Posts

GOT7’s ‘Eyes On You’ tour in Los Angeles vs. Mexico City: a comparison

got7 eyes on you tour mexico

by Tam Huynh

Now that the waters have settled and we’ve collected ourselves, let’s talk about GOT7’s Eyes On You tour shall we? Fellow KultScene writer Tam Huynh and I were fortunate enough to attend more than one stop this time around (although she did the entire North American tour, but that’s a story for another day. In the meantime, check out when she hit up all the U.S. stops on the Turbulence tour), so we got a good understanding about how shows differ from city to city, and even country to country.

The Eyes On You tour began all the way back in July in Toronto and ran through Los Angeles, Houston, New York, and wrapped up in Mexico City on the 13th. This tour marked a series of firsts for GOT7. To name just a few, their first arena tour in North America; first K-pop group to play Barclays Center in New York and Palacio de los Deportes in Mexico City, which was also their first time in the country; and first JYP Entertainment group to hold an arena show in Los Angeles. It was truly a monumental tour for the guys, and I’m glad I got to witness some of it.

Though the journey began in Toronto, Tam and I linked up in LA and Mexico City. For Turbulence, I also did two stops (Miami and Los Angeles), but this time around, I wanted to experience a foreign fandom. I mean, we’ve all been there; all of our baby bird hearts have broken a little bit after realizing that the U.S. doesn’t get the same concerts that GOT7 puts on in Korea or even Thailand. And though this wasn’t exactly a show in Asia, I still wanted to see the differences between Mexican and USA ahgases, especially since I had already experienced a few K-pop shows in Mexico City.

Just as a disclosure: I’m Mexican, so I wholly understand the culture and the people. I also live in Los Angeles and have attended every GOT7 show in the city. In other words, I know what I’m talking about.

But anyway, you read the title; you read my four paragraph-long ramblings. So which stop was better? Let’s examine.


Also on KultScene: DREAMCATCHER TALK CAREER ASPIRATIONS AT LOS ANGELES FANMEET [INTERVIEW]

The Members’ Spirits

got7 eyes on you tour mexico

by Tam Huynh

Los Angeles didn’t open the tour, Toronto did, but the boys had been in the city a few days prior to the show for interviews and whatnot. Though the performances didn’t lack energy, they did comment about having jet lag, which caused small, blink-and-you’ll-miss-it mistakes. The members also commented that they were nervous. Maybe it was due to Mr. J. Y. Park himself was in attendance or all the industry people who were also checking out the show. But during their speaking moments, most of the guys — especially Mark— seemed more shy than usual and didn’t resort to their usual antics. For this tour, they all tried their best to speak the most English –especially Jinyoung, who should already have a B. A. in English for all I’m concerned.

Mexico City was a whole different story. It was the last night of the North American leg before they hit up South America. As aforementioned, this was GOT7’s first time in the country, so most of the members gave their all for their Mexican ahgases. The fact that their first visit was at an arena seemed to also energize their moods and want to give an above average performance —which they did! Though most notably to yours truly, Jaebum —who had been all smiles all tour, especially in Los Angeles— seemed to had toned it down, especially on his overexaggerated rendition of the “Stop, Stop It” choreography. Maybe he was tired? Who knows! But the overall performances seemed tighter than in LA. “Paradise” was way more synchronized in Mexico than in LA, for example.

Also, as someone who has only seen the group in the U.S., it was odd to see them speak only in Korean and not in English. Since the members have a better flow with each other speaking in Korean, the talking moments felt a bit more genuine and as if you were watching them on their YouTube shows. Jinyoung spoke way longer and his message to fans seemed deeper since he was able to say it Korean and have a translator relay the message in Spanish. However, they all said a few phrases in Spanish, like Bam Bam saying “Me encanta el ambiente el día de hoy” (I’m loving the mood today), and Jackson having an inexplicable inside joke with himself with the nickname “Pepe.”

Setlist

got7 eyes on you tour mexico

by Tam Huynh

Yes, I know that the setlist was the same throughout the entire tour. However, in Los Angeles, after jamming their souls away during the encore songs “Look (remix),” “Fly (remix),” and “Go Higher,” a few of the boys huddled up and decided they were doing one more song since it was a special night —much to Jinyoung’s dismay, who was already a step away from exiting the stage. JB and Bam Bam playfully asked the audience what we wanted to hear and then said they’d do “Just Right,” which wasn’t included in the original setlist. The boys took this song to continue their usual shenanigans on stage with their dancers and the fans. The choreography was nowhere in sight.

The rest of the tour unfortunately didn’t include a bonus track, including Mexico City.

Venue

got7 eyes on you tour mexico

by Tam Huynh

Being only the third K-pop act to perform ever here, GOT7 played the historic venue The Forum in Los Angeles. In the last few years, it underwent a renovation which resulted in the venue being state of the art. I don’t think GOT7 has ever sounded as good as they did here —even when they did KCON LA 2017 at the Staples Center. The sound and acoustics of the arena did the members’ justice.

Palacio de los Deportes in Mexico City, however, is notoriously known as the “plaza de los rebotes,” or the rebound plaza, meaning the sound bounces off the venue’s unique architecture unflatteringly. During their speaking moments, it was hard to hear them, or the translator, since the cheering drowned their voices quite easily.

Fan Energy

got7 eyes on you tour mexico

by Tam Huynh

I’ve been to a lot of K-pop concerts throughout the years and have gotten to experience seeing lots of different fandoms react to their faves. But I don’t think I’ve ever experienced the same energy like in Mexico City. It was utter insanity. Fans in Los Angeles are loud, sure, and they cheer for their faves. But Mexican fans, whew, I’d be surprised if they didn’t rupture their vocal chords. Sure, I blamed the venue’s acoustics for the less than perfect sound, but the fans screams and squeals were so loud at times, that that’s the only thing you heard. This, of course, came in handy on “Look” and “Never Ever” when it came down to the fan chants. GOT7’s names echoed and bounced off the entire arena in one big roar each time. And I think the members’ noticed, for they were all smiles throughout the entire show.

Los Angeles is always an amazing show given it’s Mark hometown, and the adopted one of the rest of the members. Fans here (me included), I think, are way more chill. We dance throughout the entire songs, both in sync with the choreography or just vibing with them. Sure screams are loud and the boys feel the love, but I have to say Mexico was next level in terms of passion. Maybe it was due to it being the first time seeing them in person, whereas LA gets them at least once a year. Nevertheless, while different, the love for GOT7 was not only visible, but palpable.


Also on KultScene: K-POP MID-YEAR REVIEW: 3 DISTINCTIVE MUSIC STYLES DOMINATING 2018 SO FAR

Final Verdict

got7 eyes on you tour mexico

by Tam Huynh

Though the LA and Mexico City stops had the same show on paper, they were both very different experiences. For me personally in terms of which I enjoyed the most or unbiasedly thought was a better performance varied depending on the different points I went through in the piece. Was a tween fan screaming her lungs out behind me? Did Jaebum stick his tongue out enough? Did Bam Bam come out with new memes to recreate? Did I feel the bass in my eardrums?

After taking into account each stop’s highlights, I’ve come to a conclusion. On comparing the concerts I experience in Los Angeles and in Mexico City, interacting with fans of different cultures and backgrounds, and seeing the boys behave differently depending on the country they were in, my conclusion is that they were both amazing shows!

I know, I know. You may think I’m cheating, but I’m not. I may have been annoyed half of the time in Mexico over the fans’ screams, but once I put it into perspective and realized that this was the first time they were seeing their bias group, I understood them. Same goes with LA. The boys weren’t as easygoing and turnt like in, say, New York, but it had to be weighing on them heavily just how monumental this particular show was for their careers and even as representatives of JYP.

The Eyes On You tour wasn’t perfect, but it was sure as hell a good time. The boys got to highlight the songs that they got to write and/or produce and they put on a show worthy of an internationally renowned pop act. This tour proved that GOT7 is only getting started and that we can only expect bigger and greater things from them.

Check out the rest of the pictures:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Did you attend any of the stops on GOT7’s Eyes On You tour? Let us know your experience and thoughts in the comment section below. Be sure to subscribe to the site and follow us on FacebookTwitterInstagram, and Tumblr to keep up with all of our posts.

