It’s only too dangerous if you’re Muslim

I feel like I should start this off with a disclaimer (something which, now that I think about it, is sort of meta commentary in itself considered the state of current affairs. Heh.)

Uthman Badar is a very prominent figure in the Sydney/Australian Muslim community, and an extremely controversial one even amongst Muslim. It goes without saying that I disagree with about 90% of whatever he decides to blurt all over his public Facebook at any given time, and the 10% I do agree with is pretty much exclusively his views on ethnocentrism, Islamophobia and colonialism.

But see, this isn’t really about how I feel about Uthman Badar. Nor is it about what Uthman Badar’s radical viewpoints may be, misguided or not.

So today the Australian Media, and the mass of liberal advocates went completely bezerk in regards to Uthman Badar’s proposed topic at the Sydney Opera House for the “Dangerous Ideas” festical. The topic, “Honour Killings are Justified”, has, not surprisingly, rejoiced right-wing conservatives and liberal political activists in campaigning for one common goal. “Dangerous Minds” has responded to the criticism and outrage and has definitively pulled Uthman Badar’s talk from their programme.

I’m generally not inspired to write blog posts about every single hint of Islamophobia I see in the Australian media, because heh, who seriously has time for that? However, I wanted to write about this because I think this event CLEARLY illustrates how deep-rooted Islamophobia is. And most importantly, the fact you don’t have to be a conservative right-wing Christian nut like Fred Phelps, nor an anti-theist overly privileged white dude like Richard Dawkins, to be Islamophobic. Continue reading

Thoughts on some recent (and not so recent) music

Long time no blogging! I’ve been really busy with school, and I still am, but now I’ve decided to procrastinate by writing. Haha.

Anyway, a lot of stuff has been released and I have a lot of feelings about them, but I never really got a chance to voice them until now. So here it is, a mini-review of some of the singles out of K-pop this year. Starring: Super Junior, T-ARA, BEAST, After School, f(x), 2NE1, JJ Project, and the Wonder Girls!

Sexy, Free & Single – Super Junior

So I’ve warmed up exponentially to this single over time, to the point where I like it quite a bit now. It’s really low-key and mellow as a song, and because of that I’m surprised at how much I love the choreography for it. Although I don’t think it’s the perfect choice for a title song, what I love is how smooth and clean this entire song is (bar the hook). That silky and polished auditory sensation is something I haven’t heard from Super Junior since ever, especially since YYJ decided to take them on the SJ Funky Triology.

Of course, there is a reason why I was cold towards this song at first, and that reason was the hook. For lack of a better term, it trolls the entire song into that cheap and uninspired territory that Super Junior has dabbled in for the last three years or so. It’s like someone over at SM decided that this song desperately needed a hook (or that Siwon needed some lines), and just stuck the most generic and grating one in there. Which is a complete shame, the song is melodic enough to be able to stand on it’s own without having a shameless hook hammered over our heads. But, le sigh, what can you do? I guess it’s staple Super Junior by now.

The rest of the album is pretty meh. Maybe I’ll review it when I’m bored, but frankly it’s probably the weakest album Super Junior has put out in a while. It’s like, none of the songs (sans Gulliver and Bittersweet) are really crash-and-burn, but they have so little thought put into them. It’s like, there could have been a good album there, but SM didn’t bother. But hey, it’s Super Junior. Who cares about the music? Nonetheless, if I had to recommend songs from it, I enjoyed ‘From U‘ (which sounds like YYJ ft KRY) and ‘Daydream‘, and that’s probably it.

