Some weeks we see K-pop multiple comebacks from the industry’s biggest acts. The last week of March 2017 wasn’t like that, but we were graced with some great new music courtesy of Girl’s Day, Seo In Guk, Oh Ye Ri, and Jang Hyunseung. Keep reading to see what songs KultScene’s team liked.
“This Is Love” by Oh Ye Ri feat. Jang Hyunseung (Released April 1)
I didn’t really know what to expect from Oh Ye Ri’s “This Is Love,” aside from a feature courtesy of former BEAST member Jang Hyunseung. But the upbeat electropop song had me dancing in my seat the minute I heard it. With a bright, Carly Rae Jepsen-ish beat, the spritely “This Is Love” feels like the soundtrack for a youthful summer romance. Plus, Jang changed things up by acting as a featured rapper than the vocalist he’s typically known as. The song’s not going to be a bit, but it definitely deserves being added to a summer bop playlist.
After a gigantic hiatus, Girl’s Day has come back guns blazing with their latest single “I’ll Be Yours” off their mini-album Everyday #5. From a charismatic, sexy choreography to impressive vocals from Solji and Minah, the group has brought back the power of girl groups past. With the rise of cutesy, innocent concepts and the disbandment of girl groups that were around during Girl’s Day’s last promotion cycle, “I’ll Be Yours” not only reminds me about what makes Girl’s Day great, but makes me nostalgic for the more forceful girl groups that are no longer together. Altogether, the group’s undeniably hard-hitting latest release brings them back into the sphere of K-pop consciousness, with brass instrumentals and a heavy beat in tow. I’m hoping this comeback will be the start of a more stable series of promotional cycles, but only time can tell if Girl’s Day is really here to stay.
”Better Together” by Seo In Guk (Released March 28)
As a farewell song for his fans before heading off for his military service, actor-singer Seo In Guk released a beautiful ballad. His military service unfortunately did not go on for very long (he was released a few days later because of his ankle) but the sincerity in his voice as well as the touching music video perfectly expresses how much he’ll miss his fans and his normal life during his time in the army. He is often lauded for his acting skills but Seo In Guk actually debuted as a singer after winning “Superstar K” back in 2009, and his amazing vocals really proves that. His voice is just so full of emotion and grabs the listener’s heart right from the first note.
What was your favorite song 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.
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2015 was a year chock full of K-pop goodness, both for groups and for solo artists. In particular, there were many idols who made their solo debuts this year. While some of them were well-received in Korea and on international charts, there were also some others who didn’t garner so much attention. As with most K-pop related things, album sales largely have nothing to do with the quality of the music produced, so here are five underrated solo debuts that deserve more love.
1. G. Soul
At the start of the year this soloist made headlines when he finally made his debut after 15 years as a JYP Entertainment trainee. With his album “Coming Home,” G. Soul thoroughly showcased his vocal abilities and charmed listeners with his silky emotive voice. His lead single “You” was also a strong track complete with wonderful composition and a catchy chorus. He even released an acoustic version of the song subsequently, which further highlighted his amazing voice, and it was this version that made me a fan of his.
Unfortunately, despite releasing three EPs and singles over this year (most recently in September), he is still relatively unknown in the K-pop industry. With almost zero promotions on music programs and variety shows, it’s not very surprising that he’s unable to compete in popularity with other idols who are very active in the entertainment scene. However, one of his newest songs, “Beautiful Goodbye,” has been gaining attention recently because of EXO’s Kai, who performed a cover of the song during their concert.
Hopefully this trend will continue in the future and he will become more well-known. With the quality of music that he’s been creating and his voice, he certainly deserves all the respect and more that he’s getting now. In fact, he recently made Kultscene’s Top 50 Songs List for the year with his latest release “Crazy For You.”
