It seems like 2017 is finally starting to pick up. Maybe agencies were waiting on their good releases, or maybe it’s the change in the policy to drop songs earlier in the day instead of midnight. Either way, here are our favorite K-pop songs from this week.
“Rollin’” by Brave Girls (Released Mar. 6)
I know you’re sick of tropical house, I am too, but there’s always hope for any genre when Brave Brothers is still making music. Who better to reinvigorate this tired genre with than his first ladies Brave Girls? All it took was two choruses, one with a hook and one with a dance break. So simple yet it takes the best of what tropical house can do and moulds it to his unbeatable formula. Thanks to a stellar year in 2016, I had been excited for them to comeback this year, but when Hyeran (not so much the other one) left, my hopes deflated somewhat. Her raps were key to their distinct qualities and she would be missed. You can hear exactly where she would have gone in “Rollin.” This is Brave Bros though, so he alters it a bit, making the rap sweeter than the ferocious Hyeran would have delivered it. “Rollin” is sticky, sexy, and so fun. Also watch them live for quality stool work and the smiliest idol ever, Yujeong.
In my decades of being a fangirl, I’ve never met a group that lives by the saying “actions speak louder than words” more than the sextet B.A.P. They’ve continuously showcased meaningful messages through their music time and time again, with their recent title track “Wake Me Up” being no less than powerful. There had already been a great deal of build up weeks prior to the song’s release, considering leader, Bang Yongguk, was rejoining the rest of his members in this promotion after a four month hiatus. The answer that the world wants, is blind to it’s desperation, “Wake Me Up” touches on societal issues, something B.A.P has written about numerous times and mental health (Yongguk was on hiatus due to panic disorders) – an issue society seems to turn a blind eye towards and shy away from talking about. This music video showcases all that’s wrong in the world (racism and judgement) and how it plays it’s role with various types of mental illnesses (depression and self hate). For the members of B.A.P to take a subject as touchy as this and turn it into an eye opening “lesson” is absolutely remarkable. It’s been five years and I still get blown away with their bold and compelling concepts. I’m also hopeful that people who listen to B.A.P’s music for the first or fiftieth time, are able to walk away from each song with a new outlook on life. If you’re still sleeping on B.A.P, you need to seriously wake up!
“Pick Me” by Produce 101 Season 2 (Released Mar. 9)
I couldn’t stand the girls’ version of “Pick Me.” I even drafted a potential year-end list on worst singles, which it would headline. Then KCON happened, and well, I suddenly became a Stockholm Syndrome hostage of it. It has since grown on me, but not to the point of actually liking it. And since I never watched the first Produce 101, I wasn’t planning on watching season two either. But then I came across this video and it made me change my mind. This version of “Pick Me,” despite the EDM overhaul, is not annoyingly repetitive and the song as a whole is more easily digestible. Not being able to get out the girls’ “pick me” line out of my head seemed like torture; this version, however, is quite the earworm. It’s a bubblegum banger, just as its predecessor, but without the “odd thing I found on the internet today” factor. Which brings me to point out that the girls’ choreography seemed more tight and had that wow factor. Nevertheless, 101 dudes dancing in near perfect unison is why I can’t fully stan boy and girl bands outside of K-pop; they’re just subpar in comparison at this point. Season 2’s “Pick Me” surely sealed the deal on me looking up bootleg videos with subtitles to see what’s up. Maybe they’ll be as big as I.O.I, who knows? With “Pick Me,” it seems promising.
What was your favorite song of the week? Share your picks thoughts in the comment section below. Be sure to subscribe to the site and follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Tumblr to keep up with all of our posts.
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Each week, the KultScene crew gets together and talks which K-pop songs released the past week caught our attention. The last week of February saw a lot of good releases, but we focused this week’s playlist on boy band Victon, a B-side from the first LP from Girls’ Generation’s Taeyeon, and a hip hop collab between LIVE and DEAN.
“Eyez Eyez” by VICTON (Released Mar. 2)
Despite being all quite similar, the new generation of boy groups are quite good at delivering classic K-pop sounding tracks. VICTON’s “Eyez Eyez” is one of the best examples. Pairing the synths of Sweetune with dripping dub reminiscent of Nu’est at their best, “Eyez Eyez” is dramatic in the ways that only K-pop boy groups can be. The developing mix of synths and dub carries this drama throughout, however, never steering into the realm of silliness. Especially in the pre-chorus, it kicks into overdrive with vocals pushing the music to keep up. It has no trouble as the song climbs to an epic plateau where a chorus can naturally occur. Producers BeomXNang have worked with VICTON on all their singles so far, improving each time. VICTON lack in distinctive qualities but compared to other boy groups right now, few can compete in terms of consistency.
