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This is the hardest K-pop quiz ever

impossible K-pop quiz

Think you are a K-pop genius? That may very well be so, but our latest K-pop quiz will put that to the test. There’s nothing as simple here as “what group is Umji a member of?” (Gfriend) or “what year did 2NE1 debut?” (2009). Know how many members there are in Super Junior? Too bad!! Oh no, this is all about the little facts, that only the most fanatical K-pop lovers will know.

Take the quiz and let us know how well you fared in the comment section! A word of warning: Most of KultScene’s very knowledgeable team of writers did pretty poorly when taking this quiz so… Take your time while answering the questions!


Also on Kultscene: Which K-pop generation do you belong in?

What was your favorite (or least favorite!) question? Have any other random bits of trivia you think we should have included? Share your thoughts and results in the comment section below or on Facebook, or Tweet us your results @KultScene. 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 Big Three: K-Pop Record Label Mid-Year Review

taeyeon bigbang twice jyp yg sm

Whether you’re an Inspirit, Pink Panda, Blackjack, S<3NE, B2UTY, or anything in between, you probably know the names of some of K-pop’s biggest record labels. From SM to YG to JYP to Cube to others, each label plays a huge role in the present and future of K-pop’s stars and the industry as a whole. And every year, some labels grow in power while others get closer and closer to obscurity.

Halfway through this year, some labels have tons to work on, while others are definitely killing it. Let’s take a look at some of K-pop’s biggest record labels and talk about their strengths and weaknesses from throughout the year. The evaluation will be based on the following five categories: Artist Management, Artist Popularity, Music Quality, Music Popularity, and Overall Success. For the first part, I’ll be discussing SM Entertainment, YG Entertainment, and JYP Entertainment, affectionately known as the Big Three labels. With the biggest overall success, popularity, market share in some areas, these companies are on a separate level than other labels, and therefore deserve an article of their own.


Also on KultScene: Unicorn’s “Unicorn Plus: The Brand New Label” Album Review

SM Entertainment

SM Tiffany Taemin Taeyeon NCT U

The worldwide leader of K-pop entertainment is still thriving. With major artists like EXO, Taeyeon, Red Velvet, and more leading the first half of the year, SM has clearly spared no expense in maintaining its seat on the throne for K-pop kings and queens. It seems like every week or two brings a new album release out of SM, along with actual weekly song releases through SM’s ambitious STATION music project. Collectively, the frequency and efficiency with which SM releases are things other labels can only dream of emulating.

And with that, there’s an emphasis on solos and subunits. So far, we have seen solo releases from Taeyeon, Tiffany, Jonghyun, Taemin, Yesung, Ryeowook, Luna, Amber, to name a few, with rumored solos in the works for Seohyun, Yuri, and Onew. The amount of fanbase power that each artist, whether in solo, subunit or full-group releases, ensures SM’s continued relevance and money-making abilities. Each mini-album sells a few ten-thousand albums and brings the label more profit. Artists are also receiving more creative freedom, with SHINee members Taemin and Jonghyun having extensive control over their own solo releases. With Taemin, NCT’s Ten, and Hyoyeon all participating on Mnet’s “Hit the Stage” in addition to tons of schedules for non-enlisted Super Junior members, Girls’ Generation members, and f(x) members, it seems SM is also doing a good job of keeping its artists within the spotlight.

SM’s only major weakness this year, however, is completely self-inflicted (and also very noticeable). With minimal promotion for some solo releases and a seemingly compulsive desire to dive into alternative and electronic genres, SM is losing the Korean crowd on digital charts. EXO’s “Call Me Baby” made #2 on 2015’s First Half-Year Gaon Chart, proving that “Call Me Baby” was a strong and popular release throughout and beyond its promotion cycle. On 2016’s Half-Year Chart, the highest-charting SM song is “Everytime” by Chen and Punch at #11. This song wasn’t even part of SM’s promotions, as it was part of the “Descendants of the Sun” OST. Aside from a few STATION releases that went without promotion on music shows and 2015’s “I” by Taeyeon, the only SM song in the Top 100 that was actually promoted this year is EXO’s “Monster,” which sits at #100. Clearly, SM is taking horrible losses in the digital market.

It seems, however, that SM knows their songs aren’t demolishing the charts, and seems to value the quality and quantity over digital success and public popularity. While it might be frustrating seeing our faves so low on the charts, SM seems to have an agenda — even with new group NCT, which is aiming for world domination. We’ll just have to wait to see more of what SM is planning. The only other weakness is scandals, which have hurt artists like Krystal, Kai, Victoria, Lay, and Zhoumi. Since we have yet to see the full effect of these scandals in the context of a musical release (except for Zhoumi, but there aren’t many negative effects since he was never super popular in Korea to begin with), these scandals are still only minor losses for SM.

For the first half of 2016, they get a solid 8.5/10 from me.