K-rapper ARTLOVER talks blending music & fashion, British & Korean influences [interview]

Resultado de imagem para ARTLOVER K-POP

The current, up and coming generation of female Korean rappers is made of versatile and open-minded women with the ability to think outside the box. And while the scenario isn’t exactly ideal for them yet, as standards for female and male rappers are not the same, it hasn’t deterred new names from joining the scene. Amongst those names, ARTLOVER is definitely one we should keep our eyes on.

The 25-year-old, whose real name she would rather not reveal, is the typical multifaceted millennial who gathers inspiration from multiple experiences to create something unique. Formerly a makeup artist who has worked with severe fashion magazines, she is now ready to show her own colours through music.

ARTLOVER’s first single “Want U Back,” released on March 2nd, is a melodic tune with a retro sound that showcases her rapping and singing skills. She worked on the lyrics, composition, and art cover design for the single, which just got a music video as well.

But music, fashion, and design are not the only amount of diversity ARTLOVER has her heart on. Being Korean and based in London, she also divides her time between the two countries.  

KultScene talked with her about her first single, her inspirations, and views on being a multi talented artist exposed to two different cultures.

KS: Congratulations on your first release! Please tell us what inspired the lyrics and composition of “Want U Back.”

ARTLOVER: Thank You! “Want U Back” is about young love and the pain of losing it. I started out with a few chords on the piano and the rest just followed so I didn’t really plan it out beforehand. It just happened in the spur of the moment.


Also on KultScene: The 12 LOONA solo singles ranked


KS: How was working with Tae-Seop Lee (producer/mixer engineering; has worked with GOT7, Twice, DAY6, etc.)? How much do you usually get involved in the production?

A: I started out with Swedish writer/producer Max Billion who has worked with a lot of dance artists such as Mike Perry, Paris Blohm, and Cazzette. When we had a solid foundation we took it to Tae-Seop who then put his touch on it. I trust producers that I work with and I always give my opinion.




KS: Your stage name is quite unique. We’ve read that you designed the art cover for “Want U Back” and that you’ve worked as a makeup artist before. How do you think all these passions and talents come together when it comes to your music?

A: I would say that the practical aspect of working as a makeup artist has helped me a lot, especially when it comes to being professional and get things done. The visual aspect has always been very important to me, so it would come as no surprise that I think about this a lot when it comes to my music as well. I creative direct a lot of my videos, etc. I think that music and fashion goes hand in hand and it’s very difficult to separate the visuals and the music.

KS: Being Korean but living in London, how do you see the differences between the mainstream music scene of both countries?

A: Korean music is wilder for sure, more effects, bigger songs, and more parts. In many ways, it resembles western pop music and follow more or less the same pattern of trends, but with more ‘90s soul and more creative arrangements. People take pop music very seriously in Korea. Just as they approach other aspects of Korean society, K-pop has always been about perfection.

KS: It is natural to expect that you will at some point be labelled as a K-pop artist by some people. How do you feel about that? And how do you describe your music and style?

A: I don’t really have an issue with being labeled K-pop, as I think it helps me find an audience, especially outside of Korea. I still think that my music really stands out and doesn’t sound like anything else in K-pop at the moment. If my music was purely European or American, it’s far from certain that it would get as much attention.


Also on KultScene: Ego tripping, & not, in Korean female rap


KS: “Want U Back” sounds heavily inspired by ‘80s synthpop music. What are your biggest influences in music and your favorite artists?

A: It makes me very happy you say that, because we used mainly old synths during the recording. Max Billion brought his collection of vintage gear from the ‘70s and ‘80s so we stuck with those. I love Madonna and Cher, but my favorite artist of all time is Michael Jackson.

KS: What are your plans for 2018? Can we expect more music from you?

A: We are currently working on my debut EP that is due out in June, so that’s very exciting for sure. I’m also looking forward to playing shows.

Check out ARTLOVER’s “Want U Back” music video:

What do you think of ARTLOVER’s debut? 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.

50 best K-pop songs of 2017: 50-26

While the year may be closing in a very sad and unfortunate manner with the passing of a K-pop icon, artists consistently delivered memorable songs throughout 2017. This year saw a lot of great moments from some of Korea’s most popular new acts, while newer acts also proved their worth with addicting, sleekly-produced music. Trop was the king of this year’s K-pop trends, but far from the only genre of music that saw its moment in the limelight.

Check out the first half of KultScene’s 2017 best K-pop songs list below:

50. “Circle’s Dream” by Subin

Subin is trapped in an endlessly repeating contradictory cycle in her self-written and composed single “Circle’s Dream.” She is told that she is round and that’s good, but then that it’s not. She wants to be angular, to pierce her lover, to make him feel like how he made her feel. Yet she is also trapping herself within a recurring musical structure, as an acoustic guitar plucks an incisive riff throughout the song. It is the only angular part of Subin’s song yet has no variation. Her stark synths come in late but their slow rhythm only accentuates the repetitiveness. Each element is perfectly realised to tell her story. Her voice completes it. Its soft and sweet but particular pronunciations like denggeureureu are key. This word alone combines both the round and angular sides to her. It has repetitions but in order to say it properly she still has to roll her tongue. Subin has enwrapped her whole song with the confusing ideas in her head. No solo idol has ever produced something of such pointed precision.

—Joe

49. “Wee Woo” by Pristin

If “Wee Woo” had been released at the 2012-ish heyday of Hallyu, Pristin’s debut song would be considered legendary right now. It’s barrage of shifting sounds and onomatopoeic vocals are absolutely classic. The Pledis Entertainment regular songwriter Bumzu brings a bright and breezy feel to the whole production with disco electric guitars taking the brunt of the work. This allows the girls room to deliver the most hooks in a single song EVER. Each part is so complete on its own you could take them individually and create five more songs around them. The fact that they all come together for something that doesn’t feel so monumental is the greatness of “Wee Woo.” It’s arrogant in its effortlessness all the way down to making the primary hook out of the most simple term of jowahae nol jowahae (“I like (you) I like you”).

—Joe

48. “Beautiful” by Monsta X

Monsta X’s cultivated sound and signature unruly charms finally comes together for the consummate “Beautiful.” Perhaps because it is supposed to be representative of the group’s first studio album, the single feels particularly significant. For one, there’s really nothing quite like the opening out there. Scattered with a prominent distorted electronic beat that is quickly followed up by Jooheon’s explosive raps, the real hook is not in the chorus but here in the introduction, where the task for the listeners to not mimic the unique noises or the clever near-rhymes is near impossible. The vocalists dwindle down the excitement sometimes without sounding monotonous, almost acting like the Apollonian restraint to the Dionysian madness. The constant shower of peculiar oscillations, whirs, and horns all make up the perfectly organized chaos that Monsta X is known for, and though “Beautiful” did not grant the boys their first music show win like it should have, it will always remain a tour de force in our hearts.

—Shelley

47. “Where You At” by NU’EST W

With their revival in popularity following some of the members’ appearance in Produce 101 Season Two, this subunit of Nu’est (missing member Minhyun who debuted in Wanna One) released this flashy track which stayed true to their unique music style. Bursts of electronic instrumentals are mixed with a calm piano backing track and adds a lot of contrasts to the song. It also highlights the strengths of each member, with Baekho’s explosive high notes complementing Ren and Aron’s softer and sweeter voices. JR’s rapping is as stable as ever, and he definitely shines more back in his own group. It’s wonderful to see this talented group get more recognition for their talents, and I can’t wait to see the full group back together again soon.

—Anna

46. “You Were Beautiful” by DAY6

The February release of the band’s “Every DAY6 Project” can be said to be their most successful, especially domestically, and it’s not difficult to see why. The raw emotions brought out by the members coupled with the sincere lyrics create a sentimental rock ballad which truly tugs on the heartstrings of listeners. The end of the bridge in particular, where Young K and Wonpil’s voices are layered, is such a beautiful and emotional climax of the song. Even though it appears simple to sing along to (and is apparently a favourite among other JYP singers for karaoking), the song is actually very vocally challenging due to the large range required, and the effortless way the DAY6 members sing it shows just how skilled and well-trained they are.

—Anna

45. “Tomorrow, Today” by JJ Project

After debuting ahead of GOT7’s debut with the exuberant “Bounce,” JB and Jinyoung returned as a more matured rendition of JJ Project this year and it was absolutely glorious. The two vocalists released this sweeping, introspective song about the very-millennial topic of making decisions and fearing regrets. The track provides the perfect forum for the pair to show off how well their vocals work together, with the duo harmonizing over guitar riffs, tapping percussion, and mellow synths. “Tomorrow, Today” is reflective in its warm approach to soft rock, and hopefully we’ll see more of this from JJ Project in 2018. It was a complete turnaround from their first iteration, and definitely more suited for the pair’s artistic style and capabilities.

