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.

Playlist Sunday: Press The Replay


K-pop is full of addicting hooks and songs that will get stuck in your head, but not every popular Korean song is going to stand up to the test of time. There are those special songs that every person can listen to on repeat wherever, whenever. This week’s Playlist Sunday is dedicated to all the songs that make our team press the replay button.

Could it be Doojoon’s sudden but mesmerizing intro that sets the mood in Beast’s “Fiction?” Or maybe it’s the addictive “fiction, fiction” chorus? Whatever the reason may be, it’s clearly a replay favorite. According to my iTunesI’ve played this song 783 times since January of 2012. Whoops! Although “Fiction” is about a broken relationship that the members wished they could rewrite, I can’t help but rather feel a sense of warmth and tranquility. And if the song itself doesn’t already bewitch you with it’s obsessive melody on its own, the music video, which shows off their popular “penguin” dance, will make even the non-dancer (like myself) get on up in an attempt to try it out. If you haven’t already, check out their original music video for “Fiction” and also their live orchestra version at the MAMA 2011 awards!

— Tam

Also on KultScene: Taemin ‘Press Your Number’ Music Video & Song Review

From the moment the retro drumroll began and led to the unique synth sounds that identify this as an INFINITE song, “The Chaser” stole my heart away. When the song was released, I vividly recall thinking “I need to be sedated” because my heart was filled with such euphoria upon hearing this oh-so-perfect song. Fast forward to several years later and “The Chaser” is still the INFINITE song nearest and dearest to my heart. If I’m having a bad day, I’ll turn to its belting, uplifting melodies. Each member gets their moment to shine throughout the song as it’s one of INFINITE’s most expressive performances to date, which isn’t easy to do amidst a dance song. And, vocal performances aside, the song’s musical arrangement is unique amongst K-pop songs and easily one of the best songs by a K-pop group ever. The live orchestra version of “The Chaser” from SBS’ 2012’s Gayo Daejun is still one of the best year-end show performances ever, and each year I find myself watching it multiple times just to admire how extraordinarily versatile this pop-synth song truly is as it seamlessly changes into a rock power ballad. The song also has one of INFINITE’s most subtly sensual performances to date, and four years later, I’m still madly in love with every aspect of “The Chaser.”

— Tamar

Hands down, my favorite song of 2014 was BEAST’s “Good Luck.” It’s perfection, case closed. However, the next best thing was the other song they promoted alongside the single, “We Up.” While “Good Luck” tugged at your broken heart, “We Up” was simply a fun jam. So fun that even the members seemed like they visibly looked amused performing it and being playful with the dancers — a rare sight for music shows and K-pop artists altogether. Not to mention it is almost impossible not to sway your shoulders and follow the choreography at the chorus.

— Alexis

Also on KultScene: HISTORY Talks Teamwork & Upcoming Releases [INTERVIEW]

Look at those guys above me listening to old songs. Get over it, guys. It’s all about the new in K-pop, didn’t you know? On replay for me is “Deepened” by the newly revamped Brave Girls. The silky smooth trap R&B is a popular sound nowadays that the girls have executed to perfection. The Calvin Klein-esque styling and lushly simple choreography as well show a confident new direction for these brave girls. Best of all is the rap which comes halfway through the song. The way the rapper turns it into a high pitched vocal, the way it goes on that bit too long. I love its excess and emotional delivery. The new Brave Girls is where it’s at.

— Joe

What’s your favorite K-pop song to put on replay? 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.

5 Reasons Why You Should Be Watching ‘Infinite Showtime’

infinite showtime

Infinite Showtime” premiered mid-December last year and is currently gearing towards the second half of the season. As the sixth season of “Showtime,” the show is an example of great variety which is at times entertaining and at times extremely meaningful. Even if you are not a fan of Infinite, there are many reasons why this show is worth watching, and here are five of them.

1. The Variety Skills of Infinite

I am an acknowledged Inspirit (Infinite fan), but I am definitely unbiased when I say this: They are wonderful at variety. By this I do not mean that they are all extremely comical or that they attempt body gags whenever they get an opportunity to, rather that as a group they are able to complement each other to create entertaining conversations, activities and situations. There are quiet members in the group (namely L and Hoya) but even they get their moments to shine through the show, whether it’s L being unusually focused on eating or Hoya doing some really weird aegyo.

