Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Image vs. Sound

BettySoo (all one word) will never be called "pretty". She's from chunky Chinese peasant stock (as vs. willowy Chinese upper class stock) and in neither her ancestral country (Korea, actually) nor in this one is chunky peasant considered an attractive look. But her songs and her singing are just plain f*cking gorgeous. And nobody's ever heard of her because, well, she doesn't look like people's idea of what a female singer-songwriter is supposed to look like, I guess. As BettySoo explains, "people simply do not expect an Asian-American songwriter from Austin". Cue the Monty Python "Spanish Inquisition" skit!

This one is called "Never knew no love". Enjoy.

-- Badtux the Music Penguin


  1. She has a pleasant singing voice. Nice and smooth. It did take me a few seconds to adjust to the blend of her voice and her appearance, but music is, after all, a universal medium -- which Bobby McFerrin illustrated most beautifully, and I thank you for posting that one, too.

    Off-topic... I've been on a Sweet kick lately, for some weird reason. I saw this, and I thought of you. It's clever and cute at the same time...

  2. Hey, thanks for the post! Glad you enjoyed the music. Did you know I have a song called "Never the Pretty Girl?" Guess you know where that one came from. :-)

  3. Good one guys! All this talk about looks and prettiness just gets on my last nerve. Now you've insulted bettysoo with your shallow views. Well maybe you didn't insult her but you certainly insulted me. Besides, at the risk of contradicting myself, I find her to be very pretty. Not that things like that matter to me.

  4. Blogger is doing some bizarre things. Things showing up on the main page that aren't showing up on the comments page and vice-versa.

    In any event, for the newcomers, I've been ranting here for some time about how the music industry keeps ignoring great talent for the most shallow of reasons -- the appearance that their genetic heritage gave them. It shouldn't matter, but sadly does when it comes to our current music industry, which is all about a pretty face (where "pretty" is defined arbitrarily by society rather than by any sensible criteria). Talent comes in many packages and tall willowy aristocrat stock is just one of them, and far from majority. But that's what our society celebrates -- tall willowy aristocrat stock. Siiiiigh!

    - Badtux the Sociology Penguin

  5. Thanks for pointing her out. I liked the way she sounded in that clip, so I picked up her first album on AmieStreet. :D

  6. Wow, this is *really* bizarre, my last comment disappeared entirely! Blogger is sucking today, sigh.

    David: My job is done ;). One of the reasons I've been posting mostly obscure/underappreciated artists here is in hopes of driving a few sales their way, none of these folks are getting rich from their music and there's some good sh*t out there that nobody knows about. I've enjoyed digging around and finding folks like this. I've also listened to a lot of what I consider to be pretentiousness for the sake of pretentiousness (St. Vincent, anybody?) but you don't see those videos here, I sacrifice my ears for your listening pleasure ;).

    Tsisageya, you're new here so you don't know about a long-running theme on this blog -- that all too often the music industry and the consuming public at large ignore talent because it does not fit their definition of "pretty", where "pretty" is defined arbitrarily in a way that makes no sense (generally tall and willowy if we're talking about women, but *never* short and chunky whether you're a man *or* a woman). If you thought I was in any way condoning that or agreeing with that particular definition of beauty, you haven't been around here for long :).

    BettySoo, yes, I listened to that one and know exactly where it came from and indeed had that in mind when I wrote what I wrote. Thanks for dropping by my humble iceberg, hopefully I've managed to sell a couple of albums for you. Probably enough to buy ramen noodles for a meal or two once the pennies trickle down to you, but that's how this industry works right now (sigh!).

    Jim, quite a juxtaposition. Joni Mitchell might have sung peasant songs but she was from decidedly aristocratic stock. Our eyes have been conditioned by that to expect to hear folk songs -- peasant songs by definition -- sung by tall willowy aristocratic stock. It's all societal conditioning where we're taught from birth to worship our aristocrats. Thus the fascination with the British royals in our press...

    - Badtux the Sociology Penguin

  7. This may be my first visit to your blog, but I will surely return as you have BettySoo up front (a surprise... I did not know she'd be there). Do check out her "Never the Pretty Girl", which is always a stunning live selection but truly shines in her recordings. You can find it under her name at http://bettysoo.bandcamp.com/track/never-the-pretty-girl

  8. badtux, this is your blog so you are free to make assumptions, but I'm not that new here. I've seen your series about who's pretty and who's not and your ideas about why un-pretty musicians don't make it to the big-time. I applaud what you say are your motivations, I just don't understand why you jump on the hoopla train by agreeing that certain people aren't "pretty", and that's why no one buys them. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, after all. I guess I just disagree with your definition of what is beautiful.

    Anyway, thanks for introducing us to some off-the-beaten-path musicians. I like them best of all. By the way, Joni Mitchell is beautiful with/without whatever she looks like. That's my opinion.

  9. Like it has always been and probably always will be:
    1. Looks can be deceiving
    2. Looks and talent have no correlation.
    3. Looks are very subjective.
    4. Pretty belongs to the beholder.
    bettysoo both looks and sings great

  10. BettySoo is smokin' hot w/ cool songs and a powerful body (of work)...


Ground rules: Comments that consist solely of insults, fact-free talking points, are off-topic, or simply spam the same argument over and over will be deleted. The penguin is the only one allowed to be an ass here. All viewpoints, however, are welcomed, even if I disagree vehemently with you.

WARNING: You are entitled to create your own arguments, but you are NOT entitled to create your own facts. If you spew scientific denialism, or insist that the sky is purple, or otherwise insist that your made-up universe of pink unicorns and cotton candy trees is "real", well -- expect the banhammer.

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.