[KKONNECT FIELD TRIP] U-KISS: The First US Tour @ Club Nokia, Los Angeles (01/14/14)

Over the span of five years, K-Pop group U-KISS has become one of the top acts to come out of the Hallyu scene. Despite various changes in line-up, the boys have enjoyed success both within and outside of Korea, with sub-units, solo efforts, and songs recorded in Korean, Japanese, and English. Members have appeared in various Korean movies and dramas, and more recently, even sported silly suits in their cameo for popular balladeer Lim Chang-jung’s comedic “Open The Door” music video. Needless to say, when K-Konnect found out U-Kiss was coming to Los Angeles on the final night of their first US tour, we weren’t exactly “Standing Still”. (Sorry, that was hard to resist.)

The evening began with a solid stream of popular U-KISS songs – ranging from the R&B-inspired “Stop Girl” to latest single “She’s Mine”. The high energy of attending ‘KissMe’ fans was clearly reflected in the group’s opening performance, the six members quickly moving through some of their most popular choreography as the audience clapped and – not-so-surprisingly – screamed along. Just by looking around the venue, it was evident there were quite a number of diehard fans in attendance, having seemingly waited for the group’s US arrival for some time. Several of which brought along large posters written out in Hangul in support of their favorite U-KISS member. Some fans sitting on the second level even hung streamers over the balcony far before the show started, adding to the welcoming spirit of the crowd.

After a brief introduction by all, Eli and AJ took the stage as sub-unit uBEAT, accompanied by group vocalist Kevin. Their single “Should Have Treated You Better” was the title track on a sub-unit mini album released last year and showcased the lyrical strength of the two rappers. Following uBeat was an impressive duet by two of the group’s main vocalists, Soohyun and Hoon. The live singing was both powerful and controlled as they moved through the song “More Painful Than Pain”, making the news revealed later in the show of an eventual ballad sub-unit worth the anticipation. Wrapping up the segment was “Obsession”, an electro-dance track performed by AJ and Kiseop. Bringing the audience back up to their feet after the previous song, the two even made their way through the crowd to dance along with audience members standing closer to the stage.

Prior to the event, those who purchased select seats to the concert were given the opportunity to submit a question for U-KISS to read and answer on stage during the show. These questions, written out on Post-It notes, were rolled out on a large chalkboard to allow members a chance to review them all before deciding which one they would choose. Some Post-Its – namely “Eli, can you twerk for us?” and “Please give us your abs.” – were quickly disregarded, while others were happily responded to. Within the segment, fans were given a preview of AJ’s latest rap (tentatively titled “She’s Mine”), a brief dance performance of “DoraDora” from Kiseop, and Eli’s exaggerated impression of Kiseop’s choreography made popular during their Japanese tour. Lucky fans were even serenaded by their favorite members, with Soohyun and Kevin singing a capella versions of their solo songs “Snowman” and “My Reason”, respectively.

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Following the Q&A session, U-KISS then went into a performance of their Japanese singles, “Tick Tack” and “Forbidden Love”, before announcing another fan contest planned prior to the show. Fans were invited to submit essays to the group’s label about why they should be chosen as a ‘KissMe’ Super Fan. The winner, one for each stop of the tour, would be able to meet U-KISS on stage and be serenaded by them directly. Excerpts from the Los Angeles winner’s entry were read allowed before she was brought on stage. A self-declared ‘KissMe Mom’, Chauntelle was a 40-year-old writer and motivational speaker who suffered a debilitating stroke in 2008. While in convalescence several years later, during what was described as the lowest point of her life, she discovered U-KISS. Instantly becoming a fan of their music and varied personalities, she was given the motivation to continue toward recovery. Only needing slight assistance from her walker, Chauntelle spoke a few words to the group before they serenaded her with the love song “Mysterious Lady” from their most recent release ‘Moments’.

Later in the show, U-KISS took a moment to thank their American fans for supporting them. As two members were raised in the States (Eli in Washington D.C. and Kevin in Danville, Calif.) and another currently enrolled at Columbia University, having the opportunity to hold a successful tour in the United States was an incredible opportunity for them. As each member individually expressed their gratitude, a giant pull-apart cake purchased by local fans was rolled out for Kiseop as an early birthday present. The surprise was well-received, and while U-KISS led the audience in singing Happy Birthday, Kiseop took a big bite of cake for his fans.

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The group returned for a charismatic encore of singles “Without You” and “Man Man Ha Ni”, somehow maintaining that same high energy they began with two hours prior. As the crowd danced as wildly, it was evident that both U-KISS and their ‘KissMe’ fans got exactly what they wanted out of the group’s first solo stop to the United States.