With its light-hearted tropical beats and Taeyeon’s brightly effusive deliver of the lovestruck lyrics, the sweet “Cover Up” is a standout from Taeyeon’s My Voice album. It’s quite honestly like a burst of fresh air on the album after “Fine,” the more melancholic opening track. “Cover Up” seems like a more positive, saccharine spin on the the electro-pop feel Taeyeon pursued on last year’s “Why,” although altogether more of a feel good song. Practically incessant in its cheeriness and cool, romantic tone, “Cover Up” seems more like a song suited for the start of spring than at the end of the winter (although I guess those are the same thing?), but regardless of its release date I am very, very happy and would love to hear this spritely version of Taeyeon more often.
“Know Me (feat. DEAN)” by LIVE (Released Mar 1)
I honestly don’t know who LIVE is, but he’s got a new song out with none other than DEAN, and well, here we are. In “Know Me,” DEAN doesn’t just lend his velvety vocals and falsettos, but actually talk raps and he absolutely killed it. MORE OF THIS PLEASE! The song itself goes on a roller coaster, going from fast-paced, fire spitting bars to a more mellow lullaby. And it’s just not DEAN who makes the song amazing, but LIVE’s rapping is pretty dope. I may not had known him before, but as the lyrics say, now I do.
— Alexis What was your favorite song of the week? Share your thoughts in the comment section below and be sure to subscribe to the site and follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Tumblr to keep up with all of our posts.
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The last full week of February saw a lot of new releases from K-pop’s female acts, some of which caught the attention of KultScene’s team. Continue reading to hear which new songs by Lovelyz, TWICE, and Dal Shabet’s Subin won us over.
”Knock Knock” by TWICE (Released Feb. 20)
I’m not a TWICE stan but I can’t deny that their title releases have always been addictive and catchy, albeit sometimes a little annoying. When they made their comeback recently I was expecting much of the same, but “Knock Knock” proved to be a surprise. Yes, it has a concept and melody that we’ve come to recognise as TWICE. But this was the first time I genuinely liked every part of the song (especially the bridge!) and thought it suited the group very well. The accompanying choreography is definitely one of my favourites so far and this no-longer-rookie group definitely feels more comfortable now. Their comeback has felt a little undermined in light of BTS’s immense success but the song has still done remarkably well and I hope TWICE only goes up from here!
It seems like everyone I’ve spoken to about Subin’s “Circle’s Dream” either compares her to Lorde, Lim Kim, or both. The low-key instrumentals–including what sounds like a whimsically plucked ukulele– act as the backdrop of the Dal Shabet member’s vocals, which are somehow simultaneously sonorous and mellow. Even as playful as Subin sounds rolling her ‘r’s and singing sweepings “woos,” the song is actually about being hurt by love. The single’s style–and Subin’s solo work in general– is such a fresh approach to a topic that K-pop’s covered before, it’s really a pity that her solo efforts are getting essentially ignored. Dal Shabet had one of the best K-pop songs of 2016, and “Circle’s Dream” highlighted the fact that it’s not just by accident: Subin is an artist not to be overlooked.
”WoW!” by Lovelyz (Released Feb. 26)
Lovelyz are the best girl group of the new generation. Sadly rethreads of older groups are hogging the limelight so no one really knows this. “Destiny” was one of the most complete songs of 2016 and every single by Lovelyz since their debut has been good or great. “WoW!” is their biggest departure to date although nothing is lost in the transition. Lovelyz retain the synthpop style that dramatizes their potentially overbearing cuteness. On “WoW!,” produced by Lovelyz regular Onepiece, they add a level of quirk. The structure is odd, opening with a rhythmic talk-sing of the title with funky guitars. It then moves onto handclaps and eventually the surprising, but oh so satisfying, chorus. As usual Jiae is the secret weapon of Lovelyz. She perfectly captures the saccharine cuteness while still being totally weird. Her babyish, high-pitched “jyae ippeo” adds another whole level to the song, keeping it constantly exciting as opposed to maybe just a bit different. Lovelyz put effort into their music that goes unnoticed but revives the K-pop cutesy girl group sound every time.
What was your favorite song of the week? Share your thoughts in the comment section below and be sure to subscribe to the site and follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Tumblr to keep up with all of our posts.
February’s seen an uptick in K-pop releases, and this week the KultScene team had a wide array of new music to pick from. Between rockers, hip hop artists, and pop groups, we’ve highlighted some of our favorite songs of the week.
