Ask @noxrivera:

Nicole Rivera
Latest answers

why asian lit?

The real answer was that it was an accident lol the foreign language I chose during freshman pre-enlistment was Japanese, and my adviser told me later that the language you choose is your concentration (unless you really want to shift). So I guess the question should be: "why did I stay," in which case it's because Euro lit kind of bored me, and it was interesting learning about how Asian countries are more alike than we think. And also because I already have background in Chinese culture so it wasn't difficult to contextualize the lit.

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hi po ate nicole big fan po

aaron is this you ughhhh

if not hahaha thanks magpakilala ka!!!

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hi po paano po manligaw?

hi idk, ask someone who's done it before hahahaha

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Would You Date A Guy Without A Car?


once I get my own car lol jk yeah totally!!! Beggars can't be choosers

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what do i do about my neighbors making me homicidal NOX I NEED HELP THEY'RE ALWAYS LIKE THIS

Grace Kelly Ang

omg this is how I felt about my neighbors chickens a few years ago. Kelly this is what you took rifle marksmanship for this is it TT_TT

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What written piece are you most proud of?


As of now it's my "Rising Sun" review! I think it best represents the extent of what I can do as a writer and critic at the moment. ^_^

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do you think brave brothers will do well with SNSD and 2NE1 as their artists? or do you think these gurl groups can do some songs like Sistars or Kara?

Not really, no. SM and YG have very distinct sounds, especially for their flagship girl groups, and while Brave Brothers *did* used to write for YG, 2NE1 are more of the novelty/electro side of YG than the hip-hop R&B that Brave Brothers does now. As for a Sweetune/SNSD collab, I'd personally love to see that happen. SNSD's Japanese material is approaching Sweetune's sound anyway, but I'd like to see them pull it off in Korea.

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also whats your paper about write it already smh

Space, gender and domesticity in Myanmar literature gdi who is this, maki girl???

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why aren't you writing your paper

because it's not due until next week? TTT_TTT

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what do you think of spica s new release?

I think it's one of the best executions of Brave Brothers' flavor of the (past few) year(s) :D

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Hi Nicole! I wanna ask, how do you tell when the singer is lipsyncing on music shows? Do you look out for the volume of the backtrack or..? Thanks!

I mainly look at breathing patterns and fidelity to the recorded version. It's practically impossible for a live performance to be exactly the same as the recorded version because all vocals go through some kind of post-processing -- for example, "auto tune" is a broad tool that encompasses small tonal edits to major, voice-altering effects. Of course, singers try to be as faithful as possible to the recording, and the better vocalists will be able to get to about 95% fidelity, but there is still a rawer quality to "authentically" live vocals. Breathing patterns are the most obvious indicators of this -- obviously, you sing differently when you're dancing and when you're just standing, so I mainly look at how the vocals correspond to the singers' movements and breathing.

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Hey! I was just looking through somee of your older writing and I'm wondering, will you consider doing vocal commentary again?

Hi! I won't be writing any vocal commentaries anytime soon, no. They take a long time to write because of the research (I need to put names to faces and faces to voices!) and because I try to make my pieces even more well-developed now than I did back in 2009 when I wrote most of my commentaries, it's far too time-consuming at the moment. But I won't completely rule it out! Maybe after I graduate ;P

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what do you think of this cover of Love In The Ice?

Spot-on. "Love In the Ice" is a very difficult song to sing, and it's even more difficult to not sound like you're screaming your way though -- but this was technically-outstanding, which allowed the performers to really bring forward the heart-wrenching emotions LITI is known for. I think also the reason why this cover really worked was because all five of them can actually sing, so the harmonies are tight and they're able to carry the solos well.

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Especially in light of the Ladies' Code tragedy, but also knowing how exploitative the industry can be, I worry that enjoying Kpop and being a fan only contributes to an unhealthy system. How would you advise reconciling the squee with the obligation to make the world better? Is that possible?

This is probably going to be an all over the place answer, so I apologize in advance TT_TT

I don't want to bring in the commodification of art because I keep mentioning it, especially on questions here, but it's really something that's central to a better understanding of the industry. There is the artistic side and there is the commercial side -- both have the potential to exploit, but in the kpop context it's the commercial side that is very aggressive and damaging.

