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Three K-pop & J-pop ways I’m spending the COVID Quarantine

Like most everyone in the world right now, I’ve suddenly found myself with a surplus of indoor time. Too much indoor time, if I’m being honest. I could be spending that time churning out blog post after blog post, but it’s funny how the upending of a schedule also upends productivity.

So instead, I’m mostly whittling away the days watching and listening to music. I won’t bore you with the obscure 90’s J-pop binge I’ve been on for the past week, except to say that you’ve probably never heard of also-ran Johnny’s group Ninja, and if you like 80’s/90’s high energy disco pop you should definitely hear a couple of their songs on either one of these illicit youtube channels.

Mostly, I’m curious to hear what all of you are doing to pass the time. If you’re as bored as I am, let me present three options for your K-pop and J-pop consumption:


1. Golden Child – Past & Future Concert

Woollim Entertainment was nice enough to stream Golden Child’s first concert (performed right before the start of the Covid outbreak in Korea) and subsequently post every song on their youtube channel. Of course it’s all well-worth watching – especially if you want to get to know the group’s music before their upcoming stint in Road To Kingdom. Unsurprisingly, the guys kill each and every stage, exuding energy as they perform with a live band in true Woollim family tradition.

Playlist of the twenty-three tracks below (I especially recommend the electrifying No Matter What, as well as live performances of personal favorite b-sides I’m Falling and Lately):


2. Johnny’s World Happy LIVE with YOU

I mean, come on… the title alone! The effusive capitalizations of “LIVE” and “YOU!” But don’t let all the cheese fool you. This is actually a historic youtube broadcast. Johnny’s Entertainment has been notoriously protective when it comes to digital media, and up to this point it was impossible to watch any of their acts’ performances legally on a platform like youtube.

Happy LIVE is the first time content like this has been widely available, and the results are just as bonkers as you would expect. Most of the agency’s artists (and a few of its juniors) take the stage in front of an empty, silent arena and perform 5-6 song sets without the kind of razzle dazzle stagecraft we’re used to from Johnny’s. The end product is occasionally cringeworthy, incredibly surreal, but always entertaining. If nothing else, stay for the maddeningly catchy “Wash Your Hands” interstitial song (and mask-making demos). Just bizarre.

Special digest video of all the artists below (you can find each artists’ full sets by clicking on the Johnny’s Official youtube channel):


3. Idol Cast Podcast

I listen to a lot of podcasts already, many of them K-pop focused. But, I finally discovered Filmi Girl’s Idol Cast early this year and I am completely smitten. Listen from the very beginning to get a comprehensive history of both the K-pop and J-pop industries – at least parts of them. Girl group devotees be wary, for this podcast is 99.9% focused on male idol groups – mostly from Johnny’s, SM, YG, etc. I consider myself pretty up-to-date with idol history, but I’ve already learned quite a bit just from listening. Filmi Girl herself is an absolute delight – well-researched, funny and clearly passionate about the subjects she speaks on. My only (slight) gripe is that there has been absolutely no mention of Infinite anywhere… at least so far! 🙂

Listen to the first episode below, or subscribe on any podcast app:


So, what have all of you been up to? Any recommendations?

35 thoughts on “Three K-pop & J-pop ways I’m spending the COVID Quarantine

  1. My schedule….stayed the same actually. I watch anime here and there, and also my usual variety shows.

    The great escape also have third season going, everyone should watch the first two season as it’s just a masterpiece.

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    • Any anime recommendations? I’m super picky with anime. There have been a few throughout the years that I’ve absolutely loved (Trigun, Ouran Host Club, Akira), but most fizzle out for me after a couple of episodes. I prefer funny, or fantasy/sci-fi.

