Last week I watched a great documentary/movie about Motorhead’s Lemmy. Not only was it entertaining, funny, loud, crass and at times a bit bonkers, but it was also refreshingly candid and honest.

Lemmy came across as one of life’s survivors and was paid tribute to by a host of rock’nrollers (Slash, Dave Grohl, Metallica and so on). There wasn’t any bullshit, no pretentious shenanigans, no tantrums and definitely no mansions. What you saw was what you got. Warts and all if you’ll pardon the pun.

Lemmy – The Movie contains rumbustious language>

In one early scene he’s talking to the actor Billy Bob Thornton, I’m not really sure why. He comes across as a bit of a dick it has to be said (BBT not Lemmy), but at one point that start talking about Little Richard, Chuck Berry, Elvis and the like, and how they were ripped off by managers and various other chancers. Lemmy laments that he remembers meeting Chuck Berry while they were recording something for TV and that he wouldn’t go on stage until he’d been paid his fee in full – up front. Berry took to the stage with his pockets full of dollar bills and the show went on.

Anyway, it got me thinking about the Korean music scene and our recent experiences with ‘Top Band” and why there’s never any decent exposure for anything other than insipid, lame, manufactured guff. Kinda like this

It’s painful…

There’s also been a lot in the press of late about “How Pop Music Crosses Borders” where they cheekily compare a recent K-pop gig in Paris to when the Beatles first played in the US  and just how much it influenced society. Aim high and all that, eh?

The guy in the picture looking more than happy with himself is  Lee Soo-man. No, me neither? Still, he’s being being credited with promoting K-Pop to the rest of the world and beyond. Good for him I hear you cry. Well, not all is as rosy in the garden as they’d like you to believe.

A couple of weeks ago 29 people were booked with K-Pop chart rigging and other goodies. And another interesting article from the Economist claims that the practice of bribing your way into the charts “Payola” as it’s known in the west, is also rife in the music business. K-ola, or 증회 in Korean, is the latest ‘pay-to-play’ scandal to hit the industry. Interesting reading.

So, where does that leave the rest of us? Well, it seems that the kids are still being duped into thinking that they have a chance of making it.

This article gives an insight into the current craze of auditioning for talent shows and the numbers are huge. Strangely enough, the article fails to mention ‘Top Band’ and instead focuses on the more commercial, manufactured K-Pop stuff instead.

I think Lemmy said it best with this line:

“The pleasure is to play, it makes no difference what you say. I don’t share your greed, the only card I need is The Ace of Spades”


Author: From a Late Night Train

Teacher. Musician. Ponderer. Had lived in Seoul, South Korea since 2000. Moved back to Glasgow, Scotland in May 2017.

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