—Tamar

44. “Don’t Know You” by Heize

Heize’s “Don’t Know You” is a very groovy song full of percussions with a slight mixture of disco, hip-hop, and R&B, which features the soloist using deeper vocals than what we’ve been used to hear from her. The overall appeal of this songs starts at the beginning of the track with the repetitive beats and the introduction of the synth drums that follow different tonalities on the record that give great texture to “Don’t Know You.” Her famous ad-libs are also present on this song as she goes from high to low tones, which are achieved by the reverbs added on the vocal track, that create great contrast between her sexy sweet voice and her solid rap parts. The harmony is very steady throughout and creates a great chill up-tempo track perfect to dance and groove to. Heize continues to show great promise with her experimental sound.

—Alejandro

43. “Tequila (feat. Hoody)” by G.Soul

One can’t help but want to book an immediate flight to somewhere like Bali while listening to “Tequila,” especially with the brutal winter quickly approaching much of the States. Hoody’s bewitching voice alongside G.Soul’s multifaceted vocals make for the perfect combo in this dancehall track, ideal for both a cookout and the club. Lyrically wise, “Tequila” might not be appropriate for all age groups, as G.Soul sings about only wanting a one night stand. But if you’re someone who’s over the generic “let’s fall in love” type of style that is prevalent in K-pop the majority of the time, this song’s for you. The lyrics aren’t candy coated or sleazy, but come off rather… inviting. This wasn’t meant to be a flashy song, which is what made it even more enjoyable. Although G.Soul wasn’t hitting those high notes (that I love so much) like he usually does, it wasn’t a lack felt by this song.

—Tam

42. “Wake Me Up” by Taeyang

It is no news that Taeyang can hold a ballad like no other, and in 2017, he gave us two great ones. “Wake Me Up” doesn’t have the same degree of emotional complexity of “Darling,” the other single from the album, but it’s its apparent simplicity what makes this song amazing and addictive. Objectively speaking, it’s a very linear song with no surprise factors when it comes to its structure. It might even seem like Taeyang doesn’t have much to say in “Wake Me Up,” but it’s definitely not because he’s lacking emotions. In reality, what we see is that he just doesn’t know what to do with them. Everything in “Wake Me Up” sounds gorgeously inconclusive and mysterious — from the airy sounds and atmospheric, echoed beats, to the lyrics that offer more questions than answers. No wonder the most touching moment of the song is when he’s constantly repeating “Is it love?” while delivering breathtaking high notes. Overall, Taeyang’s vocal performance amidst the ethereal instrumental creates just the right vibe for a song that is about love, but mostly about confusion and doubt. After so many years, you can still count on Taeyang to get you in your feels.

—Ana

41. “Honeymoon” by B.A.P

Coming out during the fall when it should’ve been a summer jam, “Honeymoon” is a delightful EDM track from B.A.P’s seventh album Blue. The whistling at the beginning of the song left the remainder open for interpretation; this song could’ve been a sweet one, much like the title suggests, or a somber one. I’m glad it wasn’t the latter. “Honeymoon” puts listeners in a lighter mood, whereas previous songs were dark and heavy, all the while still executing a clear message. “With the overflowing stars from beneath the palm tree. A film on the shining freedom and bright youth,” they sing. Through this track, B.A.P wants to remind us to live life to its fullest, fulfill your heart’s desires to its grandest and emphasises that today’s youth will be the game changer in society going forward.

—Tam


Also on KultScene: DAY6 explores love & friendship through recent ‘Every DAY6’ releases

40. “Chase Me” by Dreamcatcher

Taking the bubbly girl group image and tossing it out the window, MINX re-debuted early this year under the name Dreamcatcher. Not only did the group have a new name, but they also gained two new members and an interesting concept and sound. Taking the term re-“vamp” quite literal, the group came out with a dark and creepy concept straight out of a horror movie. The video for “Chase Me” takes references from classic horror movies like The Shining but also has cuts to choreography to showcase the girls dance moves. The song begins with pianos and then picks up at the chorus. Adding31 to the darker image, the song melded hard rock elements with a dance pop track to create something very dynamic. There’s something about the mixing of heavy rock instrumentals and feminine voices that is very appealing. Although the song sounds like it’s straight out of an anime, it is also an interesting new sound that’s refreshing to the K-pop world.

—Katherine

39. “Never Ever” by GOT7

Ever since debut, GOT7 have switched up their sound with every release, experimenting with different styles and concepts, and their first comeback of the year was no different. “Never Ever” follows in the same angsty direction as “If You Do,” yet this track mixes electronic and trap sounds while giving it their signature bubblegum spin. Vocally, JB and Youngjae can always be counted on to deliver outstanding choruses and ad-libs. But reveal of the year was that “Never Ever” is probably the song where the rap line is collectively most stable and the flows, while different, work together. GOT7 is building up a name as a dance group whose choreographies are insane, and “Never Ever,” with its glitches and heavy bass, is the perfect performance track in their building discography.

—Alexis

38. “Love Story feat. IU” by Epik High

One of the two title tracks off of Epik High’s new album, “Love Story” is a beautiful song about love lost. The steady drum beats coupled with the sometimes frantic sounding piano and, later on, the smooth orchestra creates a complex yet easy sounding melody that balances well with IU’s sweet voice and the rap verses of Tablo and Mithra Jin. Along with the concept video of a girl reminiscing about her past relationship through videos and photos on her phone, it sets the perfect setting for a song about heartbreak and loss. As expected with most of Epik High’s collaborations, the group and the featuring artist blend perfectly to portray the story being told.

—Katherine

37. “Wake Me Up” by B.A.P

A lot of the times, K-pop consists of clichéd lyrics and similar concepts. There are times when a number of artists will put out a string of songs, music talking about love, relationships and breakups. Again, the repetitiveness. Just when you feel like you’ve had enough of that sappy stuff, B.A.P appears with an eye opener like “Wake Me Up,” a track that touches on societal issues and mental health to stimulate one’s ear buds. The song has a compelling beat, a sound so strong, it’ll act as the pillar that will hold you up when one is fighting off their inner demons and struggles in life. “This is an endless tunnel, in darkness with no light. Wake me up, wake me up. I need to find myself,” they sing. B.A.P wanted to push awareness and wake up a society that looks away and pretends that issues like racism, judgement, and depression aren’t real issues because these things are very much on going and continue to be real life problems.

—Tam

36. “Palette feat. G-Dragon” by IU

As one of Korea’s most prominent artists, IU on “Palette” seems to be comfortable with her fame and life, assuring both herself and her listeners that she’s changing in ways she embraces. Her lyricism uses cute examples, from changing color preferences to hair length, to demonstrate that she, “Knows a little bit about [herself] now.” The song’s instrumentals are a more alternative play on classic, theatrical IU releases. While the trademark ticking noises and sound effects are present, the song itself is slower and wispier, updated to match a more modern vibe that she seems to have grown into. The top female star of Korean music in the past decade, IU demonstrates that she remains focused on making hits, but now, on her own terms. With the help of a strongly performed and well-placed rap break from G-Dragon, IU on “Palette” lets us further into her excited, changing young adult world. Where she goes next from here, however, we’ll be watching.

—Kushal

35. “Dinosaur” by AKMU

AKMU is known for creating beautiful music, but with “Dinosaur,” the duo really surprised us: they finally added some EDM to their music while managing to make it their own. The electro beats and synths that appear through the track’s melody seem very stripped down and almost make it feel like an acoustic electronic song. The opening guitar in the beginning of the song especially feels like an homage to their earlier music. The synthetic kickdrums that blast before the beautiful notes from Suhyun during the chorus melody and are present through the whole track, giving it an unique mystery to the track. We also get more singing from Chanhyuk instead of his typical talk-like rap, which was surprisingly beautiful. Their voices blend and harmonize perfectly with the synthetic beats that made it an upbeat chill song for the summer. AKMU really had a lot of fun creating this track and used every tool that electronic instruments can give you as a producer. The song is simple but very detailed with a beautiful, heartwarmingly catchy harmony and a light beat that is very uplifting and instantly makes you feel good.

