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Archive for the ‘Miss A’ Category

I Don’t Need A Man

I don’t need a man – Miss A

Shinja? Yeah, shinja! I have a fear that with this song will again come the claims of K-pop aping Western pop for its ideas and sense of potency. The fact that Destiny’s Child and the Pussycat Dolls have been here (not to mention countless other pop, r&b, soul, country and yes Korean songs that over many years have kicked against the same) with these exact same words, and to say Miss A can’t without it being a calculated retread is to limit the assertion of independence to trend, to time and place, to monetary ends, and moreover to one people.

Actually i don’t care how Western fans will see this song. Its local impact is all that is important. It is nothing groundbreaking: the hegemonic trickling of pop had long ago set Independent Women and the Pussycat Dolls into the Korean consciousness, and songs like 2NE1’s I Don’t Care, Miss A’s own Bad Girl Good Girl and others are outcries of the same. However, any (however many) declaration of not needing a man to define a women’s own worth, place and pleasure has a specific, immutable power in K-pop and the Korea it reflects and serves.

If i learned anything from my trips to South Korea it is that this is a people’s music, their music, and not just something whose affect is only felt by nerds who have traveled too far down dark paths of the internet. Not universally “theirs,” meaning every Korean person loves and sees themselves and their aspirations in it, but theirs in that, in a society where perhaps more than anywhere in the world domestic consumption is linked to national identity, the ubiquity of it, with a marketing purpose foremost, marks this as a social music – proud, participatory music whether consciously or not.

I Don’t Care and the Pussycat Dolls song are both sung to the men in their way, Destiny’s Child’s to a nebulous group of financially independent women. Miss A sing to society. Every accusation and shackle-breaking is leveled there. It is because of that this song is particularly powerful. Rather than turning their back to a man – one disappointing, easily shrugged off man – Miss A are turning their backs to what for women is still a deeply repressive society. A society that through tradition is still ill at ease with the concept (concept…) of women’s self-determination, a society they are otherwise good, productive members of, a society who lays blame on them for the dual national crises of population and financial decline – the tension there is so incredibly (astonishingly) great that it needs an anthem, and it needs it to be sung exactly to where Miss A are singing. I don’t need a man becomes i don’t need a country and stilted tradition to tell me how to be.

Like the Destiny’s Child song, female independence linked with financial independence, but it carries with it here the aspect of not needing a man as not detrimental to the (still very much male defined) Korean enterprise they are caught up in. So why resist it? A distance comes in pointing the finger here, as opposed to a man. Less fierce, less honed, less personal – a distance that makes this song easily deferable because what single man thinks he props up the patriarchy? But on the same turn, in being less personal, rejecting anything that begrudges their freedom, confidence and happiness on societal terms, self-evidently beneficial things for all, its message may sail further, impact more broadly. I’m not sure what the best method is, but Miss A’s is a unique and powerful tact regardless, coming from and speaking to a unique place. Anyway, what matters is how is it on the ground. How will this song come to mean to people, who will they sing it to and why, and what resistances will there be to it?

As with everything here, this is messy. I’m writing a lot of this without going through the numbers and hard research, and with a limited, broad grasp of South Korean society, in which, like most others, people are just mostly going through their lives, through work and family, finding and holding on to as much pleasure as they can. This song should be nothing but an aide in that pleasure. Not distraction, but a direct, illuminating source of pleasure.

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Tuesday, July 31st:
A month of Spring – Apple Orchard

Wednesday, August 1st:
Go out and get ’em, boy – The Wedding Present

Thursday, August 2nd:
Love alone – Miss A

Friday, August 3rd:
Fine day – Shotmaker

Saturday, August 4th:
Desperate cry – Sepultura

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Bad Girl Good Girl

Bad girl good girl – Miss A

I wish i could understand this behind the English parts. I have such hopes for it, it’s stance and message, but i worry that hope might betrayed by lyrics i can’t understand. It happens often. On the surface and to a non-Korean speaker such assertive and cool things being mitigated, excused or having their context shifted to the same old. There are ways this could be twisted away into something so disappointing.

Maybe i want it so much i project my desire on to it. But it must exist. Even thinking solely from a marketing point, it must. For one song at least. We can apologise and step back in line with our next single. “You don’t know me, so shut up, boy” is, sadly, such a rare and exciting posture in Korean pop music. And it was Miss A’s debut song! Coming into the world, pointing fingers, and saying barely “Shut up!” I just want so much for it exist directly and firmly throughout as i hope it does.

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Breathe

Breathe – Miss A

They didn’t play this song! Miss A were given only enough time to perform two songs, unlike the three song arranged for every other act. Good-Bye Baby then Good Girl, Bad Girl, and i was so excited because i knew this would be next. Only there was no next. They just ran off stage. This, Secret’s Starlight Moonlight and 4Minute’s Mirror Mirror were the three songs i was looking most forward to. I got my wish on the latter two. Oh well. My girlfriend bought me this CD for my birthday yesterday!

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Breathe

Breathe – Miss A

Here’s a video of them performing this song on Music Bank, one of the four weekly televised showcases South Korea has for its music chart(s). For a song about not being able to breathe, they sure set the choreography to suit it. They are at points absolutely breathless – struggling to reach notes and keep up, missing lines, the deep breath acting parts of the song come to seem essential, “I can’t breathe” to be read as a legitimate plea for help – but they endure. And it is fantastic. Maybe sometimes there are good cases for lip syncing, but if this performance were to be note perfect it would lose everything the breathlessness adds. How hard these girls work.

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