Since we're still waiting for Pitchfork to get back to our writing submissions from 2001, welcome to Sprudgefork, a special series on Sprudge in which we examine the intersection of coffee and music. Today we've got three fantastic music videos for you. Two are from Korea and concern coffee directly, and the third is from a Japanse synth grunge band called, delightfully, Seattle Standard Cafe. Let's watch together.
B.A.P.'s “Coffee Shop” is presented here with English subtitles, as we join the boys of Best Absolute Perfect for a wistful, at times outright sad look back at lost love. B.A.P. (not to be confused with B*A*P*S*) are five attractive young dudes with nice singing voices, presented in a formation that we as a global listening populace have been familiar with since at least the era of “Cool It Now“.
You'd think for such handsome, famous young men, the boys of B.A.P. would be a bit less lovelorn, but it doesn't always work that way. Here is the haunting refrain of their single “Coffee Shop”:
The coffee shop that we used to go to / our coffee shop
I'm blankly sitting here, where I can smell your scent
I still can't forget you / our memories still remain
So without knowing, like a habit / I came here.”
Note the use of olfactory anchoring as evidence of a deep, soulful longing. It's maybe a tad stalkerish – are B.A.P. staking out this coffee shop in hopes of seeing this young woman again? What if she just wants some coffee? – but we suspect the “awww how sweet” reaction is more what this song is going for. It goes to show that coffee shops can be the stuff of happy memories, places where love blooms, and then…when love withers…the coffee shop remains, carrying on as a totem for what once was, its existence observable as many things to many people, and yet something particularly sad for you.
The rap interlude after the first chorus is especially slick.
Let's smooth things out. “Baby baby, you're a caramel macchiato” intones BTS (Bangtan Boys), a 7-member pop / rap group from South Korea whose name translates to “Bulletproof Boy Scouts”. Their press photos invoke a certain “Baby” era Bieber-ness that's hard to ignore, but there's a bit of grown-up angst happening somewhere behind those hair dryer swoops. For example, from the syrupy caramel of its opening refrain, their hit single “Coffee” opens up into something a bit more…well, adult.
When we dated I wondered what kind of taste this was
But this cold and bitter aftertaste makes sense…”
Wow, swoon much, right? There's something about that compare and contrast – the caramel macchiato sweetness in the hook, the americano realities of the rap verses – that have us digging a little deeper through the wide and varied world of BTS fan sites. “Coffee” isn't a sad song, or a sweet song: it's a grown-up song, and when you're a 7-member teen scream boy band, well, we're guessing that's the most important kind.
What if we told you there was this band from Japan that sounded like Matt Sharp-era Weezer b-sides? And that this band was called “Seattle Standard Cafe“? And that they dressed in like grungy cardigans and played guitars in their music videos and stuff? Would you be excited? Well if you knew anything about Japanese pop music, you would first probably think we were stupid for acting like any of this is new. Seattle Standard Cafe have been around since 2003, and we should have been writing about them years ago.
Sprudgefork is particularly into this Moog-y track you're hearing above, and are willing to overlook the fact that during the performance footage in that video nobody is actually playing a synthesizer. No matter: if Shonen Knife and The Rentals had a 21st century baby with an awesome coffee name and great hair, it would be Seattle Standard Cafe.
Got more hits for Sprudgefork? Write in with your suggestions at Editors@Sprudge.com and we'll give 'em a listen.