Year-end gayos 2012, part 1
Nothing quite like ringing in 2013 after spending two straight days following these MARATHON year-end music shows. After three years of following year-end gayos, I think it’s safe to say that my standards are set way too high for these shows. I mean, this is literally the one thing I look forward to in K-pop for the whole year, but this is more due to the fact that I basically live for K-pop special stages….and the increasing scarcity of special performances on weekly music shows means that, well, beggars can’t really be choosers.
KBS was its usual snoozefest, MBC was great but SO LONG (which is why it will have its own recap, to be posted in the coming days), and SBS usually delivers every year but the entire show got sucked up by that ridiculous “Color of K-pop” spiel and left no room for anything else.
SHERLOCK + CLUE + NOTE – SHINee (KBS)
I feel like I’ve commented a million times on SHINee’s live performances of this song already, but hey — why not make it a million and one?
It’s kind of odd that SM waited so long to remix “Sherlock” with some of the spare parts left over from “Clue” and “Note.” A lot of the unused parts of “Clue”/”Note” are pretty solid to begin with, and throwing in some of that stuff into “Sherlock” as a mashup would almost be too easy. But after hearing these “Sherlock”/”Clue”/”Note” remixes at all three of the gayo shows, it’s easy to see how quickly the novelty of it wears off.
All three of the mashups were slightly different, and it really seemed as if SM was playing around with different combinations of verses and choruses and bridges to make a three-song mashup that sounded just right. It came across as rather amateurish — particularly for an idea that should’ve been pretty obvious from the get-go — and to be perfectly honest, I wish that they had held off on doing this mashup until their ideas on remixing these songs were more fully developed and polished. The verses and bridges from “Clue”/”Note” were roughly spliced throughout the song, and most of the choreography for the new parts were either repeated from earlier verses or very obviously thrown together at the last minute. Don’t think I don’t see you sneaking some of dat “Love Like Oxygen”/”Ring Ding Dong” choreo during the “Clue” bridge.
That said, the mashup from the KBS show was the most interesting of the lot and flowed together really well. The lead-off into “Clue” with Taemin’s verse after the chorus made for a really convincing transition, and the “Clue” bridge with Minho’s whispered rap and Jonghyun’s “scat” is just golden, so I’m glad they decided to include that. The little synth run after the bridge that transitioned into the last chorus was also pretty great. It was taken from the original “Sherlock” instrumental; you can hear it at around 1:28 in the original recording underneath Taemin’s “터져 baby”. I always thought it was a really cool part; it does a great job of cementing together that chorus lead-in.
The performance from the MBC show was the most straightforward, but most technically precise and most energetic of the lot. Even Minho delivered his one-and-a-half lines of whispering with some conviction. Also, Jonghyun needs to chiiiiiill.
BECAUSE I LOVE YOU – CL and Sung Shi-Kyung (SBS)
This was weird. I mean, more power to SBS for trying to create an “unlikely combination” with CL and Sung Shi-kyung, but this didn’t work at all. What’s sad, though, is that there probably wasn’t anyone else in K-pop with a low enough range that could pull this off other than CL, and even CL was really struggling to hit some of those low notes. There’s so little variation in K-pop female voices– much less so than male voices — and I really think that this is a major contributing factor to the reason why girl group music tends to be so boring in comparison to boy group music.
THE CYPHER 2012 – Gangnam Clique [Simon D, Dynamic Duo, Epik High] (SBS)
Amazingness. Translation here.
SPECTRUM – SM the Performance [Yunho, Donghae, Eunhyuk, Minho, Taemin, Lay, Kai] (SBS)
Not even going to comment on the ridiculousness that is the lineup of this subunit.
This performance was kind of a mess until the end — and though it didn’t remedy the mess that was the first half of the performance, I really couldn’t find much fault with it. The choreography was great (NAPPYTABS!!!!), and the song! At this point, I don’t even care that it’s a cover because “Spectrum” was a great song to begin with, and I’d rather hear the idols I like covering good music instead of releasing crappy original material. This might come across as odd, but I actually really love when companies buy good songs and release straight covers of them as legitimate singles. When K-pop artists cover songs, it’s usually just a karaoke-style singalong that’s performed or recorded with the intention that it’ll only matter for one occasion or one purpose. But with a cover like “Spectrum” (or even less glorious works like “Deal With it”/”Juliette”) that’s being released with the explicit understanding that the cover is under the “ownership” of a certain K-pop idol or group of idols, a lot of care is taken to ensure that the song works best for the idols. In short, it’s taking an already-great song by one artist and gently molding it to the abilities and talents of another artist. I really like Taemin and Donghae’s voices on the verses, moreso than I like the original with Matthew Koma, and I love Yunho on the chorus.
