The Rise Of K-Pop
The Cube at Brixton Academy
More from Dylan Jones
Monday’s Korean pop night at South London’s Brixton Academy was minimistically christened The Cube. Thankfully Phillip Schofield wasn’t the host, but we did wish that as we tiptoed through the entrance clutching our water, The X Factor voiceover man had dramatically boomed “THEEE CUUUBBEE”. Anyway DESPITE the absence of this clearly essential accompaniment, tickets costing over £60 and a huge and almost packed venue were testament to K-pop’s unprecedented European success.
As far as we could tell through the haze of strobe lighting and a few ciders, there seem to be two subspecies of K-pop fan. Type one slouches against bare brick in Doc Martens, slurping poutingly at a Diet Coke and sweeping sleek hair under trilby, while occasionally tapping at an Apple product, probably to check their bid on a Firetrap satchel on Ebay or something. Type 2 jumps up and down and goes “AAAAAAHH!” very loudly.
First in a trio of acts was glistening girlband 4Minute, who were raised onto the stage on a steel platform to a chorus of brilliantly processed sound effects of things like prison doors closing and cameras flashing. Kicking off with stomping single Hot Issue, they stormed around the stage like Girls Aloud if Girls Aloud had had urban dance classes and a few too many Red Bulls. They then proceeded to use their male dancers as footrests and hurl teddies at the crowd. Our favourite song was Mirror Mirror, so much so that we looked it up on Youtube;
We absolutely loved 4Minute. In fact, this could herald the arrival of hushed “which one are you?” conversations over a Wednesday night rum and coke. We want to be lead vocalist Hyuna. We like her hair.
Now as we know everything in life ever has to be considered in context with Nicola Roberts. Benign, omnipotent, sometimes a little bit patronising, her presence smiles upon us all. Sometimes it says “be at one with the world”. Other times “Archers and lemonade when you’re ready please duck.” We think if 4Minute is Korea’s answer to Girls Aloud, Hyuna is their Nicola. She even has the trademark hairflip.
They ended their set by jumping up and down a lot, doing a disconcerting cover of Ke$ha’s “Blow” and yelling into their microphones “WE ARE HAPPY FOR MEET HOT GUYS PLEASE”, which of course made us love them even more.
Next up was G.NA. We enjoyed G.NA, partly because all her songs were a little bit Eurovision, and partly because when each one came to its breathless, flawlessly choreographed, spark-showering halt, she’d toss her hair and say “I’m so sorry all this has been SO last minute!”. There was also an “Are you having fun? I CAN’T HEAR YOU” bit, that had a definite Haven Holidays vibe. Here’s her most tackily brilliant single, Top Girl;
We were very confused by the final act, who were a bit like a cross between JLS and the Tuesday night clientele of G-A-Y. Most relevantly, by the end of the second song we’d decided at least two of them might be gay (the blonde one and the one with the shaved sides);
Either way the audience seemed to like them, a sea of recording Ipads parting every time one of them threw a shirt at the crowd. Just your average Monday night in Brixton then.