TVXQ – SOMETHING [Commentary]

by Ruby Chingu

Palah and Fatma Chinguz will be so annoyed at this post but what the hell… Imma do it anyway.

Seven years ago, when I was an immature eager youth, I was absorbed into the word of super-fanatic fandom of TVXQ, a boyband (almost the only boyband ever at that time) from South Korea. It was my first introduction to the world of K-Pop, which I have now abandoned. However, TVXQ, being my first major devotion, will always have a special place in my heart as it reminded me a lot of my teenage years where life was less bitter and revolved mainly around cute guys, cute guys and more cute guys. Little did I know at least half of them eventually turned out to be gay. *sobs*

I am beginning to sound like a 40 years old. Grrr…

K-Pop is an eccentric visual-centered universe. Everything is about looks, dance moves, flashy music videos and less about the quality of the music itself. Idols, or singer/dancers MUST be pretty or handsome. Despite the seemingly shallow appearance, it says a lot about the world today. We cannot deny the fact that visually-pleasing things make us happy and relieve us from the ugly nature of reality. And K-Pop is one of the best escapism medium I have encountered. However, the excessive focus towards the visual and not the musical quality of the artists would sooner or later bore the hell out of the listeners with the repetitive cycle. It is inevitable. In the effort to maintain their popularity, entertainment companies would try their best to re-invent the images of these girl groups and boybands (IMAGE, not music). The images are recycled again and again to the extend of being formulaic. Upon reaching adulthood, I found my interest towards K-Pop has diminished altogether – a surprising thing since it used to be the focal point of my life.

When my sister told me that TVXQ has just released their latest music video for their tenth album, I did not really feel any excitement but curiosity. I was their fan for six years and could somehow predict whatever products they were offering to the public. Upon coming home to my sister’s iPad, I was prepared to be majorly disappointed. I pressed the play button and locked my eyes towards the screen for a good four minutes to their new song titled ‘Something’.

Something? Like really? Like you guys cannot think of a better name after coming out with 6 albums?

However, the song and the music video, despite the oh-so-lame title, is actually quite good. Not very TVXQ-ish, I have to say. Honestly, I was expecting the music video to be all robotic, surreal, out-of this world dancey with awkward facial expressions like their previous  videos. The weird expressions are still there but TVXQ’s Something utilized the swing jazz style, an unexplored territory for the group mainly known for their heavy choreography and over-the-top rock influenced music. The song is fun and their vocals are great. For the first time in many years, they have produced a song that many adults can enjoy. My sister, not so suprisingly, dislikes the song and preferred the weak Catch Me single, which, for me, was more hype than substance.

She’s fourteen and a fan of Girls’ Generation. Her opinion, clearly, can be disregarded. Haha.

Something is also the only South Korean song I’ve listened to for the past 3 months. I’m happy to know that it is a feel-good song. Compared to their previous lead singles, Something can be said to be the most innovative. The boyband has no choice but to reinvent themselves for the sake of their fans, who are also aging alongside them. They can no longer sustain their popularity by relying on their fandom. The older people gets, the higher expectations they have for the favourite artists in terms of music and maturity. Good looks and suave moves aside, K-Pop idols have to produce albums that are worth listening to in the car or iPods on the way to work. TVXQ seems to be heading that way, I suppose, and this single serves as a good sign.

It makes me feel glad. They are doing well though they are pretty much a part of my history now. *sobs*

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