Thursday, May 16, 2013

Honest Thoughts About: Block B 블락비 - Part 1

Because I just can’t leave K-pop alone, and I tend to analyze or overanalyze things all by myself, here I am again discussing things I probably have no qualifications to discuss. That said... Do you know what time it is?

It's Block B time!

Here’s the plan:

I take a K-Pop group that I adore to pieces, give you the lowdown, and then attempt to honestly consider their merits, as a group or just individually, through music videos, discography, variety appearances and social media. I’ll test them objectively based on talent, performance, charisma, and charm. 

You said charm???

Charm. And swag. Gorilla swag. 

The Short Story

Block B debuted in 2011 under label Brand New Stardom, with the hopes of emphasizing a strong hip hop flair in the idol industry. They have made 3 comebacks to date, even managing to stay afloat through scandal and controversy. As of early January 2013, they have been battling with their label over supposed non-payment of their earnings for over a year. The group has not appeared together publically during this time, though individual members have been keeping active in other more low key roles. Fans, known as BBCs, are waiting ecstatically for the day all 7 return as one. 

Update 6/7/13: Block B has officially lost the court case, but determines to keep fighting the original case to have their contracts nullified.  They have no intention of working with Stardom again.  Block B, fighting!
Update 8/28/13: They are back! Under new management, with their exclusive contract transferred to 7 Seasons. Comeback for October 2013??? 

Just Who Are These Guys?

Brought together and trained by Cho PD, as well as other big name rap and hip hop artists, all the Block B members share a passion for the genre, and in mixing hip hop with a more modern feel. Their discography seems to prove this, and all of their albums, especially 2012’s first full length album Blockbuster, features a wide range of music. Their only individual songs come from the rapper line: Zico and Kyung in early 2012 with “LOL”, and another song “No Joke” with P.O. later that year. Taeil also sang solo on the Blockbuster album with “Where are You?”

Song Styles

You can almost break their music up into categories based upon speed and/or mood. 

  • Slow Romantic – Movie’s Over, 100% Synchronization, U Hoo Hoo
  • Cutesy Fun – Let Them Know, Action, Moving On
  • Chill and Sleazy – Does It Only Happen to Me, 11:30, Romantic, Did It or Not?
  • Total Rap – LOL, No Joke
  • Ridiculously Swag – Nilili Mambo, Wanna B, Halo, Nalina, Freeze

Yeah, we're just awesome.

Official Music Videos

Freeze/Don’t Move 그대로 멈춰라! (April 2011)
First title track and MV: I’m not going to lie. “Freeze” looks like a promotional car ad and sexy gigolo models with bad hair (Zico). I like the song but I almost can’t stand to watch this MV. It’s painful to me, and I can’t pick out any guy who actually rocks both the stud-encrusted black suits or orange confectionary. The white/gold look is alright, but then there’s still Zico’s hair. The MV has no storyline to speak of and only a little bit of unmemorable dancing. As an intro to this new stylized idol-hiphop group (everyone give me an ooooohhhh) I suppose it does the job. But I’m not sure I would’ve become a fan had this been my Block B video. C-

Tell Them/Let Them Know 가서 전해 (June 2011)

Starts out like a slick back alleyway party with authentic youngsters from the hood. Actually is a cute song that just so happens to use some bicycles and an under bridge location. Block B are no longer car models, they are definitely now car washers (going by their outfits alone). It’s actually a pretty approachable MV. If you can get past Zico’s dreadlocks (and dreadlocked pigtails – ouch), Ukwon still had that soft brown hair, and Taeil never looked sexier. The song is damned catchy, and I watched so many fancams in my time that I can do the chorus choreography in my sleep. Overall, this is Block B at its cutest. B+

Nalina 난리나 (Feb 2012)

Block B’s first bam slam MV with full storyline, gang warfare, hot chicks and gorillas. Think I’m kidding? The dance version is actually called ‘Gorilla Dance Version’. I don’t know, I don’t know, did you know that Ukwon’s hot? Hot? (So hot). You can sigh later. I tried to make the rythmn work. Nalina (sometimes romanized as Nanrina) is incredibly catchy and has quite a few great [*read* hilarious] Engrish lines to sing along to. I think this is a really exciting song and MV, though I do prefer the dance version to the original MV. Maybe because I just can’t handle Taeil’s transformation from hot rod to ‘that dorky kid with the glasses’. Thanks, Martina* for noting this atrocity. A 
*Extra: EYK Nalina MV Review
I'm on a boat!

Nilili Mambo 닐리리 맘보 (October 2012)
The song that started it all. First I scoffed, then I laughed. Finally I loved. It’s got swag, it’s got style, it’s got Park Kyung chasing a chicken with a frying a pan. For the first time, Block B looks to have dressed appropriately, meaning [almost] everyone looks fabulous and unique. The storyline is awesome, and of course makes absolutely no logical sense. They’re urban pirates. Does the plot have to make sense? Simon and Martina* didn't think so. Whatever. Long as it’s all okie dokie, I think everyone should be just fine. P.S. Zico looks great in pink dreads. A+ 
*Extra: EYK Nilili Mambo MV Review

Other Music Videos

Close My Eyes 눈감아줄께 (April 2012) – Also called “Moving On” on the actual iTunes album; Compilation of BTS clips in commemoration of Block B’s 1 year anniversary

Action RMX (May 2012) – All the boys minus Zico goofing around in a field of toy wind vanes; Super cute, and everyone seems to have fun lip-synching Zico’s rap.

Movie’s Over (Oct 2012) – Features a makeup-less Block B with footage from the recording studio. Everyone looks so natural and normal, and still totally adorable.

