The immense joy of seeing your favorite K-pop stars see their K-pop stars

AKA "Sooyoung and Kevin have given me life in 2023"

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I’m about 4 hours out from seeing aespa at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn tonight, and very much looking forward to it. I’ve seen aespa perform twice since their debut, first at their Good Morning America concert last summer and at KAMP 2022, also last summer. Because it’s been about a year, I’m really looking forward to seeing how the year has seen them grow and change, and I’m particularly excited to see Welcome to My World performed live, because it’s one of my favorite songs of the year.

While I’m going to start getting ready to head out soon, I keep thinking about the emotional aspect of seeing artists you love live. I wouldn’t say necessarily I’m a diehard single standom MY, but I do love aespa, and am wearing butterfly earrings today in honor of Ningning, my favorite member who is represented by a butterfly. I may buy a lightstick, but have to talk with my bank account first to see if it’ll let me buy yet another K-pop lightstick.*

Image of Ningning's butterfly lightstick topper on the aespa lightstick
I think it’s so cute, and also lucrative, to sell member inserts for aespa’s lightsticks.

Why am I telling you that I’m not 100% a self-proclaimed MY? Shut up, Tamar, don’t overshare! But there’s a reason for that: I am going tonight expecting to attend a concert I enjoy, have many moments I love, but I don’t expect to give it my all. I doubt I’ll cry, I doubt I’ll experience a life-changing moment. I won’t shoot my shot to get seen by my fave, and I won’t get memed for crying while seeing them perform. (I hope.)

My advice to a MY friend whose life WILL be changed.

But Kevin of The Boyz did do that (by waiting hours in line to get close to Bey and bringing a TBZ lightstick to stand out/be seen), and Sooyoung of Girls’ Generation did do that (cry) when they saw some of their favorite artists, and I love it so much.

Sooyoung, like many other Korean celebrities, went to see Bruno Mars when he played in Seoul recently, and this past weekend Kevin went to see Beyoncé after months of lobbying to get a day off so he could go. I love this for both of them, and I love seeing celebrities be fans.

I really appreciated these instances of these stars (or their boyfriends) sharing their excitement and emotional connection with their faves because they exemplified the feeling that makes so many of us want to see them in concert.  Of course, Sooyoung had a moment in her feels. Of course, Kevin went all out. Stars truly are like us, in that they themselves probably got into being pop music performers because they were inspired by pop music performers, and getting to witness someone they love is special.

A lot of the time, K-pop fans, and pop fans in general, get stereotyped as rabid, screaming, etc. when a concert is reviewed by media outlets. The emotional, physical outpouring of love and energy that fans is an extremely special experience, whether or not your favorite star knows you are in the room. Concerts are communal, personal moments of euphoria that we all share with one another and experience solely alone, because each of us has our own distinct relationship with artists and their music. Seeing artists we love experience that very same feeling, it just makes me really happy. Being a K-pop star is not an easy job, and getting to seek passionate, musical solace at a concert with an artist you love is something I feel everyone should experience at least once in their life.

@yoerinanot aespa related but she’s too funny #sooyoung #snsd #girlsgeneration

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*I love that aespa not only noticed but seemed to enjoy other K-pop rep lightsticks at one of their concerts recently. K-pop fans in the US historically used to bring whatever merch they had featuring any K-pop artists at concerts, showing love for the industry/genre/scene/core overall, but overtime single fan-orientation has won and we don’t see that anymore. As a certified K-pop hag, I like it, but also understand people who don’t.

What I’m reading

I spent the long Labor Day weekend in Upstate NY with some friends and their dogs at a renovated farm house turned into a wonderful rental property. I read Lily Chu’s The Comeback while I was there. Is it too bold to say that I think it’s the best representation of K-pop in an English-language novel I’ve read so far?

It’s marketed a romance novel so of course the main character accidentally falls in love with a K-pop star and there are all the usual tropes, but the book frames a lot of the main character’s discovery of K-pop, which is totally unknown to her beforehand as she’s a straightlaced lawyer who doesn’t have time for entertainment. Other characters call out her stereotypes, and a lot of the description of why K-pop resonates with people feel true to life.

What you’re listening to

Thank you Aly for making the decision to support Notes on K-pop as a paid subscriber! This newsletter is for all your readers, and I really appreciate the time, energy, and any support from you all, paid or nonpaid. Paid subscribers do get the perk of getting to share a rec, and Aly asked me to share ACE’s Adventures in Wonderland album, a great show of ACE musical style. I particularly love Take Me Higher with its exuberant, soaring style.

Link to the YouTube playlist below!

