Posts

Amber Liu’s ‘Rogue Rouge’ album review

Resultado de imagem para amber liu rogue rouge

F(x) has always been one of the most distinctive groups in K-pop, experimenting with sounds and elements not often seen until their debut, in 2009. Taiwanese-american artist Amber Liu seemed a good fit for this group that was born to be different – from haircut to clothes, the group’s rapper had her own cool style that differed from what female idols used to look like, and apparently SM Entertainment, the group’s agency, respected that.

But was it enough? Was Amber happy? How would Amber sound if she could make art in her own terms? With the release of Rogue Rouge on April 15, we have some answers.

This sixtrack mixtape was not the first time fans could see a different side of Amber, though. While in f(x) she had the position of main rapper, a role she also played in her bright/energetic solo release “Shake That Brass,” Amber has released several singles showcasing her singing voice: “Beautiful,” “On My Own,” “Borders,” and “Need to Feel Needed.” Amber also directed the Music Video for f(x)’s “All Mine,” and released a duo with f(x)’s colleague Luna, “Lower.”

One could say Amber has had multiple opportunities to do something different than what she does in f(x), and that’s true. But one can also say that, as an artist, she still has more to show and has the right to seek for creative freedom, and that’s true too.  

That being said, Rogue Rouge may not have come as a total surprise for those who paid attention to Amber out of f(x); however, the mixtape can still shine new lights on what we know about her life and career.


Also on KultScene: 2017 HYUNA WAS THE BEST HYUNA

Format

Releasing a mixtape nowadays might have some sort of a charm, like a countercultural alternative to the polished and well planned release of albums and EPs. It’s also a popular way for a group’s member to show their individual colours, like what happened with the solo mixtapes released by BTS members Rap Monster, Suga, and more recently, J-Hope.

In Amber’s case, though, a mixtape released on a democratic platform like Soundcloud says a little more. Rogue Rouge is an independent work, made without any connection or money from SM Entertainment. Everything about Rogue Rouge was 100% the result of Amber’s personal efforts and collaborations with friends, such as Singaporean artist Gen Neo, who co-wrote “Closed Doors” and “Right Now,” who also provided vocals for this last one; and model and photographer Stefanie Michova, who directed the music video for “Closed Doors.”

There is no confirmation that Amber is still under SM Entertainment. Therefore, the very fact that Amber is able to do this mixtape suggests that her contract with them allows the space for a bit of artistic freedom. But, if the mixtape is available for free download, it could also mean that Amber isn’t allowed to make money out of her agency.


Also on KultScene: K-RAPPER ARTLOVER TALKS BLENDING MUSIC & FASHION, BRITISH & KOREAN INFLUENCES [INTERVIEW]

Music

If you’re waiting to hear anything near K-pop or f(x)’s past music on the mixtape, just know that you won’t find it here. Sonically speaking, Rogue Rouge is quite an homogeneous piece of work, sticking to R&B tunes (“Get Over It,” “Closed Doors,” “Right Now”) and pop (“Three Million Years”), with little presence of EDM elements (“High Hopes,” “Lifeline”).

The production is far from the grandiose that K-pop instrumentals sound like.ut whether it’s due to being independent work or just Amber’s personal choice, it doesn’t really matter. The simplicity works perfectly fine here. Amber’s beautiful voice and interpretation are the big stars of every single track. Even the simpler songs sound so meaningful because it’s obvious that she’s putting a lot of love into them. It is possible that her choice to go for smoother jams could be saying something about how she feels towards the effusive, loud music she has been doing as an idol. But, just like any artist who has to deal with limited creative freedom (or no freedom at all) when they’re under a group, maybe she just wanted to do something for herself.  

Lyrics

Amber wrote all the 6 tracks, with the help from Gen Neo in two of them.