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These moments work because of how the other members react (or don’t react) to them; there is this sense of friendship and camaraderie between them that I love to watch. Of course, there are also the vocal ones like Sunggyu and Sungyeol who always create a lively atmosphere for the rest of the group, even at the risk of embarrassing themselves.

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All the members of Infinite, for that matter, are willing to destroy their perfect images for the sake of playing a game or completing a challenge successfully. Take pretty face maknae Sungjong for example, after he lost a game his punishment was to get made-up by his fellow members. Though he looked pretty hilarious at the end of it, he still had the confidence and grace to go out to the convenience store and buy food as per the requests of his members. Variety shows would be very boring if the cast was too concerned about their images so I’m glad that Infinite was willing to go all out for this program. It certainly makes watching this show more fun.

2. The Great Production

Perhaps it is because this show is in its sixth season, but everything about it seems more refined and well-planned than in previous seasons. (“EXO Showtime,” “EXID Showtime”). The activities that have been carried out so far in the episodes all had a lot of significance and meaning to the Infinite members as well, be it an individual midnight drive or the surprise meeting of L and Dongwoo’s beloved teachers. The members even had an entire episode devoted to the activities that they personally wanted to learn about (driving, DJ-ing, fortune-telling, boxing).

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“Showtime” isn’t just a show for viewers, it’s also a time for the members to relax and have fun even though they’re still being filmed. The editing for this show has been very good so far as well. In particular, I really enjoy the hilarious captions and animations that pop up frequently throughout the episodes. For some reason this show also seems less scripted than the other Showtimes and previous Infinite variety shows (“This Is Infinite,” etc.) because of how the activities and conversations of the members progress.

As the show had been advertised, it showcased another side to the group and showed off the “natural interactions” between the members. They were able to talk lightly about serious and potentially controversial issues, they resolved conflicts by playing “rock paper scissors” and so on. It felt like an accurate reflection of how they were in real life. The most memorable example of this would be in episode six, when the members played an alternate version of “Never Have I Ever” and Dongwoo, Sunggyu, and Woohyun talked about previously being asked to leave the group.

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It was a serious and shocking revelation for fans when the episode was broadcasted but the members talked about it light-heartedly, as if it were a humorous memory. They even made jabs at L jokingly, mentioning how he would never be asked to leave the group because he was so handsome. In another show, I believe that conversations like these would have been edited to more dramatic effect, to create more conflict and tension, but I love the fact that this production team seems more concerned with empathizing Infinite’s friendship and closeness more than anything else. While it may not be as suspenseful it is definitely sweeter, and viewers like myself are constantly touched by these moments.

Also on Kultscene: ‘Infinite Effect’ in Los Angeles Was Anything But ‘Bad’

3. MC Sunggyu

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Infinite’s leader Sunggyu has been getting more and more recognition these days for his emcee-ing and variety abilities, something which is also very evident in “Showtime.” He’s always been outgoing and hilarious in his own way, but he has a new aura now. He’s able to initiate and guide the conversation, to take control of potentially awkward situations and turn them into funny moments but yet still maintain his grumpy grandpa persona that he’s always had in Infinite.

Thanks to his short stint at “Weekly Idol” he also became a better MC, as can be seen in episode four, when he carried out a surprise for L and Dongwoo, involving the teachers that they were grateful for. For the entirety of the episode he had to entertain the two teachers despite not being close with them but he did all this very respectfully, so much so that the two teachers had many praises for him.

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This might be a stretch at this moment but there are times when Sunggyu reminds me of popular comedian Yoo Jae Suk, who is recognised not only for being humorous but also for being very charitable and generous. Yoo Jae Suk is also very careful, he never goes overboard with his antics in an effort to remain respectful and thus controversy-free. Likewise Sunggyu has shown a lot more restraint and has become more balanced in this program, he definitely has the makings of a successful variety personality.