“Princess” by Jung Joon Young (Released Feb. 7)
After an unfortunate scandal late last year, talented rocker Jung Joon Young took a hiatus from both his music and variety career and remained in France for a while until his name was cleared. He then proceeded to make his return to the variety program he was on (2 Days 1 Night) and recently made a triumphant comeback to the music world with his first full album The First Person. The entire album is a masterpiece, filled with explosive instrumentals as well as Jung Joon Young’s gorgeous unique voice. As a ballad fan, this album was really perfection to me, but in particular, “Princess” stood out as one of the most beautiful K-pop songs I’ve ever heard. The way the background instrumentals intensified with every verse (the addition of the strings in the second verse for example) as well as when Jung Joon Young reached higher notes (he did so marvellously too!) made the entire song so cohesive and enabled non-Korean speaking listeners like myself to understand the emotions of the song. “Princess” proved once and for all that Jung Joon Young never does conventional ballads; he always manages to add a spin to his songs which make them instantly recognisable. I’m so happy that he’s back with such amazing music and I’ll definitely remain a fan for a long time.
As a long time fan of Sunny Hill, I honestly thought that last year’s “On The Way Home” was their final song, both because of its message and because Sunny Hill seemingly disappeared afterwards. But there was never any real closure or certainty regarding what was going on with the group and “Crossroads” seems to be an outward reflection of that. A jazzy soft rock song, the single appears to tell the story of the narrator, or Sunny Hill, deciding to move in a certain direction after not knowing where or what to do. Considering that Sunny Hill explored variety of different musical styles and visual concepts and saw little acclaim since they started off in 2007 (even though their song’s meanings and videos typically presented artistry rarely seen in K-pop) the new single comes across as the group’s explanation for leaving things up in the air: they simply don’t know where to go. It’s not really what I, or what I imagine any other Hillers, really want but it’s good to know that this introspective, insightful group isn’t just falling by without any rhyme or reason. Sunny Hill’s at a crossroads after a decade-spanning career, and, honestly, it’s great to see them admitting it. More Korean acts need to be as frank about their career, and societal issues, as Sunny Hill has been. If it’s the end, it’ll be sad, but honestly I’m just hoping this means we’ll see something even better than ever from this group in the near future. (Also, along with its importance for Sunny Hill, the song really, really hit home for me, since I’m amidst an in-between stage of my life.)
Earlier this week, former Show Me the Money 5 contestant Superbee dropped a new song accompanied with K-hip-hop’s best and other up-and-coming rappers: queen Yoon Mirae, her husband Tiger JK, Double K, Junoflo, and myunDo. The beat on “Pattern” sounds like a lighter, less bombastic version of “YGGR,” with the bells and overall somberness of it, although it lacks the power. However, the mix of all the rappers’ different flows and pitches create an interesting; every artists brings something to the table. From Yoon Mirae’s confident hook, to Superbee’s squeaky verse and signature laugh, to Junoflo’s bouncy, spit-fire bars. “Pattern,” more than anything, brought a bunch of awesome rappers for an awesome track and I’m here for it.
What was your favorite song of the week? Share your thoughts in the comment section below and be sure to subscribe to the site. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Tumblr to keep up with all of our posts.
When JYP Entertainment debuted idol boy group GOT7 three years ago, never did it cross my mind that I’d be seeing them perform in North America on a yearly basis, let alone 5 times in a span of eight days. Wait, what? Yup, you read that right. This writer recently attended all five stops of GOT7’s Flight Log: Turbulence in USA 2017fan meeting tour. The tour started in Miami on Jan. 21st, followed by Washington D.C. on Jan. 22nd, Chicago on Jan. 25th, Houston on Jan. 27th, and ended in Los Angeles on the 29th. And after attending the same show five times, you pick up a few things. In my case, this is what I learnedwhile on tour with GOT7.
[Disclaimer: I paid for my own flights, living accommodations, and show tickets. Press access was only provided for Miami.]
Idols Are Human Beings Too, You Know
We’re dealt with various cards during our lifetime, some good and some bad. What you and I experience throughout our lives might not be anywhere close to the kind of extreme and rigorous practice idols take on and live through mentally, emotionally, and physically on a daily basis. But no matter the situation(s) and how different their life may (seem to) be, at the end of the day, idols are still human beings, just like me and you. Miami, the first stop, was a clear reminder of that.
As soon as the lights hit the stage and the seven members appeared, you could instantly tell from their facial expressions that they were all running extremely low on energy. Who can blame them, though? Considering the countless back-to-back schedules they had for weeks on end prior to that nights show. Even though they all looked like they could use some sleep, well, month’s worth of sleep actually, the guys still powered through and tried their best to to put on a lively and interactive fan meet. Fans wanted leader JB to sing “Holic,” his recently released unofficial Soundcloud solo, but he wasn’t in the best condition and had a sore throat and said he’d sing it at a later time (four cities later and I’m still waiting for a live version!). Despite their fatigued start, they quickly gained momentum by their next stop.
