A Pink Fall In Love, Part II

The Korean networks are doing a sloppy job of updating their youtube channels with the authoritative dedication one should expect from them.  A Pink debuted “Remember” with “A Wonderful Love” on Show Champion and mbckpop has never put that up.  KBS still hasn’t uploaded the “Remember” comeback set (which also had another album track as intro), though two subsequent performances are up.  And mnet– remember them, back when they had the best K-pop channel on youtube besides MBC, until they tried changing to a new channel, started straddling two channels, and finally, after the EXID viral breakthrough, bizarrely turned to photographing every practice stage using interns holding up their iphones to follow each individual member and then upload all of that, but somehow not the actual broadcast performance itself?– well, A Pink performed in full their staggering midtempo love jam “Attracted to U” for their M! Countdown Comeback, but since mnet won’t put it up we’ll just have to gawk at the popular grabbag channel Skpb K-Music Live’s upload instead:

O!!M!!G!!  Look at Eunji mouthing Naeun’s lines and smiling!!!  OMG they are so into this!!  This is such a great song!!  OMG they’re wearing tight white classy outfits and looking hot and Christian and dancing and doing this tremendous tune!!  A Pink awash in misty blue sci-fi light, floating in a labyrinth of mystic pylons, the endless crowd thrilling to their glory–

Truly, this is ecstatic.  This is heaven.  This is tremendous.  What a rapture.  What an exhilaration.  Genius!!!

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4 comments

  1. MajorSeventh · · Reply

    Beautiful! This is my fave from their current comeback.

    When the Crayon Pop and S.Tiger FM collaboration was announced, I was excited and praised his work with Apink. Luv was still fresh in everyone’s minds, and I thought that track showed off just how perfectly S.Tiger could tailor a song to a group’s image. (Crayon Pop fans were worried that their identity would be lost if they hooked up with a powerhouse producer like him.) If you pick apart Luv there’s nothing musically revolutionary there, but taken as a whole it’s a mini-masterpiece of musical economy. It’s Apink boiled down to their essentials, and on that basis, it is brilliant.

    So it wasn’t until this year that I encountered Apink haters. Obviously I don’t get around much. I couldn’t conceive of such a thing, but the knock seems to be that they make simplistic songs and OMG! they’re pretty girls, singing pretty non-negrofied songs and capturing the hearts of normal heterosexual males. If there’s a continuum in contemporary k-pop with trashy on the left and pretty/cute/romantic on the right, then Apink pretty much owns the right end. Burn the witch!

    Oh, and simplistic? I was an audio engineer here in LA, off and on from 1984-2001. I used to joke that my career, such as it was, coincided with the heyday of the compact disc. It’s not uncommon for non-technical people to say these days, “oh, it’s all Auto-tune! It’s all computers!” There is some truth to that, but if anyone with a computer could do it, why don’t they? Because a good song is a rare thing, and talent is still talent whether you’re recording on a shellac disc in the 1930s or direct to hard disc today. S.Tiger’s songs aren’t a million notes per bar, but virtuosity like that only impresses other musicians, and often not even them. His talent lies in crafting beautiful ear candy, and let me tell you, it ain’t easy.

    1. I have to tell you that, while theoretically my vaunted 154 IQ should allow me to conquer music theory with ease (the psychologist bizarrely told my mother, “He could learn to do anything, he could learn to play the guitar . . .”– or at least that’s the only part she remembered to tell me), I have never put in the elbow grease required (assuming I’m not, my musical raptures notwithstanding, tone deaf).

      When I discovered K-pop in 2012, I promised myself to buckle down and master three subjects: Confucianism, Korean, and music theory. I went some ways with the first, spent hundreds of dollars, mostly in thus-far futility, toward the second (ne!), and acquired two books from the Teach Yourself series for the third.

      Nevertheless, despite these shortcomings, I hope you will feel free to shower these comments with as many audiophile insider tips and technical (as well as aesthetic) observations as you can stomach. I, for my part, will bleep in with something about the “Upward Melodic Curve” and a fanzine palinode of Hallelujahs every time the musical genius of “Bo Peep Bo Peep” or “No No No” gets invoked.

