Friday, September 23, 2011

50 Most Influential K-Pop Artists: 25. Panic

[Series Index]

25.  Panic [패닉]

Years of Activity: 1995-present? (Last regular album in 2005, currently performing individually.)

Members:
Lee Juck [이적] - Vocal
Kim Jin-Pyo [김진표] - Rap

Discography:
Panic 1 [패닉 1] (1995)
Beneath [밑] (1996)
Sea Within (1998)
Panic 04 (2005)

Representative Song:  Lefty [왼손잡이], from Panic 1.


왼손잡이
Lefty


나를 봐 내 작은 모습을
Look at me, this little me,
너는 언제든지 웃을 수 있니
Can you always laugh
너라도 날 보고 한번쯤
Just once, could you just
그냥 모른 척해 줄 순 없겠니
Pretend like I'm not here

하지만 때론 세상이 뒤집어진다고
But you say sometimes the world turns upside down
나같은 아이 한둘이 어지럽힌다고
And you say one or two kids like me mess it all up
모두 다 똑같은 손을 들어야 한다고
And you say everyone should raise the same hand
그런 눈으로 욕하지마
Don't chastise me with your eyes like that
난 아무것도 망치지 않아
I won't ruin anything
난 왼손잡이야
I'm a lefty
나나 나나나나나나나나 나나나나나나나
Nana- Nananananananana Nananananana

Translation note:  The lyrics are so elegant and intuitive in Korean, and ugly and clunky in English. The Korean simply failed to translate 모른 척 and 그런 눈으로 욕하지마 in an elegant way. Suggestions are welcome.

In 15 words or less:  Gifted musician and skilled rapper, united through a rebellious spirit.

Maybe they should be ranked higher because...   Korean culture now commonly uses the word "Lefty" to describe "an eccentric" (with a positive connotation.) That's influence.

Maybe they should be ranked lower because...   Can we really say Panic truly broke any new ground in terms of music?

Why is this group important?
The Korean is certain that when the entire history of K-pop is examined, mid-1990s will prove to be a very important inflection point. Critics often characterize the songs of this period as songs laden with social criticism. That description is not entirely accurate -- Kim Min-Gi's A Little Pond, for example, was as socially critical in 1971 as any of the songs of the mid-1990s. The difference between the protest songs of the 1970s and 1980s and the rebellious songs of the 1990s is the latter's overt cynicism. While the protest songs euphemistically sang for hope and brighter future, the 1990s songs bared their teeth and snidely mocked the world.

Panic, debuted in 1995, would be one of the main producers of such songs. At their debut, the profile of Panic's membership was itself newsworthy -- Lee Juck was attending the prestigious Seoul National University, and Kim Jin-Pyo was a high school senior. Their first hit song was a soft rock that was not particularly special in terms of music. (You can listen to it here.) The rest of the first album was filled with lyrics dripping with rebelliousness expressed with slightly twisted cynicism, but relatively few people noticed at the time.

Ironically, people began noticing the true merit of Panic's first album as Panic, in their groundbreaking second album, pushed its rebelliousness toward Tim Burton-esque creepiness. The album jacket's design says it all:

밑 ["Beneath"], Panic's second album
(source)
Except for the title song that blatantly pandered to the public taste, Beneath stabbed at social issues with razor-sharp lyrics. Teachers engaging in corporal punishment were "dirty dense beasts." Overbearing mothers were met with threats of suicide. People wantonly kill a clown hanging by a thread, and the three sons of the dead clown take revenge by (among other things) cutting people open. It was, arguably, the farthest that any mainstream Korean band has ever gone to date.

The song Lefty received a renewed spotlight as Beneath was creating a sensation. Traditionally (as is the case in many parts of the world,) Koreans considered left-handedness a bad luck. Left-handed children were forced to learn to eat and write with their right hand. To that tradition that oppressed on the accident of birth, Lefty asked: "Just leave me alone, because I won't ruin anything." The word "lefty" became a symbol for the new generation of Koreans -- independent, skeptical of authority and diverse.

Interesting trivia 1:  Lee Juck's real name is Lee Dong-Joon. He chose the stage name "Juck" from the Chinese character for a flute (笛).

Interesting trivia 2:  Aside from his music career, Kim Jin-Pyo is also a professional race car driver. He is also the host for Korean version of the TV show Top Gear.

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

5 comments:

  1. hey TK, since you asked, perhaps these are alternate translations for those couple of phrases (taking some artistic license):

    그냥 모른 척해 줄 순 없겠니
    -> can't you just turn a blind eye (for once)

    그런 눈으로 욕하지마
    -> don't glare at me with that spiteful look

    Great blog by the way! I recently discovered it when I clicked on a citation link on a Cracked.com article of all places. I wish your blog existed when I was going through my immigrant identity crisis phase in my teenage years (I came to the States when I was ten).

    ReplyDelete
  2. 그런 눈으로 욕하지마

    Stop giving me the evil eye like I am an uncouth non member of the establishment.

    (hey, sometimes you have to take liberties with these kinds of translations)

    ReplyDelete
  3. Trying to capture the tone.

    Look at me, little me,
    You can always laugh at me,
    Can't you even just once,
    Make like I'm not here?

    But you say sometimes the world gets turned upside down,
    All because of a couple of kids like me,
    And you say everyone's got to lift up the same hand,
    Don't look at me like that,
    I'm not ruining anything,
    I'm a lefty!
    Nanananananana etc

    ReplyDelete
  4. "The Korean is certain that when the entire history of K-pop is examined, mid-1990s will prove to be a very important inflection point."

    'inflection point'? I would say the beast called K-pop made a complete departure from bands like Panic. With H.O.T. and FINKLs success, we have been subjected to 15 years (and going) of identical manufactured bands. When the dust settles on the history of what is currently called 'K-pop', we'll see a genre that produced decades of completely forgettable music.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Based on the descriptions others are giving, would this work?

    그런 눈으로 욕하지마
    Don't look at me askance like that

    ReplyDelete

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