Thursday, February 10, 2011

50 Most Influential K-Pop Artists: 35. Song Dae-Gwan/Tae Jin-Ah

With these two towers of trot, we conclude the "Tier 4 - Notable" section in the top 50 ranking.

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[Series Index]

35.  Song Dae-Gwan [송대관]

Years of Activity: 1975-present

Discography:
(Regular albums only; "special" or "best" albums are too numerous and disorganized to trace.)

Sunrising Day [해뜰날] (1975)
The Looks [모습이] (1976)
20 Songs from Song Dae-Gwan [송대관 20곡집] (1976)
Song Dae-Gwan Solo [송대관 독집] (1977)
Me [나] (1977)
Myeongdong Vagabond [명동 나그네] (1978)
If You Go [당신이 가신다면] (1978)
Mi, Where are You [미야 너는 어디에] (1979)
With the Wife [아내와 같이] (1979)
Because of Jeong [정 때문에] (1989)
Who Are You To [네가 뭔데] (1991)
92 Song Dae-Gwan [92 송대관] (1992)
93 Song Dae-Gwan [93 송대관] (1993)
The Wife's Birthday [아내의 생일] (1994)
Song and Life [노래와 인생] (1998)
Memorial Album for Best Artist Award [최고 가수상 수상 기념] (2000)
Collection of Jo Dong-San [조동산 작품집] (2001)
Sorry I Loved You [사랑해서 미안해] (2005)
New Beginning [새출발] (2006)
For a Long, Long Time [오래오래] (2008)
Good Vibe [분위기 좋고] (2009)

Representative Song:  Four Beats [네박자] from Song and Life


네박자
Four Beats

니가 기쁠때 내가 슬플때 누구나 부르는 노래
When you are happy, when I am sad, the song that everyone sings
내려보는 사람도 뒤를 보는 사람도 어차피 쿵짝이라네
A person looking down, a person looking back, after all they are all koong-jjak

쿵짝 쿵짝 쿵짜자 쿵짝 네박자 속에
Koong-jjak, koong-jjak, koong-jja-ja koong-jjak, in the four beats
사랑도 있고 이별도 있고 눈물도 있네
There is love, there are partings and there are also tears
한구절 한고비 꺾고 넘을때
Each refrain, each peak, as it is repeated and climbed over
우리네 사연을 담는
Carrying the stories of us
울고 웃는 인생사 연극같은 세상사
The crying and laughing matters of our lives, the matters of the world like a play
세상사 모두가 네박자 쿵짝
All the matters of the world, just four beats koong-jjak.
쿵짝 쿵짝 쿵짜자 쿵짝 네박자 속에
Koong-jjak, koong-jjak, koong-jja-ja koong-jjak, in the four beats
사랑도 있고 이별도 있고 눈물도 있네
There is love, there are partings and there are also tears
짠짠 짜라라라 짠짠짠 짜리 짜리라라 짜라짠
Jjanjjan Jjararara Jjanjjanjjan Jjari Jjarirara Jjarajjan

나 그릴울때 너 외로울때 혼자서 부르는 노래
When I am longing, when you are lonely, this song that we sing alone
내가 잘난 사람도 지가 못난 사람도 어차피 쿵짝이라네
A person who's so great, a person who is not so, after all they are all koong-jjak

쿵짝 쿵짝 쿵짜자 쿵짝 네박자 속에
Koong-jjak, koong-jjak, koong-jja-ja koong-jjak, in the four beats
사랑도 있고 이별도 있고 눈물도 있네
There is love, there are partings and there are also tears
한구절 한고비 꺾고 넘을때
Each refrain, each peak, as it is repeated and climbed over
우리네 사연을 담는
Carrying the stories of us
울고 웃는 인생사 연극같은 세상사
The crying and laughing matters of our lives, the matters of the world like a play
세상사 모두가 네박자 쿵짝
All the matters of the world, just four beats koong-jjak.
쿵짝 쿵짝 쿵짜자 쿵짝 네박자 속에
Koong-jjak, koong-jjak, koong-jja-ja koong-jjak, in the four beats
사랑도 있고 이별도 있고 눈물도 있네
There is love, there are partings and there are also tears
짠짠 짜라라라 짠짠짠 짜리 짜리라라 짜라짠
Jjanjjan Jjararara Jjanjjanjjan Jjari Jjarirara Jjarajjan

Translation Note: Koong-jjak is an onomatopoeia for the sounds of a drumbeat. It has no meaning otherwise.

Interesting Trivia:  Song Dae-Gwan's grandfather was Song Yeong-Geun, a registered Independence Movement Patriot recognized for serving as a regional leader in the March 1 Movement in 1919. He was imprisoned and tortured by Imperial Japanese authorities, and died a few months after he was released from prison.




35.  Tae Jin-Ah [태진아]

Years of Activity: 1982-present

Discography:
(Regular albums only; "special" or "best" albums are too numerous and disorganized to trace.)