Personally, I don't see anything wrong with consuming and appreciating products of an industry like kpop, and enjoying them to boot. I enjoy art as art -- music, media, etc etc. -- because after all it's one of the many functions of art. But what I suggest, and what I sometimes attempt to do with my writing, is to be aware that there is more to the product than just the art or the business. Be aware that the relationship between the music and the industry is extremely complicated and neither, in their ideal forms (art and capitalist society), are fully equipped to understand the limitations of the other. Capitalism dictates that effort or investment must be, at the very least, commensurate to the value of the finished product and therefore assumes that all investments can be measured. On the other hand, the production of art such as music requires investments that cannot be measured or converted to monetary value. Ideas, "musicality," taste -- how do you value those against a scale? You can't. So what happens is that the industry drives artists to the ground, packs schedules and demands things without a proper understanding of what art is exactly. What can we do? I don't know exactly. I don't know because there are many things wrong with this relationship and, like in art, different people value different things -- my problem with the industry may not be yours or the artists', because we're coming from different perspectives and backgrounds.

But what am I doing? I'm writing about it. I'm examining the products of this industry, I'm attempting to make people understand and think more critically about the artistic side of Kpop so that hopefully I can make them realize what art is exactly in order to understand the dynamics of the music industry. And maybe by providing conceptual foundations, people with the capacity to make the world better as you say (;P), also take into consideration the nature of art.

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As a music reviewer, what do you want to see more in today's artists? Whether in K-pop or in the west. For me, it would be more innovation and creativity, and not a gimmick to sell records and make money.

First off, I want to see more talent! I've always said this about kpop groups but really, the ratios between outstanding voices, so-so vocalists and completely useless members are so messed up. A group with 2 strong singers is considered "talented," and that's probably one of my biggest frustrations with kpop. This is a MUSIC industry, and these idol groups exist because they release MUSIC -- if they cannot even contribute to their own primary products then why are they in the music industry at all? You don't see bad dancers allowed in dance troupes/groups just because they "sing well" or are pretty, do you? Athletes in teams may not always be outstanding, but they at least have to know how to play the sport. I really, genuinely don't understand why the music industry seems oblivious to this.

And I'd also like to see a shift back to the practice of making good music and not just profitable music. Music and marketing *can* go hand-in-hand, yes, and in the current industry they definitely should -- but good marketing is no excuse to slack off on making good material. I say this not because I think all of pop is sub-par, but because I have seen countless talented, brilliant musicians and practitioners take pop music seriously as a legitimate form of music -- and I have also seen how hard they need to fight the industry to get their work. I have seen, firsthand, what good music and good marketing can do together but I also know the blood, sweat and tears that went into productions like those.

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Thoughts about Exid's up and down? :)

It's nothing special -- the video is very weird (attempting to be "profound" with those object shots but failing) and also pretty sexist -- and the song isn't memorable at all. Maybe it'll grow on me though? :D

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which of the big three would you audition for (if you ever did or wanted to) and why?

Hmmmm, I really like this question but I honestly don't know how to answer it -- I think all three agencies have their strengths and weaknesses, and I don't ever see myself in the industry as a performer so I don't know what kind of aesthetic and musical direction I'd want to take. But hypothetically, I guess I'd audition for SM because of their industry clout, the opportunities for networking and the possibility of getting really strong material coupled with the guarantee of their top-tier production quality. Of course, with SM comes the possibility of being locked in the infamous dungeon (they need to free Jino ASAP TT_TT), the equally scary possibility of being given sub-par interpretations/executions of SMP, and of course the slave-driving -- but I guess as long as I'm careful about my contract (lol), I stay in their good books and give them a reason to keep giving me good material that I actually like (i.e., sell well and don't get into any career-damaging scandals), I'll be okay. I think? D:

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If JYP has been releasing the best albums or content this year, how come their quality doesn't reflect success? SM and YG can release worse material and receive more profit than JYP who releases better content. Is it simply better marketing from YG and SM? Or another reason?

That's the eternal flaw of the music industry and ultimately, the flaw of commodifying art -- quality does not ALWAYS equate to commercial success. There are times when it does, and those are times I really value because I'm optimistic. But the industry works in such a way that no matter how good your material is, if you cannot market it you're not going to get anywhere. So yes, better marketing is probably the most plausible reason for JYP's lack of success.

