On Episode 47 of Kultscene’s K-pop Unmuted, Joe, Scott, Stephen, and Tamar look back on the last decade of Kpop. In the first of two episodes, we discuss our personal Kpop journeys over the last ten years, we pick our Artist of the Decade, and we list our picks for Top Five Music Videos of the Decade.
As they strive for a coveted summer anthem, you might be forgiven for thinking that DIA were trying to return to their roots. Amidst the clanging electronics of fifth mini album Summer Ade, there is a noticeable presence of acoustic guitars that suggests a return to a more tactile sound. DIA have never been tactile, though. Summer Ade isn’t so much as a return but totally untrodden ground. After three years of work, they’re still trying to find the foundation that they were supposed to debut into.
If things had all gone to plan, the MBK girl group would have debuted as sisters to one of K-pop’s biggest groups. Instead, T-ara were wrongfully disgraced and DIA struggled to eke out an existence in their shadow. In 2016 they had, however, a lifeline in the form of Produce 101 and Jung Chaeyeon. Her face and fame were a stopgap, but the popularity of Produce 101 doesn’t generally go much further than the actual group it forms. It’s now the turn of Kang Yebin, one of the winners on The Unit, an idol rebooting show, and current member of Uni-T. That show had a fraction of the cultural impact as Produce but it remains something to hang on to for DIA. Their roots are obscurity and their present is a constant fight against it.
DIA’s approach is defined not by the aforementioned guitars as such but by the opening one two punch of “Like U Like U” and single “Woo Woo.” “Like U Like U” is classic DIA. Bubblegum pop with winding synths and their loudest, most peppy vocals to date. Their usual forward behaviour is also present. By the time you can count to three, they have confessed, asked the boy out, and already gone on a date. It’s a gleeful final reminder of DIA’s unique brand of bewitching pop music.
Also on KultScene: RED VELVET’S ‘SUMMER MAGIC’ ALBUM REVIEW
“Woo Woo” at first doesn’t feel like too much of a departure, particularly with Yebin opening the track. Her voice typically youthful and nasally quickly turns into something different, though;by the end of her third line, she lets her words roll. There’s a sensuality to it that had been completely absent from DIA’s discography up to this point. The change in attitudes and textures is more evident than any big shift in their music.
Producers Shinsadong Tiger and BEOMxNANG take the basic structure of Tinashe’s “Superlove” and its bells and whistles to give DIA a summer bop. It pings along with great precision, matching DIA’s newfound maturity. It moves quickly to the chorus offering little variation, letting the girls test themselves. Following Yebin, Huihyeon’s deeper singing voice is impossible to resist. She’s the absolute centre of DIA 2.0 evidenced by her half-rapped, half-sung part in the second verse and the more prominent use of her singing throughout the album. Jooeun, the girl with K-pop’s most chorus-friendly voice, delivers wonderfully, and Eunchae is reaching heights never allowed to her before. It’s the girls themselves that make “Woo Woo” and the album feel so fresh.
“Woo Woo” is a song about the many contradictory feelings one has around a crush. They mention how even in just 10 minutes they become confused, start misunderstanding things. The confidence of their youth has somewhat faded, now DIA sing about how “they get tied up with one word.” Resident ballad “Grown Up” touches on similar ideas. Jooeun sings that “I was always strong, but why am I sad like this?” and Yebin follows with the poignant, “I really knew how to be happy back then, but why?” DIA powered through puberty only to find the even more daunting prospect of adulthood. The fears of being a teen they thought would wash away with ease remain, and even more confusion is added.
All is not lost, though. The epic ‘80s europop by way of New Jack Swing that is “Pick Up the Phone” is somewhat of a reprieve. Thematically, it harbours DIA’s former confidence, but musically, it feels like a step forward. It has a strong bass synth line that sometimes works with the rhythm section but also with the main synth melody. Throughout the verses, elements are added and taken away. The second verse drops everything except the beat before bringing back both synth lines as they play the same tune. It’s a move of great drama helped by these synths working together giving the song a great depth. It’s this density and sense of scale that feels new to DIA. Jueun once again is the one to give it this feeling, her voice born for the epic.
