Drama Musings: I Need Romance Series

If some of you might have noticed, sometime this year, I have added on another page listing the dramas that I have watched this year to date. On average, I have averaged around 1 new drama per month (pretty productive as compared to year 2013). This streak has come to somewhat of a halt (co-incidentally together with my slump) after pratically watching and finishing up Golden Cross live.

Anyway this blog is not a drama review/overview by any means. Rather while randomly surfing on my iPad, I came across this dramafever write-up on the main writer for the I Need Romance series which was on tvN (a cable channel in Korea owned by the CJ group). Most of the korean dramas that were shown on our television screens when the Korean Wave was booming were mainly dramas from the big boys that were free-to-air (namely MBC, SBS and KBS). If my memory serves me correctly, I have never watched a cable drama until I started on I Need Romance 3 earlier this year.

Some differences I noted based on my experience of watching I Need Romance 3

* Shorter episode times (45 mins versus the usual 55 mins). This makes the plot go faster with minimal dragging and unnecessary subplots.

* More ‘provocative’ and ‘frank’ approach to love, relationships, and sex.

* Lesser censorship pressure (since its cable) thus more creative and broad-based approach to plot lines. The Reply Me series (which I have not watched a single episode of) is a good example in point.

After reading through the said article here, I really appreciate the script-writer’s perspective on women and their relationships (given thatI am also a woman in my 30s) …… and now I look foward to her next work – Discovery of Romance, which will be on KBS this August!

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K.Will – You Don’t Know Love

Taking a break from travel blogging and posting a music-related entry instead (whilst going through discussion agenda for tommorrow’s ‘very important’ meeting) …..

Have been pretty much out of touch with KPop happenings as the Hallyu Wave enters into a consolidation period. As mentioned, was preparing and going through tomorrow’s discussion agenda, and decided to have some music on the side.  Randomly clicked on K.Will’s newest single (released in October 2013) – You Don’t Know Love. I must be living in a mountain hole, didn’t even realise that K.Will released another mini-album just recently 😛

Source: StarshipTV Youtube

Like the fact rather being ballad-type sorrowful, the song takes on a easy-listening R&B feel, with a bit of jazzy beat (given the background piano). And of course, K.Will has divine vocals – his vocal ability can make any genre sound good! A great song to have playing while doing your activity (work, exercise, on the MRT etc.)

Drama Musings: 1st Half of 2013

Was browsing through my blog archives last week and realised a drama entry/update is way way overdue …… given that the last drama-related entry was in August 2012 …… and only a quick mention of the Japanese drama ‘Love Generation’ which I finished later on in year 2012 ……

Did a quick think through and realised that I really only watched ONE Korean drama in this half of 2013! Considering that I previously chased dramas up to korean live schedule (recall: ‘Bridal Mask’, ‘Fashion King’, ‘Nice Guy’ –  gave up halfway despite the good reviews) – ONE drama is paltry right? By the way, reading through complete episode synopsis on Dramabeans (via iPhone) does not count as drama-watching as it is more of wanting to know what happens at the end that’s all ……

‘Yawang/Queen of Ambition’ gets the honour of the sole Korean drama that I have watched from beginning to end in this 1st half of year 2013! Thinking aback now, what ‘pushed’ me to persist with this drama from beginning to end (24 episodes in total) is probably the fact that it was hardly recapped by the internet communityout there (notably Dramabeans) …… Whereas post ‘Bridal Mask’, I gave up on ‘Nice Guy’ (2012 KBS drama) half-way since there’s not much point carrying on watching something when the ending is all out there on Dramabeans …… while hearing great things about ‘School 2013’ (Lee Jong Suk is riding such a huge wave of success right now as I write this), never even get started given that all 16 episiode recaps were out there on Dramabeans as well 😛

However after my Japan trip in December 2012, I did start to watch Japanese dramas more intensively again 😛 ….. Re-watched ‘Nagareboshi’ (2010 drama starring Yutaka Takenouchi & Ueto Aya – gorgeous sceneries of Enoshima, will make it there one day!) …… ‘First Love’ (old 2002 drama that was on my to-watch list long ago and rediscovered again post-trip) ……

After getting my iPad, went through a movie marathon (mainly Leslie Cheung movies and some HK movies) before getting started on the newer Japanese dramas – namely ‘Last Cinderella’ from the Spring 2013 season, ‘Zenkai Girl’ from the Summer 2011 season and currently have on my iPad ‘Saikou no Rikon’ from the Winter 2013 season …… I guess one advantage of Japanese dramas is that they are shorter overall (average 45 min per episode and 10-11 episodes in total) which make for breezier pre-bedtime watching as versus to Korean dramas which tend to get a bit overwrought with makjang/dramatic historics and at times some plot drags as scripts and drama itself are completed almost on-the-fly/close to live broadcast …… ‘Yawang’ definitely was guilty of this plot drag and some pretty illogical writing towards the end despite the fact that Soo Ae did give a steaming performance as a villan-ness per se …… Also, with declining interest in all things Korean (KPop included), it may also explain why I am watching lesser Korean dramas these days ……