Serious Thoughts on Block B

Block B is definitely and will probably always be one of my top favorite K-Pop, so staying unbiased is sometimes hard. On one hand, I only discovered them at the time of Nilili Mambo, and I've spent months since then going backwards and studying all their music, performances, interviews and other appearances. However being a newcomer to the group means I had to accept anything and all to join in the fandom, while still hanging on to a smidgen of neutral territory. 

Let's see what I've assessed:
  • As  hip hop idols who claim (or whose fans claim) not to rely on their overall good image, they are still held to the standards of the industry, and no matter what their non-idol image seems to say, they know and appreciate the truth that being an idol group gives them more advantages than just being underground.
  • Like other boys their age, they say dumb things in public and find themselves in serious trouble, whether they meant to bring it or not.  See the Thailand interview controversy for the first example. Other members (including Ukwon and Taeil) aren't entirely spotless either.
  • Zico is given a lot of credit for being a composer and producer for the group, but as a leader and rapper he is often compared to Bigbang's GD.  I love GD, but let's stop making comparisons and allow each guy his own merits. 
  • As for how they function as a group, I've heard discussions about this being less a comprehensive Block B effort, and more 'Zico's group'.  This guy is my bias, but it may be a little true. As talented as some of the other members are, and despite Jaehyo technically being the 'visual', Zico gets most of the limelight, and mostly for great reasons. 
  • I am glad these 7 members are together, but a few of them probably wouldn't function well outside of Block B or would blend in well with other boy groups. I just can't say every member is indispensable.

But these 2 are definitely indispensable.

Fangirly Thoughts on Block B 

To make up for some of my realism above: 
  • I probably couldn't function in K-Pop as well without these guys. They bring so much love and talent to my hears (and eyes) and stand apart in style from so many other groups. 
  • I seem to find each and every song memorable and extremely awesome to sing or dance along to. They just fit my groove! 
  • Block B is entirely filled with bias-wreckers!  Zico is my rapper/leader/ Block B bias, Taeil my singing dorky pictures bias, Kyung my sleazy smiling rapper bias, Ukwon my sexy dancer and aegyo bias, B-Bomb my super dancer bias,  Jaehyo my twitter updates bias, and P.O. my cute loudmouthed maknae bias.  Could it get any better than that?

Taeil's beanie could make it better than that. 

My Husband's Fanboyish Thoughts on Block B

Because I converted even him to the awesomeness:
Block B brings out some seriously conflicting emotions in me, especially when trolling friends with my favorite K-pop.   On one hand, THEY ARE FREAKIN AWESOME!  But in the midst of all the sweetness, there’s always a small part of me giggling with embarrassment, kind of like we all would if T.O.P. was caught shirtless.  For example, here is a dramatic re-enactment of the first time I heard LOL: 
“YEAH!  This is best! Wait, did he just say ‘Rain is coming’? Must check lyrics now! Ooooooh, he said Brainstorming…Bow wow."   
Yes indeed.  Bow. Wow.  Of course accepting things of this nature is all part of becoming a mature K-Pop listener.  Excuse me while I read that last sentence again and giggle with shame.  Hey, at least Zico's bow-wow is nowhere near as shameless as the one in this song! It's not like I just put that on my newest mix CD! (#^.^#)

Yup. He's a goner.

Next time on 'Honest Thoughts About Block B'

I'll start by analyzing their live performance abilities  Of course, there will be many pretty pictures and video links, so stay tuned!  


  1. "Block B debuted in 2011.... They have made 3 comebacks to date..."

    Clearly "comeback" is a term taken a little more lightly in Korea than in America.

    Also, Kpop? It's like nuclear physics: I'm guardedly glad it exists, as long as nobody ever expects me to understand it ;)

    1. Haha.. Amanda, Kpop is a very confusing subject, especially to study from an international perspective. ;) "Comeback" is one of most highly used and incorrectly borrowed terms from English . Basically, anytime a group comes out with a new single or album it's called a comeback. Comebacks can be 2 years apart, or 3 months...

  2. Excuse me while I go laugh and cry at the same time. Mainly cry.

    Aaaaaaand, I'm back. Yay for being BBC's! I actually learned how to sew just so I could one day be good enough with a sewing machinge to make Block B patches and put them on the back and the front-left of a black "lettermen's" jacket. Thanks Block B. Really. (I will one day not be afraid of the machine! One day! I feel like I'm doing one of those contact lense commercials...)

    The "Zico's Group" thing is probably the only thing I don't like about Block B. He's my bias but, having been outshined many times in my life (most simply because of popularity. In a k-pop group that would be like being outshined just because one member is more well known than the others) and being/having OCD about pretty much everything, I heavily dislike when this happens. Evens if it's for good reasons. It's one of the reason 4minute is so hard for me to support. It really is just like EYK said: 4minute has turned into Hyuna and Her Backup Dancers. Well, I guess there's always going to be one thing we just can't like about our groups. *sigh*

    1. Good luck on your sewing! Sounds like a legit reason to learn to sew to me! xD

      "Zico's Group" isn't something I technically dislike, because by now I am a diehard fan and and in my mind they are just 7 and always will and should be (plus, Zico is a huge reason why I think they're as 'big' as they are/were). But when I get realistic, or when I started seriously worrying about whether or not they'd disband, I didn't see this powerful connection that said "They're all meant to be together because they're equally valuable!" And that bothered me.

      I'm not enough of a 4Minute fan to accurately assess the other members, but as someone who scrutinizes the media and watches every MV at least once, that's definitely how it appears on the surface. If I was doing that for Block B, it's what I'd see too.

      Whatever the case.. BBCs fighting!

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