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      • if you liked host club, i think you’ll really enjoy kaguya sama: love is war. its hilarious. For music related anime, I think you might enjoy carole and tuesday. some of the songs are really lovely, I’ve been listening to the soundtrack a lot. It’s on netflix so its easily available. i also really recommend samurai champloo and violet evergarden on netflix, they’re a bit darker than the other ones ive said but also really engrossing and with really pretty art. You MIGHT enjoy demon slayer if you like fantasy but it is pretty shounen so it just depends whether you’re into that or not.

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      • Well…..you probably liked something more realistic, but here’s some that might fits you:

        Daily life of highschool boys – It’s a satire of what the title says. Very funny, try 2~3 episodes to see if it’s your style of comedy.

        Psycho Pass – sci-fi about future dystopian japan where you could get caught if your mental state shows even signs of criminal intent.

        Kimestu no yaiba – Trendiest fantasy anime of last year, it’s about demon slaying and the MC who tried to turns his sister back into a human again

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  2. Wow, I just played your embedded Golden Child video as background noise for reading this and ended up watching the whole concert, even without knowing anything about them (except for Jangjun, who’s a lovely buffoon in the ISACs. Who’d have thought he raps?) I understand your excitement now. Even the most unremarkable songs (Would U be My…) sounded great (live drums are a huge part of it, I feel) and the guys exude charisma, which I guess is harder with the more moody songs I tend to prefer. My money’s certainly on either them or The Boyz for Road to Kingdom (they had the 2 best teasers, IMO).

    And incidentally, speaking about RtK, how does a foreigner watch it live? Does Mnet stream it on their website like M Countdown? Whenever I look out for information, all I find is a lot about some Chinese webnovel or something *sigh*

    Now, regarding my days… somehow I automatically gravitated towards K-pop, and I’m spending more time than what’s healthy investigating every aspect of it. I mean, I’ve been listening to K-pop since 2013 or 2014, but always as a casual listener and so I never strayed very far from the oldies that everyone talks about and recommends, and even less did I actually spend time learning about the idols and the industry until some months ago (when I rediscovered this blog, btw, and discovered Kpopalypse) so I guess I’m making up for lost time. Hence your Idol Cast recommendation fits like a ring too. Thanks for that.
    Now I hope I don’t get too caught by Korean shows with RtK, or my chances of a ‘productive’ quarantine/vacation (mine’s very probably gonna last up to September or even more) will go completely down the drain.

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    • Hey, so the Road to Kingdom actually starts airing from the 30th of April. It’ll be another few weeks before foreigners are able to view it. When that day comes, the raw episode usually comes up at any of the Korean drama/variety websites. The subs will come out a few hours after.

      I believe you have to pay for a subscription to watch it live. And that subscription is only available within Korea. Correct me if I’m wrong but that’s what I know off the top of my head.

      It was the same with all Mnet shows. Produce and otherwise, foreigners couldn’t actually be able to participate in it live. So yea…. sucks to be a foreigner I guess.

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      • Oh, I see. Thanks for the info. I was hoping I could watch it live since Mnet, theoretically at least, streams M Countdown for free on their website for the Americas, though I’ve never had the time to check it out yet.

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    • This comment filled me with so much joy. I’m sort of evangelical when it comes to promoting Golcha, so hearing that the concert really clicked for you makes me so happy. A live band makes all the difference, and really draws upon the strength of these songs. You just don’t get the same energy with the kind of trap beats so many other K-pop groups use.

      Jangjun’s currently my favorite personality in K-pop. “Lovely buffoon” is a perfect description. If you’re interested, check out the group’s variety. They’re just a relentlessly funny group.
      https://golchaindex.com/

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      • Thanks, I’ll sure be checking it out and Jesus! I wish there was such a well organized index for NCT or Stray Kids. I shudder every time I see the NCT Daily feed and just leave for some other day.

