Weekly K-pop faves: June 5-11

The boy bands cometh! Seriously, though, this past week had the KultScene team falling in love with a lot of new music courtesy of some old, new, and TBD K-pop acts. We enjoyed songs from idol bands FTISLAND and DAY6, and solo songs from two of B.A.P’s members as well as some music from this season of Produce 101. Take a listen and comment below to let us know what song of the week was your fave.

“Open Up” by KNOCK of Produce 101 season 2 (Uploaded June 8)

I think I’ve made my obsession for Produce 101 season 2 pretty clear throughout these lists since the show began. Last week, I chose “Never,” a concept evaluation song from the show, as my fave because it was the one that resonated with me the most. The dance and overall sexy concept, however, definitely went to “Open Up,” but I chose to go with musicality over thirst. So when M! Countdown gave me the opportunity to cheat the system and go for another Broduce song, I took it. KNOCK, the name the team made up for this evaluation, ultimately won on the show and got to perform “Open Up” on M! Countdown. And while, other than hairstyles, they didn’t change mostly anything, it was still a sultry performance. We already know Dongho (aka Baekho of Nu’est) has the sexy thing down, with his velvety smooth vocals. The surprise, however, was Daniel, who hadn’t shined vocally. “Open Up,” to me, sounds like Nu’est’s last album. Dongho singing the chorus is a big part, but musically, it could blend right in. At a time when a lot of boy groups are going the cute route, it’s nice to see the darker concepts are still alive and well.

— Alexis

Also on KultScene: ‘Coming Out! FTISLAND’ Takes Cues From American Reality TV

“Shadow” by Daehyun of B.A.P & “Try My Luck” by Jongup (Released June 8)

After receiving much positive feedback of their solo performances from their ‘Party Baby!’ World Tour this past spring, B.A.P vocalists, Daehyun and Jongup released a collab album for their fans, titled “DaehyunxJongup Project Album – Party Baby”. This special album includes two self written tracks, Daehyun’s “Shadow” and Jongup’s “Try My Luck”.

Daehyun is B.A.P’s first member to release a solo single and to perform it live on music programs (including Show Champion, M Countdown, Music Bank and Inkigayo.) There was a sense of newness seeing him going with a more dance focused track, considering how fans are used to hearing Daehyun belt out his high notes and killer falsettos, which were not the main focus but he still tried incorporating them into this single. “Shadow” has an addictive beat with narrative lyrics. “If I try to touch you, just as a dream I had yesterday, you start to become faint”, a love that is fading, a love that more or less becomes a shadow. Not only did Daehyun steer away from the expectant ballad but by featuring youngest member and rapper, Zelo, he added a distinctive tone to the song.

With Jongup’s well known admiration for Chris Brown’s music and dancing style, it was no surprise to see him release an R&B track. “Try My Luck” has a beautiful mixture of both hard and soft melodies with a few unexpected transitions (like everytime he starts rapping!) The lyrics are direct and bold, “I know that feeling, I know what you want. Only the two of us can do it, you know how I’m feeling” and along with hiss passionately infused odic voice, it’ll make anyone get weak in the knees. Jongup went from having very few lines in B.A.P’s songs, to now writing his own music and very much slaying at it.

Both “Shadow” and “Try My Luck” allowed Daehyun and Jongup to truly show off their depth, range and versatility as singers, outside of B.A.P. Hopefully there’ll be another project album in the future, this time with more solo tracks and from the other members!

— Tam

“I Smile” by DAY6 (Released June 7)

After six months of non-stop single releases, DAY6 finally dropped their first full album, “Sunrise” comprising of the 12 new tracks they released this year and two remixes of their previous title songs, “Congratulations” and “Letting Go.” Needless to say, given the fact that the album is literally made up of ¾ title track worthy songs, it is such a musical delight to listen to. The title track of the album, “I Smile”, in particular, is such a bittersweet and heart wrenching song disguised beneath its cheery sounding title. I may be wrong about this but this song is one of the band’s more musically complex tracks, with chord shifts occurring so quickly and the song constantly moving in an unexpected direction (that instrumental section!!!) The members definitely killed it with the vocals this time, especially Sungjin, who set the tone for the song right off the bat. The accompanying music video is also beautiful, both aesthetically and in terms of its meaning, and I’m proud to say that the members have really picked up some subtle acting skills since their debut. Overall, this has got to be my favourite DAY6 release of the year and maybe of all time, and I hope with this album people will start waking up to their talents.

