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Best Korean MVs of 2016

Music videos, or MVs, and K-pop are practically synonymous at this point, and it’s rare for a song to do well without an accompanying music video. Hundreds upon hundreds Korean MVs are released each year: sad ones, happy ones, indie ones, blockbuster ones, short ones, long ones, etc. There are Korean music videos that that make no sense, and ones that have the Best Plot of the Year and others that are just visually attractive. The KultScene staff saw a lot of great MVs in 2016, and we now present you with our personal favorites.

“Selfish & Beautiful Girl” by Block B BASTARZ

After a year and a half, Block B’s subgroup BASTARZ finally made a comeback. And while they released a couple of singles that didn’t really live up to last year’s hype, the music video for “Selfish & Beautiful Girl” made up for it. First off, it’s very appreciated when K-pop acts release music videos with an actual plot. Add that it’s quirky and fun, and you have a winner. Following the lyrics about a selfish girl the narrator is in a relationship with, the storyline follows this girl and how she annoys her neighbor for being unruly. She disrupts his sleep because she’s dancing to a Just Dance-like game. In this video game, the BASTARZ members are the characters, with each member representing a style in the song’s tempo change; from disco to hip-hop to pop. Moreover, the actress — bless her soul — while a bad dancer, her tattoos and piercings were a different sight for a K-pop video girl, but interesting nonetheless. In a time when all Korean music videos started to look the same thanks to many acts using the same directors, “Selfish & Beautiful Girl” found an ingenious, amusing way to follow the groove of the song perfectly.

— Alexis

“Blood Sweat & Tears” by BTS

Creative director Lumpens has been working with BTS ever since their debut, but their collaboration reached its pinnacle by far with the visually pleasing and highly produced music video for “Blood Sweat & Tears.” You do not have to be an art history buff to appreciate the various nods to Michelangelo and Pieter Bruegel, of which whose sculptures and paintings all depict a fall from grace. Nor do you have to understand, or even know, Hermann Hesse’s Demian, the 1919 work that inspired their second full-length album Wings, as seen by the use of recurring bird motifs and even direct quotes from the text. Every aspect serves to further ideas of temptation, freedom, and escapism that the song and the album collectively convey, thus nothing about this six-minute music video is done out of pure aesthetics. Of course, that is also not to say that it cannot be enjoyed for face value. There’s an undeniable homoerotic subtext to the plot, which is at once political and indulgent. Other cinematographic choices, such as the various uses of crimsons and other warm hues, are jarring yet arresting. This music video successfully projects the extravagant lifestyle we all wish we had, while warning us against the dangers of seduction, overall leaving room for lots of potential analysis.

— Shelley

“Carnival (The Last Day)” by Ga-In

Like the song itself, Ga-In’s music video for “Carnival (The Last Day)” is a celebration of life and death. Approaching death in a way few artists in the world would, Ga-In and her director Han Sa Min depict a joyous while reverent look at passing. This is all seen through some of the most interesting images K-pop has ever seen, particularly Ga-In’s funeral and her angelic ascendancy during her procession. Bright pastels dominate, fireworks explode in rainbows, and Ga-In dances with her umbrella as if the all the weight has fallen from her shoulders. The melancholy only remains with the living as we see Ga-In’s former lover pay his respects. Yet, maybe it is his memories we see of their time together: even he is choosing to see the qualities of life rather than the tragedy of death.

— Joe


Also on KultScene: Top Korean Music Videos of 2015

“One of These Nights” by Red Velvet

The Korean title of Red Velvet’s first single of 2016 is “7th Day of 7th Month,” referencing the Korean lunar holiday Chilseok and its tale of separated lovers. But rather than depicting a romance-driven storyline, the music video for “One Of These Nights” is a bit of a mystery. Bright colors contrast with dreary sets, the members are surrounded and flooded by water, and there is what appears to be an ethereal, woodsy afterlife where some members don white, the traditional Asian color for post-mortem shrouds. But the video’s subtle references to 2014’s Sewol Ferry accident, which took the lives of over 100 high school students, makes “One Of These Nights” all that more poignant: references to the Sewol and the tragedy appear throughout the sets, while the five Red Velvet members appear to take on abstract portrayals of the victims and survivors. It’s an ambient, thought-provoking, and altogether beautiful work of cinematography.

— Tamar

“Hard Carry” by GOT7

The entirety of GOT7’s “Hard Carry” music video is strikingly attractive; from Jackson’s sleeveless outfits and quick one-two, his “let me just casually lift up my shirt” scene at the beginning, to a white room filled with lively green (and not so lively brown) pine trees. Even when it was dark and you could barely see the members faces and all that is visible is the fire lit up behind them, it’s visually appealing. No to mention the neon lights during the dance scenes are captivating. Overall, the videography, combined with the meaning of the lyrics, portrays the effort one must take to “carry” the team, as seen in the the scene where all the members dive into the water in order to “save” Jinyoung. However, more than being solely visually attractive, the music video together with how they employed the lyrics into the theme is a proper representation of what GOT7 is all about: teamwork, helping each other out to strive collectively.