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  3. Ok this is gonna sound like I’m making up a story just to appeal to your sensibilities but I literally rediscovered a long forgotten video I took in 2012 just after The Chaser had dropped of my brother and his girlfriend dancing to it in the car and me laughing at them because I wasn’t yet into kpop at ALL at the time….but on some subliminal, unconscious level The Chaser’s synth line stuck with me and never really left and when I heard it again a couple years later, LIVE in concert at a stadium festival in LA that Infinite attended I think it truly, genuinely sowed the seeds of my eventual ”conversion” not long after and then that was it for me. But that earlier video was like…the beginning. After rewatching it I got The Chaser stuck in my head all over again where it’s been for days. The Chaser is love, The Chaser is life. The end and the conception, the origin of all that is holy. Of course I commonly refer to SHINee’s magnetic performance of Why So Serious at the same festival as the moment kpop clicked into place for me, but perhaps it was The Chaser’s inimitable synthline all along….always there, in the back of my mind, taking hold, taking effect. Truly infinite.

    All right, unhinged quarantine rant over! Nick, I’d really love to know what your favorite of those kpop podcasts you listen to are, since I’ve been looking for some good ones. I’m def gonna check out Filmi Girl’s.

    I also really miss SHINee so I’ve just been equal parts reminiscing about the past and fantasizing about what they’ll do and release when they’re all back. And….I’ve been watching a lot of TV. Kim’s Convenience S4 just went up on Netflix and it’s so, so charming and funny. If anyone is looking for a lighthearted family-focused comedy, please check it out. Wholesome af.

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    • LOVE that story! Ah, The Chaser has changed so many lives. My Inspirit heart swells with pride. It is indeed legendary.

      As far as podcasts, the other ones I currently listen to regularly are:

      This Week In K-pop / Stankpop (its first iteration was my very first podcast way back in 2015)
      K-Pop Hot Pot
      Truly Daebak Show / Daebakcast

      With that said, Filmi Girl’s is just on a different level — more of a fun dissertation than casual review show.

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  4. If I’m to be honest, I’m an antisocial hermit. As a result, my life has remained precisely the same. I gave up on the masses about 15 years ago after long overdue psychotic break. Thankfully, I am able to continue on with little worry for financial matters or the mental instabilities that usually accompany social isolation. I’m the patriarch in a busy household, so I get as much, or as little, interaction as I need.

    …you asked.

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    • I can be pretty hermit-like as well. Staying home isn’t much of a challenge for me, but I also know it’s not particularly healthy. If left to my own devices, I just waste an entire day on the internet.

      I miss take-out (too anxious to pick it up during this isolation period) and just being able to go out when I want to. Glad to hear you’re coping well.

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  5. My schedule is the same. Wake up, reach online school five minutes late, go home, do my homework, listen to a new album and fool around. Also thanks so much for the golden child album review, I never understood the hype until I listened to that AMAZING album. The album was so good I started listening to infinite which was a great choice! I’ve only heard to albums from them but boy were they great. I honestly never knew that concert live stream existed but now it seems like this day might not be so boring after all.

    Also road to kingdom looks crazy. Its going to be so exciting and I’m pretty sure The Boyz are going to win but deep down I feel like there’s a chance that ONF or Golden Child could pull a Victory Royale.

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    • I’m honestly so jealous that you’re getting to experience Infinite albums for the first time! Also happy that you gave Golcha’s album a choice and ended up liking it. I complain about Woollim Entertainment from time to time, but whoever’s in charge of song selection does an incredible job. Woollim albums are always solid.

      With RtK, I’m hoping against hope for a Golcha upset. But, The Boyz (and presumably, Pentagon) have bigger fan bases. At the very least, I hope that Golcha can gain more attention through this.

      Liked by 1 person

      • How important were fandom votes in Queendom’s scoring process? I tried to read the rules but ended up quite confused. Anyways, I think they should minimize the influence of public votes in favor of judges. That should at least give a fighting chance to the smaller groups (which need the Mnet-promoted comeback the most.)

        But, for what it’s worth, whatever that “preliminary preference survey” was didn’t go very well for Pentagon. Ignorant me thought they’d have the largest fanbase among all the bands, and that TBZ were pretty marginal.