      Turner’s 1930s biography of Mozart makes an argument that, in experiencing over many listens a given Mozart masterpiece, one comes at some point to an experience or epiphany akin to what Christian mystics call “the Dark Night of the Soul”. Or maybe it’s more like nirvana– but something of the sense of a nothingness, as if the music’s gossamer lines have disclosed within a kind of magnificent void, a startling and initially horrifying emptiness in which we realize that we are touching the Divine. (Piano Concerto No. 27 is probably a good indication of what he meant, or at least it works for me)

      I feel something like this with “LUV”– not that I think it’s an “emptiness” or even a “nirvana” per se (I haven’t looked at Turner’s book in a long time so I’m paraphrasing wildly; but he was very interested in bringing Kierkegaard and Nietzsche to bear on Mozart, of whom he took what I think can be characterized as a Christian or at least Platono-deist reading, including an affirmation of the ‘moralistic’ finale of “Don Giovanni” which apparently is often reverse-bowdlerized out of modern stage productions); but I think A Pink has often, and perhaps here most especially, approached something Mozartean in their filigree soundscape, the wafting melodic lines, the suggestion (leaning purely on the music here) of melancholy and longing thrillingly bound up with a yearning hope-against-hope for renewal; and all of this bound up too with the deliberate “Seasonal” stylings for this Christmas-themed release. All this– AND that midpoint “breakdown”, with its severely streamlined “funkiness” and sense of abrupt urgency– even without the Romanov princess stage stylings I would gush over this song, and indeed I’ve never stopped listening to it since it debuted.

  2. […] the comments for A Pink’s “Attracted to U” I hazarded a semi-ad hoc thought about Mozart’s Piano Concerto No 27 in relation to A Pink’s “Luv”; but now […]

  3. MajorSeventh · · Reply

    Truth be told, music theory doesn’t help that much in trying to describe the effect of music on the emotions, or the soul. Even simple musical effects like the mellowness of major seventh chords, or the feeling of rest going from a dominant seventh to a tonic – these don’t describe any superiority in a piece of music, but simply the choices the composer made. On top of that, lay people generally won’t know what you mean, and sometimes even other musicians/composers won’t either, because the vocabulary is both inadequate and not standardized beyond a certain point. Without being able to communicate, all such talk just bounces around insensibly.

    But some basic theory can be helpful, if only to point out parts that particularly move you – e.g. “it’s great how the rhythm section goes into double time coming out of the second chorus into the bridge” or “that mournful electric piano riff that repeats throughout the verse in A minor suddenly sounds euphoric when the song modulates into C major for the chorus, even though they are the exact same notes.” But even that will only be understood and appreciated by someone who is already on the same page with you. In other words, no music criticism or discussion has ever changed anyone’s mind. Not ever. The best you can do is say, “oh, you like Mozart? Then maybe (or probably) you’d also like X, Y or Z.”

    It’s fiendishly hard because we’re trying to describe sound with words; on the off-chance that our meaning is perfectly clear, even then it doesn’t mean much. You can show how a song is cleverly put together…and it’s still boring. Or great. Or neither. Some wags have even quipped that composing is easy – start with silence, then take away the parts you don’t like. (Gee, why didn’t I think of that?) It’s really unfortunate, but subjectivity is the very heart of music, and the only measure we have of perceived quality – a very blunt and inadequate measure – is record sales.

    Naturally our good taste recoils at that thought! But it’s yet another reason why demographics matter. Music in the USA is aimed at the mental level of 10 y.o. boys and 10-12 y.o. girls (i.e. too young to be critical, and hopefully too young to know where to download stuff for free). And with whites not having very many kids, well…I don’t need to spell it out. Then there’s the cliché about people’s musical tastes being forever stuck in their early teen years, and I think there’s some truth to that. I’ll listen to oldies radio, and songs from the late ’70s move me the most, even ones I’ve never heard; yet by 1985, I was convinced that popular music in the USA was dead. It was with some delight that I discovered through Youtube that Asians and some Europeans didn’t get the memo that popular music was supposed to be mechanized, negrofied cr*p.

    (Well, the record companies and their tribal owners have finally run the music industry into the ground…in 2001, the year I quit for good, there were two milestones: 1. sales of blank CDs exceeded pre-recorded CDs for the first time and 2. fully two-thirds of all CDs made in the USA were re-issues i.e. not new music. Given the choice, consumers chose to make compilations, or bought old music, rather than mechanized, negrofied cr*p.)

    ***

    As for audiophile tips…believe it or not I’m not an audiophile, despite my engineering background. A decent set of headphones (e.g. Sennheisers) is about all you need. People who recommend oxygen-free cryogenically-sealed speaker cables at $10,000/pair are seriously insane.

    ***

    Comparing pop music to classical is full of pitfalls. All you can do is try to relate similar feelings that each invoke in you; anything else is going to come across like Wilfrid Mellers’ 1973 book Twilight of the Gods, which picked apart Beatles songs in relation to classical music concepts. The endeavor is a bit like trying to compare a photograph to a painting. Both are representational, both can be art, but the aesthetics are different despite some overlap.

    ***

    Perhaps the nirvana you describe is akin to the idea of the “still center of the Universe” – that music takes you away to a place where everything just is, and the only marking of time is the beginning and ending of the music. I’ve found ideas like that interesting and helpful, such as “living in the moment.” I’m not particularly mystical or religious, though. Oddly, it’s my Asian friends, Chinese in particular, who drive themselves a bit bonkers by worrying about the future or dwelling in the past, and they’re the ones who claim to be Buddhists. 🙂

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