One of the things we ALWAYS talk about with new debuts, comebacks, and stages is the concept. Before listening to Kpop I always thought about this idea in terms of genre and used the word to encompass the sound, look, and feel of the artist. Like, Dar Williams is a folk singer so you know that she’s likely going to be in pretty stylishly conservative clothes and have attractive, low-maintenance hair. In the Western music I used to favor, the genre really is a reliable indicator as to what you’re going to get with every album, song, or concert. Think about it, though each and every song was a gem, you always knew roughly what you were going to get from Ani Difranco, Nine Inch Nails, and the Mighty Mighty Bostons. There were no huge change-ups between each album no matter what color hair they were sporting.
But Kpop is the name of the genre and all it basically tells us is that the artist makes popular music in Korea. They use the word ‘concept’ as the descriptor for not only the sound of their latest release but also the fashion, style of hair and make, feel and texture of the MV, and even potentially the types of schedules they might do as part of promotions. As opposed to American artists, a group may come out of the gate super cute and adorable, shift to sexy in three months, and then do boyfriend concept for their inevitable first full-length album. Think about Golden Child as an example, from baseball team to zombies in a few short years is nothing in Kpop.
This idea carries over to a few different Asian music scenes to varying degrees, but I’d say, due to the heavy influence of Kpop, Cpop or Mpop (whichever you prefer to use), has definitely gone in that direction. I say all of this as a way to introduce Ling Chao, a Chinese artist on Qin’s Entertainment and a member of the group ONER. This guy has an angel’s face and a gorgeous voice. A quick search of images online and you’ll see blond curls, neck bows, and oversized t-shirts. His image from his time as a trainee through his stint on Idol Producer (China’s version of Produce 101) and after his debut, has been young and cute to sleek and fashionable. However, with the flexibility afforded to him by being in such a dynamic genre, he has dipped his toes into a much darker concept with his recent solo release. Rebellious is kind of a darker dance track with Ling Choa’s pretty vocals on top of repetitive electronic beats – honestly, it reminds me of a club I used to go to in Scotland where I would dance until way too late in the night when I should have been writing papers or something. The MV comes with an explicit warning at the beginning because, yes, there is violence, blood, kidnapping, smoking, drinking, and a twist at the end, gah, and it’s so good.
Rebellious, Ling Chao