Also, at times, good ratings ≠ good/enjoyable drama. ‘Last Cinderella’ was a strong case in point. Despite doing well for Fuji Television after some middling ratings from the past few drama seasons, I for one think this drama was over-rated big time. Started on it intiitally based on great reviews from Couch Kimchi …… As I gradually caught up to live schedule (confirms that one is more interested in seeing through the drama till the end if on live schedule since there are no spoilers to fall back on + the excitement and suspense of knowing the ending makes things very compelling), started reading negative comments on plot pacing and script on Couch Kimchi as well. Chose to ignore it initially in order not to spoil my enjoyment of the drama …… but it was all painfully apparent and it was pretty much a torturous march towards the ending (episode 11). Responded by deleting all episodes on my iPad after finishing the series (to make room for better dramas) and sorry Miura Haruma fangirls – his acting is average at best!

Whereas ‘Zenkai Girl’  was much more enjoyable (in my opinion) despite the simple and ordinary plot. Where acting is concerned, it is competent with a lot of heart …… Despite reading quite a number of gossip articles depicting Ryo Nishikido as pretty much a douchebag in real life, at the bare minimum, this guy can act. And I like the fact that the heroine (Yui Aragaki) has her own journey of growth towards discovering what she truly values and wants out of her life. Check out the synopsis here courtesy of Koala’s Playground ……

Am on ‘Sakon no Rikou’ now after some very positive reviews at another drama blog – http://jdramas.wordpress.com/category/dramas/saikou-no-rikon/ ….. Another well regarded drama (acting and plot wise) despite average ratings when 1st shown. Will be ‘fairer’ to give my thoughts on it after finishing off the entire series ……..

So that sums up the ‘drama’ for 1st Half of 2013!

P/S: Before I forget, discovered this website which lists the filming locations of J-Dramas dating back to as early 90s. This is just wow!

2011 Round Up Entry: Music 1 – Concerts

Start of my 2011 round up entries (as per previous blog) ……

Great year of concerts and KPop! 2011 is the year that I got myself back into KPop on a more intensive basis (fuelled in part by the global Hallyu wave that has extended to KPop as well) ….. Youtube aside, got down to spazzing over the weekly music shows and even the year end gayo daejuns / music festivals / awards ceremonies (MAMA held in Singapore on 29 Nov 2011, SBS ..KBS ..MBC Gayo Daejuns respectively) ……

Will start off with Concerts 1st since its a shorter round-up ……

Attended 2 concerts this year, make that 3 if the Singapore e-Awards 2011 were to be included as well. Am very happy that I got to see Jacky Cheung live (childhood dream of mine but couldn’t afford when I was schooling, while I missed the 2007 World Tour) … as well as my 1st ever KPop act – 2PM live. In the earlier stages of Hallyu wave (around 2006 to 2007), I recall that both SE7EN and Rain were the it men of the day, and 4 years on, I finally got to experience SE7EN’s live performance in a most unexpected way – via the E Awards in April. A bit ‘sad’ though that SE7EN has fallen greatly from his peak no thanks to his unsuccessful US venture and bad management decisions that go hand in hand.

Let the pictures do the talking …….

e-Awards show @ Singapore Indoor Stadium. Nice combination of pink and blue lights. Don’t have much photos of the show as Cat bought tickets right on top the gallery.

Opening of Jacky’s World Tour Singapore stop. I went for the 1st night i.e. 27th August. Got better seats i.e. higher category as this was a concert that I always wanted to watch! To sum it up, it was a fantastic 3 hour worthful of power vocals and great showsmanship – together with a interesting program (no guests) and great sound and lightning effects. Audience reaction was slightly ‘cold’ though until the last part where he started singing his classic cantonese hits from the 90s. More pictures below ……..

Very surreal shot. One of my favourite photos!

Touching end to 如果爱. This is one of the best songs of the concert in a very understated, sweet and no-frills way.

Another of my favourite segment – tribute to Lydia Sum

End of concert galore with fireworks and dancers! Most of the photos are in my FB so am not going to do wholesale recap here 😛

Got to experience KPop live in person after giving those various KPop combined concerts a miss in the earlier part of the year (yes, including KMW after talking so much about wanting to see Big Bang live) as I deem them to be over-priced and not worth shelling out the cash for ….. 2PM’s Hands Up Asia Tour Singapore Concert was definitely not the cheapeast gig around as well – but at least it is 2 hours of 2PM solely (and not having to share spotlight with other artises) although I thought it was supposed to be 3 hours??

