K-pop: It’s all about packagingBy Pocholo Concepcion
Philippine Daily Inquirer
Two years ago we watched our first K-pop concert that featured Super Junior at Smart Araneta Coliseum. We were taken aback, not so much by the performance, but at how Filipino youth went gaga over the group.
In October last year we saw another K-pop group, Big Bang, perform before a full-house crowd at the Mall of Asia (MOA) Arena. We tried to understand what made the event such a big hit, because there was nothing outstanding about the songs—although the live backing band was a major plus factor compared to the prerecorded music that accompanied Super Junior.
Apparently K-pop is all about packaging. The performers, looking like models with finely chiseled features and dolled up in flashy costumes, move like clockwork on a stage built with high-pressure hydraulics that allow them to ascend from nowhere and descend from view. When the high-decibel music starts, the effect is visually arresting.
This type of stage act is reminiscent of the Motown revues that featured its legendary artists (The Supremes, The Temptations, Jackson 5, Martha and the Vandellas, to name a few). The big difference is that K-pop artists have to look so postcard-pretty that some of them are required to undergo medical procedures to alter their faces.
Also, there was no need for a Motown concert to have fancy stages because the artists’ vocal prowess and the music’s pulsating rhythms were enough to drive fans wild.
For avid followers, watching K-pop concerts is the culmination of dreamy, idol-worshipping days in which a lot of time is spent drooling over photos, videos and merchandise of their objects of devotion. When fans shout out their excitement at the concerts, the sound is deafening.
This level of obsession likewise recalls the manic behavior of followers of Elvis Presley, The Beatles and other rock stars of yesteryears. The Beatles decided to stop performing live in
1966 because the band couldn’t hear itself on account of the screaming fans.
The success of K-pop in the Philippines shows no sign of slowing down, with tickets to a coming concert reportedly selling fast. The show, billed as “Dream K-pop Fantasy,” will be held on Jan. 19 at the MOA open grounds and will feature Girls’ Generation, Infinite, U-Kiss, Exo M/K, Tasty and Tahiti.
Of the six acts, Girls’ Generation is the hottest, having reportedly sold more than 11 million albums and singles in 2010 alone.
On concert day, we’ll try once more to appreciate what K-pop has to offer, short of learning the Korean language.
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