What’s Up With Kpop?

Korean Pop, better known as Kpop, is popular music from South Korea. Kpop has also had a solid following all over the world since the 90s.  One South Korean everyone might be aware of is Psy, who created the Gangnam Style dance craze that went viral back in 2012.  Since his insane popularity the South Korean government has giving the Kpop industry money to continue its work in the hope it would put South Korea on the map and encourage tourists to come to the country.

What makes Kpop unique is that it has managed to merge all genres of music from rock, pop, and metal, to jazz, rap, and R&B. It has taken all these genres and made its own brand. It’s not strange to hear several genres played in one song. Kpop also features boy and girl bands alike that can have up to 10 members. Unlike U.S bands Kpop bands tend to have several more members and they start training really early. The school teaches students to sing, dance, and play instruments at a young age. They compete with thousands of other  teens just as skilled. They practice 12 hours a day, including time for studying, because education is important in South Korea. They attend Kpop private schools where one 3-month semester can easily cost $1,000. Keep in mind that they can start as young as 6 and at roughly $4,000 a year, by the time they reach 18 a private school can cost up to $48,000. Even then they are not guaranteed acceptance into a group, but with their extensive study, they are still able to go on to college and get well-paying jobs.

Kpop has opened its arms to all genres and culture. It takes the best parts and makes it unique. The Kpop industry has marketed its music and videos for global appeal, with 44% of song titles in English, and a lot of the choruses and hooks in these songs in English as well.

Below are three different songs. Which one is your favorite? I’d love to know why.

This song is to showcase a very popular boy band as well as how this expensive music video has found a way to merge different genres. This song is likely a party song as it encourages people to dance. “Put your hands up, like you got your country back. Jump up, like you would sprain your ankle. Shake, like you have a seizure. Sing a song together everyone. Ringa-linga-ring Ringa-linga-ring”

 

This song is to show that Kpop bands can have many people and yet they find a way to showcase everyone almost equally. This chorus is essentially telling a guy that if he likes me “very very very much” then call me. The rest of the song goes on to describe how the girl doesn’t know if the guy is serious about her or not and she wants to know either way, all while her friends and family call the guy a snake.

 

The song, “crazy” couldn’t be better named. By crazy, she does not mean insane, she means more like wild. In the song she states she is crazy, everywhere she goes it’s crazy. Don’t fight the crazy, embrace it.

Stax Museum…Telling the History of American Soul Music

Anthony Hamilton

The iconic Stax Museum of American Soul Music in Memphis, Tn.

The iconic Stax Museum of American Soul Music in Memphis, Tn.

In the Soulsville neighborhood of Memphis, Tennessee, there sits a building that has the appearance of an old movie theater from my childhood, however, this building is so much more, and does it ever have a story to tell.

The building I speak of is the Stax Museum of American Soul music history, and the museum is very rich with Soul music history and traditions from Stax’s humble beginnings as Satellite Records in 1957 all the way to Wattstax in 1973.

In the 15 minute movie that precedes the tour, there were the inevitable comparisons to Motown, which was broken down (I believe) by Isaac Hayes who noted that Motown’s artists had more of a sound of charm school, whereas Stax artists had a more gritty and not as clean sound which Hayes said illustrated the blood, sweat and tears of their work.

During the movie, everyone in the group I was with was dancing in their seats as the movie was playing. Songs such as Green Onions by Booker T. and the M.G.’s, Try a Little Tenderness by Otis Redding, I’ll Take You There by the Staple Singers, and of course the Theme from Shaft by Isaac Hayes were all recorded in that building.

Along with these hit records, one of the most legendary artists in the music business, Aretha Franklin was also born in the Soulsville neighborhood. By virtue of being signed to Atlantic Records, she also had dealings with Stax records, because of the distribution deal they had with Atlantic.

Upon entering the museum exhibits. The very first few exhibits concentrate on the beginnings of Soul music, as well as Gospel, as the two are very heavily intertwined.

