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Archive for the ‘Korean Music’ Category

Happy New Year y’all!

happy 2009

Wow…another year takes its bow and leaves. Good riddance, I say. Though on a personal level this year has been a mixture of both good and bad, it definitely hasn’t been a good one for the world in general. I’m looking forward to a new year that will hopefully bring it with it brighter days, more clarity, more strength, greater hope…that will just be better than the year that has gone. Wishing you all joy, peace, and health in the new year!

I’ve just seen my parents off at the airport and it has sunk in that the holidays are truly over…always a difficult pill to swallow. This is my favorite season (the most wonderful time of they year!). I hate to see it go. I have a lot to look forward to this year, but currently my body and my mind are loathe to show much activity and movement. We just wants to lies arounds and do nada. Ennui sets in. I’m in danger of simply becoming a zombie, so I thought that some writing would kind of push my body and brain into circulating some thought and action. Or, yunno, I’m just procrastinating more.

Anyway, I present to you my list of favorites in music and some other miscellaneous categories :)) These opinions are just passing thoughts and just personal opinions, and probably valid to change hour by hour. If you’re a regular reader, you probably know my love of adjectives is never ending, so please to keep in mind the use of hyperbole, kthx.

🙂

Best Bollywood Soundtrack: I think that in comparison to 2007, 2008 showed more innovation and experimentation, but still came short of impressive work. There weren’t that many albums that stood out to me this year, and I barely added any to my library. But even if I didn’t exactly love them, I will say that there was definitely a greater variety in the music out there…more directors, more singers, more styles being played around with. That’s a big step up, and it makes me look forward to the future of Bollywood music.

That said, for me the best album of the year was Yuvvraaj. Apart from my obvious bias towards Rahman as a long term loyal fan, I pick Yuvvraaj because it was so amazingly refreshing for me. And it was a very experimental album for him, this third one this year. I haven’t seen the movie and will never see it (eww to what I’ve heard about it), but that isn’t necessary with Rahman, and especially with Yuvvraaj. From Jaane Tu Ya Jaane Na, to Ada, to Yuvvraaj, Rahman has taken impressive steps to revolutionize his music and change the flavor each time, and do it with the same magnificence. His music is alive, pulsating with life and rhythm and personality and character. And so, yes, it takes time to get used to each new album, but once you do, you absorb it completely and just revel in it (or atleast, I do). Tu Meri Dost was simply lovely…with its high peaks and its low softness, its fantasy-like quality…Mastam Mastam had a quality of freedom, of rebellion, of carnivals and of tolis set out to celebrate…Shano Shano was downright club music with twists and turns that baffled initially but drew you in soon enough…Zindagi was rich in emotion and ached with pain and angst. New voices appeared throughout, and familiar voices showed new talents and capability. Each time I listen to the album, I discover new nuances, new feelings, new emotions, and understand new aspects of the lyrics that actually makes it an experience each time. That’s a golden album for me.

Best Non-Bollywood Album: If you’ve been to this blog even two times you can guess it. Avengi Ja Nahin was miles ahead of anything else this year, anywhere. In fact, I feel it could be miles ahead of its time and its generation. I don’t know how much it was appreciated in India, but Rabbi is an undisputed genius. I’m literally left breathless by how amazing this album is, and how I discover new things in it each time. Read in depth reviews here and here.

(And don’t take just my word for it…see Deepak Iyer’s list for the year gone by here for further corroboration)

Best Filmi Song (Lyrically and Melodically): This was a tie for me between Khwaja Mere Khwaja and Ek Lau. Amit Trivedi’s lyrics for Ek Lau are undoubtedly amazing: they are simple, beautiful, touching. In a few lines, he says so much of such great importance. He conveys the dilemma of the human being, the pain and angst of our world as it stands today, and the confusion of the normal human caught up in all this conflict. Shilpa Rao’s voice is delicate, soft, trembling with emotion, and adds as much to the song as the lyrics and the music do. It is a masterpiece.

Khwaja Mere Khwaja is complex, not easy to grasp, but from start to end it is seeped in devotion, faith, in deep emotion and religious love that is quite powerful to listen to. The Sufi touch envelops you and the lyrics, once understood, mesmerize you. The call touches you, the desire of the devotee to reach his Khwaja is touching, and it involves you, it raises you. If you close your eyes, you may find yourself at Ajmer Sharif… (but please, with none of the terrible actors in the scene from the movie: I almost walked out in frustration at those expressionless zombies).

Best Non-Filmi Song (Lyrically and Melodically): Without hesitation: Ballo, from Rabbi’s Avengi Ja Nahin. Possibly the best song written and composed in recent times. The best song all year in any category. It has made my list of life time favorites, and I think it is a rare gem, as is Rabbi. I possibly don’t need to say more than I’ve already said here.