Apart from just being a good emcee though, Sunggyu also reminded viewers how great of a leader he was. From the thoughtful messages he gave over the radio to each member during their midnight drive to the effort he put in to let his members meet the people they missed, he showed his love for his members and how much he understood them. Infinite is a group that has been through alot together and at the head of it all Sunggyu has been guiding them very well.

4. Infinite’s growth

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There were many funny challenges that the members had to complete in the show which made for great entertainment but there were many times that the mood was more contemplative, in the sense that the members were learning more about themselves and about each other even as the viewers were learning about them.

The desire that the members had to develop themselves and as a group was evident in this program as well because they constantly showed a passion for improvement.They’ve been through so many ups and downs both as a group and as individuals, whether they released albums and went on world tours or worked as soloists/in subunits/acted in dramas/appeared individually on variety programs. It’s great to see that the members are all developing themselves beyond their group but at the same time are still united as one Infinite. Whether or not it was intentional, the show did a great job of bringing this message through all the separate platforms given to the members to show off their individual charms.

Also on Kultscene: 10 Baby- Making K-Pop Songs

5. Heartwarming

This point is a reason all by itself because Infinite’s close relationship is the main highlight of this show. It’s evident in everything they do, even when they’re not together (Sungyeol missed two episodes because he was filming “Law In The Jungle” but the other members kept bringing him up and talking about him). Through this show they had opportunities to talk honestly with each other and to reconcile the various differences between them; this essential open communication was lovely to watch because the members were definitely growing closer and we also got to learn more about them.

via gyuzizis on tumblr

The members also knew each other very well and about the problems that each member was facing at the time, so it was extra heartwarming to watch the members being concerned about Woohyun, who was (and probably still is) going through a slump. Be it Sunggyu’s attempts at understanding and caring for him to Sungyeol’s attempts to help him receive more luck by going to a fortune teller, the members all showed extra love for him during the show. Yes they still play around and disturb each other but at the bottom of it all, their love for each other can truly be felt and is a key reason to why this show is so enjoyable to watch.

via onlydongwoo on tumblr

Showtime has been great to watch so far, and I’m certainly excited to see how it will continue. Have you been watching Showtime? 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.

Video of the Top 25 Korean Songs of 2015


So far 2016 has been a slow year, aside from Dal Shabet nothing of any interest has been released. This has led us to looking back at how great of a year 2015 really was. To celebrate it, one of our writers cut together a video of the top 25 songs of the year as voted for by the KultScene writers. As you may have seen our top 50 list, this video takes the top 25 and edits them together in inventive ways. This is something to celebrate the year in music with, but mostly we hope you have fun watching it.

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.

Playlist Sunday: Dystopian K-Pop Music Videos

dystopian K-pop playlist

It’s no secret that K-pop is full of futuristic elements, and sometimes that future is bleak. This week’s Playlist Sunday features a variety of K-pop music videos that offer up a dystopian take on things. Whether it’s a bleak, post-apocalyptic world or a police state, K-pop doesn’t really think that this world is going to end well and we have a lot of dystopia to deal with. But this dark view of things has given us some of the most creative K-pop music videos of all time.

Not only is B.A.P known for their forceful sounds but also for their lyrics and influential messages that they convey to the listeners and public alike. The lyrics are, if not, even more powerful than the tunes itself. “Badman” lyrically and visually shows a side of reality that we as citizens sometimes tend to brush aside, much like this world’s corrupted governments. People only see what they want to see instead of trying to dig out the hidden meanings that’s been tucked away on purpose. “The despair that I hear in the darkness. The world that is ridden with fear,” sings B.A.P. It’s hard not to see what’s going on in the world everyday. Yet we turn the other way and ignore the fact that, although all these arising issues may not be affecting us directly as individuals, there are things that are ineed affecting and disrupting the society that surrounds us. What good will it do if we keep looking the other way, not batting a single eyelash, as if all the wrongs in the world will naturally go away on it’s own? B.A.P wants you to know that they too, see and hear everything that’s going on, but unlike some, they’ll be the ones to take things head on and fight for what’s right, right then and there.


