Friday, October 4, 2013

Busker Busker shows that music is not sport. In other news, water is wet.


God I hate Busker Busker.  Average bland music that could excite or offend absolutely nobody, it's easy to see why a conservative country like Korea loves them so much.  They're like the Korean Nickelback, except at least Nickelback gets rocks thrown at them every now and then for their crimes against popular music which is kind of funny.


On the other hand Koreans can't stop sucking Busker Busker's dicks and polluting their brains with their ultra Joe-average trash like "Cherry Blossom Ending", a song so ordinary and dull that it'd get rejected from a latter-day Weezer album for being too bland.  Korea loves this shit.  Even publicly using words from Ilbe, Korea's funtastic equivalent of 4chan with extra added batty ultra-conservatism and usually a cardinal sin for pop stars didn't earn Busker Busker that much negativity.  One of these guys needs to pull out all the stops and date a T-ara member or something, it's probably the only thing that will get them any hate because sucky written-while-taking-a-shit music sure won't.

I hasten to add that it's their music that I hate, not the guys themselves.  Unlike 99% of k-pop fans, I'm not one of these irrational crazies who thinks they can cast judgement on a person's actual character and personality just by looking at their public persona and their SNS activity.  I didn't actually give a flying fuck about the guys in Busker Busker either way until when that great interview with Brad came out the other day and everyone lost their shit.  I liked it that he dished the dirt on the Korean music scene and spilled the beans about forced Botox injections, coercion into shit contracts, crazy working conditions etc... but nobody else seemed to care about that.  All people wanted to talk about was OH NOES THE MUSIC COMPETITION IS RIGGED EVERYTHING IS FAKE!!!!!!1!1!


So, since that's all you people seem to be interested in, that's what this blog is going to talk about.  Because I'm all about giving the people what they want, that's me.

Music competitions being rigged might seem like a shocking revelation to Korean netizens who probably don't acquire a lot of playtime or sun in their lifetime let alone the social skills required to form a musical group and start playing venues, but it should be no great surprise to anybody who has ever been involved in music competitions of any kind.  Here's some scenarios taken from my real life experiences, that I've broken down in "Entertainment Radar" style format, because I either am or know all of these people in some capacity and can't be tellin' you no names, professional ethics yo:


1.  A very big music competition happens, where bands compete for a record deal by K (a large multinational major record label and household name that all of you reading this have heard of).  The prize is publicised as determined by crowd response plus a majority vote of three judges, one of whom is a representative of label K who will be provisioning the recording contract and releasing a mini-album of the winning group, with more to come if the first album promotions go well.  The winner even gets complete creative control over the songs and the artwork for the mini-album - what a great prize, right?  After a few heats, the final competition is run with each group playing a 45-minute set to try and wow the judges and audience.  The crowd favourite turns out to be group A, an eclectic mixed-gender group with an unusual musical hybrid and an enigmatic stage presence that absolutely brings the house down.  Their competition is B, a hair-metal style group who competently play standard 80s hair-metal and are received politely but the overall impact is kind of... meh.  The judges convene, two of them say "group A wins, there's no doubt about it, they are clearly the better group musically - in fact I haven't even heard anything quite like that before, plus the audience went absolutely nuts!".  The third judge, the representative for K, says "but group A's sound is too unusual, the prize is our record label deal, but my record label won't dare touch something like that, we don't know how to market that - hell, I probably won't even have a job left if I throw what group A does at my boss".  Because the entire event plus the prize is being bankrolled by record label K, majority vote and audience response be damned - group B wins and gets the record deal, and that's the end of that.  Group B are understandably rapt, sign on the dotted line, release a bland 80s-style hair metal mini-album on label K that nobody buys and then promptly break up.  The juvenile art that the group chose for the cover - a crude picture of some winged devil-girl or whatever with her tits out that was probably drawn by one of the band's friends - probably didn't help!


