Cross-national duo rocks Asia


Kangta (left) and Vanness Wu

K-pop superstar Kangta and Taiwanese pop music sensation Vanness Wu got onstage as a duo for the first time in Korea this week, sending more than a thousand girl fans wild.

It is only early May, but the weather was already hot on Wednesday. The Centennial Memorial Hall in Yonsei University, western Seoul, where the new duo, Kangta & Vanness were making their debut, was sweltering. The 1,000-seat venue (which is not air-conditioned) was packed with excited fans of the two superstars.

"We are just gonna rock Asia," said Wu, member of the Taiwanese boy band legend F4, during the performance. "We have a different fan base, but they have all come together to support us tonight, which is amazing and beautiful."

The one hour-long performance began with "127 days," a song with an R&B feel from their upcoming debut album. The song is about an unexpected, awkward reunion with an ex-girlfriend. Cheering turned to shrill screaming when the two stars finally showed up on stage, and it got even higher-pitched when Kangta’s beautiful and appealing voice harmonized with the whispering English rap of Wu. Soon the venue became a sea of blue and white glow sticks (representing the fans of Wu and Kangta, respectively), waved frantically by the fans who were virtually all teenage girls. SM Entertainment, host of the event, invited e-mail applications for seats from the fans, a plan which got totally out of hand with more than 7,000 mails in three hours.

"I feel a responsibility. I think there should be more cross-national duos and bands created to enhance musical exchanges among Asian countries," said Kangta, former member of the now-disbanded boy band HOT. "Why not ‘Vanness and Kangta? Well, alphabetic order maybe? Oh, I’m kidding. It will be named in that way in Taiwan and China."

During the performance hosted by popular female comedian Park Kyung-rim, Wu proved that he is ready to fit himself into Korean culture, showing off not only his singing, dancing and rapping talents, but also rather fluent Korean and deep understanding of the country’s pop culture.

"I have been familiar with Korean culture and language from when I was very young, so I didn’t have many problems recording songs in Korean," said Wu who claims to be a close friend of such renowned K-pop stars as Shin Hye-sung, Kim Jo-han (former singer of R&B trio Solid) and Lee Ji-hoon.

The first encounter of the two superstars dates back to 2004, when they were invited to the annual Golden Melody Awards of Taiwan. Since then, the management companies of the two have prepared for the birth of the super duo.

"Kangta was a superstar when I went to high school. He is good-looking and his vocals are amazing," said Wu, who purchased Kangta’s HOT album at that time. Kangta responded by saying, "I guess many of you remember Wu as a long-haired pretty boy from ‘Meteor Garden,’ but onstage, he is a powerful and charismatic rapper."

Following "127 days," the new duo presented two more songs: "Wild Flower," a remake of a hit from Italian pop band Skylark, and "Scandal," a so called "Crunk & B" (a newly evolving genre of music originated by Usher, which combines energetic cRunk tracks with R&B elements) type of dynamic song featuring Wu’s rap.

The album is scheduled to be released next week, while the duo will appear on television for the first time on Sunday, through "SBS Ingigayo."

"Maybe we will have concerts in Hong Kong, China, Korea and Taiwan later, but for now our concern is working really hard to show everybody what’s up and having really good shows," Wu said with a smile.

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By Lee Yong-sung