Yuna Kim Sings (Yes, Sings) Popular ‘Frozen’ Song

Story by Julie Ha. 

Anyone still bitter about South Korean skater Yuna Kim not winning gold at the Sochi Olympics under a cloud of controversy?

Then, it might be worth viewing a neat new video of Kim singing and skating to a popular song from the hit film Frozen. The video is from a newly released commercial for Samsung Consumer Electronics’ new Smart Air Conditioner Q9000.

Can you guess which song from the movie? Hint: “The cold never bothered me, anyway…”

As Kim is heard singing “Let It Go,” the famous anthem from Frozen, Kim is seen performing on the ice and then later recording the popular song with a children’s choir. The video has already attracted 786,000 views on YouTube.

This isn’t the first time the 23-year-old skater has dabbled in singing. She is well-known in Korea for her singing talent and has even performed on Korean TV music programs. In this 2010 performance, she sang the Brown-Eyed Girls’ “I’m in Love” in front of an appreciative audience.

Kim was the first from her country to win an Olympic gold medal in the 2010 Winter Games and controversially won silver in the Olympics in Sochi, Russia, this past February, infamously losing to Russian skater Adelina Sotnikova. Kim is also a two-time World champion and three-time Grand Prix Final champion. She retired from competitive skating after the Sochi Olympics.

If you’re feeling nostalgic, take a look back at KoreAm‘s 2013 story about Kim, as she was making her comeback to competitive skating in the run-up to the 2014 Olympics.

 This story was originally published on iamkoream.com.

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Korean Parody of “Let it Go” Will Be The Funniest Thing You See All Day

The obsession with Disney’s Frozen continues! In particular, the song “Let it Go” is one for the books. It won the Oscar for Best Original Song at the 86th Academy Awards. This was a historic moment for the Asian American community because this meant that Robert Lopez, co-creator of “Let it Go,” became the first Filipino American to win an Oscar and the first Fil-Am to join a prestigious group called “Egot” —  individuals who have won the four top entertainment awards: Emmy, Grammy, Oscar and Tony.

Aside from the Oscar, a simple scroll through YouTube makes the success of this song clear. There have been a number of YouTube covers of the song, many of which are from the Asian community, and even instrumental covers.

And that doesn’t even begin to describe the movie’s worldwide success. For instance, the film is now the highest-grossing animated feature ever in South Korea. This means even beloved Kpop stars can be found covering “Let it Go.”

Recently, we came across something else from Korea that caught our attention. During what appears to be a Korean game show, we found the most hilarious Frozen parody ever. It’s filled with fake snow, perfect lip-syncing and hilarious theatrics.

Check it out below. We promise it will be one of the funniest and most entertaining things you watch today.

Spring 2014 Cover Story featuring Singer-Songwriter YUNA

Story by Ada Tseng. 

Singer-songwriter Yuna Zarai (known as Yuna) has a quick and easy remedy for writer’s block: “I just call up my best friends and ask, ‘Hey, do you have any drama that I can write about?’ Usually, they’re like, ‘Sure!’ And then I’ll show them [the resulting song] as a gift.” She laughs. “My friends are so easy.”

Many of her self-penned songs are about relationships — from happy-in-love songs (“Lullabies,” “Favourite Thing”) to heartbreak (“Mountains,” “I Want You Back”) to a perfectly satisfactory fling you know won’t last (“Lovely Intermission”). “Decorate,” a song from her first international EP in 2010, about missing a recently departed lover so much that you keep your home decorated with objects that the person likes just in case he or she comes back, is another example of a track inspired by one of her male friends. “It’s such a sad song, and a lot of people think I went through that,” she says. “[But] I’m really close to my best friends, so if they feel sad, I feel sad, too. It’s emotionally draining, but I get affected immediately.”

The 27-year-old grew up in Malaysia, making a name for herself in her home country before relocating to Los Angeles a few years ago. Her self-titled international album Yuna, released in 2012, had a famous supporter in Pharrell Williams, who produced her hit single “Live Your Life” and often mentioned her name when interviewers would ask him about new artists to follow. In addition to her music, Yuna is a fashion trendsetter as well. She runs her own online store November Culture, and earlier this year, she launched her own clothing line 14NOV, which features more conservative clothing such as headscarves, turtleneck maxi-dresses and oversized cardigans. “There are a lot of girls, especially in Los Angeles, that want to dress up sexy and fabulous,” she says, “but there are also a bunch of girls like me that would rather cover up!”