2.  A medium-sized music competition happens, run by a Christian music company.  The prize is a fuckload of money and some nice instruments, and the winner is determined by audience response.  Several groups and solo artists perform and play two songs each.  The clear winner seems to be G - a female solo performer and multi-instrumentalist with outstanding vocals plus a great stage presence and sense of humour that really engages with the audience.  Nobody else is even close in terms of musical quality or audience reaction, but H doesn't do badly - their rock sound is pretty sloppy but goes over well enough and gets a good reaction.  Every other group is bland as fucking shit - boring Christian pop-rock with sappy devotional "I love you Jesus / Jesus you're the one for me" lyrics (not even exaggerating), all sung and played by clean-cut boys seemingly scared to sing too loud or strum their guitars too hard lest it might wake the Lord's peaceful slumber, and that nobody in the audience cares about - the queue for the bar and the toilets is bigger than the crowd at the stage for all of these acts.  You knew where this one was going already just from the first sentence, right?  Of course you do - the results come in: H is 3rd, G is 2nd and 1st is one of the Christian groups that nobody except their mothers cared about or even watched.  When reading these prizes out, the MC has an apologetic tone and the winning group look almost too embarrassed to take the prize, seemingly knowing that it rightfully belonged to G.


3.  A small music competition happens in a bad part of town.  It's a heat - the prize is simply to move onto the next round and is determined by the event organiser, and nobody else.  He says before the event starts that he might factor the audience response in a bit, but ultimately, it's up to him.  Two groups compete and play a 30-minute set each.  Group A is a blues-rock band who are complete noobs that turn up with inadequate amplification and have to run half of the instruments straight through the venue's PA system, but once they get going, their unpolished sound suits the equally unpolished punters who are basically happy that at least the band isn't interfering too heavily with the pool game.  Group B are a lot more professional and have better equipment and stage presence, but their softer rock music isn't received that well by the crowd who start shouting "get off!"... that is, until the female singer starts removing some clothing and then the chants start changing to "get your tits out!".  After the show is over, the event organiser grabs the microphone and says "The winner is group B... and no, it's not for the reason you think!"  The audience laughs and jeers "yeah, right, whatever!  Do we get to see her tits now or what?".  Later on, the event organiser privately levels with group A: "look, you guys were honestly the better group, but I can't have you guys back for another heat, your equipment isn't good enough.  I can't have you risking blowing up my PA by putting all your equipment through it.  You're lucky I even let you play at all."


The reason why I share with you these examples is not to criticise the events or the people running them - in each case, the decisions that were made, while arguably unfair, were certainly understandable from the point of view of the people making them.  The reason why I bring this stuff up is to demonstrate that whether large or small, there's a multitude of extra factors that always come into play whenever a music competition is held, and most of those factors don't actually have anything to do with the quality of the music, or even the audience's perceived enjoyment of the event.  So you can pretty much write off every single music competition held anywhere by anybody ever as being riddled with bias and bullshit, because they all are.  I used just three examples but I could have easily used 30.

As for Busker Busker, and Superstar K, so Ulala Session was scripted to win, big deal, so what.  It's fucking television AND it's a music competition, of course it's not real, of course there's behind-the-scenes bullshit and ultra fake-ass generation of a narrative involved, what did you expect?  They've got to fill up all that airtime when the groups aren't actually playing somehow.  Next you'll be telling me that reality TV shows are fake and scripted too.  Don't break my heart, now.


Music quality doesn't really have an objective standard by which it can be truly measured anyway - for all my ragging on Busker Busker, if someone turns around and says "but... I like Cherry Blossom Ending", then they like it, and that's that.  Sure Lindt make better chocolate than Cadburys... but what if I prefer the taste of Cadburys?  That's why the extra factors creep in - if there's no truly objective standard for measuring music quality as a judge OR an audience then, how the fuck DO you judge it with any fairness?

