Kpop Music Monday #32: Hyuna, “I’m Not Cool”

The soloist Hyuna debuted back in 2006 with a short stint in the Wonder Girls before moving to the girl-crush group 4Minute, which sadly disbanded back in 2016. Her solo tracks have been really popular and she hasn’t shied away from expressing her sexuality and showing off her body, something that has scandalized the more conservative Korean culture.

In 2018, however, she went on to scandalize even further: admitting to being in a two-year relationship with E’Dawn, a boy-group member (Pentagon) and her co-member in the trio Triple H. Her entertainment company was none too pleased and both members were basically forced to leave the company.

“I’m Not Cool” is her first extended play with her new label, P Nation, headed by none other than Psy. (You know, the Gangnam Style guy.) In the song, she sings, “I love early mornings, Dawn, Dawn, Dawn; I’m not solo, that’s the way I like it,” clearly referencing her now-renamed partner who also signed with P Nation (and you can view his latest video here, and check out his “Bubble Pop Senorita” line, referencing one of Hyuna’s other solos from back in 2011).

We stan a confident queen who makes the best of what life hands her.

Kpop Music Monday #25: HA:TFELT, “Life Sucks”

The life of a kpop star isn’t easy, even though music videos and reality shows often make it seem like it. There has been more than one occasion where a family member has used an artist’s name in order to scam people.

Unfortunately, the usual story is that of an estranged father who begs money from someone using his connection to his well-known daughter and then defaults on his promises. This is the story of HA:TFELT, aka Yeeun/Yenny, who started her kpop career as one of the original and long-term members of the group Wonder Girls.

You can read an article about her father’s fraud and alleged sexual assault here. You could also just listen to the song and read the lyrics below, as it’s full of gut-wrenching emotion.

For the first time in my twenty-nine years
Daddy sent me a letter
Never knew how wack his handwriting was
I guess I should've known better
That's why mine is so ugly, too
That's why mine is so ugly, too

For the first time in my twenty-nine years
Daddy wrote me a letter
How's your mom? How's your sis?
I really miss ya, but you better not come here
I'm sorry, but don't you worry
'Cause I'm prayin' for your health and future

Oh dear, sweetheart
Things have gone a little South
My girl, need your help
Could you bail me out (bail me out)

Life sucks for everybody
(No need to cry no no no)
Life sucks for everybody
(Act like no child no no no)
I'm just survivin' everyday
Right at the edge of losing my mind
Life sucks for everybody
Just let me find peace of mind

If only I could go back and tell myself
"Don't you trust him, he already hurt you"
When you cried on you knees, showing some regrets
Wish I could've known better
People don't change so easily, nah
People can't change that easily
If only you meant all you told me that night
But, guess I'd better blame myself

How's your night? How's your sleep?
Have you ever woken up by your conscience?
Well I'm sorry, I've got no worries
All I have are wrath and disgust

One time, you said,
"Must obey or be cursed"
You were right, I am cursed
Running your blood in my vein (my vein)

Life sucks for everybody
(No need to cry no no no)
Life sucks for everybody
(Act like no child no no no)
I'm just survivin' everyday
Right at the edge of losing my mind
Life sucks for everybody
Just let me find peace of mind

I might pull the trigger, you know
I might do it for good, you know
I might pull the trigger, for both of us
I might do it for all, you'll see

I might pull the trigger
I might do it for good, you know
Pull the trigger
Do it for all

Kpop Music Monday #14: Sunmi, “Gashina”

Hello everyone and sorry for missing last week’s Music Monday. I was understandably stressed out about my impending trip to Korea, but now that I’m here I can continue where I left off!

It’s only fitting that here I talk about my most listened-to song of 2018: Sunmi’s “Gashina.”

2018 was an interesting year for me, as I was set to start a new job around the same time that a long-term relationship ended, and I subsequently had to move out of our shared apartment. “Gashina” was the perfect song for all of my emotions, even when I first didn’t understand the lyrics. “I will live like the flowers, that’s who I am, can’t nobody stop me now, no try me…”

“Gashina” was a huge hit for Sunmi, who was one of the (original) members of the group the Wonder Girls, who you may remember as the group that got me interested in kpop. She’s gone on to release new music but nothing seems to have hit just as hard as “Gashina” did. Still, there’s no doubt that Sunmi is currently at the top of her game and we’ll continue seeing interesting tunes from her.

Kpop Music Monday #1: Wonder Girls, “Tell Me”

I’m calling this section Kpop Music Mondays and while it is a nod to EatYourKimchi, my co-worker and I usually play kpop when we work together Monday mornings.

For some it was Psy’s “Gangnam Style.” For others it was BTS’ “Mic Drop.” For me it was Wonder Girls’ “Tell Me.”

Sometime in September of 2007, YouTube recommended a Korean music video and your unsuspecting heroine clicked on it.

It was a cute video. The youngest member of the group is secretly Wonder Woman and saves an elderly woman pushing a baby pram from being run over by their school bus. Later, she saves the girls from a perverted flasher in their locker room and helps a bullied classmate.

But what stuck with me was the chorus, “tell me, tell me, dut dut dut dut dut dut tell me.”* I couldn’t get it out of my head and thanks to the internet, I was able to download the rest of the album.

It has all the makings of a stereotypical Korean pop music video: attractive singers, a charismatic rapper, an adorable “막내” (maknae = youngest member aka Wonder Woman), fully synchronized dance moves that almost seem easy enough to learn yourself, bright colorful backgrounds, fashionable outfits (or what we thought was fashionable at the time), and most of all, a sense of humor.

It was a fun video with catchy English lyrics. I was surprised to hear the song coming from a Tibetan friend’s cell phone when I was living in India. When I returned to the States in May of 2009, I was armed with fast internetmand a handful of names, such as Girl’s Generation, TVXQ, Super Junior, etc. Some groups whose debuts I watched are now disbanded but new artists always pop up in their place, offering something new or perhaps tried-and-true.

Whenever someone finds out I listen to kpop, the first word out of their mouths is usually “BTS?!” I feel like an 아줌마 (ahjumma = middle-aged woman) because I was listening to kpop before BTS was even formed. I consider myself to be a fan of the second generation of kpop, which is something I’ll explore in later Music Mondays.

What was your introduction to kpop?

*They’re actually singing “tell me, tell me, tell tell tell tell tell tell me” but it’s hard to hear clearly.