The Malaysian singer has gotten a lot of questions about her Muslim heritage since her debut in the United States, a country not accustomed to seeing a pretty girl in a turban singing and strumming her guitar onstage, but Yuna tends to downplay any potential politics in favor of talking about her music. In some ways, despite her uniqueness (the eye-poppingly beautiful fashion plate would stand out in a crowd even if she weren’t the star of the show), she comes across as your typical girl-crush. Dressed in a shimmery black-gold headscarf with gold statement necklaces and a long, black pleated skirt (“I’m really into black and gold right now,” she says), she was charismatic performing at a sold-out Bootleg Theater show in Los Angeles last December, for an audience that happened to include her own parents who had flown out from Malaysia to see her.

Yuna started creating music on the piano when she was 14, but songwriting remained a mystery to her until she picked up the guitar at 19. As soon as she learned how to play three chords, she started making up songs for her friends, teasing them about liking boys or not being over their exes.

Yuna essentially learned English through music. “At first, it was just me re-creating songs I already knew,” she says. (Her English is now fluent, with only a hint of Malay accent.) Inspired by many American female singer-songwriters, including Fiona Apple and Lauryn Hill, as well as Malaysian artists like Ning Baizura and Sheila Majid, Yuna says she feels more comfortable writing lyrics in English, where you can be more conversational. “Malay is such a beautiful language that when you write songs in Malay, it has to be poetic.” She’s only written seven Malay songs — one per year she’s been in the business, she jokes.

“Deeper Conversation” was the first song she wrote that garnered public attention. In her last term studying law at university, she started a MySpace page for her music. Soon enough, she started getting requests to perform at jazz bars in Kuala Lumpur, the radio began playing her songs, and she was making a name for herself in the Malaysian independent music scene.

Her father, who worked in law but loved playing the guitar, was especially supportive, as he was the one who used to take his daughter to record stores when she was younger. “He said, ‘Only once in a while is there someone like you who can write music, so you have to pursue it,’” Yuna remembers.

Meanwhile in Los Angeles, Carlo Fox and Ben Willis from the indie record label and management company Indie-Pop Music had stumbled upon Yuna online. At the time, MySpace had an independent music chart, and Yuna’s Malay music was in the Top 10. If only she sang in English, they thought. When they found she did, they became obsessed with finding her.

Yuna admits she was a little suspicious of these American strangers who wanted to meet her. When she didn’t respond, Willis went on Facebook and started friend-requesting as many of her followers as he could (at the time, she had about 300,000; now, she has almost 2 million).

“She probably thought I was an Internet stalker,” says Willis. “But literally, the first person to hit me back happened to be her mom, who told her, ‘Just get on the phone with this guy. He sounds really nice!’”

“I probably didn’t respond until six months later,” says Yuna. “I was busy, and I didn’t have the courage to think about going to America. But in the end, because I had all this English music that never made it in Malaysia, I knew that I couldn’t discover my own true strength until I gave it a try.”

“I had never been to Malaysia,” says Willis, who ended up flying over by himself to meet Yuna. “But when I got there, she and her cousin picked me up, and she gave me the key to my hotel. She said, ‘Don’t worry, we’ll take care of you when you’re out here.’ And I was like, ‘Wait, what? I’m the one who’s trying to sign you.’ But I hung out with her, her bandmates and her family members for three days. We really clicked. I said, ‘Look, I want to help bring your music to rest of world,’ and the rest is history.”

Last October, Yuna released her second album, Nocturnal, on the Verve Records label. This work allowed her to experiment further in creating her signature sound — pop with hints of traditional Malay music. “Falling” uses an African thumb piano called the kalimba to make a gamelan sound, heard in a lot of Southeast Asian music. “Mountains” was inspired by what Yuna calls “a Borneo vibe,” whereas “I Wanna Go” makes use of the kompang, a Malay tambourine.

But her hit single “Rescue,” inspired by the Malay music form dikir barat, might be the one song that you can’t get out of your head. A women empowerment ballad inspired by her girlfriends, as well as influential women she had just met at a United Nations event, the chorus is about how even when things in life get a little difficult, the girl’s got light in her face / She don’t need no rescuing, she’s OK.

In 2012, Yuna was recognized with a National Youth Icon Award, awarded by the prime minister of Malaysia for her exceptional achievements in arts. But nowadays, it’s not just Malaysian fans that gush about her influence anymore.

“Once the rest of the world feels the way we feel about her, she’s going to be a game-changer,” says Willis. “And not just from the musical perspective. Whenever she’s ready, I think she’s a massive cultural figure who’s been put here to do important things.”