Dab Dab & Sexy Dance
These are words that I can guarantee you will always hear at a GOT7 U.S. show, whether it be five months or three years from now. Within the last 12 months, member Bambam has gained himself the title of Dab King and undeniably lives up to that name every day. And of course, without a single drop of hesitation, introduced himself as “Dabdab” instead of Bambam at the group’s Miami stop. There’s been countless occasions where the crowd has chanted for him to dab and he’s replied with a “dabbing is so old now,” but that never stops him. Oh, but what’s better than a dabbing Bambam? The hyung-line (older members/brothers), especially Jackson, insisting on maknae and dance machine Yugyeom to do his sexy dance, is what. Even though the members are always egging him on, they still manage look away and cringe in embarrassment as soon as he starts to pop his chest. You can almost always expect a sexy dance solo from Yugyeom almost immediately after a Bambam dab-off. While Bambam and Yugyeom are continuous victims of the hyung-line, dabbing and doing sexy dances, don’t seem to bother this maknae duo whatsoever!
Derp Kings & Self Shippers
Time and time again, GOT7 has proven themselves to be the kings of making derpy faces. Whether it’s a penalty for losing a game or because they simply feel like it, just like clock work, these guys will surprise you with their infinite amount of derpy facial expressions. It was in the middle of a game during their Houston stop, Bambam aligned himself with the cameraman in the pit and started making one of many of his notorious faces to which led JB to come over and also start doing the same.
And just when you thought you had these guys all figured out, just when you thought you’re over being surprised with the things that come out of their mouths, GOT7 goes ahead and self proclaims their “ship” names for one another! What?! That’s so wild right? When have you ever met a group who openly talks about these kinds of things? As soon as the members mentioned it, l you could hear the fans break out into massive shrieks and then almost simultaneously hear immediate laughter on stage from the members in acknowledgement of the names “MarkBam,” “MarkJin,” and my new favorite “Parkson” (Park Jinyoung, Mark, and Jackson).
AmeriThaiKong & Jinyoung?
GOT7 is known as an international group; eldest member Mark Tuan is Chinese-American, Jackson Wang is a Hong Kong native, and Bambam hails from Thailand. Usually, if English needs to be spoken, you can count on these three to deliver and be the group’s very own translators. But wait a minute, it looks like they’ve gained themselves a fourth English speaker, Park Jinyoung. I may not know him on a personal level but Jinyoung’s always come off a studious fella; he’s mentioned his love for reading, enjoyment of studying, and wandering curiosity. That all showed as he made a conscious effort to speak in English during each of his closing statements for every leg of the tour. Jinyoung surprised the crowds with his almost fluent and strong pronunciation every time he spoke. It’ll only be a matter of time before he can hold an entire conversation [in English] with Mark, Jackson, Bambam, and even fans.
Comeback and KCON 2017
At the end of each stop, the members hinted that although they’re leaving us [tonight], we shouldn’t be too sad since they’ll be “coming back” soon. Interpret that however you will, but it has been four months since the group released and finished promoting Flight Log: Turbulence, so it’s only Korean music scene norm that they’re in the process of making another comeback. As much as we all want them to get some much needed TLC and vacation time, we’re all just as psyched about their new music (especially with all the teasing JB and Youngjae have been doing with their Soundcloud accounts). To top off it off, Mark mentioned during his speech in LA that they might even be coming back for KCON, which lead the crowd to erupt in ecstatic cheers. If all of this is indeed true, you all better start saving, like yesterday.
“If You Do” Is Iconic
In a previous review, I mentioned that “If You Do,” was GOT7’s best song to date, and 16 months later, I still strongly stand by that statement. I’ve seen them perform this song live eight times since it came out and have absolutely loved every single second of it, all the eight times. It’s no doubt that this song was an extremely pivotal moment for a lot of fans. “If You Do” transformed these seven delicate and goofy guys (which in reality they still are) into one hell of a charismatic bunch. If you weren’t a part of the fandom before this song came out, then you were definitely in when it was released. As if this song wasn’t already the creme de la creme in my life, I enjoyed it a hundred times more when Team JMJ (JB, Mark, and Jinyoung) danced to the slo-mo version of “If You Do” as part of their “random play dance” segment in Houston. Just when I thought it couldn’t have gotten any better, it did.