Single: 4/5
Album: 2/5

Day By Day – T-ARA

Everyone’s saying it, and so will I, it sounds like Britney Spear’s ‘Criminal. A song which I didn’t like either, so heh. I mean, Day By Day isn’t the most offensive thing to come out of T-ARA’s womb or anything, but it’s pretty boring and it makes for some really boring performances. Nikki always talks about ‘kick’ whenever she reviews songs, and what this song lacks is exactly that. Kick. Everything sounds so diluted, and that’s probably why Hwayoung’s rap sticks out so much, it’s the sole part of the song with even a bit of bite.*

Can I talk about how much I despise the processing on T-ARA’s songs? Especially this one. It’s like they compress all of their voices and they’re singing with their chins to their necks. I could understand it when they were doing their fantastic electropop thing, but now it’s just annoying. If you listen to other of T-ARA songs, all of the members (‘cept Hyomin) have rather open voices, and so why are CCM so hell bent on turning them into whispering chipmunks?? Soyeon’s voice is beautiful, but they make it sound so generic and flat here. As for Hyomin, I really like her voice when she sings songs that require straight up singing and none of that other nonsense. It’s smooth and has a unique texture. But she sounds like crap when she’s processed. For a voice that already has nasal qualities, processing does no favours for her. She’s talented, but both her and Eunjung are given no favours vocally by being in T-ARA. Everytime they get a song that requires singing, Soyeon is always given the bulk. Apparently Ahreum has a voice, but it’s hard to tell with this release.

Don’t Leave‘ is the only other song on the album that’s worth a listen. It’s a total mess live though, Soyeon sounds tragically strained.

*I find it funny that prior to the T-ARA scandal it was pretty much universal consensus that as a rapper Hwayoung was pretty mediocre. But now that she’s being bullied suddenly she has loads of potential and musical talent. Hmm…

Single: 2.5/5
Album: 2.5/5

Continue reading

Ryeowook & Sungmin: It’s about damn time

So when choosing which video to embed, it was a choice between good video or clear audio. I chose the audio ._.

So basically, I caught onto this solo a while after it was actually revealed, but that’s what happens when you blip out of the SJ fandom for even a second. To be honest, I wouldn’t even have known this existed had it not been for an anon on tumblr who asked me what my favourite bromance in Super Junior is — I promptly replied Sungmin and Ryeowook, and in my quest for a gif I found this and flailed.

This is basically what I have wanted for ages~

So the thing about Ryeowook and Sungmin and why I love them singing together leans more towards the Sungmin side of things obviously. Ryeowook, is obviously strong enough to sing whatever he damn well wants and make it sound absolutely amazing. Sungmin on the other hand, although he’s good enough and can hold his own, is obviously not an amazing singer, and can’t exactly sing whatever he wants. Another problem is that whenever he does a duet with someone, it never sounds… right, and the contrast between his timbre and generally everybody else’s is really drastic. Anyway, god bless that he’s in a group with Ryeowook, because when they harmonise it fits together so well.

Although I don’t think this is the best song choice, since there are times where Sungmin tends to stretch a bit thin, and Ryeowook sounds amazing, but he tends to sound a lot more amazing on faster paced songs, I’m just glad that it finally happened. And honestly, there are parts of this song that actually gave me chills, to be specific from 3:00 – 3:14, and just the structure of the chorus before that section, with alternating parts sounds so pretty. The contrast between Sungmin’s grainy timbre to Ryeowook’s clearer one is fantastic.

Something else I love is that no one is outshining no one else, they’re just singing as one. I feel like with them (okay, just Sungmin), it’s easy for them to be outshined (see the duet with Beige for proof), especially since their timbres aren’t the most conventionally upheld. Something about that fact makes them singing together really touching, for whatever reason.

But anyway, I really liked the idea of this. And I hope SM chooses to pursue this, hopefully not give them a ballad, but honestly, if Eunhyuk and Donghae get to be a duo, then so should Ryeowook and Sungmin!

Also, this is so much less contrived than the saturated fanservice that was the ‘Oppa Oppa’ performance. That hug at the end actually warmed my heart <3

So this shouldn’t surprise anyone

Okay, I’m really behind on BEDA, but I’ll make it up by combining a whole bunch of days tomorrow! In the meantime, I am working on something, I won’t say what, but keep an eye out on Nikki’s blog ;D I’ll aslo have a collaboration 4Minute’s EP review out on seoulbeats. I know some of you may be laughing at me right now *cough*EDGE*cough*, but I am making use of my time, not contributing to society or anything, but it’s something…

In the meantime, I really love this MV.