YG Entertainment

yg akmu akdong musician winner lee hi

Angry fans everywhere can tell you that YG is slacking. The once-great label was home to domestic and international chart-topping groups, with huge fanbase power in tow. Now, it’s another story, and YG is entirely to blame for its mistakes. As expected of a group with ten years under its belt, BIGBANG is slowing down with releases, especially considering the fact that none of the five members have enlisted in the military yet. As a result, we are left with the remains of 2NE1, which continues on a downward spiral of mismanagement, and newer artists like WINNER, iKON, Lee Hi, AKMU, and, originally “by the end of July” now August 8th, Black Pink. These artists are by no means bad, but YG fails to give them the proper management to make them succeed. They still don’t make many TV appearances, and have huge hiatuses between comebacks. Lee Hi lost a lot of traction and momentum once YG delayed her comeback for over three years — WINNER had a similar situation, waiting over a year for a comeback as well.

This isn’t to say that YG doesn’t have some successes this year — while many say that WINNER’s comeback was a failure, this isn’t entirely true, as their one mini-album yielded three top ten singles this year. Lee Hi shot the same number of songs to the top ten with her album “Seoulite,” and Akdong Musician achieved a number-one hit with the catchy “Re-Bye.” Even iKON got into the top three without any promotion with “#WYD.” Not everything is in shambles for YG, as their newer artists are clearly decently popular, but there’s definitely a lot to criticize.

Let’s look at the current situation — 2NE1’s three-member summer comeback is nowhere in sight, WINNER’s E.X.I.T. series, which was supposed to yield four albums throughout the year, has only seen one album release with the year’s seventh month having come to a close. iKON’s July comeback never happened (aside from a few random singles), BIGBANG’s MADE album from last year is still lost in the void, and only the next week will be able to show us whether YG actually puts out Black Pink on August 8th like the company is saying. It seems the only good things about YG this year are the quality of the music (even though it takes an eternity to be released) and sub-label recruitments from HIGHGRND and The Black Label. On the whole, YG gets a 4/10 from me. Burn.

JYP Entertainment

GOT7 JYP Wonder Girls TWICE Baek Ah Yeon Baek Yerin

Arguably the most successful label of the year, JYP has made quite a comeback of its own. I love a good underdog, and seeing JYP rise from the ashes of its pre-2015 decline has been quite exciting. With the explosive success that is TWICE, the label is definitely raking in the dough this year. Based on further analysis of the Gaon Chart, it’s evident that TWICE’s second mini album “Page Two” has already sold more than any previous Wonder Girls or Miss A album, and TWICE’s two mini albums have, in less than a year, collectively outsold the entirety of Miss A’s discography. With tons of CFs and variety appearances in tow, TWICE has clearly given JYP new life.

But TWICE isn’t JYP’s only success this year. With successful releases from Baek Ah Yeon, Baek Yerin, and Wonder Girls, the label is a huge success in terms of musical and artist popularity this year. Wonder Girls is an especially large win, considering that the group was in danger of becoming irrelevant after last year’s “I Feel You.” Through “Why So Lonely”’s breakthrough success (the song still tops charts almost a month after release), Wonder Girls have proved the resilience of both their group and their label. JYP teaches us all that a label is truly successful when both its older and newer groups can make waves in the K-pop world.

Along with profits piling in from TWICE, GOT7, and a successful Japanese release from 2PM, JYP is killing it in all aspects of success. It’s also definitely notable that its artists are being promoted well — many are given creative freedom, constant releases, and stable promotion. Each TWICE member has made upwards of seven or eight variety appearances since debut. While Tzuyu and Sana are currently the most popular members, JYP is taking the time to bring Jihyo and Momo some attention as well, given their recent appearances on shows like “King of Mask Singer” and “Hit the Stage,” respectively.

Keeping all of this success in mind, JYP has taken a few hits this year, specifically in GOT7’s scandal and Fei’s recent solo release. While GOT7’s controversial actions definitely hurt their reputation in Korea and possibly abroad, the group still has a lot of room for upward advancement, given their increasing sales and ability to tour worldwide. Fei was never incredibly popular, and her recent support of China in the South China Sea dispute has really hurt her Korean reputation as well. The result was catastrophic — the single fell off of most charts within a day of release. Recognizing these minor losses as nothing more than, well, minor losses, JYP gets a stellar 9.5/10 from me.


Also on KultScene: An Ode to SHINee on the Eve of KCON LA 2016

And that wraps up the Mid-Year Review of the Big Three. For the first time in years, it seems like JYP has become the overall best label of the year so far. We can only hope that their success continues, while praying that SM can get themselves a hit or two before the year’s end and that YG lives up to at least a fourth of its promises.

The ranking is as such:

  1. JYP Entertainment — 9.5/10
  2. SM Entertainment — 8.5/10
  3. YG Entertainment — 4/10

What do you think of the Big Three so far this year? 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.

8 Moments You’ll Want To Rewatch From MAMA 2015

MAMA 2015 2NE1

One of the biggest events of the K-pop year was held earlier today in Hong Kong and, needless to say, a lot went on at the Mnet Asian Music Awards that you don’t want to miss out on. If you didn’t get a chance to watch the show live, or just want to relive it, then this rundown of all of the memorable moments from MAMA 2015 is definitely for you.

1. 2NE1 Returned

If there is one thing to take away from the 2015 MAMA ceremony, it was that 2NE1 was back. There was silence, tears, and shrieks from fans watching live and at home as CL disappeared beneath the stage after her solo performance of “Hello Bitches” and Dara rose up, followed by Minzy, Park Bom, and CL. The performance was like a rebirth of the group, which has been on hiatus for over a year, and they brought their fierce talent performing their debut song “Fire” and their most popularity song to date, “I Am The Best.”