— Tam

“11:11” by Taeyeon”

While not the regular dance-visual overload that K-pop fans are used to, Taeyeon’s “11:11” succeeds at quite the opposite — fitting the somber, sentimental nature of the song perfectly. Shots of Taeyeon and her anonymous significant-other are filmed beautifully against fading sunlight, flashing lights, or pale white walls. They accurately frame the song’s sentiments, which deal with the end of a relationship. The song’s warm, delicate nature is captured perfectly by frames of Taeyeon sleeping in a thick white sweater, or laying in a fluffy king-sized mattress sprawled out next to the waves. Along with “Rain,” “11:11” seeks to alter Taeyeon’s image. Instead of group-leader dance-pop star, Taeyeon is now a serious, musically-oriented soloist, and one of Korea’s most successful at that. With its autumnal color scheme and brilliant visuals, “11:11” depicts both Taeyeon and the emotional impact of a breakup in a creative and memorable way.

— Kushal

“Décalcomanie” by MAMAMOO

If Zanybros are producing a music video, you know you’re in for an optical treat. MAMAMOO’s video for “Décalcomanie” is visually stunning and tastefully (considering the edited version and not the original) done, considering the video is full of visual metaphors for a woman coming into her sexuality. The girls start off being attracted to the man in their respective scenes, and as the desire between both of them grows, they kiss and then… fruits explode (if you don’t understand that metaphor, you can ask your parents). The girls untie their blindfolds to symbolize loss of innocence or coming to fully see/understand their desires and feelings. The mirror scenes and the mirrored images also play a nice homage to the title of the song, which is the French word for a technique that transfers an image or pattern from one medium to another. In other words, imprinting on another or making a copy. Aside from the bit of controversy that surrounded the original version, which resulted in a horrific scene depicting sexual assault getting removed from the music video, the video for “Décalcomanie” shows off the group’s femme fatale concept that they wanted to portray.

— Katherine

“I Am You, You Are Me” by Zico

Known to be a hard-hitting rapper, Zico ventured this year into R&B ballads and showcased his vocalist chops by releasing “I Am You, You Are Me” at the beginning of the year. So what called for this unforeseeable change in style and concept? Love. Love turns the bad boy into a good guy. Right off the bat in his first verse after the opening chorus, Zico sings I only ever listened to hip-hop/Now I’ve turned acoustic, setting the tone for the song. “I Am You, You Are Me” is about being in the lovey-dovey phase in a relationship when the couple starts emulating each other. The music video, in brief, is aesthetics galore. Zico displayed his trendy and colorful style, and in order to go with the theme of the song, the lead actress dressed exactly the same or similarly to the rapper to equate how they mirror each other. The setting, a convenience store, allowed a beautifully diverse color palette in the photography, from pastels to neons to neutrals. The overall aesthetics of the music video — dreamy with an electric tinge — paired perfectly with the equally tender yet lustful song. Not so tough now, right, cookie?

— Alexis

“Secret” by Cosmic Girls

Recently directors have been getting better at making the standard idols sing and dance towards camera in pretty settings more interesting while not losing the essence of that. Kim Zi Yong in particular has been great at this thanks to his visual effects skills. His highlight in K-pop is clearly “Secret” by Cosmic Girls. The video shows the 12 original members summoning new member Yeon Jung in their own unique ways. The quality of animation and sense of scale Kim brings to it is the best of the year and a quality befitting these otherworldly girls. Not to mention it’s drop dead gorgeous at every turn. Also, I’m sure everyone can agree that the shot of Cheng Xiao growing her wings is the coolest thing ever.

— Joe

“Re-Bye” by Akdong Musician

The dramatic “Re-Bye” music video by Akdong Musician, or Akmu, as they’re known, is a fun film-noir music video that fits the pair’s theatrical melody. In a year when many Korean music videos seemed to be lacking true plots in favor of seeming more avant-garde, “Re-Bye” fits a murder-mystery into its four-minute music video with an old-school flair. It’s a bit Sherlock Holmes meets Baz Luhrmann both in plot and color palette– they may as well have been singing the “Elephant Love Song Medley” from Moulin Rouge— and it’s absolutely delightful to watch. The sibling duo is supremely talented as musicians, but their youthful quirkiness in music videos like “Re-Bye” adds another element to their appeal.