— Anna

Also on KultScene: Bang Yongguk Wants You To Know That Everything’s Going To Be All Right

“No Better Days” by FTISLAND (Released June 7)

Disclaimer: I’m a huge fan of FTISLAND. So when I heard “Wind” as their 10th anniversary track, paired with a remake of their debut single “Love Sick,” I was a bit disappointed. Then I listened to it in earnest and was excited by the amazing instrumentals at the end. But I don’t want to talk about the title of FTISLAND’s anniversary album. Nope, I’m all about the first track, “No Better Days.” The power of the track is no joke and it’s exactly what I wanted. Powerful drums, soaring vocals– not just from vocalist Hongki but also from Jaejin while the other members provide backup harmonies– this is one of the most dramatic songs on the album. And I love it.

— Tamar

What was your favorite K-pop release of the week? Tell us what you think in the comment section below and be sure to subscribe to the site and follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Tumblr to keep up with all of our posts.

‘Coming Out! FTISLAND’ Takes Cues From American Reality TV

The Real Housewives of South Korea? Almost, but not quite.

It’s not every day that Korean idols go to a waxing salon and let their fans watch, but that’s exactly what some of FTISLAND’s members did during the first episode of “Coming Out! FTISLAND.” With scenes showing the band arguing and getting drunk, the reality show feels a lot more like “Keeping Up With the Kardashians” more than typical Korean idol reality shows.

The five-episode long show began airing on SBS MTV in South Korea on April 7, and became the first reality show dealing with K-pop idols to receive a 19+ rating. The result is something almost entirely foreign to the K-pop world- full disclosure. While this is something new for K-pop fans, elements of “Coming Out! FTISLAND” would make it a perfect show for the American reality-loving audience.

This Is FTISLAND’s Reality as a Band

If you’ve never watched “The Bad Girls Club” or “The Real Housewives” series, consider yourself lucky. But two important elements make those shows enjoyable to watch- the fighting and the partying. That also happens to be some of the elements that many bands are known for (ever hear of Guns N’ Roses or Van Halen?) and helps FTISLAND shirk off the idol-band image they began as. The group doesn’t hide behind the smoke screens of editing, sleeps naked, and doesn’t keep their tempers in check.

In fact, FTISLAND doesn’t really keep anything in check. The group completely disavows its idol-image, showing the nitty gritty of their lives and relationships in a way that idols typically hide behind makeup and perfectly manufactured personalities. In essence, FTISLAND attempts to use the show that it is a band not an idol group.Drunk Minari

FTISLAND drinks… A lot. Hongki’s love of alcohol verges on alcoholism and he’s a clear enabler, which he admits. The band’s youngest member, Minhwan, even wakes up one morning still drunk from the night before after Hongki insists on buying vast quantities of alcohol. Drinking games and parties are part of South Korean culture, and FTISLAND lives up to it.

Drunk Minari 2

Also on KultScene: FTISLAND Give Vibrant Performance in NYC & Announce New Album

The other members aren’t as intense as Hongki, who lives up to his status as a Korean rockstar, and there’s nobody tearing out one another’s weave, but “Coming Out! FTISLAND” isn’t just an outlet to showcase FTISLAND’s preparations for their comeback. The members mention multiple times that the show is for their fans, but it’s also a way for FTISLAND to break the mold of K-pop idol and become real people. Well, reality show people.

Take Us As The Humans We Are

FTISLAND doesn’t shy away from their issues, though, and instead broadcasts them freely. All reality television shows, American and Korean, get edited to some degree, but this is the perhaps the first time in K-pop history that an idol group doesn’t claim to be anything but the co-workers that they truly are. What FTISLAND has going for it is the members have worked together for so long that they’re able to freely communicate with one another their thoughts and needs.

