You may have noticed that Korean pop sensation Rain is coming to Bangkok. The posters, videos and billboards are everywhere (concerts are scheduled for June 2 and 3). It’s like the coming of Christ, albeit in the form of a handsome 24-year-old. Rain is something of a phenomenon in Asia. Readers of Time Magazine voted him as the most influential person on earth in an online poll. Take that for what it’s worth, but something tells me the Asian contingent may have been out in force for that one.
If you haven’t seen Rain then you will have missed his boyish looks, his slick Michael Jackson mimicking dance routines, and his Justin Timberlake influenced vocal range. Throw in a bit of Usher’s style for good measure and you’ve got a well-packaged pop star. His songs, from what I’ve heard, are mediocre at best, relying on Western clichés and unoriginal themes.
Korean Rain began life in the boyband Fanclub. After a series of rejections from the pop world for having small eyes, he eventually made it onto the solo stage with his self-titled debut album. His second album, How to Avoid The Sun, was released in 2003, while the third album, imaginatively titled It’s Raining, went on to sell more than a million copies in Asia, solidifying Rain’s status as the Prince of Pop (in Asia). Rain has won a string of accolades, including “Most Popular Asian Artist Award” from Channel [V] Thailand.
In 2006 Rain starred in the lackluster movie I'm a Cyborg, But That's OK, playing a mental patient who believes himself to be a robot. Rain has also been attempting to break into the US market, with two sold out concerts in Las Vegas at the end of 2006.
The fourth album, and the one Rain is currently promoting, is titled Rain’s World and features tracks such as ‘I’m coming’, ‘In My Bed’ and ‘Oh Yeah’. The artwork for the album shows the Korean singer standing topless with a pair of what I can only imagine are angel’s wings; how contrived.
Rain doesn’t seem to have done much to make himself seem like the exceptional human being he is made out to be. At Saturday’s reopening of the Kongju Korean restaurant at the Pathumwan Princess hotel, Rain was the supposed guest of honour. What this equated to was as follows: all the other celebs showed up on time, spoke to reporters, had their pictures taken, smiled and drank cocktails; Rain Juniors performed what to me was a sickening display of pop culture madness (small children performing choreographed moves and miming); the press waited for the imminent arrival of Rain; Rain Juniors performed again during the delay; more waiting; then Rain showed up escorted to the press area by a number of bodyguards; he accepted a bouquet of flowers from Tata Young, smiled and left after 30 seconds.
All that fuss for a 30 second appearance. I was not impressed. Even Tata Young seemed a little bemused at Rain’s prompt fleeing of the scene. The press all looked at each other as if to say “Is that it?” Much ado about nothing. After that everybody went to eat dinner.
On a positive note, the restaurant was excellent with some great Korean barbeque. I ate with some Thai journalists who admitted that they too were not particularly keen on Rain. The hot topic of the night was how “fat” Tata Young had got, although I thought she looked pretty darn good. Tata, ever gracious, even stopped outside the hotel to wave to fans before driving off with her friends. She had two plain clothes bodyguards with her, both who stood out in their near identical T-shirts.