NCT 127 – Highway To Heaven

“Those marketing teams have realised that they can sell more records if they also translate things to English.”

Tom: It’s time to talk about K-pop.

Tim: Sure, why not.

Tom: Specifically, NCT 127, who are [checks notes] the “second sub-unit of NCT”. Korean boy bands are basically franchises, explicitly put together by managers and marketing teams rather than trying to maintain the illusion of just being, well, a band of friends.

Tim: Points for openness, I guess?

Tom: Anyway, those marketing teams have realised that they can sell more records if they also translate things to English.

Tom: And I’m glad they did, because that is a really solid track, backed up with the sort of dance routines in the music video that we just don’t see from western bands any more.

Tim: You’re entirely right about that – production’s good, melody’s on point, choreography’s top notch. This is an excellent piece of marketing.

Tom: The lyrics aren’t great, and there’s an argument that it’s probably better in the original Korean — but with a chorus that good, I’m not sure I can really complain about it.

Tim: I got one – wouldn’t mind a key change. Aside for that, though: nope.

PSY – I Luv It

“Starts out like Hairspray, immediately moves in a wildly different direction.”

Tom: PSY’s got a new album. As usual, he’s released two singles at the same time. And while K-pop isn’t usually what we cover, I want to talk about the second one, same as last time. Why?…

Tom: …because, seriously, that’s a BANGER.

Tim: Hmm – starts out like Hairspray, immediately moves in a wildly different direction.

Tom: I’d ignore those translated lyrics in favour of two things: one, just how good that chorus is, and second, that cinematography.

Tim: Good? Really? But okay, let’s talk about the filming.

Tom: I have never seen an effect like that: for a while, I thought it was hyperactive CG, but no: at the end of this making-of video you can just see it’s an actual crane doing ridiculously fast and controlled camera moves (although sped up in post). That is such a brilliant effect, and I expect to see it ripped off by everyone for the rest of the year. I’d rip it off if I had a budget and a possible use for it.

Tim: See, you say brilliant, but I’d say disorientating and a bit unpleasant. It leaves me feeling more queasy than impressed. Please don’t rip it off.

V & JIN – It’s Definitely You

“Falling into hell, soul being set on fire.”

Tim: A break from the ordinary here, with a track from the soundtrack of a Korean TV drama series called Hwarang, but it came up on an algorithmically-generated new music playlist, and I happen to like it.

Tom: I love it when the description of a YouTube video says “NO COPYRIGHT INFRINGEMENT INTENDED”. It might not be intended, mate, but it still is.

Tim: My favourite’s “I DO NOT OWN THE RIGHTS TO THIS” – like, really? There was me thinking that you, Iheartniall99, actually were the sole copyright holder of What Makes You Beautiful.

Tom: Anyway.

Tim: Yes. I don’t know much (well, anything) about the TV show beyond what’s on Wikipedia, but what we seem to have here is your standard love song. I say standard, it’s also remarkably desperate and slightly disconcerting what with the whole falling into hell, soul being set on fire vibe of the lyrics, but hey, why not?

Tom: That’s a classic chorus, isn’t it? I’m sure I’ve heard bits of that melody before, and that chord progression’s definitely familiar, but it’s good.

Tim: The music it’s set to manages to keep everything under control and happy sounding – this version’s actually performed by two members of boyband BTS, perhaps explaining why it sold five times as many copies as any of the other eight songs.

Tom: Do not underestimate the power of K-pop boy bands: imagine if One Direction, but with sub-groups, changing rosters, and… heck, just read some of this. Yes, “BTS” will sell records.

Tim: And hey, they’ve done a good job with it, and that’s all that matters really.