“We can’t wait to come back and do this all over again,” Kevin shouted to the screaming crowd as the group took their final bow. “We’ll make you the proudest fan club in the world.” And as fans raved about the show as the crowd filed out, picking pieces of encore confetti off their clothes, it was apparent U-KISS was well on their way to keeping that promise.

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U-Kiss embarks on their first U.S Tour

U-Kiss to make their last stop on their U.S Tour in L.A! 

U-Kiss will be staring off the New Year on their first ever U.S Tour and will finally get to see their American fans up close and personal. The boys will be hitting New York at the Best Buy Theater (January 9/Thursday), San Francisco at the Warfield Theater (January 11/Saturday) and Los Angeles at Club Nokia L.A Live (January 14/Tuesday). Ticket prices to range from $50-$180.

U-kiss Tour (1)

Tickets for the L.A concert go on sale this Friday! December 6th 4:00 p.m ET/PT

U-Kiss will become the special episode for the Mnet America’s music-themed T.V series Headliners, incorporating special concert footage, candid moments and live events for the international fans. Artists like Psy, Big Bang and Aziatix have already starred in the first three episodes respectively with their own interviews and performance shows.

U-Kiss is an international Korean Boy Band consisting of multi-lingual members, Kevin, Eli, Hoon, Soo-hyun, Ki-seop and AJ. U-Kiss debuted back in 2008 with NH Media and has since brought out memorable tracks like “0330”, “Neverland”, “Standing Still”, “Stop Girl”, and most recently “She’s Mine” which came out October 31, 2013.

Follow Mnet America on Facebook (www.facebook.com/mnetusa), Tumblr (mnetamerica.tumblr.com), Twitter and Instagram (@mnetamerica), for all the latest news on the tour.  Tickets will be available through www.powerhouselive.net,www.AXS.com and www.ticketmaster.com as well as at each tour venue’s box office.

 

Millie’s Top Ten April K-Pop Music Videos

Millie’s Top Ten April K-Pop Music Videos

This year, April releases have brought out a combination of cute and crazy comeback. It seems to be either cute, bubblegum-pop love songs about Spring, or funky tracks with crazy music videos. It’s either one or the other for this month!

Note: This chart is just my personal favorites and does not reflect any music video views or digital/album sales. 

10. M.I.B – Nod Along

M.I.B-Nod Along

M.I.B made their comeback with their new single “Nod Along” that expresses their desire for their girl to ‘nod along’ and say yes to getting back together. The music video is quite ordinary but the song is beautiful, and it makes me feel sad that this four member group is so underrated. This is the group’s third comeback with “Nod Along” being the promotional song for their album “Money in the Building”. Previous hits have been “Only Hard For Me” and “G.D.M”, along with all the members debut singles.

9. K.Will – Love Blossom

K.Will-Love Blossom

K.Will came back with a new fresh single “Love Blossom” that actually has the solo singer appear in his own music video (granted it was for only around ten seconds but still, making progress). “Love Blossom” is a typical spring love song but with a not so typical love music video. The two leading roles are played by Infinite’s L and Sistar’s Daesom; L’s character has the lowest position in his workplace, and when his bosses decide to visit an amusement park (what are they doing at an amusement park in the first place?) he is treated badly and taken advantage of for being the rookie. In retaliation, when they all go on a spinning ride he gets a gun, kills the person working the ride and traps his tormenting bosses on the never ending spinning ride. Then later he meets Daesom’s character and they have endless ice cream and explore the grounds like a couple in love. I enjoyed the song, but can’t really understand how they thought the music video plot would match.

8. Ga In and HyungWoo – Brunch

Ga In - Brunch

Gain In and Hyungwoo (contestant in MBC Star Audition “Great Birth” Season 1) collaborated, making this Ga In’s first duet album, “Romantic Spring”. Their title track is called “Brunch” and is a very cute song (like “nauseating couple in love” cute), that has a couple expressing their love for each other as they eat brunch together. The music video follows this theme with the two singers meeting for brunch and then they spend the rest of the day as a romantic date; visiting the beach, the amusement park, and feeding each other street food. This is a sweet song that shows the softer side to the fierce Ga In.