Most Melodious Song with Disappointing Lyrics: This is a unique category, but I find some gems every year where the music is just outstanding but the lyrics fall far behind. It is my belief that a great song is made up by just the right combination of lyrics and melody and the right voices (I don’t mean lyrics must always be super meaningful or symbolic, but they should hold substance of some sort, even if its mushy substance). But, I must admit, a large part of my library is made up of songs that sound oh-so-good but mean so little if actually thought about. Of course, the trick is not to think about them. 😉 In this category, the prize goes to Hawa Sun Hawa, in Rahman’s Ada (lyrics and translation here). I can’t bother myself to look up who wrote them, but homeboy sure lives on cliches and over used mushy lines. Seriously, hasn’t the woh kaun hai bit been done to death? Raaz, yaad, uske bina, aaja re aaja…aiyiya, seriously, how can a song be so cliched and overly lovey? Haven’t we moved past that by this point? Not to mention the many lines where the song simply goes to into random words to fill in space (aaja re aaja re aare…!!), and I don’t know if Rahman isn’t a little bit involved there. Lyrically, the songs he’s been choosing haven’t all been very good in recent times, which is slightly disappointing to me (Shantanu Moitra, for instance, always seems to give music to songs with substance, such as the recent Sajjanpur and the older Ab Ke Sawan). Also, don’t tell me you can’t have a love song without 100% cliches…Ek Meetha Marz De is a fine example. I love romance as much as the next woman, but, seriously, lets have less of this and more of that. But the music of the song…aah…SPELLBINDING. That’s how I still manage to listen to it.

My Favorite Male Playback Singer in 2008: Mohit Chauhan. I used to love Silk Route when I was a child, and when he came back as a playback singer, I was delighted. It means I get to hear his voice more. Tum Se Hi in 2007 from Jab We Met was arguably a pop gem (if only I didn’t harbor deep suspicions about where Pritam got that tune from, I would love it even more)…so was Guncha a few years ago, and this year he sang Kahin Na Laage (from Kismat Konnection…another Pritam…aiyah), and then the beautiful Moitra song, Ek Meetha Marz, which sealed it for me. Sure, I’d love to see him add some more variety to his portfolio in the year to come, but I can’t deny that I love those songs mostly because he sings them so well. Sonu Nigam in Hawa Sun Hawa almost took this spot, but then I had had too much of the drawing out of words…

My Favorite Female Playback Singer in 2008: Shreya Ghosal. I’m generally someone who doesn’t really love super sweet voices (honestly, they grate on my nerves at times), but Ghosal is different. From her debut a few years ago, girlfriend has grown and grown and just become better and better. On one of the music competition shows for children, Pritam or some other idiot told one of the little girls she sang better than Ghosal had for a particular song…I think I gaped for about a minute and then said something unladylike, before switching channels. Ghosal is one of the most promising singers of my generation, not just because her voice is so lovely and melodious, but because she makes an effort to expand her styles and pick up varied songs, and because it really seems like she works hard. She packs feeling and emotion into her work, and that is what a great singer maketh. From the most recent Kaise Mujhe from Ghajini, to her bit in Tu Meri Dost Hain, to her small but memorable part in Khabar Nahin…this has been a Ghosal year, and she deserves to be lauded for her work.

Singers I’d like to Hear More From: Vishal Dadlani makes great music with Shekhar, and they both sure do sing well. So please to sing more! Dostana was a fun, light album, but definitely exposed how much potential Vishal has as a singer. Benny Dayal is a new discovery…by Rahman…and I don’t know who this dude is but I would definitely like to hear him more. His voice on Yuvvraaj is full of promise: please don’t disappear! We don’t get to hear Shilpa Rao enough, and the same goes for Srinivas.

**That ends the Hindi music side. I can’t comment much on movies, actors, actresses etc because honestly nothing really caught my eye this year. I will say that Bollywood is finally growing up and I’m very proud of it for doing so. Provocative, mature, sensible and slick cinema is now being produced, which is excellent. I didn’t catch enough of this yet to really name any ones that stood out, but I do have great hope now for the film industry.

And now onto the other half of my music library…my favorite Korean pieces this year. My handicap here is that I don’t always understand all the lyrics (a lot of other times, I’m not that bad in getting the gist, or I look em up :)). But that just means the music has to prove itself more. There was some great music this year, but definitely not at par with the year before in my opinion. Going through my library I realized I really haven’t added much to it since 2007, at least not to the same level. Hoping 2009 will bring more great music from an industry, especially from the Indie and Rock scene…

Best Drama Soundtrack: If there weren’t that many great dramas this year, there also weren’t that many great OSTs. Unlike past years, from which I have quite a few favorites added to my collection, 2008 was seriously lacking. Who Are You wins simply because I enjoyed it so much while the drama was going on, and that had to do a lot with the placement of the songs/instrumentals and the way they fit into the story. Thinking deeper, I think Gourmet has greater quality, and more substance, and some very impressive pieces (especially Gyung Hab, with its Arabic twists…wow, what an instrumental).

