As a wayward youth, I was really into anime. Somehow, that led to me being into J-rock (Japanese rock) — I really, really liked visual kei bands — and that led to a productive few years of music writing and going to concerts in Taiwan and Japan.
Over the past few years, however, my interest in J-rock waned somewhat. I still nostalgically listen to the music I’ve collected, and I still occasionally check for updates on my favorite artists (social media makes this a lot easier), but it’s not as all consuming as it once was.
And somehow, in the midst of all this, K-pop (Korean pop) reared its shiny, beautiful, well-coordinated head. I had managed to keep K-pop at bay for so long. I didn’t want to fall into the rabbit hole — and I knew I would, since I have an obsessive personality. I didn’t want to expend all of my energy keeping track of band members (there are always so many of them) and their releases and all of their projects and activities, and most of all I didn’t want to get sucked into learning Korean.
I had managed to resist the lure of SHINee, Big Bang, Super Junior (omg they were EVERYWHERE when I lived in Taiwan), Wonder Girls, Girls Generation, 2NE1. I mean, not completely, since I knew they existed and even knew some of their songs. But I was able to appreciate them without getting sucked in. Then Infinite happened.
They’re not the biggest, most famous group, they didn’t have some mega-wonder hit single like PSY that acted as a gateway drug. I fell into them almost accidentally. I had been browsing Netflix late one night because I was bored, came across a show with the amusing title Shut Up Flower Boy Band and hit play. The next thing I knew, I was looking up details about this one guy (for the record, it was L, and I guess his appearance in the show did what it was meant to do because now I like his band, don’t I?). Out of curiosity, I checked out his band. I listened to a few songs. I found out a lot of their shows were available — subtitled in English — on YouTube.
And it was all downhill from there. Now I’m sitting here, laboriously learning Korean (and mangling the pronunciation) so I can better read their Instagram updates. I spend my spare time watching videos and reading their latest interviews. I’ve spent money on merchandise. I even went to their concert just this past weekend, when their tour stopped in Los Angeles. I’d definitely call myself an Inspirit.
(By the way, Microsoft Theatre is a decent place to see a concert, if you’re of a mind. It’s small enough that the view is pretty good no matter where you sit. Though I still prefer Club Nokia — but then I’ve always like really small concert venues.)
Luckily, because of my tendency to fixate, it’s just Infinite that has my attention. I can’t imagine how much time and money I’d lose if I were to get into another band. Or if I were into K-dramas, like my mom is. (People who are able to be active in multiple fandoms amaze me. I always have to take it one at a time.)
And I don’t know how long this obsession will last. It could drag on for another year, or I could stumble upon a new band that will take all of my mental energy and time as soon as next week. Who knows? What I do know is that I don’t — and won’t — regret the K-pop chapter of my life. I may have lost the war, but hey: at least I’m happy!