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K-Pop Korner: E.Via – Shake! (이비아 – 쉐이크!)

June 22, 2011

The Korner, my trusted bolthole from blogger’s block.

I had intended my next K-Pop entry to be a sprawling, darkly satirical piece that alluded to the Korean War but that promptly collapsed under the weight of its own ambition two days ago and so I opted for an easier, low-brow option instead.

E.Via (real name, Lee Ok-joo) is purported to be Korea’s fastest female rapper, officially clocking in at 160 BPM according to allkpop.com. Sceptical old curmudgeon that I am, I can’t help but be unimpressed by this claim, having long suspected that rapping in Korean is considerably easier than in English, given the vast amount of words in hangul which rhyme. Why, just the other day I managed to practically rap my ass off having dinner with friends when I effortlessly rhymed the Korean word for “deer” (saseum) with the Korean word for “breast” (kaseum) and then came right off the fucking chain to end with the phrase “gas ’em”, for good measure. But I digress. Despite lacking an overtly sexualized image herself, E.Via’s tunes have come under fire for their content on more than one occasion. Her debut album featured a single entitled ‘Oppa, can I do it?’ which appears to have been a not-so-subtle song involving a girl frankly asking a guy if she can fuck him, replete with lascivious Korean slang terms and orgasmic moaning in the vocal to drive the point home. This song was subsequently banned from Korean TV and radio broadcast and the album hit with a 19+ age rating. A cursory investigation into the English lyrics reveals little of note beyond the line “can you get it up?” which an alternative translation has as the more innocuous “can you get it started?”, the wider sexual content allegedly throughout the song likely being lost in translation.

The Korean pop music industry uses the word “comeback” to denote merely an artist’s next release, therefore E.Via’s second album, released a year after her debut album, supposedly marked such a comeback. Here she ran afoul of outraged Korean moralists once again as she released ‘Shake!’, a dance track single with an accompanying video. ‘Shake!’ is quite a simple song that repeats the line “shaking my ass/shaking my ass/shaking my ass/ I wanna shake it!” before offering a few throwaway rap verses urging people to “shake it like Beyoncé” and “live the vida loca”. Wisely deciding against overcomplicating this theme visually, the music video features close-up shots of the meagre buttocks of scantily-clad Korean women being rhythmically shaken with the occasional shot of a chirpy E.Via barking the lyrics into a megaphone. The artist herself doesn’t actually shake it, and gets to cover up in a tracksuit. Nevertheless, the video was deemed “too erotic” and an alternative version had to be shot. Here is the original –

E.Via – ‘Shake’

In my desperation to blog about something, anything, I run the risk of appearing like that old guy at the end of Requiem for a Dream that makes a rather specific, outlandish demand of junkie strippers with terrifying wide-eyed enthusiasm. “So, what are you blogging about now?” I hear you ask, and I can offer only a simple reply.

Ass.

Shaking ass.

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