the subjects did not know that. Anyway, we have read about the Holocaust and World War II crimes; same issue, soldiers in Japan, Italy, and Germany knew the harm and destruction they were causing to innocent people, but they conformed and obeyed their superiors. In IRIS, we also see how easily superiors influence and control those below them. Whether it’s Sa-Woo taking arbitrary orders from Baek San without questioning too much or the North Korean terrorists risking their lives to set off a bomb to satiate the Chairman’s evil whims and make history. It all comes down to a power struggle and those at the lower ends of the food chain are dispensible anywhere, anytime.

And funny thing is, people play with guns too much; everyone walks around pointing guns like it’s a new trend to greet friends, I mean, enemies.

Especially Vick (T.O.P.)… He is purely crazy and mad in here, with his murderous stare and dangerous aims. Crazy car chases, unbelievable bullseye-shots, and uncanny appearances at all the right places. Popping eyeballs, creepy smirk, piercing stares.  Can you believe this guy, the Big Bang hottie who flashes fluorescent colors while dancing to ‘Lollipop”? He who looks like a convict, but is really a fluffy teddy bear at heart? In IRIS, he is the snooping gunsman found near the unfortunate, he who is never without eyeliner, guns, and cell phone.

Can you really take this guy seriously with that sea-green jacket?

Wow, I really like his stare here, had to get a screenshot

The ending is a shocker, like a stab wound to the heart. While it is unexpected, the end leaves you confused and rummaging for closure.  You feel like frayed edges of an otherwise well-embroidered piece of nice cloth- baffled, unsatisfied, and thirsty for answers. I will not spoil too much detail, but for one, the omnipotent Mr. Black, the root of the Iris conspiracy, is still out there. That means, Iris is still hanging around. It is an open-ended finale that allows for the possibility of the next installment. From what I know so far, it looks like the main actors have signed up for the next season. Iris 2 is in pre-production mode, set for production in March 2011 and broadcast in October 2011.  For now though, I’ll be anticipating Athena: Goddess of War this November, a spin-off of Iris (featuring Choi-Siwon from Super Junior and other famous actors.)

2010 World Cup Red Mania

Amidst my Korea fever, I came across some 2010 World Cup promotions, featuring the biggest names in Korean entertainment.  The ads, videos, songs, merchandise, energy, you name it, all symbolize the national pride and the talents the country has to offer.

Here’s a SPAO All Generation Ad featuring SM Town-Super Junior and SNSD Girls’ Generation.  It’s the South Korea “Yes! I Red It” campaign for the 2010 World Cup.  They look cool and cute in their “red fever.” I like seeing the sporty, cute look on the SNSD girls and the casual, yet tough-boy style the Super Junior boys take on.

Victory, Peace... the popularity of The SignThis is my favorite song for the season.  And yes, it’s Super Junior, again.  Super Junior’s World Cup fighting song “Victory Korea.” Featuring Yesung, Sungmin, Leeteuk, Eunhyuk, and Shindong (in that order of appearance), the MV is AWESOME.  I’ve watched it enough times to hear, even in silence, “Oh A O… O O A O~…. Victory, Victory, Victory, KOREA!” ringing in my ears. I love part 1:25, where they throw in their signature “Sorry Sorry” dance, with fellow netizens and followers joining in the celebration =D  Gah, I love their energy and pride for the sport and their home country.  I still find it a tad funny that I’m not Korean, but I have so much appreciation for the nation, more than America. Woot! Victory Suju!

Now, I’d like to treat myself to a flaming red T-shirt too!

Ohh La La~ I'd like my own "Victory Korea" flaming red T-shirt for the gym/PJs.

I like this one a lot, where Super Junior rejoices ecstatically at South Korea’s win against Greece on June 12… Their excitement is caught from several different angles… On the second one, Ryeowook looks like he’s flying out of his seat. Weird~

Everyone's very quiet, glued to the big screen tv...and then the big win!

This is the flying Ryeowook one...

When they're not singing, Suju guys are just average sports fanatics

Their happy faces and bear hugs...

Victory Korea song time!