It seems that SM plans on going on this electronic music kick for quite a while, and I really hope that they’ll be purchasing the bulk of their electronic material from European composers because um Yoo Young-jin needs to step away from the dubstep permanently. (Although judging from the teaser of Super Junior-M’s new single, things look promising.)
BEAUTIFUL NIGHT – Beast (SBS)
I haven’t seen a lot of live performances of “Beautiful Night” prior to the SBS gayo performance, but I really doubt that their weekly music show perfs of this song were anywhere near as energetic as this one. “Beautiful Night” is an awesome, awesome song for a venue like this, and the best part of their performance was that everything was still organized, clean, and in control despite the high energy on stage. Beast seriously owned that entire concert hall with this perf, even without a bevy of backup dancers running around stage with them to help hype up the crowd. Speaking of which…
SEXY, FREE & SINGLE – Super Junior (SBS)
What the hell was this??? What’s wrong with Donghae? What was with the random laser pointer dance? Did they pull the stage managers and makeup staff and coordi noonas and other random staff onto the stage at the end of the performance as a last-ditch effort???? Like, what the actual hell was this?!
Super Junior’s performances during all three days were complete messes, but this takes the cake for its utter ridiculousness and air of desperation. This was a great song and they did an amazing job performing it during their regular promotional period so um what happened???
Sigh. These guys need to go on hiatus like now.
THE COLOR OF K-POP - Dazzling Red, Dramatic Blue, and All The Other Colors of the Mothereffing K-pop Rainbow (SBS)
In terms of the performances, these were boring as hell and I’m kinda annoyed that the entire SBS show was so centered on this segment because SBS usually does a really great show and this year just…wasn’t it. :( But apart from that, I’m starting to get really squeamish whenever Korean shows use the word “K-pop” because, I mean, the word “K-pop” didn’t really come into existence until non-Korean English speakers started using it to describe Korean popular music (formerly known in pre-Hallyu Korea as, simply, “가요”), and the fact that Korea is now using the word “K-pop” instead of “가요” really speaks to the degree to which Korea values K-pop as being a “global” phenomenon…
…..But that’s a discussion for another time. Yeah, these performances were really boring and I just really hate the word “K-pop.” That’s all.
BONUS: This piece of absurdity from SBS Drama Awards with Minho and Yuri in it.
So I’m going to take this as an opportunity to ramble about this whole “Minho the Dancer” thing, yeah?
Honestly, I think I can understand why Minho keeps getting placed in these random dancing projects even when he has no dance talent. Firstly, SM artists are allowed to voice input on the types of activities they’d like to pursue, and there’s a very real possibility that Minho just really wants to do some more dancing and voila, here he is in some SM dance unit performing along the likes of Eunhyuk and Yunho; here he is prancing around with Yuri on a drama awards show. Maybe he finally came to terms with the fact that his career on Dream Team is basically over and he needs to start finding other avenues to help maintain his relevancy.
And if that’s the case — Minho asking SM to give him more opportunities to dance — SM probably didn’t reject his wishes outright because, I mean, Minho’s not a bad dancer. SM has its host of bad dancers but Minho isn’t one of them. He has as much grace and rhythm as a sack of bricks, but he’s also an athlete. He’s incredibly in tune with his body, and I’m willing to guess that he picks up choreography very quickly and carries it out very precisely. I mean, just check out this clip of Minho correcting Taemin’s dancing in “Señorita” during their concert tour.
I think SM knows that Minho lacks genuine dancing talent, but they also know that Minho has the ability to catch up with and learn alongside the “real” dancers — and plus, another pretty face never hurt anyone, so why not? Obviously I would much prefer to have another dancer in SM the Performance (and to do away with the Minho/Yuri perf altogether because…at a drama awards show? Really?), but if you exclude everyone who was in Younique, then there’s really no other male idol in SM that would be (gulp) more suitable in the group than Minho.
Plus, I think there’s a certain charm in seeing rough-and-tough soccer player Minho dance. Minho’s entire existence as an idol is one big paradox — but, I mean, it’s not like he outright sucks at being an idol, and I think that that paradox is his biggest appeal.