INFINITE is one of my favorites and they are famous for their in sync dances. Since their debut, they have been striving hard to produce unique music. In January 2011, the band released the music video for “BTD (Before The Dawn).” While many of the fans and viewers are only familiar with the dance version of this song, “BTD” has a dark take on things. This dystopian music video shows the members imprisoned in an inescapable place, where a person has to kill another in order to free himself. Being friends, none of them are willing to harm each other. The lyrics describe the situation really well: I can’t let go like this, it’s suffocating. And I don’t know what to do….. I want to have you in the end no matter what. The members further question why they ended up in these circumstances? The title and music video of the song emphasizes on leaving this place before the dawn. The music video got +19 rating for being too violent. The group’s agency, Woollim Entertainment, stated that its intention was to visualise the inner conflict of the characters in the video, and not to display gratuitous violence.


Not many groups can pull off a dystopian concept well, but as mentioned above B.A.P certainly can. Their 2012 release “POWER” is a song filled with loud instrumentals and a forceful performance from the group in all aspects, singing, dancing and rapping. The accompanying music video is appropriately dark and graphic, filled with backdrops of war vehicles and fire. The whole video serves to bring out their strong lyrics, a call for action against the people who are oppressing and filling our world with lies. We got the power. Fight against them and don’t look at me with your angelic face. Everything is a lie. There’s probably no better fight song for a revolution than this.


If we’re talking dystopian, you can’t go without a casual mention of XIA Junsu’s “Flower.” The song itself is a fabulous, haunting track featuring Epik High’s Tablo, and all about finding light in the darkness. (It’s also the second collaboration of the two, since their equally dystopian AnyBand music videos.) The music video keeps the eeriness of the song, and transposes it into a post-apocalyptic world where Junsu is the god in a crumbling world. The world is quite literally falling apart as the devil dances, so to speak, with a king who doesn’t care about anything other than his own haven amidst a ruined world. There are hints of an anti-nuclear message (the mutated fish) from Junsu, but the whole music video is full of symbolism against excess, even towards Junsu himself, even while he is clearly on top of his game as a member of JYJ and a former TVXQ member. There are questions of innocence, there are questions of morality. It’s an artistic, philosophical take on the K-pop dystopian music video and we love it.


Playlist Sunday: Holiday Tunes

christmas songs playlist kpop

With Christmas and Kwanzaa right around the corner, and Hanukkah ending recently, we’re all feeling all kinds of cheery and warm inside. So for this week’s playlist, we’re listing all the holiday songs we love — or at least the ones we can stomach — by our favorite Korean artists.

GOT7’s formula for releasing singles since debut seems to be to release a powerful dance song, followed by cute and playful one. So after the release of their manly single “If You Do,” it’s time for the cute one. And since tis the season, the boys put out a Christmas song, “Confession Song.” The cool thing about it is that it’s not another lame holiday song about Santa and reindeer and all that nonsense. Instead, they take the non-Christian Korean concept of Christmas, a day to spend with your significant other, and give us a sweet song about writing a love confession to the person of their interest. But to still keep that Christmas cheer, bells ring throughout the track. In true GOT7 fashion, “Confession Song” is just the right amount of cute and cheesy that never taps into the ridiculous. It’s just a cute song that will make you feel like a middle schooler again.

— Alexis

Taetiseo made a relatively low key comeback recently with Dear Santa and still managed to make one of the best K-pop Christmas songs. In fairness, there’s not a lot of competition for this crown but Girls’ Generation’s subgroup TTS stuck to what they’re best at and slayed the concept. The opening harmonies are some of the best vocals they have ever done, and offer us something different to the saccharine that is to come. It is almost sickeningly sweet but this is Girls’ Generation meets Christmas. It had to be like this. There’s sleigh bells jingling, plenty of piano, and vocals that are as fun as Mariah Carey’s to belt out on Christmas day. In keeping with the more western version of Christmas they are portraying here, TTS also released an English version of the song, to make sure we don’t mess up the lyrics. How thoughtful.

