Editor’s Chatroom: EXO and The State of Asian Pop

Hello, YAMmies!

Welcome to a new segment here on the site. Editor’s Chatroom is a weekly segment in where Julyssa and Amy will sit down and talk about a certain topic that is tickling their fancy.

This week, the honor went to EXO — a new Asian boyband that is set to promote in Korea and China. The twist to the story is that they will be promoting the same songs, just in different languages and with two different teams. EXO-K will promote in Korea and EXO-M in China.

Above: EXO- K, bottom: EXO-M

So why is this topic making Amy and Julyssa chat? Read and find out.

Amy: Are you still up for that EXO discussion now that your brain is being lured into it? xD
Julyssa: F**k yeah I am up for it!
Amy: Alright… I know that you hated the video the first time you watched it. Have you tried it again now that you’ve been bitten by the EXO bug?
Julyssa: I still hate the video.

Amy: Hahaha! Alright, why do you hate it so much?
Julyssa: The song is pure SMP crack, which I appreciate, so I don’t hate the song, just the video. Well, first of all that intro, then- I am a bit sick and tired of SM re-using sets every single time. So that might add to the hate.
Amy: But I like that intro! Then again, I like the motion graphics of it, but it’s pure eye-roll cheese.  So you’re listening to EXO-K more then?
Julyssa: I bought the albums today.
Amy: Why listen to both albums if they’re basically the same?
Julyssa: Because at the beginning of this extremely long EXO teaser extravaganza, I had an inkling for EXO-M, seeing as I have a thing for Mandarin pop, so EXO-M fit me well. I liked what I heard.
Amy: But it’s the same music, isn’t it?
Julyssa: Yes, it is, but I think EXO-M sounds better. That’s all. Now that I have completely heard both albums- well, I really like them both because the songs are all good. Both sound amazing in both languages, so I can’t for the life of me say that one is better then the other.
Amy: But it’s not a language thing… because well, it’s Mandarin and Korean. It must be something else?
Julyssa: You know I have a thing for pronunciations….
Amy: Maybe the voices seem better?
Julyssa: The voices are different, EXO-K is more bass, EXO-M a bit more tenor. But it’s not so much the voices for now, these puppies have a long way to go before they will be good singers.
Amy: So it’s the way Mandarin sounds with Kpop then…
Julyssa: For me, yes.
Amy: Well, I have an issue with EXO-M, I didn’t really like the lyrics to MAMA. It affects me little in Korean, but listening to it in Mandarin, specially with the characters on screen, it makes it more noticeable to me.
Julyssa: Have you ever heard any Cpop that sounds like EXO-M? I am all confused with the “is EXO-M Cpop or not” business. I know it’s not Cpop, but at the same time… I don’t know.
Amy: Well, I haven’t listened to EXO-M’s album. But I’ve heard Cpop that’s been influenced by Kpop or I guess.. “international” flavor. MIC is one of them [1], that somehow sounds like an evolution of Cpop. Nick Chou also has a little something [1]… then there’s obviously Han Geng [1].
Julyssa: I mean, it’s not the first time a Korean song is translated to any other language.

MIC, Han Geng and Nick Chou.

11 Responses

  1. Margot says:

    to be quite honest, I’ve been half sucked into the EXO craze. the reason though, EXO-M. I have not listened to EXO-K and probably won’t because as mentioned above, it’s all the same, just different voices and language. As for the whole Kpop trying to dominate Asia…I agree, but I also believe that China may be wanted to step it up and stop this “invasive weed”. Last year a 5 member boy group, J-ONE, debuted in China, although they obviously don’t have the resources that EXO-M has from my understanding they were trained like Kpop idols. from the audition of hundreds to the elimination process to find the best 5. They trained in Korea for about a year, singing, dancing, etc. of course I could be wrong as very little information about them in known…in English anyway. at least to me since I don’t know Chinese. It would seem to me though that perhaps China is making an attempt to revamp their music to what their youth seems to be attracted to. It may take them a while though since, again they lack the resources that Korean labels have. from my understanding, J-ONE is signed under a new label so there’s that too. ….I’m not even sure I made sense at all, but I tried to! ^^;;

    • amy says:

      @Margot, that’s interesting about you getting into it for EXO-M. I had heard about J-ONE before, but interestingly enough from non-Mandarin speakers. Did they really train in Korea? I know that a lot of the Mainland companies are bringing in producers and choreographers from outside the Mainland circuit to bring something that feels fresh… but they are also bringing in people from Arts Academies and turning them into idols…

      All Mandarin speakers that follow pop music from the Mainland, however, are all talking about M.I.C — and they get name-dropped all the time by other famous people too.

  2. I only catch some K-pop here and there, but in response to this: “Lol. I think Kpop might be a visual style. When I think of Kpop, I think lush music videos — even the most mundane of them — have nice stages, colors, and decent production value. They can look cheap, but they still escape the cheapest of cheap.”
    I agree, but I also think it’s all a package that has to work together. At least for me, I can’t take the music by itself, but with a music video or stage routine, it’s great.

    • amy says:

      @Diandra Rodriguez, I think for me it really depends on who does the music (I really think that Brown Eyed Girls and Sunny Hill work with just music, but then again… they are my bias). But I agree… Kpop caught me because of the package – I think that used to be a “pop thing” though, something that I’ve just been missing from American pop.

      Then bam! Kpop gave it to me, and I just can’t stop looking at it.

  3. Julyssa Diaz says:

    Amy, a thing that dawned upon me reading this again, with the whole “it’s Kpop trying to brake in to Cpop” — that is very true but that is also what SME did in Japan. They brought in their Kpop as to make some momentum but then they started to produce real Jpop. It ended with SME producing better Jpop then what was being produced by the older and more established Jpop companies. Makes me wonder if that is not what SME is trying to do again: use EXO-M to break in to the market and once they are there, gather all the great producer +composers and create even better original Cpop.

    Oh man, I am now all giddy!

  4. ghost says:

    But didn’t you guys say SME had that AVEX deal, and the contacts to get the producers or lyricist… but not in China? They won’t be able to do better Cpop… >=D, not with the lyrics they do. They might create better dance pop, but won’t take the essence of Cpop lyrics.

    As I see it, groups like CN Blue or FT Island are more better suited for the market.

    • amy says:

      @ghost, Ohhhhhhhhhhhhh here we go again. LOL

      Let’s just call it the CMusic industry… and yeah, okay. They won’t be able to surpass someone like Faye Wong who did only 2 concerts last year, yet she’s the #4 Top earner in the industry… and who’s paid her dues and gets to sing about Buddhism in her electronic-infused Cpop.

      But in Asia… there’s always a place for boybands… Maybe they won’t make better Cpop, but they could certainly do better boybands. LOL

    • Julyssa Diaz says:

      @ghost, But they might get the contacts. Sure, Avex opened several doors for Tohishinki in Japan but then it turned to ppl wanting to work with Toho because they were 1. very popular and 2. very talented. Now, EXO-M’s talent can be discussed but there’s no denying that they might become very popular in China. The Kpop bug has already cast their victims there and as the zombies the Kpop fans become, as soon as it’s Kpop they just go at it with out thinking.
      Popularity=money and that’s how you get the contacts in China.

  5. EmilySh says:

    Inspiring conversation ;)

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