상상은 여권이 필요없는 여행이다
So recently my laptop had a bit of a run-in with some soda… adult soda… And while all fears of a completely mutilated laptop have been overcome, the keyboard is still a mess. I will proofread much more thoroughly from here on out, but I do apologize for what I imagine will be inevitable typos.
With that warning out of the way, I would like to move on to a song I have been very excited to discuss since about three hours after the release of its video: ToppDogg’s “Arario.” ToppDogg debuted fairly recently, toward the end of last year, with their song “말로해 (Follow Me).” I thought this was a fairly decent song, but didn’t really set them head and shoulders above all the other rookie acts. I thought their follow-up song, “들어와 (Open the Door),” was exceptionally weak as it couldn’t make up its mind about what kind of song it was. What key is that song in? I’m pretty sure the key of the music is different from the key they’re singing in. It’s like the sound of classic SHINee and ToppDogg’s debut song mashed into one; an interesting experiment that just doesn’t work out.
But “Arario”? While technically it’s just a song on the Open the Door album, it’s the complete opposite of the title track; “Arario” is another experiment, yes, but it works out SO. WELL. In fact, I consider “Arario” to be the best fusion of traditional and modern Korean music I’ve heard since the Pachabel Canon played on gayageum accompanied by a beatboxer, DJ, and hip hop dancer:
I think it’s really significant that the traditional instruments aren’t used as a gimmick in “Arario” – they’re incorporated from beginning to end, and the modern music/western instruments even mimic the traditional sound to some degree. Even when everything breaks out in rock for the climax, the sound of a piri (…I think that’s what it is?) still floats above the electric guitars. Most importantly, both the traditional and modern modes complement each other; it doesn’t sound like two entirely different genres were taken in fist, shoved in the blender, and dumped onto a plate to be served.
What’s even better is this skilled weaving of new and old extends into the music video as well. Some people are dressed completely traditionally, such as the gayageum players and drummers, in addition to a couple shots of a couple boys in historical garb. But overall the fashion tends to be traditionally-inspired modern: A-tom’s “top-knot,” the female dancers with only the lower half of their hanbok, the boys’ baggy gossamer shirts, and totally the dude with the sunglasses (check him out dancing in the back at 0:38, oooh yeah). It’s fascinating!
Even the DANCE brings traditional and modern together, although not quite as extensively as the music or fashion. The choreography does use the fans a lot, and quite dramatically. The “showdown” at the end is also replete with some amazing displays of traditional dance and hip hop. But I was a little disappointed that the girls just basically seemed to be there to wave their arms around, especially when samgo-mu (three-drum dance) is so renowned. Huge opportunity missed there, if you ask me.
I think for me the most lacking part of “Arario” was the lyrics. Part of the reason why it took me so long to get around to writing this post is because I just couldn’t force myself to study the lyrics. I honestly thought I had just lost motivation to study or was tired, but when I started working on a song that I found more lyrically interesting, I began making progress again. To some degree the lyrics do criticize the insincerity of the music industry, but most of it is dedicated to self-aggrandizement. “Our lyrics are like a book of poetry?” Yah, how poetic. I can’t even bring myself to finish translating the lyrics.
But overall, I find this song amazing. It doesn’t quite make ToppDogg stand head and shoulders above the other rookies to me… yet. But it definitely gives them a boost up and they’re on my radar from here on out.