Also on KultScene: MAMA 2015 Award Show Scoresheet + WINNERS

 


2. Jolin Tsai Dominated The Stage

The Taiwanese singer surprised the crowd with a performance of her hit song “Play.” The Queen of C-Pop showed everyone what she was worth, offering a fierce rendition of “Play.” Backed by a crew of male backup dancers in drag, Jolin Tsai showed the camera who is boss with her intense gaze and sharp dance moves, matched by her fire-spit rap and belting vocals. And when she broke character and couldn’t help but show her bright smile, it was absolutely great.

Honorable mention to the fangirls who just couldn’t believe what was happening.

3. JYP Embarrassed Everyone

Park Jin Young, also known as JYP or J.Y Park and the CEO of JYP Entertainment, took to MAMA with a mature performance that left people with their eyes wide and jaws open. Except for the members of JYP Entertainment idol groups Twice and GOT7, who were looking for the exits. The members of the two idol groups went so far as to cover their eyes and imitate killing one another to keep themselves from seeing their mentor get down with the female dancers.

4. The Fashion Was On PointBIGBANG MAMA 2015 Fashion

Everyone came out in their best, combining chic urban wear with fabulously classy numbers. Fur was a big component in several people’s outfits, including HyunA, Truedy, Yezi, and Jessi’s. BIGBANG went all out mobster chic, while BTS brought a retro, Grease-inspired fashion for their performance of “Run.”

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Actress Stephanie Lee stood out amongst a lot of classic black and white numbers worn by presenters by wearing an eggplant-colored dress with cut outs, while actress Park Shin Hye opted for a little black and white preppy lace number.

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And San E’s stylist should maybe rethink things because his entire outfit was a mess, just saying.

5. Yezi & Lil Boi Strutted Their Rap Stuff

If 2015 was the year for any rapper, that rapper was none other than Fiestar’s Yezi. The “Unpretty Rapstar 2” contestant joined “Show Me The Money 4” contestant Lil Boi on stage and they just couldn’t be controlled. The “Show Me the Rapstar” segment was a rap battle between the pair and Truedy and Basik, the winners of their respective competition shows, but Yezi proved to everyone that she’s not just a pretty face while Lil Boi brought a bouncing rap that had the crowd feeling the rhythm.


Also on KultScene: 6 INFINITE Songs That Will Prepare You For INFINITE Effect

6. EXO & BIGBANG Were Crowned Kings of 2015

EXO won three awards, including Best Male Artist and Best Album of the Year, while BIGBANG took home four awards for Best Music Video, Artist of the Year, Song of the Year, and MAMA Worldwide Favorite Artist.

Enough said.

7. The Seungri+Sehun Ship Set Sail

The most shocking, or hilarious, moment of MAMA was when BIGBANG’s Seungri cozied up with members of EXO during “Bae Bae.” EXO’s Sehun reciprocated by pretending to fall asleep on Seungri’s shoulder, and that was it. The (relation)ship soon filled Twitter as fans reacted to this unlikely encounter between members of groups from the two largest Korean entertainment agencies.

8. There Were Lightsabers

While the battle could have been better, MAMA included a lightsaber duel. What more could you ask for? It’s “Star Wars,” but live!

What was your favorite moment from 2015 MAMA? Did we miss anything? Let us know 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 We’re Watching This November From Korea

Big Bang "Made" There are so many options out there when it comes to television shows and movies to watch that sometimes it’s a bit overwhelming to figure out exactly what you should be watching this November. But don’t worry, KultScene has you covered. Check out a few of these great Korean dramas and Korean movies that we’ve enjoyed this month, including an exclusive documentary from BIGBANG’s recent MADE tour via DramaFever and a dramedy about a bunch of friends starting a rickshaw business from Viki.

“Riders: Catch Tomorrow”

I don’t know about you, but I’m a sucker for a good story about people going for their dreams, and that’s exactly what “Riders” offers us in the 12 episode series. Starring Kim Dong Wook, Lee Chung Ah, and Choi Yeo Jin, the show is about Kim’s character who decides he’s bored of working in a corporate company and starts a business pedaling people around in rickshaws. The story is about people discovering happiness and romance while dealing with the struggles of everyday issues. With a lot of jokes, “Riders: Catch Tomorrow” is making us smile and cry right after one another. This is an exclusive to Viki, so make sure to take a few minutes and fall in love.


Also on KultScene: Here’s Why The Wall Street Journal Is Wrong About K-Drama Fans

“BIGBANG MADE 2015 CONCERT”

As someone who attended one of BIGBANG’s stop in New Jersey, I can’t say enough how everyone needs to go watch this documentary. It’s DramaFever’s first original production and brings BIGBANG’s recently ended tour to viewers around the world. If you didn’t get a chance to see them while they were traveling the world, don’t worry, here’s your chance. The documentary will feature moments from BIGBANG’s most recent North American tour, and include both concert performances and behind the scenes. It just went live today, so definitely sit down, grab your VIP light, and start jamming out right now!