L.A. Knows How To Turn Up
The crowds in Miami, Washington D.C., Chicago, and Houston were loud, but L.A. easily took the cake home for the most “turnt up” crowd. Could it be that it was the last stop on their tour? Or maybe because it’s Mark’s hometown? Or even perhaps it was the fact that Elliott Yamin (placed third on American Idol, Season 5) was there and we all got to hear Youngjae sing “Wait For You” sort of as a dedication song? Regardless of the reasonings, the Pasadena Convention Center was on fire from beginning until end.
Although the L.A. show was shorter than the four cities prior to it, GOT7 made sure to never let there be a dull moment, whether that meant Bambam and Yugyeom dancing to “Juju On That Beat,” when Mark was sprawled out on the stage in defeat from not being able to name the correct song, or every time the members rushed over to Danny Lim, the MC for the tour, during a game, corner and surround him, causing him to burst out into laughter every time. But what really determines L.A. as the winning city? Probably when Mark got a bit choked up during his closing statement, thanking everyone for coming out, because every audience member knew how much it meant to him to be back on his home turf and being able to perform in front of his family once again.
GOT7 adores IGOT7’s
This isn’t breaking news because if you’re an ahgase (their fanclub name), then you should already know that you’re the apple of these guys’ eyes (no matter how crazy some of you may be). Fans have heard time and time again from GOT7 about how grateful they are for this fandom and for all the love and support they’ve been shown, but most of us have only ever heard these things online, as we’re watching an awards/music show or celebrating an anniversary. In reality, it’s a completely different feeling when you’re hearing and seeing something over the internet versus when you get to witness and experiencing it in the flesh. Just like anything else in life, really, you can’t get the full effect and truly tell how someone or something may be until you’re actually given that opportunity to see it upfront. There might be people out there who consider some members to be cold and standoffish, but in fact — and I’ve been lucky on numerous occasions to witness this — all seven members are well beyond affectionate and remarkably lovely people.
Sometimes when you go to any kind of show, at the end, the artist usually thanks the crowd and in some instances, they feel like empty words. But whenever GOT7 says it, especially when Jackson comments and asks things like, “Did you guys make sure you ate before coming here?”; address situations on how you need to take care of your own health and not worry about them (GOT7) because they can take care of themselves; make sure that you work on your own happiness first and then you can worry about others , shows you how mindful he is of the fans, and it’s something that sticks with you and will forever be ingrained in your head.
2017 WILL Be GOT7’s Year
Every fan wants their faves to be able to say “this is our year” and actually accomplish it. Sometimes it works out, other times it doesn’t. However, considering the firm rate that GOT7’s been peddling at, with the year only just beginning and having just finished a five city US tour, leaving us all in anticipation for a new album and future concert(s), my biased heart truly believes that 2017 will indeed be GOT7’s year. The group is headed at a solid pace to truly making it theirs.
I crunched a few numbers together and found myself running on tens hours of sleep in a span of nine days days and had flown for a total of 8,274 miles. With all of that mileage, I could’ve made my way over to South Korea, WITH a layover! But that trip can wait a bit longer. Flight Log: Turbulence in USA 2017 not only allowed me to see the extraordinary performers that GOT7 are again, but this tour also gave me the opportunity to visit cities I usually wouldn’t think of visiting otherwise. In addition to traveling to new cities and experiencing new things, this tour also gave me the chance to do one of my favorite things, and that’s to meet up and spend time with friends, both new and old! Don’t you love how music can bring people together?
Were you at any, if not all, of the stops? Share your experiences in the comment section below and be sure to subscribe to the site and follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Tumblr to keep up with all of our posts.
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The end of January was a bit sleepy in comparison to earlier in the month, but KultScene still had a lot of music to listen to. Some of of our writers fell for lovely, tender tracks and felt like we had to share Mugamak’s new single and EXO member Chen’s collaborative track with K-hip hop royalty Dynamic Duo.
”First Time in Love” by Mugamgak (Released Jan. 24)
Despite its happier sounding title, Mugamgak’s second single turned out to be even more heart-achingly beautiful than his first. He really showed that he was coming into his own as a ballad singer-songwriter with this release and his skills have obviously improved tremendously from a few months ago, with the expansion of his amazing vocal range. His voice is tender and flows nicely with his piano accompaniment to bring out the emotion of the song. I love Mugamak’s style of music so far and I hope he’ll come out with more wonderful singles soon.
