Formspring #2: Favorite lives
This question has been sitting in my Formspring inbox for seven (seven! seven! SEVEN.) months, and needless to say, it’s high time that I got around to answering it. He/she asked:
Fave live k-pop performances EVER??
I should warn that this list is going to be far from all-inclusive, but here are eight performances that come to mind:
Whatever happened to this show? Ever since the demise of “Music Travel LaLaLa,” I had hoped that The Muzit would be my go-to program for acoustic remakes galore, but it seems to have disappeared into cable television oblivion. Nevertheless, “Noona Neomu Yeppeo” is probably one of the best K-pop songs of this era, and it tickled me pink to hear SHINee perform an unplugged version with a live band. It’s absurdly difficult to find an “unplugged” or jam session-esque version of anything in K-pop, and for good reason: K-pop is known for its flashy performances and dramatic theatrics, to the point where almost anything not under that umbrella doesn’t seem to really exist. It makes these unplugged performances all the more precious, if only because they’re so few in number.
On top of all that, “Noona Neomu Yeppeo” is the one song that, for better or worse, will probably stick with SHINee for the rest of their careers, and it’s nice to hear them sing this song in a way that doesn’t seem dated.
My heart does a little leap whenever K-pop ventures into classic rock territory, and while this performance might’ve been both Glee-ified and Kpoppified inside and out, I don’t think I’m enough of a classic rock purist to be offended by that. Of course, it doesn’t cancel out the inevitable awkwardness that comes with combining classic rock and fluffy idol pop, but in a way, the reason why I liked this performance so much is because of that inevitable awkwardness. It goes without saying that K-pop as a genre is way too redundant and compartmentalized for its own good, so any attempt to branch out from that earns respect from me. And yeah, I also think it’s kind of impossible to really do that without it becoming a “thing” (because hiring a full orchestra, a choir, and a ballet group is as “thing-y” as a thing can be), but K-pop is what K-pop is, and you learn to love it. Also, boys with good hair in semi-formal rocker wear. Oh yes.
Ahhhh, weepiest DBSK ballad ever, but I love it so :3 Ontama Carnival was just so good overall, mostly because DBSK’s performances were so consistent and perfect and comfortable to watch. Everything was flawless without the added burden of having a “We’re-trying-really-really-hard-not-to-mess-up,” model student-like attitude to it. This performance of “Bolero” is one of the few times I’ve been able to just sit back and enjoy a performance without worrying about someone messing up. The song itself is strikingly beautiful to begin with, and I’m really thankful that it hasn’t been overperformed (*cough*loveintheice*cough*) to the point where a performance becomes impossible to enjoy due to the sheer weariness of the song. And that bridge. ; _ ;
I love Hyorin, but I can’t help but cringe whenever she has to sing with anyone else because it’s always so painfully apparent that, well, the girl’s just too good for everyone else. And even in this performance, K.Will seemed to take a backseat to Hyorin’s crazy vocal acrobatics, even though K.Will’s probably one of the few male singers who can hold a candle to Hyorin, let alone duet with her. I hate the fact that so-called “impressive” ballads with crazy melismas are always so.frigging.boring, and it’s easy to overlook “Whenever You Call” because it’s a song that will put you to sleep unless you’re really tuned into the vocalists and how they carry the song. K.Will and Hyorin are unreal, unreal, and you don’t find voices like theirs just anywhere, let alone K-pop. Why is Hyorin in SISTAR? :(
I already talked about this performance at length here, but this was just so smexy(? does anyone still say that?) that it deserved another mention. “Immortal Song” is probably one of the best things to happen to K-pop in a while, and it pains me to see the show being constantly inconsistent, with idols habitually dropping in and out of the show. I have every single one of Kyuhyun’s performances on IM saved on my harddrive, and I still pull them out every now and again to remind myself that there is still good in the world of K-pop. :)
Because what would this list be without BoA? I was having such a hard time deciding which dance performance of BoA’s to put on this list, but ended up choosing this perf from “Sketchbook” instead because while I’m pretty sure it’s universally agreed on that BoA is the muthaeffin’ boss on stage, I don’t think she gets enough credit for her actual singing. BoA doesn’t have a naturally pleasant-sounding voice, but one would be foolish to think that she hasn’t worked her butt off for the past 12 years to perfect her vocal skills. “Romance” is one of my favorite songs off of Hurricane Venus, and while it can be argued that there are a ton of other artists out there who could sing this song and make it sound better, it doesn’t change the fact that BoA handled this song like a pro, even without a stereotypically “pretty” voice to fall back on.
Ugh, Onew, you heartbreaker. Onew’s always had a special place in my heart for many reasons, one of the biggest reasons being the fact that he doesn’t really ever seem to act his age. In the group, he seems to bend his 22 years downward in order to blend in with the younger members of the group…and then turns around and sings an Italian aria like a 40 year old man. Onew sang this song right around SHINee’s debut, back when SHINee was collectively known as “that group with the kid who’s still in middle school” and everyone seemed to forget the fact that Onew was almost 20 years old. But despite the fact that Onew spends half his time acting like a preschooler and the other half acting like a senior citizen, there’s something about Onew’s voice that gives everything away, allowing Onew to show off who he really is for once.
And who can ever forget this one. The a cappella version of “Hug” is my favorite Dong Bang song, ever, and the fact that it was performed at the Five in the Black concert makes it all the more special. It’s always bothered me that DBSK’s on-the-fly a cappella perfs on Japanese variety shows were always a little bit iffy and a little bit off — but this? This was flawless. This is the Gods of the East at their best, people, and there will surely never be another. :’)