Unfortunately, only have a few pictures and zero videos of the concert as being slightly stingy, only got a terrace seat (still can see the boys but terrible angle for videos and photos) so just enjoyed the concert amongst the hoardes of screaming fangirls which left me almost going deaf (no kidding!) by the time the concert ended at 9+ (a bit too early IMO as mentioned earlier, I was expecting a 3 hour show) …… Noted that its a standard for most KPop concerts to have a T-stage (same applies for MAMA 2011 too!) – thus less seats and more expensive tickets (as compared to Jacky Cheung’s concert which had almost 9K seats) ….. Standard 3 mosh pit areas surrounding the T-stage for fangirls to get up close to their oppas 😛 ….. About the concert itself, vocals were great! Contary to the criticsm levelled on 6theory, the boys are actually more than capable of holding their vocals live while simultaneously dancing at the same time (can’t detect any lip syncing but heard some off pitches ocasionally) …… Most important take-away, as agreed with JT, both the performance and crowd gave a different type of energy (the ‘hot’ type) as opposed to most of the concerts we have been too, heh! So very appropriate that the show kicked off with ‘Hot’ (from Hands Up album) ….. while we ‘put our hands up’ …… hee

That’s all for part 1 now ……….

City Hunter

Eating my Nissin cup noodle & catching up on City Hunter at the same time.

Once again, I have sucumbed to a very bad habit of reading spoilers from Dramabeans and started on a new drama – Lee Min Ho’s City Hunter (currently showing on SBS in Korea …… and coming soon on Starhub Ch823 ONE Channel) ……

As blogged here at the beginning of this year, was watching Dream High both concurrently online and on KBS World (back-dated episodes). The next drama which I’ve caught on (not blogged here though) was 49 Days – which is very different in tone to Dream High as it is a more contemplative story on life and afterlife. Thanks to the election fever (early May) and a ton of other stuff + spoilers on Dramabeans, I have been slowly and swimmingly finishing up 49 Days thanks to ONE channel’s 2 episodes a week!

So I need a fresh new drama to bring some much needed motivation (in the sense its something to look foward to after a long day at work) + also something to ‘indulge’ in as I came down with sore throat and flu and needed some eye candy distraction whilst resting over the weekend. Hence City Hunter after dripping saliva from all the spoilers! And of course Lee Min Ho to fangirl over all over again! (Recall the days when I did my CFP module 1 with watching Boys Over Flowers on the side :P) ……

Am up to Episode 4 at the time of writing. I must say, Lee Min Ho is back to top form post Boys Over Flowers. Yeah, he did have Personal Taste out last year and which I blogged about here, but I gave that show up after 3 episodes due to the slow streaming + ‘unengaging’ storyline (IMO). Anyway Yoon Sung in City Hunter is a definite upgrade and improvement (character structure and acting wise) over Boys Over Flowers (his first lead role) and Personal Taste.

I like the fact that they are not sticking to the original City Hunter manga storyline which has been remade by Jackie Chan previously and instead creatively put in some Korean sensibilities to make it uniquely Korean – particularly on war and political intrigue. The story is set up well – plot set-up wise, relationships wise (romantic storylines, sub relationships notably Yoon Sung and ahjussi who is such a loyal supporter and source of comfort), cinemagraphy and visual wise etc.

And of course, acting-wise, Lee Min Ho is a stud! Apart from having the looks, and looking real damn hot in this and oozing charisma, this role is definitely interesting as he brings a touch of humanity and vulnerability to Yoon Sung who is orginally meant to be a revenge seeking machine (with blood and no tears approach). An instance of this is that he sticks to his stand of no killing unlike his adopted daddy’s hardcore stance. And of course, which fangirl won’t swoon over the romantic chemistry that he has with the lucky girl – Park Min Young …..

Speaking of adopted daddy, I am glad that the veteran actor playing him finally gets to play a bad-ass character after being an adulterous husband/normal ahjussi in many dramas. As with 2nd male lead, the prosecutor guy is hot as well, has a nice personality as well, and probably has a righteous character (sign of relief that he’s not the typical baddie as in with 2nd male leads at times) – but am sure he’s not going to get the girl unless the script-writer decides to make a bizzare turn …..

Drama is up live at half-way point (episode 10) ….. looks like story will start to take its turning point admist more twists and turns! Am Anticipating and chasing this live right to the very end!

