My life as a Kpop fan started out as a lonely one. Korean fans have fan cafes and chat rooms where, on their luckiest days, they can talk to their idols. The fans know their idols’ schedules to follow them. They have the ability to understand the music better than international fans because it’s their own culture that’s on that stage. When I got started with Kpop, I didn’t have support. I didn’t have other friends I could talk to about my fandom who understood. There were a few girls at my school who did like Kpop, but not in the way I did. Nothing out, loud, and proud. It was lonely for a good while before I came to have the friends I have now, who share the same passion as me.
A good friend of mine, Tayla, has made an idea into a reality by creating the Kpoppers of Boston Facebook page. Kpoppers of Boston has made a huge contribution to the local Kpop community. Before the Facebook page, it was just the three of us – myself, Tayla and our friend Shanay, – having fun watching Kpop videos all day long and fangirling over our favorite idols. When the Facebook page was created, it wasn’t just us anymore. More friends were added. We started having Kpop themed parties and events like the Lip Sync Battle. I had the opportunity to interview Tayla, and asked her why she created Kpoppers of Boston:
“We had a huge party that came out well and I felt that we needed to keep in contact,” Tayla told me when I asked her about the creation of the Boston page. “I knew that messaging wasn’t personally going to work, so I decided to put a page together. I was on various pages, such as, Kpoppers of New England, so I thought, “Why don’t we have one for Boston?” and with the administrators that I met that day, we decided to put it together.”
On August 11, 2018, the Kpop Lip Sync Battle was held at the Jose Mateo Ballet Theatre. Kpoppers of Boston had two prior Lip Sync Battles in 2017, each held at the Boston Public Library-Dudley Branch. Because of the branch’s renovations, the event was held in Cambridge this time around. Each Lip Sync Battle has brought different performers to showcase their skills and love for Kpop. The performers for this battle included Marx, Mliya, and R.Zin.
The main rules of a Kpop Lip Sync Battle are very simple: lip sync to each song and either imitate the original choreography or put your own spin on it. There were three rounds: 90’s Kpop, boy groups, and girl groups.
This time around I was one of the judges and I was asked to come up with the judging system for the competition. Each performance was graded on a scale of one to five in the categories of lip-syncing, choreography, cleanliness, presentation, and overall performance.
In a surprise twist, at the end of the competition the performers were given one final round, a last chance for extra points.
There were three sets of performers, which made the winners in a set of three. Every performer was not going home empty-handed; however, the set of prizes were more advanced with each winner.
Before the first performance of each contestant, there was a cute little bio given for each act. It helped both the judges and the audience get to know each performer. There might be some regulars at every Lip Sync Battle event, but there will be a new face or two . It was a smart decision on the hosts’ part to include that.
Now, a presentation from me about each act that I’ve observed:
The most surprising act throughout the whole competition was R.Zin, who was new to the Kpop Lip Sync Battle. She may not have won the competition, but she won the popular vote from the judges as well as the audience. The nerves that were apparent in her first performance disappeared as she continued the competition. She showed skill and her personality while performing. She enjoyed what she did. She was able to keep eye contact with the judges and performed right in front of them.
Marx has been a strong contender in every Lip Sync Battle to date. Watching Marx throughout these Lip Sync Battles, what they’re known for is their creativity, from performances to their own group name.
I’ve watched and observed these girls for a while now, and they are strong, beautiful black women. They are aware of both their strengths and weaknesses as a group, and they work hard on their craft. As of right now, they are better as individual performers than together. But I know they will continue to strengthen Marx into being a super group.
As a young girl, she proudly shows her passion for the third generation of Kpop. She is a quick learner, eager to learn the latest and trendiest Kpop choreographies as soon as it comes out. She is a strong dancer and has proved that on multiple occasions. This Lip Sync Battle was no exception. I’m interested in continuing to see her growth with Kpop and aging with her favorite idols.
My friend Shanay and I were both judges for this year’s battle. We performed in the very first Lip Sync Battle and won. Our group is called SVR and consists of me, Shanay and another friend of ours, Ash. Our group name is based on the first initial of all three of our primary fandoms: S for Shawols (Shinee’s fandom), V for VIP’S (Big Bang’s famdom), and R for Rebels (Dean’s fandom)
Below is a video of one of our performances:
As a judge this time around, it was interesting for me to interact with others in a more professional way. I don’t always judge other dancers and performers on technicalities and how well they listen and follow directions. Part of the purpose of competing in Kpop Lip Sync Battle is to show how much you love Kpop. Love of the genre can count as much or more than technical skill.
As a performer at one of these events, the nerves are always there and it becomes difficult to hide them. It can be stressful rehearsing and planning for the performance. When the actual performance is over, the relief only lasts for a couple of minutes. As a judge, all that stress is eliminated and you are only focused on the present and what’s to come.
I talked with Shanay, who has also participated in Kpop LipSync Battle as a performer and judge and manages the group Marx as well.
“All these roles are very different,” Shanay told me. “As a performer it’s very nerve-wracking and challenging. It takes a while to prepare because concepts and learning multiple Kpop dances moves are hard to squeeze in to a daily schedule. As for being a judge there is not much prep. But I guess it’s always a little challenging to critique something that someone has worked so hard on. When it comes to managing a group… well that’s a whole other battle in itself. All these roles require a lot of effort but I love all of them. They are all fun and exciting!”
Another new addition to this year’s Lip Sync Battle was Tayla’s co-host, Jamie. Jamie brought this idea to have another Lip Sync Battle to Tayla, which got the 2018 Battle started. I spoke with Jamie about being a host and organizing the event:
“I simply wanted to have another Lip Sync Battle because I love performing.,” said Jamie. This year my group members’ lives just got pulled in different directions, but we hope to participate in the next one! I also love watching people dance.
“Running any event is never as seamless as we hope. It can be stressful when you have to work with or wait on other entities to make executive decisions. However, the end result is always the most satisfying part. You go through headaches to make something really fun happen and forget about all the frustrations because the event was worth it! I think delegating tasks (distributing flyers, catering, studio negotiations, etc.) and assigning them deadlines would probably have given us more structure and I wish I’d thought of it well before the contest happened. Next time!”
The Boston area is home to a variety of other Kpop events, including public Kpop parties, Kpop picnics, Secret Santas, and more Events that include Kpop are posted on the Kpoppers of Boston Facebook page, such as a vigil was held for Jonghyun in the wake of his death last December, and the Kpop Karaoke and Trivia at Somerville Public Library’s first Comix Con in May. Still, the Kpop Lip Sync Battle remains a particularly special event. It’s an opportunity for each performer to do something that they love and perfect their craft.