We are One Happy Family… Fun advertisements featuring brand name entertainers in Korea… Big Bang (Taeyang in a fancy face mask, when it’s not peak flu season, is funny… new style for his comeback??), Super Junior (maybe not the whole 13 member gang, but it’s still SuJu), SNSD Girls’ Generation, Olympic medalist Kim Yoona, 2PM (I’m still working on experiencing their music), and more…

Big Bang and Kim Yuna... cute

Big Bang, Kim Yuna, and some other people I don't know... Taeyang in a face mask, priceless

SUPER JUNIOR!!! Shindong, Eunhyuk, Yesung, Sungmin, Leeteuk... the spirits behind "Victory Korea" awesomeness

SNSD Girls' Generation & Super Junior SPAO World Cup campaign... Red never looked more bold

2PM Celebrates! They have a song "What's Your Celebration?" as shown on their proud banner

And for other fans of Rain, 4Minute, BEG, etc… here’s another South Korea World Cup song of celebration.

Dashing Down the Stage

My current eye candy?  Korean guys.  Why?  Because they are dashing dancers.  They have the looks, the steam, the unity, the sex appeal, the ever evolving style, and the make-you-melt moves.

Like every other teenage girl in America, I used to be infatuated with pop boy bands like ‘N Sync, Backstreet Boys, ‘N Sync.  I still fall back in time once in a while to remember my girlhood reverie.  I remember the magazine pictures I clipped with my school friends, the love we professed for our favorite members, the giggles we shared while watching television shows, and the letters we wrote to celebrities. Now, here are a few old favorites by my top boy bands.  *Note the fashion, choreography, and the overall performance.* I used to watch “Making the Video” for these songs.

Now, I’ve become less of a twinkie and more of a FOB in recent years.  My recent muses are Korean pop bands that have fantastic talent and skills on the dance floor.  Some personal favorites include DBSK/TVXQ 東方神起, Super Junior 슈퍼주니어, 빅뱅 Big Bang, SS501, SNSD 少女時代, and Wonder Girls, for now.  I’m still exploring and dabbling around.  In Korea, these top groups are created by big record companies/talent agencies (ex. JYP created the Wonder Girls, SM Entertainment formed Super Junior).  Young kids/adolescents are recruited and continuously trained over the years in dance, vocals, and languages, so by the time they debut, they’re still young and hip and money-making machines.  Think of it as Korea’s recipe for success, on the American scale:  take the glam and talents from American Idol, add a dab of Lou Pearlman’s eye from “Making the Band,” and finish off with a big push from the typical stage mom.

These Korean popstars never fail to amaze me with their multi-lingual tongues, upbeat music, slick and stylish looks, and dazzling dance moves.  Because they can sing in Korean, Japanese, Mandarin, and English they attract a diverse audience.  When was the last time you heard an American Idol hopeful sing Jacky Cheung’s classic “Kiss Goodbye” or Lady Gaga belt out Andrea Boccelli’s “Con Partiro”?  That’s what I would call talent and passion for music.

This is SNSD 少女時代 (Girl’s Generation) singing “Oh!”… It’s a bit cutesy and girly, but it’s catchy.

This is DBSK/TVXQ… singing, rather passionately, the song “Love On Ice.”

Now, this is DBSK making all the right moves in all the right ways in their famous “Mirotic 주문.”  They really put their whole body and energy into every move. 

This is a live version.  Since I do not have time to go to Korea to see them in concert, Youtube gives me the same pleasure right from home. OMG, the DBSK guys dance and maneuver around so well, they are practically breathless.  They’ve left me melting. 

And finally, Super Junior 슈퍼주니어!!!  They are HUGE in East Asia.  This is their famous song “Sorry Sorry,” so next time you apologize to someone, think of Super Junior.  The choreography is synced so well.  They remind me of those migratory birds that fly in perfect triangles.  You would think having 13 hot dudes on stage is mayhem, but no no, it’s quite the spectacle.  Super Junior makes dancing in professional suits look so slick; who knew that dancing in professional suits could be executed so well?  And the vocals! Each member’s voice is unique, but the vocals are choreographed with the music and dance moves.  Hot!

This is Super Junior’s latest release, “Bonamana.” They got makeovers and a new style.  I’m not so hot on the voice enhancements and the music overshadowing their sexy voices, but I love them regardless.  Here, I’m hooked to the “speed skater” move and the chorus’ tribal tune signaling an Amazon jungle adventure.  Note the jumps, bounces, and lean-backs… they look fun.  Enjoy!  

To conclude, ❤ Asian music >>>>>>> American music any day.  Just my 2 cents.