PROJECT UPDATE: The Music of SHINee

The Music of SHINee is a digital exhibit, part of the digital humanities project KPOPCULTURE. It provides an overview of the music of K-pop group SHINee, including promotional tracks as well as deep cuts and song credit information.

Research is one of the most inefficient processes on the planet, and mine is no exception.  While Soul in Seoul will have all kinds of insights about the way African American popular music informs K-pop, there is a lot of things (a lot!) that will not make it into the book. What to do?

I found I could use this extra material in my digital humanities project, KPOPCULTURE, which curates K-pop through digital exhibits and functions as a resource. While different from my traditional scholarship, it still bears the hallmarks of research.

The dictionary defines research as “the systematic investigation into and study of materials and sources in order to establish facts and reach new conclusions.” “The Music of SHINee” is the result of systematic investigation and reaches new conclusions.  I conceived of these music exhibits to help users get a better idea of the music of K-pop artists, which is often overlooked even in scholarship on K-pop. Rather than just gather all of the songs, I curated an artist’s discography in a systematic way by turning to the people who knew the most: fans. From my other work on K-pop fans, I knew that fans were drawn first and foremost by the music and they arguably spend more time with K-pop music than even professional pop music critics in media. Using views would have been problematic, as viewing videos has become less of a metric for quality and more of a measure for popularity. Also, views only focus on promotional tracks which are usually attached to music videos, while fans also love deeper cuts on albums.

I had my trusty undergraduate research assistant De’Siree Fairley compile songs from SHINee playlists on YouTube, then compile a list of common songs.  I also compiled a list of “best songs” from all those music reviews I’d consulted for the book. I created one large playlist,  included song credit information about each, and looked for patterns. Only by putting this “data” together could I come to some conclusions. For example, contrary to what many say about K-pop “idols,” members of SHINee creatively contributed to their music. Instead of simply outsourcing music production, SHINee uses a combination of Korean, Swedish, Danish and American music producers. SHINee’s early music, beginning with the unparalleled debut of “Noona Neomu Yeppo” in 2008, continues to resonate with fans, challenging the notion that K-pop is disposable.

Moreover, technology allows the exhibit to function as a resource for users. The Omeka platform allows me to embed a playlist, so users can listen to a song while consulting song credit information in the exhibit. Naming the creative people behind K-pop makes their work visible and helps users to expand their knowledge of K-pop.

There you have it! A behind-the-scenes look at K-pop scholarship!

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PROJECT UPDATE: The Music of SHINee by Crystal S. Anderson, PhD is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.

PROJECT UPDATE: New Asian Drama Digital Humanities Project


OMO!: Korean and Chinese Drama and Commentary is my newest digital humanities project, which curates information on dramas and the global response to them in the form of reviews. It represents not only resource creation but also an examination of how global audiences make meaning of this transnational popular culture.

The project also includes the work of undergraduate researchers, providing the valuable experience of working on a research project. The first exhibit, City Hunter (2011), includes an analysis of the promotional poster as well as an overview as well as short-form and longer reviews compiled by De’siree Fairley, undergraduate research assistant. Users can view complete reviews in Evernote. As the project includes more dramas, we hope that we can determine a pattern in the consumption of dramas by global audiences.

Digital Humanities for the Rest of Us

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One Thing That All Humanities Scholars Can Do To Integrate The Digital Into Their Humanities

I recently gave a presentation at the Council on Undergraduate Research 2016 Biennial Conference on undergraduate research and digital humanities. The session was well-attended. Some the individuals who attended were not only interested in undergraduate research as a co-curricular activity, but also the unicorn that is digital humanities. I know many scholars in the humanities do not feel that they can participate in digital humanities. However, I think there is at least one thing that all humanities scholars can do to digital into their humanities.

Continue reading “Digital Humanities for the Rest of Us”