We're calling it Debut Week here at Critical Kpop, where we take a break from Kpop's ongoing dramas to look at the new and upcoming stars of the Kpop world. Or are they? Three reviews this week of three very different debuts. But just because we didn't focus on drama this week, doesn't mean it's not there. Zico had a solo release, and his "Tough Cookie" caused a firestorm of controversy. But we'll get to that - let's begin!
Stop. Rewind. Rewind. Review: Zhoumi's First Mini-Album
It's about time that Zhoumi of Super Junior-M fame got his chance to shine on his own. The first of our solo debuts has us taking a look at the slick, catchy "Rewind," among other songs in his first min-album. Does the rest of the album hold up to the amazing single? Check out our review to find out!
Purfles: 1, 2, 3, Debut!
After taking a look at a veteran who's finally gotten his due, you must check out your new future bias. Their name may be terrible, but these girls might be the first to seriously challenge Mamamoo for rookies of the year. Take a look at their video, and our review, here.
Review: Does Clara's "Fear" Impress?
We have a veteran's solo debut, a new girl group, and now for something completely different. You may know Clara Lee as the Kim Kardashian of Korea, but her jump into Kpop may have more ramifications than you'd think. Check out our look into her strange debut song, and our look into the enigma that is Clara Lee, right here.
Zico's "Tough Cookie"
Block B's Zico has offended many Kpop fans this week, especially American ones, with his release of "Tough Cookie." And we can see why. Women shown as nothing more than sexual objects, Confederate flag usage, a homophobic slur, late nineties cultural appropriation, coupled with his already sketchy history with using the "N-word," and Zico is suddenly very problematic. There are two camps that we'd like to address here, both that we feel are not quite getting the point.
Camp One: "If you don't like what Zico's doing, just don't watch his video. No one's making you."
We feel especially annoyed at this thought process. When art (or anything, really) stirs feeling, be it positive or negative, a response should be encouraged. To expect anything else is asking for passive viewing, dumbly accepting anything that is shown to you without a word of criticism or concrete praise. That's a limited way of seeing the world. We should not want that as Kpop fans. Just because you do not like the response does not mean the response is not valid.
Camp Two: "Zico is horrible and racist/sexist/homophobic."
We've always been weary of attributing labels to anyone, especially since who knows what anyone is, fundamentally? And, because those labels ultimately do not matter. The fact is, Zico contributes to many of those problematic issues, regardless of his intent (and we think, but have no way of knowing, that he's appropriating much of that iconography, not really considering or caring about the cultural ramifications in the United States).
There are no easy answers here, except for the fact that discussion on these issues is important. We should not fear critical thinking, no matter who our biases are.
Hello Venus' "Sticky Sticky"
Speaking of biases, we've missed Hello Venus for a long time now, and have been worried about their return ever since their split from Pledis Entertainment. And they're back, with a Brave Brothers song and an all new sexy concept. I'm sorry, did we say new? Though it is different to see Hello Venus embrace sexiness, we're not really seeing much in the way of inventive. The song, while not terrible, isn't anything we haven't heard from Brave Brothers before. Even their butt dance has been seen before. We're not blaming Hello Venus here. We understand the need to jump on the sexy concept and the great rewards doing so can bring (See: Girl's Day. AOA. Etc.). But a group that has Lime in it, one of our favorite idols, should fully utilize her voice and charisma. And just doing sexy doesn't cut it anymore.
Spica just keeps breaking our heart. We're not sure what they're doing with this video. Great vocal, boring video. Maybe we're being too hard here. We just want Spica to take over the world, and they're not going anywhere with releases like this. Are we being too hard on them? Let us know in the comments!
November 2-8, 2014
And that was This Week in Kpop! We had a lot of fun focusing our attention on these three unique debuts, but controversy is inevitable (thanks for nothing, Zico). Next week will see a host of big releases that we're super excited about. See you then!