— Joe

Also on KultScene: 2015 Gift Guide For Fans Of Korean Pop Culture

Usually I don’t expect much of K-pop holiday songs. Because, let’s face it, they all follow the same boring, slow ballad formula that it has become quite the science. But INFINITE’s “Lately” is the only exception to this. If it were not for the nutcrackers in the music video and the bells in the instrumentals, it probably could pass for any old K-pop track. The festive tune retains the same classic INFINITE sound, what with its guitars, chic raps, and warbly vocals, that it’s unmistakable who it belongs to.The rise and fall of the harmony gives the song actual contour, as opposed to the one flat mess of a song that is common nowadays. The video itself is also very endearing and warm, as it avoids the “let’s pretend we are having a blast around the Christmas tree and yule log” bit. I want to believe that the members actually exchanged gifts over a company dinner. I want to believe all the interactions in the streets with the civilians are genuine. Its low production cost is exactly what makes everything seem so much more relatable. Since its release in 2011, there has really been no other K-pop holiday song that has done it as well as INFINITE’s “Lately” has.


Being that there will never be a K-pop song for Chanukkah, picking my favorite K-pop holiday song is like picking a pair of shoes I’ll never wear. They’re all good, but I’m not personally invested. But Nell never disappoints, and their “White Night” reminds me of the winter holiday season (and not only for the title!) The romantic, building rock ballad depicts the perfect picture of this time of year. The twinkling, tapping sounds remind me of snow, and the lyrics describing someone you want to be around is just like every holiday film about not spending the season alone. It may not be conventional, but Nell’s ardent expression of being with the person they love, even if it means trying to turn back time, is something I just adore and listen to each December.


Also on KultScene: Playlist Sunday: Roaring Twenties

EXO came back recently with their winter special album “Sing For You” and while all the tracks on the album are amazing, their title song of the same name was the one which really touched me. It’s a ballad, which may seem typical of this season but with the soothing guitar instrumental and the wonderful voices of all the EXO members the song stands out and becomes something special. It’s a song about being in love and wanting to confess but always missing the chance to do so. The lyrics speak of regret and reflection, a feeling we’re all prone to experiencing at this time of the year, even amidst all the bright lights and hearty Christmas celebrations.


What’s your favorite holiday themed K-pop song? 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.

6 INFINITE Songs That Will Prepare You For INFINITE Effect

INFINITEINFINITE is returning to the Americas with their solo tour for the second time. INFINITE Effect will land in Vancouver on January 7, followed by stops in Los Angeles, Mexico City, Santiago, and a final stop in New York on January 19. Anybody who missed INFINITE coming to this side of the world in 2013 will definitely want to see the group in 2016. But what will they be seeing?

Along with INFINITE’s most popular songs, like set opener ”Before The Dawn” and encore ”Come Back Again,” INFINITE will be performing a large variety of songs, along with some of their newest songs.

”Up To You”

The setlist for INFINITE Effect contains every song off of INFINITE’s most recent “Reality” EP, which was released earlier this year. “Up To You” comes at the end of the show, but will be a great way to pump up the crowd with it’s playful, funk vibe. “Up To You” makes a good show of giving each member a time to shine, without any harmonizing or distortion to distract from the vocal clarity of each voice. It will likely be one of the highlights of the show as INFINITE gets a second wind ahead of the finale.

”The Chaser”

Personal bias aside, “The Chaser” is one of INFINITE’s best songs hands down and no performance by the group is complete without this song. Sharp, distinct retro sounds are now considered the representative element of INFINITE and set the group apart from other K-pop groups. No song displays these aspects of INFINITE’s music more wholly than “The Chaser.” The synth-pop song recently appeared on Rolling Stone’s “50 Greatest Boy Band Songs of All Time,” and there’s a reason for that.

Also on KultScene: 2015 Gift Guide For Fans Of Korean Pop Culture


In the INFINITE Effect setlist, “The Chaser” is followed up by INFINITE’s latest single, “Bad,” and that’s pretty good. The two songs have distinct, yet similar, dance-synth retro styles. “Bad” is one of INFINITE’s strongest songs to date, with a more aggressive style than the group used to lean towards and it comes out in the vocals and the dance. The dramatic song will be one of INFINITE’s last songs on stage but, as the saying goes, it will definitely not be the least of their performances.

”Kontrol” (Kim Sungkyu)

INFINITE has numerous extremely talented singers in the group, but it’s leader Sungkyu who really makes a splash when it comes to his solo stages. The last time INFINITE was in this part of the world, Sungkyu was performing songs from his “Another Me” EP, and his latest music shows him as a more mature, expressive performer. Sungkyu’s “27” EP is one of the best albums out of Korea this year, so if you haven’t listened to it yet, you may want to prepare yourself for his soul-filled synth-rock performance.