Best Album: Alex’s My Vintage Romance. Yep, even I was surprised by how much I enjoyed it. I do like Clazziquai and have always loved Alex’s voice, but I didn’t have humongous expectations when I started listening to it. But many of the tracks have become favorites and his voice just has this quality…it can really fit into the mood of the song, it can smile, it can express pain, it can be flirty, it can be romantic, it can be calm and sober. He really plays with many different styles in this album, and does quite well. Highlights are Lets Clasp Our Hands Together (깍지껴요 ft Gaeko) and Love (사랑하오), and Daisy.

Favorite Song: Umbrella, by Epik High, and ft. Younha. I’ll tell you a secret. This year, I had to loosen up on my Epik High fanaticism. My respect and admiration for them is still as great as ever, but neither of their two albums really did much for me this year, except for bright spots here and there. I’m not sure why. All of their other work has spoken to me, so I’m not sure what happened here. Maybe I should go back and re-listen and re-absorb. However, Umbrella was still impressive…dark, gloomy, full of angst and lyrics that made you ache…in other words, completely Epik High.

Song I Didn’t Expect to Like: But did. Mirotic. Definitely not a DBSK fan, and probably never will be, but this song was very…mirotic. Also, their dancing in the MV and on their on-stage performances is excellent and always supremely polished (with many “how the…what the…huh?” complex steps), and that makes the song even more attractive. But, seriously, are these boys actually real or programmed, too good looking robots? (Shuts up and won’t tag for fear of fan wrath ;))

Disappointed in…: Clazziquai’s most recent album, Metrotronix. I mean, it is just too much techno and electro for me. And it just doesn’t have…the it quality that their other work has had. Of course, I have the one song featuring Yi Sung Yol. That’s a given, ain’t it?

Year End Bang: My Aunt Mary’s Circle. I haven’t given it too many listens yet but what I have heard, I’ve loved. And how good to have them back on the scene. Thomas Cook’s voice never gets old, I tell ya.

My Wish for 2009: 이승열 (Yi Sung Yol), won’t you please release another album? We’ve been waiting patiently! Hearing you twice a year on OSTs or featured on other singer’s albums is simply not enough. I’ve worn out volume 1 and volume 2, and a new volume would be the perfect present this year. Nothing in the world quite like his voice…

****

Its midnight and time for me to turn into a pumpkin! Or maybe just time to eat a guava. Don’t ask me why. Go grab your own midnight snack.

Happy 2009!

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The Indian music industry went through a reformation in my personal opinion in the last few years, and going back to it after a small break I was able to appreciate a lot of the new work. The opportunities for new talent has proven to be a great thing, and I for one have really enjoyed it and taken it as a new movement towards the better. Starting with Naresh Iyer doing a tremendous job with Rubaroo and for a change being lauded highly for it, there have been new voices, new faces, and new music on the scene. I especially like the fact that established music directors are willing to take chances…I mean, I loved Shankar even before he began experimenting widely, but I love him even more for that. Rahman has always been an experimenter, and he has the talent to do it well. The new atmosphere I think gives him even more room, and his new albums have all been proof to that. Ada had tunes that were very Rahman, and some that were very different, that you needed to give time to sink in. Same with Jaane Tu, which some die-hard Rahmaniacs still choose to look over and avoid talking about 😉 I am as loyal to him as ever, but I’ve opened up and am more welcome to the latest work by directors like the young Vishal-Shekhar duo (thank you for beginning to sing yourself too in your tracks, btw). The pop/folk scene has changed to, and begun to accept that it can only go so far in false clothes: Hindi cannot and should not be a rap language. It just doesn’t work. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t other realms we can expand into, right? Rabbi’s been popularizing a new type of modern rock, and Kailash Kher has been taking us back to the earthy, folksy, rich tones, but with a twist each time. Me likes.

Anyway, after all my re-appreciation I kind of got diverted (blame the new Epik High releases and Alex’s solo album) and only just got back to exploring, based on a recommendation. I checked out Dostana, was somewhat pleased, and then excitedly checked out Rahman’s new Yuvvraaj, a Subhash Ghai offering. Most of the tracks I’m still getting used to, but one or two have already gotten stuck in my head, which is what happens when a Rahman song is destined to become a favorite. He gives, again, the reigns of many songs to new singers: great move 🙂

Most of Dostana I’m quite pleased with. I’m sure the majority loves Desi Girl which is a fun enough track (and reminds me of Shankar’s music, not just because he’s singing), but I’ve built quite a liking to the other tracks.