Lee Hongki 1

The tension between FTISLAND’s members is clear from the first episode. Lead vocalist Lee Hongki is described as an “American rockstar” by the other members of FTISLAND, and shows it by not showing up at practice and instead going drinking with friends. Leader Choi Jonghoon is mostly quiet and sulks, while the three younger members (Lee Jaejin, Choi Minhwan, and Song Seunghyun) play around, mostly carefree. There’s bickering and irritation, and even though K-pop fans want to believe that idols are best friends with one another, it’s clear that there are issues within this band.

Lee Hongki 2

Throwing together humans and telling them to be a band is difficult (ie TVXQ, EXO, One Direction.) But “Coming Out! FTISLAND” depicts FTISLAND honestly, allowing the members to be frank about their worries and concerns while making it brutally honest that their relationship is as bandmates and not best friends forever (Minhwan and Jaejin’s waxing date aside…).

Lee Hongki 3

“No matter what problems we face, no matter which members fight, I will protect the name FTISLAND and protect my members until the end!” — Lee Hongki

Lee hongki 4But, even though FTISLAND’s members have issues internally, they still work together. The personalities in the band are different, but they are still connected by what they’ve accomplished as K-pop’s first real band. The second episode was the most tense (Jonghoon got mad with Minhwan and Seunghyun and Hongki showed up hungover to a fan meet) but also features the five men drinking together and talking honestly to one another. Because, at the end of the day, FTISLAND has come so far together that the very suggestion that the thought of their group’s end is something they must protect against.

Also on KultScene: Banishing the Stigma of K-Pop Idol Singers, One ‘Mask King’ Episode At A time

Rated 19+

One of the most newsworthy things about the reality show is that it’s the first time a K-pop act filmed a mature rated reality show. FTISLAND’s clearly trying to break away from the K-pop idols image that helped them debut. And the band is popular enough that it no longer needs young K-pop fans; FTISLAND’s Primadonna fanclub is extremely loyal, and FTISLAND’s prowess as a band is not up for debate (I repeat, listen to their latest album in its entirety.)

Ugly HongkiUGLY HONGKI 2

But going 19+ is still risky. FTISLAND is still a K-pop band, and idols, no matter what anybody says. The choice to bare all (waxing!) is smart marketing but could only happen with a loyal fanbase. SHINHWA set an example of a K-pop act doing something outrageous to make fans happy and shot a nude photo book in 2001; FTISLAND shot 19+ in 2015. It’s not something that all K-pop idols could do and get away with, but FTISLAND’s outrageous attitudes have brought the band all over the world and made them successful. By “Coming Out!” FTISLAND is declaring its emancipation from manufactured.

It’s a bit difficult to find episodes of the show with subtitles, but here is a link to the first episode for anybody who has yet to watch.

“Coming Out! FTISLAND” is a fun reality show that highlights FTISLAND in all its R-rated glory. It’s a nice change from the usual, highly edited and cleaned up K-pop reality shows, and makes FTISLAND more likeable for it.

What do you think of FTISLAND’s coming out as something other than K-pop idols? Should other idols film 19+ shows? 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.

[All gifs credit Cross And Change on Tumblr]

FTISLAND Give Vibrant Performance in NYC & Announce New Album

New York City’s Snowmageddon-that-wasn’t couldn’t keep FTISLAND from performing its first solo concert in the city on January 28th.

The Korean quintet FTISLAND (short for Five Treasure Island) brought a dynamic range of energy that K-pop fans have been waiting years to see in New York at their FTXH tour stop. The band headed cries of East Coast Primadonnas, FTISLAND’s fans, and flew to Washington D.C. and drove to New York in order to make the concert after a blizzard shut down New York City airports. It was freezing outside, and snow was all around midtown Manhattan, but inside Best Buy Theater, FTISLAND brought fans from all over the region together to forget about the chilly winter.