Also on KultScene: Playlist Sunday: Cute K-Pop Concepts

”My Girl” (INFINITE F)

The last time INFINITE was in North America, INFINITE F wasn’t a thing yet. During their One Great Step tour, Sungyeol and Sunjong had a set while L had his own one. This time around, the subunit will come together on stage for what is sure to be a sweet performance of “My Girl,” preceded by a remix version of “Heartbeat.” “My Girl” was originally in Japanese, but INFINITE F will be performing a Korean version of the song. The song is a light, upbeat tapping tune that makes the most of the subunit’s soft vocals, and will definitely provide a light touch amidst the stronger songs dance songs performed by INFINITE as a whole.


Only INFINITE would end a concert on a song that isn’t even a B-track, let alone a single, but the soundtrack to their “Grow” documentary. “Together” is a soft ballad promise to INFINITE’s fans, Inspirits, and has been sung as the final encore at INFINITE Effect stops. The song was composed by Woohyun, and reflects INFINITE’s feelings. Needless to say, prepare tissues for both the audience and the band at each stop because there will be many people crying as they sing along to this heartfelt tune.

Also look forward to performances of “Back” and “Last Romeo,” which are two of the singles INFINITE has released since the last time they brought their tour to this part of the world.

Tickets are currently on sale for INFINITE’s Los Angeles stop, and range between $50-$150 USD. They can be purchased on AXS’s site.

What are you looking forward to the most at INFINITE’s concert? What’s the song you want to see INFINITE perform the most? 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.

Playlist Sunday: Cute K-Pop Concepts

GOT7 for KultScene Playlist SundaySexy and strong is great, but K-pop comes in all shapes and sizes and sometimes that size is “cute.” This week’s KultScene Playlist Sunday features our favorite cute K-pop concepts. These bright, colorful, upbeat songs and music videos were handpicked by KultScene’s staff to put a smile on anyone’s face as these girl groups and boy band win their way into everybody’s hearts.

I don’t know where exactly DIA’s “My Friend’s Boyfriend” falls on the cute spectrum, but I have no doubt that it is there. If I were to guess it would be somewhere between Red Velvet’s chaos and A Pink’s purity with added self-parody. This confusion becomes immediately apparent with a first listen. The song opens with blaring sirens and rolling drums that recall heavy American hip hop more than a cutesy pop song. This is straight undercut though by soft vocals in the opening verse, which harmonize in traditionally satisfying ways when it comes to being cute. The song doesn’t stop throwing stuff at us there though, still to come are coughs, psychotic la las, and a fiery rap which follows the first chorus with barely a blink to recover. The whole song is more akin to an obsessive young person who thinks they’re cute and will never believe that the object of their desire has no feelings for them. I mean, they are literally stealing their friend’s boyfriend.

— Joe

Also on KultScene: 5 Underrated K-Pop Rookie Songs

I’m really not a fan of the cute girl concepts. For me, they cater to the male gaze by falling into the stereotypes of the uber feminized, demure woman that just isn’t prevalent anymore. So imagine my pain when I began liking APink’s “Mr. Chu” and see it become one of my favorite songs from last year. This group is the epitome of the hypersexualized virginal, docile woman in my eyes, but even I couldn’t help but fall for the catchy chorus and the awesomely shot music video by one of my favorite directors, Digipedi. Because at the end of the day, it’s more important not to promote girl hate and just accept them and enjoy their feel-good music.

— Alexis

GOT7 has shown us an array of styles, everything from preppy and cheerful to the mysteriously rugged. It was only a matter of time before they gave us an overly cute concept like “Just Right.” There’s been times where I had forgotten how old these guys really were, especially when the choreography for songs like “Girls Girls Girls” and “Stop Stop It” required them to be a bit more serious, through their dance moves and facial expressions. “Just RIght” was a nice break from it all. Even though it was rather cringe worthy to watch at times anyone who watched this music video and saw the members frolicking around, making derpy facial expressions and acting as goofy as they did, probably couldn’t help but smile from ear to ear. Whether it’s the finger snaps or the addictive “woo-oohs”, it’ll only take one listen before you fall in love with this song.


