Saturday, March 3, 2012

K-Drama Review: Shut Up, Flower Boy Band, Episodes 9-10

Read Episode reviews for:

Shut Up, Flower Boy Band, Episodes 1-2
Shut Up, Flower Boy Band, Episodes 3-4
Shut Up, Flower Boy Band, Episodes 5-6
Shut Up, Flower Boy Band, Episodes 7-8
Shut Up, Flower Boy Band, Episodes 11-12
Shut Up, Flower Boy Band, Episodes 13-14
Shut Up, Flower Boy Band, Episodes 15-16

Contains Spoilers for Episodes 9-10

So many important decisions have been made in the last couple of episodes, and we're seeing the results played out here. Eye Candy has gotten their big break with a record deal under HR Entertainment, so their professional dreams are advancing. Ji-hyuk finally confesses to Suah that he likes her and they sorta agree to sorta be a couple, so at least one member of the band is doing well in the romance department. The guys don't even have to attend their snobby prep school except for a few days a week, so they're subject to fewer school-related tensions. But for every action, there's an equal yet opposite reaction, and all of these positive steps are followed by serious downsides.

The boys all move out of their homes and into the dorms of their new agency/record label. I foresee PROBLEMS with all of them living in the same place, especially with Ji-hyuk and Hyunsoo in the same room. It's adorable when Kyung-jong declares their new residence to be "home, sweet home!" in English, but they start to treat it a little too much like home, complete with sleeping in and lazing about. Their new manager gives the guys a schedule and a curfew, but they promptly laugh it off.

Aside from the authority issues, the guys are having creative control issues, too. They go in for a nice, messy, scruffy recording session that's true to their form, but the producer wants to polish them up. A lot. Now they begin to argue over band identity--their record label now has to alter them and develop them as a marketable brand, and they can't concretely fight against this change because they don't really know who they are to begin with. They've just always had fun and played like they wanted to, but none of them had an artistic vision or a particular mood, image, or message they were trying to convey. It becomes clear that the guys will have to figure out for themselves who they want to be if they want to stay together and avoid being transformed into pristine, perfect cyborg rockers.

Things I Loved:

1. Ji-hyuk/Suah. Suah fully supports and appreciates Ji-hyuk's musical endeavors. And when she sees his beat-up shoes, she buys him nicer shoes and decorates them with an artsy flair, though she doesn't have much money to spare for gifts. Too sweet. For Ji-Hyuk's part, he worries about her and makes ramyun for her, but then intentionally avoids any obviously cute or romantic moments by mumbling excuses or walking away. Still, he does enough nice things that Suah knows exactly where she stands with him, even if he rarely discusses his feelings. It's a good match up. I'm very glad that this show hasn't been playing their relationship for angst--they have a few missed connections and a few crossed wires, but they're a very good couple overall.

Ji-Hyuk, in a Rare Emotional Moment.

2. Seung-hoon: I'm glad Seung-hoon finally gave up on Suah completely, because if he continued to pursue her after she repeatedly turned him down, it would have gotten creepy. And yet, it hurts to see him giving her the cold shoulder when they used to be best friends. It is, however, surprisingly cool to see him hatching a very subtle revenge plot against Eye Candy, even though this means he's edging more into villain territory. And I like that as a songwriter, he's stepping up to direct people about how to perform his songs.

Demands Perfection.

3. Cuteness: In between the gritty gruffness, this show is consistently adorable. When the band is doing screen tests, there's a hilarious bit where Kyung-jong is having to teach Do-Il how to smile--and he fails rather miserably. It's also precious how Ji-hyuk tries to casually gesture for Suah to meet him outside of class, but he's so obvious about it, he has telegraphed the message to the entire room.


Hyunsoo. This is not really a complaint about the story-writing, because prominently featuring Hyunsoo in the band-falling-apart plot works wonderfully, but ack! It's hard to watch Hyunsoo consider and re-consider pulling away from the band to do his own thing. And he's getting so mean. He basically ignores a nice, famous female singer who really likes him. Then later, he's mean to poor clueless Wookyung, a girl who always seems to cause trouble because she loves Ji-hyuk and clings too closely. Stop getting so bitter and self-serving, Hyunsoo!

Why You Gotta Be So Cold, Mr. Guitarist?


Humility/Humble Roots: Ji-hyuk refuses to buy new shoes even when he can afford them. Hajin's bragging about buying fashionable new footwear while Ji-hyuk insists that he'll stick to his old beat-up pair. It's a small but great moment that highlights how fame and potential riches haven't changed Ji-hyuk and at all. Him and his busted shoes are still going to rock out, regardless.

"All The Other Kids With the Pumped-Up Kicks, You Better Run, Better Run..."

Maturity: Eye Candy goes through managers like Kleenex tissues because they can't or won't discipline themselves enough to not need a "mommy" figure around to make them wake up on time. Our guys may be totally awesome, but they don't know much about the grown-up world.

Incorrigible Rascals, the Lot of Them.

Heart: Suah knows that Eye Candy is popular because they look like they're having fun, and they project sincerity. They fully enjoy themselves onstage instead of being mass-produced and slick. Interestingly, Eye Candy also needs mentors and managers who have genuine heart. That's why having Teacher Kim be their manager is such a good idea--he's tough enough to whip them into shape but nice enough to truly care for their well being.

Cultural Observances:

The whole record label/talent agency/production/management combo seems to be mainly an Eastern thing. I don't know of many Western or North American record companies that have dorms to house their would-be stars long before they debut.

Watch Episode 9 HERE on DramaFever

Episode EvaluationsShut Up, Flower Boy Band proves itself to be a great show as always. There's not too much going on plotwise, except that the guys are becoming increasingly aware of how hard they'll have to work to stay together and make their dreams come true. These episodes are more about laying groundwork for future conflicts, which are sure to be amazing.

Watchable bonus:  Here's a video clip from Ep 9 of the band recording their song "Jaywalking" and remembering their friend and former lead singer, Byunghee. I really like the song, because it's not so much rocking as rollicking--sort of an indie pop number.

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