—Alejandro

34. “Dream In a Dream” by Ten

SM Entertainment’s Station project has produced a bit of a mixed bag this year, delivering some truly great pieces of music amid a majority of lackluster ones. But “Dream In a Dream” was one of its glorious high notes. The ambient, east-meets-west styling of the song serves to relay the performance-heavy music video, which highlights Ten’s immense dance skills. Providing a soundtrack to the highly-stylized, contemporary dance video, it’s a song filled with drama and passion. But even as a stand alone track, “Dream In a Dream” delivers something truly special through its symphonic instrumentals relaying Ten’s echoing declaration of love. Lush synths and pulsating beats guide the track as it layers traditional Asian strings and into the atypically-structured melody. So far, Ten has participated in both this and NCT U’s “The 7th Sense,” two hauntingly beautiful, choreography-focused singles, and if this is the direction SM continues pushing him in, it may be the thing that could breathe new life into this era of all-too-similar K-pop male acts.

—Tamar

33. “Shall We Dance” by Block B

Ever since Zico cemented his status as a hip-hop icon in Korea, Block B has pretty much taken a backseat on the ride. And after a couple of quirky, even cutesy releases, it seemed the group had gone awry of the sounds and concept they made a name with. That’s why when they dropped “Shall We Dance” it was way more impactful. More in tune with the “trendy” sounds Zico is known to produce for his solos, the track explores different urban Latino sounds, which particularly stood out this year when artists are still releasing trop-house songs. “Shall We Dance” is groovy, smooth, and just as the title suggests, dance provoking. Being an older male group with a diverse lineup of talented members, it’s important for Block B to color outside the lines and continue to push the envelope as they have always done. And with this song, they did just that.

—Alexis

32. “Girl Front” by ODD EYE CIRCLE

“Girl Front” felt like a particularly important moment for LOONA. When LOONA ⅓ debuted as a unit they were still fairly unknown, a weird project group going about their own thing. By the time of ODD EYE CIRCLE, they had significantly grown with more people both at home and internationally taking notice. The fact that they absolutely nailed it came as no surprise to me, but how they did it was so impressive. By combining the songs of three girls (Choerry, Jinsoul, and Kim Lip) producers Ollipop and Hayley Aitken created something unprecedented in K-pop. “Girl Front” has the peppiness of “Love Cherry Motion,” the dense, propulsive beat of “Singing in the Rain,” and the electronic sheen of “Eclipse.” It’s a miracle that it all comes together to form something coherent let alone this good. The girls give it the last edge of excitement with non-stop vocals as they bounce off one another with glee, building a climax of unstoppable motion and further push forward the most exciting story of the year.

—Joe

31. “I Wait” by Day6

“I Wait” was the first release of the group’s ambitious project, which set a high bar for their following monthly singles. The opening of the song draws the listener in with somber synthesized keyboard notes and dreamy vocals. The mellow beats gradually increase to the more aggressive instrumentals of the chorus, showcasing a much harder sound than what the band has been previously known for. The song continues to bounce back and forth between a softer sound and the heavy chorus, which creates and interesting medium. The video itself isn’t really anything special but somehow still complements the song with the changing graphics and effects. Overall, “I Wait” fulfilled its purpose of drawing in the audience with a new sound, showcasing the band’s versatility and ability to deliver quality songs throughout the year.

—Katherine


Also on KultScene: 7 K-pop music styles we’d love to hear more

30. “MIC Drop (Steve Aoki Remix feat. Desiigner)” by BTS

“MIC Drop” was already a good song before Steve Aoki’s remix, but with his production, the producer added the aggressiveness that the track needed to be fully solidified as an anti-haters anthem for BTS. He did this by converting the hip-hop track into a hip-hop, R&B, and EDM infused song that made us remember the old BTS from their debut era. The track is energetic and gets you pumped up as soon as you listen to it; V’s deep voice and RM’s raps are major highlights from this record. The lyrics take a very sarcastic tone that even if they seem cocky it makes us sympathize with them. With the new added English lyrics in the chorus, the song makes everyone want to stand up against haters and face them off. BTS creates yet another ode for outcasts and bullied kids all over the world by once again taking on topics that usually K-pop bands don’t talk about.


Also on KultScene: Astro ‘Dream Pt. 02’ Album Review

—Alejandro

29. “Darling” by Taeyang

This ballad stands out with its somewhat unconventional structure and chord progression, but it’s truly beautiful and addictive when listened to in its entirety. The way that Taeyang’s smooth voice connects the various parts of the song elevates it and showcases his impressive range and ability. His raw emotions are showcased front and center here too, especially with the way the song “progresses” in intensity from verse to verse. It’s soothing and intimate all at once, and allows Taeyang to present a more honest side of himself, as compared to being a charismatic star glorified by the limelight.

—Anna

28. “Hola Hola” by KARD

Over the course of three project singles, KARD was able to develop a musical formula that worked. The tropical house and dancehall that undergirded “Oh Nana,” “Don’t Recall,” and “Rumor” provided a strong foundation for when they finally did make their official debut with “Hola Hola,” a timely and bright synthy number perfect for the summertime. Being co-ed is more than just a gimmick for this group; the exchange between tender vocals and throaty raps is the contrast listeners need to keep engaged. The chorus, on the other hand, shifts its weight onto an island beat, and while it would be easy to dismiss this sudden move as overly simplistic, the hypnotic effect is undeniable. It sweeps the carpet from under our feet and displaces us in a chimerical paradise. It is a nice recess from Jiwoo’s spunky rap midway or from any other strained moments, providing us with a sensual and personable comfort. “Hola Hola” only marks the beginning, but already the internationally beloved group has been dealt a good hand, and are making all the right plays to keep momentum going.

—Shelley

27. “Cherry Bomb” by NCT 127

Without a doubt, “Cherry Bomb” definitely encapsulates the sound of NCT127. The different mixes of genres that create a very fresh and futuristic sound create a unique style for the band that has everyone falling in love. The track starts off with a heavy bass and the repetitive “Hurry, hurry, avoid it, right Cherry Bomb feel it yum,” then goes off to Mark’s and Taeyong’s rap, with the pair proving to be the real standouts for this track, while the bridge explodes with Taehyun’s, Doyoung’s and Taeil’s beautiful vocals that melt any listener’s hearts. The song is filled with background synth noises, singed hooks, and creepy sounds that create a very chaotic but interesting track that is reminiscent of the album cover and the title of the song. It’s a classic, sassy and rebellious track and shows great direction for the boy band.

—Alejandro

26. “O Sole Mio” by SF9

Is it possible for someone who lacks rhythm AND coordination to find themselves swaying ones hips and body with precision to the entrancing latin sounds of “O Sole Mio”? This track comes from SF9’s third mini album, Knights of the Sun, only one year after their debut. Rather then SF9’s usual upbeat dance tracks, “O Sole Mio” is captivating in it’s own mellow way. The transitions between the vocal and rap lines were smooth and well-versed, building up to a tender climax without it ever being over the top. The fusion of latin pop to K-pop is still new, but, let’s be real: we all could’ve used a break from some of the generic sounds we’ve heard this year, and the fresh sound of “O Sole Mio” delivered just that.

—Tam

Stay tuned for the second and final half of our Best K-pop Songs of 2017 list, which will contain the top 25.

What was your favorite release of the year? 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.

Weekly Kpop Faves Oct. 9-15

Each week, the KultScene team writes about some of the songs and performances that made an impression over the past few days of K-pop’s busy cycle. Last week, we liked new music from GOT7, SF9, and the cast of the new television show The Uni+. Take a listen now, and let us know your thoughts in the comment section below.

“Teenager” by GOT7 (Released Oct. 9)

It’s been a trend on the last few GOT7 albums to contain a fun song written by the members where they just act a fool. On 7 for 7, said song is “Teenager.” A little bit more upbeat and hip-hop-lite than the rest of the album, “Teenager” embodies Katy Perry’s “Teenage Dream” through the male perspective, essentially telling some girl they make them feel giddy inside. I personally really liked “Teenager” because, ever since the first listen, I could picture the members going around the stage greeting fans and taking pictures with them. The feeling was only enhanced with the live performances on music shows, where they all look visibly happy and pleased with themselves (especially that darned “I can do anything if you tell me good boy” line). Like the lead track, JB wrote “Teenager,” and if anything, 7 for 7 is the first album where we actually see a bit more artistry to this JYP Entertainment boy band.