Want more Yuna? CLICK HERE to hear her alluring, can’t-get-it-out-of-your-head music. 

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This story was originally published in our Spring 2014 issue. Get your copy here

Audrey’s Spring 2014 Cover Revealed!

Audrey’s Spring 2014 covergirl is none other than singer-songwriter Yuna!

“[At first] I didn’t have the courage to think about going to America. But in the end, because I had all this English music that never made it in Malaysia, I knew that I couldn’t discover my own true strength until I gave it a try.” 

Get your copy of Audrey Magazine‘s Spring 2014 issue here. 

 

Favorite Asian YouTube Covers of Frozen’s “Let It Go”

2013 ended on a high note –– pun intended –– as the release of Disney’s latest animated musical, Frozen, was all anyone could talk or sing about. The film already created a buzz with its storyline that focused on the relationship between two sisters, rather than the usual male-dominated, guy-saves-girl plot. But what really had an impact on viewers was the original soundtrack, which beat out Beyoncé (!!!) for the number one album spot on the Billboard charts. It’s been two months and YouTube musicians are still publishing their own covers of Frozen songs, particularly “Let It Go.” Here are some of our favorite covers.

1. Sam Tsui

Sam Tsui, who is Chinese-American, is a YouTube celebrity known for his mash-ups, like this one, which combines both “Let It Go” and Passenger’s “Let Her Go.” He released his first album, “Make it Up,” last year.

2. Sonnet Son

Sonnet Son, full name Son Seung Yeon, is a Korean student studying at the Berklee School of Music in Boston. She has displayed her powerhouse vocals in other covers of fan favorites like Bruno Mars’s “Grenade” and Alicia Keys’s “No One.”


3. Grace Lee

Korean-American Grace Lee’s cover has gained over three million views on YouTube, and the previously-unknown singer, who auditioned for The Voice, is starting to get recognized.

4. Jun Sung Ahn

Jun Sung Ahn, who claims his specialties are violin, dance, film, video, photography, producing, editing and performing, definitely stands out among the numerous Frozen covers. The talented artist released a beautiful violin cover of “Let it go” which has gathered over a million views so far.

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Traditional Chinese Instrument Creates Best Super Mario Bros. Cover EVER

Who doesn’t like a good cover of Super Mario Bros. music? We’ve seen this with just about every sort of instrument imaginable– using a piano, using the guitar, using a harmonica and even using wine glasses.

So what sort of instrument can produce the best cover? As it turns out, the most fitting instrument may be something we didn’t expect at all. A traditional Chinese instrument called the sheng may be our top contender.

You may be unfamiliar with the strange device, but it has actually been around since 1100BC. The sheng is a mouth organ made of wood, metal, or a gourd with a blowpipe and at least 17 extending pipes made from bamboo or metal.

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Although  the sheng is used primarily to play Chinese classical music with other traditional Chinese instruments, there seems to be room for its beautiful sounds here in modern times.

In the video below, a Japanese student is seen doing a sheng cover of the Super Mario Bros. theme song as well as many of the songs and sound effects from the original game. We even get to hear as Mario accumulates coins.

Needless to say, this impressive cover is on its way to viral fame. Check it out for yourself.

 

 

‘Frozen’ Explodes in Korea, Spawns Countless Covers

Story by Ruth Kim.

Two beautiful princesses, an adorable talking snowman, and a slew of catchy musical numbers that you find yourself humming unconsciously — the animated film Frozen has all the right ingredients for the perfect Disney movie. But in Korea, this particular film has a specific, older audience applauding on their feet.

Among the thousands of theater patrons who visited their local movie theaters to experience this Disney winter tale since its Korean release on Jan. 16, women in their 30s largely constituted the viewing audience in Korea. This particular age group made up 29 percent of the entire admitted audience, larger than any other demographic.

The film, now the highest-grossing animated feature ever in South Korea, has struck a chord with the older, female crowd. The two princesses, Elsa and Anna, don’t perpetuate the damsel-in-distress narrative — instead, they take the initiative to solve their problems and restore the kingdom on their own terms. Additionally, Kristoff’s character as the common man undercuts the “charming prince” archetype saturated in many Disney films; young girls viewing the film gain a more realistic and grounded idea of love.

But Frozen has left the audience with more than just a positive message; after the credits rolled, the soundtrack behind the film has left a lasting legacy. Covers of the chart-topper, “Let it Go”, originally sung by Idina Menzel, have taken over YouTube, but two in particular stand out.

