As summer looms closer, K-pop has started to pick up the pace. This week saw lots of different releases, from soloists to idols to rappers; the game is on. And like every week, we took on the task of selecting our absolute faves, so here they are.
In all honesty, I clicked on “Spotlight” once it showed up on YouTube because I assumed that it was the former Wonder Girl member Sohee. I was wrong, but definitely not disappointed. K-Pop Star 6 finalist Kim Sohee’s single is a trendy R&B-tinged dance track that immediately made me think the queen of solo K-pop dance, BoA. And from other reviews I’ve seen, I’m not the only one thinking this. Sohee’s performance in the video is no joke, and her light pop vocals hooked me immediately. For a debut song, “Spotlight” is pretty impressive and I’m really excited to see what Sohee does next.
“Hyung (feat. Dok2, Simon Dominic, Tiger JK)” by Dumbfounded (Released May 16)
Korean-American rapper Dumbfounded dropped his first official Korean release and enlisted a roster of K-rap A-listers to feature on it. Dok2 and Simon Dominica bounce verses off of Dumbfounded, while Tiger JK addresses them shortly at the beginning (and maybe the chorus? Not sure). Essentially, the track can be summarized by the line: “Show me respect, I’ll show it back, that’s the code of conduct.” It talks about earning respect rather than being given to automatically on the basis of being a hyung, an older male. The music video stays true to Dumbfoundead’s funny aesthetic and uses lots of Korean culture references to emphasize that this is a Korean single. In short, “Hyung” is a bop.
What do you think of these songs? Let us know what your favorite song of the week was 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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Each week, some of our KultScene contributors pick songs that excited them over the past seven days. In the second week of May, we enjoyed songs by Day6, Moon Myung Jin, and Hitchhiker’s new song with NCT’s Taeyong.
“Dance Dance” by DAY6 (Released May 8)
Five months and ten songs into their monthly 2017 release project, DAY6 is still going strong in terms of coming up with extraordinarily catchy tracks that match perfectly with their identity as a band yet are unique enough to show their growing musicality with each release. Adorable music video aside, I think that I may have just found my favourite DAY6 release of the year. “Dance Dance” is a perfect musical representation of how much this band truly loves making music as well as how good they actually are at doing so. Their burning passion and enjoyment is evident right from the onset with maknae drummer Dowoon’s memorable first lines (he’s never had lines in other DAY6 songs before) and Jae’s playful pause toward the end of the song. The music video also shows scenes of the members creating songs or jamming in their natural habitat (the practice room) which gives off a much more comfortable vibe than any of their previous videos and really showcases the brotherly relationship this group shares. We still have seven months and 14 more releases to look forward to, so here’s hoping that DAY6 will continue to outdo themselves and reach the height of popularity they deserve.
Hitchhiker is a difficult producer to work with in terms of sound for any vocalist, since he takes centre. His latest track “Around” is a frenetic mix of sitar-like sounds and Major Lazer-esque dancehall. It pulses with unstoppable energy leaving a lot of work for NCT member Taeyong to not fall behind. The idol does not falter for a second though as his trademark deep drawl drags the song into his own. He rasps and bites as the song takes off around the halfway mark. It’s a clear sign that Taeyong is as good a rapper as people say, even for an SM idol.
“Lie Down (feat. Reddy)” by Moon Myung Jin (Released May 13)
Sometimes when K-pop is slow and unamusing, I have to go on YouTube to find cool releases on my own. This was precisely the case this week, which brought me to singer Moon Myung Jin’s “Lie Down” featuring Reddy. And while I don’t know the first, I certainly know the latter, leading me to click on the song without a second guess. “Lie Down” has that The Weeknd dreamy, baby-making soundscape, although it weaves in iconic East Asian sounds and chants that give the song a fresh take. Moreover, Reddy’s signature laid-back rap was meant to feature on “Lie Down” given that it’s a pretty chill song.
What do you think of our takes on these songs? Let us know what your favorite song of the week was 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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At last, K-pop’s starting to pick up, with more and more artists dropping new music. This week, we’ll tackle our fave up and coming rookie groups, as well as a much anticipated solo debut from a renowned artist.