        I was quite impressed by Verivery’s performance too, although they probably don’t stand a chance where fandoms are concerned.

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  6. I am in the socio-economic class known as working mom who was doing it all (more or less), and now is doing more of it all (less is more). Company is doing fine. If I get any more helpful links how to keep the kids busy and learning, I am going to spit. Fortunately all my home schooling friends are holy, so I believe they forgive me my trespasses. (Except when I go on about how they really should get their kids the HPV vaccine, parental choice be damned. I think they quietly block me then.)

    That thing about limiting screen time, hah, that has gone out the window. The only limitation is when one of us has a teacher or work video meeting, that time is a declaration that everyone else has to stop streaming. Also, the weather has been great, so I throw the kids outside in the afternoon. Usually, I keep the kitchen door unlocked so they can get back in.

    Oh, kpop. Fits and starts, mostly when I am on the cycle at night.

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    • I’m on the other side of the teacher/student equation. But as an elementary school librarian, most of my work so far has just been assisting with tech and compiling resources. More than anything, we don’t want to overwhelm parents. This is not a normal time, and everybody just has to do what works for them.

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    • Sexy Zone’s full set is in this video:

      They performed an upcoming track called ‘Run’ and I need the studio version now. So freaking good! They’ve been on a roll since October, imo.

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  7. Actually, I’m spending my quarantine (in Italy) watching as many k-drama as possible. I’ve never been into k-movies – which to me are “the b-side of k-pop”, because they belong to the same showbiz landscape – and I should say I discovered a world of entertainment as rich and fascinating as k-music. Some titles have quickly become my all-time favorites, while others allowed me to better understand korean culture, inhabits and behaviors.
    I’ve been to Korea twice and I should go back to Seoul next month (and of course I won’t), but now I know I definitely L-O-V-E that country.

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    • All of our love to Italy! Though, parts of the States are dealing with similarly bad outbreaks right now, unfortunately.

      Care to share some of the dramas that have clicked with you? My favorite K-drama has always been Reply 1997, though I also liked Top Management from last year and W from a few years back.

      I just started the 2005 J-drama Nobuta wo Produce and, after only one episode I’m completely obsessed. It’s just so weird and unexpected. Japanese humor is something else!

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    • If I may be so bold, you should check out a couple of K-dramas that are my all-time faves: City Hunter, Heartstrings, I Do I Do, Pasta, Dream High 1 & 2, and 49 Days. Many others come to mind, but that’s a good short list.

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  8. Pretty bummed out that new releases have dramatically slowed down, but there’s always something to do! I have an excel sheet of a few hundred kpop groups and their respective songs that I like, and at this rate I feel like I’ll have listened to almost every non-nugu song since ~2011, from both boy and girl groups. Never thought I would actually run out of new groups to listen to/discover, but I guess that’s what happens when so much free time suddenly appears!

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    • You sound as crazily organized as me! I’m also sad at the lack of new releases, though it’s of course understandable. Still, so great NEW music would make this quarantine easier. Luckily, Japan continues to churn out solid releases, if that’s your thing.

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  9. Great article! I’m in the early stages of planning a Sweetune singles rate over at the Popjustice forum. It won’t get off the ground until the quarantine is over (…I hope!), but all the pre-production should keep me occupied for the foreseeable.

    And, of course, it was your blog that properly sent me down the Sweetune rabbit hole in the first place, so… thanks for that!

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  10. I’m listening to the episode 1 of Idolcast and i am sooo happy to know that Filmi Girl literally started the same way as mine when it comes to getting into this whole idol world. 15 years ago, Arashi, hana yori dango and kitto daijoubu. currently, i am into johnnys and kpop and i can’t explain how happy i am to be able to enjoy both worlds.

    and also kudos to you for consistently releasing a review on johnnys music at the jpop section. really helped me to keep track with the other groups because i mainly only follow arashi.

    Like

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