Korea’s Sonnet Son, currently studying at Berklee School of Music in Boston, gives Idina Menzel a run for her money. Sonnet makes belting and sustaining high notes and musical phrases look like a piece of cake; and her passion for singing, so tangible through this video, will leave goose bumps all over. It is definitely apparent that Sonnet has a promising musical career in sight.

From a completely different music genre platform, 32-year-old Korean singer Park Hyun-bin makes his mark by transforming ‘Let it Go’ into a Korean trot-style pop song. Trot, also known as ppongjjak, is a genre of music that is associated with an older generation of Koreans, but it’s still leaving an impression today. Park’s enthusiastic and almost goofy demeanor accompanied with a very skilled and talented voice distinguishes him from the many covers that pervade the Internet.

Along with other Korean female singers, including Ailee, Lee-Hae-ri, and Lee Yu-bi, who have famously covered the song, Frozen’s ‘Let it Go’ has given many Korean musicians a chance to showcase their voice, talent, and musical ability.

“Let it Go” Cover by Sonnet Son

Korean Trot Cover of “Let it Go” by Park Hyun-bin

 

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This story was originally published on iamkoream.com 

Video of The Week: Let It Go/Let Her Go Mash-Up by SAM TSUI

Frozen has captured the hearts of millions. In fact, this beloved Disney animated film is even spreading its popularity worldwide. For instance, over the weekend Frozen has become the highest-grossing animated feature ever in South Korea with over 6 million admissions. The film has grossed $44.17 million in South Korea so far.

Aside from the entertaining storyline and the quirky, lovable characters, Frozen has captured many hearts because of it’s music.

The voice actors of the film (Idina Menzel, Kristen Bell, Jonathan Groff, Josh Gad and Santino Fontana) all lend their singing talents to the catchy music throughout the animated feature.

As expected, YouTube has been swarmed with covers of Frozen songs. People have done everything they can to make their cover stand out. One man proposed to his girlfriend after a cheerful cover of “Love is an Open Door.” Another blew us away with a talented violin version of “Let it Go.”

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And now there’s Sam Tsui’s Let It Go/Let Her Go (Frozen/Passenger MASHUP).

This 24-year-old Chinese American musician rose to fame thanks to youtube. Talented? You bet. While attending Yale, Tsui was part of The Duke’s Men of Yale, an all-male acappella group.

Check out the mashup below.

Jun Sung Ahn’s AMAZING ‘Frozen’ Violin Cover of “Let It Go”

You probably know Jun Sung Ahn through his violin & dance cover of EXO’s hit song “Growl.” With nearly 300,000 views on his video, Jun Sung Ahn was thrown into viral popularity and found himself performing at events at like KCON and Kollaboration.

The young artist, who claims his specialties are violin, dance, film, video, photography, producing, editing and performing, seems ready to keep his popularity going.

A few days ago, the talented artist released a violin cover of “Let it go” from Disney’s popular animated film Frozen. Although its only been a few days, the cover has already generated nearly 150,000 views and for good reason!

Among the hundreds of “Let it go” covers, Jun Sung Ahn powerful and shiver-inducing version clearly stands out. As the video makes its way around social media, many are claiming that this is the best instrumental cover of the song.

Hear it for yourself and check out his violin & dance cover of EXO’s “Growl” below.

Can You Spot The Difference? Unnecessary Edits For Mindy Kaling’s ELLE Magazine Cover

February 2014 is Elle’s annual Women in TV issue. They’ve decided to feature four of television’s top celebrities: Zooey Deschanel, Amy Poehler, Allison Williams and Audrey Magazine Winter 2011-12  covergirl, Mindy Kaling. The four actresses all received their very own cover. This is reason to rejoice, right? An Asian American actress is finally being ranked equally in mainstream media!

But wait. Is she?

It doesn’t take much effort to spot the blatant difference between Kaling’s cover compared to the others. Many upset readers have pointed out the very obvious difference that Kaling’s cover is the only one black and white. Sure, the actress still looks stunning, but why are the other women not also in black and white? Why did they feel the need to take away the color of the one woman who was not Caucasian?

Other readers have pointed out that while the other three actresses received full-body covers, Kaling’s cover is a cropped close up.

Is it a coincidence? Is it just chance that Kaling (who happens to not fit the stereotypical body size of American actresses) is the only one who doesn’t receive a full body cover? Is it mere coincidence that the one person of color gets the black and white photo? Did they simply fail to notice that the other three photos are consistent and similar while Kaling’s is not?

Tell us what you think.