Some ballads are just nice, and then there are some that are sentimentally momentous. “Nosedive,” the collaborative track by Dynamic Duo and EXO’s Chen is most certainly the latter. The simple melody is beautiful to listen to, with the pair’s raps to offset Chen’s dulcet voice. But it’s the lyrics of the song where “Nosedive” really stands out: The intro of Chen’s choral verse (When it hurts, just cry / Cry all you want, it’s okay) is filled with so much warmth, something much of K-pop is missing. “Nosedive” is known as a “healing song,” and there’s an obvious reason why.
–Tamar Which song was your favorite? Share your thoughts in the comment section below and be sure to subscribe to the site and follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Tumblr to keep up with all of our posts.
A week of farewells had K-pop saying “Goodbye” to girl groups 2NE1 and I.O.I, while CLC revamped their image. This very estrogen-filled week’s playlist is rounded out by Girls’ Generation’s Seohyun, who released her first solo album.
”Goodbye” by 2NE1 (Released January 21st)
And that’s all, folks. 2NE1’s “Goodbye” hit me hard — I still can’t stop listening to it and feeling the same emotions I felt on the first listen. This group’s untimely end is chock full of rumors, scandals, possible discord, and more. But this song, with its soulful vocals and acoustic instrumentation, gives us the ability to look back on what really matters — the revolutionary career of a legendary girl group. As one of YG’s only immediately English-subbed music videos, “Goodbye” communicates the members’ feelings about disbandment to both domestic and international fans through honest lyrics “Don’t trust the broken stories,” “Even if things get rough, it will be okay,” “Come find me when you need someone to lean on,” and the song’s main refrain, “Goodbye until the day we meet again” hit close to home for millions of Blackjacks around the globe. The song is my pick for this week simply because it is so simple yet so evocative, and it embodies the iconic 2NE1 sound so well. It’s sad to think that I’ll never have a chance to write a Weekly Playlist about them again, but as CL says in the first verse, “Not everything lasts forever.” So, to Blackjacks everywhere, I hope your grieving period isn’t too hard. We will miss having all four girls together forever, but at least we have this song as a final reminder of the beautiful songs — both pop and ballad — that they’ve released since their debut in 2009. Goodbye, 2NE1. You won’t be forgotten.
”Love & Affection” by Seohyun (Released Jan. 17)
Of all the songs on her sultry Don’t Say No album, the showstopper is Seohyun’s “Love & Affection.” It’s the shortest track, but also the one with the most distinct sound: building rock instrumentals mesh with playful synths and electronic beats collide to create a playful cacophony of sounds. The track is dominated by Seohyun’s strong vocals as she express “I hate your love, love & affection!” before adding in a few vocal trills and whistled “oooh ooohs.” Even though it hasn’t received as warm of a welcome as some other songs on the album (like the jazzy, but slightly boring, “Bad Love”), “Love & Affection” isn’t just by chance a great electropop song: along with lyrics written by Seohyun, it was co-written by Fredrik Häggstam, who co-wrote the Chainsmokers’ recent hit “Paris,” Red Velvet’s addicting “Ice Cream Cake,” and TVXQ’s “Blink.” While it may not be to everyone’s taste, there are few flaws in “Love & Affection,” other than the obvious matter that it is far too short.
“Close your eyes, So that I can breathe, And pretend we have something”
Much has been said about CLC’s recent transformation into the new 4minute and it is sad to see them completely copy their sister group but more 4minute is never a bad thing. Their album “Crystyle” is a strong tight mini and I’ve been really enjoying their live promotions for lead single “Hobgoblin.” “Meow Meow” is the best of the lot though, a trop house cut about the arrogant young girls’ frustration with hesitant boys. It’s not a frustrated song though: the synths replicate relaxed steel drums. They’re prominent but remain languid and laid back. Elkie’s shrill pronouncement of being Harley Quinn and Yeeun’s continued Hyuna impersonation (she even goes as far as making a “Roll Deep” reference) add some great dynamics to the vocals. Even when becoming another group, CLC are still great.
In this tragic week of final releases, popular girl group I.O.I released their last song together along with a heartbreaking music video showing the formation of the group and their various experiences over the past year. Written by Seventeen’s Woozi, this emotional ballad was a perfect sendoff for this temporary group since it gave them the chance to show off their vocals as well as express their earnest feelings for the unfortunate disbandment. With the use of the simple and effective metaphor of rain to represent both difficulties and tears, “Downpour” is a sad but an extremely encouraging song, with lyrics such as “It’s alright, this shower is going to pass quickly” and “We shall smile again and be together,” promising fans that this won’t be the last they would see of these girls. Indeed it wouldn’t, since many of the members are already in new girl groups or are debuting solo in the near future. All good things really do come to an end but fortunately for fans, I.O.I provided a wonderful platform for the members to start their individual careers and they have bright futures ahead of them.
