Pop Cult: Dal★Shabet, After School, Kaskade & Skrillex
Weekly column featuring knee-jerk reactions (the best kind) to pop culture happenings all over the world.Posted by Allen Huang
New Genre Alert: Brostep Purse Dance
Dal★Shabet – Mr. Bang Bang: B
Six-piece girl group Dal★Shabet fire off their latest round with “Mr. BangBang”, a song definitively more aeygo than their last big hit “Hit U”. While the song is nice enough, this bouncy ditty effectively hits that pop-dance rollick that the South Koreans do so well.
But the video! This is one for the archive. The most adorable bank robbery ever? Thinly veiled cry for a redistribution of wealth? Guns don’t kill people, 808’s do? Whatever is going on with the plotting, this is a long stride from the days of hanging out in a shopping mall and cheerleading for the football team. Here’s hoping that this video does not ignite some sort of cute crime spree.
After School – Lady Luck (Japanese) : B+
After School has focused specifically on the Japanese market for the last few months, appearing in commercials and releasing a string of Japanese language singles. “Lady Luck” is one of the few Japanese original songs they’ve put out, and it’s notable for a couple reasons.
First: “Lady Luck” doesn’t sound like a Korean Pop tune translated into Japanese. This is a very very Japanese tune, pulling from the Japanese electro pop of Shibuya in both tone and image. The song shows an incredibly more nuanced understanding of the differences between Japanese and Korean Pop tropes, and is eons beyond the efforts of K-Pop groups KARA and Rainbow, who both also are also exclusively working the Japanese market. Cross-germination is a welcome phenomenon in pop music, and hopefully this leads to an interesting convergence of markets and sounds.
Second: Kahi, the leader of After School, is 31 years old (ancient by K-Pop standards) and finally “graduating” as a solo artist. This is pretty exciting news; her last solo effort had some amazing tracks on it and I can’t wait to see what she does on her own. After School is really the only group in the K-Pop kingdom that does this kind of member refresh with expected regularity. We’ll see how the fans react to one of the most beloved and long standing members of their group leaving.
Also, A+ to the dubstep breakdown purse dance.
Kaskade & Skrillex – Lick It: C-
I honestly bear no ill will to the kings of bro-step. Skrillex, Deadmau5, Kaskade, Avicii, they all fill a need that not any sound can fill: exhilaration, ear-shattering noise that can fill stadiums. It’s like KISS: can’t hate on KISS and have any serious effect. Well, you can but I’m not trying to do that here in a column about pop culture.
But no one, not even KISS fans, wanted to see them collaborate with like Boston or something. And similarly, when Kaskade and Skrillex come together, the results are awkward at best. Both producers struggle in vain to put their stamp on the song, Kaskade with the “bro-epic” piano hooks, Skrillex dropping the BASSS all over. But in the end its two puzzle pieces that were never meant to fit. Listening to the song I feel as confused as the girl in the video.