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Monday Morning Music – Elbow

Morning all – guess what? Therockmom turns five years old today. Hard to believe but it was exactly five years ago today that I posted my first inarticulate but heartfelt ramblings about music and motherhood. On that day, I wrote about the K-POP band, Super Junior. As you know, I’m slightly obsessed with their dance moves and particular brand of androgyny. I also lamented the fact that the current Hong Kong concert offerings included Dionne Warwick and El Divo. Well, five years later, Super Junior have just released their seventh album. They’re still hugely popular and strangely compelling. The HK concert scene hasn’t changed much either. Nostalgia acts such as the Pet Shop Boys, Tony Hadley and that guy from Westlife are still safe bets, but we have witnessed the rise of Clockenflap and promoters willing to take a gamble on smaller alternative and punk bands (Das Fluff, Japandroids, etc).

To honor therockmom’s birthday, I thought I’d spend the rest of the week looking back at some of my most popular and controversial posts – starting with a band that was one of the inspirations for this blog way back when.

Elbow were already well established in the UK when I discovered their fourth album, The Seldom Seen Kid. I literally knew nothing about them, but when the second track, “The Bones of You”, came on, I was dumbstruck. Who are you? Why have I not loved you forever? The shimmering guitars, the vivid lyrics, the chorus of harmonies, all crystallized in to a perfect pop love song.

But it wasn’t just the song, it was the realization that there is so much wonderful music out there, waiting to be discovered and coveted. If I’m hearing this fantastic song now, I said to myself, imagine what else I’m missing! So in a way, starting therockmom was like going on a treasure hunt. The blog has given me a reason to devote a portion of my week to listening to new music, reading about new bands and old favorites and, when the HK concert gods bless me, going out to see a live show. There’s room for nostalgia (yeah the ’80s!) on therockmom, but there’s also the hope that you might like to hear some new tunes too.

I hope you’ve enjoyed being a part of this journey and I thank you for your support.

Have a good week!

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More proof that Koreans are the coolest people in Asia

Possibly the planet, at this point.

Of course I’m talking about PSY and “Gangnam Style”, a little slice of dance-pop heaven that EO and I can’t get out of our heads.

You know PSY is taking off – primed for a backlash by now – because he was recently on The Ellen Degeneres Show. She brought him on to show Britney Spears how to do the gangnam dance. I loved PSY’s comment (approving of Britney’s Spears skyhigh heels) that the mindset is to: “Dress Classy, Dance Cheesy”.

Words to live by.

PSY turns the Asian nerd stereotype right on its gelled head. With a deep, you-could-almost-call-it-sexy voice. At first I thought of him as Quentin Tarantino if Tarantino could sing. But now I’m thinking he’s post-Tarantino, post-Beastie Boys, post-Ken Cheong in The Hangover.

Cool by virtue of his proud uncoolness. Cool by not copying. Cool in earnest.

That’s where the Koreans are succeeding, in pop, in movies, in literature. They take stock entertainment staples – starlet, boy band, horror movie – and run them through a freaky blender of insular, homegrown fantasies to create something entirely original and weirdly unknowable – to anyone outside of Korea I guess.

Take Super Junior, for example. Three years ago when I started this blog (has it been that long?), Super Junior came to Hong Kong, and I lamented the fact that SJ plus Dionne Warwick plus El Divo were the top pop concert offerings in our cosmopolitan backwater. (Asia’s world city, still my a**!)

But the boys stuck around. They’re the kings of K-pop all over Asia – Justin Timberlake x 12 – and their latest video, “Sexy, Free & Single” fascinates me.

It’s just a straight-ahead dance video crossed with a bit of catwalk posturing yet their faces! Their faces are strangely compelling. Creamy, smooth, glowing, with no hint of shadow or stubble. It’s beyond even Bieber-androgyny. It’s fearless beauty. As if the MGM backlot has come to life by way of Seoul.

We had faces!

One of these people…


…is Louise Brooks

Over the summer, PSY wrote and recorded a song in support of the Korean Olympic team. It’s an inspirational number, complete with hundreds of athletes, drummers, ladies in hanbok, a torch and PSY sporting awesome red, MC Hammer pants. As he strides through the temple arena, commanding his followers, he sings:

If you have taken out your sword
At least slice up some radish