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January’s shaping out to be quite the slow month for K-pop releases — or at least thus far. 2016 showered us with songs every other day, so this pace is definitely a big change. And while releases have been scarce, we got enough to pick out our faves of the week.
“Don’t Worry” by JB (Released Jan. 15)
In what may be the best present to fans to commemorate their third anniversary, GOT7’s JB dropped yet another couple of songs today (the 16th) for our listening pleasure. Out of the two, “Don’t Worry” stood out to me cause it balanced his soul interpretation with a more up tempo beat. After five solo songs I finally understand why JB’s always so extra in his GOT7 performances: the boy has all this emotion harboring inside of him, waiting for the right avenue to come out — and this is it, you guys! JB’s finally doing R&B and it’s fantastic.
“Without A Heart” cover by BTS (Performed Jan. 14)
BTS’s cover of 8Eight’s song was one of the highlights of the 2017 Golden Disk Award show for me. Both groups were created by BigHit Entertainment, so it’s fitting for BTS to remake the soulful tune. The “Without a Heart” performance was quite different from the original, considering the 8Eight was a co-ed vocal trio whereas BTS is a seven-member boy band. But the group was able to blend their voices together in the emotive performance, resulting in one of BTS’s best ballad performances ever. (Plus Rap Monster and J-Hope’s hard-hitting raps added a bit of a rougher feel to the tune). Their cover also offered a peek into BTS’s professional attitude: Suga’s mic failed during his line, but it was nearly imperceptible.
Loona’s girl of the month strikes again this time with their most fun track so far. The creative dream team of Monotree and Digipedi come together once again to give Yeojin “Kiss Later” an orchestral pop explosion IU would relish. Yeojin’s vocals are not as strong as her predecessors but she gets around it with a playful delivery, going into talk-sing mode every now and then. Each moment is a blast with Monotree varying the instrumentation as much as they can. Horns and strings swirl in and out and they even throw in a guitar solo. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, get ready for Loona to be a girl group for the ages.
What was your fave song this week? Share your picks with us in the comment section below and be sure to subscribe to the site. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Tumblr to keep up with all of our posts.
The second week of January brought K-pop the busiest week of 2017 (two down!) so far, with a variety of releases from well-known acts. Long-lived boy band Shinhwa released a new album, while VIXX member Ravi dropped some solo music. Rookie acts Akdong Musician (aka AKMU) and Day6 also returned with brand new music that turns away from K-pop’s typical dancepop sound.
“I Wait” by Day6 (Released Jan.6)
Day6 kicked off their year-long release cycle with the first single, “I Wait.” The song is the most boisterous single from Day6 so far, and it changes the group’s sound up quite a bit with a blend of electro and alternative rock. The song’s title in Korean, “Aw Why?” (“아 왜?”) makes the stilted rhythm all that much more anxiety-inducing, but the English one actually makes “I Wait” seem a bit more sentimental. It’s an altogether heavier sound from the band, but still maintains Day6’s typical lovelorn lyrics and paired with their typically cinematic music video. It’s the first of 12 singles Day6 plans to release in 2017, so prepare to be overrun with this band’s ever growing discography.
Shinhwa still manages to blow my mind with every comeback. As the members evolved over the last decade, so has their music, and “Touch” is no different. The song is heavily future bass influenced, which keeps the listeners in a trance from the beginning until the end. The group actually premiered “Touch” at the 2016 MBC Gayo Daejun, which was sort of a spoiler since viewers were able to see the choreographed version first instead of just the song itself but it was nonetheless a worthy performance. It’s even more applause-worthy to see these guys keep up with the ever changing music scene and the continuous efforts that they put into making it work, even after almost twenty years.
“Bomb” by Ravi feat. San E (Released Jan. 8)
If you’re already immune to the rampant cultural appropriation in K-hip-hop and can get past the mildly cringey intro, Ravi’s first solo endeavour “Bomb” quite exceeds expectations. It looks and sounds a bit dated, not to mention it’s very similar to Zico’s “Tough Cookie” aesthetically. It’s really not that interesting sound-wise; your standard hard K-rap beat. However, Ravi’s delivery was spot on — miles away from his second hand embarrassment inducing verses on VIXX’s early songs — and showed he’s still growing as a rapper. Not to mention the chorus is easily sung a long to and has earworm potential. Furthermore, I’ve never heard a song featuring San E that I’ve liked, but I don’t mind his presence that much here. Overall, it’s nice to see Ravi doing better and working on the betterment of his craft.
