From K-Pop & J-Pop to Princeton

Spinnin dat ill KP

Spinnin' dat ill K-pop

Generally, academia downplays its commentary on popular culture and music. Among advertised lectures and academic events at Princeton, those relating to [bio]ethics, politics and African-American studies certainly reign supreme (though recently one might make a case for Irish Studies). However, this weekend, discourse on contemporary music literally gets in the mix.

Enter K-Pop.

On March 25th and 26th Princeton hosts its own Asian Popular Music Conference, In The Mix: Asian Pop Music. This is like the March Madness of the East Asian Studies Department, the Lawnparties of ethnomusicology. The conference will feature panel discussions, research presentations, live performances and film screenings. Content will span genres ranging from indie rock and industrial noise music to hiphop, K-pop, J-pop, and the like.

Seriously though, professors and musicians are coming in from all around the world for this — some from the Orient itself, others from institutions like the London School of Economics and the Berklee School of Music.

We’ve begun digging through the jam-packed schedule and have picked some highlights in anticipation.

In and around the mix:

Friday, March 25th

  • 12:30-2:00 PM: Film: Andrew Field, Down: Indie Rock in the PRC @ Bowl One, Robertson
  • 2:00-2:30 PM: “Language Unleashed Through K-Pop:  Emerging Rhymes & Puns” @ Robertson 16
  • 8:00-11:00 PM: Concert: DJ Krush (Opening act: DJ Yori Iinuma) @ Terrace Eating Club

Saturday, March 26th

  • 9:00-9:30 AM: “Tokyo, Hawaii: Japanese Slack Key Guitarists Performing Hawaiian-ness in Japan” @ Bowl One, Robertson
  • 11:15-11:45 AM: “Wanting to be Wanted: Commensuration and Remediation in Taiwanese Popular Musics” @ Bowl 16, Robertson
  • 11:45 AM-12:15 PM: “The Transpacific Feedback of Japanoise” @ Bowl 16, Robertson
  • 8:30-10:00 PM: Dzian! – Asian Surf Rock band @ Forbes Black Box, Forbes College

One specific event caught our eye: video game music, “formally” known as chiptune or 8-bit, will be covered on Saturday (11:15-11:45 AM) at Bowl One, Robertson.  Julianne Grasso ’10 will present her senior thesis, “Links to Fantasy: The Music of The Legend of Zelda, Final Fantasy, and the Construction of the Video Game Experience.”

Honestly though, doesn’t this make everyone a bit uncomfortable? Think about it: there will be some important discussions and interesting performances, but part of me can’t help but think this is just some Autotune-induced digital hangover waiting to happen. Part of me wants to know if this is some kind of joke — some Current TV 15-minute documentary. What is a Japanese slack key guitarist and how does he/she  “[perform] Hawaiian-ness”?

Despite the weirdness, the more I think about the conference, the more I understand the event’s recipe: start with some subgenre, throw in a little geography, add a melodramatic title and BOOM, a conference, a legitimately endowed event, a veritable K-Pop festival.

We here at the University Press Club just cannot wait. We feel like the guy on the front of the event poster above. So we’ve made ourselves a little mixtape, a little K/J-pop playlist, to hold us over and get us psyched for the big day.

From K-Pop & J-Pop 2 Princeton: a University Press Club Mixtape (Mediafire)

  1. The 5, 6, 7, 8s – Woo Hoo (that Kill Bill song…)
  2. SHINee – Ring Ding Dong (shaiiineeee!!)
  3. The Go! Team – Huddle Formation (DISCLAIMER: this song isn’t actually by an Asian artist)
  4. Seo Taiji & Boys – Nan Arayo!  (the heavyweight K-pop champ, says Wikipedia)
  5. Anamanaguchi – Airbrushed (RAC Remix) (chiptune on the d-floor, ñooo)