They’re all in English, her native language, and most of them about heartbreak. Yes, it seems like someone broke Amber’s heart – and while such person deserves to be punched (!), seeing such a stripped and honest side of Amber’s lyricism is a delight.

amber kcon 2016 los angeles red carpet

by Alexis Hodoyan-Gastelum

It’s a not a side often seen from K-pop idols: they have to act, speak, sing in a certain way. No matter how bold is the concept, they can only go so far – and even if it’s very far, it’s only to cause an impression.

But in Rogue Rouge there’s just an adult woman being an adult woman, and it includes occasional cursing, heartbreaks, desire, the dilemmas of public versus private life etc.

Overall Feeling

From the emblematic instance when Amber spoke on social media about being neglected as an artist to how independently Rogue Rouge was done, it seems that Amber’s main wish is to just sing a story that’s all hers, rather than to prove anything to anyone.  

Rogue Rouge has no climax or wow moments. It sounds genuine, though. The lyrics for “Closed Doors,” the best track, sums up the whole purpose of Amber with this mixtape: no overthinking or reinventing the wheel; no need to run, hide or “keep on choosing sides.” This is just Amber being Amber and doing what she feels like doing. If that really is her purpose, then, indeed, she wouldn’t need sumptuous instrumentals and complex songs to do that.

In Brazil, we have a saying for when we’re gifting someone we care about yet we can’t afford something expensive: “It’s simple, but it’s from the heart.” That seems to be the case here: simple (compared to K-pop) but meaningful music. Again, I don’t know if money has anything to do with the crude sonority of Rogue Rouge, but I don’t even care, and it seems like Amber doesn’t care either. She’s pouring her heart out, and for a project that aims for expressing individuality rather than charting, that’s more than enough.

Let us know what you think of Amber Liu’s “Rogue Rouge” 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.

What’s the deal with A.Leean?

On Jan. 5, f(x)’s Amber Liu posted an image on Instagram to promote a “famous singer, new alias.” The image announced that a singer, using the alias A.leean, will make her U.S. debut on Jan. 7 with the single, “Fall Back.” Amber’s fans were quick to offer options as to whom the mystery singer A.leean might be. Many of the guesses veered towards Ailee, a K-pop singer known for her outstanding vocal performances.

A.Leean’s chosen alias offers clue to her identity, but the fact that Amber posted the image also suggests that it might be Ailee. Amber and Ailee are close friends and have performed together. At KCON NY in 2016, Ailee, a Korean-American singer raised in New Jersey, did mention that she was angling to release music in the United States.

To find out a bit more about A.Leean, Kultscene reached out to David Kim, a Hollywood-based entertainment lawyer promoting the singer’s debut in the U.S. When asked to reveal the singer’s identity and confirm her K-pop credentials, he chose not to comment. However, he did say he’s not worried about the singer’s existing fans outing her and revealing her identity. “We’re not afraid of fans,” he said. “Because we’d actually like more fan participation. We just won’t be making an official statement until later.”


Also on Kultscene: 50 Best Korean Songs of 2016: Part 2

For a few weeks, A.Leean won’t publicly state her identity or make promotional appearances. The release of the song’s music video will also be delayed, leaving listeners free to speculate on her musical background. According to Kim, the decision to release music anonymously enables listeners to judge the singer on the merits of her voice and not her background.

If A.Leean is, in fact, already a K-pop star, she has chosen a different route than other Korean or Korean-American singers attempting to debut in the U.S. As yet there is no predictable formula for a successful crossover. Psy dominated the charts with his Korean language “Gangnam Style,” while 2NE1’s CL released the English language single “Lifted” in Aug. 2016 and reached 94 on the Billboard Hot 100. Even Korean-American bands have until recently met with limited success; the most successful was Far East Movement. The group’s record “G6” reached first place in Billboard’s Hot 100. Any k-pop singer trying to break into the U.S. market will confront complicated concerns, including misleading preconceptions and the possibility of racial prejudice.

“We wanted to focus more on the music and not so much on the person behind the song, which is what musical pop culture has evolved into,” said Kim. “Not that pop culture is a bad thing, but we wanted to focus on her talent. When the song gains traction and becomes popular, we will reveal her identity.”


