obituary: lance hahn

by plateaux

it’s not exactly a breaking news, but still a heartbreaking loss. lance hahn was an accomplished asian american indie rock musician (of chinese descent) who participated in the first asian american compilation ‘ear of the dragon'(1995). the webzine pitchfork ran an obituary here. and the following is a short obituary written by an iaspm-us member:

Dear IASPMites,

I’m not sure how many of you would be interested in the news, but just in case, I thought I’d pass it on: Lance Hahn, singer/guitarist/songwriter for pop-punk band J Church and longtime writer for _Maximum Rock ‘n Roll_ and _Giant Robot_
passed away from complications due to kidney disease this Sunday past, October 21st. He was 40.

AK Press will publish posthumously his history of ’80 British anarcho-punk, which orginally appeared in installments in MRR.

His friends here in Austin, TX, are planning a memorial service and have put up a website where friends and fans can leave farewells:


David Uskovich
PhD Candidate
Dept. of Radio-TV-Film
University of Texas at Austin

Chinese & Malaysian postrock

by plateaux

greetings, sorry for my long hibernation and belated congratulations for the launching of this blog.

my name is pil ho kim. for those who don’t know me, i’m a student of south korean origin currently residing in the u.s. please visit my website for more about me.

today i’m just going to share some postrock, which seems to be all the rage in east asia nowadays. you might already know very well about the japanese band mono. also there are some korean bands some other folks can fill in.

here i’m giving you links to a bunch of mainland chinese bands and a malaysian band that i gleaned from — where else? — the internet.

chinese postrock (hou yao) compilation by neocha

among those bands, wang wen seems to stand out. here are their recordings.

hailing from hangzhou, a band called monkey power — youtube video.

and finally, a malaysian band with a cute name, citizens of ice cream released an ep.

New Korean girl group phenom, Wondergirls

by sonicscape

This new song, “Tell me” by a Korean girl group “Wondergirls” hits hard the Korean music chart. Park Jinyeong, who “raised” Rain for years and recently parted with him, is behind this group. The “concept” is retrospective, more specifically “back to the 80s”. Sounds familiar? It’s been a while since we had S.E.S and FINKLE as leading girl groups. For years, the Korean idol pop was dominated by “boy bands” with a few “girl solos”. Definitely, you can see this group around East Asia very soon. Meanwhile, enjoy this:

how to make money in the chinese music market

by sonicscape

Here is an interesting overview of “music in china” from the perspective an informant to the transnational ‘majors’ about “how-to-make-money-in-the-chinese-music-market” . The british music businessman living in Beijing provides a overview of the music business in china. Well, it might not be a totally new story — music piracy, especially, state-run-piracy et cetera, et cetera… actuall it’s a total mess! And the perspective itself is not totally fresh — and sometimes looks hopelessly hopeful — for example, about the prospect of “english” music. But it might be informative, especially in terms of how mobile music is unfold. It seems that in china the history of music business starts from mobile. No significant history of records, CDs, mp3s, but… mobile music rocks in China as in Japan and Korea! Is it an East-Asian thing, seriously?

The blog of the author is also worth visiting.

The Red Ocean in the Storm─TVXQ! The 2nd Asia Tour Concert “O” in Taipei (10/05)

by mint_yalin

It’s the first time Tong Vfang Xien Qi (TVXQ) held a concert in Taiwan and the first time they included Taiwan in the schedule of Asia tour. That surprised me, because most Korean artists visit here to promote Korean Drama. Only one Korean singer has ever held concerts here: “Rain,” and it owed much to the success of the popular Korean drama “Full House”. By comparison, TVXQ seems have less inducement to raise popularity. So, pleasantly surprised Taiwanese Cassiopeia* rack their brains to think about: How TVXQ and SM Entertainment could leave a deep impression in Taiwan? Unexpectedly, typhoon turned out to do this favor.

The symbolic color of TVXQ is “red”. That afternoon in Chungshan Soccer Stadium (an open-air soccer court), members of the fanclub distributed red balloons and posters with a big red heart; vendors sell red light sticks and red devil headdress. As expected, the red ocean appeared in the concert, everyone was in a pickle in a pouring rainstorm, and the water ran down from my hair and clothes…but no one cared, this concert turned odd individuals into “Cassiopeia,” a unity.