Also on KultScene: TEXT TO TEXT: DIA AND TERRENCE MALICK’S MODERN ROMANCE
If the opening two tracks defined DIA’s latest direction, the middle two tracks “Take Me” and “Sweet Dream” anchor it. Their breezy light textures are perfect for the end of a summer’s day. They’re comforting and tangible. Both of them feature co-producer credits from members: Jueun on “Take Me,” and Yebin on the better of the two, “Sweet Dream.” The latter has lovely slightly pulled back vocals and a laidback soundscape. It gives the song a campfire atmosphere that well serves the end of the album.
DIA’s newfound maturity infects Summer Ade with a precise sense of place. Gone are the gender-traitorous lyrics of “My Friend’s Boyfriend,” and the unpredictable dubs of “Mr. Potter.” In their place is a coherent album that represents a good step for DIA. Huihyeon singing more is a huge advantage for them, and the addition of Jueun and Somyi has strengthened them so much.
The erratic nature of DIA’s music and the strange ideas for their words were what made them unique, though. Summer Ade lacks the emotions implicit in the anxious synths of “Will You Go Out With Me” or the climactic rap of “Can’t Stop.” Granted, they are going in search of emotions now unknown to them but there was not enough of a push to truly find them. Outside of “Grown Up” and to a lesser extent “Blue Day,” they don’t fully test their capabilities. In search of a summer anthem, DIA found hidden depths of sophistication but lost the childlike temperament that made them special.
What do you think of DIA’s Summer Ade? Let us know your picks and thoughts in the comment section below. Be sure to subscribe to the site and follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Tumblr to keep up with all of our posts.
I have a certain affinity for DIA that few other people seem to have. There’s an oddness to them that feels organic. With most K-pop groups, weirdness usually manifests every now and then in their music, their videos, or their personalities on variety shows. With DIA, it’s a mixture of all of them and more. Although not too different at first sight, their latest video for single “Will you go out with me?” is possibly the strangest direction they have taken to date.
I was dumbstruck to see a video by a Korean girl group that was inspired by Terrence Malick. For those of you who don’t know, Malick, once the revered king of American independent cinema, is now a divisive critical figure. His films are bracingly humanistic, finding minute details in broad locations like the Pacific Theatre of World War II or the creation of earth itself. After a hiatus of 20 years following his first two films, Malick’s style began to change. His work became more dense and abstract, alienating much of his early fans. It is those who have fallen out of love with him who were quick to criticise his latest film Song to Song for its copious use of his now favourite motifs. Whispered voice-over, characters walking backwards, sparse use of dialogue. These are the things that make a Terrence Malick film, and these are the things that DIA used.
Song to Song is a film about relationships, Austin, Texas, and relationships taking place there. Rooney Mara, Ryan Gosling, and Michael Fassbender are all musicians stuck in a confused love triangle in one of America’s foremost music scene cities. Their relationships do not play out as usual, though very little time is given to the character’s stories and how they connect. More important are the small moments when they are together. Very little is spoken, but so much is revealed through their body language. Anyone can understand this intimacy; it’s at once distant thanks to how little we know about them but utterly romantic because each gesture is clearly filled with history. Rooney Mara’s eyes are her tell. Her gaze can dart around, looking everywhere except in the eyes of her lover or gaze with force and love as if she can’t look anywhere but at him. Malick’s current style is boiled down into those eyes.
Also on KultScene: Kevin Kim talks ZE:A disbandment & new beginnings with radio show ‘SBS PopAsia Live’ [interview]
It’s hard to believe that DIA could replicate something this intricate, and the truth is they don’t really. What they do, however, is use his motifs to frame their story into something that is in some ways a continuation of Song to Song; a continuation of how Malick sees relationships.
“Will you go out with me?” opens with a short scene that is 100 percent Malick. The camera slowly glides behind Chaeyeon as she walks through Tokyo, looking at her phone. She does the backwards walk to face the camera and the hushed poetic voice-over. While I see this mostly as a set up for the main body of the video, it has its own particular similarities with Song to Song that are not quite as evident as these motifs.
The voice-over sees Chaeyeon thinking of a boy she knows. It’s somewhat unclear as to how she relates to this boy except that she has feelings for him. She says she shouldn’t call and that she misses him today more than ever. It sounds like he could be her boyfriend or an ex. This lack of definition turns out to be story of the song and video, though, as we see that Chaeyeon is trying to pluck up the courage to ask him out. The blurred boundaries of her relationship are like that of Mara, Gosling, and Fassbender’s in Song to Song. We see each of them meet and interact as a trio, but Mara is simultaneously sleeping with both of them. She sees Fassbender, who is a top music executive, because he can further her career ,and seemingly is genuinely in love with Gosling. But due to the lack of concrete details, both of these explanations could not be called completely true. The difference between Mara and Chaeyeon is maybe that Mara wanted to keep the hazy lines of her relationships so as to maintain a distance from potential heartbreak.