“Reply 1988”

I’m going to be honest, I haven’t even started watching this and I know it’s amazing, mostly because other KultScene staff members have said so. That and the fact that the other “Reply” series were absolutely amazing. This time, the retro drama brings us back to 1988 and stars Girl’s Day’s Hyeri as the lead female and Ryu Jun Yeol and Go Kyung Pyo as the main male leads. Everyone’s favorite “Reply” parents Sung Dong Il and Lee Il Hwa are back, playing Hyeri’s parents as we get the 1988 version of a bunch of young people struggling with changes in the world. And try to figure out who Hyeri will get married to, of course!


Also on KultScene: 6 K-Things To Watch This October: Big Bang, ‘Answer Me,’ INFINITE, Lee Min Ki & More [UPDATED]

“Oh My Venus”

So Ji Sub and Shin Min Ah star in this upcoming drama that I’m super excited about. The two are stalwart actors, and are acting as a personal trainer who falls in love with his client. It’s sure to be sweet, cute, and develop some emotional curves in there that will make you be unable to tear your eyes away from the screen. It doesn’t start airing until next week, but if you’re interested in “Oh My Venus,” let us know in the comments what you’re excited to see!

”Sassy Go Go”

Jung Eun Ji of APink (and “Reply 1997”) stars as the go-getter dancer who is one of the worst in her year at a prestigious Seoul high school. Lee Won Keun is the top of their year, and the two clash in this fun drama after two school clubs are forced to combine, bringing the top students together with the less educationally inclinced students. With all the lightheartedness of the typical high school drama, “Sassy Go Go” also deals with depression and suicide that accompanies the high stress to succeed.

Read more

Fantasy Vs Reality: MAMA 2015 Award Winners

MAMA awards

Much to the delight of international K-pop fans, the annual Mnet Asian Music Awards (MAMA) is coming round again on the second of December and will be held in Macau. Nominees for the various categories were announced on Oct. 31,and fan voting began on the same day. It is already shaping up to be a heated battle between the multiple fandoms but there are a few groups that have already gained and maintained a strong lead against their competitors.

Based on the results of previous years, there is a definite correlation between the size of a group’s fanbase and their chances of winning awards, which might unfairly cause more deserving groups to miss out on their prize. To acknowledge the possibly underappreciated groups and artists that will not be recognised during the awards, let’s have a round of Fantasy Vs Reality as a prediction for this year’s winners –with the exception of Union Pay Artist and Song of the Year, there are too many nominees for us to pick!

1. Best New Male/Female Artist

Fantasy: SEVENTEEN & Oh My Girl
These two groups could not be more different in nature but the one thing they have in common is that they’re insanely talented. From participating in the composing and production of their own tracks (SEVENTEEN) to standing out amongst several other girl groups using cute concepts (Oh My Girl), both groups have massive potential and will go far in the K-pop industry. Although they have been gaining a lot of fans since their debuts, neither of these two groups have a large enough fanbase at the moment to ensure their victory in MAMA. However, I’m looking forward to their work in the future!


Reality: iKon & TWICE
Both these groups debuted from huge and rich entertainment companies (YG Entertainment and JYP Entertainment) which had previously produced hugely successful acts such as BIGBANG and the Wonder Girls, so it is a given that they would have a more polished debut filled with lots of high budget teasers, hype and music show promotions. Both groups had also participated in pre-debut reality competition shows (“Mix or Match” and “Sixteen”) which garnered the members a sizeable fan base, giving them a headstart and strong lead against other rookie groups. For so much hype though, their actual debut proved to be underwhelming, especially in the case of iKon, so they may not be as deserving of this award in a year filled with better rookie debuts.

2. Best Male/Female Artist

Fantasy: Jung Yonghwa(CNBLUE)/Ailee
It’s pretty interesting how Yonghwa’s solo album that was released earlier this year was so much better than his group’s recent comeback in terms of its musicality, catchiness and coherence as an album. The title track “One Fine Day” was a great song even though it was more of a ballad than anything else, and Yonghwa had a few great collaborations with artists such as JJ Lin and Verbal Jint in the other tracks, all of which contributed to my opinion of him as the best male solo artist of the year, even though he may not be recognised widely for his efforts. Ailee, on the other hand, is definitely a well-known and respected female soloist. She has been nominated for the same award at least two times now but she has always been shy of receiving it. Her releases are consistently amazing and she is always wowing fans with her performances on “Immortal Song” or other music shows. Someone give this woman an award already!


Reality: Kyuhyun(Super Junior)/IU
I cannot deny that Kyuhyun is a great soloist and his releases so far have been nothing short of amazing. However he always sings the same genre of music (ballads) and I believe that his songs are a little over-rated. In my opinion, he may not be as deserving as other more diverse soloists like Yonghwa but he will surely attain victory thanks to his enormous fanbase. Likewise, I cannot really complain about IU because it is true that she is an extremely talented soloist and a diverse singer at that. She also has collaborated with countless artists in the past year and has even impressed fans with her performance in “The Producers” as idol singer Cindy. With her recent release “23,” she showcased a honest side of herself, all of which has helped her add fans to her already large group of supporters. While she is certainly deserving of the award, she has also won the same award previously so perhaps it is time to give the other nominees some recognition.