Anyway, here’s what’s playing a lot on my ITunes this week…

Dostana: Khabhar Nahin**, Jaane Kyun**, Kuch Kum*

*Shaan does a sad song? Shaan’s voice is always smiling, so Kuch Kum has this feeling to it…like someone is trying to smile through pain. Lovely touch.

**Um, Vishal Dadlani, can you tell me why you weren’t singing happy-bubblegum-upbeat-falling in love songs before? And also, can you please tell Shekhar to start singing to some of his compositions too? As long as you don’t take it too far like a certain nasal music director turned singer, I’d really like to hear more of those voices. Please to oblige. Thanks.

Yuvvraaj: Tu Meri Dost Hain*, Zindagi**

*Firstly, the lyrics really attracted me, and then the touch with which Benny Dayal goes “Tu hi to meri dost hai…” Its a very unorthodox song, unpredictable on the twists it takes. I really love the idea behind using the word dost.

**Feels like ages since I’ve heard Srinivas.

Also heard repeatedly: Alex’s Saranghaeyo, highly because of the instrumental parts, and Epik High’s One Minute One Second. Is there any limit to Tablo’s genius? I hope not.

Oldies I’m going back to: Naina Barse Rhimjhim, for its eerie beauty, and Baat Niklegi because you can never have enough of a good ghazal.

Procrastinated enough? 🙂

PS: While we’re on it: any recommendations?

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Solely music-related post.

One, I can’t thank Javabeans enough for this post on Yi Sung Yol, its like a gift for us information-starved fans. http://www.dramabeans.com/2008/06/profilegiveaway-2-yi-sung-yol/

It has so much information on his music, his background with UMe&Blue, his personal journey and insight into his own music, and is just a fantastic read. Best of all, she translated 20 versus 30, one of my favorite songs. How amazing is that. I was so thrilled I think I shouted involuntarily (only a few artists can bring out the fan girl in me). And to top things off, I was a winner of the giveaway! Woooohhoooo! That means I get the first CD 🙂 Thanks so much Javabeans! Please check out this article if you’d come here looking for information on him, I’m sure you’ll appreciate it as much as I have.

Also, Mary R commented on one of my YSY posts (thanks!) and gave me some more news: http://www.kome-world.com/uk/article.php?id=142 He was awarded the Musician of the Year Award for In Exchange and also the Best Modern Rock Single at the Korean Music Awards. Yes! It pleases me that he’s getting these awards and recognition: couldn’t go to a better, more-deserving artist. His music just blows our minds away!

Two, I have yet to describe my trip to California, in which I had gallons of fun and was quite the traveler and adventurer. One of the best bits was our last-moment trip to Oakland to catch Summer Beats 2008, the amazing concert with Atif Aslam, Kailash Kher, Richa Sharma and Amanat Ali (who, I’m sorry to say, should have spent more time backstage observing his sunbaes than on stage). How do I begin? Amanat Ali wasted too much time. But then Richa Sharma struck just the right tone with Saawariya as she gracefully came on stage. Her Dama Dum Mast Kalandar was a bit too much the fourth time around (there really was no need, especially since it wasn’t her song anyway), but she did a medley of some of her best intros (Jag Soona, etc). I wish they’d have cut her by just 2-3 minutes. Next tiny Kailash Kher with his big beautiful voice walks on. He was so short, I was totally not expecting that! But he makes up for what he lacks in height with his powerful voice. He picked great songs, starting with Sajna Tere Bina, going on to Chak De from Khosla ka Ghosla, and singing his two beautiful hits, Teri Deewani and Saiyyan (I’m so crazy with this song right now). The dancers were just amazing too, they did a beautiful, fitting sequence in Teri Deewani, making the whole song amazing. He got the audience involved, introduced his band Kailasa, and was so genial and funny that it was definitely worth it. He was probably the best performer of the night.

Kailasa-Saiyyan (Jhoomo Re)

And then, onto the main event (atleast for me), but thanks to the stupid MC and Amanat, the rockstar of the night Atif Aslam only got like 25 minutes (and he was not happy about that). After commenting on the time he got right into it though, and kept it high energy the entire 25 minutes, ending rather abruptly. Atif is truly a rockstar, and he showed his colors. It was amazing. I always think that a concert is worth your money if you see something you’d never get on a good pair of speakers, and clearly Atif thinks the same (see, we’re made for each other), because he did his most famous songs with variations, did guitar solos, threw in some crazy rockstar moves. Of course, to see him live and realize that the man actually is that damn good looking has its advantages to it too. And yes, when he lets go of his cool dudeness and smiles, it is so, so, worth it. (Hold on a minute while I reminisce…)