“Will You Go Out With Me” by DIA (Released Apr. 18)
I am a huge fan DIA’s unique brand of aegyo. Theirs is brash, not innocent, and slightly deranged. While new single “Will You Go Out With Me?” is not as chaotic as “Mr. Potter” or “My Friend’s Boyfriend,” DIA do not lose their trademark edge. Apparently produced by the girls themselves alongside member of Brave Sound Park Hyun Joong, “Will You Go Out With Me” sounds like a little sister companion to another Brave Sound belter Stellar’s “Crying.” Squealing synths drive the girls to confront their crush rather than wait. This is best encapsulated by rapers Huihyun and Eunjin’s conversational style. They swap between straight rapping and inquisitive confrontation. It goes well with the best vocals of their career so far as well, abely helped especially by new member Jueun. To top it all off, the video has a Terence Malick-esque intro with whispered voiceover and backwards walking.
I haven’t really been a fan of a lot of the music rookie boy bands have been putting out so I was pleasantly surprised when I listened to SF9’s “Easy Love” for the first time. The song is more melodic than their previous releases, and I’m here for it. It reminds me a lot of BTOB’s early songs (“Insane,” “Irresistible Lips”) because it both shows off the group’s evocative vocal capabilities while still providing space for the rapper’s to do their thing. The song’s pre-chorus build is pretty unique, at least recently, leading into the song’s hook. I honestly enjoyed “Easy Love” because it sounds a lot like the K-pop boy band releases of a few years ago rather than the EDM-focused music we’ve been seeing lately. It’s a good sound for SF9, and I honestly think it works much better than their other songs (I’m looking at you, “Fanfare.”) SF9 were just announced for KCON NY and I was kind of unimpressed, but now that I heard “Easy Love” I’m looking forward to their performance.
“Flashlight feat. Jay Park” by Minzy (Released Apr. 17)
After giving up every hope of CL’s solo (I like to think “Lifted” never happened), I put up all my expectations on another ex-2NE1 member, Minzy. My faith in her was tested when she released an OST ballad, but it was all cool, cause that wasn’t it. “Ninano” was everything I expected from her, but “Flashlight” was what I wanted. From various 2NE1 songs we knew homegirl could sing and rival even Bom, but I didn’t know she had a bit of soul in there. “Flashlight” is more pop than actual R&B, but I’d go as far as to say that Minzy is probably one of two female idols able to tackle the genre successfully (the other one is Hyorin). If Jay Park would’ve sang instead of raped in a “My Boo” kind of way, it would’ve taken the song to a whole other level. Alas, this didn’t happen, but his Drake-esque sing-rap verse worked and gave the song another dimension. Minzy should further develop an R&B sound rather than try to go the CL in “Mental Breakdown” route.
What was your favorite release this week? Let us know your picks and 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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Every week, the KultScene crew share some of our favorite K-pop releases of the past week and discuss why exactly we were impressed by them. This week, we liked new releases from Teen Top and Super Junior’s Yesung.
“Love Is” by Teen Top (Released Apr. 10)
It’s the sad truth that very few K-pop groups are able to recover after their peak popularity, but Teen Top is attempting just that with “Love Is.” Their first song without former member L.Joe, their latest single is an angst-driven synthy dance-pop track that sounds like it would fit in the group’s repertoire of a few years ago more than some of their recent releases. The single is a throwback to their earlier Brave Brother-produced hits, which is fitting since they’re working with the producer once again. It thrives where you’d least expect it, playing one rhythm against one another, most prominently during the sweet chorus when the vocal melody contrasts sharply with an angered “No, no” response. They didn’t reinvent K-pop, but this group needed to show that they still can release a good, Teen Top-style song even with one less member, and that’s exactly what they did.
Even though I’m an ELF (Super Junior’s fandom) and love the KRY subunit, I haven’t enjoyed Yesung’s solo ventures thus far. “Hibernation” didn’t really change that, but it’s definitely a step in the direction of slow songs I can stomach. It’s a pretty mellow, easy going, little song. It’s devoid of Yesung’s usual powerhouse vocals, which actually benefit the track. He sticks to a flat, sweet tone that compliments the sentiment of the song. It’s not flashy or meant to destroy your feelings, like he usually does. “Hibernation” is literally and figuratively a warm up release for Yesung’s upcoming album. There, we will find those powerhouse belts he’s known for. And while it’s not my usual cup of tea, I’m not deaf; I can recognize talent, of course.