But at the same time, I also think it's because of that dry spell JYP had during previous years -- they weren't able to sustain the fan bases they already had and subsequently build on it because of a lack of strong material, so now that they've improved the quality of their releases they're building new fan bases from the ground up. Whereas YG and SM already have established fan bases that they just need to expand whenever a new group debuts or a new release comes out.

Regardless though, it IS all about marketing.

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KPop fanbases aside, which fanbase was the toughest to deal with? I mean if you post a negative review, you know there will be a ton of bad comments coming.

Jio Jared

Hi Jio! ^_^ Based on experience it's EXO fans, hands-down. I wrote a negative review on their debut 2 years ago and I STILL get threats and comments from angry fangirls. D:

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Hardest part being a music reviewer?

I know I shouldn't say this, but there are quite a few difficult things about being a music writer. TT_TT It's not easy at all, but the good definitely outweighs the bad! On a more personal side, it's still very hard for me to deal with stinging comments about my writing. This is different from comments that disagree with me -- I welcome those actually -- these are comments that are directed at me and my work. I've gotten a lot better at it and I can handle negative feedback to use it as a means of improvement, but part of me still does get hurt -- it's really my personality, I guess?

But I'd say a more general difficulty I have is actually finding the time to write. I'm a long form writer -- I don't write listicles or short news articles, I write comprehensive reviews and critical essays. Formal single and album reviews take anywhere from 4 to 5 hours to write while critical essays can take up to months of work. Playlist posts take less time to write, obviously -- but in between school and extra-curriculars, setting aside 2+ hours to write, format and schedule tweets for it is just as difficult. Which is why I'm really, REALLY looking forward to the day I can finally write for a living! :D

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please take a listen to the song "No Cut" by Aaron Yan and let me know what you think! (if it's not too much trouble of course hehe)

He had a collab with G.NA right? It's not trouble at all, I'm really open to suggestions because I do want to expand outside of Kpop but there's so much material that I don't know where to start! I like the song though, a bit cheesy at parts and the arrangement is a bit loose but it's well-produced and the melody is catchy!

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Do you think Taemin and Jaejoong has a similiar timbre?

I used to think he was a mini-Jaejoong, but listening to "Ace" he actually sounds a lot like Jonghyun now -- in terms of technique and also in lower ranges. The difference is obviously that Jonghyun's higher range is more well-developed (but still shrill), but his middle and lower ranges is very similar to Jonghyun's. Timbre-wise Taemin has also become very different from Jaejoong, because he has a more airy kind of light to his timbre whereas Jaejoong's has some weight to the smoothness. So no, I don't think they have similar timbres anymore.

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Hi,do you think Krystal vocal is improve in a recent album, also can you do Winner's vocal prowess??

It's hard to tell if Krystal has improved because "Red Light" depends a lot on stylistic elements (melody-wise, and also a lot of vocal processing), and I haven't really been following her progress lately either. But her voice has definitely matured and it seems that she's learned more technique over the years.

I don't write vocal commentaries anymore, I'm sorry! But if I ever do decide to write one again, I'll consider writing one on WINNER. I need to put the names and faces to the voices first though!

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Thoughts on GOT7's album? I love it. When it comes to albums, JYPE makes amazing idol albums. But then when it comes to mini-albums, they're trash. Thoughts?

I really, really like "GOT♡" -- I think GOT7 are just going from one high to another, and that growth that I was hoping for during "Girls Girls Girls" was definitely evident. "A" as a lead single is everything I ever wanted and more (I talked about it here:, and the rest of the EP grew on me. I'm expecting big things for GOT7 in the future!

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Besides music, what do you enjoy in life?

The usual girly stuff -- Makeup, clothes, I also have an unhealthy relationship with washi tape! I'm also really weak when it comes to school supplies and cute stationary -- I constantly have to stop myself from buying notebooks I'll never use and I'm always looking for ingenious school supplies and the perfect highlighter TT_TT

I also really like reading/literature, and that's one of the main reasons why I chose to major in literature (apart from the strong theory component to the CL program). While I haven't been able to read for leisure in a VERY long time, I'm fortunate enough to be at that point where, to a certain extent, I enjoy what I'm reading for school. :D

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