— Tamar

“Skydive” by B.A.P

Who needs James Bond or a Quentin Tarantino film when you can watch a B.A.P’s blockbuster-like 10 minute music video for “Skydive?” The members gave subtle hints on their social media platforms and in their individual teasers prior the release that this music video was going to be the most intense music video, if not even more intense than their 2013 video for “One Shot,” they’ve ever done. That within itself was enough to have all their fans, known as Babyz, on edge because, really, what can be more extreme and vivid than the members engaged in a robbery, shoot out with some thugs, and then the sudden betrayal? “Skydive” not only incorporated yet another robbery, but an all ARMED robbery, with shots ringing left and right 35 seconds in. There’s a kidnapping/hostage situation, murder, and, yes, even more betrayal than the first time around! The anticipation was nonstop, every second of this video had one gasping for air. Because it was constantly scene after epic scene, you’d probably have to watch it several times to fully grasp each and every detail and hints that would later on give away the true culprit. This music video could’ve gone all sorts of wrong, but due to the amazingly shot cinematography and the members superb acting, “Skydive” was totally badass.

— Tam

“One More Day” by Sistar

SISTAR made a risky move with the music video for “One More Day,” their collaboration with Europop songwriter and producer Giorgio Moroder. Not only did the quartet not appear in the video, but the video’s protagonists were two female lovers, and the plot touched upon abuse. Now this may not be a big thing in Western cultures, where LGBTQ+ are somewhat prominent in entertainment and lifestyles, but in South Korea, the majority of the population still consider it a taboo subject. Now the fact that the female leads kill the abusive boyfriend may not be the best representation of the LGBTQ community, it does portray the love story in a dramatic matter and the dangers of an abusive relationship.

— Katherine

“Cheer Up” by TWICE

It’s no secret that TWICE dominated 2016, from album sales to song popularity and everything in between. They even topped our best Korean songs of 2016 list. But what is the source of their success — how did TWICE become the dominating girl group of 2016? At least in my opinion, it’s their music videos. From Jihyo’s cheerleader character to Chaeyoung’s cowboy outfits, the “Cheer Up” music video worked to create vibrant and colorful characters for each member, establishing each one as unique and worthy of individual attention within the larger group framework. With the music video’s changing lenses, there’s something for everyone — Dahyun is poised and regal, Tzuyu is beautiful and elegant, and Momo is badass and sexy, just to give a few examples. The creative direction of this music video highlights TWICE’s biggest strength as a group — personality. The “Cheer Up” music video sent the K-pop world a message loud and clear: TWICE, in all their beauty and stage personality, is here to dominate. And in 2016, they certainly did.

— Kushal

“Forest of Skyscrapers” by Neon Bunny

The only indie artist on our list this year (despite being a more well-known one), Neon Bunny clearly had an advantage when it comes to what she can depict. Given more time and presumably more freedom, director Kim Zi Yong delivered another video for the ages with “Forest of Skyscrapers.” They brought together a number of cinematic influences to comment on modern South Korea’s stagnant population. The sprawling neon cities of Akira and the ephemeral love stories of Wong Kar Wai come to mind as Seoulites try to navigate their lives. It suggests a sort of confusion, a literal kaleidoscope of colours and mind-numbing visuals. However hard they try to get away, speeding down highways on a motorbike, it seems impossible. The irrefutable pull of the neon monolith is punishing.

— Joe


Also on KultScene: Music Video Director Ian Gallagher on Working with Neon Bunny, Co-Directing WINNER

“Fantasy” by Fei

Torn between innocent and hypersexualized, K-pop idol stars are essentially built to fulfill audiences every “Fantasy” through their music videos and performances. 2016 outed Korean pop stars, or idols, as a “healthy” form of pornography, but nobody took it as far as Fei of miss A, who appears in her music video as a virtual peep show dancer. Her blatant, slightly shocking, approach to the topic of sexualizing women comes across as refreshing in an industry that makes numerous attempts to cover up the maturity of its stars. The music video for “Fantasy” is overtly sexual throughout, literally turning Fei into the object of desire for a male viewer, and things get all that much more interesting when virtual Fei comes to life, strips, and takes things to the next level just as the screen cuts to the title card. The video for “Fantasy” is beautifully shot, extremely sultry, and subversive of the industry’s narrative towards female stars.

— Tamar

“Emptiness” by MADTOWN

MADTOWN made an expected (but delightful) change by switching up their music styling and concept when the group released a rather mellow, mid-tempo ballad paired with the chic black and white music video for “Emptiness.” It showcased a tranquil and melancholic atmosphere, the polar opposite from the swaggy and high energy we’ve seen from the group in past videos. In order to match the song’s delicate melody, the music video was muted down a bit, hence the simplistic, clean choreography. MADTOWN’s elegant portrayal of their moments of despair and grief can lead the viewers to suddenly feeling the anguish and sorrow themselves, even if they were feeling happy go lucky prior to watching “Emptiness.” There are moments during the music video that makes one want to clench their chest, due to a sudden surge of heartache. It’s dramatic, but that’s just the effect of the music video.