[BEDA] Day 5 and 6: Worst Live Singer, Male and Female

Okay, yes, I overestimated myself when I signed up for this. So now I’m just going to cheat and combine days together. In this case I believe it’s okay, since these two topics go hand in hand.

And now, what we’ve all been waiting for, the worst live singer in K-Pop! What a difficult topic! So many choices, and so little time to go through and burn them all on a stake.

For this topic, I decided to take a different route. See, most of the time the worst ‘live singers’ and generally just some of the ‘worst singers’ in general. I mean, we all know Hara, Hyuna, Dongwoon, half of T-ARA, Hyung Joon, whatnow, aren’t the greatest singers to begin with. Their live performances honestly shouldn’t surprise us in the least. So for days 5 and 6, I’m going to look at K-Pop’s worst live singers who actually do have some sort vocal competency. Basically, those singers with the biggest discrepancy between recorded and live.

Now, the winner for Male is…


Donghae was my original Super Junior love and his voice is actually my favourite in the band if we’re not looking at technique. He has a very, very smooth voice, which is both a good/great thing, and in his case also sort of a bad thing. It’s a good thing because his voice is so mellow and velvety, and it’s sort of a bad thing because it’s thin. It’s thin and hence he can’t really push, which I would be okay with because every voice has it’s limits, but on top of that thin voice Donghae also uses his nose as a megaphone — and not only when he’s singing with choreography like most idols — but all the time. And has the stamina of a 54 year old chain smoker. A combination of all of those things makes Donghae’s live singing a complete hot mess. He sounded alright in Mr. Simple, because that was Mr. Simple, but as soon as you ask that boy to sing a song with an actual melody and choreography he keels over. And I get it, singing whilst dancing is rarely perfect and I do take that into consideration, but Donghae is just something else altogether. Beautiful recorded voice, not so much live.

Covering for Kyuhyun at 00:29, and then he dies again at 1:30.

This is a prime example of him using that nose of his as a microphone. Come on, Haebro. Also, Leeteuk is even worse here, think of him as an unofficial runner up.

Now, for runner up…


I don’t really want to talk about Yoochun, because his slow demise as a singer is one of the most depressing things I’ve ever seen. Yoochun used to have a very rich and unique voice, my favourite in the band actually, but since then the richness has turned into this nasally soup of blah. Don’t believe me? Check out JYJ’s discography — you’ll notice how little Yoochun gets in terms of lines these days. In fact, JYJ completely revolves around Jaejoong and Junsu, and every now and then they insert a pity line for Yoochun or something. He’s also pretty much a non-entity during harmonies these days. I mean, look at this live performance of Chajatta, I forgot Yoochun was even there performing with them. Which is understandable, because Yoochun’s voice these days is so congested, it completely detracts from the rawness of Junsu’s voice and the smoothness of Jaejoong’s. Unfortunately (or fortunately in this case), JYJ is hardly ever found promoting live these days so it was hard finding a video. But generally speaking, check out anything by DBSK after 2009.

He’s the dying chicken at 2:38:

Now, for the ladies…


Where do I start with Bom… First of all, her voice is absolutely stunning recorded. But once again, not so much live. Bom has a really unique timbre, and like Yoochun her voice is very rich and has dimension. However, she has poor technique and some of the worst breathing I’ve ever heard from a lead singer of a K-Pop band. Bom’s token style these days is to scream as loudly as she can and it ends up sounding like a dying animal. Bom also has the worst habit of straying from the melody, and it’s depressing since she’s meant to be 2NE1’s lead singer for god’s sake. Then there’s the fact she goes shrill whenever she tries for those high notes — and even though it all comes out sounding cleanly recorded, live she sounds warbly like a lamb attempting vibrato and screaming. And it isn’t only just when she’s attempting choreography, it is all the time, all day, every day. It’s not a sound for sore ears, and it’s safe to say that Bom is better of staying in the studio. I love her so, so, so much, but not when she’s screaming at me.