The most sensible answer to this question is "you don't".  Sure, watch your favourite music shows, but watch them to hear the music, not for who wins.  Fuck who wins.  Music is not sport, here endeth the lesson.

37 comments:

  1. Replies
    1. Sorry I'm taken. I'll let you know if that changes.

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  2. You don't even know how badly I want to write as professionally awesome (idk if that made sense lol) as you can. But then I remember that you're old enough to be my father.

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    1. Youth is overrated - there are several advantages of being an old cunt and one of them is that you have lots of accumulated time under your belt to get better at shit. (Except for computer games - 15 year olds still whip my ass at those.)

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  3. This should be posted in one of the more popular places that k pop-nutsos like to visit.

    And I get the feeling this was publicity move by Busker Busker, more than anything else. Its been over a couple yrs since competition ended, and saying this stuff as they release their new album, just makes for a very convenient. Guess, they have to get the attention some way.

    BTW did anyone here watch rihanna's pour it up?

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    1. I do think the interview was meant to synchronise with the new album, but I'm not so sure if Brad was aware of the kind of spin the article was going to have. In any event they're wildly popular in Korea anyway plus they have close to zero chance of being equally popular anywhere else in the world, so such an article appearing in western media wouldn't have made much difference either way.

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    2. Your reply confused me a bit, not in terms of what it meant, but in terms of how it related to my post.

      I meant to say that your post should be posted on place akp or a similar site.

      And that video of Nickleback, is representative of sad case of musicians not knowing their own limits,and performing in places where they don't belong. As far as I remember, the rock throwing incidence happened at hard metal festival or something. And Nickleback was anything but hard.

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    3. I addressed the publicity part of your post and skipped the other bit. Oops.

      I guess you could always do what everyone has a bizarre fetish for doing with Netizenbuzz articles: copy and paste it from this site to some forum or whatever. I personally don't mind as long as you appropriately credit the source and link back to where you got it from.

      Yeah it was some metal festival. As a metalhead I wouldn't want to sit through Nickelback either. I wouldn't throw rocks at them though, I'd probably just go to the toilet and check out the cafeteria or something.

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    4. The Nickelback incident happened at a hard rock festival. Next to go were Korn, so of course they would ear no rock for sissies.

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    5. Korn fans throwing stones at Nickelback for sucking is real pot/kettle territory.

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  4. i've never had the courage to listen to a song by busker busker

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    1. They're not awful, they're just very average, which is honestly even worse - at least really awful music has entertainment value because you can laugh at how bad it is. Busker Busker doesn't even have that going for them. If you're a k-pop fan and watch enough Korean stuff chances are you've already heard them and didn't even notice because their super-unexciting wallpapery music just sort of faded into the background.

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    2. extreme mediocrity is actually the same problem that's always made me want to murder nickelback; the comparison is basically what drew me in. something about just looking at busker busker and reading their name and just everything about them never interested me enough to pay attention to them i guess

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    3. Understandable. The Nickelback comparison occured to me the minute I heard Busker Busker, they're very similar in the sense that there's nothing NIckelback does which is "wrong" or even "sounds bad" but there's just nothing that stands out about them either. They're competent, blandand middle of the road and this makes them ten times worse than something truly awful. If you mix every hard rock album in the world both good and bad together Nickelback is what you get at the end, just like if you get a big pot and mix paint of every single colour in the world, the result is gray.

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  5. I fap to your articles cause they're hot and delicious. Gimme more oppar.

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    1. Thanks, I will. It seems to be the articles without the T&A that you guys fap to the most. Hmmm.

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  6. "Music quality doesn't really have an objective standard by which it can be truly measured anyway - for all my ragging on Busker Busker, if someone turns around and says "but... I like Cherry Blossom Ending", then they like it, and that's that."

    ^^ This so much. I wrote something similar a few weeks ago:

    "How do you decide what's good music? Do you have standardized test? Or is it your opinion? I don't believe in this good music/bad music shit. Music is based on taste. There is music you like and music you don't like. But you can't qualitatively decide what's good and what's bad. In the end it will always be an opinion."