— Tam

“The Eye” by INFINITE

When you’re preparing to watch an INFINITE music video, there are a few things you can be sure to look forward to: a whole lot of drama and a totally awesome dance break thrown in for good measure. The lyrics of the song suggest that a painful memory (of someone) is trapping the members like a hurricane (or “Typhoon,” as the Korean in the title suggests). And when they think they found peace, they are right in the eye of the storm, still surrounded by the painful memories. The video takes it to another level: L appears in a depressed or dire situation and is then transported to a state between realities where he is confronted by the other members who all represent different emotions. When each member interacts with L (who represents Sadness), the action represents him going through that emotion: Hoya represents Hate and aggressively pushes L, then turns into Woohyun, who represents Regret. All of this happens while L is moving towards a light, which may or may not represent death. In the end, L has the courage and resolve to return back to his reality and live. Director Hwang Soo Ah does a great job creating a complex, philosophical, and intriguing plot that keeps the viewers invested till the very end.

— Katherine

“All In” by Monsta X

Monsta X’s “All In” did wonders for the group in many ways, enabling the group to diversify their hackneyed hip-hop concept. With the music video, the septet deviated away from dance-based music videos to one with actual substance and narratives. Opening with the dystopian ending scene in which the members seem to be either running to or away from something, the video employs a nonlinear mode of storytelling that was not present in their previous videos. Admittedly, because the music video also deals with two storylines — one feautring Shownu and one surrounding Hyungwon and Minhyuk — it is very easy to miss certain nuances upon initial viewing. But even after watching it for the nth time, gleaning for said nuances, we cannot guarantee that all our questions will have an answer. The biggest mystery probably is the one surrounding the relationship between Minhyuk and Hyungwon’s characters, who mutually exhibit homoerotic tendencies especially towards the end in which Minhyuk drowns himself in the tub with Hyungwon while holding hands. The beauty of it all is exactly how director Dee Shin leaves many threads up for interpretation, allowing fans to engage in open-ended discourse and conjecture theories of their own. It’s been a rather popular form of storytelling as of late in K-pop, but is still nevertheless engaging and effective.

— Shelley

“Whistle” by BlackPink

With colorful settings, bright outfits, and memorable choreography, BlackPink‘s “Whistle” stood out in its ability to quickly establish the new group’s personality and musical style. Taking after their YG predecessors 2NE1 and BIGBANG, BlackPink quickly utilizes edgy and eye-popping visuals — Rosé casually sitting on both the Earth and cars buried in sand, Jisoo sitting cross-legged in the middle of three open doorways, Lisa’s hot pink turtle-neck contrasting with her blonde-blue hair — to make the group seem hardcore but also personable. Not to mention, clips of the group driving a car in circles wearing bandanas and baseball caps serve as the video’s main recurring visual element, further establishing the fun badassery concept. And, unlike other girl group music videos this year, “Whistle” boasts a notable lack of smiling, a subtle yet incredibly important aspect of the video. The group instead focuses on giving us the edgy smolder or mischievous glance, once again reinforcing the group’s personality in every closeup shot. The “Whistle” music video clearly sets BlackPink up for success — it sends the immediate message that, if you liked any of the edgier girl groups of K-pop eras past, you’ll love BlackPink just as much.

— Kushal

“The One” by EXO-CBX

Though technically not a music video for whatever reason — SM Entertainment prefers the term “special clip” — EXO-CBX’s music video for “The One” is just too golden not to include on the list. For the first time in an EXO production, the boys, or at least Chen, Baekhyun, and Xiumin, are able to show a different, more silly side to them as they dress up in ridiculous, mismatched clothes and act foolish. EXO’s leader Suho makes a cute cameo as well, filling in for just about every role from Yakult vendor to sanitation worker. Unfortunately, SM missed an opportune moment to cast him as the female love interest as well, which would have given the video a bit more cohesion. Nevertheless, everything about this is still hilariously good fun, and none of the humor comes off forced. At times, Suho even seems like he is going to burst out laughing himself. The video milks the comedy until the very end, where it cuts the accompanying music off before letting it finish completely, leaving a dancing Chen to sing alone and shifting the camera angle to make it seem like we were filming them the entire time. EXO-CBX’s “The One” is just the personal and playful break from the usual self-serious routine that they, and we, all need.

