K-pop's oldies are goodies

K-pop's oldies are goodies
Psy (in pic)
PHOTO: Reuters

New Korean acts too slick, too cute, or too boring.

As much as I hate to admit it, I think I'm getting old.

Last week, I really felt my age - the scary number shall remain a secret here - while catching K-pop's annual year-end TV mega song festivals, also known as the Gayo Daejuns.

For the uninitiated, there are three Gayo Daejuns every December, organised by South Korea's top television broadcasters KBS, SBS and MBC.

All follow a standard formula: Impressive set-ups, spectacular visuals, star-studded line-up of artists.

Call me a grumpy geezer, but the performances of many young idol groups left me cold.

Teen favourites BTS, Got7 and VIXX showed off high energy and a crazy level of dancing prowess, but I found these boy band sets too slick and overly orchestrated.

In the end, I marvelled more at their backdrops. Got7's stage design at the SBS Gayo Daejun was incredible, featuring surreal underwater imagery and ferocious red waves crashing down on one another.

Well, that's about it.

Rookie all-girl outfits Mamamoo and Lovelyz delivered competent covers of Beyonce's Single Ladies and Bruno Mars' Marry You at the MBC Gayo Daejun, but they were too cute - and boring - to hold my interest.

So which were the performances I loved?

As with other ageing K-pop fans, I'm nothing more than the sum total of my memories. I liked the ones that gave me a blast of nostalgia.

Wonder Girls, who had a fantastic comeback last year - their latest studio effort, Reboot, was picked by US website Billboard as the best album of 2015 - did an amazing rock rendition of their 2008 dance smash hit So Hot at the MBC Gayo Daejun.

Of late, Yubin, Yeeun, Sunmi and Hyerim have successfully reinvented themselves as a band.

It's lovely seeing them mature into serious musicians who can handle their instruments with the deftness of pros.

At the SBS Gayo Daejun, veteran rapper Psy was the inimitable king of the night with his three-song closing set: Daddy, Napal Baji and the still-very-popular Gangnam Style.

Compared to his recent concert in Seoul, where he twerked, wore hot pants and put on plastic breasts that emitted fireworks, Psy's performance was relatively mild on the shock scale.

Yet, it was the most engaging and infectious out of the entire SBS line-up.

Special mention also goes to Girls' Generation, who sang and danced at all three Gayo Daejuns.

The octet were tireless, charming and pitch perfect, whether they were doing new tunes such as Party and Lion Heart, or their 2009 chart-topper Genie.


This article was first published on Jan 6, 2016.
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