Her voice is all over the place, seriously

at 1:04 and 2:10, Can’t Nobody is probably the worst of 2NE1’s title tracks live simply because of Bom

runner up…


Sunny has a really nice and smooth voice, it’s very clear and feminine, and it’s actually my second favourite in the band after Taeyeon’s. Unfortunately, her technique isn’t the best. At all. She sounds okay on Gee and Oh!, where it’s like she’s swallowed helium whilst singing, but if you ask her to sing in a lower register she is completely off. It’s more prominent where she’s doing a performance with choreography, she chokes and most of the time sound doesn’t even come out, and when it does it’s very warbly. Yes, she is my ultimate bias, but I will openly admit in terms of technique there is a lot of room for improvement when it comes to my dear Sunshine.

1:14, urgh, Genie was the worst


[BEDA] Day 2: Idol most likely to survive a Zombie Apocalypse

And so with Day 2 of BEDA, we ask the age old question, which Idol is most likely to survive a Zombie Apocalypse? This was a difficult one, since most of our favourite pretty people are so prepped and micro-managed, I can’t actually imagine any of them being particularly street-smart. But, if we’re to look at everything as a whole, then I would say it’d be…


SHINee’s Minho is essentially only decent at two things: making good face, and being an asshole athletic. The latter quality is what would save him in the face of danger. With his drive to not lose, Minho would outrun and slay those zombies in every game they try and play. Observe:

Flaming Charisma indeed.

Blog Everyday In April (I AM NOT DEAD)

I got my half-yearly results back last week, and needless to say that as a student I am dismal. As a blogger, I am also dismal. However one of the two is about to change (temporarily) and since I have no sense of priority, it’s going to be the latter. Starting from tomorrow I’m going to be participating in the ‘Blog Everyday in April’ Challenge, or BEDA, hosted by McRoth’s Residence. That’s right folks, I’m going to be blogging everyday starting April First, and about the most random topics you can think of. Here’s the list of what’s to come:

  • Boy band member most likely to win a drag queen competition
  • Idol most likely to survive a zombie apocalypse
  • Idol most likely to become a ringmaster
  • Idol most likely to become a hobo
  • Worst live singer: Male Category
  • Worst live singer: Female Category
  • Idol most likely to have gone weeks without a shower
  • Best weave on a man
  • Idol least likely to care about their own music
  • Most likely to become a member of the clergy
  • Idol most likely to trip over air
  • Idol most likely to be mistaken for a mortal
  • Least likely to remember that crazy ass pool party last night
  • Best live singer: Male Category
  • Best live singer: Female Category
  • Band member most likely to cast the Avada Kedavra incantation on their band mates
  • Best at booty popping
  • Cutest OTP
  • Idol most likely to win a poetry slam competition
  • Biggest Troll
  • Idol most likely to go solo
  • Most precious idol
  • Idol most likely to become a frat-boy
  • Most likely to be Regina George
  • Idol who’s the biggest flirt
  • The Head Bitch on Campus
  • Most likely to be friend-zoned
  • Least likely to survive a butterfly attack
  • Least likely to go to Heaven
  • Most likely to become God of their own religion

Anyway, I encourage everyone (belatedly) to participate. It’s going to be fuuun.

In the meanwhile, have some beautiful C-Pop music, courtesy of Vanness Wu and Junho from 2PM.

[Junsu: Elisabeth] I just felt like this deserved a post of it’s own.

First of all, the stage production for this is absolutely stunning and breathtaking. This entire scene is just so fluid but chaotic, and the way the music crescendos up until the trigger is pulled and then the stage is doused in blackness — I, I just can’t. ;_;

Secondly, Junsu is an amazing performer. The way he carries himself on stage with such confidence, it’s just the sexiest thing ever. If I was ever having bias trouble before this, well, Junsu has regained his number one position has King of my Heart.

Thirdly, well… Come on guys.

(Also, the Big Bang Alive review is coming. I swear.)

[Single Review] Blue, Big Bang: Beautifully Blue

Ah, if anything could break me out of my dead-blogger streak, then it’s Big Bang. My favourite quintet dropped the first single ‘Blue’ from their new mini-album ‘Alive’ four days ago. And despite the many reservations felt when their concept photos were released, I’m finding myself really enjoying this wistful tune.