As I continued on through, I started to see exhibits from acts, that I would call old school, such as Ray Charles, Sam and Dave to name a few.

The exhibits did an excellent job of bringing the movie to life. The movie, for example, pointed out how the popularity of Stax was an accident, and most of their musicians were people from the Soulsville neighborhood, and how early on, Stax was less like a business and more of a family atmosphere. The many pictures from the recording sessions back this statement up.

As I continued my tour, there was everything from vinyl records by the walls full, to outfits the artists wore on stage to instruments that were played during their shows. They also had a mock setup of their actual recording studio, both the booth and the lounge, and the autographed instruments that Booker T and the M.G.’s used. Then there was the customized Cadillac that Isaac Hayes drove, and a video of their performance from Wattstax which was performed at a Los Angeles area festival set up to commemorate the Watts riots in 1965. That show was performed before a packed house at the L.A. Coliseum, and the record sold 500,000 copies within a week.

My favorite exhibit by far was a tribute to Soul Train, the Saturday morning answer to American Bandstand which allowed many Stax artists their first real television exposure. The exhibit played Soul Train performances of Stax artists including the Staple Singers and Rufus Thomas.

Another one of Stax’s high points in pictures was Otis Redding and the Stax Revue performing in Europe. Despite all of the racial tension here, the Europeans embraced Stax in the same manner that America embraced the Beatles. All of their European shows were sold out in 1967.

The iconic Stax Museum movie theater entrance

The iconic Stax Museum movie theater entrance

Isaac Hayes' customized Cadillac Eldorado.

Isaac Hayes’ customized Cadillac Eldorado.

The Staple Singers Gold single "If You're Ready (Come Go With Me)

The Staple Singers Gold single “If You’re Ready (Come Go With Me)

The Soul Train exhibit featuring the Staple Singers.

The Soul Train exhibit featuring the Staple Singers.

Upon preparing to leave the Museum, there are several pictures of Dr. Martin Luther King, taken the day before he was murdered in Memphis. The Stax artists spoke on how his assassination was the beginning of the end for Stax. The musicians at Stax were various nationalities, but their concerns was the music, and the family atmosphere despite the racial tension in Memphis at the time. Once Dr. King was killed, they were no longer able to be colorblind, which in turn affected their musical output.

 

 

Ultimately Stax went from being a family oriented atmosphere to a rigid business atmosphere, and as a result they ended up going under in 1974.

Renewed interest in Soul music caused a renewed interest in Soul music. Concord Records purchased the Stax catalog and made it available once again in 2000. Shortly afterwards, in 2003 the Stax Museum opened in the same spot it was located in during their heyday.

Along with the Museum, Stax is major players in the education of the Soulsville community with the Stax Music Academy and the Soulsville Charter School which both operated to provide opportunities for at risk youth in Memphis.

There are too many exhibits to fit in one story, however, if you’re ever in the Memphis area, I suggest you find your way to the Stax Museum. If you like Soul music, I can tell you, you won’t want to leave. If you would just like to learn more about them, check out their website.

Patti Labelle Served Humble Pie

TiAna Marshall

With the holiday season come many traditions, most of which center around the kitchen. My own family begins the celebration with a night full of cooking and laughter. Everything is made from scratch from the dressing, down to the perfectly baked sweet potato pie. The recipe has been in my family for years passed down from generation to generation, and is the best loved. This tradition is one that we share along with other families, however, it may have a new spin in some homes thanks to Ms. Patti Labelle.

Patti Labelle is known for many things including her amazing voice, and her equally amazing kitchen skills. The singer has published multiple cookbooks, sharing her love for food with the masses; however, her sweet potato pie has taken over the world, thanks to a video gone viral. Patti Labelle sweet potato pies began to disappear from Walmart shelves rapidly. The distributor reports selling one pie every few seconds. Bet reports the pies sold a whopping $2.3 million dollars in just a week.

So who is really to thank for this overnight success?

