K-Pop Music Reviews: Jaurim – Idol

Title: Idol

Release Year: 2011

We haven’t done one of these in a while, but now since that the Life In Korea corner is winding down, no time like the present to get back into the regular swing of things.

Jaurim is a 4-member Korean rock band. No, they are not idols. In fact, they’ve been around since 1997!

The main vocalist is named Kim Yoo Na – not to be confused with a certain similarly-named, but paling in talent, girl group member.

Jaurim (which means ‘purple forest’ in Korean) is one of the defining personages of Korean rock music, along with Yoon Do Hyun’s YB Band (which I’ll talk about later).

After a two-year hiatus, they released their eighth album, entitled ‘Conspiracy’, in 2011 with the title track, “Idol”.

The first thing you may notice with Jaurim’s latest track is Kim Yoo Na’s voice. Or more specifically, just how much ‘growly’ it sounds. Her voice isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, but the important thing to remember about Yoo Na is that her voice is extremely versatile, and she switches around her voice to meet different needs of specific songs.

For example, check out her voice in “HaHaHa Song” – it’s completely different, and you’ll have a hard time recognizing that it’s indeed her voice.

Going back to “Idol”, something else that’s interesting about this track are the lyrics. Check them out:

I’m not just mindlessly listening to this music
I know better than anyone that it is unrealistic
But at least I’m dreaming, in this odd world
I pity you for sneering at me thinking that I’m weird
What’s so wrong with getting hooked with something sweet?
What’s so wrong with falling for a vain delusion?
I’m just loving something, as long as the show continues
Idol

Because the world doesn’t make me dream
Because the reality only reveals to me with pain
No one gets hurt, you’re my idol
Hiro, oh, Joe, Freddy, Jane
Tom, Michelle and Kate
Heather and Tilda
I’m just loving something

I’m not just mindlessly listening to this music
I know better than anyone that it is unrealistic
But at least I’m dreaming, in this odd world
I pity you for sneering at me thinking that I’m weird
What’s so wrong with getting hooked with something sweet?
What’s so wrong with falling for a vain delusion?
I’m just loving something, as long as the show continues
Idol idol idol

(Source)

If that isn’t a critique of the current K-Pop idol industry, I don’t know what is. Jaurim has always been out-of-the-box, unwilling to conform to the “in” trends, and they’ve continued that.

Although, at first listen, their latest track seems to have taken a step in the ‘popular’ direction – there’s definitely much more in common with “Idol” and, for example, CN Blue’s “I’m a Loner”, much more than some of Jaurim’s earlier tracks, which were definitely pushing the boundaries of ‘popular music’ as a genre.

And in that sense, “Idol” is much more of the usual, run-of-the-mill ‘popular rock’ track – not that there’s anything wrong with that, it’s just that it’s a step away from Jaurim’s usual image as the ‘indie queen’.

But taken as a whole, “Idol” is a refreshing step away from the recent spate of girl group debuts, with their lethargic, ‘listen-once-and-throw-away’ tracks. I commend them for holding their own – which is a big deal in itself, in this day and age.

Although we may be fans of idol music, and cheer on groups such as SNSD, Super Junior, 2PM, et cetera…it’s important to know that, at the end of the day, true music – music which elevates the mind, enriches the soul – does not lie with them. There’s music, then there’s music. 

It’s important to distinguish between the two, I think. It’s not a problem if you enjoy both – I myself am a huge fan of many idol groups. But I see them for who they are: manufactured images to draw our attention and let us let go of our worries for a while and just sit back, relax, and enjoy the show.

But that’s not all music can achieve. That’s not all it can do.

Real music goes further down, past the glossy surface of our lives, and manages to ring that bell that’s hidden deep inside.

Real music is one of the greatest gifts to humanity.

Jaurim’s “Idol” earns from me 4.5 stars out of 5 – not just because it’s an excellent track, but also for the deeper meaning it represents and wants to relate to us all.

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