My unexpected affair with K-Pop
"I didn’t expect you to be a K-Pop fan," my colleague Jekki Pascual told me.
It’s true. I don’t really look like one and I don’t consider myself a hardcore fan. (Confession: I sometimes still have a hard time differentiating one SNSD member from another).
I’d like to think I pale in comparison to other true-blue K-Pop fans, but I guess compared to the rest of the ANC people who haven’t even heard of Girls’ Generation, I’m already hardcore.
Let me explain.
My unexpected love affair with K-Pop actually started in May 2009, when my high school friends introduced me to just-debuted 2NE1, featuring Sandara Park who now goes by the name Dara. The introduction basically consisted of these two 2NE1 songs (though it can be argued that the second one is more BIGBANG than 2NE1):
I was naturally intrigued. Sandara was my favorite contestant in ABS-CBN’s defunct talent show. Plus, I only knew of Taiwanese pop (ehem F4) and J-Pop (hello Utada Hikaru). So while listening to FIRE, I was like, “Wow, Korean pop actually exists!”
It was also in 2009 when I first heard the viral Nobody by the Wonder Girls. Yep, the one with the viral choreography that I’d like to think catapulted them to mainstream consciousness. Apparently, it was first released in 2008, but what do I know. Since I first heard the song in English, it didn’t occur to me that it was a Korean single by a Korean act. Idiot.
Anyway. After 2009, I never actively kept track of K-Pop developments. Work happened, that’s what. Well sure, I did notice when Dara first hopped on Twitter. But basically I wasn’t paying a lot of attention to K-Pop and ended up exploring other genres instead, because Internet.
Wassup!!! This is Sandara Park! I was originally going to fly under the radar but i’ve been exposed by my baby bro Thunder! Bwahahaha!!!^.^— Sandara Park (@krungy21)September 18, 2012
Fast-forward to June 2013. It was a Saturday night, and I was still in the office. I was channel-surfing while waiting for my office computer to reboot. I got to Channel V (yes millennials, the channel still exists!) and suddenly, a splash of pattern, colors and flashy choreography: SHINee's music video for Dream Girl.
The video blew my mind, mainly because of how they danced. I mean, who would’ve thought you can do a lot of steps with a mic stand? I had no idea, and I was FLOORED! Weeks later, after seeing the same MV for the second time, I decided to listen to SHINee’s The 3rd Album Chapter 1.’Dream Girl-The misconceptions of you’ and I found myself a K-Pop boyband I’d root for.
Fast-forward again to August 2013. Here I was, randomly channel-surfing on a Friday night when I stumbled upon Channel M’s Dancing 9. It was the show’s 3rd episode but its format as a dance survival show got me hooked.
THIS! Sorry, no English subs. At 22:55, you’d see Hyohyeon and Yuri teach the choreography to Girls’ Generation’s The Boys.
I since became a fan of Dancing 9. But more importantly, it introduced me to the gem that was The Boys, ultimately introducing me to the SNSD fandom. Which probably explains why I don’t feel conflicted that I root for Girls’ Generation and 2NE1 at the same time, considering that they come from rival agencies.
Since then I was actively checking out updates on these artists. I thought that was already the peak of my pseudo-fangirling but I was wrong. The same group of friends who introduced me to 2NE1 introduced me to the K-Drama, The Heirs.
The show deserves a special mention because this scene had me intrigued on who’s executing this great transition from rapid Korean to flawless English. Apparently it’s Krystal, who is not primarily an actress but a singer from the girl group f(x).
I also found out, thanks to Wikipedia, that she’s the sister of my favorite SNSD member Jessica.
How could I have missed that?! I’m just really bad with faces I suppose, lol.
Fast-forward again to July 2014 and Channel M airs the pilot episode of Jessica & Krystal. I tell you, even my sister who couldn’t care less about K-everything was as fascinated as I already was.
The series also had me listening to f(x)’s newest album Red Light, which actually has great tracks. I’m still partial to the carrier single though, because the song just kicks ass, possibly second to 2NE1’s I AM THE BEST.
I know, I know, it’s kinda unfair for me to compare the two songs, but these singles just. kick. ass. I cannot emphasize that enough.
Adding to my K-Pop flame of 2014: Dara coming to the Philippines ahead of the 2NE1 concert. I didn’t go because I had work plus it wasn’t a priority. As I said, hindi nga ako hardcore K-Pop fan; tamang fan lang.
But while she was here, Dara dominated Twitter trends and appeared on several Kapamilya shows. It also didn’t help that I actually saw her in the flesh in the halls of ABS-CBN.
HOMG YOU GUYS I WAS INCHES AWAY FROM SANDARA AND I WAS SO STUNNED I JUST WAVED AND SMILED AT HER AND SHE SMILED BACK! @krungy21— Rachel Hermosura (@chasingrach)May 14, 201
So anyway ACK FANGIRL MOMENT. Hi Sandara @krungy21, I was the kid in hoodie and glasses who waved & smiled at you on your way out of ABS :)— Rachel Hermosura (@chasingrach)May 14, 2014
So basically that’s how as far as my fandom goes. There’s still a lot of other K-Pop artists out there, but I haven’t listened to them yet because I’m still busy catching up with these artists. Heck, I haven’t even started on the TaeTiSeo sub-unit and CL’s solo album.
I write this entry in the wake of the depressing news that Jessica has been dropped from the Girls’ Generation lineup. It’s the news I woke up to
today yesterday morning and I was am still devastated. Basically I am a mix of the denial, anger and depression stages of grief. In the little time I have come to know the group, I sincerely believe SNSD won’t be the same without Jessica.
I write this entry as a way of coping, I suppose.
Once more with feelings: IT’S JUST NOT THE SAME. #OT9
But will the news make me quit SNSD and, gasp, K-Pop? Nope, unless the industry stops churning out great songs aka impossible. My affair with K-Pop may have gotten off to a rough start, but I think I’m in this for good. It’s not like I’m going to stop listening to other genres anyway.
Still, I don’t know if I can ever accept that Jessica’s out of GG. Maybe soon. Maybe never. I guess it’s a common feeling for some fans when they learn that their favorite band/idol group has membership troubles. (I would know. I’m still in denial over Sugarfree’s breakup, but that’s another genre and fandom altogether.) In the meantime, let me mourn this news by putting Girls’ Generation’s discography circa with Jessica on Spotify repeat.