— Shelley

“Hold My Hand” by Lee Hi

While musically we didn’t get exactly what we wanted from Lee Hi’s much awaited comeback, the music video for “Hold My Hand” was near perfection. The aesthetic of the music video was a kawaii explosion, and a beautiful one at that. The pastel color palette, together with the 8-bit graphics, tied in perfectly with the romance and dreaminess of the song and lyrics. It’s all too sweet — just as Lee’s serenade. Plus, the inclusion of her doo-wop backup singers as her side kicks were a cute, quirky touch. Bright, multi color music videos have been a trend for quite some time now (thanks, Digipedi), but “Hold My Hand” managed to give something tried a lovely spin. From Lee holding hands with the camera to the styling to the real and 8-bit backgrounds, it all comes together to create this delightful, little heart skip that makes us all feel young and in love again.

— Alexis

What was your favorite Korean music video this year? Share 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.

Bastarz, Jean Vigo, “Zero For Conduct,” & Internal Rebellion

Bastraz
First things first: Who is Jean Vigo and what does he have to do with Block B’s subunit Bastarz? Jean Vigo was a French director in the 1930s who made only four films in his lifetime due to bad health. Knowing that he had only a short time to live had an obvious impact on his career. All of his films have an exuberant anarchy to them that reflected his troubled life, none more so than his 1934 masterpiece “Zero de Conduite” which translates to, yes, you guessed it, “Zero For Conduct.” So the links between the song by Bastarz and Jean Vigo are not that much of a stretch. Bastarz’s using this as the title for their debut single shows an obvious influence from Vigo, but the links go deeper than mere reference. Block B’s situation within the K-pop environment mirrors that of the young protagonists– Caussat, Colin, and Bruel– of Vigo’s film.

“Zero For Conduct” the film is about three young French boys who hatch a plan to start a rebellion in their strict school. It involves all manner of playful plans and schemes. It plays as a critique of French society so stuck to their rules and authority that they have lost all meaning of fun. Similarly, “Zero For Conduct” the song is about the K-pop industry. Bastarz make fun of boys who prance around in makeup while still trying to be macho. Both parties are criticizing the systems they are stuck in; they are starting revolutions within the system.

You could say that all revolutions happen within the systems they are striking against, yet the particular settings of the school and K-pop world are particularly personal.

In Vigo’s films, the three protagonists’ lives are portrayed completely through school. The only times they are not on school grounds are when riding on the train on their way to school or on a walk around the town with their class and teacher. They spend all their time in an oppressive school so, naturally enough, they revolt.

If you are at all familiar with the life of a K-pop idol then you’ll know that this is not far from their lives. We always see idols on TV shows talking about their hectic schedules and how they have no time to rest. They go from recording an album to learning choreography to performing on shows to promoting their album to radio shows and so much more. It sounds like an oppressive situation, yet all are there by choice. What if they aren’t really though? What if the only way to get your music out to an audience is to be a part of an idol group? Which brings us on to the true author of this song, Zico.

With his solo work, producing work, and appearances on “Show Me The Money,” Zico seems like a man wanting to get back to his roots. Along with this “Zero For Conduct” is his call for revolution. He’s sick of the exhausting idol lifestyle. He’s sick of the pretty boys, the endless practicing, and the scolding agencies. According to him, “playing on stage without manners is the answer.” It’s time to take things a little less seriously in order to rebuild the system. This way, Zico’s work could go back to being as he originally intended, the work of the underground.


Also on KultScene: Dead Buttons Brings Classic Rock ‘N’ Roll Sounds To Seoul [INTERVIEW]

This line from the Bastarz song also brings up some more similarities. The film, being about children, naturally contains many scenes of childish behaviour which becomes quite absurd at times. This sense of fun is included in the song through the visuals. P.O jumps around like a giant child. He wears dungarees and pirate hats and pulls all manner of ridiculous poses. He seems to be mocking the fashion and dance obsessed boys in other groups. There’s a nonchalance to his body language on and off stage that might look like a lack of commitment but is really just comfort in doing what he know he can do.

Using the visual is just as important, if not more, as the lyric to make a point in pop culture. To me, it’s clear again here that Bastarz are criticising the system they are in the middle of. There’s also an acknowledgment of the hypocrisy implicit in this. Bastarz and Zico can criticize K-pop all they like but they remain a part of the machine. To show their awareness of this they did not completely subvert the K-pop visual. The members still wear a lot of makeup. In some places it’s actually really heavy makeup suggesting they are happy to let us see it clearly, perhaps letting us know that they are aware of these rules that they must still follow.


Also on KultScene: The Curious Case Of Super Junior’s Kim Kibum’s Quiet Departure From SM Entertainment

Hypocrisy is something that Vigo is quite aware of as well within his system. In one scene, the headmaster of the school is giving out about a boy saying something to the effect of, “I heard that they were disciplined for child-like behaviour.” When children are not allowed to behave like children, then some kid somewhere will try to change that. Yet the very fact that they are a child going up against those in power means that things won’t ever really change. They may make a dent, make themselves known for their courage, but the system always wins. Zico and Bastarz probably know this. That won’t stop them though. They will continue with music that is fun as hell and have as much fun as they can while doing it.

