Comic Book Page

Not everything in a comic book is fictional, not even in romance comics! From the October 1951 romance comic title Boy Meets Girl #16 the song a happy, in love Margo is singing to herself as she walks home is from the real world tune All My Love, popularized by singer Patti Page in 1950.

While her most famous hit was the 1950 cover of  Tennessee Waltz Patti had a long and successful career in entertainment. She recently passed away last January at the age of 85, leaving behind an impressive musical legacy.

Shoo-Be-Doo-Bah

On this lazy Sunday here’s some more Korean pop music I’m familiar with only because they play on the televisions (alternating with sports) that provide atmosphere in my favorite Korean restaurant in San Diego. As ever it is the choreography, costumes and set changes that drives these videos almost as much as the catchy tunes.



RainbowSweet Dream (2011): I have no idea what they are saying but it has a good beat and you can dance to it. As one video commenter puts it, “Twinkle, twinkle little star. How I wonder what you are” fits the bridge just right.



SISTAR19Ma Boy (2010): This K-pop entry is really hot and sexy and not part of the reserved Korean image I remember from the 1980s. Wow to this. I doubt the positioning of that monkey arm was a coincidence. Marketing!



SecretStarlight Moonlight (2010): This group is just 100% Hayley Mills-level adorable in this video. They are incredibly cute in this, but not all of their videos have them appearing so sweet and innocent. This music video looked ridiculously expensive to make.



All in color for a won

I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t recognize South Korea if I visited it again. When I was there almost no one had internet and now it is one of the most connected countries on the planet. My impression of the country was that a person could walk a mile and the landscape, lifestyle and technology would change to resemble anything from 1930s American Heartland to the 1980s and back again all within a comfortable stroll. From new pictures I can see that many of the cities are completely transformed.

The popular music I heard while out was more often than not self-produced, self-promoted and self-distributed and the bands commonly consisted of a small electric organ with pre-programmed bossa nova beats. One of the interesting things to watch while I was in Korea was the evolution of rap and rock music. As restrictions of an oppressive government eased and Korean youth could speak out they did so angrily through their songs, though more polite by several degrees than the urban American inspiration that shocked so many people.

Watching the slick, corporate-owned and high production values of some of the newest Korean pop groups is something of a shock since all I recall are stiff, rote performances to a cassette tape playing on a chair next to the performer. There are few surprises in the music videos though and all pretty much follow the standard themes familiar to anyone born after the 1980s. The girls are cute, bouncy and sexy (very few affect a public street or gangster persona though this is changing) and rapid changes in costume and sets are the rules. A lot of cosplay costumes are involved though I’m sure this is what producers are confident that the audience wants.

The male performers in videos are usually depicted as living large and horribly tortured by emotion, definitely appealing to teen girls. The videos are hilarious because of the overwrought scenery chewing of the performers. I suspect focus groups or something similar dictate the format and themes of the music videos to an extreme perhaps more than their American counterparts and that these groups are similar to the heavily-managed and manufactured boy and girl groups of the American 1990s music scene.

5 Dolls is a typical Korean girl bubblegum pop group featured in a video with a comic book layout theme. Kind of fun and a little daring.

On the male side is So Goodbye from the City Hunter television series soundtrack and it’s pretty slick. My wife is addicted to the show and many others that are not fun to locate in the US but she enjoys immensely. Being a good husband, I focus on procuring Korean films and television nearly as much as I do gathering Hayley Mills memorabilia.

Swingin’

For those seeking old books and LP records there are better places to browse than in San Diego.

One reason is the relatively young and transient population. Farther inland and on the other coast there are generations of collected belongings sitting in basements, attics and garages. Eventually one family member or other will dispose of the Grandparent’s old furniture, books and music to the delight of treasure hunters of the region. In Southern California however, a lot of what is donated to thrift stores is late 1970s and 1980s music and tchotchkes. I’ve even discovered several decades worth of macaroni-adorned picture frames at one Salvation Army store.

The other reason San Diego is a poor resource for keen gear is the economy. Most of the used book stores have shuttered and the usual places one could find groovy LP’s, the Goodwill and Salvation Army stores, have either combined all their resources into one store or done away with LP’s altogether. While reducing the number of places the records are displayed makes sense for the business it hurts the shopper seeking cool stuff because multiple destinations meant that a browser could get lucky if his timing was right. All the LP’s kept in one place means one faces constant competition has to be really lucky with the timing to score some choice items.

Recently I found a couple of Jonah Jones Quartet albums, Swingin on Broadway and Swingin’ at the Cinema notable among the internet primarily for the pretty women on the cover. Of the JJQ discography these two albums are probably the easiest to find. I found multiple copies of each when browsing and purchased the two best of the lot. Oh, yeah…I agree that those stretch pants and curves, especially on the blond on the Cinema LP, are something else. The album art is pretty typical of the 1950s. Back then nearly anyone producing lounge-type music put an attractive woman on the cover because no one would buy an album featuring John Wilson and the Howard-Johnsons Off State Route 12 Experience on the sleeve. Sex always sold, don’t get me wrong, but the producers of the lounge era LP escalated cheesecake and enticement into an art form rarely seen since. These particular albums are probably getting more attention now than before as the “Mad Men” style of fashion seems to be all the rage still. Too bad there are no model credits for the albums, at least none that I can find.
The music is good but not original other than the application of the JJQ style as they are covers of tunes already popular in the era. They are fun to hear as “lost” music and I’m really partial to their treatment of A Gal In Calico from the Cinema album. I think the Jonah Jones Quartet packed enough talent for a dozen musicians.

From the collection: Swingin’ on Broadway (1957) and Swingin’ at the Cinema (1958).