The specificity of the location is also key. Malick always presents his characters not just in terms of how they react with one another, but also in how they interact with their environment. In Song to Song, the ever present sunlight keeps characters from hiding themselves as they walk through music festivals or in the rocky Texan deserts. Where Malick likes to reveal his characters in more natural settings, “Will you go out with me?” drops Chaeyeon under the neon skyline of Tokyo. The absolute lack of nature tells us she will not be finding an intimate spot for her and the boy. She is swaddled by artificial light yet does not stray away from it. In fact her interaction with this space is the most interesting part of the whole video.
Also on KultScene: IU’s Red Shoes: A Torment or Saviour?
The main story of the video shows Chaeyeon texting the boy, sending him pictures of where she is with her groupmates. The video distills Malick’s hands off approach to relationships even further, making the bond purely digital rather than gestural. It makes perfect sense to me that if Rooney Mara’s character went on a trip like this she would most certainly send pictures to Ryan Gosling’s character and many texts lamenting how much she misses him. Chaeyeon doesn’t even have to be in the same room as the boy she is pining after to create a relationship. If small details truly reveal how a relationship works in today’s world, how someone texts is probably the biggest indicator of this.
The unlikely pairing of nine young Korean girls and an elusive film director is certainly a new one. DIA continue to craft peculiar perspectives on K-pop, previously making fun of ridiculous aegyo (cuteness) with the satirical “My Friend’s Boyfriend” and using Harry Potter in a way that makes you think, “what has this got to do with Harry Potter?” in “Mr. Potter.” “Will you go out with me?” has proven to be surprisingly profound. Through their own unique style and that of Terrence Malick, they have shed light on what it is to be in a relationship, which when distilled further (as they both would be compelled to do) illuminates what is to be a human.
What do you think of these comparisons? What’s your favourite DIA song and Terrence Malick film? Let us know your picks and thoughts in the comment section below. Be sure to subscribe to the site and follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Tumblr to keep up with all of our posts.
From humble trainees on Produce 101 to chart-topping idols in their music video for “Very Very Very,” the eleven members of I.O.I saw their lives massively changed in the course of only one year. While the group has given strong performances, memorable variety appearances, and infectious songs, it is no secret that fans of the group are apprehensive about I.O.I’s scheduled January 31st disbandment. A few months ago, we analyzed I.O.I’s unique formation regarding how members are simultaneously part of two labels and, for some of them, two groups, something largely unheard of previously in the world of K-Pop.
But with the new year ahead, infinite possibilities remain for the eleven members of I.O.I, all of whom now have public recognition and newfound popularity to take with them to future activities and musical ventures. And although we have an idea of where many of the members are going post-disbandment, it’s worth discussing how these paths may benefit or hurt them. Let’s look at each member or groups of members, and make some predictions about their largely divided futures.
So what’s next for I.O.I’s 11 members?
Im Nayoung & Zhou Jieqiong (Pinky)
As Pledis Entertainment artists, the futures of these these two I.O.I members are largely intertwined. Alongside I.O.I, Nayoung and Pinky were more quietly part of Pledis Girlz, a pre-debut group headed by their company, alongside eight other trainees, many of whom also competed in Produce 101 early last year. And while groups like Gugudan and DIA were shrouded in controversy for continuing with I.O.I members, Pledis Girlz has only recently become official under the name PRISTIN. The group is yet to debut, and yet to regularly promote on television. As a result, PRISTIN has maintained the respect of the public and I.O.I fans, especially when Nayoung and Pinky partook in I.O.I’s promotions for “Whatta Man (Good Man)” even as other members were pulled out for individual promotions.
The new group has found public exposure from Produce 101 and various pre-debut performances and promotions. As a result, PRISTIN’s growing fanbase both within Korea and around the world line them up to be one of 2017’s more successful girl group debuts, especially since Nayoung and Pinky are the leader of I.O.I and one of its notable visual/vocalists, respectively. Not to mention, some other popular competitors from Produce 101 , including Eunwoo, Yebin, and Siyeon, are in the group alongside them. With a debut slated for soon after I.O.I’s disbandment, Nayoung and Pinky have a collective future that is certain and in sight. Within this framework, it seems that, among I.O.I’s eleven members, Nayoung and Pinky are most likely to succeed within another group following the official split later this month.