“Will Last Forever” by Akdong Musician (Released Jan. 2)
Korea’s beloved sibling duo made a return this week with their third album “Spring to Winter,” accompanied with a music video and a beautiful musical short film. While their title track “Last Goodbye” pulled at my heartstrings a lot (I’m going to miss you Chanhyuk), “Will Last Forever” went a step further in actually moving me. There’s just something tragic about two young kids singing about lost hopes and forgotten friendships. It hits you with a cold dose of reality and forces you to wake up from your youthful dreams.
”Fall Back” by A.Leean (Released Jan. 7)
“Fall Back” is different from Ailee’s previous songs for a reason. The single, produced by LA-based Westside Entertainment, was carefully engineered for a new audience; it sounds as if it was chosen specifically for its potential to climb the U.S. charts. Although an agency representative compared A.Leean’s vocal ability to that of Whitney Houston and Ariana Grande, Ailee’s new song “Fall Back” is more likely to evoke a Katy Perry feeling. From its urgent workout-worthy beat to the catchy refrain, it’s the kind of song you put on when you need to rev up your day. It’s memorably appealing but it was not designed to make the most of Ailee’s incredible vocal range. While the sections of “Fall Back” that give Ailee center stage may remind K-pop fans how lush her voice can be, the song’s production does not let her voice resonate as emotionally as it did in her recent hit “Home” featuring Yoon Mirae, or her OST contributions, “Goodbye My Lover” and “Day by Day.”
“Fall Back” is heavy on the percussion, which sometimes distracts from Ailee’s voice and other times successfully uses a tinsel effect to make the song sound celebratory, which is fitting for a debut. It may be just the formula to climb the U.S. charts, but “Fall Back” doesn’t really live up to K-pop’s standards. The lyrics are about wanting to revive lost love, trying to return to the moment when everything was good, and make things work out after all. The optimistic turn-back-the-clock lyrics may be just the kind of lyrics needed in 2017, and they’re easy to hum along to.
Which song was your favorite? Share your thoughts in the comment section below and be sure to subscribe to the site and follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Tumblr to keep up with all of our posts.
It’s a new year so, of course, there is new music! (Okay, but really they were mostly released last week.) This week’s K-pop favorite playlist features some old and new tunes from the likes of old-school K-pop boy band Shinhwa, JB of Got7, and rising vocalist Jin Won.
“T.O.P” by Shinhwa (Performed at MBC Gayo Daejejeon, Dec. 31, 2016)
It’s been almost two decades since Shinhwa released “T.O.P,” the first song to bring the group success after their debut a year prior. The usage of Tchaikovsky’s “Swan Lake” in “Twinkling of Paradise,” the song’s full name, gives “T.O.P” an everlasting magical aura, which puts listeners into an eternal trance. What made this performance at “MBC’s Gayo Daejejeon” even more special and raw was the addition of the live violinist. Shinhwa still oozes charisma, despite having performed “T.O.P” for what feels like an ungodly amount of times already. But no matter how many times, how many versions have been played, it’s timeless and continues to be a crowd favorite.
”So Beautiful” by Jin Won (Released Dec. 26, 2016)
I’m a sucker for ballads, and the moment I discovered Jin Won’s swaying rock ballad “So Beautiful” I knew I was about to be absorbed by it. Although I’ve never heard of Jin Won before, my first listen of “So Beautiful” was life changing. Maybe that’s a bit of an exaggeration, but Jin Won’s expressive vocal performance on the wintery tune is enchanting. The track isn’t just a typical ballad though, as it features slight quirks like resonating wails and record-like scratches. Jin Won appeared on a season of Superstar K, and I for one would love to see “So Beautiful,” and other future releases from him, featured on the soundtracks of Korean dramas.
“Holic” by Def. aka JB of GOT7 (Released Jan. 1, 2017)
2017 hadn’t even begun in the western hemisphere and GOT7’s JB, using his artist alias Def, dropped exactly what fans have been asking of him for years: solo R&B tracks. Out of the three uploaded to his Soundcloud account, “Holic” stood out for not using a rapper nor relying on the hip-hop elements to resonate. Instead, in “Holic,” JB captivates the listener with his heartfelt yet incredibly sexy rendition of the song. And while JB is never not immersed in his feelings during GOT7 performances, here is a new side to the singer that fans knew he had in him, but had never been able to put on full display in the group’s musical repertoire. “Holic” further proves that JB is an R&B singer, and that if given a chance, he’d kill it. Hopefully, he’ll continue uploading more solo songs, for he’s too good to stop now that we got a taste.
What was your favorite song from the last week of 2016 and the first day of 2017? Share your picks and thoughts in the comment section below and be sure to subscribe to the site. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Tumblr to keep up with all of our posts.