2. Mckay Kim
I’ve watched this soloist since his early days on “K-pop Star Season 2.” Mckay Kim‘s voice was so charismatic that I fell in love with it (and him) almost instantly. From his wonderful partnership with Brian Shin and Kim Min Suk (Raccoon Boys) on the competition to his solo debut earlier this year, his music has always been amazing. He debuted with a collaboration with Jeff Bernat, a Filipino-American singer songwriter who is quite well-known in Korea, and their voices blended together perfectly through the song “Angel 2 Me.” Kim, in particular, has a soothing and smooth voice that is so comforting to listen to. Whenever I listen to this song, I feel relaxed even if I’m on a crowded public bus or doing math problems in my room. The harmonies and chill beat of this song are therapeutic but still alluring and charming.
Mckay also came back with another track in June, appropriately titled “Month of June,” but this release gained even less attention than his previous one. It’s a sweet song filled with the light-heartedness of summer and being in love. On his own this time, Mckay was able to show off even more of his vocal skills and musical ability, which is why it’s even sadder that this song wasn’t as well-received. Both in terms of natural talent and music quality, Mckay has the potential to become a mega star in this K-pop industry, he just needs a chance to break out now, and the sooner the better. I can’t wait for his future releases (he really needs an album) and I’m confident that he’ll continue releasing great music.
A member of K-pop girl duo 15&, Park Jimin made her solo debut in March this year with her title track “Hopeless Love.” Despite having amazing vocal talent and good songs, she has been an underrated singer ever since her debut in 15& and as a solo artist. Another alumni of “K-pop Star,” she won the first season of the show in 2012 but has been relatively low-profile since then. With “Hopeless Love” however, she brought something new to the table with this ballad that isn’t really a ballad. With her strong high notes and charismatic voice, Park Jimin brought out the various emotions that are presented through the lyrics of the song. In particular, one line that sums up the pain of having an one-sided love: “Even though it hurts I just can’t turn away.” It’s a great release and solo effort so it’s such a pity that she didn’t get more attention for it. As of August this year, she formed a project group called M.O.L.A with Seungyoun of UNIQ and another rapper Nathan with whom she released tracks showcasing her rapping skills as well. For a singer as talented as Jimin, she deserves so much more success in her career so I’m hoping that this won’t be the end of her solo efforts!
4. Minah (Girls’ Day)
Unlike 15&, Girls’ Day can’t be said to be unknown or underrated, not by a long shot. So what is Minah, the popular main vocalist of the girl group doing in this list? She has made her name as a soloist a long time ago with the various drama OSTs she has released and has already acted in several dramas herself but her solo debut earlier this year largely went under the radar of most K-pop fans. While she did debut at a time filled with several other hot comebacks like EXO and Miss A, I fail to understand how she received so little praise and attention from the public.. With “I Am A Woman Too” Minah showed off her impressive vocal talents and her ability to sing strongly and yet gently at the same time. However, her release received criticism in regards to the choreography, which netizens complained looked awkward. In terms of song quality however, this song was produced well and is catchy. While Minah does shine even within the rest of her group, her solo effort was a chance for her to showcase different sides to herself and in my opinion she managed that. I hope that this debut’s lack of commercial success would not affect her chances for a comeback in the future because I’m eagerly waiting for it!
I’m not saying this just because I’m a Hottest but Junho’s solo debut was one of the best and yet most underrated debut I have ever seen. As the lead vocal of 2PM, Junho’s charming voice has been showcased ever since their group debut but he’s been continually improving his vocal skills over the years, something which is evident in their later releases. Apart from just working on his singing, he’s also been composing and writing songs for the group, the most recent of which is “Nobody Else” from their latest Korean album “No. 5.” As a solo artist, he debuted in Japan two years ago and has produced three Japanese albums since then. He only made his solo debut in Korea this year however, with his album “One,” which he promoted for a short period of music shows. This album, with title track “Fire,” displayed not just his amazing singing but also his compositions because he wrote almost all the songs on the album.
