Jang Kiha and our faces

Jang Kiha 장기하와 얼굴들 is a singer which definitely convinces you there is something else than silly K-pop in the Korean popular music. Not that K-pop is all bad, it’s just that you don’t even care about the names, voice and bodies of the singers, they are all computer generated. Jang Kiha is the real name (or at least, it sounds like a name) of the main singer and composer of Jang Kiha and The Faces (장기하와 얼굴들). Their music sounds like nothing else, because Jang Kiha sings like nobody else.

Jang Kiha makes the Korean language, already a very rhythmic one, totally funky

Jang Kiha has a flow, a phrasing somewhere between old Korean crooner of the sixties, Bob Dylan and modern rappers. Even if you don’t get Korean, you can notice he cuts sentences and rhythms in a very personal way. The ones who understand Korean knows he uses very simple and popular expression to speak about everyday life, but you need an upper level of understanding (that I don’t have) to understand why some say he’s one of the best writer of korean lyrics nowadays. In any case, everybody hears how he makes sound Korean language, already a very rhythmic one, totally funky.  Check this song, TV를 봤네 (I’ve watched TV).

In Korea, no hit without melody, and Jang Kiha became famous with a total hymn, that can be easily sung in a stadium, 달이 차오른다, 가자. This melody seems to have been excavated from the Korean traditional music, but sung for the 21st century.

The song begans after 2 minutes. Why such a strange music video ? Because it’s also what Jang Kiha brought to the Korean popular music : another way to make music videos, another ways to be smart without any big money from major companies. The song is filmed in a sequence shot, and I don’t recall many music videos filmed as simply and impressively. You also notice these funny girls, which where the marvelous idea of its first album. They bring a gentle craziness and humor that is also rare in Korea which lacks a lot of humor in most arts, especially music. Another song of the same album was really a jewel for these two delightful sidekicks :

This song, along with a couple of other ones, shows that the music style of the group is sometime not far from repetitive electronic sounds. But most of the time, the sound is indeed old fashion, on purpose. Some said that he was copying the sound of Korean rock bands in the seventies, such as Sanullim. He still add a modern flow, yet I personally hope the band will dare to explore more new sounds, after having homaged widely the sound of the past.

The hit of their new album, 그렇고 그런 사이, is a wonderful start to imagine a crazy future. The song is acrobatic, joyful, and has been widespread by a video clip you cannot forget :

Jang Kiha has also changed is appearance, to appear more cute. A yielding to mainstream requirements? Well, who would not benefit for the fact of being handsome? He doesn’t mean he looks like a prick. He also seems more dry, harsh, unwilling to compromised.

Total blast of a rock star at Jisan Rock Valley Festival

Full of this confidence, Jang Kiha made a total blast at Jisan Rock Valley Festival, warming our bodies under a pouring rain. With the humorous self-confidence of a star, he said the festival just started with him, even if he was at the end of the third day. Then he mastered the audience like best showrunners, offerering the best show of the day, if not of the festival. Perfectly structured, the set began very slow, with the « Watching TV » above mentioned song, and ended in a rock’n’roll maze which fulfilled all we could expect from the band : to be surprised.  All along, Jang Kiha was mesmerizing, having learned from all rock stars. If ever we had a doubt that the band was popular, the answer was perfectly clear : now, at least in Korea, Jang Kiha is a big name.

그렇고 그런 사이 in Jisan

날 보고 뭐라 그런 것도 아닌데 in Jisan

The beginning shows how Jang Kiha was handling easily the crowd. At this occasion, he says some bad words but I didn’t get about who. As the rain was pouring (it’s hard to see in the picture, but just notice people’s clothes and the sky darkening) I had to stop in the middle because the camera was soaked. The song kept going for a couple of minutes, with a wild rock feeling, under driving rain for everybody.


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