So I know I said I wasn’t going to talk about Korean pop music(musique/음악) anymore because last time it brought a bunch of fan-fic creepers out of the woodwork and I’m not eeeeeeven having that on my blog. Yes, I said not eeeeeeeven. Insert the appropriate neck roll and finger wave along with that eeeeeeeven. So this is a warning…I will be mentioning Korean pop music in this blog, but please no fan-fic creeper comments. They’ll be deleted, and if you leave one anyway, I’ll make cripplingly sarcastic comments about you in my real life. Okay?
This year I’m really feeling the change of seasons. Usually I look up sometime in early November and quizzically ask when did autumn begin, but this year I’m not only noticing the crunchy orange leaves and chilly weather, I’m anticipating them. I spent most of last Saturday in a hibernating mood, making treacly autumnal ginger cakes full of orange peel and cloves and brown sugar. I’ve been walking a lot lately and noticing the chestnuts on the ground, their shattered spiky husks in piles along the sidewalks. (One thing that England does amazingly well is chestnuts. Just sayin’.)
All of this is accompanied by an Indian summer playlist, full of grooves meant to let me down easily from summer sun and tank tops into early dark and sweaters. There’s a lot of familiar artists on there…Common, Erykah Badu, Mr. Big, Page CXVI. There’s a few classic autumn albums, as well…Aretha Franklin’s Spanish Harlem and Fiona Apple’s Extraordinary Machine both come to mind.
The one surprise fall musical find this year has been Urban Zakapa. They don’t seem to have an official webpage anywhere(although they do have a page on Facebook and a million links on Naver ), and I originally found them through this nifty feature on SeoulBeats. There’s a lot I could say to describe them musically, but thanks to youtube, I don’t have to. Take a look at this:
Now that is perfect sipping-a-pumpkin-latte music, appropriately titled “Cafe Latte” in English. The nine members of Urban Zakapa put this song out in 2009 and I’m kind of annoyed with myself for only discovering it now. Never mind that I don’t speak the language(yet). These guys are amazingly smooth, soulful, pop r&b with a jazzy flavor.
Oh, and speaking of jazz, check out Inevitability…
These guys are just on point. Vocally, instrumentally, they’re just impressive. And considering that most of my exposure to music from South Korea has been sugary kpop(which I have a grudging admiration for) or trot(which I kinda like and certainly respect more than kpop but TOTALLY don’t get), I’m glad to see that there is more musical diversity in the ROK than the first four pages of a Google search indicate.
I wish I knew more about the group to share here, but 95% of the info I can find is in Korean, which I don’t understand much of. The other 5% is lists of names and links to songs, much like what I’ve included here. Urban Zakapa seems to be the kind of band that lets their music do the speaking for them. Either that, or they’re not all that popular and therefore there isn’t a demand for info about them. According to their facebook they’re on tour, so I refuse to believe the latter explanation and will just blame my own poor language skills for not really knowing lots about them. These guys are good, and I hope they’re getting the recognition they deserve for their musical prowess.
As I search around, I’m finding a lot of mellow, soulful voices and sounds in the world of Korean-language music and I have to admit it’s startling. Not because it’s Asians singing soulfully(anyone who, in this day and age, has the nerve to be shocked by the sight of a groovy singing Asian man has obviously never been to California…they’re EVERYWHERE. Kinda like harmonizing white chicks in England…). I guess I find it surprising because a lot of the more soulful strains of music from South Korea sound a LOT like the R&B music I grew up listening to in the mid-90’s. There’s a few points on the Urban Zakapa(어반자카파, by the way, in hangeul) album where I found myself saying Babyface? Is that you? Tony Rich, honey? Where you been? (It’s a spurrilous Black People Connection, but I’m claiming it anyway.) It’s familiar, but in a nice way, and I kind of wish that the English speaking market would follow suit and produce more bands like this. Heck, I wish the Korean speaking market would produce more bands like this. I don’t want any more autotune, no more cliched power to the sistah tracks, no more pathetic attempts to be down with the people while still selling to the other people. At the very least, I just want some new nice songs about love and poetry, sung by people who know how to interpret a lyric and played by people who know how to swing.
Good grief, I sound like an old lady in that last paragraph.
In any case, it’s good music. It sounds familiar, it’s smooth, it’s pleasant. Also, although I have no idea what a Zakapa is or what “Urban” connotes in their market, I like their name.
One more song, then I’d urge you to go here and consider spending some cash on the bands album, 01.
This one’s probably my favorite…and it’s the source of today’s title…