Tete-a-tete ArchivesAn eclectic sampling of my award-winning humor columns. New columns can be read online at www.nashuatelegraph.com on the first Thursday of the month, with columns posted here later in the month.
More in "Tete-a-tete"
- Tete-a-tete: Evolution of a football fan, or why I'm looking forward to Super Bowl LII
- Tete-a-tete: Younger Sister's penchant for staying on schedule never takes a holiday
- Tete-a-tete: Grandpa had a 'Wonderful Life'
- Tete-a-tete: Streamlined technology makes it easier to come home for the holidays - unlike when I was in college
- Tete-a-tete: Terrifying toys make childhood memorable
- Tete-a-tete: The pitfalls of dining out as a slow eater
- Tete-a-tete: Pop culture references lead to unexpected connections
- Tete-a-tete: "Handicapped accessible" doesn't really mean what people think it means
- Tete-a-tete: The ins and outs of the college moving experience
- Tete-a-tete: When dealing with cabin fever, this cat's on a roll
- Tete-a-tete: An artistic masterpiece 20 years in the making
- Tete-a-tete: Promp and circumstance: Modern-day prom prep
- Tete-a-tete: Blue Apron - a Pandora's box of weekly culinary adventures
- Tete-a-tete: Serve up a slice of family traditions, new or old
- Tete-a-tete: 'Family court' has a whole new meaning at our house
- Tete-a-tete: Drafted on the farm: Grandpa's war at home
- Tete-a-tete: With family, you have to give it the ol' college try
- Tete-a-tete: Walk a mile in my Boots: Viva la feline difference
- Tete-a-tete: Slacker movies offer unlikely heroes
- Tete-a-tete - Bag that theory: Purse contents aren't all that enlightening
- Tete-a-tete: Keeping up with the pace of modern-day elder care
- Tete-a-tete: Easter dinner reveals a shocking family secret
- Tete-a-tete: Time flies when you forget to change the clocks
- Tete-a-tete: Here in New Hampshire, we don't take voting 'for granite'
- Tete-a-tete: An Eagle takes flight in another family milestone
- Tete-a-tete: When choosing heirlooms, cross your Ts and dot your ... claims
- Tete-a-tete: Even the best-intentioned Christmas traditions can fail to take hold
- Tete-a-tete: How to enjoy a wedding, even if it's not your own
- Tete-a-tete: A tale of unintentional cat ownership
- Tete-a-tete: Admissions about the college admissions process
- Tete-a-tete: Avoiding car-tastrophe while purchasing a new vehicle
- Tete-a-tete: As American as apple pie: U.S. culture, through other eyes
- Tete-a-tete: The geek gene runs strong in our family
- Tete-a-tete: Grieving entertainment losses with a few simple steps
- Tete-a-tete: Parents, do not give your child the name equivalent of the April birthstone
- Tete-a-tete: Memento or clutter? Don't leave that decision to the historians
- Tete-a-tete: How Mom and Dad saved Christmas (and a hamster)
- Tete-a-tete: Having trouble keeping your New Year's resolutions? It could be "If You Give a Mouse a Cookie" Syndrome
- Tete-a-tete: When Christmas starts before Thanksgiving (a reflection on temporal discombobulation)
- Tete-a-tete: Sizing up a new family pet, or the difference between a cat and a hamster
- Tete-a-tete: When your worst fear comes true
- Tete-a-tete: Family game night can leave you drawing a blank
- Tete-a-tete: When you have a really good reason to skip class
- Tete-a-tete: The downside to the world's most flattering bridesmaid dress
- Tete-a-tete: Say it with flowers - just don't say where you got them
- Tete-a-tete: Shockingly true tales of my Herculean, heroic great-grandpa
- Tete-a-tete: For goodness 'sakes - generational namesakes can confuse
- Tete-a-tete: Confused by the weather? Signs spring has almost sprung
- Tete-a-tete: Seeking the Holy Grail of a universal bridesmaid dress
- Tete-a-tete: Love poetry gone bad, or why I'm still not allowed to use matches
- Tete-a-tete: A traveler's guide to the Big Apple
- Tete-a-tete: Feats of strength aren't just for Festivus festivities
- Tete-a-tete: Change comes from within - sometimes, literally
- Tete-a-tete: Car games: from punch-buggy to punching cell phone buttons
- Tete-a-tete: I mustache you a question about costume practicality
- Tete-a-tete: Functional furniture is making my family dysfunctional
- Tete-a-tete: Jungle Speed board game can bring out the beast in you
- Tete-a-tete: To call it a ‘mooving’ ride would be inaccurate
- Tete-a-tete: When saying ‘sweetheart’ just won’t do
- Tete-a-tete: Eat your heart out, Festivus: Stymchastynchula is here
- Tete-a-tete: Hoping Korean music can explode in the U.S. with a K-pop
- Tete-a-tete: Holidays, especially with Grandma, are always colorful
- Tete-a-tete: Sometimes, it's the grilled cheese that makes the memories
- Tete-a-tete: Still recovering from Dad's forays into home education
Tete-a-tete: Hoping Korean music can explode in the U.S. with a K-pop
While driving her to the mall a few weekends ago, Younger Sister gave me the shock of a lifetime. We were listening to one of my mix CDs, and she commented on the song that was playing.
