(Warning: Long Ass Post Ahead)
How does one even really begin to talk about all the profound effects music has on people? I say this in general since that is what we’ve been asked, and I am not sure where to start. There are so many styles, niches, cultures, influences, dude you name it. Not to mention talking about music is whole other issue altogether. Music is supposed to convey what words cannot so clearly that makes it difficult to speak about *insert whale noises here*.
In any case I suppose the only way to make one functional blog post here is to focus on something specific. Problem being there are so many really cool specificities that really deserve some attention but there’s no way to do them all in one blog post and I get way too excited over these things which would make this way longer than it needs to be so I will try to calm myself but at this point anyone who has read anything on the blog knows that is kind of a no-go but I am going to try anyway damn it.
Okay. A decision has been made. Now for one more bout of housekeeping.
I have noticed that others have been noticing (notice-ception) that I have made a couple posts that involve Kpop. Clearly I am a fan. And yes indeed this will be another post on the subject mainly because I can but also I’ve been doing some research and found some cool things.
In terms of culture in general South Korea is a very interesting case study simply based on its history and it’s position. Sitting smack between China and Japan, having been invaded by both the culture thus has remnants of both. In more recent times, it still plays host to no less than twelve separate US Army bases, mainly being remnants of the Korean war and functioning as bases for the American soldiers that help out with monitoring the DMZ and North Korea. As a result of America’s large influence in South Korea, quite a bit of cultural cross-over has happened. Not significant enough to make the two countries similar in any meaningful way, more in subtle underlying ways. The presence of English in Kpop songs being one of the most prominent outward shown aspects, also the fact that English is a required language class in the schools there.
The interesting thing about literally anyone, not just South Korea, taking influence from America is how much of a melting pot we really are. Now socially in terms of what you can see in the population around you this really does depend on where in America you live, but culturally we are all exposed to it. Through music.
Now the specificity.
Let me preface this by saying I am not a patriotic person. Not in the slightest, I am the first to point out things that we need to fix as a country, but I have recently been thinking. What am I proud of? And that is the ability to blend cultures, and how lucky we are, to have so many that come together here. This is the glory of music, and a celebration of what a truly meshed, integrated culture can be.
Here is where I am going to attempt to tackle an specific type of mesh. Best described by Nerdwriter here:
So I am going to go a bit more into the dancehall beat here, and hopefully clear up how to tell if a song has a dancehall beat. I would completely recommend checking out all of his examples here as they are fantastic examples.
This should help in the dissection of the Dancehall beat, juts for a more in depth look.
So I figured out the counting of the beat, after an afternoon of long trial and error. This would be better if I could just count it out loud to you, but unfortunately I cannot do this in person. But here it is written out anyway, for anyone who would like to attempt. I swear to god ever since I figured it out I cannot stop counting this every time I hear it, it’s so damn catchy.
The italicized is silent, there is a drum hit on every bolded count: 1 + a 2 + a 3 + a 4 + a
Written out differently: 1, a 2 and, 3, a four and, 1, a 2 and, 3, a four and
You kind of swing the beat, if you know how to do that. Lengthening one beat and compressing the one directly after, that’s sort of what it should sound like.
I’m somewhat sure that if you look up someone learning samba (ballroom samba I mean), the counting should be the same, but the way the beats will sound in music is not.
Another good American song that has this beat and you could try to count to is One Dance by Drake. Notice the use of muted tropical instruments here, with an emphasis on minimalism and vocals.
For more examples of hard hitting Dancehall beats I’d recommend Shakira’s Chantaje and Me Enamore. Those are also very good for counting since the beats are really clear.
Now you may be asking yourself, where the heck is Kpop coming in. Patience my friend, I have finally gotten there.
Also this will probably be only two Kpop groups showcased here (trust me more have been hopping on the bandwagon), but that’s because these are their recent releases and it is just some of the best I have personally heard in a while now.
Heavy Dancehall beats in these songs. Really the reason why I started loving them in first place
This is the first song I ever heard by them and that beat had me shook. As soon as I heard that Dancehall vibe I knew it was going to be addicting. Besides the beat there was some interesting vocal editing with autotune during the rap bits for J Seph (dark haired rapper) which was more akin to an American influence for rap (no surprise there and I’m not talking about K-rap or hip-hop here because I already have way too much to cover) which was an interesting choice as the other rapper B.M. (light haired guy) is the one that’s actually American (side note: I really enjoy his Timbre). The light airy tones used for the melodic hook without vocals also had an interesting reverb attached to it that made it blend nicely with the beat.
(I was going to analyze Don’t Recall here but I realize this is getting long so I am just going to name drop it for a recommendation. Lighter on the beat, though still Dancehall, with deeper, darker tones.)