7. U-kiss – Should have treated you better

U-Kiss-Should Have Treated You Better

U-Kiss has unleashed a new sub-unit onto the K-pop world called “U-Beat”, made up of rappers Eli and AJ (and for these promotions also includes Vocalist Kevin). U-Beat has made their debut very soft and sorrowful with their title track “Should Have Treated You Better”; a song expressing regrets of not showing enough to the person they loved. I would have expected something stronger since this is a sub-unit with the rappers of the group, but U-Beat has assured fans through interviews that they will come back with a new song in the future that will show their other sides. I’ll be waiting for you AJ and Eli!

6. G-Dragon – Michigo

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Just when I think G-Dragon can’t get crazier he comes out with a new music video that always proves me wrong. “Michigo” follows the G-Dragon style strictly with absurd props such as a pink elephant, big feet, evil minions with masks, crazy hairstyles and outfits only Big Bang’s leader could pull off.  Let’s put it this way; it’s what you would expect, just double the crazy.

5. Shinee – Why so serious?

Shinee-Why So Serious

Oh where do I begin? A lot of fans are quite upset that since Jonghyun was injured from his car accident, why SME decided to go ahead with this follow-up track when their lead vocalist would be absent from almost all promotions. Even though I too miss our “Bling Bling Dino”, I thought Shinee did a good job of pulling it together. However, it didn’t really feel like a Shinee comeback, more like a “Taemin + others”. I’m not hating on the maknae, just observing that he got some more screen time and lines in comparison to the members. I like the song itself though. “Why So Serious?” is exactly how it sounds; it’s a very funny, and upbeat song with very relaxed choreography compared to some of Shinee’s intense choreography. Not the best Shinee song, but still a fun song.

4. Jay Park – Joah

Jay Park-Joah

Sexy solo artist Jay Park came back with several songs lately with my favorite being “Joah” a…cute song? Yes, that’s right; when Jay Park actually has his shirt on, he is a very cute boy with a charming smile. Jay Park has not disappointed me yet, especially not with this song that is so simple but happy-going. It’s bound to leave anyone who hears this song in a good mood. Paying respects to his hometown, this music video is filmed in Seattle as Jay Park takes you through the streets he grew up in.

3. 4minute – What’s your name?

4minute-what's your name

Squeezing out its release in the last days of April, 4Minute came back with their latest single “What’s Your Name?” Spunky and sexy at the same time, 4minute went back to their roots and gave their fans another colorful and sexy music video to match this infectious song. This music video however became very strange, very quickly. Apparently if 4minute rejects anybody they turn into Zombies and attack. Not my favorite 4minute song, but it didn’t disappoint.

2. Psy – Gentleman

psy-gentleman

Psy made his first comeback after the amazing global success of “Gangnam Style” (which I’m pretty sure everyone has seen by this point), with his new title track “Gentleman”. Psy’s new music video had the same amount of craziness as the last one; with Psy acting like a jerk towards everyone but in the end gets bested by the leading lady (Ga In). Nothing can beat Gangnam Style but Gentleman was a strong follow-up that defiantly made me go back to the “Abracadabra” phase.

1. BtoB – Second Confession

BtoB-Second Confession

This is a new cute comeback from Cube’s latest boy group, BtoB (Born to Beat). The BtoB boys themselves picked out this concept – it’s about a broken relationship with the guy asking the girl for a second chance to start over. The music video shows the boys in different parts of Seoul, with the “confession letter” magically passing by all the boys. Even cuter is the dance version, or more known as the “Pajama” version, where all seven boys dance away in cute pajamas. It only took one time but I fell completely in love with the song.

Millie’s Top Ten March K-Pop Music Videos

Millie’s Top Ten March K-Pop Music Videos

K-pop this year has already made so many comebacks. In March, there are many “spring” themed music videos, which means….pastel pants, beautiful scenery, and cute male and female artists, bringing out the “aegyo” they kept away during the sorrowful winter ballads.

Note: This chart is just my personal favorites and does not reflect any music video views or digital/album sales. 

10. Lee Hi – It’s over

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Rookie singer Lee Hi returned to the K-pop scene after her success with her debut track “1,2,3,4” with a cute music video that matches her young age. “It’s Over” is full of fresh pastel outfits, funky headpieces, stuffed animals and of course the highlight of the video being a giant blue teddy bear that symbolizes the boy Lee Hi is breaking up with (and that bares an awfully close resemblance to fellow YG artists, GD and Taeyang. A mere coincidence? I think not). And while I am not a huge fan of the jazz/soul music, Lee Hi defiantly knows how to belt out those low notes that leaves me speechless.