Moreover, everyone yelled out some cadenced slogans like “sa rang hae yo XXX(TVXQ member’s name)” at the same moment to match up the song’s rhythm. No preparation or coordination was made beforehand. This convention was originally from Korean Cassiopeia, Taiwan Cassiopeia just pick up spontaneously.

As a Korean artist, TVXQ has concentrated on developing the Japanese market this year. They already released 14 Japanese singles and 2 Japanese albums so far. Recently, they work with Japanese pop star Koda Kumi (悻田來未) in her 38th single: “Last Angel feat. Tohoshinki”. Even then, we can’t see any live Japanese performance of TVXQ in other countries besides Japan. We could only sing Korean songs with TVXQ in concert. (It’s interesting, the encore song in Taipei concert is “Hug” in Chinese version, but I’m still most familiar with the Korean lyrics.)

Because of their diverse music styles, they integrate stage effect, animation, and funny clips…to connect and transfer the mood from soft, haunting ballads to the raucous, electronic chords of dance tune songs. The whole concert was just like a big water park where TVXQ interacted with the participants “to get wet in the rain with crowds.” It became a special experience.

In Taiwan, Korean pop music does not easily attract a wide range of population. The extent of Korean wave revolves mainly around drama. Through TVXQ’s concert, I met some K-pop music listeners. They are not Cassiopeia, but they also wanted some company.

* Cassiopeia: TVXQ’s fans chose “Cassiopeia” for their name, because the constellation has 5 stars in its galaxy, and TVXQ has 5 members.

“16 Takes: The Korean Wave You didn’t Know”

by terebikun (eva)

Iron Horse Documentary Film Festival is a social movement-themed film festival that’s been held in Taiwan since 2005. Organized by Coolloud (a news/commentary site focusing on labor, migrant, media reform), it features films by media activists and independent filmmakers attending to issues both affecting and connecting global and local lives. Last year, in the tiny (less than 50 seats) screening room of the Chinese-Taipei Film Archive, I saw a fresh-off-the-street documentary about the anti-WTO protest in Hong Kong by Hong Kong protesters. This year (held in Taipei 9/7-9/11) I returned to the same room to see a couple of short films and took home the DVD of a Mediact production entitled 16 Takes on Korean Society. I want to share some thought and questions on this collective documentary with you (being part of the collective and all).

16 Takes has a Chinese subtitle, The Korean Wave You Didn’t Know. True, the stories, images, and music in this collaborative film by 16 directors have nothing in common with the Korean TV dramas, the romantic landscape so often featured and promoted for tourism, and the sound of K-pop in what we know as Korean Wave. The subtitle obviously is meant to introduce some complexity into the one-dimensional impression of Korean culture in mainstream Taiwanese society. The 16 short videos tell different stories of ordinary, disenfranchised citizens struggling just to exercise their right to influence decisions that fundamentally change their ways of life–to name a few, the relocation of US military base in Pyeongtaek, the Korea-US Free Trade agreement, the building of video horse race track in Kangwon, the revision of Private School Act to protect nepotistic system.

In my experience, the channels promoting “pop Korea” and “radical Korea” (“protest Korea”? “citizen Korea”?) in Taiwan do not have much overlap. I think it was Coolloud’s reporting of the anti-WTO protest in Hong Kong in 2005 that first appealed to the readers using the rhetoric of “a different kind of Korean Wave”–happening mainly among activists, filmmakers, and independent film festival goers. I come in contact with both kinds of images and channels and will try to integrate both kinds of material in my class (so that there can be an option besides the defensive, nationalist, and often masculinist take on Korean Wave).

However, given that “pop Korea” and “radical Korea” are the two most dominant and not necessarily commensurable images of Korea in Taiwan, I wonder if more work is needed toward connecting them (but I have no idea who will do the work or where the work is required). This was the main question I had in mind when I was watching 16 Takes. The use of music in many of the videos made me think whether, if ever, and how they can be “popular” too.