I know this has been discussed ad nauseum, but last comeback it felt like Big Bang just went through with it for the sake of having a comeback. The whole platter of material we were met with just seemed so anti-climatic, and something tells me that the whole promotional cycle would have completely gone through a neutral K-pop fan. I mean, it felt like miss A dropped more bombs during their promotional cycle than Big Bang did — miss A. But whatever, that was the past, this is the present. And the present is sounding good.

Contrary to popular belief, I don’t want Big Bang to completely revert back to their old sound per say. Music evolves, and what sounded in time 10 years ago wouldn’t sound in time now (not to mention YG’s sound as a whole has completely changed, and Big Bang would stick out like a sore thumb). As much as we’d love artists to never change, for a mainstream idol group like Big Bang, adjusting is necessary. A good example of adjusting would be Brown Eyed Girls — they fit in with the time, but never really lost the spark that made their material theirs.

Last comeback it felt like G-Dragon wanted to record a minimalist electronic track and just grabbed four soloists together and made them sing. Big Bang? What Big Bang? They got some of the flare back for ‘Love Song’, but as a whole everything seemed almost insincere. But, if the year of scandals did anything for Big Bang, then it gave them a good smack around the head because the magic is back for the most part.

‘Blue’ is a very self-effacing song. It doesn’t attempt to blow your mind, nor does it attempt to imitate another song. The melody is stead-fast, and the structure and style is consistent throughout; the verses, the bridge, and the chorus all have the same smooth delivery. It’s a restrained and doleful tune, but Big Bang deliver it with such conviction it doesn’t need to hit you over the head with a hammer to demand your attention, G-Dragon’s croons of ‘I’m singing my blues’ does a good enough job.

Something which I love about ‘Blue’ is the fact it’s innovative, a quality that set Big Bang apart back in the days, and a quality which they somewhat lost during their last comeback. ‘Blue’ is different from a lot of the sounds we’re hearing from K-pop today. For one, when was the last time a mainstream idol group released a mellow song as a title track? Secondly, ‘Blue’ is probably the closest Big Bang has come to returning back to their older style, but at the same time it sounds so 2011/2012 — which is a good thing. It’s them kind of adjusting their style to fit the ‘now’, and the ‘now’ really isn’t all that bad. It sounds fresh, it’s different, but it isn’t a style that’s so beyond the Big Bang we’ve come to know. Which is something I greatly appreciate from any band I love.

As for the music video; what the frack? YG videos are always impeccably shot and styled, but a quite a few of them lack direction. This is one of those music videos that basically go nowhere. And seeing how tainted my usual eye-candy has become (Spockri, do not want), there’s even less redeeming this mess. Whatever YG, whatever. This might as well have been shot for a New York tourism ad.


[Exo Planet] YYJ Releases a New Single

Whatever. If I was to rank this against Yoo Young Jin’s RnB compositions, it’d be near the ‘meh’ end.

I always knew EXO-K would be more popular than EXO-M, but it sucks more now because EXO-M is obviously hotter.

Okay, snark aside. I’m going to make this short, because I’m really not impressed. I think this is more a teaser over anything, and if so then it’s one of the least impressive ones. Everything about this song is so obviously from YYJ’s womb, there’s nothing about it that makes it special to EXO. And I know you guys probably think I’m in over my head for saying this, since they haven’t debuted yet, but the audio I heard in the earlier teasers really made it sound like these guys had  a good style going on. But ‘What Is Love’ could be sang by any other SM power-vocal group, SM The Ballad, KRY, SHINee, DBSK, and I wouldn’t even blink an eye — but that’s that’s pretty much the deal with most of YYJ’s RnB creations. In fact, I think the latter four bands would do a better job of making it their own. Which although expected since they’re more experienced, is also not wanted because this is meant to be EXO’s song. HELLO? The fact YYJ is literally singing 80% of this doesn’t make anything any better.

On a more positive note, Lu Han is in the running for FAVOURITE. His voice reminds me of a less pitchy version of Ryeowook’s voice, which asdfghjkl, we all know how I feel about Wook’s voice right? It’s like a bell, so striking. Come on Tao, win back your place soon.