With an addictive chorus “Fire” isn’t just a good song it also thoroughly shows how self-aware Junho is as an artist. He knows his voice and abilities very well and is able to present the best side of himself through his songs. In this album he also tried more rapping to very satisfying results, as evidenced by tracks like “Pressure” (the rap starts around 3:12).
Thankfully for Junho it seems like JYP recognises his potential as a soloist so here’s to more amazing albums in the future!
What do you think of these underrated soloists? Who else do you think should have made the list? 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.
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In order for a performance to be memorable, the choreography has to be strong. Luckily, K-pop is never short of strong dance moves, given that most groups dance and, at least most of the members, kill it. But with so many songs, groups, and performances getting released every week, it’s difficult for anything to stick. That’s why choreographers tend to place a few point dances within the performance that will make viewers take notice and even emulate them. So for this week’s playlist, we’re listing some of our favorite K-pop point dances.
This is the song that started it all for me, both because of its unique use of chairs and because of the sensual dance choreography that fitted perfectly with the song. Though not the best song in terms of musicality, it’s certainly one that I love to dance and sing along to. It’s 2PM’s “A.D.T.O.Y” (All Day I Think Of You), and my personal favorite performance of this song would be during 2013 SBS’s “Gayo Daejun”, when the boys used roller chairs for the dance instead of their ordinary stationary chairs. It was definitely more dangerous but it made it all the more interesting and enjoyable.
A fast-tempo, synth-heavy track, SHINee’s “Lucifer” is one song which never fails to make me dance. The impressive sharp, almost robotic, choreography is very fitting for the processed song, and what I love most about the dance is how seemingly complex it is. It may not feature flips like a 2PM routine or fancy footwork like a Teen Top production, but the series of rather basic hand tutting of “Lucifer” might as well put this performance on par was them. After watching “Lucifer” performed live, SHINee definitely moved up in my books for best dance group.
I’m not that huge of a girl group fan, but one song that got me into Girl’s Day (or at least got me paying attention) was “Expectation.” Not only is the track really cool and infectious, but their choreography is all around on point as well. Never had I dug sexy girl group dances before this one. Because even if I found the suspenders tacky, I loved the point dance with them and without them. And that wasn’t the only one, the whole chorus and bridge are filled with a few key moves that make the performance memorable. Every time this song comes up, I dance along attempting to emulate them. “Expectation” is definitely my favorite song by this group, and the choreography is one of the reasons why.
Out of the many dance focused music videos Korean artists are known for, I personally feel like B.A.P‘s “One Shot” has one of the most aggressive and catchy point choreographies. From their floor work, which includes some intense push up moves, to their floor air body thrusts, to their “float like a butterfly, sting like a bee” fancy arm and leg work and mid air jump, B.A.P makes this all look effortless, but as a viewer it’s almost exhausting to watch. Hopefully we’ll be able to see B.A.P perform more impactful music videos in the future!
When it comes to point dances, there are a lot of really memorable K-pop dances, but I don’t think there is anything more iconic for a single K-pop group than INFINITE’s so-called scorpion dance from “Before The Dawn (BTD).” Most popular Korean songs have a dance move that is iconic, and performed during the chorus, such as Psy’s “Gangnam Style” horse-riding dance. INFINITE’s “BTD” has its own dance during the chorus, but it’s the dance move that comes at the end of the song that shot INFINITE to fame for being a group that tries incredibly complex dance moves. The scorpion dance brings all seven of INFINITE’s members to the ground for a second before kicking up and rising in perfect unison. The complexity of the dance, and INFINITE’s ability to perform the difficult move, makes this point dance from “Before The Dawn” one of my favorite K-pop dances.
What’s your favorite Korean song with a point dance? Let us know your picks in the comment section below and be sure to subscribe to the site and follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Tumblr to keep up with all of our posts.
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The release of Sticky Sticky has completely transformed what kind of a group Hello Venus is. This is not a new type of change either; it is one which we have seen more and more in the past two years. The sexy concept has become a staple of the K-Pop industry to the point where if a girl group is not doing so well, they immediately revert to it. I think this comes from Sistar‘s success with Alone, which may not seem too sexy right now but it was at the time. After Alone, Sistar gradually became one of the most popular girl groups in Korea. So naturally other girl groups would follow but at what price?
