The day Girls’ Generation and David Letterman met (and what it says about music)

I watched so many K-pop music videos this winter, on a mission to learn how they can be so captivating and awesome. It was fun. And then I thought: Why not watch the rest of the world’s music videos too? I started doing that, but… I quickly learned that, for some reason, the Western mindset of “not putting all musicians inside large companies, training them like athletes or recieving money from the state in order to promote the country internationally” seriously lowers the quality bar. K-pop is mass manufactured in a way so that it’s never bad, even the absolute worst videos are watchable, and I now realize that that’s not the norm for the rest of the world. I went through my favourite “Western” bands’ music videos, and while the good ones were great, most of them weren’t that interesting! And I just couldn’t justify going through 100 bad videos to find one amazing in between.

The Western world and the K-pop world actually met once, January 31st, 2012, in the David Letterman talkshow studio! The Western world symbolized by Bill Murray in sports clothes and the K-pop world by Girls’ Generation. Girls’ Generation performed a unique version of their song “The Boys”, and let’s focus on the words “unique” and “version” a bit. On Letterman they performed it a bit faster than the original, they used other drums, the chorus parts were moved around and/or gone and it got a brand new “dance break”. It would have been so easy for them to just perform the song like usually, but they didn’t. They gave us more. They cared about us.

Caring is something that the rapper, producer and general musician Tyler, the Creator cares about. 56:25 into this interview he states “I care”, then he elaborates it to “I care about what I make”, then he goes into a four minutes long rant about how the rapper Jadakiss cares, and then he continues with the following:

“It was someone that told me this, ‘You gotta (stop caring about) the color of the clothes, and the dance at the grammys, and the video colors, and the lookbook and all that shit. I put out a song an it’s a fucking hit. You care too much.’ And I was like, yo, that’s crazy, you’re poking fun at me because I give a fuck about… the brown with the blue, or how the video is shot, or the musicality, or if my performance is good or not? […] Bro, you don’t even realize, the geeks, the ones that care, that give a fuck, where it’s passion, where they do it for free – they’re the ones that stick around.”
(slightly paraphrased quote starting exactly one hour into the interview)

He really cares, and sees a live performance as a possibility to do something cool instead of an obligation to do to sell more music. Here’s proof from The Jimmy Fallon Show, another white guy’s talkshow, where he performs with a dead girl, some garden gnomes and Hodgy Beats from their old music collective Odd Future:

“So they wanted the dead girl and some garden gnomes and I said, ‘Sure. Go for it, […]” (source)

If you watch a music video by a guitar band where they play guitar and do nothing else, chances are they don’t really care about the music video. It’s more an obligation for them to do in order to sell. But Tyler, the Creator cares about music videos so he makes dope ones:

“But, isn’t money also the biggest motivation for K-pop companies? Aren’t you a bit hypocritical, kbrecordzz?? Isn’t this some kind of double standard??”

Yes, but they also really seem to care about creating beautiful music videos. They didn’t need to go to this level of amazing graphical design (see image below), but they did. Because they care! That’s why I like K-pop, and that’s also why I like Tyler, the Creator. I think it’s cool that there are people on both extremes of the independent(Tyler, the Creator)->corporate(K-pop companies) scale who care about making cool things. But one thing’s for sure, I’m not going to watch 5 million music videos of varying quality to make a new kbrecordzz.com article. There are limits. Thanks for reading. Or, like David Letterman said: “감사합니다”.

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