3. Best Male/Female Group

Fantasy: BTS/AOA
It’s been a great year for both these groups who have achieved major breakthroughs in their career. For AOA in particular, after they changed their concept from being a female band to being an ultra sexy girl group in 2014 it has worked wonders for them. They have gained a lot more fans and recognition through their releases such as “Like a Cat”, “Miniskirt”, and their most recent comeback, “Heart Attack.” BTS has been going strong ever since their debut in 2013 and has been steadily building up their fanbase of ARMY, their fan name, with addictive releases such as “I Need You” and “Dope.” Their songs are of a consistently good standard and each member showcases impressive vocal and rapping skills accordingly. What is there not to like about this group? Both these groups deserve awards for the improvements and work they have done over this year.


Reality: BIGBANG & Girls’ Generation
If Best Male/Female Group was determined on which groups were the most active this year, it would make sense that these two groups would be awarded. In the case of BIGBANG, they’ve had an extremely busy year with their “Made” album, in which two title tracks were released every month starting from May. While I am definitely a fan of BIGBANG’s songs, there were some releases that were overhyped and they did well on the charts just because they were from BIGBANG. The same goes with Girls’ Generation. With a total of four songs released this year, they have certainly been active in the K-pop scene. These songs were definitely not the best ones this year though, despite being accompanied with colourful and cool music videos that boasted SM Entertainment’s high budget. These groups have their loyal and dedicated fans to thank for being able to maintain a lead on the polls so far.


Also on Kultscene: 8 K-pop Girl Power Anthems Pt. 6

4. Best Dance Performance Solo

Fantasy: Gain (Brown Eyed Girls) – “Paradise Lost”
Brown Eyed Girls have always been known for their sexual concepts and Gain’s solos have been no exception. Her solo release was not great to me in a musical sense, but her dance is another story. She really exposed and expressed herself through her extremely sexual dance, and to be able to do that on so many stages is really amazing. Furthermore, as compared to the other nominees on this list, her dance seems to be the most difficult and technical but she pulls it off with ease.


Reality: Amber ( f(x)) – “Shake That Brass”
When I saw that Amber was leading the polls for this award, I literally had to roll my eyes. Not because I have anything against her or f(x) but because I was less than impressed when I watched her live performance for this song. The dance (and song for that matter) seems just like Amber’s character, fun and energetic, but on a technical sense, she’s not actually doing much. Once again, her popularity as a member of f(x) and being part of SM Entertainment is going to smooth her path to victory, whether she actually deserves it or not.

5. Best Dance Performance Male/Female Group

Fantasy: GOT7(“If You Do”) & 4MINUTE (“Crazy”)
GOT7 has never impressed me ever since their debut up until the release of their latest song, “If You Do.” Not only is the sound an overall more mature one from the group, their dance is simply amazing. Even their CEO, Park Jinyoung (JYP) praised them for mastering it, and for good reason. Every step is so synchronized and technically difficult, but the boys were able to master it and show off their individual charms at the same time. For a group that is only about a year old, this is an amazing showing and is proof that they will definitely continue to impress. 4MINUTE’s choreography for “Crazy” also surprised me. Previously I had no knowledge about this group whatsoever but when I saw their dance practice video for “Crazy” I saw how powerful they are. They give off such a strong aura that I was immediately drawn to them, and for that they stand out among the other girl groups in contention for this award.


Reality: EXO (“Call Me Baby”) & Red Velvet (“Ice Cream Cake”)
Even with nine members EXO is always able to showcase a good performance, and their live versions of “Call Me Baby” were executed well. I also loved the way they cleverly made use of props or their clothes to give fans a fresh and new performance every time. Their choreography for this song however, was slightly lacking in terms of its technicality. They were not particularly synchronized nor were their moves very difficult, and this was not their best dance, especially when compared to previous hits like “Growl.” For Red Velvet, maybe it is because I have never been a big fan of cute concepts, I did not find their dance for “Ice Cream Cake” very impressive. They just seemed mediocre, and were similar to several other girl groups both past and present.

6. Best Male/Female Vocal Performance

Fantasy: Lim Chang Jung (“Love Again”)/ Davichi (“Cry Again”)
With his recent comeback “Love Again” Lim Chang Jung created a stir on the music charts where his song had a very strong showing. He even won first place on some music shows during his promotions, which I can say that it was very well-deserved. He sings with a lot of emotions in a style that vaguely resembles Korean trot-singing and his voice found its way into my heart even though I did not understand what he was singing about. Davichi does this all the time as well. From the albums and songs that they have previously released I became quite a huge fan and was more than excited when they came back with “Davichi Hug” this year. All the songs on their album were amazing but none stood out more than their title track “Cry Again.” The choruses and the bridges were so touching and their perfect harmonies really shined. It’s a pity that they did not get more recognition during their promotion period but they really deserve it during these awards.


Reality: Kyuhyun (“At Gwanghwamun”)/ Taeyeon (“I”)
Okay I’m not going to lie, I would be happy if Kyuhyun won for “At Gwanghwamun” because that song is amazing. When it first came out I replayed it so many times and fell in love with it so much so that I actually went to visit Gwanghwamun when I went to Korea because of it. However, he is already highly recognised and constantly awarded either as a soloist or with his group, so I still hope that other vocalists (aka Lim Chang Jung) would get recognised during MAMA instead. I have the opposite sentiment for Taeyeon, unfortunately. I admit that her voice is one of the best in K-pop and that Girls’ Generation would definitely not be as good without her. However, her solo debut was underwhelming in that it sounded so similar to say, a Taylor Swift song and it failed to show off her individuality. Furthermore, she did not really showcase her best vocal ability through this release and is probably more undeserving of this award than the other female vocalists being nominated in this category.

