Monday, July 25, 2016

Evolution of Dance Covers (Summary)


As some of you may know, I've been in various dance/masquerade competitions for a while, and Kpop competitions in particular since 2013. During which time the state of dance covers in general began to flourish and evolve. This will be a considerably more mixed personal post (even more so that fanaccounts and reviews) about this evolution, especially in the American internet. I will also be talking about Jpop and Kpop alongside each other.

Beginnings in a nutshell: The origins of Japanese and Korean pop music begins in the 1920-40s, but the first modern Kpop idol was Seo Taiji & Boys and arguably the first idol group that achieved widespread fame was H.O.T. (debuted by the infamous SM Entertainment). While the exact years are unknown, the first types of internet "covers" were music covers and the first types of dance covers were copies of choreography pieces in a music video on eBaumsWorld and Newsground (think Numa Numa). Before 2009 when I first began doing dance covers, Youtube was an era of parody videos (see misheard lyrics subtitles & bad skits), bad lip-syncing videos (see Smosh/Nigahiga), reuploads of TV shows/music videos, and webcam rants in 240-360p quality. The first Jpop Odorite dancers uploaded their videos on NicoNicoDouga in 2007 and Vocaloid music in particular really bumped up the virality and popularity through the rest of the internet.

Semi-personal history: My first Youtube covers (several are blocked) were from 2007 during the Caramelldansen/Numa Numa craze. I began getting into anime and Odottemita dances starting 2008/2009 when Hare Hare Yukai, Lucky Star, Love&Joy, and Bad Apple were gaining viral Youtube fame. When I was introduced to SHINee in 2010, that launched me into 2011 with Kpop dance covers. My first anime-related contests were crappy dance skits in masquerades, my first Jpop contest was in 2012, and my first Kpop dance contest was in 2013. (The first time I was on the news, newspapers were still relevant and that was actually back in 2006, but the first time I was televised was in 2014.)

Evolution Overviews:
The most obvious of changes (that I believe are universally good for both Odottemita and Kpop): better quality cameras, better "dance practice" videos, better dance skills, and more publicity and social media promotions. If anyone remembers, it was common for the earliest Odottemita dancers on NicoNicoDouga to wear masks (Kozue, DO@RAT, Tadanon, Melochin, etc). I bring this up because privacy was an issue, whereas Kpop dance coverers didn't really seem to have an issue with this. That correlates with what I label as the "Need for Visibility via Popularity" and that will be an overarching theme.

As established, dance covers were essentially copies of choreography from music videos. While dances like Hare Hare Yukai and Lucky Star had clear visible shots of the dance and Odorites usually had full frontal one-shot takes of their dances, many industry Kpop (and Jpop) idol music videos, never included the full choreo. If anyone remembers, fans had to rely on crappy compilations of live performances. A major evolution is that entertainment/industry companies now provide dance practice or dance versions of their dances. This allows post-2011 Kpop dances to be more visible and more easily accessed to 2nd and 3rd generation Kpop fans.
Originally, many Kpop dance coverers were solo fans just recording themselves at home, much like Odorites, copying the choreography from those crappy live performance compilations.

Between 2010-2014, I missed an entire experience on Odottemita culture, especially since 4 years in Internet time can change a lot. Some of those sudden unique leaps that I noticed included: no more masks, more crossovers onto Youtube, using actual sets, live performances, more collaborations and groups, better less "clunky" choreography, and more of an idol/industry vibe (with groups like Danceroid, ArsMagna and BBBD). I can't speak for Jpop, but a friend of mine runs the Odottemita wikia and gives a good detailed info [here].

In summary, this is the part where I would state that, with the way Kpop is going, I will go on a permanent hiatus with dance covers. But then probably lie to myself and continue doing them anyways.

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