—Alexis

“O Sole Mio” by SF9 (Released Oct. 12)

People are calling “O Sole Mio” the K-pop “Despacito”, which I’m not sure it’s fair to say. I understand it’s because it has a Latin approach, but we can’t ignore the fact it has so much more than this! Even if it might be intentionally channelling the huge Luis Fonsi hit, I think it still holds more complex features. The lyrics speak in 5 languages (Korean, English, Spanish, Italian, Latin) and the instrumental blends EDM, tropical house and hip hop with a beautiful Spanish Guitar– by the way, my salute to the producer for putting the guitar instead of the now-cliché tropical house drop after the chorus. Besides, I can hear the old-school K-pop feels in the melody of the chorus. “O Sole Mio” is a mix of so many things, but they all work very well together.

—Ana Clara

“My Turn” by The Uni+ Cast (Released Oct. 13)

Perhaps not as addicting as the theme songs of either season of Produce 101, the promotional pre-release for The Uni+ is a bright batch of co-ed colorfulness put to light EDM form. AKA, exactly what the doctor ordered. The twinkling, retro-styled synth and funk elements is perhaps the most cheery form of electropop we’ve seen out of K-pop in a while, and honestly one of the most innovative sounding takes on a trend that we’ve all seen done to its depths. I wasn’t particularly interested in the show aside from a few vocalists, which I still don’t think necessarily shine in this song thanks to some flat tones, to be honest. But the melody’s production is a nice change from the trends of the moment, and feels more K-pop to me than much of what is getting put out today. Which is definitely a good thing, at least in my book.


—Tamar

What was your favorite release of the week? 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.

Weekly K-pop faves: Sept. 11-17

Mid-September has already passed, but we’ve already seen a lot of great releases from K-pop. Last week, some of KultScene’s team were enthralled by releases from members of GOT7 and iKON.

“Victim of Love” by Sanjoy feat. Youngjae of GOT7 (Ars), Stephen Rezza, and Elliott Yamin (Released Sept. 17)

Earlier this year when GOT7 was touring the country with their “Turbulence” tour, producer Sanjoy and singer Elliott Yamin connected with Youngjae through Instagram after he uploaded a cover of the latter’s song. After that, they’ve been talking up and teasing a collaboration fans have been fawning over. But the wait came to an end on Saturday (which coincidentally was Youngjae’s birthday) when Ars (his not so secret pseudonym) uploaded the song to his Soundcloud. “Victim of Love” is your classic pop, R&B hybrid in English featuring three very talented, very different artists. Youngjae, for his part (and the only reason I’m including this song here, duh), shone on the chorus and with his adlibs, though his accent came out a bit on his solo part on the song’s first verse, adding to his charm. There’s no question as to just how talented Youngjae is, but it’s heartwarming to see him branch out on his own and work on stuff well-suited for him that highlights his incredible abilities as a vocalist.

—Alexis

”Runaway” by Bobby of iKon (Released Sept. 14)

Not the biggest fan of hip-hop, I didn’t really expect to enjoy Bobby’s first solo album Love and Fall based on the styling of his Show Me The Money and The MOBB tracks, but with it’s dual identities, the new album ended up being right up my alley. “Runaway,” one of two singles, is a rock-tinged mellow track that thrives on the angst-filled rasp of Bobby’s vocals to emphasize the heartbreaking lyrics. “I have a habit of thinking mistakes are failures/I don’t wanna fail so I keep stopping my efforts,” raps the K-pop idol in the first verse. The song is heart wrenching to listen to, but there’s lilting strings that add an overall hue of positivity over the track. Hopefully, now that he’s released this album, Bobby feels a bit less like he has to “Runaway” from his problems.

—Tamar
What was your favorite release of the week? 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.

Weekly K-pop Faves: Dec. 26-Jan 1

It’s a new year so, of course, there is new music! (Okay, but really they were mostly released last week.) This week’s K-pop favorite playlist features some old and new tunes from the likes of old-school K-pop boy band Shinhwa, JB of Got7, and rising vocalist Jin Won.

“T.O.P” by Shinhwa (Performed at MBC Gayo Daejejeon, Dec. 31, 2016)

It’s been almost two decades since Shinhwa released “T.O.P,” the first song to bring the group success after their debut a year prior. The usage of Tchaikovsky’s “Swan Lake” in “Twinkling of Paradise,” the song’s full name, gives “T.O.P” an everlasting magical aura, which puts listeners into an eternal trance. What made this performance at “MBC’s Gayo Daejejeon” even more special and raw was the addition of the live violinist. Shinhwa still oozes charisma, despite having performed “T.O.P” for what feels like an ungodly amount of times already. But no matter how many times, how many versions have been played, it’s timeless and continues to be a crowd favorite.

— Tam


Also on KultScene: 50 Best Korean Songs of 2016: Part 2

”So Beautiful” by Jin Won (Released Dec. 26, 2016)

I’m a sucker for ballads, and the moment I discovered Jin Won’s swaying rock ballad “So Beautiful” I knew I was about to be absorbed by it. Although I’ve never heard of Jin Won before, my first listen of “So Beautiful” was life changing. Maybe that’s a bit of an exaggeration, but Jin Won’s expressive vocal performance on the wintery tune is enchanting. The track isn’t just a typical ballad though, as it features slight quirks like resonating wails and record-like scratches. Jin Won appeared on a season of Superstar K, and I for one would love to see “So Beautiful,” and other future releases from him, featured on the soundtracks of Korean dramas.

— Tamar


Also on KultScene: Best Korean Albums of 2016

“Holic” by Def. aka JB of GOT7 (Released Jan. 1, 2017)

2017 hadn’t even begun in the western hemisphere and GOT7’s JB, using his artist alias Def, dropped exactly what fans have been asking of him for years: solo R&B tracks. Out of the three uploaded to his Soundcloud account, “Holic” stood out for not using a rapper nor relying on the hip-hop elements to resonate. Instead, in “Holic,” JB captivates the listener with his heartfelt yet incredibly sexy rendition of the song. And while JB is never not immersed in his feelings during GOT7 performances, here is a new side to the singer that fans knew he had in him, but had never been able to put on full display in the group’s musical repertoire. “Holic” further proves that JB is an R&B singer, and that if given a chance, he’d kill it. Hopefully, he’ll continue uploading more solo songs, for he’s too good to stop now that we got a taste.

— Alexis

What was your favorite song from the last week of 2016 and the first day of 2017? Share your picks and thoughts in the comment section below and be sure to subscribe to the site. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Tumblr to keep up with all of our posts.

Best Korean MVs of 2016

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

“Selfish & Beautiful Girl” by Block B BASTARZ

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

— Alexis

“Blood Sweat & Tears” by BTS

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

— Shelley

“Carnival (The Last Day)” by Ga-In

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

— Joe


Also on KultScene: Top Korean Music Videos of 2015

“One of These Nights” by Red Velvet

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

— Tamar

“Hard Carry” by GOT7

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

— Tam

“11:11” by Taeyeon”

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

— Kushal

“Décalcomanie” by MAMAMOO

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

— Katherine

“I Am You, You Are Me” by Zico

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

— Alexis

“Secret” by Cosmic Girls

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

— Joe

“Re-Bye” by Akdong Musician

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

— Tamar

“Skydive” by B.A.P

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

— Tam

“One More Day” by Sistar

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

— Katherine

“Cheer Up” by TWICE

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

— Kushal

“Forest of Skyscrapers” by Neon Bunny

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

— Joe


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

“Fantasy” by Fei

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

— Tamar

“Emptiness” by MADTOWN

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

— Tam

“The Eye” by INFINITE

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

— Katherine

“All In” by Monsta X

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

— Shelley

“Whistle” by BlackPink

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

— Kushal

“The One” by EXO-CBX

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

— Shelley

“Hold My Hand” by Lee Hi

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

— Alexis

What was your favorite Korean music video this year? Share your picks and thoughts in the comment section below and be sure to subscribe to the site and follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Tumblr to keep up with all of our posts.

50 Best Korean Songs of 2016: Part 1

After experiencing one of the best years of Korean releases in 2015, the expectations were high for 2016. This year, however, we were all bamboozled on every front imaginable, making 2016 a monumental year but not necessarily for the reasons we expected. Big names in K-pop disbanded, Korean R&B arose as hip-hop did in previous years, and a dominance of new girl groups became evident. It also marked the year the generational shift began, with older groups falling to the wayside to make room for newer acts. Even though we didn’t get to see strong comebacks by more established acts, the newer ones started, or continued, with a bang.

As every year, the KultScene staff determined what songs we thought were above the rest. And after fierce competition, we narrowed it down to the 50 best of 2016.