The big drawback: the sound quality was bad in the theatre. Atif sings really close to the mike (just like John Mayer and YSY: I see a pattern here!), and the sound system wasn’t set up for that. As a result his words weren’t clear, and sometimes there was feedback (not fun). When we did hear the words, it was interesting to note how different his enunciation is. He pronounces a lot of words with a strange accent, and a different emphasis, and really mouths them out. He’s born and raised and educated in Pakistan, so I’m pretty sure that just comes from his singing style, he just likes to really throw his words out there, and enunciate each one. Its hard to explain, you just have to hear him/see him in concert, but its unexpected. Ofcourse, I’m totally biased so I take the positive spin on that :). He sang his most popular songs, but left out Woh Lamhe and Doorie, but I think that was on purpose because he was a little miffed at the time he was left (I can totally understand that too: wth was it with the extra time given to others??). Pehli Nazar Mein: when he began, I think my heart skipped a beat. He started from the first stanza and the audience went crazy. He did variations of Aadat, and sang Tere Bin, which was a huge hit too.

The man sure keeps his energy up, and he has some freaking amazing guitar skills. The whole band does, and I kind of wish he had introduced the rest, atleast given them names, because he had some great talent in that group. He did one or two slow songs too, which included the pretty Kuch is Tarah, but not enough. I’m such a big fan of his deep, strong voice that I would have really liked to relish that for atleast a couple more songs, rather than the heavy rock star music and guitaring. I mean, I definitely loved the musical extras he gave the audience, but I longed for a little bit more of his voice. When I got back home, though, I realized his new album Meri Kahani was out. So apart from planning our wedding, I spent some time checking that out. Its recieved more criticisms than his last album (Doorie), because he’s totally changed his style. I didn’t like Doorie as much (except the title track), so I barely paid attention to those criticisms, and yes, I was right, his new explorations do more for me. Atif has ventured out of his usual, comfort zone, of which many were getting tired, and tried something new and different for him and his voice.

You may not be able to tell with this title song, but perhaps this next song, my favorite one (a duet with a Pakistani female singer, SKJ), will throw more light.

Atif Aslam-Kaun Tha (Meri Kahani)

This album has quite a few slow songs (yes!), leaning towards acoustic, giving his voice and the lyrics more space than his previous songs tended to. Also, more emphasis is given to a subdued, understated quality of his voice than to the power alone. As in, while his previous hits have relied on his high notes, the throwing out of his voice, Meri Kahani doesn’t do that as much, but tries to bring out the softness, huskiness and emotion in his voice. I’ve always felt Atif has a ‘tragic’ voice, which I find hard to explain, but its like that very first time you hear Aadat, or you hear Tere Bin, and you’re immediately drawn because he plays directly on the listener’s emotions. You feel his voice more, and the lyrics mean less. I’m not being fan-girly, because even when I don’t like his songs, I can appreciate the depth of his voice. So Meri Kahani tries to prove that his voice has more than the deep, tragic, low facet…he has more talent than just stretching the note.

On the negative side, this means some of his songs are not as clear, he seems to mumble or they are just too soft to win over the guitar. Also, the strange accent troubles me a bit in this album, especially when he pronounces Tha (the word for was) as Ta. That just sounds wrong, especially with the female singer doing it the right way. I’m not sure why he does that, if its just a by product of enunciation or what. There are also some rock tunes, mainly the too-heavy-metal for me tune, Hungami Halaat, and Chor Gaye leans towards the usual rock and guitar numbers. I completely disagree with critics who claim the album is lacklustre or sounds similar throughout: I’m not sure which album they’ve been listening to. I think thats just backlash from disappointment, because most fans enjoy hearing the kind of music they love rather than watch their artist foray into different fields. The album has plenty of flaws, and some songs deserve to be reworked (like Humrahi, which goes along just beautifully until it suddenly changes its mind and decides not to be acoustic, and the whole tune gets changed, leaving the listener in a “whaaa” stance). But overall, being as objective as I can, I think Atif has taken some huge steps to explore his musical skills with this attempt as singer and songwriter and composer. The album is personal, a narrative that is more honest, open, and bolder than his previous work has been. His songs are varied, and cover a broad range, ranging from memories and childhood, to love, longing, loss to even a dialogue on man and society with Rabba Sacheya, an adaptation of Faiz Ahmad Faiz’s Punjabi poem about man’s expectations from God and the problems with society (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Meri_Kahani). That isn’t a weak effort or experiment, but an impressive attempt by a singer who, to be honest, doesn’t need to work so hard to sell (his voice is enough to sell like hotcakes. Infact, every album he has sung a track for in recent times has been a hit in the Bollywood music industry alone). He may be indulging his personal tastes and his desires to expand his portfolio, and he makes some mistakes, but Atif Aslam has a very, very forgiving listener base, and with his truly impressive talent, he should be lauded for taking chances and forging into new territory.

And now I’m done reviewing music for the day. I have yet to go into Rahman’s Ada, and rave some more about Atif Aslam. I’m considering posting some of my video from the concert, but between planning a wedding and planning my impending move to a new country, I unfortunately have less time for good ol’ fan girlness. Pity.