Gyeong-Ah's Love [경아의 사랑] (1982)
Tae Jin-Ah 2 [태진아 2] (1989)
Tae Jin-Ah 3 [태진아 3] (1990)
Tae Jin Ah Vol. 4 (1991)
Tae Jin-Ah Vol. 5 [태진아 Vol. 5] (1992)
93 Tae Jin-Ah [93 태진아] (1993)
95 Tae Jin-Ah [95 태진아] (1995)
97 Tae Jin-Ah [97 태진아] (1996)
98 Tae Jin-Ah [98 태진아] (1998)
2000 Tae Jina (2000)
2002 Tae Jin-Ah [2002 태진아] (2002)
Fool [바보] (2003)
2004 Tae Jin-Ah [2004 태진아] (2004)
2005 Tae Jin Ah [2005 태진아] (2005)
Good Woman [착한 여자] (2005)
Ajumma [아줌마] (2006)
2007 Tae Jin-Ah [2007 태진아] (2007)
2008 Tae Jin Ah (2008)
Love is Better than Money [사랑은 돈보다 좋다] (2010)

Representative Song:  Okgyeong-i [옥경이], from Tae Jin-Ah 2


옥경이
Okgyeong-I

희미한 불빛 아래 마주 앉은 당신은
You, sitting across under the dim light
언젠가 어디선가 본 듯한 얼굴인데
The face seems familiar from somewhere some time
고향을 물어 보고 이름을 물어봐도
Try asking her hometown, try asking her name
잃어버린 이야긴가 대답하지 않네요
Might be a lost story, she does not answer

바라보는 눈길이 젖어 있구나
The gazing eyes are moist
너도 나도 모르게 흘러간 세월아
The time that flowed away without you or me noticing
어디서 무엇을 하며 어떻게 살았는지
Where, what, how have you lived
물어도 대답없이 고개 숙인 옥경이
Asked, but Okgyeong hangs her head without an answer

바라보는 눈길이 젖어 있구나
The gazing eyes are moist
너도 나도 모르게 흘러간 세월아
The time that flowed away without you or me noticing
어디서 무엇을 하며 어떻게 살았는지
Where, what, how have you lived
물어도 대답없이 고개 숙인 옥경이
Asked, but Okgyeong hangs her head without an answer

Translation Note:  Okgyeong is an old-school woman's name. It is actually the name of Tae Jin-Ah's wife.

Interesting Trivia:  Tae Jin-Ah is a stage name constructed by taking one letter from three prominent trot singers -- Tae Hyeon-Sil, Nam Jin and Nah Hoon-Ah.



In 15 Words or Less:  The twin pillars of trot that kept the genre alive.

Maybe they should be ranked lower because...  How much does trot mean in the K-pop scene today? Is it any more than a novelty act?

Maybe they should be ranked higher because...  Longevity counts when it comes to influence. There might be only one or two other artists who had a 30+ year run of success like these two.

Why are these artists important?
As discussed previously in this series, trot has an awkward place in Korean pop history. It has very obvious roots to Japan's colonization of Korea, which evokes many bad memories. The music itself is thoroughly unoriginal, with its cheesy lyrics, unimaginative use of the same instruments (punctuated by the dreadful beats from mechanical drum boxes,) and the same goddamn one-two beat that just does not change no matter how many different songs are "composed." Instead of an expression of artistic endeavor, titles of trot albums read like an automobile model. ("Have you heard the 2005 Tae Jin-Ah yet?")

Young K-pop fans who follow the pretty faces like DBSK or SNSD consider trot to be decrepit. The too-serious K-pop aficionados (the Korean himself included) consider it to be hackneyed, stale, unoriginal. But the haters of trot must face this inevitable, uncomfortable truth that in Korea, trot simply refuses to die. One can talk about all the flaws of trot as a music until one's face turns blue, but trot fans of Korea will only turn up the volume.

So forget all your high-brow theories of what makes music great. Forget all the bullshit about conveying wrenching emotions or using innovative new sounds. And just listen to the music. Better yet, watch a performance live. Then you can understand why artists like Song Dae-Gwan and Tae Jin-Ah survived as celebrities for more than three decades. The one-two beat may be overused, but it's still catchy as hell. The lyrics are cheesy, but they still contain a sharp bit of satire or a maudlin piece of melancholy. It is so easy to bop your shoulders, so natural to sing along. (And another thing -- look at their clothes. They're pimps! Is there any other K-pop genre that comes with such surreal, over-the-top fashion sense?)

In fact, surviving is the perfect term to describe the career of Tae and Song. Korea in the 1970s and 80s was a very, very different place from Korea today. People liked different things back then. Yet Song Dae-Gwan and Tae Jin-Ah somehow churn out seemingly the same music year after year for more than three decades, and they keep showing up on TV while the younger, prettier faces change every month. And Korean people of 2010s are still attending their concerts, still buying their records. Even the younger generation is slowly returning to the fold, as Song and Tae act as a producer for a new generation of younger trot singers. Say what you will about their music, but there is no denying their influence.

Got a question or a comment for the Korean? Email away at askakorean@gmail.com.

5 comments:

  1. Hey, my first post here!

    I love Trot... maybe not two hours straight but sometimes it's nice... (Context: I'm French, emigrated in Canada, maybe that's why LOL!)

    Great blog by the way,

    The French.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Hi,

    I love this music, Reminds me of the time I spent in Korea in the 80s. Aren't these the two guys have a long running shtick that they cant stand each other?

    Tbone

    ReplyDelete
  3. Korean, I agree w/ you that K-pop (the corporate, manufactured variety) is awful to the ears, and not "music", at least in my lexicon. How do you explain its explosion and success in east Asia? Does it say something about the overall intelligence of the kpop audience out there? it seems to me, these "music" production companies have a pretty good understanding of the psychology underlying consumer behavior out there...in other words, they know all it takes to make a million bucks is put out a cute or pretty product and people will buy, right?

    ReplyDelete
  4. Weren't these two in the just missed group? Or when you put them together, are they #35 on the list?

    ReplyDelete
  5. No, the Korean just changed his mind about them.

    ReplyDelete

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