    It's astounding the number of people who bash other people's taste based on, guess what.... their own taste.

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    1. The only rule in music that matters is that if you like it, it's awesome, and if you don't like it, it's shitty.

      Of course everyone has their own versions of both of those things. Obviously plenty of people disagree with me about Busker Busker given their huge sales, but that's okay. Some people would rather eat a stir-fry with chilli and some would prefer cold peas out of a can, which is better depends of what kind of taste buds you own..

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  7. I wasn't surprised at all that Superstar K was rigged; practically every *other* music competition ever is rigged (by someone's opinion). What got me was the amount of audio post production that went into the show and all the other backstage bullshit; perhaps I'm naive, but the crap these people (idols, idols in training, etc) have to go through is cray as fuck. Anyway, thanks Kpopalypse hyung for this awesome article; your words, no matter how TL;DR they are for sane people, are always welcomed :3

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    1. Cheers! One thing I really loved about the article was he talked about how the entire mix of Juliette is auto-tuned to shit. Which just proves everything I said in my Autotune blog a while back, because I bet nobody who listened to it before he said that even noticed. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=33gTuQkQky4#t=36

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    2. see: old school radio payola.

      still happens today though much more discretely. k-entertainment pretty much adopted the fixing standard

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  8. All is already sold.
    I love Christina Aguilera that's why I watch The Voice and I was watching some vids about it and I girls was claiming that her friends couldn't pass the preauditions bcos she didn't have a sad story to tell
    2. The singing competition contest as we know it now was invented in Spain with the show Operación Triunfo. Simon Cowell bought the format years after and for the first edition the last 3 finalist were manipulated everyone knows.
    3. For the show of jyp yg papa boa idk the name one of the contestant was already a Jyp trainee, one boy idk his name

    Bye

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  9. The nickelback video made me happy.

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    1. It's a heart-touching moment, to be sure.

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  10. With all due respect, I suspect that most people in Korea are nothing but sheeples who habitually, blindly follow whatever trend that's making the rounds there. In other words, there are too fucking many bandwagoners and glory hunters in Korea. Well, T-ara are (alleged) bitches and bullies? let's shit on them real hard and screw evidence and reasoning all together. SNSD is the "National Group"? let's indiscriminately eat up whatever shit they excrete.

    This sort of sheeple mentality is antithesis of progress and the pursuit of excellence. The latest release by Busker Busker is tolerable but bland and indistinguishable, nonetheless the Koreans fall for it because the band is (allegedly) talented and could do no wrongs. Or simply because everyone is listening to Busker Busker, you will come across as a caveman if you don't.........

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    1. If nothing else, there's certainly a "keeping up appearances" mentality over there which is on a pretty high level. Hence all the caring about irrelevant netizen comments, etc.

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  11. I thought nickleback disbanded D:: what are they still doing with their shitty music. <.< Even their own countrymen find then offensive. Nice video and article btw :)

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    1. Sadly we live in a world where war, famine and Nickelback still exists. Glad you enjoyed the article.

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    2. Oh, relevant: http://www.nme.com/news/nickelback/60139

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    3. Pretty sure they're just riding on their fame from back when they were in the charts for 1~2 singles.

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  12. Totally not really related but that Sera gif always breaks my heart.

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    1. Thanks to this comment I finally got around to watching that Nine Muses doco. Cheers.

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  13. hey nice post meh, I love your style of blogging here. this post reminds me of an equally interesting post that I read some time ago on Daniel Uyi's blog: The Reason Why Guys Cant Date Girls .
    keep up the good work friend. I will be back to read more of your posts.

    Regards

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    1. You think my reminds you of that gimmicky-ass dating advice page you're spamming? Kill me now.

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  14. Brad sounds like the most reluctant asshole in the world.

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