Kang Mina & Kim Sejeong
Two of the most talked-about members of I.O.I, Sejeong and Mina have a clear path laid out for them after January 31st. Last summer, their company Jellyfish Entertainment had them debut in the nine-member Gugudan, which coincided with the release of I.O.I’s “Whatta Man.”. And while the group did receive attention due to the Mina and Sejeong, alongside another popular Produce 101 trainee Kim Nayoung, the group failed to captivate the public’s attention due to what was largely seen as an awkward concept backed by lackluster music. As a possible rising girl group in 2017, the group does have potential to succeed, but it is also possible that they fade into irrelevance if the next release isn’t more appealing, especially given that they are one of many new large girl groups with innocent, feminine concepts. Sejeong and Mina will have to work especially hard to bring Gugudan some credibility in the oversaturated girl group market if they want continued musical relevance in a group structure.
That being said, their options aren’t as limited as those of their group members. While she will become a full-time Gugudan member once February begins, Sejeong particularly maintains widespread popularity, as one of I.O.I’s main vocals, the runner-up on Produce 101, and a regular cast member on variety shows. Her debut solo single, “Flower Way,” was also a success, demonstrating that her individual popularity will not be quickly forgotten even if she is part of a girl group that isn’t as successful. Sejeong can and will be a strong force in 2017, but it remains to be seen how Mina or Gugudan as a whole will fare later on this year.
Chaeyeon remains in a similar situation as that of Sejeong and Mina. Under MBK Entertainment, she is also part of a struggling girl group. While DIA has made some strides in finding public popularity this year with Chaeyeon and fellow member and Produce 101 competitor Huihyun (Cathy), the group’s current state is not very competitive in relation to the larger girl group market. Unless DIA can move their image away from their controversial CEO and agency, and bring out some title tracks with wide appeal, it’s likely that the group will have but another hard year in 2017.
But like Sejeong, Chaeyeon maintains considerable popularity. One of the most active I.O.I members, she maintained positions in both groups while also acting in a drama, making variety appearances, and doing pictorials throughout 2016. While she may not have an incredibly successful group to come back to, Chaeyeon will likely remain relevant in 2017 through her various activities as a singer and actress.
While also already a member of another group, Yeonjung may possibly find herself in a slightly different situation than that of her groupmates Sejeong, Mina, and Chaeyeon. A Starship Entertainment artist, Yeonjung is the thirteenth member of Cosmic Girls (WJSN), which debuted early last year but added Yeonjung during I.O.I’s subunit promotion cycle. WJSN has definitely yet to strike it big, but they arguably show more rising potential than do DIA and Gugudan.
As the group’s main vocal, Yeonjung has brought them forward considerably, but unlike her I.O.I groupmates, she is not the most popular member of WJSN. After seeing a huge surge in popularity last year, member Cheng Xiao currently carries the group in popularity. WJSN will likely move further and further into the public eye as time goes on. While their current track “I Wish” isn’t faring incredibly well on the charts, it’s doing much better than past tracks “Mo Mo Mo” and equally as well as “Secret,” demonstrating that this promotion cycle may be the precursor to a much more successful one in the coming months. For both Yeonjung and her group, there is definitely hope, and with her shining vocals, the chance for solo promotions definitely exist in the near or distant future.
Considering that Chungha is under no-name label M&H Entertainment, fans have worried about her future after I.O.I’s disbandment. But as I wrote in KultScene’s Artists to Watch 2017 list published earlier this month, Chungha shows a lot of potential for success. One of the higher ranking trainees on Produce 101, Chungha’s variety of talents made her an instant stand-out both before and during I.O.I’s promotions. And given that her company has announced that she will debut solo in 2017, what’s to say that she can’t continue to stand out in the future? With a good song and concept, Chungha will have no trouble utilizing her incredibly strong dance, remarkably stable vocals, charismatic image, and English-speaking skills in future performances. Chungha is undoubtedly one of the most versatile members to come out of I.O.I, and her trendy and international appeal makes incredibly hopeful about her future. All it will take is a company that really works for her, and I’m praying that M&H is exactly that this year.