What do you think of both the Zero For Conducts? 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.

The Best Songs At KCON LA 2015

Super Junior  KCON 15 LA KultScene Red CarpetSunday’s come and gone, and an avid KultScene reader may have realized that we didn’t publish our usual Playlist Sunday list. Don’t worry, we didn’t forget! We were just busy making sure that we covered every single moment at KCON LA 2015 to make sure we let you in on all the details. Instead, the three KultScene writers who covered the event picked our favorite songs of each night’s M! Countdown concert.

On the first night of the show, Super Junior performed a variety of songs from throughout their decade-long career. As a longtime ELF, or Super Junior’s Everlasting Friend, I couldn’t handle myself the minute I realized they were performing “Shake It Up.” The pump up party song is one of Super Junior’s most fun songs (in my opinion) and it seemed like everyone in the Staples Center on August 1 was stomping their feet and clapping along to the members’ antics.

During the second night, the final song of the first set was my particular favorite (barring Shinhwa, because let’s be honest, Shinhwa is a legend). When the opening chords of Red Velvet’s “Happiness” began, it seemed like everyone immediately began singing and dancing along. The song’s popularity and the relatively easy dance moves reminded me of a lot of circa 2009 K-pop songs, which thrived on their iconic dances, like Girls’ Generation’s “Gee,” Super Junior’s “Sorry Sorry,” and Wonder Girls’ “Tell Me.” As the opening act for the second night of “M! COUNTDOWN Feelz In LA,” Red Velvet got everyone moving and that’s nothing more than I could ask for.

— Tamar

As mentioned in our KCON 2015 in Los Angeles recap, on the first night of the concert, sapphire blue lights illuminated the Staples Center to welcome K-pop kings Super Junior. And since L.A., and overall America, craves the Super Show, Suju treated attendees to a medley of some of their most fun songs. But one of the most random if not mind boggling track choices was Donghae and Eunhyuk’s latest release “Can You Feel It.” Even if it was a quick snippet, the song was completely unexpected but completely appreciated, given that we got to see ALL of the guys derping around doing the choreography. Seeing this performance, along with the rest on the medley, only made us crave a Super Show even more and proved that audiences receive even their less known songs well.


Also on KultScene: Inside KCON LA 2015 [PHOTOS]

As an ELF, Saturday completely drained me of everything inside of me. Sunday was going to be a night for me to sit back, chill, and watch performances by groups I wasn’t heavily invested in. Sure, I liked some Block B songs, but I didn’t consider myself a big fan… that is until their sub-unit BASTARZ came out and performed “Zero for Conduct.” P.O, B-Bomb, and U-Kwon, literally, gave me life and got me lit as soon as the opening siren came out the speakers. I was dancing and completely vibing throughout the whole performance even though I didn’t know the lyrics of the song. And that, ladies and gentlemen, is by definition how you put on a great show.

— Alexis

Although the lively Jackson wasn’t in attendance at KCON LA with his group, GOT7 made sure to still put on a dynamic show for the crowd! The anticipation was already high since all the iGOT7’s (GOT7’s fan club name) knew the guys were going to sing “Just Right,” their newest single. But GOT7 took it to another level when they performed “Bounce,” which was the debut track for members JB and JR when they were JJ Project. “Bounce” is always such an enjoyable performance to watch, with all the crazy head bobbing, infectious frolicking as they run wild around the stage, and, of course, the cute “shake it shake it for me” butt shakes. What started as a two-person song and performance has now evolved into a song that the entire group can genuinely enjoy performing together!

Going into Sunday’s night’s concert, I already knew I would’ve been content with whatever setlist SHINHWA played. A part of me expected 80 percent of their set to be songs off of “The Return,” “The Classic,” and “WE,” considering these albums were all released within the last three years, with of course an addition of the song that brought them to their stardom, “T.O.P”. My predictions for their set was rather on par, but what blew my Changjo (SHINHWA’s fan club name) mind was when “Hey, Come On!” started playing. The crowd was already hyped and the energy was already through the roof, so can you imagine what it was like when the beat dropped for this song? The choreography for the songs they performed prior to this were all relatively mellow and synchronized versus the constant jumping and arm waving choreography for “Hey, Come On!” These legendary idols couldn’t have put together a better set list! Let’s just say the Changjo in me sobbed happy tears that night.

— Tam

I have never been a devoted fan to BLOCK B  but I have always liked them due to their aesthetics and their funny, big personalities. After seeing them perform live at KCON LA 2015, I  become a hardcore fan of the group. As soon as they began to perform “Very Good,” I went crazy. I started dancing and singing like crazy along with BLOCK B. Seeing them do all of their funny gimmicks and the unforgettable choreography of the song while commanding the huge stage at the Staples Center was a blast to my eyes and ears. The energy of the night got pumped up by BLOCK B making it a night and performance that I will never forget.