James Wright, a YouTube sensation, created a comedic video reviewing Patti Labelle’s sweet potato pie. Wright literally sang praises about the pie and the video spread quickly reaching over 3,000,000 views and counting. But the video caused more than just escalating sales, it also created a great pie debate.

Patti Labelle claimed all the fame associated with her pie, and though it was reported that she gave Wright a phone call, she denied him helping with their success. The sweet potato pies have been on shelves for years; however, sales had never been that high until after Wright posted the video. The Twitterverse was not having it though and quickly rallied to Wright’s side, creating memes tearing down Patti’s pies. Morning radio shows also showcased their support of Wright, calling Patti out for denying his help for the pies.

Patti Labelle quickly admitted to Wright being the primary reason why her pies sold and continue to sell so well. Just as all fads come and go, there is no denying one thing: the world has a sweet tooth, and Patti’s sweet potato pies are there to satisfy it.

Welcome to YouTube Red

The tech behemoth, Google, has announced a paid-subscription service to the most popular video streaming platform, YouTube. For over ten years, YouTube has been a worldwide phenomenon through its massive amounts of content anyone can create and watch almost anywhere. Perhaps the biggest chapter in YouTube’s short history is Google’s acquisition of the website in November of 2006 for $1.65 billion. Not soon after, in May 2007, YouTube introduced its Partner Program, allowing ad revenue to be distributed between Youtube (45%) and the content producer (55%). The company and content producers alike saw this as an opportunity to improve the quality of the videos, but YouTube garnered some criticism for the unavoidable advertisements put at the beginning, or the middle, of many videos, and the launch of YouTube Red may bring up even more criticism than before.

From the mobile app to their Cardboard virtual reality, YouTube has always prided itself as a service dedicated to enhancing the video-streaming experience for their viewers through constant adaptation, and YouTube Red is no different. With YouTube Red, subscribers will receive special features, including ad-free videos, the ability to save videos and music for offline access, or to keep videos or music playing outside of the YouTube app, an audio-only option through the YouTube Music app, and a Google Play Music subscription at no extra charge. After a 1-month free trial, all of these benefits will be available for $9.99/month.

Upon closer inspection, it seems Google is addressing many of the complaints about intrusive ads consumers have thrown their way, but some content creators might feel they are being put in a tough position. With the launch of YouTube Red, any Partner Program member will be expected to sign up for YouTube Red, or all their videos will not be available to the public.

It is too soon to decide whether or not this new program will succeed in boosting content quality, but as always, Google is sure to draw a very polarizing reaction, as can be seen through the number of dislikes on this video announcing the new program.

Sources:

http://fortune.com/2015/10/22/youtube-red-content-creators/

http://www.engadget.com/2015/10/21/youtube-red-google-ad-free-video-subscription/

https://www.youtube.com/red

 

 

 

 

Politicians and Musicians Do Not Harmonize

Stephen Jones

On September 9th, Donald Trump drew a livid reaction from R.E.M. frontman Michael Stipe, when the presidential hopeful used the band’s song “It’s the End of the World as We Know It (And I Feel Fine)” at a Tea Party rally protesting President Obama’s nuclear deal with Iran. In an email to the Daily Beast, Stipe, clearly upset with Trump, stating “Go f— yourselves, you sad, attention-grabbing, power-hungry, little men. Do not use our music or my voice for your moronic charade of a campaign.” Trump’s clash with R.E.M. is just the most recent incident in a long and troubled history between politicians (mostly Republicans) and musicians.

During the 2008 presidential season, Sen. John McCain received disapproval from three seperate artists, including: the Foo Fighters, John Mellencamp, and Jackson Browne. McCain continued this losing streak with musicians when his running mate, Gov. Sarah Palin, was sent a cease-and-desist letter from Heart guitarist Nancy Wilson, after using their famous song, “Barracuda,” at the Republican National Convention. Wilson’s letter fiercely, “I think it’s completely unfair to be so misrepresented. I feel completely f***ed over.”