[PS: I just heard from my chingu that other places weren’t as lucky to have a good Summer Beats concert, and got some ol’ fashioned swindling instead, with Raghav (Raghav????!) being pushed down throats. And the later concerts got cancelled because of Atif’s visa problems (yes. Racial profiling at its best). I feel pretty darn lucky to have had a fairly decent concert, and a great time, albeit the beginning. If this happened to you, please don’t let it put you off from attending future Atif Aslam or Kailash Kher concerts (when they are allowed into the country, and when the producers are able to get their act together). From my own experience I can say, they put on a damn good show, and its enjoyable and worth the money (a reasonable sum of money that a student may afford), and you take home more than just what you would have heard on your speakers. So atleast give ’em one more shot. ‘Course, this comes from a completely biased source. 🙂 )

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“If your legs are tired, you stop. If you can’t walk, you sit down. If you sit down, someone might come to hold you up. That’s how we live.”

(Il Gun, in 두구셰요/Who Are You, as translated by Javabeans at www.dramabeans.com)

Fortunate Son, by 이송열/Lee Seung Yeol, on the OST of 두구셰요

I think that quotes’ pretty excellent. I’d like to quote the Korean here, but I’m afraid of misspellings that completely ruin the meaning and I can’t find the script. But thats fine. Because that translation is pretty great, and doesn’t it just mean so much? Isn’t that just how life is? Even if we’re cynical (like me) and even if we can’t really believe in people, I really do believe that people do come through and lift you up when you need them. I’ve seen it happen, and its happened to me, every single time. Thats how we all live, I think, by being lifted by each other. Isn’t that why we need each other?

If you’d like the opinions of hundreds of people on why this drama is just so terrific and has just taken over the lives of us k-drama fans (and maybe some have become fans just because its so terrific, y’all need to head over to Dramabeans. Because apart from her amazing summaries, there’s all kinds of discussion and thoughts and also the occasional fan girl scream going on.

두구세요 isn’t the best k-drama I’ve seen, but its pretty near to it. Its lovely. Its poignant, heart-breaking, heart-warming, funny, whimsical, witty, a little crazy and out there and when you get down to it, just very human. All its characters are flawed. The three leads have major issues (one is dead, the other has OCD and thanks to the dead guy is also half-crazy now, and the third is an angry youth whose suddenly orphaned and on the streets). And yet, its not depressing or frustrating. The story is hopeful, and the change in the characters is believable and warming, and the actors do an excellent job (special kudos to Yoon Kye Sang, who is also unbelievable handsome let me add, and Kang Nam Il). And its about courage, and hope, and being open, and willing to reach out and be reached out to, and letting change take its course and effect you. Strangely, through the idea of death and through a character who is dead, the other characters, and the viewer, goes through the realization of the delicacy of life, and how the important things that matter must be valued, and how its possible to begin loving life even if it seems forlorn. The dead, in a way, humanizes the living, funnily enough. And thats interesting, intriguing and really, really fun to watch 🙂

Not to mention there’s a very exciting stolen-paintings-evil-greedy-gallery-owners story running in the show, and the bad guys need to be struck down forever, and we must win! Soon (thank god for short k-drama seasons :)). And there’s a freaking amazing soundtrack, which just has to be, because its music directer Lee Sang Heon, who was also behind Que Sera Sera, and who always gets the best artists, like Yi Sung Yol, and W, and My Aunt Mary, and Loveholic, and has awesome background scores too. Genius.

*Sighs* And thank god for k-dramas.

 

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This has TOTALLY made my day. Maybe my week. Its been a while since I did a search for 이승열/Lee Seung Yeol (I was in the habit of googling him often in search of new info earlier). Today, seeing the hits for my post on him (here), I thought I’d give it a shot. And I found a video of his live performance! Wonderful! I am not sure how rare this is, but this is the first one I’ve seen. If anyone else knows of any other, please let me know! Many thanks to gesa04!

He is performing 비상 (Bi Sang, or Fly High), which was on the OST of the Wonderful Days.

I think the entire performance is amazing, and his voice just sounds so much more wonderful and energetic live. I’d kill to go to concert! The band giving him company does a great job. He seems really focused and entranced, and its interesting how he sings really close to the mike. John Mayer does the same thing.

*Goes off to listen to In Exchange again :)*

Edit: He needs to be rocking on a bigger stage.

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My post on Yoon Mi Rae probably gets the most hits on this blog (which is great, since it means more and more people are searching her out :)). I thought I’d post up a translation of the lyrics of 잊었니 (Did you forget) for anyone looking out for it. Its pretty much a tearful, sorrowful, break-up song. I enjoy her powerful and emotional singing and the music more than the lyrics themselves. 