50. “The Closer” by VIXX

VIXX made a name for themselves with dark, weird concepts that they’ve developed throughout a few comebacks after their debut in 2012. However, ever since last year, the sextet has been experimenting with their sound. And after last year’s releases and another one earlier this year where they veered towards SHINee’s funky pop territory, VIXX went back to more somber, fantasy concepts with “The Closer.” This time, however, instead of relying on the pop-heavy vocals, they mixed it up with early 2000’s R&B for a smoother sound. This track showed just how much the group has grown artistry-wise and proved that what they do, they do it well. A group known for two power vocals in K-pop, the highlight goes to Ravi who, thank goodness, has been on a steady non-cringeworthy rap stride as of late. Now that the cutesy boy band trend is coming back, a concept group like VIXX is highly appreciated. Stay weird, kids.

— Alexis

49. “Secret” by Yuri and Seohyun of Girls’ Generation

There has never been a better commercial jingle than “Secret,” Yuri and Seohyun’s collaboration with Pantene. Yes, the shampoo. “Secret” is a full-blown EDM song that veers towards generic, but the execution by the pair is filled with energy and surprises. Seohyun’s well-recognized as a great vocalist, but Yuri comes into her own in “Secret,” and the song never falls flat, despite the song’s chaotic composition. Pounding beats come to near complete-halts before sonic builds to the whispery choruses. The song is a glorious show of the pair’s diversity as singers and leaves us wanting to see what this duo could do together as an actual Girls’ Generation subgroup. Hint, hint, SM Entertainment.

— Tamar

48. “Don’t Believe” by Berry Good

Perennial underachievers Berry Good rounded out the best year of their careers with this superb slice of tropical house. Jettisoning their trademark big vocals, they let producers Nassun and Big Tone weave “Don’t Believe” into something altogether more professional sounding than usual. The girls bring a restrained pain that rises with every part, starting out with some sort of hope but eventually concluding that “all of me is meaningless.” It makes the catharsis of the dance break more down to earth. Instead of the euphoric joy of “Angel,” Berry Good eke out a final goodbye to love through music and their bodies.

— Joe

47. “Why So Lonely” by Wonder Girls

This song breathed life into the Wonder Girls brand, which had been fading even after the group’s return last year with “I Feel You.” A self-composition mixing K-pop’s trademark sultry female vocals with a unique retro reggae sound, “Why So Lonely” gave the group new relevance as the song blasted up the charts and into fans’ ears. In both band and dance form, the song is catchy and relaxing, and proves that an older group can, in fact, survive and thrive in the constantly changing world of K-pop. After “Why So Lonely” received so much success this year, fans are excited that at least some remnants of Second Generation girl groups will remain intact, but with their contracts expiring in January, we can only hope that Wonder Girls will continue to develop their self-composed sound in the future.

— Kushal

46. “I’m Good” by Se7en

Feels like a current K-pop trend is to go with the kind of instrumentals present on the song, but I’ll admit it’s a great trend. The song feels a bit more current and there’s just enough variation artists can spin on this type of instrumental to make it sound different from song to song. Where “I’m Good” excels isn’t on the instrumental however; it’s on Se7en’s emotional and silky vocals. I also like the use of repetition in the song, it fits in with the beat and adds a layer of depth to the lyrics of the song.

— Anna

45. “Flower” by Bada feat. Kanto

To celebrate her 20th anniversary since debuting as a member of first generation girl group S.E.S, Bada released her Flower album, and the title track is one of the most invigorating electropop tracks we’ve seen this year. The composition is subtle, but intense thanks to gentle synths and the pounding beat. Bada’s soft vocals blend with the building electronic rhythm, reminding listeners why she was one of the most popular K-pop singers of the ‘90s, while rapper Kanto aids a snappy rap to the mix.

— Tamar

44. “Sting” by Stellar

Charismatic girl group Stellar continued their great run of singles and staked their claim to be one of K-pop’s greats with “Sting.” Produced by Monotree member GDLO, “Sting” utilizes tropical house to create a breezy inquisitive mood. A multitude of sounds combine to great effect, giving layers to the song that build with each listen. Synth wails, funky guitars, and simple bass grooves highlight Stellar’s incisive manner of questioning. Along with Digipedi’s best video of the year, Stellar confront male ineptitude with brazen confidence. Their sting, both satisfying and necessary, lingers in the skin.

— Joe


Also on KultScene: Top 20 K-Pop Songs of 2014

43. “Hold My Hand” by Lee Hi

Lee Hi’s debut will forever remain as one of K-pop’s best, and because she raised the bar so high for herself already, it was going to be understandably difficult for her to outdo herself. “Hold My Hand” comes close, though. The song is the latter of the two title tracks off of her Seoulite album, and is yet another stellar throwback to Western soul influences. Lee Hi’s husky voice suits the doo-wop vocals and bassline of the track well, not to mention that the harmonization of her backup singers lends it some musical authenticity. The diminution on “again” towards the end of the song resolves the overall ‘60s girl group vibe she was going for effortlessly, at the same time leaving listeners on a soaring high with the progression in the background vocals. “Hold My Hand” is one song we can all listen to again and again.

— Shelley

42.”All Mine” by f(x)

f(x) may not have formally promoted in 2016, but their clapping EDM SM Station song “All Mine” was one of the year’s best party songs. After 2015’s onslaught of EDM, K-pop took a step back from the genre, but f(x) has always been able to take tried and trued genres and put their own spin on them. “All Mine” is bright and uplifting in its electricity, with the foursome’s voices belting (plus Amber’s rap) above the pounding beats. Plus, f(x) released it with a self-made video featuring Krystal scaring Amber and their friendship is absolutely adorable.

— Tamar

41. “Love Paint” by NU’EST

As far as underrated male groups go, NU’EST, by far, takes the top spot. Truth is that since debuting, the group has consistently delivered complexly crafted pop perfection, and “Love Paint” is no different. This song starts out with orchestral elements before turning into a smooth yet futuristic R&B ethereal experience. The juxtaposition between the first part of the song and the chorus is one of the most layered and interesting transitions of the year. It’s a real K-pop tragedy that NU’EST is slept on popularity wise. One can only hope that they survive another year and drop more pop defying jams.

— Alexis

40. “Home” by Ailee

Unlike her usual K-pop sound, Ailee showcased the more sultry side of her with R&B release “Home.” Listeners are probably used to hearing uptempo and lively songs from her, but her best vocal performances are the ones like this. “Home” might not have an impactful punch or intense climaxes throughout the song, but it’s still enjoyable and still allows Ailee to apply her versatile vocals. For someone who’s been called Korea’s Beyonce on multiple occasions and still puts on outstanding performances, she’s still rather underrated. This song had so much potential, especially when you have a powerhouse vocalist like Ailee and the legendary Yoon Mirae on the same track. Unfortunately, the song was not as well promoted this time around as previous songs. It could’ve done better, especially with non K-pop listeners, if there was a little more promotion than what was done. It kind of makes one wonder if this song would be better recepted if there was an English version? Hey Ailee, how about that?

— Tam

39. “Take Me Now” by FT ISLAND

With a definite lack of rock representation on Korean music charts, FTISLAND does their best to fill that gaping void. The band continues to move far far away from their Korean pop rock roots with their latest self-produced album Where The Truth. The title track “Take Me Now” is probably the hardest rock song they have put out to date, at least in Korea. Although it’s not a sound that most fans are used to, it definitely shows the direction the band has been driving towards these past few years. Throughout the song, Hongki’s voice alternates between haunting verses to a blaring chorus that showcases all of his vocal abilities to a T. The rest of the band does a great job keeping up with the intensity of the song through combined soft and hard vocal progressions to make the dynamic song complete. From the looks (and sound) of it, FTISLAND definitely shed their pop idol band label to make the music that they want. So throw your fists in the air and get ready to rock out!

— Katherine

38. “Crying” by Stellar

If you’re going to play it safe after two years of being the most divisive girl group in Korea, then Brave Brothers is your man. With “Crying,” Stellar have shown they can a rock a classic Brave Sound track just like the rest of them. The tempo is high, the synths aggressive, and the vocals diverse. Like all great Brave Brothers tracks, the details are what make the potentially generic songs not so generic. Especially the delay in Hyoeun’s vocal in the second verse and the layers of synths in the chorus. Even when playing it safe, Stellar are still one of the great K-pop girl groups. You can catch me crying at the club listening to this.

