SsingSsing/Intangible Cultural Assets of Korea

I was minding my own business, reading an article on Linda Ronstadt (and why was I reading it? I don’t take any particular interest in Linda Ronstadt, although I love her voice. Check out “Blue Bayou.” Killer. [Incidentally, when I went to look up this song, I searched for “Spanish Eyes,” which apparently does not exist. “Blue Bayou,” it is.])

In the interview, Ms. Ronstadt said she caught a group called SsingSsing on NPR’s Tiny Desk Concert series and says she feels like she saw the future. This South Korean band fuses traditional Korean folk music with rock, glam rock and disco. Say what now? Among the traditional music style they incorporate is Gyeonggi Sori, which is Asset #57 on the Intangible Cultural Assets of Korea. Other styles of traditional music they use include Seodo Sori (from the northwest provinces of North Korea), Hwanghae/Pyeongan folk songs, and the shamanistic-ritual based Seoul Gut. (Don’t know what that means, but am fully prepared to research.)

They also dress in costume and crazy makeup, using cross-dressing as a tool, so that the male singers can emulate shamans — who need to channel both male and female spirits. One of the singers said he tries to be as gender neutral as possible.

First off, thank you linda Ronstadt for putting them on my radar. Second, thank you Wikipedia and SsingSsing for putting the phrase “Intangible Cultural Assets of Korea” on my radar. (Doesn’t that sound like a Beastie Boys lyric? Don’t you think Lin Manual Miranda could create an entire musical from the that turn of phrase? It is also cracks me up — such an official take on something that can’t be officially, realistically captured. Nice try though.)

I think you need to see the visual before listening to their songs, and I’m not positive the music is as compelling without their showmanship, but oh my god, I am not freaking hooked. I am looking for up all sorts of concert links, made one of my friends promise to come with to a concert (he said yes but only if he could eat an edible), and am considering crimping my hair in homage to the lead singer. I’m so inspired iI might try to teach myself Korean so I can understand what the lyrics are.

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