In case you still want to listen to it before going on:
The most recent song they released (and the one that is actually their debut) this is definitely more soft on the beat, focusing on the high tones for the Tropical House vibe here. Reminiscent of something lighter and more free spirited, somewhat freeing from the darker tones they’d used before. The melody is also more colorful here than it was in previous songs, the colorful video and smooth yet energetic choreography perfectly matching the feel of the song. The vocal Timbre’s for the both the girls here really play not only off each other but also off the guys.
They used to do mostly R&B but this new comeback is strictly Tropical House and it is gorgeous. Granted, their Dancehall beat is very subdued. Most of the time anyway.
I was just going to name drop this song but I think I’m going to go ahead a put it in here, it’s a good example of their first attempt (very good one) at a more tropical feel.
As you can see, the beat here is a bit heavy. Not as heavy as K.A.R.D. but it’s heavier than their subsequent songs and it’s easier to see the Dancehall feel here. Part of the beat is not made but the drums but actually by the high tones in the background, if you are able to count it, you’ll see what I mean. Also this video (as well as the next two) were shot in America and feature American extras, which is just cool, and it’s nice to see them being able to collaborate with Americans for these songs.
The melodic tones here are thicker than K.A.R.D.’s with a slightly heavier sound, which fits as a nice contrast to the Timbre of the voices for every member being slightly more breathy, particularly the vocalists but even the rappers have a lighter tone and cadence (even Mino (greenish short hair) here which is mildly surprising). The way the tones scale up in pitch makes for a very tight melody line, adding to the already tight production and sound mixing.
This song has a slightly busier instrumental than Island, with a strong , steady bass line to compliment the electric guitar strumming in the mid-ground. The high tones here are slightly airier in tone but are mostly in the background. The goal in this, to showcase the vocals which themselves have a light tropical vibe to the tone and melody. Juxtaposed nicely with the staccato rap breaks for a couple lines here and there. The line distribution here seems to be well put, not saying it was equal, rarely are line distributions equal between members, but here something about it worked very well.
I don’t have the time to touch on the drop dead gorgeous cinematography here in these videos, but I just wanted to say they are amazing. Also, here’s someone who does comment on not only the production quality, but also the cinematography.
Dance. (This is how I originally got into dancehall beats in the first place.)
Basically, if you look up Zouk or Kizomba remixes to recent songs, you will end up with a Dancehall beat.
I don’t even think I can sufficiently explain both of these dance styles here but I would really like to showcase them. Zouk and Kizomba are referenced together quite a lot of the time, though they are not only distinct styles but also have a plethora of other styles within them. I guarantee on any Zouk video there will be a handful of comments saying “Where is the Zouk?” because it’s not the same Zouk they thought they were going to watch. A lot of the videos that can be found are generally labeled Zouk Lambada (some also being labeled Zouk contemporary) and share similar characteristics.
This is just one of my favorites.
Kizomba on the other hand seems to be more stable in what it is, in terms of finding videos of it. However I find a lot of comments to be focusing on the fact that some find it to be “too sexy” which, while I can somewhat understand, it still comes off feeling very ignorant, since there is absolutely zero attempt to understand the culture it hails from and why it is the way it is.
If you’re more interested in any of this, I included more than a few links below that should help clear things up for you. Also hit me up, I got recommendations galore.
I suppose in a way, this has been a weird introduction to my American dream. Oddly enough. It was not intentional, but it came out naturally here. I just wanted to point out how interesting it is to simply follow a musical thread, finding the mixture in so many places. It’s one of the few things I am proud of, to be part of a country where something from another culture can get so heavily featured in our own music that it becomes a trend elsewhere. It’s somewhat surprising and somewhat frightening to see how much of an impact the USA has on the world as the global superpower we are. I don’t think that we as Americans think about it as much as we should.
Wow there’s a LOT I could put here, and there’s already so much up above! *cries* So there’s still a lot of influences that I haven’t touched on here. In terms of South American that should be sort of obvious, I mean Despacito was still #1 on the charts last time I checked (fun fact, it also has a dancehall beat, listen closely) but there’s a recent song that I just found, that really goes out of its way to showcase a Samba beat.
Still low-key salty there wasn’t very much Samba dancing, but you can’t have everything.
You know I am actually going to leave it at that, since I don’t want to dump too much here, but anyone who wants specific recommendations (Kpop especially) can totally hit me up. I got you bro.
. . . And I didn’t even touch Korean R&B. Damn it. It’s my favorite. I guess there’s room for a part 2 now.
Cassandra, Rachel. “5 Lies You’ve Been Told About Kizomba.” Social Dance Community. Social Dance Community, 17 Nov. 2014. Web. 8 Aug. 2017. <http://socialdancecommunity.com/5-lies-youve-been-told-about-kizomba/>.
“Zouk, Kizomba, Balboa, WC Swing, Samba dance performances.” Dancetime.com. Pattie Wells’ DanceTime, 30 Apr. 2017. Web. 8 Aug. 2017. <https://www.dancetime.com/zouk-kizomba-balboa-west-coast-swing-samba-video-clips-1888/>.