Most of these altercations between politicians and musicians mostly occur due to the stark contrasts in personal beliefs. Many of the jilted Republican politicians have strongly conservative values, while the objecting musicians have usually been associated with the rock genre, a genre known for its progressive past, e.g., Woodstock and Vietnam War protests. This history can be seen as far back as Ronald Reagan’s 1984 presidential campaign, where he wanted to use Bruce Springsteen’s “Born in the U.S.A.” Reagan did not understand the lyrics where about a man struggling in the aftermath of the Vietnam War, a war Reagan was known to support. However, in the rare case of a musician denying a Democratic politician song rights, the letters have had a more cordial tone. For instance, Barack Obama was asked to stop using songs during both of his presidential campaigns; however, these rejections were not due to political beliefs, but rather the fact his campaign did not ask for permission. Perhaps if politicians asked the artists for song usage in advance, they might be spared the embarrassment of being publicy rejected.

Sources:

http://www.dailykos.com/story/2015/01/27/1360245/-When-politicians-use-music-without-asking-permission#

http://www.buzzfeed.com/perpetua/12-songs-republicans-used-without-permission#.ffgVjEryVD

The Clique Invades Dallas

Stephen Jones

The entire length of the South Side Ballroom was lined with fans decked out in face paint, their favorite pair of Vans, and drawn-on tattoos. When walking past the front of the line, you would find people sitting in lawn-chairs with evidence of that day’s breakfast and lunch just below their feet, with the hope of getting the best spot in the house. The Texas Clique turned out in droves October 1st, as twenty one pilots (the band always prints its name in lowercase) made a stop in Dallas as a part of their 2015 Blurryface Tour. As a result of this very dedicated fan base, known as “the Clique”, the band achieved an important milestone when their newest album was #1 on Billboard‘s charts, upon its release, so a sold out venue was not unexpected.

Once inside, people flocked towards the stage, stationed just a couple feet above the standing-room-only crowd. The stage was set for the opening act, Finish Ticket, a Californian indie-rock band with traces of other indie groups, like Walk the Moon and Young the Giant, except with a little more edge. Finish Ticket was followed by indie band, Echosmith, who reached mainstream success with their single Cool Kids. As mentioned before, this was a sold out, standing-room-only venue, and the crowd was squeezing closer together until the lead singer, Sydney Sierota, paused their closing song to make sure everybody was okay, but they continued after she had the crowd take a couple steps back.

Now, it was twenty one pilots’ turn to perform for their fans, and they did not disappoint. The crowd followed every word, sang at the top of their lungs, jumped right on beat, and rapped every verse. The duo brought all the things their fans came to see: backflipping off a piano, crowd-surfing drum sets, climbing very tall objects, and countless acts of crowd participation. Finally, twenty one pilots closed the night with an empassioned speech, followed by a crowd-surfing dual drum-off (they really like crowd surfing), as powerful synths and confetti cannons blasted.When the performance was over, the duo stood together, and the crowd gave the band one final round of applause. As the applause died down, the two parted with the message, “We are twenty one pilots and so are you.”

Don Henley Returns Home

Stephen Jones

After 15 years since his last new album, Don Henley reflects on his small-town roots in his latest release, Cass County. Henley ditches the classic rock sound, mostly attributed towards his time in the Eagles, and brings us an acoustic-driven country album.

Even though he found much of his success in California, Henley has always called Cass County, more particularly Linden, home. This look back at his life in a small southern town might be behind his return to the country genre. If you were to ask anyone from Cass County to describe what life is like in small-town Texas, they would tell you how time moves slowly and the day is simple: an attitude country music matches almost perfectly. With collaborations from Miranda Lambert, Martina McBride, and Dolly Parton, Don Henley’s new album looks to represent life in Cass County with great faithfulness.

On October 15, Henley comes back to his home state of Texas, when he stops by Grand Prairie’s Verizon Theatre, on his upcoming tour.