7. Best Rap Performance

Fantasy: Mad Clown – “Fire”
Mad Clown is hands down one of my favourite rappers. His lyrics are not just witty and relatable, his delivery is also very smooth and confident. In particular this track, he matched perfectly with the singer featuring on his track, Jinsil, to create an overall fantastic and addictive song, but it is evident that he is carrying most of the track. His emotions are spot on as well, and he doesn’t come off as full of rage but rather he shows a more passive type of anger. He needs more international exposure and recognition so I really hope that he will be able to get this award.


Reality: Gary (from Leessang) – “Get Some Air”
Once again, I wouldn’t be very upset if Gary ends up winning this award after all. I got to know him after watching him on popular variety show “Running Man” and it is no wonder that he has such a large fan base because the show is popular not just in Korea but in a lot of countries around the world. The track is a pretty good one as well, with a great collaboration between the featured singer (Miwoo) and Gary, but his rap is just lacking as compared to Mad Clown. He also portrays his sad emotions well but his flow and delivery isn’t as smooth or as well done as Mad Clown’s, so on a technical level he may not be as deserving of this award. He did put in a lot of effort for this solo release however and I am looking forward to his future work.


Also on Kultscene: f(x)’s “4 Walls” Album Review

8. Best Band Performance

Fantasy: Hyukoh – “Comes And Goes”
This is probably the category that I feel the most for because Hyukoh is a real gem that I discovered recently due to their appearance on another popular variety show, “Infinite Challenge.” It’s so satisfying to watch them receive so much attention nowadays from Korean and international fans alike because their music is just that good. Indie bands and music have never been my thing, but Hyukoh is so unique and fresh that I can’t help falling in love with them. Their humble attitude is another plus point, especially since they are already so skilled. “Comes And Goes” has such a chill vibe to it and it makes me feel so comfortable that I want to listen to it over and over again. By far, they are definitely the best band among the other bands nominated in this category.

Reality: CNBLUE – “Cinderella”
In contrast, CNBLUE might well be the worst band listed in this category. I say this as a fan of the band, but “Cinderella” is definitely not their best work. In fact, as compared to “Can’t Stop”, which they won Best Band for in MAMA 2014, “Cinderella” is unfortunately a huge decrease in standards. Where “Can’t Stop” was catchy and addictive, “Cinderella” was rather annoying and I couldn’t even bring myself to replay it after the first time. In a year where other bands such as Hyukoh and FTISLAND showed off more of their colour and talent, CNBLUE really shouldn’t get to win this award.

9. Best Collaboration & Unit

Fantasy: VIXX LR– “Beautiful Liar”
I’ve always been fascinated by VIXX as a group, although their concepts sometimes scare me, their songs are always consistently good. It was this expectation that I had from them that caused me to check out their new subunit. It did not disappoint and this great release was a pleasant surprise for me. Ravi’s raps in the song were amazing and really enhanced the track, while Leo did his part and sang beautifully. Together they were a strong pair and it is a pity that this song seemed to go under the radar amongst other popular releases when it is really deserving of recognition. For a debut, it is definitely a great release and I can’t wait for their comeback already.

Reality: Zion T & Crush – “Just”
I probably shouldn’t have been surprised that this collaboration was leading the polls because “Just” gained a lot of attention when it was first released at the start of the year. It’s not the first time that these two artists have worked together, and it really shows in the way they are able to complement each other in singing and rapping. While it is a nice release, it doesn’t work on an emotional way like “Beautiful Liar” did for me, so I do think that VIXX LR would be more deserving of this award.

10. Best Music Video

Fantasy: INFINITE – “Bad”
Apart from loving the song, I also enjoyed watching the music video and thought that it was very cool. The way the set was used in different ways for the members intrigued me and there were even some parts that were very creepy, especially when the mirrors were used. Although the other version of the music video wasn’t nominated for this award, I also enjoyed watching the 360 VR version of it because viewers got to play around with the video while watching it to see the video from different perspectives. It was a very cool and fresh idea which made me excited for the future of K-pop music videos.

Reality: BIGBANG – “Bae Bae”
I can only use two words to describe this video: colourful and crazy. It did fit the song very well but it was extremely messy and random with abrupt scene changes and totally different vibes for each part of the song. All it does, in essence, is show off how rich YG Entertainment is, but as a music video I did not enjoy it at all. At least in INFINITE’s video there was an over-arching theme that kept the video coherent and relevant to the song, in “Bae Bae.”..not so much.

All in all, it can be concluded that MAMA awards is essentially a popularity contest, and while the fan polls are not always the determining factors for who eventually wins the awards, they are pretty good indicators. I’m excited to see how it turns out and I’ll always be rooting for the underdogs, even though they may not be favoured to win.

Are you excited for the MAMA awards? What are your predictions? Share your throughts 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.