Sohye’s future is largely undetermined, except for the vague answer of “acting.” Currently under her own management, she plans to spend her time training and debuting as an actress this year post-I.O.I. It is still not clear, however, whether she will remain under her one-woman S&P Entertainment or if she is still related in anyway to her previous agency, Redline Entertainment. And while she constantly receives hate for her untrained musical abilities, Sohye has found herself a cult following during her time under Produce 101 and as a member of I.O.I. Although she isn’t the strongest singer or dancer, it is possible that she is an incredibly talented actress, and while netizens and international viewers were quick to call her useless or untalented, her real charms may have yet to be seen. As a result, I hold out hope for Sohye as well — after all, she may not hit it big on music shows, but she may be instead destined for drama primetime slots sometime soon.
Somi’s situation is very curious. Unlike that of her groupmates, we know very little about her future, except that she has now been bumped up from trainee to artist under JYP Entertainment. Currently a huge trend in Korea and closely associated with labelmates TWICE, many predict that JYP will add Somi to TWICE as its 10th member, giving the already explosively successful group another huge asset. And while there is a chance that this happens, I think (and hope) that JYP is smart enough to go in a different direction with Somi.
At only fifteen years old, the I.O.I center doesn’t need to debut in a girl group immediately. She can continue with variety appearances, pictorials, and possibly solo music releases or acting stints before she debuts in JYP’s next girl group, which will probably debut in at least a year or two from now. As one of I.O.I’s most popular members and one of the bigger trends of girl group K-Pop in 2016, Somi holds the power to bring any future JYP girl group to immediate public spotlight. So while I don’t think Jeon Somi will disappear this year, I don’t think we’ll be seeing her “Like OOH AHH” anytime soon.
Kim Doyeon & Choi Yoojung
While there are few details, Doyeon and Yoojung are clearly destined to be members of Fantagio’s next girl group. The girls’ agency, however, has yet to make any major announcements about this girl group — we do not know the group’s name, how many members it will have, when it will debut, etc. But we do know that Doyeon and Yoojung have also been promoted to artists under the label, and their young age (both are only 17 years old) gives them some time before having to debut. It is likely that the group will debut probably earlier than later in 2017, and it’s even more likely that these two will bring a lot of attention to their debut.
Yoojung specifically has found immense popularity as a strong stage and variety personality, while Doyeon is also a trend for her visuals and versatile talents. As a result, there is nothing stopping these girls from being incredibly successful, making their future group’s success a strong possibility as well. Not to mention, the group may possibly have sisters Lee Chaeyeon and Chaeryoung of JYP Entertainment’s survival show SIXTEEN, as the rumor mill says that they have transferred to Fantagio to debut alongside Yoojung and Doyeon. Having four members with previous public exposure, the members of this group have little to worry about right now. We will likely see lots of Doyeon and Yoojung in 2017, working hard to ensure their new group’s success.
While the “Cherry Blossoms” will eventually “Fade” at the end of this month, it’s clear that the members have a lot going for them. Dividing now into what may possibly be six different girl groups (counting already debuted groups along with Pledis Girlz, Fantagio’s upcoming girl group, and JYP’s next girl group a couple years away) and an actress, the eleven members are truly embodying the group’s name “Ideal of Idol.” While the futures of each group vary in likelihood of sustained relevance, it is clear that each individual member of I.O.I doesn’t seem to be going anywhere. As fans, we are definitely downcast about the disbandment of such an amazing girl group, but we can find solace in the fact that our “Dream Girls” will remain active in the industry in coming years. And whether apart or together, I.O.I’s legacy will live on.
Who do you think will be Kpop’s rising star 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.
Lesser known girl groups losing their unpredictability after becoming overnight successes is something that plagues my mind all too often. This was a distinct possibility with DIA, a group who were capable of profoundly weird and exciting music before their increase in awareness. Their first song since Produce 101’s and particularly Chaeyeon’s rise in popularity,“On The Road” was a safe but sweet track that didn’t bode well for DIA’s advancement. Luckily now with the help of a certain British wizarding superstar DIA are back with an eclectic mix of sugary and volatile sounds on “Mr. Potter.”
“Mr. Potter” immediately brings to mind DIA’s “My Friend’s Boyfriend” in that it’s hard to know if you’re supposed to be scared or enticed. That’s the best thing about DIA, they take the cuteness we are so used to in K-pop and bring to the absolute max, making us almost uncomfortable. With “My Friend’s Boyfriend” that felt entirely deliberate but on “Mr. Potter” it’s harder to tell.