I didn’t translate this (I wish my Korean was this good!); all credit goes to KBS World Radio. The host of the K-Pop Interactive show translates songs at the request of listeners, and these are available on the website. Explore this via http://rki.kbs.co.kr/english/radio/ and http://rki.kbs.co.kr/english/entertainment/enter_bbs_list.htm.

(KBS World has actually created a very impressive compilation of resources to reach out to the universal audience, and the radio shows are quite good, with some good hosting: many shows are broadcasted and in numerous languages, with great reception if listened to online (also broadcast in some states in the US). I’ve personally listened to some of the shows often and enjoyed them. Great for someone new to Korean music and culture :))

Thanks to DJ Sarah and the KBS World website for the translation and the romanization. So you can sing along when you’re feeling dramatic and/or broken hearted!

Here’s the song again. 잊었니, by ‘T’ (Yoon Mi Rae)

진실은 거짓이 되고 [Jinshireun geojishi dwego]
The truth has become lies
술은 눈물과 섞여 쓰라린 [sooreun noonmool-gwa sekkeo]
my tears mix with my drink sseurarin
마음 속을 태워 [nae ma-eum sogeul taewuo]
내려 가네 여전~~ [naeryeo ganae yeojeonhi]
burning my bitter heart as it goes down, like always
안에 웃던 그날~ 날에 멈춰 [Ni poom ane ootdeon geu nal Geu nare meomchuo]
I remain in the days when I laughed in your embrace
미소 지어~ 보는~ [miso jieo boneun nan]
I, who wore a smile on my face
내일이 되면 ~이라고~ [nae-ili dwemyeon ggoomirago]
will realize that it was a dream when tomorrow comes
오늘도~ 애써 잠들려 [oneuldo aesseo jamdeullyeo]
so today it’s hard for me to fall asleep
~ ~지만~ [Nan noon-eul gamjiman]
Though I close my eyes
눈물이 고인 가슴 속은 진실을 알려~
[noonmooli goin nae gaseum sogeun jinshireul allyeo]
as my tears well up, my heart tells me the truth
잊었니 우린 사랑했~~ [Ijeonni woorin saranghaetjanni]
Did you forget? Didn’t we love?
나만 사랑한단 우리의 ~~ 잊었니~ [Naman saranghandan woori-eh yaksogeul Ijeonni]
Did you forget the promise that you would love only me?
우린 행복했~~ [woorin haengbokhaetjanni]
Weren’t we happy?
없이 천천히 [Neo eobshi nan cheoncheonhi]
죽어 ~~ [joogeo ganeunde]
Without you, I’m dying slowly
~딨니 [Neon eodinni]
Where are you? Ooh ooh ohh
거짓은 ~실이 [Geojiseun jinshili dwae]
Lies become the truth
술은 눈물과 섞여~ [sooreun noonmoolgwa seokkeo]
my tears mix with my drink
맘속에 아픔을 질러 [Nae mamsoge apeumeul bool jilleo]
pain is setting my heart on fire
네게 기대려 ~~ [Nege gidaeryeo haedo]
Even if I try to lean on you
옆에 있진 않지만~ [Yeope neon itjin anchiman]
Even if you’re not by my side
내일이 되면 ~워주겠지 [Naeili dwemyeon neon nal ggaewuojoogetji]
When tomorrow comes you’ll wake me up, won’t you?
There’s just no more you and me
오늘도~ 기다리며 [oneuldo neol gidarimyeo]
Even today, as I wait for you
~ ~지만~ [nooneul gamjiman]
and close my eyes
눈물에 잠긴 가슴 속은 [noonmoole jamgin nae gaseum sogeun]
거짓을 알려~ [geojiseul allyeo]
flooded with tears, my heart tells me about the lies

벌써 사랑을 [Beolsseo ddan sarangeul]
찾아 간거니 [chaja gan-geoni]
Have you already gone to search for another love?
어떻게 없이 살아가 [Neon eoddeoke na oebshi saraga]
How can you live without me?
없이 살아지는데 [nan neo eobshi sarajinende]
When I’m fading away without you
영혼도 떠난대 [Nae younghondo nal ddeonandae]
Even my soul says it’s leaving me
해는 너무 빨리[Haeneun neomoo bballi]
오지만 [ddeo ojiman]
Though the sun rises so quickly,
너는 오지 않아 [neoneun oji ana]
you’re not coming
돌아와 제발 [Dorawa jebal]
Come back, please

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The Snowy Night 
[신화 (Shinhwa), Winter Story 2007-2008. Its all the buzz and excitement amongst the official and unofficial Changjo. According to their fans, 신화 has this strange capability of making people happy. I respect this band for sticking through for almost ten years despite being six very different people. I might not always love their music (except for a good beat here and there boy bands tend to be too pop for me)…Javabeans says it best here. But I love their bond, their friendship (real or not, they do an admirable job of marketing it and demonstrating it), their individual talents and perseverance, their maturity and humility and devotion to their fan base despite their fame and fortune, and their obvious hard work as musicians and/or actors. And, ofcourse, they’re all gorgeous 😉  Fans are beginning to dread their army enlistment starting next year, but before they leave they plan to release more music as a group, put up some concerts for their fans in China, Japan and Korea, and delight their Changjo with bringing themselves and their personalities to variety shows. Here’s to the Legend.]