Lead singer Lee Hongki’s powerful vocals and strong personality dominated the evening, but Lee Jaejin and Song Seunghyun’s backing vocals stood their own, while leader Choi Jonghoon and Choi Minhwan’s skills as versatile musicians were undeniable. Each member of the band was given time to shine, with vocal and instrumental solos dispersed throughout the night. Even though they looked exhausted at times, and made it clear that they were uncomfortable with speaking English to a native-speaker-filled crowd, FTISLAND brought a memorable performance to NYC.

Also on KultScene: VIBE & 4MEN Songs To Know Before Their U.S. Concerts

The group has a large following in Asia, and expressed multiple times how shocked they were to discover American fans had been listening to their songs, while fans sang along with Hongki. Even though some fans weren’t able to make it to the show because of the poor traveling conditions, the audience was clearly filled with people who loved FTISLAND’s unique mix of K-pop and instrumental music.

The band opened the show with Last Love Song, and filled the night with hits like Madly, Memory, and switched it up by performing unplugged, acoustic versions of some of their most iconic songs, including I Hope and I Wish. The performances were stellar, and if they made a mistake, nobody in the crowd noticed. But the few non-musical aspects amidst the concert shone a light on FTISLAND’s intimate thoughts, something that is often missing at K-pop concerts in the U.S.

With humorous tones when some of the members teased Hongki mid-show and the female translator wowed Hongki, FTISLAND’s members opened their hearts to the New York City Primadonnas. The lead singer made it very clear that the group only recently had started really performing music that they loved, and that what people saw on television about the five wasn’t always the truth. Even as Hongki brought his large personality to the stage, it was very clear throughout the night that, first and foremost, FTISLAND was there to play the music that they personally wanted to perform for their fans. The biggest surprise of the night was when Hongki announced FTISLAND’s upcoming album, to be released in March or April. The band ended the night with a new song, On My Way for the encore performance, differentiating FTISLAND’s NYC show from recent shows in Europe and Latin America.

Also on KultScene: 10 Amoeba Culture Songs To Get You Ready For ATL & NYC

The concert clocked in at less than two hours, but FTISLAND’s vigor-filled concert lacked nothing. As the band members walked off stage, throwing guitar picks into the audience, it was clear that even though this was FTISLAND’s first performance in New York City, it didn’t disappoint.

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What’s your favorite FTISLAND song? Have you ever seen FTISLAND perform live? Share your experience 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.


Win a Pair of Tickets for FT Island’s Concert in LA or NY

Last week, we talked about the 5 things to expect at an FT Island concert and promised we would bring our readers complete coverage from the upcoming New York show. But that just wasn’t enough, so we’re conducting a giveaway for a pair of tickets for either their Los Angeles or NY show, you chose!

However, there are, of course, a few rules hopeful participants must follow to qualify for the tickets. For starters, since the shows will be held in New York and Los Angeles, you must be able to travel to the venues. KultScene and Powerhouse provide the tickets, but you need to find your way there. That’s why we don’t encourage out-of-state participants (sorry about that!).

The New York City show will be held at the Best Buy Theater on January 28th and the Los Angeles show will be at the Club Nokia on January 30th, and tickets are selling fast at AXS as the shows approach.

Moreover, in order for us to accept your entry for the contest we ask participants to tweet a message about participating in the contest and letting us know whether you want to attend the NY or LA Show. Liking KultScene’s Facebook page, following us on Twitter, and subscribing to the site are optional (but much appreciated!). Incomplete entries will result in disqualification; we will check if the mandatory tweets have been deleted.

The giveaway runs from January 23rd through the 26th at midnight EST. The winner will be chosen at random, so everyone has an equal chance of winning.

Once the contest is over, the widget will display the winner and send an automated message to the email with which the entry was made. You need to confirm your assistance by the 26th at 3 p.m. EST by emailing us at If not, we will redraw and pick a new winner. So what are you waiting for? Enter to win those coveted tickets for FT Island and good luck!

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