Written and produced by ATM and STAINBOYS (who remixed Suran’s “Ddang, Ddang, Ddang”) “Mr. Potter” has almost no regard for the cute and goes straight for the heavy sounds. It opens with some great xylophone and moves swiftly onto crushing hip-hop beats and sporadic synths. These work to contrast with the girls’ voices, which are sweet but manic thanks to the layers and quick delivery. They’re almost shrill in a way that will be off putting to many listeners, but for those who aren’t turned off the chorus is a strange heaven.
Also on KultScene: Weekly K-pop faves: Sept 5-11
The chorus keeps the same style of sound but changes the tone to make it slower and more melancholic, usually the opposite of what a chorus should do. DIA’s rare qualities shine in it thanks to the absolute business of it. Sci-fi synths scream as the beat gets bigger and the girls finally let go of their feelings. Their vocals take on a rhythmic chant with high pitched peaks. It’s a vocal style unprecedented in a chorus. It moves the song from a possible rehash of “My Friend’s Boyfriend” without the tongue in cheek aspect to something unique.
“Mr. Potter” moves along with assurance as well, mellowing out a bit to highlight the xylophone again and give room for Cathy to rap without too much interference. Her second part is also interesting; towards the end the song sounds like it’s about to reach its climax but transitions without a hitch into more rapping and xylophone. At every turn “Mr. Potter” is enriched with an unpredictability only DIA could muster up.
Despite the strangeness of the song, “Mr. Potter’s” music video will probably be the most contentious thing about it. Even for those who weren’t fans of DIA the video seemed exciting as it could have been an interesting dip into the Harry Potter universe. Unfortunately without knowing the name of the song you wouldn’t automatically guess this was a song about Harry Potter. The video uses iconography from a large number of fairytales along with JK Rowling’s series. It seems a total waste of time regardless of how it turned out. They also copied Girls Day’s “Expectation” choreography (although they have the same choreographer Bae Yoon Jung).
Also on KultScene: 7 fact-finding resources K-pop fans should know
That being said there are a few things I like about it. Maybe it’s just me but DIA seem like a better group of actresses than most other groups. Their expressions are always fun and really in sync with the tone of the song and video. Especially when they’re sitting eating popcorn with glasses on, it’s sort of confrontational as if they’re aware that many fans will be confused by the song and video. The pastel colours are well worn out by K-pop by now but are great here, encompassing the whole video. It genuinely feels like a different world. I also love the bad CGI, it again suggests an awareness on their part that the audience is being tricked.
I’m so relieved that DIA continue to be a divisive group. “Mr. Potter” hits on a lot of weird levels making it a difficult proposition. Considering this and “My Friend’s Boyfriend” though, it’s clear that this is what they do best. They’re at home parodying the overtly cute girl groups who only pine away for men. DIA bring that to logical levels of mania with an aggressive assurance that sets them apart. Despite the apparent cuteness and subject matter, “Mr. Potter” is a hard track to find cute. It has a pace and electricity that doesn’t allow much thought on first listen. It squeezes you into a bewildered daze, confronted by DIA’s singular charm.
(who else would perform a six minute rock version of their single at a showcase)
What do you think of DIA’s “Mr. Potter”? 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.
After last week’s domination by EXO, the K-pop scene remained a bit sleepy this week with only a few songs coming out over the past few days. But that’s fine- our writer’s still were able to pick out a few new releases that all K-pop fans should be aware of.
DIA “On The Road” Released 14 June
DIA’s “My Friend’s Boyfriend” was a seriously underrated gem of last year. Thankfully with help from “Produce 101” and member Chaeyeon, the group gaining traction on the charts. To capitalize on this they released “On The Road.” “On The Road” is reminiscent of GFriend’s cute energetic sound and look. It’s hard to properly criticize DIA for this similarity, given that it’s expected for copies of popular artists and GFriend aren’t even the originators of this sound. What DIA do bring to this sound is a distinct sense of humour in that weird opening to the video. Maybe it’s not supposed to be funny, but it is. I also love the vocal rhythms in the chorus and the rap.