Unappreciated Singers: Equality Of Line Distribution In K-pop Songs

bigbang line equality

BIGBANG finished off their “MADE” series two weeks ago with their latest singles, “Let’s Not Fall In Love” and “Zutter” (G-Dragon & T.O.P). As usual, they achieved international success in both album and digital sales. Amidst the rave reviews for the songs though, netizens and VIPs (BIGBANG fans) were quick to point out the inequality in the line distributions, especially for “Let’s Not Fall In Love”. This issue is not a new one in the world of K-pop or even for BIGBANG, but the fact that G-Dragon & T.O.P had a single of their own this time around highlighted how the other vocalists in the group (namely Daesung and Seungri) are seemingly unfairly treated.

The accusations are not unfounded, “Let’s Not Fall In Love” is indeed dominated by the other three members and Daesung and Seungri have a mere three lines each. They also seem to get the short end of the stick in their first single of 2015, “Bae Bae”, with their meagre number of lines. Why are the members constantly short changed in this manner? To say that their voices simply do not fit the mood and emotion of the songs seems a bit far-fetched to me, especially since this pattern can be seen in several of their releases. They certainly are not lacking in terms of their vocal ability either, as their successful solo debuts in both Japan and Korea can prove.


Also on Kultscene: Which BIGBANG ‘Made’ Letter Are You? [QUIZ]

You may wonder why line distribution is such a big deal to netizens and artists, but the number of lines a member gets is almost directly proportional to the amount of screentime he receives on music shows or television broadcast performances. With more lines he is able to showcase more of himself, which at times can be integral to an artist’s ego and individual growth. When a member gets more lines, he also has more pressure to perform well and up to standard, which will automatically result in him practicing more and consistently improving himself.

INFINITE’s L is the living example of that. Back in the “The Chaser” days, he used to get a mere two lines in the entire song and as a result his vocal abilities remained rather stagnant. In the past few years however, his parts in each release have gotten longer, and he was even given the opportunity to be a lead vocal for his subunit INFINITE F. His confidence in singing has obviously grown by leaps and bounds and his improvements can be seen and heard.

(Skip to 3:30 for his high note)

Equal line distribution maintains a balance between the members and their unique abilities in the song. In BIGBANG’s case especially, every member brings something different to every song that they sing. For example, T.O.P’s speciality is his deep voice, which makes him a very charismatic rapper and singer. Classic BIGBANG releases such as “Haru Haru” would definitely be very different without his low accompaniments and raps.

via youngbaebae on tumblr

However, members such as Seungri and Daesung also have their own charms which remain a big part to BIGBANG releases. Take for example BIGBANG’s “Loser”, which was released along with “Bae Bae” earlier this year. Seungri and T.O.P sang the chorus together, and his higher voice contrasted nicely with T.O.P’s voice, creating a perfect balance in the song. This balance was lost in “Let’s Not Fall In Love” however, where G-Dragon sang the chorus of the song. Although G-Dragon certainly has the vocal techniques to pull this off, he sang it in a rather low key and flat manner, causing the chorus to sound rather boring as compared to the rest of the song. T.O.P did the same thing in the later chorus as well, although Taeyang’s high notes and ad-libs were brought in towards the end. If Seungri had sung along with them, just like he did in “Loser”, I have no doubt that the resulting effect would be very different. Seungri’s voice may not be as polished or smooth as Taeyang’s and G-Dragon’s voices, but it is melodious and projects a certain calm that the other members don’t seem to possess. In his quiet ways, he is enhancing the songs through every part that he has.


Just like Seungri, Daesung’s voice is unique and instrumental to BIGBANG songs, even if he is often underappreciated. As a soloist, he is also very famous in Japan, so it’s a pity that he isn’t given more lines. His style of singing might not be popular in a mainstream sense, but there is no doubt that he sings with all of his heart. Every note is interjected with tons of emotion, and he sings with more feeling than anyone else in the group, no matter how small his part. “Loser” just wouldn’t be as melancholic and passionate without his heart-wrenching vocals, and Daesung makes up for the lack of emotion that is sometimes evident in the parts of his group mates (i.e T.O.P).


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Maybe it’s a YG Entertainment thing, but BIGBANG’s labelmates 2NE1 also face this problem. Despite the fact that there are only four members in the group, the lines of their songs have always been extremely skewed towards CL and Park Bom. Dara, on the other hand, never gets more than ten lines in a song and at times, and occasionally even gets only two lines. It is a well-known fact that Dara’s weak vocals do not match up to her groupmates, and even in her small number of lines her voice is almost always heavily edited. However, I still believe that Dara can bring something special to 2NE1’s songs, if her voice is used in the right way. Although her voice is soft, it is also sweet, and she can comfortably balance the rough and loud edges CL sometimes brings in her voice, adding more emotion and depth to the songs.

This skewed line distribution does not just affect the member with the least lines, it also places a heavy burden on the other members who are given more lines, especially in small groups like 2NE1. “If I Were You”, a track from 2NE1’s 2014 release, “Crush”, is a good example of this. CL ends off the ballad in a quiet and emotional way, and it sounds fine in the track, but not so in live performances. During 2NE1’s performance on “Yoo Hee Yeol’s Sketchbook,” CL was out of breath by the time she reached the end of the song, and understandably so, because she had to carry several high and long notes throughout the song. This unfortunately lessened the sadness and emotion of this piece. If Dara was the one singing this portion (she only got about one line in the whole song), CL wouldn’t have had to exert herself so much in the performance and Dara would have been able to nail it with her gentle vocals.