Thank you for reading Notes on K-pop. This post is public so feel free to share it.

What I’m listening to

Kim Sejeong’s album Door is a really engaging show of Kim’s musical identity, beyond her role in I.O.I, Gugudan, and as an actress. It’s a full-length album, which most female groups, let alone soloists, tend to not release nowadays in K-pop circa 2023, but Door feels like it’s a trip through all the different rooms of Kim Sejeong’s mind, with each song representing a different facet of the idol turned hit actress.

Sejeong is a singer before she’s a breakout actress, so it’s a pleasure to get to hear what she has to offer. Her song Destiny where you can hear her breathy tone is especially captivating to me, and, unsurprisingly, reminds me of songs by IU and Taeyeon, two of my favorite, and South Korea’s favorite, female idol soloists.

Riize’s debut single Get a Guitar is here, and it’s a cute pop song, but doesn’t necessarily scream a new generation of SM Entertainment to me; it feels rather generically American boy band pop bandery, and it’s nice to listen to but nothing really exciting or remaking the industry, though I know some people have said it reminds them of SHINee’s early days so I definitely get that, but more the concept than the music.

But while I’m not falling madly for Get a Guitar as a song, I do really enjoy Memories, which I saw them perform at KCON and they released a music video for.

A kinda random thing I noticed while I was listening to the official audio is that the opening “oo-ee” is the exact same tone as the “oo-ee” opener of Boom Boom Seaside 휴게소, a song from the 2009 SMTOWN summer album featuring Super Junior, TVXQ!, and SHINee. So even though I don’t think Get a Guitar is particularly SM flavored, hearing this callback on Memories a pretty nice touch that drives home the brand’s musical flavor.

I was curious if there was any overlap in the songwriters of the two tracks, or if this is just a happy coincidence that someone made happen intentionally during some aspect of songwriting, but I checked the songwriting credits and there don’t appear to be any writer overlaps, so I’m curious who is responsible.

Wikipedia screenshot: 2.	"Memories"	Kenzie	 KenzieRonny SvendsenAdrian ThesenAnne Judith WikBobii Lewis KenzieRonny SvendsenPizzapunk 2:58
Memories and Get a Guitar didn’t appear on the Korea Music Copyright Association (KOMCA) website yet while their pre-release Siren did, so I grabbed the screenshot for the tracklist from Wikipedia.
screenshot of the KOMCA description for Seaside Hyu ge so boom boom: [Popular] SEASIDEHYU GE SO (BOOM BOOM) - 001001179943 Other Title :SEASIDEHYU GE SO (BOOM BOOM)  Lyrics for the first bar ALOHA THIS IS SM TOWN FROM KOR [Performer(s) :SMTOWN]      Management Company : (주)에스엠엔터테인먼트  Date of Publication : 2009/08/01  ISWC : T-917.239.021-5  Disc Title : 09 SMTOWN SUMMER  Classification	Writer(s)	Music Publisher	Assignee	Successor	Representation or not A	YOUN HYO SANG(W0571700)				Representation A	WRETHOV ANDERZ(Z0500744)	CULTURE TECHNOLOGY GROUP ASIA CO.,LTD.			Representation A	WRETHOV ANDERZ(Z0500744)		STIM		Representation A	DELTINGER JOHAN RIKARD(Z0501444)	CULTURE TECHNOLOGY GROUP ASIA CO.,LTD.			Representation A	DELTINGER JOHAN RIKARD(Z0501444)		STIM		Representation C	WRETHOV ANDERZ(Z0500744)	CULTURE TECHNOLOGY GROUP ASIA CO.,LTD.			Representation C	WRETHOV ANDERZ(Z0500744)		STIM		Representation C	DELTINGER JOHAN RIKARD(Z0501444)	CULTURE TECHNOLOGY GROUP ASIA CO.,LTD.			Representation C	DELTINGER JOHAN RIKARD(Z0501444)		STIM		Representation

What I’m watching

Some quick housekeeping before I sign off… I’m still going to be passively using Twitter/linking to X at times, but I’m no longer going to be actively using the site as long as the owner doesn’t recant his antisemitic claims, which include things like the ADL being solely responsible for X’s revenue losses, which ties into historic antisemitic claims that Jewish people control financial industries. Since I’m pretty publicly Jewish, I just don’t want to engage on that site anymore, so if you want to @ me or DM me, just don’t. Maybe I’ll come back in a week, a month, or a year, but atm… nah. Sorry. I don’t need to be posting while a platform  is actively purportedly taking legal action against an org calling it out for antisemitism and many other horrific things that will harm people around the world.