— Joe

37. “Rough” by GFRIEND

Rookie girl group GFRIEND is known to release catchy dance tunes and “Rough” is no exception. With the mix of synth and orchestral instruments, the song creates a more sentimental melody while still remaining upbeat and catchy. The lyrics and the vocals are crisp and bright and seem to have greatly improved from their last release giving a more matured feeling, leaving fans excited to see what else the girls can accomplish.

— Katherine

36. “Someone Like U” by Dal Shabet

2016 kicked off strong with Dal Shabet dropping “Someone Like U” early in January after losing a couple members. They made their comeback by going back to their 80’s synth-pop sound by way of a Brave Brother’s jam and delivering pop flawlessness. The dance track is a big fuck you to that ex who you didn’t even like that much in the first place and now is breaking up with you. And what’s more relatable than a spiteful song dedicated to your ex you can dance to? “Hey! Go meet someone stupid like you,” is truly what we all would like to tell our exes. Dal Shabet is one of those girl groups who sadly don’t get the recognition they deserve. However, “Someone Like U” goes down as one of the best songs in their discography ever.

— Alexis

35. “I Am You, You Are Me” by Zico

Zico has already established himself as a rapper of speed and power, but here he brings it back down to a crawl, preferring grooves over hard beats. Everything about Zico’s “I Am You, You Are Me” is hypnotic and infectious. Something about the chimes or the fingersnaps or the ooh’s of the backing track makes me feel like I entered a place that I should not have, and to say the least, it’s indulgent. The song confirms the Block B frontman’s versatility and artistry, and not for nothing his solo career is one of the best there is in K-pop currently.

— Shelley

34. “Me Like Yuh” by Jay Park

It seems like you just can’t go wrong when Jay Park sings over a Cha Cha Malone track. This time, Cha Cha and Jay tried their hand on one of 2016’s biggest trends, the Caribbean inspired, tropical dance song. After establishing himself as a rapper last year, Jay dropped his album Everything You Wanted and is, well, everything we wanted: an R&B album, which is what the performer does best. His clear standout of the year, “Me Like Yuh,” is somewhere between Justin Bieber’s “Sorry” and Drake’s “Hotline Bling” but with Jay’s signature high-pitched, honey R&B vocals that’s all about the groove and how the song feels. Jay may rap about asses and sex all the time, but there’s just something about when he gets a bit romantic and vulnerable that comes across genuinely. Jay and Cha Cha are a match made in heaven that we can only hope lasts for a very long time and results in many bomb releases.

— Alexis

33. “Very Very Very” by I.O.I

This song is the epitome of addictive. Bringing all eleven members of I.O.I back together, this song served not only to diversify I.O.I’s limited discography, but also reassert their dominance as the monster rookies of 2016. The song uses a fast beat, infectious repetition, and an occasional rap to bring out the members’ various charms — whether it’s Yeonjung’s vocals in the prechorus, Doyeon’s killer aegyo, Yoojung’s outgoing stage presence, or Somi’s powerful roundhouse kick, each member gets to shine in ways that prove I.O.I’s unique and lovable group character. While the group may not be around for much longer, “Very Very Very” is clearly unforgettable, whether you liked it or not.

— Kushal

32. “Toy” by Block B”

They may be better known for their fun, hip-hop songs, but Block B really exceeded expectations with “Toy.” The sedate, dreamy track showed a softer side to the boy band through jazzy piano notes and mellow, scattered synth beats. The song’s composition layers different rhythms and melodies with sentimental vocals, to create the overwhelming, lovelorn ambiance of “Toy.” It’s different than what we’ve seen from Block B in the past, but the Zico co-composed song shows maturity to the group’s sound and we hope to see more of this style from the septet in the future.

— Tamar

31. “Galaxy” Bolbbalgan4

From the first note, it’s clear that this isn’t K-pop as most people think of it. In fact, calling it “K-pop” would be a disservice to this sweet song, since K-pop typically describes songs sung by K-pop idols. But Bolbbalgan4 is an indie duo that appeared on Superstar K6 in 2014 and shot to fame with this single after its release in August. The song begins with an otherworldly, high pitch tone that sounds similar to what one would expect if they licked a finger and ran it around the edge of a glass filled with water. Ahn Ji Young’s sweet, breathy vocals are backed up guitarist Woo Ji Yoon, who also provides harmonies and a quirky rap, and ‘60s inspired instrumentals blended with a medley of soft electronica sounds. “Galaxy,” the fun and innocent sound of the indie rock track, ended up making it one of the most popular songs of 2016 in South Korea.

— Tamar


Also on KultScene: Top 50 Korean Songs of 2015

30. “Bermuda Triangle” by Zico x Crush x Dean

“Bermuda Triangle” is a great fusion of captivating sounds and diverse talents. The combination of these three artists is truly a match made in music heaven. The transitions between the sick beat along with Zico’s killer raps, Crush’s (sudden and shocking) badass verse and Dean’s velvet-like vocals were smoother than butter. All three artists consistently show up and always give a stellar performance in their own individual songs, so it was no surprise that “Bermuda Triangle” was done to pure perfection. If you didn’t love this song right away, then you need to get on it. One of Zico’s earlier lines is “What happened in 1992?,” well, basically, the birth of three phenomenal musicians happened, that’s what.

— Tam

29. “Whistle” by Blackpink

While this song may not be everyone’s cup of tea, it gave the K-pop world a much-needed dose of attitude. With the rise of TWICE, GFriend, and I.O.I and the disbandment of acts like 4MINUTE and 2NE1, there’s been a tragic dearth of edgy, badass girl groups. With the exception of BLACKPINK, that is. With addictive melodies and fast-paced rap sections, this song brings back hip-hop dance themes so reminiscent of K-pop a few years ago, while also including some newer, unique musical elements. As the generational shift brings us back to cutesy, feminine girl groups on top, Blackpink and their songs like “Whistle” do the important work of carving greater musical and stylistic diversity into K-pop’s current era.

— Kushal

28. “Overcome” by NU’EST

The saddest part of NU’EST’s history is that people think their heyday was their debut with the phenomenal “Face.” 2016 was, without a doubt, filled with the group’s most avant-garde singles “Love Paint” (no. 41) and “Overcome.” This is electropop at its finest, and NU’EST’s members at their best; their vocals and adlibs are near flawless on this brassy synth track. Layers upon layers of overdubs flit throughout “Overcome,” as if it challenged the listener to pick out the individual elements. After beginning with punctuated beats, the song incorporates scattering synths, brassy percussion, falsetto, digitized piano notes, and much more to overwhelm the senses. Then, “Overcome” ends off on a gentle, sleepy melody in a way that seems to put the whole sonic experience to rest. NU’EST, we’d like to see more of this in 2017.

— Tamar

27. “Navillera” by GFRIEND

Few do synthpop dance songs as well as GFRIEND, and “Navillera” was an ideal follow-up to the more sentimental “Rough” from earlier this year. The bright, rock-tinged “Navillera” wouldn’t seem out of place on an INFINITE album (and the opening drum beat callback to the opener of “Man in Love”), with its retro-tinged electronica sound. The song’s title is a reference to a Korean poem about a butterfly, and the high-pitched synths and underlying electric strings help create a quirky, fluttering sound. There’s a few verses, but the majority of the song is built around a soaring pre-choruses followed by the speedy chorus, which in actuality serves as an intro for the fast-paced dance break. The guitar solo at the end is so atypical for K-pop that it helps “Navillera” further hone in the idea that this song, and the group, is a long-awaited breath of fresh air.

— Tamar

26. “Bonnie & Clyde” by Dean

Where’s the sign up sheet to be Dean’s Bonnie? Because as long as Dean is Clyde, he’ll be winning over hearts. Every song he’s released has been absolute gold, and this one is no exclusion to the rule. “Bonnie & Clyde” leaves you feeling such a natural high, sitting on a cloud not wanting to get down. It’s just so damn easy to be engrossed in that sweet, bewitching voice of his.

— Tam

Also make sure to check out the first half of this list, featuring our picks for the 25 Best Korean Songs of 2016.

What was your favorite Korean song this year? Share your picks and thoughts in the comment section below and be sure to subscribe to the site and follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Tumblr to keep up with all of our posts.