Also on KultScene: Podcast Guide For Fans of All Things Korean Pop Culture c
Younha “Get It?” feat. HA:TFELT and Cheetah
If you’re a fan of retro alt-rock and girl power, then here you are. The fierce trio put together this synth pop attack on men who break their hearts. And it’s glorious. This take-no-shit single (and video) is playful in its aggressiveness and sounds like something straight out of the ‘80s. While an atypical sound for Younha, the styles of each of the three artists meld together as they demand mercy- Younha’s sweet tone contrast with the sultrier style of HA:TFELT (Wonder Girls’ Yeeun, who sports amazing purple hair in the video) and Cheetah’s tongue-in-cheek rap. (That said, I’m a huge fan of Younha’s former musical sound so I’m still a tiny bit saddened by the extreme shift.) The allusions to con artists and literary characters are something more K-pop songs definitely need. Hopefully this trio will reunite for similarly-styled songs because this was wonderful.
Also, I want to give a shout out to Bada’s special 20th anniversary release, “Flower” feat. Kanto.
What was your fave K-pop song this week? 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.
Sexy and strong is great, but K-pop comes in all shapes and sizes and sometimes that size is “cute.” This week’s KultScene Playlist Sunday features our favorite cute K-pop concepts. These bright, colorful, upbeat songs and music videos were handpicked by KultScene’s staff to put a smile on anyone’s face as these girl groups and boy band win their way into everybody’s hearts.
I don’t know where exactly DIA’s “My Friend’s Boyfriend” falls on the cute spectrum, but I have no doubt that it is there. If I were to guess it would be somewhere between Red Velvet’s chaos and A Pink’s purity with added self-parody. This confusion becomes immediately apparent with a first listen. The song opens with blaring sirens and rolling drums that recall heavy American hip hop more than a cutesy pop song. This is straight undercut though by soft vocals in the opening verse, which harmonize in traditionally satisfying ways when it comes to being cute. The song doesn’t stop throwing stuff at us there though, still to come are coughs, psychotic la las, and a fiery rap which follows the first chorus with barely a blink to recover. The whole song is more akin to an obsessive young person who thinks they’re cute and will never believe that the object of their desire has no feelings for them. I mean, they are literally stealing their friend’s boyfriend.
Also on KultScene: 5 Underrated K-Pop Rookie Songs
I’m really not a fan of the cute girl concepts. For me, they cater to the male gaze by falling into the stereotypes of the uber feminized, demure woman that just isn’t prevalent anymore. So imagine my pain when I began liking APink’s “Mr. Chu” and see it become one of my favorite songs from last year. This group is the epitome of the hypersexualized virginal, docile woman in my eyes, but even I couldn’t help but fall for the catchy chorus and the awesomely shot music video by one of my favorite directors, Digipedi. Because at the end of the day, it’s more important not to promote girl hate and just accept them and enjoy their feel-good music.
GOT7 has shown us an array of styles, everything from preppy and cheerful to the mysteriously rugged. It was only a matter of time before they gave us an overly cute concept like “Just Right.” There’s been times where I had forgotten how old these guys really were, especially when the choreography for songs like “Girls Girls Girls” and “Stop Stop It” required them to be a bit more serious, through their dance moves and facial expressions. “Just RIght” was a nice break from it all. Even though it was rather cringe worthy to watch at times anyone who watched this music video and saw the members frolicking around, making derpy facial expressions and acting as goofy as they did, probably couldn’t help but smile from ear to ear. Whether it’s the finger snaps or the addictive “woo-oohs”, it’ll only take one listen before you fall in love with this song.
Also on KultScene: 2015 Gift Guide For Fans Of Korean Pop Culture
When you think of INFINITE, you don’t necessarily think “ah they’re adorable.” But in 2013, the group released “Man In Love,” and the song is just an ode to the group’s cute, whimsical side. “Man In Love” takes everything good about INFINITE- the retro inspired dance songs, the synchronized dance moves- and adds an element of sweet, adorableness that other INFINITE songs don’t display. The 80’s inspired song is lighter than most of INFINITE’s more recent songs, while similar to early songs like “Come Back Again.” The music video is filled with images that are sure to make INFINITE’s fan’s hearts flutter (Sungyeol baking, Sungkyu’s light show, L’s romantic silliness in class, etc.) but the lyrics of “Man In Love” are also simply adorable. “Like a young child, I keep laughing for no reason” and “The letters in my book are dancing as they form your name,” give the song a lighthearted meaning that I absolutely love and would be happy to see more of from INFINITE.
What’s your favorite cute K-pop song? 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.