It was ICY today. Its treacherous. I think I almost slid fifteen times today. Its pretty scary. I don’t like such days…I love winter, I love snow, but ice makes my heart all jittery. Never liked ice skating either. If I were to psychoanalyze myself, I’d say its all connected with my fear of not being in control…I can’t stand it, I freak out. My boot slips a little and my heart jumps in my mouth…I might know that its not going to be that bad, its just a fall, I’ll get up and dust off and be fine…yet, that brief moment when I think I’m going to tumble is frightening. So I came home before dark and got warm…and decided to give a brief update before I went back to finals cramming 🙂

I had a couple blog posts simmering in my head for a while, and I’ve noted them down somewhere, but I never did get around to formulating them out. And here we are in finals week, and I leave for my trip on Saturday. It doesn’t seem real to me, at all. I think until I’m exchanging currency or actually in the flight I won’t believe it. Its too surreal–am I really graduating in 3 days? Done with one more step? Done with college? And am I really free? Am I going to two foreign countries that I’ve never stepped in before, for an actual, normal, vacation? A trip? All by myself? It just doesn’t seem possible.

Before I can find out if it is real, though, I have to work on finishing up: three heavy duty exams and one very, very heavy duty lab report…alongside the joy of editing/revising personal statements. Which I’m happy to do in any other condition, but right now is a little bit much, but hopefully I can help as much as I can. Personal statements are just so hard, and I want to help because I know how terribly hard they can be, and I want these x people to not let that PS negatively affect their chances. I’m a bit flattered too, and at the same time I get stressed because I don’t want to do a half-hearted task of giving them advice. When did I become an expert anyway? I still hate my personal statement, and it took my wayyy too long to get it down anyway. Ironic.

Apart from all this, this term has been wonderful. I’ve had some great times. We had some great dinners, some great shopping trips, many movies, many evenings watching House and Pushing Daisies, warm walks in the cold weather, deep conversations, delicious food and drinks (note how I mention food twice. Do I love food or what), some random trips and drives, some stay-inside-because-its-too-cold-outside cozy days, some just sitting around and enjoying each other days. A perfect mix…and a lot to fit into seven weeks. I’m excited because my favorite season is here: Christmas!! I love everything in this month: the weather, the smell in the air, the excitement, the magical-ness of it all. I don’t care how capitalist Christmas is purported to be, or how much others complain about how its all commercialized…for me, ALL my life, Christmas has been a beautiful time. Warm, cozy, smelling of cinnamon and cookies and cakes, running along the tracks of carols. I love it.

More than anything else this term, though, I’ve taken every possible moment to just immerse myself in the reality of now. Of realizing how fortunate I am to have what I have, for what is coming and trying to be really, really happy with that. And to focus on spending every moment I can and making all kinds of memories with these beyond-wonderful friends I have. As cheesy as it sounds, sometimes I have to re-evaluate and wonder: me, who always had the worst luck in friends and gave much and got nothing, how did I end up with such amazing people around me? Thinking of anyone of them makes me warm inside, and here in this place I’ve found enough friendship, love, loyalty and affection to make up for all those friends who didn’t look back. If’ I’d shut myself up and given up, I’d have none of them in my life, and thats a scary thought. I think I can look at each of my close friends and say, hey, I’m not a bad judge of people after all. I’m glad they’re all in my life.

And while I’m getting ready to leave this place soon, it doesn’t feel as sad as I thought it would. Its not heart-wrenching. Because the best gift this place gave me were these people: the opportunity to know them, to be their friend, to be loved and to love, to be taken care of and to take care, to make memories, to share laughter and anger and tears and everything else. And I’ll be taking it all with me, wherever I go. And somehow, I feel very sure somewhere inside, that I won’t be letting these people go either. We’ll always be threaded together in someway. And even if we lose touch, don’t talk for ages, get too busy in our lives, I’m pretty sure that the next time we meet it’ll be completely normal. It’ll be right how it should be, for each of these people who are so close to my heart. I’m very, very, sure. So I’m not sad. I’m a little sensitive and anxious, but not sad. 

Friends like these, bonds like these, don’t disintegrate into nothing…now we are mature, now we are adults, and now we know the reality and limits of relationships and life…and so we take what we got, keep what we were given, and believe that there will be more–and only as much–as what is meant to be.

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