Also on Kultscene: Inside KCON 16 NY [PHOTOS]

The international platform that YouTube offers can make a formal music release in the U.S. seem less important to some recording artists, but A.Leean’s team sees it as the logical next step toward global recognition.

“The U.S. music market is still the official authority on what music is broadcast all over the world,” Kim told KultScene. “Our artist is not an amateur. She’s been singing for years. We felt like the whole world could be seeing her perform and not just a segment of the world. We wanted to broaden her base and felt we had to do it through U.S. market first. “

Kim is working with LA-based Westside Entertainment to launch the singer he describes as “having powerhouse vocals” and “being a mix between Whitney Houston and Ariana [Grande].” Westside Entertainment is the company behind The Notorious B.I.G., Nelly, MASE, Lil Fizz, and Keyshia Cole. After playing the single for members of his music industry family, Westside Entertainment VP Stephen Umavitz is confident that this singer has what it takes.

 

This gonna be ? #ALeean #FallBack #AleeanEncounter

A photo posted by Amber J. Liu (@ajol_llama) on

“A good handful of Hollywood legends and entertainment music industry veterans have already personally listened to the song,” said Umavitz in an official statement. “They said it has a crazy hook and that it’s gonna be a hit record.”

“Fall Back,”A.Leean’s single about falling in love again has a Jan. 7 release date. On Jan. 11, the lyric video will be released on YouTube. The official video will be released at a later date, depending on how “Fall Back” performs in the U.S.

A.Leean is not the first recording artist to anonymously release music. Electronic dance producer and DJ Marshmello is currently at 84 on the Billboard Top 100 and his real identity remains unknown. But while anonymity creates hype at first, that won’t matter if the singer does not ultimately climb high on the charts. Luckily, if this is who we think it is, we’re sure A.Leean’s vocals are going to impress America.

Do you think A.Leean has what it takes to succeed in the U.S. market? Can you guess who she is? 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.

Live Action ‘Mulan’ Dream Cast, K-Pop Style

Disney’s Mulan is going to be remade as a live action film, which means that actors of Asian descent will get their chance to shine.
Who better to partake in the film than K-pop stars? While that’s highly unlikely, there are a few Korean stars that we think would be realistically good choices and should definitely be considered for the starring roles in Mulan.

Hua Mulan

Read more

Best K-Pop Music Video Fashion: February 2015 Releases

February has been a busy month for K-pop; companies debuted a few solo artists and several groups shone with long-awaited comebacks, resulting in a lot of new fashion for fans to admire. Beloved idols like f(x)’s Amber debuted while showcasing her well-known fashion sense and style, and girl group 4MINUTE got the chance to express a new badass attitude with their fashion. Let’s take a look at the best fashion featured in some of the K-pop music video releases of February 2015.

VIXX Love Equation

VIXXBESTMUSICVIDEOFASHION

VIXX came back with Love Equation, a remake of R.ef’s track Farewell Formula. VIXX is known for interpreting the themes and concepts of their music very well and this time around they didn’t disappoint. The song fits perfectly with the styling of the members as the upbeat ballad calls for very cute and trendy boy next door outfits, sporty chic outfits, and custom made uniforms. The color palette is very on trend and accurate for the season and makes the boys look very hip and cool. Ravi, in particular, looks stunning with his bleached blonde hair. VXX proves once again that they look amazing on everything they get styled for.

Zion T. Just (feat. Crush)

ziontcrushjustbestmusicvideofashion

Zion T. collaborated with solo artist Crush for his newest single, Just. The music video for the track was filmed beautifully and gave off a very mysterious feeling. The black and white through the whole video really enhances the styling of the two artists. Zion T. and Crush wore outfits inspired by the ‘90s and ‘70s, pairing oversized blazers with wide legged trousers and various ‘70s silhouettes. The combination of this two eras made a very interesting and modern look for both men. This is a perfect example of a great and inspiring styling that surely will have many fans trying to recreate their looks.

Also on KultScene: 5 Songs To Help You Unwind From The Work Week

Read more