(Skip to 3:11 for the ending)

I’m not criticizing BIGBANG or YG for the unfair line distributions because many other K-pop groups also face these problems (especially big groups such as EXO and Girls’ Generation). However, I do believe that each member (this applies to every music group out there) has a special part to play, and if their talents are harnessed properly, the group will be able to create music like never before – music that can highlight every single member’s strengths.

Which BIGBANG ‘MADE’ Letter Are You? [QUIZ]

Which BIGBANG 'MADE' Letter Are You Feat.Yes! BIGBANG is back! Most definitely, incredible! After a number of solo activities, the kings of K-pop are here again to reclaim their thrones. From the months of May to August, the group has been putting out several single albums titled ‘M,’ ‘A,’ ‘D,’ and ‘E,’ respectively, and has been achieving wide commercial success. Even if you’ve never been an avid fan of BIGBANG before, listeners can expect to find new sounds of genres across the board with this recent comeback. Whether it is the sexually suggestive “Bae Bae” or the mellow ballad “If You,” there’s a song for just about everyone.

But what is interesting about each of these single albums is their tracklist arrangement. Each album consists of two songs, which all work in juxtaposition to each other. We see a club banger coupling off with a Radio Disney-esque number, and then there’s the hip-hop GTOP (members G-Dragon and T.O.P’s subunit) track tag-teaming with a mid-tempo, tender love song. Surely, there’s a method to the madness and we here at Kultscene have figured it out. Just which pair of counter songs is your favorite will say a lot of your own yins and yangs, and in our latest quiz we can help determine just what those are.


Also on Kultscene: Which TWICE member are you? [Quiz]

What did you think of your result? Which ‘MADE’ song is your favorite? Let us know what other quizzes you’d like to see from KultScene! 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 PEACEMINUSONE Art Exhibit Is Like Seeing The World Through G-Dragon Tinted Glasses[Photos]

pm2
“<PEACEMINUSONE> is an exhibition designed to enhance the public’s interest in the contemporary art while raising the encounters of art and pop culture based on the collaboration of artists of home and abroad with G-Dragon the icon of pop culture beyond the domain of a musician,” reads a black and white poster in both Korean and English at the entrance of the PEACEMINUSONE exhibit at the Seoul Museum of Art (SeMA).

While the grammar is lacking, and a bit confusing, the meaning is clear. The point of PEACEMINUSONE, I believe, was to draw fans of K-pop group BIGBANG to one of Seoul’s museums. And it worked; I wasn’t the only one at the museum that day specifically because I wanted to take a look at what the leader of BIGBANG had curated. G-Dragon (Kwon Jiyong), one of South Korea’s most exemplary musicians and fashion icons, collaborated with foreign and domestic artists to create the exhibit.

PEACEMINUSONE, representing the current state of humanity, was split up into two parts; the first focused on G-Dragon’s career and artistry and was called “Non(fiction) Museum.” Costumes and sets seen in the music videos of BIGBANG and G-Dragon’s solos were displayed artistically alongside other images. A ticking clock in the middle, with G-Dragon’s “Coup D’Etat” altered peace sign logo, stood ominously in the middle of the room. Mirrors of varying sizes distorted reflections, matching the distorted images of G-Dragon and nude bodies that were featured in several different artworks.


Also on KultScene: Playlist Sunday: BIGBANG

The whole portion of the exhibit, with over a dozen art installations in just one room, dreary and bright all at once, seemed to be a visualization of what it’s like to be inside G-Dragon’s brain. One poster explained that portion of the exhibit as “a museum made of actual and virtual stories of G-Dragon intermingled.”

The second half of the exhibit was less focused on G-Dragon personally, and instead highlighted the individual artists and their perceptions of reality. Many of the artworks used photography, lights, and screens to warp what the viewer is looking at, and several pieces seemed to highlight the controlled view of the world that modern media portrays. While the first half of the museum depicted G-Dragon’s take on reality, the second portion of PEACEMINUSONE seemed like an attack on the media’s perception of the world.

A mise-en-scene sculpture and video piece by one of the artists, Kijong Zin, scaled down BIGBANG’s five members and made an example of seeing just what the camera lens glosses over. One artwork, Michael Scoggin’s “Hello! My Friend G-Dragon” features G-Dragon “existing in the imaginary world which is the image shown through the media.” Several artworks used video sculptures and actual sculptures together to depict altered realities.


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Before the third portion of the exhibit, museum-goers were urged to partake in the interactive “Talk To G-Dragon” activity, where people could write a message to G-Dragon.

The final artwork of the exhibit was entitled “Room No. 8” and was a collaboration between G-Dragon and Silo Lab_Zizizik, the only physical installation credited to G-Dragon. Mixing G-Dragon’s voice and image walking across multiple screens in a darkly room, “Room No. 8” felt purposely ominous to depict what the exhibit called the BIGBANG rapper’s “inner truths.”

As homage to G-Dragon, PEACEMINUSONE isn’t like anything any K-pop artist has ever done before and offers a drearier look into G-Dragon’s on and off-stage persona than is usually depicted in the Korean media.

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What do you think of PEACEMINUSONE? 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.