Since I don’t have the answers, let me just share some thought on the music in three videos from 16 Takes:

(1) Take 2–about how the fishing community in Saemangeum fight against the enbankment project which would destroy the tidal flats and livelihood of twenty thousand residents–probably makes the richest use of music. We hear a female singing voice and drum beats–“my lovely seagulls, don’t leave my beloved sea.” It features two singing-with-guitar performances, one by Star Clef, who sings “To Live in Saemangeum,” and the other by Dream Seekers of Socialist Party who sings “The Story of Gyehwa Tidal Flats.”

(2) Take 9, a video that juxtaposes statements and images about conscientious objectors (those who refuse to serve the army for various reasons like religious) against the popular soccer cheer song which goes like “Oh Pilsung Korea, Oh Pilsung Korea (Victory Korea?)…” by Yoon Dohyun Band and patriotic images. I love the guy featured in the video for saying “can’t we love our country with less fuss?” The juxtaposition pokes fun at the national security myth and helps to de-stigmatize those who are criminalized for their choices.

(3) Take 12 is essentially a music video of anti-WTO protest in Hong Kong. By now the images may be familiar to many. I am just curious about the song with a souna lead-in–does anyone know about the song? Judging by the lyrics (“Comrades, join hands and stand tall, don’t let them trick us again…”), it could have been made for the event or other similar types of protests.

You can watch the video on Internet Archive: 16 Takes on Korean Society

p.s. Many thanks to Jung-yup for the soccer cheer song info!

2007 Asia Song Festival (Seoul, Sep 22 2007)

by homey81

On September 22 at Sangam World Cup stadium in Seoul, there was an international music festival called “2007 Asia Song Festival.” It is the fourth time since 2003 and, about the details, please click

I missed the festival this time but was there in 2006 with Ubonrat and Angel, who had a chance to visit Busan. But isn’t it strange that the “international” festival had only been held in Seoul and will be so. What is this “South Korea-centered” pop Asianism? Or is it too trivial to discuss seriously? How do we, academic people, estimate the words they say: “feel up Asian energy”?

Zhang Huimei (Taiwan)

Zhao Wei (China)

Peterpan (Indonesia)

Kuraki Mai (Japan)


Golf & Mike (Thailand)


When Southeast Looks East: Thai Pop Music in the 1980’s

by viriya

On August 31st ,2007, I presented the papers “Oh Papa Oh Ma Ma, Don’t Blame Me Please”:The Dubbing of Thai(ness) in Chinese Pop Songs” at int’ seminar on “Discourse on Siam VS Thailand: Deconstruction for Reconstruction” Rangsit University, Bangkok.  My argument in the paper is that Thai scholars, particular in Thai Studies, always take for granted that pop music culture in Thailand was influenced by Western pop music, especially from America and England since the Cold war era in the 50s until now. But the most common people don’t think anything like that. The appearance of the mid of 80s scene was changing when Sino-Thai youth, lower middle class, not well-educated kids picked up their guitars and sang Chinese pop songs dubbed in Thai. They began imitating not only band like the Wynners, Hong Kong hit band in the late of 70s who has hit song “ Sha-la-la” but also music in soundtracks of Hong Kong Movies. And it soon evolved into a style of Thai pop music called “pleng string”. Also we can so called ” the revolution of pop music” in Thailand.  Among the groups that emerged from this period were Rainbow, The Forever, The Free Birds, Fruities, The Brandy, The Krereebun etc. Interestingly, in the first album of the Forever Por Fun(1984), its have cover versions of “Sha-la-la” and “I love you”( Japanese pop song)

This reflected in part of Sino-Thai’s burgeoning culture which constructed his “Thainess” linked to other Asian-Chinese identity. At the same time it reflected the question of “Thainess”, although the state tried to maintain and monopolize it. Under the process of making pop music and its cultural politic of Sino-Thai youth in that time. Since the 80s, there is not “unique Thainess” anymore.

Notes*  I would like to thank  our friends in Inter-Asia Popular Music Studies Group, Anthony Fung and Liew Kai Khiun, for giving me papers about “Chinese pop music & national identity in Hong Kong( and mainland China) and Singapore respectively.  ** Siam is the old name of Thailand before 1939  Please link to Rainbow’s vcd karaoke , ” Rak Chun Nan Pau Thor”