What was your favorite song of the week? Let us know 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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Every week, the KultScene team writes up mini reviews of our favorite new K-pop releases from the past week. This time, we enjoyed music courtesy of NCT’s Ten, YG Entertainment’s revamped WINNER, and up-and-coming idol band DAY6.
”Dream In A Dream” by Ten (NCT) (Released April
East meets west in Ten’s solo debut under SM Station, and it’s one of the most interesting songs SM has released this year. I’ve said for a while now that K-pop needs to focus a bit more on the “K” aspect, and this song does that perfectly. The hazy, instrumental-heavy sound of “Dream In a Dream” draws on both traditional Asian music styles and rhythmic contemporary dance beats to create a hypnotic effect. Altogether, the sound provides a glorious, ambient backdrop to the beautifully choreographed video. (Seriously, watch the MV.) The–all English!– singing is minimal, but it does poise Ten as a singer, which is very different from how we’ve seen him in the past: when he debuted in NCT U last year, Thai member Ten was positioned as a rapper. After that, he appeared on the dance competition show Hit The Stage. But now with “Dream In A Dream” it seems like the company wants all eyes focused on this talented performer.
”Fool” by WINNER (Released April 4th)
WINNER’s comeback accomplished nothing short of demolishing expectations. One of two singles off of Fate Number For, “Fool” sees the newly-established 4-piece lineup do what they do best — emotive music that demonstrates their artistry and versatility as idols and musicians. The rappers’ delicate singing voices complement the already sweet-toned vocal Jinwoo and stronger-voiced Seungyoon in a way that feels complete and harmonious even after losing a member last year. With complex instrumentalism and beautiful vocals, the group has shown strong potential to maintain relevance even after a tumultuous first few years in and out of the spotlight. I am looking forward to more from them this year, provided YG can pull through with the releases.
DAY6 returned a few days ago with their monthly Every Day6 album, containing title track “I’m Serious” as well as “Say Wow”. Despite its title, this single is one of the most playful and fun tracks DAY6 has ever come up with. Following a string of angsty heartbreak songs, this song and its adorable accompanying music video felt like a breath of fresh air. It’s lovely to watch the boys having fun performing this song as well, especially since they decided to go for another round of music broadcasts after last month’s “How Can I Say” performances. This fourth comeback in the year marks a pivotal turning point for DAY6 however, who created a big stir last week because of their flawless performance on the semi-final of K-pop Star 6. It was a homecoming for member Jae, who was on the first season of the audition program and he truly demonstrated how he had grown as an artist since then. They followed this feat with their first appearance on Yoo Hee Yeol’s Sketchbook, which caused their songs to bounce back onto music charts and Naver searches. It’s about time Korea started awakening to DAY6’s insane talent so I’m really happy for them and excited to see where this new popularity will take them.
What do you think of our takes on these songs? Let us know what your favorite song of the week was 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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Some weeks we see K-pop multiple comebacks from the industry’s biggest acts. The last week of March 2017 wasn’t like that, but we were graced with some great new music courtesy of Girl’s Day, Seo In Guk, Oh Ye Ri, and Jang Hyunseung. Keep reading to see what songs KultScene’s team liked.
“This Is Love” by Oh Ye Ri feat. Jang Hyunseung (Released April 1)
I didn’t really know what to expect from Oh Ye Ri’s “This Is Love,” aside from a feature courtesy of former BEAST member Jang Hyunseung. But the upbeat electropop song had me dancing in my seat the minute I heard it. With a bright, Carly Rae Jepsen-ish beat, the spritely “This Is Love” feels like the soundtrack for a youthful summer romance. Plus, Jang changed things up by acting as a featured rapper than the vocalist he’s typically known as. The song’s not going to be a bit, but it definitely deserves being added to a summer bop playlist.
After a gigantic hiatus, Girl’s Day has come back guns blazing with their latest single “I’ll Be Yours” off their mini-album Everyday #5. From a charismatic, sexy choreography to impressive vocals from Solji and Minah, the group has brought back the power of girl groups past. With the rise of cutesy, innocent concepts and the disbandment of girl groups that were around during Girl’s Day’s last promotion cycle, “I’ll Be Yours” not only reminds me about what makes Girl’s Day great, but makes me nostalgic for the more forceful girl groups that are no longer together. Altogether, the group’s undeniably hard-hitting latest release brings them back into the sphere of K-pop consciousness, with brass instrumentals and a heavy beat in tow. I’m hoping this comeback will be the start of a more stable series of promotional cycles, but only time can tell if Girl’s Day is really here to stay.
