As a resident of Metro Manila, it is outrageously difficult to avoid a copious amount of exposure to Korean pop music. The shit’s everywhere: shirts, mugs, ice cream packages, underwear. Heck, they even hold disturbing yet oddly fascinating cosplay conventions (which is something I also wrote about. Click me, baby!)
Due to my exposure to KPOP’s fanatical exposure, I have to say that I am unimpressed when it comes to a majority of KPOP acts. The industry standards for Korean artists are straightforward, blunt, and exclusive: you have to be a very beautiful and sexy (thin, dangerously anorexic) gal, or a hunky, androgynous-looking dude (perfect for male-male fan fiction some fans come up with). You’ve got to have very decent singing and dancing skills. Acting is optional. Follow these easy steps, and ta-da! You’ll be horse-riding all around the Gangnam district with smartphones and drooling fans screaming at your ear.
This is the reason why I was really shocked and thrilled to discover Busker Busker.
Not Your Cookie-Cutter KPOP Act
One of the biggest reasons why I love Busker Busker is because they
don’t look like this.
I admire the fact that they are successful musicians in a culture that blatantly promotes physical perfection. They do look better now, (who wouldn’t when you bathe in BB cream every morning?) but the three are not as handsome and appealing as, say, Super Junior or Big Bang, to a younger audience.
Busker-ing Their Way to Your Heart
I loved the overall treatment Busker Busker provides to their music. I don’t have an inkling of what they’re saying because I don’t understand Korean (save saranghae and a choice of cuss words). Thank the Lord for willing translators and the internet, I read and experienced the simple, yet wonderful songwriting of Jang Bum-joon, the band’s lead singer and songwriter.
The first track I heard from them is Cherry Blossom Ending. It was sweet, slow and simple. Jang’s honey-like falsetto touched me in places I didn’t imagine exist (my heart).
Cherry Blossom is a very sweet introduction to the band. First Love adds a punch of Lipovitan to the entire experience.
The Flowers is something you’d listen to while driving to the beach. When you analyze the (translated) lyrics, however, it takes on a whole different level of happy/sad. Personally, it brings me back to when I was a struggling swordsman in Ragnarok Online. My avatar was in Alberta, having fun, window shopping through all the things I can’t buy, then some jackass broke a dead branch and all hell breaks loose (where I usually end up dead in a corner).
Speaking of dead, this song of theirs brings the greatest harm to my already-fragile feelings:
I mean, come on. Writing Yeosu Night Sea is unfair. I don’t even have to look for a translation. I’d just close my eyes, imagine the sea, and long for my loved one. You can feel the pain and the longing with every note and word-that-you-don’t-understand-unless-you-take-Korean-language-classes.
Every Street Gig has to Pack Up Eventually
While I was browsing for new Busker songs and bringing back all my feelings, I suddenly sniffed up on a comment that Busker Busker is dead. I did my own research, and several (not sure if they were legitimate) sources confirmed my fear: Busker Busker is no more. Jang Bum-joon is pursuing a solo career, which is awesome. Meanwhile, bassist Kim Hyung-tae is apparently joining the rat race, and drummer Brad Moore is going back to teach.
I am saddened by the fate of the band that broke many stereotypes in the highly-stylized world of Korean pop music. Sure, Jang would surely blossom in the charts, given his lyrical and musical genius. Moreover, I know that not all bands last forever, but I didn’t expect them to break up this quickly.
The early disbandment makes sense, however, if you take a look at their history. The band actually had more members, but only the three of them were ready to commit to Superstar K3, the show that made them famous. There is also an apparent lack of commitment from the other two, making the break-up an inevitable, but unsurprising reality.
See You on the Streets
Busker Busker may be over, but the internet makes their music immortal. At least we can go back to the YouTube links that show the three of them running for a cherry tree, or performing live to a listening audience. I will always admire Busker Busker for bringing a nice change of pace to an already-saturated market of handsome bishounen boys.