— Alejandro

 

What song would you enjoy seeing performed live? Let us know your picks 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.

April’s Best K-Pop B-Sides

Lately, K-pop has not stopped delivering for a second. And, as long as it stays this good, I’m going to continue this brand new KultScene series as long as I can. Missing out on great album tracks like this would be a total shame so if I can do anything to help, I’m there. I’m opening up the list to boys now too, though, as they in particular dominated the past month. Songs featured in this month’s Best K-Pop B-Sides list touch on graceful electronica, soaring disco, dirty rap, Latin guitars, and melancholic hip-pop.

UNiQ – Listen To Me

I can’t remember how I came across this track as I have never listened or even wanted to listen to UNiQ in the past, but I sure am glad that I did. Listen to Me, from the Korean/Chinese boy groups latest album EOEO, is one of a few truly great songs to come from boy groups last month.

Listen to Me plays like the fidgety dubstep K-pop track we have come to expect from so many rookies recently. It’s filled with elaborate wubs and whizzes, and builds to an expected big drop. But right at that moment, the song turns itself on its head. Instead of descending, it soars to an ecstatic beautiful chorus of sparkling disco and dance pop.

This lavish chorus contrasts perfectly against the electro beats. The chorus raises the rest of the song to another level and shows a level of craft beyond the rookie UNiQ supposedly is. What could have been another entry into the endless wasteland of forgotten brostep becomes something new to latch onto.


 Also on KultScene: Best K-Pop Girl Group B-Sides Of 2015

BTS – Hold Me Tight

I’m dubbing April the month of “Boy Group Dubstep Tracks That Turned Out Better Than Expected.” You can use that catchy title yourself. BTS returned on the last day of the month with the brilliant I Need U, which came from an equally brilliant album, In The Mood For Love. Apart from I Need You the standout is probably the slightly more subdued Hold Me Tight.

At four and a half minutes long Hold Me Tight takes its time to fully reveal itself. When it does, we get is a melancholic piece of hip-pop showing off the qualities of BTS that we already know but in new ways. A twinkly piano melody slowly builds into soft beeping synths at the beginning, sounding more like a cute love song than what we actually get. To counter these tones, Rap Monster enters first with a more melodic rap than we are used to before powering in with his trademark angry sound. This rap sets out not only the musical range of the song but the lyrical too. One half is melancholic and lonely, the other is angry while still lonely; Rap Monster turns this into a beautiful yet bitter lament.

The album as a whole represents maturation for BTS. The group is stepping out the shadow of being the next B.A.P, another group with fierce hip-hop elements, and setting out its own style and sound.

Dal Shabet – Obsessed

Dal Shabet has had a hard time trying to crack the big time. The group has released several songs that have attempted to cause controversy along with songs that are simply amazing. None of them however, have done enough to gain the girl group much success. Dal Shabet better stay around though, so we can still get absolute gems like Obsessed.

Joker has been mostly overlooked for being trashy and uninteresting as a typical idol song, but if they had led with Obsessed Dal Shabet could have been elegant alt-dols. The song is a burst of electronica that belongs alongside the other 90s throwbacks that K-pop has given us recently.

The melty synths that pop in and out match exquisitely with the factory-like snares. The song has a polished purity to it that many K-pop songs may be missing. The vocals are also a pure delight. Subin’s wails at the chorus are a particular pleasure to the ears.

Bastarz – Sue Me

Like BTS, Block B have really been coming into their own lately. Her was one of the best songs of last year and subunit Bastarz’s new single Zero For Conduct is a smash.

That wasn’t the only good thing to come out of the new subunit though, as the album has some more interesting things within. For sheer weirdness Sue Me is the other highlight. Like Zero For Conduct, it’s a diss track at anyone who might get in the way of Block B (or Zico really). This one is dominated by P.O as he leads this track spinning vitriolic rhymes about how great he is. While this is a fairly standard hip-hop element, it’s what’s next that makes the song weird. The chorus with slow chants of “sue me” and auto-tuned vocals sound like a dub-reggae track. It is jarring yet makes more sense as the song goes on. This is a dirty track; its almost aware of the arrogance P.O and featured rapper Incredible are spitting. It also works as a song that understands hip-hop more than most idol songs do. Dub was a huge inspiration to the first rappers of the Bronx and putting in a song like this acknowledges hip-hop’s history as best you could. It gives weight to Zico (who helped write and produce) and P.O’s desire to be recognized as more than idols.