”Better Together” by Seo In Guk (Released March 28)
As a farewell song for his fans before heading off for his military service, actor-singer Seo In Guk released a beautiful ballad. His military service unfortunately did not go on for very long (he was released a few days later because of his ankle) but the sincerity in his voice as well as the touching music video perfectly expresses how much he’ll miss his fans and his normal life during his time in the army. He is often lauded for his acting skills but Seo In Guk actually debuted as a singer after winning “Superstar K” back in 2009, and his amazing vocals really proves that. His voice is just so full of emotion and grabs the listener’s heart right from the first note.
What was your favorite song of the week? Tell us what you think 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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Last week saw a lot of great releases from K-pop, but our most recent KultScene weekly K-pop faves playlist found us in love with parody K-pop act BGA and a CNBLUE b-side.
”Who’s It Gonna Be” by BGA (Released March 25)
What started out as a parody K-pop group created by a bunch of Asian Youtubers actually became a legit(ish) one with their comeback release “Who’s It Gonna Be.” Featuring a familiar and somewhat realistic MV storyline (especially for fans of K-pop) as well as smooth vocals and much improved Korean lyrics, the release actually makes for a pretty addictive song. I also really loved the equal line distribution in the song, giving listeners a chance to hear the (less autotuned) singing voices of each BGA member. The talents of the various members really shone as well, with David Choi’s songwriting, Ryan Higa and Jun Sung Ahn’s directing and so on. This group is certainly one that I can count on to never take itself seriously and is pretty refreshing amongst regular K-pop releases, as can be seen by its surprisingly amazing performance on iTunes charts or on Youtube (it racked up around four million views within a day of its release) I can’t wait to see more of this group in the near future!
”When I Was Young” by CNBLUE (Released March 20)
CNBLUE has always been a band that I kinda respected but didn’t really love them or their soft rock sound. But this new album, 7°CN really impressed me and nothing stood out more than “When I Was Young.” The synth-heavy song is exactly the type of electronica-influenced poprock that I love, and the mellow sound–which honestly reminds me a bit of The Chainsmokers– hits all the right notes for me. I personally think that the album version is better than the live since songs like “When I Was Young” benefit from sleek production, but take a look at the quartet performing live:
What was your favorite song of the week? Share your suggestions 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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Every Sunday, KultScene writers highlight some of their favorite new releases. This week, we enjoyed new music from Loona and Highlight, the revamped BEAST.
“Love & Live” by LOONA (Released Mar. 13)
I could write about a LOONA track every week if there was enough songs. March is so far the first month where a new girl has not been revealed, despite the teasers for them. It’s a little worrying given that it’s probably easy to mess up such a grand scheme as theirs. March is not over yet though so there is still hope and they were clever enough not to leave us with nothing. “Love & Live” brings together the four girls we’ve seen before, Heejin, Hyunjin, Haseul, and Yeojin for a sweet little Monotree ditty. Monotree are just so good at lifting up typically cute tracks into something a bit more substantial. The orchestral details of the verses are gorgeous and allow the synths in the chorus to pop that bit more. “Love & Live” also shows a previously hidden strength to LOONA’s marketing method: since each of the girls has had her own solo track, each of their voices are clearly distinguishable. Learning the members of a new group is always a part of getting into one but LOONA skips right past that, adding a texture to their rookie music that no others have.
”It’s Still Beautiful” by Highlight (released March. 13)
There is so much about Highlight’s first pre-release single that I could praise, but mostly it’s the optimistic message. Before releasing the fun upbeat “Plz Don’t Be Sad,” Highlight, aka the artist formerly known as BEAST, released “It’s Still Beautiful.” Ostensibly a simple ballad that shows off the band’s vocal prowess, the love song is all about remembering how wonderful a relationship was even after breaking up. As someone who was absolutely heartbroken to hear that Beast had to give up their name and begin again essentially as rookies–they reportedly are unable to perform any of their previous hits– the positive approach to looking at something that could just make you want to sit around and mope seemed like a well-intentioned message directed at Highlight’s fans, and it’s one that I appreciate greatly.
–Tamar 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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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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