Why experiencing GOT7’s Turbulence in USA fanmeet may be better than a show

got7 turbulence in usa tour fanmeet fan meeting

I never knew a fanmeet was an actual thing prior to K-pop because American musicians don’t hold such events. The closest thing to a fan meet in their eyes are those quick interactions they have with the fan(s) (you’d generally have to have bought the VIP perk/upgrade in order to even get that close to them) either prior to or after their show. Also depending on how popular the artist is, it’ll either be whilst at their merchandise table, as you’re buying their cd’s and T-shirts or an “exclusive” one-on-one, “hey how are you? I’m your biggest fan” meet and greet. Of course the actual concerts themselves are always fun; music is the best when it’s live, but there’s something about fan meetings that makes the experience a bit more memorable.

Korean artists — or in this case GOT7 — are all about those fan meets; they’re about getting that “me and my fans” type of time, doing unscripted Q&A’s, and just letting looser. At most concerts, I’m generally found standing (alike all the other attendees), even if there’s seats, but having personally gone to a few fan meetings here in the States (ahem, three GOT7 ones, in fact), the time spent sitting back in your seat and watching your idols also get a chance to sit back is rather satisfying.

Having said that, you could say I know a thing or two about fan meets and how they compare to their shows — especially for GOT7. Luckily, early next year you could have the extraordinary experience of attending one of their fan meets, since the Turbulence in USA Tour is coming to multiple cities in the country. The first stop is in Miami on Jan. 21 at the Fillmore, then it’s DC on the 22nd at Echostage. Next up is Chicago on the 25th at the Rosemont Theatre, then Houston on the 27th at Revention Music Center, and finally Los Angeles on the 29th at the Pasadena Civic Auditorium. Tickets for all shows go on sale on Dec. 17 at 10 a.m. local time, so watch out for those time zones! Prices range from $65 for the cheapest all the way to $205 for VVIP. For more information, follow the organizer’s, SubKulture, website, Facebook, and Twitter.

These upcoming fan meetings on the Turbulence in USA Tour mark the group’s third time holding them in North America since their debut in 2014. And if anything, that goes to show that other than their concerts, these work for them well. And as mentioned earlier, I’ve gone to more than a few of these in the past so I’m here to tell you the scoop of what goes down at these events and why they may be better than a show. Keyword “may,” ok?


Also on KultScene: 5 reasons to watch ‘My Annoying Brother’

Actual fan interactions

These fan meetings aren’t meant for just songs; these shows allow real time artist and fan interactions because it involves both parties’ full and undivided participation. Generally, after every two songs, there’s usually a break for questions from fans for the members, which are usually submitted the weeks leading up to the fanmeet. The Q&A sessions not only give the members a minute to catch their breath, but it’s also for them to give the fans their most genuine answers. Depending on who’s answering what question, there’ll be some sort of a reaction from the crowd and then based off of that, sometimes the members will either elaborate more (possibly telling you more than they should have), or due to embarrassment, might start poking fun at another member and then suddenly it all turns into a big laughing session.

Fan meetings also mean there’ll be time for games. Some of the games are played between the members, where they split themselves up into two teams, usually the hyung-line (older members, Mark, JB, Jackson, and Jinyoung) and maknae-line (youngest members, Youngjae, Bambam and Yugyeom). And then the others are played with some very lucky audience members. When will you ever get to stand next to your bias, within breathing distance, arm in arm, sometimes even hand in hand, other than at a fanmeeting? Although it’s all lottery and pretty much pure luck on whether or not your seat/ticket number is called, once it actually happens, you’ll never be the same. If you are indeed one of the lucky fans to be called up on stage with GOT7, keep in mind that not only are you potentially standing next to your bias in the group, not only is this your very own personal one on one time (you’ll practically be in each other’s personal bubble and you’ll probably forget that there’s hundreds of people in the audience staring on in jealousy because everything will become a blur), but try to remember that those members whom you’ve probably dreamt about having as a imaginary boyfriend, is suddenly right next to you. Yes, right next to you.

Their personalities come across more naturally

As most IGOT7/ahgases (GOT7’s fanclub) already know, Jackson and Bambam are the kings of being extra. But it wasn’t always this way! These two probably always had it in them, but it was only within the last year that they’ve gone above and beyond… unusually over the top. Actually, come to think of it, each member is relatively extra in their own (quiet) individual way. Mark, JB, Jinyoung, and Youngjae are extra but in a rather discreet and sly way, and Yugyeom, well, he’s just a rebel. However, that’s totally fine; it’s what makes them them. It took them a couple of years to break out of their shell but it’s no big deal. Every member of GOT7 has found their groove, stepped into their own element and have figured out what suits them.

These fanmeets have been a great opportunity and I believe a great learning curve for the guys to show to kind of figure themselves out, even if it’s not totally 100 percent right now. These meets are a great platform for them to show off their quirky, goofy and boisterous sides; it’s a great way for the fans to see first hand and understand the members better, which will result in a better connection. With Jackson and Bambam’s love for MCing, you can bet that if even there’s nothing left for the actual MC to say, those two will fill in the silence.

Games seem lame, but they’re not

Do you ever find yourself binge watching every video known to man that your favorite group has ever gone on or been featured on, from music to variety shows and especially the groups’ own web series? On most of these shows, the variety ones especially, there’s always a segment, whether brief or extended, of them playing a game. It can usually range anywhere from a simple game to an extensive game of kai-bai-bo (rock-paper-scissors), girl/boy group dance covers, speed dance challenges, the showcasing of a special (sometimes weird) talent, which would then result in the winner flicking the losers in the forehead or hitting them with a rather hard plastic toy hammer.

Although none of the members have been hit or flicked at any of GOT7’s fanmeets here yet, these guys make sure to bring laughter to the crowd with their mischievous gaming tactics.

For example, instead of playing the typical games that they’re probably all so bored of and used to already, at the group’s recent fanmeets in Vancouver and Toronto this past November, they had the crowd roaring in screams from enjoyment at their onstage gaming shenanigans. The panicked faces they’d make as they’re running away from an inflating balloon, to their quivering hands as they played the “what’s in the box” game is priceless. It’s one thing seeing these games being played and laughing at monitor but it’s on an entire different level when you’re able to laugh at the outcomes, in front of you, as it’s happening in real time.


Also on KultScene: B1A4’s ‘Good Timing’ Album Review

More relaxed performances

Although it’s still a day of work for these guys, the “free” moments that they get to sit on stage and converse with the crowd during a fanmeet, are probably the only moments where they’re able to somewhat catch a breather. There’s fewer songs to sing, less choreography to remember, more time to “chill,” even if they’re not actually kicking back on the couch somewhere, it still gives them a little time to rest. Of course, just like any other job, there’s still an urgency to do things a certain way. There are guidelines and rules that they must stick to when performing, but like the name states, fan meetings are meant for the fans. In order for the fans to enjoy, GOT7 needs to also be enjoying it.

Not to say that the members are less strict on themselves at fanmeets, but it does however allow them more freedom. Freedom as in, if they’re doing or saying something that’s apart of the script and suddenly there’s an outburst or some sort of feedback from the crowd, perhaps a fan screaming out “Bambam, dab!” and he does reacts to it by doing so, and the other members follow, they don’t feel the pressure of needing to jump right back into the script. Fan meetings leave room for them to joke around, more than usual, prancing around the stage, acting all sorts of willy nilly, acting like how they probably would back at the dorm.

Just because there’s fewer songs and less choreography doesn’t mean that they don’t try just as hard as they would with a 15 song set, fan meetings help relieve any extra pressure that they might have. And like Bambam and Yugyeom like to say, it allows them to take it “eaaasy”.

The closest we’ll ever be to an Asia-like fan meet

I’m sure you’ve all seen photos and fan cams of GOT7’s fan meetings in Asia, especially the most recent promotional ones in Thailand this past summer. Sure, we might not be getting those long eye to eye stare offs as we link fingers type of fanmeets, or the ones where the members are hugging you from the side, back, and all sorts of angles. And as much as overseas fans would love to get that same fan service that some of the Asian countries get, we’re just as grateful for the enjoyable fan meetings and effort that GOT7 always puts in. No, but really. When will that ever happen here and when will my bias and I lock fingers?

Subkulture delivered a successful GOT7 US tour this past summer so we can only expect that the fan meeting in January will be just as entertaining! You’ll probably think I’m being repetitive when I say this, but truly, the memories that you leave a fanmeeting with will linger on and stick with you for a lifetime. Whether this will be your first time attending a fanmeet or maybe you’ve already gone to one, or two… or five, you can expect to leave the venue that night yearning for more of GOT7.

Are you planning on hitting up one of the stops in GOT7’s fan meet tour? Share with us what you’re looking forward to see 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.