Category Archives: K-Pop


Video Close-up: Aesthetic Evolution

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Starter question for 10 points: What compels otherwise normal, sensible, breathing human beings to create the music videos discussed and evaluated by Team TikiKiti?

A recent podcast from the British Society of Aesthetics, featuring philosophy professor Stephen Davies from the University of Auckland, tackled the subject of Art and Evolution at some length and brought up a number of salient points.

Davies posits that art survived during times when it was counter-productive to devote energy to activity not directly benefitting the group (hunting, gathering, defense), because it demonstrated a trait that could be used to attract a mate and spawn “better” children.

In Rosie Passau’s unofficial music video for “1955” by Hilltop Hoods, the artist plays the violin, dances, rides a bike, and drives a Volkswagen, but these interesting traits are secondary to her unquestionable verve and beauty.

This performance video is dexterously edited and demonstrates a crystal clear understanding of the art form as an advertisement for one’s self. If this were a resume, it speaks volumes about its creator — and really nothing else. There are no other people to be found, the star is born.

Another theory that’s raised by Davies, is that art became an integral part of early group dynamics because it created a record of community beliefs and strengthened its standing. This is certainly true in regards to Egyptian and Greek culture, as ceremonial tributes to gods became more elaborate and ceremonial.

Italian dance troupe Black Summer uses choreography and narrative elements in ritualistic fashion to banish the spirit of an evil ex-boyfriend in an inspired cover of Girl Generation’s “Paparazzi.”

With alternating scenes of the lead dancer miming in a playground and a cemetery, the meaning is obvious that the ladies are serious about having fun, and that no man is sexy enough to destroy their solidarity.

Also notice the cell phones as fetish devises, a vital part of any ceremony to drive away dark forces. A powerful spell is cast and a bond is forged.

Finally, Davies argues that there may be no actual evolutionary benefit to art, that it’s simply a byproduct of prosperous times, since it allows group members to focus on deeds and stories that are relevant to the community.

In both Piñaingrata’s moody take on Joy Division’s “Love Will Tear Us Apart” and Hookshot Miguel’s interpretation of Talking Heads’ “Slippery People,” the artists attempt to share ineffable feelings of isolation, ennui, purpose, and spiritual fatigue, cut to a couple catchy classics.

While these are projections from the hearts of their creators, the images depicted are inclusive and relatable to everyone because they share personal vulnerability – an empowering and cathartic act.

We’re in search of the “art” in “cathartic.” It should benefit the group in the long run, even if we’re not blessed with “better” children. At least they’ll know how to edit video.

Video Close-up: Shall We Dance?

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The exact origin of dance is likely unknowable, but most deep thinkers believe that it developed as some kind of ritual to frighten away predators that don’t care for dancing. My own theory involves a Neanderthal falling asleep on an anthill, but it’s never gotten the attention it deserves.

Hieroglyphic evidence suggests (to me) that the ancient Egyptians spent considerable time working on elaborate ska-dance routines to appease a colorful pantheon of bird-headed deities.

Today, there is no doubt that dance serves as a valuable cultural window into a given society, whether it be squirming beneath the boot heel of oppression or blessed with the freedom to bust moves all over the kitchen.

The top question on my mind is about the staying power of individual cultural touchstones, as we inevitably meld into more of a World Cafe society, one with a jukebox tuned almost exclusively to contemporary Seoul music, a.k.a. K-Pop.

The first country on our whirlwind tour is France, where we find the highly photogenic Hive Dance Crew synched up to “Error” by VIXX, a Korean boy band. The dancers are handsome, sleek and obviously multi-culti, a point emphasized by the variegated colors of their tunics.

The team’s feline formations bear little resemblance to the carefully measured sequences that first gained favor in the court of Louis XIV. Instead, the action slides on a modern and vibrant groove fueled by soulful ringtone seduction; a sexy reminder that this would be a better world if love were the coin of the realm.

Next we visit Poland, and the trio known as ReadyorNot, working out to another K-Pop combo, EXO-CBX. Again, the universal signifier to these impressionable hoofers is American nightclub mating ritual, by way of South Korea’s teen-friendly discos.

While the steps lack the discipline of the traditional Polonaise, the playful abandon of the Mazurka is not completely out of the equation here. The fluid camerawork really heightens the action, and the wardrobe choices are refreshingly blue collar and irreverent.

Surely the joy generated by ReadyorNot is in response to living in a country that has seen its share of totalitarian rule, by both Germany and the Soviet Union, but now declares itself free to choose beats over beatings and choreography over communism.

Finally, we return home to the US of A, and the SoNE1 dance team from UC-Davis, an all-Korean squad that celebrates K-Pop as a unifying positive force that dominates Asian media and youth culture. Here, the dancers take a few laps around NCT Dream’s “My First and Last.”

In this instance, we are treated to another confluence of identities, including Korean, American, and musical theater enthusiast. Despite the college address, these dancers are probably homesick freshmen, still yearning for the innocence of high school and its G-rated, sugary playlist.

The choreography of SoNE1 is anything but provocative, which makes sense coming from a culture that values modesty and honoring the family.

Some fragments of our past remain present, it seems.