The Ninety One Series |||


I finished writing and publishing this series in November 2020, but Ninety One, thankfully, continues to perform, and people continue to discover them and be intrigued by them. Here are links to works (both mine and others’) that build upon—and, in some cases, offer valuable counterarguments to—what you read here.

The Twitter Threads

As I published each essay in the series I included a Twitter thread that included context, additional links, and the occasional rant on my part. If you get intrigued by a source and want to know if that source is on Twitter, this is the fastest way to find out. (In general I’m not much of a Twitter user, though if you DM me I’ll see it.)

Part 1: A quick introduction to the series, a tribute to some of the writers whose work has inspired me, and the article that introduced me to Ninety One in the first place.

Part 2: How idol pop relies heavily on adorkability”, my guide to the first season of 91 Space, experts in Japanese idol pop, and the multi-part music-focused essay series that inspired me.

Part 3: What happens when idol pop engages in puns across languages, and how I originally misjudged Señorita.”

Part 4: More sources, and I explain why the opening jokes of Borat Subsequent Moviefilm aren’t actually very funny.

Part 5: I give context on how male-idol performance tropes in Korea differ from in Kazakhstan (read: more drag-wearing and girl-group-dance-doing), with a Mad Men cameo.

Part 6: On the difficulties of trying to get reliable information about the dark side” of Korean idol pop.

Part 7: On guilty pleasures” in pop music and the idea that what you consume should reflect your policy positions and vice versa.

Part 8: I get confessional.

Part 9: A bunch of links to sources covering events in Kazakhstan and Xinjiang.

Part 10: The thread is short but the people cited do valuable work.

Part 11: A thread of threads, in case you want to spread the word to other folks on Twitter.

Other Works

This series is actually my second go-round writing about Ninety One; the first, for the excellent music-focused site One Week One Band, was published in November 2017. Some of my arguments there made my way into this series; others got changed. Also I had room for a few topics I couldn’t address in this series, such as other Q-pop groups worth checking out, what Ninety One filming in front of a mall has to do with global trends in city-making, and Su Asty,” one of my favorite songs of theirs.

On 4 January 2021 BBC News published The K-pop inspired band that challenged gender norms in Kazakhstan,” by Yvette Tan. It’s a nicely focused, well-researched piece that focuses on the issues that arose from Ninety One’s gender presentation, with commentary from academics Megan Rancier and Sabina Insebayeva, as well as Yerbolat Bedelkhan.

The Katerina Suvorova documentary Face the Music, also known as Men Sen Emes, wasn’t available with English subtitles when I wrote this series; Juz Entertainment uploaded a copy the day after the BBC News piece ran. (Tan’s impact!) If you were most intrigued by Part 5, definitely give it a watch.

I’m putting further writing about Ninety One on my pop-cultural-and-other-opinions blog; see this for entries tagged specifically with the group.

this page last updated 24 January 2021