Hello Venus had been one of the more popular girl groups who debuted in the busy year of 2012. Their quirky, cute sound stood out in a crowd of groups who offered nothing new to being cute. What Are You Doing Today? was one of the songs of 2012 and Would You Like Some Tea? got to number six on the Gaon music chart. These songs were also interesting enough to foreshadow Hello Venus becoming big. I imagined them growing gradually and maturing in a similar way to Girls’ Generation who had started slowly and became megastars, with the multi-talented Lime becoming their star of Hello Venus. This was not to be though, as a big change occurred that caused Hello Venus to change.
Pledis decided to pull out of the deal with Fantagio to co-produce the group and took the Pledis members, Yoo Ara and Yoonjo, with them. Fantagio kept the other four members and the Hello Venus name, so added two more members and decided to continue with their promotions. It also gave Fantagio a chance to alter Hello Venus’ style quickly in order to pander to current trends. As I said, they went the sexy route and went for it in a big way.
As this trend grows, it becomes more of a problem. There was a time when sexy concepts were used to differentiate from the regular and shock an audience. Even at this time it is a tenuous subject as there is always a problem of objectification and fetishization of the body. As sexy songs continue to sell, women’s bodies will continually be used as objects to help these sales. This activity reinforces a sexist agenda in society and punishes women who do not conform. It even punishes those who act on sexuality, even though they are taught this is what woman should be like. Especially in a conservative country such as South Korea, girls cannot be seen to be sexually active even if being sexy is the hot topic of the time.
If this type of performance is allowed to become normal, the sexism of the K-Pop industry will never stop. Girl groups will forever have to strip in order to succeed. Female idols will forever be seen as sex objects to sell records. Their bodies will forever be fetishized into whatever their company decides. There is already criticism of these things in the K-Pop industry to some degree, and girl groups becoming sexier to sell their music will just make the criticism even worse.
The reason I’m singling out Hello Venus for now is because they are the most recent group to go this way, and also because of the increased effort they are putting into grabbing attention with their “sexiness.” Hot off the viral success of a fan cam of EXID’s Hani, Fantagio obviously saw an opportunity to drum up some publicity for Hello Venus with their own viral hit. The recent release of a dance practice video to Jason Derulo’s song Wiggle Wiggle, in which the Hello Venus girls danced along to the song, was their attempt at creating a sensation. I am not condemning the girls themselves here but those who led them to this. I fully believe people can do whatever they want with their own bodies but this video does not show us a group of girls who are just dancing for fun. This is blatant pandering to a male audience to stare at young girls gyrating their bodies, a cheap way of drumming up attention by essentially exploiting these girls.
This is not specific to Hello Venus though. We have seen recently Girls’ Day move from their cute comedic songs like Twinkle Twinkle to sexy songs like Something, Expectation and Female President. This change also brought Girls’ Day new success to the point where they are winning weekly music shows. AOA had a similar change of fortune when they adopted the sexy concept. Miniskirt boosted their sales in a big way and only grew with subsequent singles Short Hair and Like A Cat. It is clearly a trend which is in full flow but all trends eventually die, whether it’s a few weeks or a few years. So do we wait and let it pass over?
I think we should not. Another trend will take its place immediately after and the issue will be forgotten. Allowing this to pass over means the patriarchal reign on K-Pop will always remain whether through sexy concepts or something else. I don’t think sexy performances should be completely eradicated but I think the decision making has to be changed to allow female idols to speak up if they do not agree. At this moment in time female idols are not at an equal level to their male counterparts. We as fans must speak up against this; we must not allow this to continue. It’s time for there to be a level playing field for genders in K-Pop.
What do you think about Hello Venus’ comeback and of the sexy concept? 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.
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