 Also on KultScene: Best Music Video Fashion: April 2015 Releases

EXID – Thrilling

EXID’s excellent follow up to Up And Down, Ah Yeah was a confirmation that the girl group could build on what it did before and also comment on it. There was an EXID before Up And Down however, and it was just as good. The group’s best song, in fact, Every Night is from 2012 and it is with this song where we pick up on them now.

Just as Ah Yeah was a follow up to Up and Down, Thrilling is a kind of follow up to Every Night. The Latin guitars are immediately recognizable, the opening riffs themselves sound like they were lifted straight from the earlier song. It also uses beeping electronics alongside these to create a nice contrast. Thrilling is not a mere rerun in the same way that Ah Yeah is not either. It doesn’t go for a much bigger sound but changes elements enough to make it its own. The chorus in particular is striking for its commitment to the Latin sounds. Solji’s passionate voice fits so perfectly with the guitars and the kind of notes she has to hit here. I can’t say enough how much I like Soji’s voice, I hope she can get her due attention soon. She lifts the stripped back production to extravagant heights.

What was your favorite B-side of April? Did we miss 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.

Best Music Video Fashion: April 2015 Releases

March had great music video releases, with too many having amazing fashion that if we had done the best fashion for the month, the list would have been huge. But April just ended and we narrowed down the best of the best. From legendary duo Jinusean exploring different eras through clothes, to boy next door looks by Niel from TeenTop, onto sexy hooligans like BTS. The fashion was great and here are our picks for the best music video fashion for the releases for April 2015.

 

Niel Spring Love

Photos via Top Media

Niel from TeenTop had amazing success with his first solo debut album. For the repackage of his first album, he released a music video for his new track Spring Love. The styling of the music video was crisp, paired perfectly with the simple and romantic song. The music video is full of bright colors and the stylist kept Niel’s outfits in pastel tones that didn’t clash with the colorful locations. The singer looks like a boy next door but with an edge that is added with his jewelry and the choice of his footwear. Pale pink blazer, blue checkered button ups, striped jeans and Dr. Marten’s chelsea boots are the perfect looks for this spring.

 

 

BASTARZ Zero For Conduct

Photos Via CJEN Music

When it comes to Block B stylists, they are always on point. The have very creative ideas that even if they have been seen before, they seem fresh and new. Their mixture of high end pieces with streetwear gives a very avant-garde and modern look to BASTARZ, the new Block B sub-unit. The styling in their music video for Zero For Conduct has an array of different trends and styles mixed in. There is a little bit of punk, glam-rock, goth, and classic suits in every look, thus creating a very unique look for each member. The boys come off fierce with duster coats, fur jackets, and dungarees, and even their hairstyles look amazing.

 

 


Also on KultScene: Music Video Fashion: Red Velvet’s “Automatic”

Jinusean  Tell Me One More Time

Photos Via YG Entertainment

 

Jinusean gave a total throwback to every era in their music video for Tell Me One More Time. From the ‘70s to the ‘90s, they showed different looks that even if they are meant to be more like costumes, you can still wear any outfit today (sans the costume wigs and props) and it will look modern and on trend. Their ‘90s looks are my favorites with the track suits and bucket hats. But the one that stole the show in the styling department was Jang Hanna. She looks beautiful with blonde long hair and the head-to-toe Moschino by Jeremy Scott crop top and pencil skirt ensemble.

 

 

Lim  Kim Awoo & Love Game

Photos Via 1theK

As we talked about it before with Niel’s styling for his Spring Love, the stylist for Lim Kim went the opposite direction for her music video for Awoo. All the sets have a pastel and demure color palette, while Lim Kim’s looks are full of dark clothing and bright neons. This creates a very cool contrast with the feel of the music video that pairs well with the track. The song is a little dark but it’s also fun, and the way the stylist interpreted it with the looks was perfect. Simple tops and skirts that contain no graphics or patterns but have bold colors that make a statement.

 

On the other hand, for her other music video released in April, Love Game, the sets are bright and so are her clothes. This time around the clothes do have graphics and textures that stand out with the scandalous sets.

 


Also on KultScene: Top Seoul Fashion Week F/W 2015 Collections

BTS I Need U

Photos

Photos Via 1theK

BTS’ stylists, like Block B’s, always surprise us with the looks they create. And on BTS’ music video for I Need U, the stylist made the boys look like London hooligans. It seems like they took inspiration from movies like Trainspotting and overall looks worn by skinheads. The styling had a mixture of punk and mod that many men are trying to emulate with their styles these days. Bomber jackets, harnesses, Fred Perry polos, ripped skinny jeans, and Chelsea boots are some of my favorite pieces worn through the music video. BTS are known for being the cool, bad boys, and with these outfits they fully embodied that image.

 

Which one was your favorite music video fashion for the month of April 2015? Did we missed 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.