“Oh, I love this song,” she said. “I’ve heard it on the radio before.”
It’s not that our taste in music is completely dissimilar – we both love fast-paced songs with strong beats. The surprise was that the song to which she was referring was “Fantastic Baby” by Big Bang – and it’s in Korean.
East Asian culture in general, pop culture in particular, has been a major interest of mine for nearly a decade and a half now. In my experience, most people aren’t as fascinated as I am by social problems in Japan or Jackie Chan’s martial arts comedy “The Legend of Drunken Master,” so I’m floored – and happily so – that Korean pop music has spread across the globe over the past few years.
And by Korean pop music, also known as K-pop, I mean South Korean pop music. Sadly, I doubt there’s much to sing about in North Korea.
I certainly never expected it to hit so close to home, however. Younger Sister’s playlist on her phone is built around the Billboard Top 5. Yet here she was in the car with me, cranking up the volume on “Fantastic Baby” until I thought the windows were going to explode with a big bang.
Once that track had ended, I decided to skip around the CD to see if there were any other K-pop songs she might like. I felt a little like Dr. Frankenstein must have after his monster came to life and sat up on the slab. Would this experiment be a success, or would I be cut down in a matter of seconds?
Younger Sister stunned me once again by proclaiming her approval of Block B’s “Nillili Mambo,” another song with driving beats and catchy hooks. We even took a few minutes in the parking lot to watch the music video on her phone.
Seeing the group members as very cool but very incompetent modern-day pirates who fail to steal a case of jewels made Younger Sister love the song even more. When we got back in the car, she turned on the CD player as soon as I started the ignition.
Many K-pop groups are intentionally targeting international audiences, and to my knowledge, there’s no group working harder at this than U-KISS. Their name says it all – it’s an acronym for Ubiquitous Korean International idol Super Star.
Two of the members, Kevin and Eli, are Korean-American, born and raised in the United States. They’re both fluent in English, as is AJ, who attended an international school in Korea. Eli and Dongho both speak Mandarin, and all seven members speak Korean (obviously) and some Japanese.
U-KISS has performed throughout Asia, as well as in France, Colombia, Peru and, to a lesser extent, the U.S. They don’t have quite as much recognition in Korea as some other groups, though it’s not for lack of trying, but they have a solid international fan base any musician would envy.
U-KISS is one of my favorite K-pop groups, in part because the members make such an effort to connect with audiences outside of Korea. The members are all on Twitter and tweet in English, Korean and Japanese – sometimes all in the same post. They’ve also collaborated with Eat Your Kimchi, a fabulous English language YouTube channel dedicated to Korean music and culture, for interviews and other features.
The other reason I enjoy the group so much is because of their songs, many of which include English lyrics. “0330” is hands-down the prettiest slow rap/ballad I’ve ever heard, and “Believe” is an excellent Eurodance-inspired track perfect for the morning commute.
I hope to see more K-pop groups, and indeed, musicians from other cultures, following U-KISS’s example. Musicians from the U.S. often tour internationally, providing they have the support of the audiences in those countries, and I’d love to see groups from other countries doing more of that as well.
In the meantime, Younger Sister and I will continue to rattle the car windows with the very best in K-pop every time we take a road trip. And if anyone wants to have a nice long chat about the short stories of Yasunari Kawabata or Korean dramas, you know how to get in touch with me.
– Teresa Santoski
Originally published April 3, 2013.