9. G.NA – Opps

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Sexy icon G.NA returned once again with her latest single “Opps” as a…cat? (That’s right, because what’s sexier than a black cat). G.NA plays a cat that turns into a human when her handsome male owner goes out during the day. She dresses up and heads out to a club where he is at and they catch eyes, instantly feeling a connection. But before he can get too close she hurries back to change into a cat once more. By far, this is G.NA’s strangest music video (I’m even including the weirdness of the bodybuilder firemen of “2Hot” and this beats it). However, the song is cute without sounding overly sexy. And of course, before realizing all of this I spent the first couple of times watching this acting like a fangirl over BtoB’s Ilhoon who was featured in the song and music video for rap portions.

8. Davichi – Turtle

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Pop-ballad duo group Davichi came back with their second studio album and two music videos; “Turtle” and “Just the Two of Us” with Turtle being my favorite of the two, due to its artistic fantasy music video that was inspired by “Alice in Wonderland”. 5Dolls’s Hyoyoung starred in the music video as a pink-haired “Alice”. As soon as vintage music box was wound up from the “mad hatter”, Alice begins to explore her surroundings. Traveling through baby-pink rose portals, following a cute white bunny with a pocket-watch, and landing in a tea party, this music video follows the familiar story line but has such beautiful visuals backing it up. The song itself is sung beautifully while telling the sad tale of a girl who finds comparison in a turtle who hides in its shell from the world.

7. Heo Young Saeng – Art of Seduction

Heo Young Saeng

Solo artist Heo Young Saeng came out this month with “Art of Seduction” – a very eccentric music video that shows the possessiveness of fangirls. One particular fangirl had gone past the point of no return and kidnapped her precious “oppa” (Heo Young Saeng). The music video went back and forth between the fangirl’s point of view where she somehow became delusional and really believed that he came of his own free will and was gladly partaking in her couple-like activities  But in reality, it shows the same instances with Heo Young Saeng tied up and forced to please the crazy girl who kidnapped him.

6. Glam – In Front of the Mirror

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Rookie group Glam came back with “In Front of the Mirror”, their new single after debut song “I like that”. And while their debut was very funny and quirky, their latest song and music video took on a more serious note. The music video shows the different members coming home; they take off their high heels, wipe off their make-up and change into some more comfortable clothing. Yet, as they do so they are sad, because in front of the mirror they don’t feel pretty and have no confidence about themselves. Glam have proven so far to be strong rookies this year.

5. Rania – Just Go

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Rania came back with a new sexy single “Just Go” and only five members once again. None the less, they still brought their sexy moves and seducing stares with their new captivating music video. “Goodbye being the new hello” as their anthem, this song because very catchy and popular with the famous butt moves throughout the chorus.

4. Girl’s Day – Expectation

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Girl’s Day made a 180 degree turn with this new comeback. Known for their over the top cute “aegyo” songs, Girl’s Day came back with a more serious note with “Don’t Forget Me” and now their latest “Expectation” has the girls giving sexy looks to the camera with their suggestive moves. But even with this drastic change, the girls pull of this mature concept with their red lipsticks and signature “suspenders” dance. The song talks about a girl who is captivate by a guy she is determined to make come after her.

3. 2am – One Spring Day

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2am always have beautiful music videos to match their beautiful voices, with “One Spring Day” being no exception. Yet, their ballads usually bring sorrowful messages along with them. “One Spring Day” is about a long-term couple that just broke up and the man does not know how to get over this break-up (because he still cares deeply about the girl he was with), and decides that he has to leave behind the memories and traces of her in his life. This music video stands out among the rest for being a “spring” themed video with snow falling.

2. U-Kiss – Standing Still

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Underrated U-Kiss came back once more with “Standing Still”, the title track to their third full length album. A simple dance music video in which the U-Kiss boys are homeless (once again) in an abandon building, in agony over the girl who is just watching him burn (figuratively, not literally!). The song, dance and music video are all simple in comparison to U-Kiss’s previous work but the song still finds a way to get stuck in my head at odds times of the day. And this was the song where member AJ returned after taking a six month break to study in the United States.

1. Infinite – Man in Love

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Number one on the charts and number one in my heart ( shh, don’t tell Shinee and U-Kiss…), Infinite came back with “Man in Love”. And if you could not already tell by the title, the song and music video both portray young men in love; from waiting for a text message, to planning a surprise event, to buying her gifts or making her food, the boys show cute ways that they would please the ones they are in love with. the song fit perfectly with the rest of Infinite leaving them with their very consistent track record. The dance group did not fail to disappoint with another great, complicated dance, and in the traditional K-pop style had funky clothing, weird hats and pastel pants. Oh yes, and there was an adorable kitten that rivaled the boys as being the cutest character in the music video.