This one's a little late, but it's also been a long time coming.
Alexandra "Alex" Reid is the latest addition to Korean girl group RaNia. Now, when she was first added, the Kpop corner of the internet imploded, although some remained cynical. Some people wanted to know why Alex was such a big deal, when the Black/Blasian presence in Kpop is nothing new.
For folks who are still not understanding why (Black) Kpop fans were going crazy for this girl, lemme break it down for you.
Alex is a young Black/White mixie from originally Lawrence, Kansas (she never fails to mention her hometown). She has no Korean ancestry. She does not speak Korean. She's never lived in Korea before now, and she only discovered Kpop back in 2009 when she was browsing videos on YouTube.
Does that sound familiar? It should. Many of us didn't care that much about the Kpop since either until 2009, when Ninja Assassin came out and MBLAQ dropped "Oh Yeah" - for many us, that year changed the whole game. Matter of fact, 2009-2010 was like a golden era for some of us. But imagine you're a backup singer/dancer/rapper from Kansas, casually browsing vids on YouTube, fangirling and wishing you could be on the scene, and then one day, you go from watching Kpop videos to actually being in them.
And that's why Alex had such an impact on (Black) Kpop fans. Her story is the stuff of fanfiction and Kpop-based Blasian romance novels. Most of Black Kpop fans will never learn to speak Korean fluently, much less travel to/live in Korea. They will never be part of a Kpop group. So while I don't want to take away from the struggles experienced by artists like Natasha "Yoon Mi Rae" Reid (what's with all these Reids???) and Michelle Lee, let's face it: being half-Korean gives them a leg up on the likes of Alex, who was having visa issues just days before her first performance. Both Yoon Mi Rae and Michelle fluently speak the language. Yoon Mi Rae, though born in Texas, has had a long, successful music career in Korea, beginning in the 1990s. She's been called the Korean Queen of Soul, and is currently married to popular Korean rapper TigerJK, with whom she has a child.
Michelle Lee was actually born in Korea. Korean was her very first language. She rose to prominence by competing on a Korean show. So although they've dealt with their fair share of prejudicial bullshit, the fact that she and Yoon Mi Rae have careers based in Korea doesn't really surprise anyone or raise any eyebrows.
Alex, on the other hand, resonates with Kpop fans on a different level.
Her addition to RaNia was amusingly last minute; by the time Alex arrived in Korea, RaNia's comeback song and music video had already been completed, along with the choreography. So Alex had to accept being plugged in at the beginning and the end like a guest star.
Side Note: While I like Alex's rapping and overall vocals, I don't like "Demonstrate" all that much. I think the best comeback song is "Hate" by 4Minute, which our girls CocoAvenue covered beautifully.
Some American fans expressed concern about Alex's wardrobe, because let's face it; in the earlier videos of their live performances, her outfits had a very "WTF" type of vibe. Unsurprisingly, when it comes to wardrobe, Alex is on the same page as her fans.
In addition to her skills and her stage presence, I respect Alex's her confidence and her effortless to interact with press. She's such a professional; it's like she always knows exactly what to say and how to say it.
Even if things with RaNia ultimately don't work out, I have high hopes and expectations that Alex's career will go far. She's a got a lot of fans backing her.