KPop Songs For A Rainy Day

Meant to post this a few weeks back but other stuff ‘regrettably’ got in the way. Until I got ‘reminded’ of it when sitting down at the computer doing random surfing and listening to KPop on youtube 😛

OK, I was at Toms & Toms Cafe @ Icon Village (Tanjong Pagar area) for an appointment on a rainy Wednesday afternoon (think early June) and whilst waiting for client (who was grossly late!) …… was doing work on laptop and had the inspiration to listen to this song ……

BEAST – On Rainy Days (Live)

This is the 1st single that was released first as a digital single before their official 1st full-length album dropped for their comeback this past 1 month. Since it was a song recorded on a rainy day, I suppose it would sound the best when played on a rainy day – and boy, it sure adds to the mood on a rainy day. (Note: It is already a very good ballad to begin with, and doing well digitally in Korea despite it not being BEAST’s main title track).

Not long after I accessed the song on youtube, the screen in Toms & Toms (that supplies the music for the entire cafe) played this song as well 🙂

The second song that I accessed to next on youtube is …….

BIG BANG – Love Song

BIG BANG was probably the KPop group that got me back into KPop since late last year. Felt that they offered something refreshingly different to the typical boyband out there (which I term to be young kids starting from 88′ onwards, beastly image ala 2PM or trying to be beastly, and after all while, everyone starts to repeat the same concept) in terms of image and musicality, plus the fact that their stage performances tend to be less choreographed.

Anyway back to the song, I guess the greyness of the entire MV + the shades of rock music in the song make it apt for a rainy day as well!

Some ranting here, I also felt Love Song was a much superior track to Tonight, and it should have been the title track instead! And YG should’ve just released a full album right from the start given that BIG BANG were not doing promotions in Korea for 2 years – rather than doing a mini-album (even so, there are recycled tracks!) and trolling fans later with a 4.5 repack (which has the superior tracks in Love Song and Stupid Liar). It can be pretty self-serving and hypocritical to put yourself (or your company and artists) on a pedestal saying you stand for certain values, only to follow suit on what your competitors are doing by releasing a repack album after a mini to ‘rip’ fans $$$.

Rants aside (have plenty more to dissect and comment on YG based on what I’ve been reading off various sites, but not going into an essay here anyway) …… the fact remains that Love Song is my favourite and in my opinon the best song of their comeback despite having a rushed repack and short promotion. Their next comeback looks like a long time away now given Daesung’s traffic accident 😦

Some KPop Comeback Tibits

Have been back catching up on some of the current KPop action now that elections fever has officially subsided.

Started getting into the music side of the Korean Wave i.e. KPop from around 2006 …… and some household names were DBSK, Rain (Bi), Se7en ……

Fast foward some 5 years later (we are now in 2011), the KPop scene today is one that is heavily boyband/girlband dominated as versus to big solo-ists like Rain & Se7en (sad to say, their popularity has dropped quite a bit) …… And KPop is really big in Asia and maybe globally these days as well – the number of KPop acts coming to Singapore itself is good enough evidence.

Anyway back to main subect matter. Wanted to blog about some of the recent comebacks that I’ve been ‘following’ for the past 1+ week ……

Girl Groups vs Solo-ists

I’m quite impressed by SISTAR19 (a sub-group unit of SISTAR). SISTAR is pretty new (some may not have heard of them) but based on this sub-group’s single, they are really talented with great pipes and I love their energy on stage. Not to mention the chair dance is both cute & sexy as well. Love the R&B-ness of this single as well ……

SISTAR19 – Ma Boy

** The fanboy chants are quite *lol* as well 🙂

After School will probably be more known to some. I don’t really follow them, but I vaguely know they operate with a Morning Musume type of concept – big group of 10, then sub-group projects, graduation system etc. …… I think vocally they are not the most talented but their tap dancing routine rocks + Shampoo is probably the very radio friendly type song that is nice to have in the background when you are doing something.

After School – Let’s Step Up & Shampoo (Comeback)

** Btw I picked this performance because I thought the white rompers were the best outfits that they had in their comeback so far. Heh

And now to a solo-ist. I believe SS501 is a group that will be pretty known to most KPop fans, particularly Kim Hyun Joong who is the leader and has acted in Boys Over Flowers and Playful Kiss. From the 1-2 songs on Boys Over Flowers OST that were sung by SS501, to be honest, I didn’t think much of their vocal ability. And aside from Hyun Joong, I knew none of the other members as well 😛

Until I heard Heo Young Saeng’s comeback as a solo-ist (as SS501 have kind of separated into different companies and doing solo activities now). I didn’t know he was actually SS501’s main vocal and a pretty good one as well only until hearing his comeback single.

Heo Young Saeng – Let It Go

** He so nearly won in Music Bank’s K-Chart but I guess he is weaker in terms of digital presence and marketing. But still a great effort! Btw I think the girl in the performance (not original rapper) is pretty ugly. No offense.

Oh yeah, there is still BEAST/B2ST’s comeback but I’ll save that for my next KPop entry.

Have a happy Sunday!