Also on KultScene: 2015 Gift Guide For Fans Of Korean Pop Culture

When you think of INFINITE, you don’t necessarily think “ah they’re adorable.” But in 2013, the group released “Man In Love,” and the song is just an ode to the group’s cute, whimsical side. “Man In Love” takes everything good about INFINITE- the retro inspired dance songs, the synchronized dance moves- and adds an element of sweet, adorableness that other INFINITE songs don’t display. The 80’s inspired song is lighter than most of INFINITE’s more recent songs, while similar to early songs like “Come Back Again.” The music video is filled with images that are sure to make INFINITE’s fan’s hearts flutter (Sungyeol baking, Sungkyu’s light show, L’s romantic silliness in class, etc.) but the lyrics of “Man In Love” are also simply adorable. “Like a young child, I keep laughing for no reason” and “The letters in my book are dancing as they form your name,” give the song a lighthearted meaning that I absolutely love and would be happy to see more of from INFINITE.


What’s your favorite cute K-pop song? Let us know in the comment section below and be sure to subscribe to the site and follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Tumblr to keep up with all of our posts.

#IFNTECT_SG: The Best 2 Days Of My Life

Infinite effect cover

I knew that I had to get my hands on INFINITE’s concert tickets once they announced their second world tour, ”INFINITE EFFECT”. As a relatively new Inspirit (INFINITE’s fan), I had missed the chance to see them two years ago, when they visited Singapore as part of their first world tour, “One Great Step.” The desire to attend their concert intensified further when the details for their Singapore stop was officially announced, especially because the concert was to be held at a smaller venue as compared to the previous time, thus propelling my friends and I to go for priority booking (at an extra cost of about 20 dollars), all in the hopes of getting to see our beloved idols in a closer proximity — and see them we did.

Press Conference

INFINITE has always been known for their outstanding fan service and constant gratitude towards their fans, but this was clearly highlighted to Singaporean Inspirits when they decided to have a public press conference in a mall, rather than a quiet one with only media representatives present. Needless to say, it became more of a crazy fan meet rather than a press conference as 1,500 teenage girls huddled together to get a glimpse of the dashing INFINITE members. Although the press conference only started at 7:30 p.m., most fans had been camping at the venue since early that morning despite the hot weather and the subsequent rain. I joined the crowd slightly later than the rest but still enjoyed a good long wait of about four hours. It was well worth it though, that was for sure. INFINITE had only arrived in Singapore that morning but they were all dolled up to perfection in their black suits and there was no sign of tiredness on their faces as they interacted with the fans. They came very promptly as well, which showed their love and consideration for their fans, who had been waiting for them for a long time. L even looked shocked at the number of fans who were gathered there for them.

video credits @PINGGVAELE

It was my first time seeing them live, and though I was constantly being blocked by the flailing arms of the fangirls in front of me, it felt amazing to see them with my own eyes and to be in the same venue as them. When they started to speak, I literally couldn’t breathe because of how surreal the situation was. Watching their interaction with the fans and with each other felt like I was watching a fancam or a video of them at an event or a concert, but the reality was that I was present with them, and this realisation made my heart pound even more rapidly than usual.

It was a tiring 30 minutes, having to squeeze with tons of other fans in a suffocating atmosphere, constantly screaming and cheering while desperately trying to balance my camera, tip-toeing for the entirety of the press conference in order to get a better view; but it was all worth it to listen to their adorable answers to the reporters present and to sense their sincere gratitude and love for their fans. Maybe the reason why INFINITE remains so dearly loved by their fans five years after their debut is because of how charming all the members are, not just in terms of looks but also the way they speak. Take for example, this question which came up at the press conference.

Reporter: What is the biggest challenge that INFINITE is facing?
Hoya: The biggest challenge that I’ve had is that I haven’t been able to see my Singapore fans for the past two years.

How could anyone not fall for them? Though I had never seen INFINITE in real life before, I had attended “Running Man” fan meets before and I was used to such crowds. I also knew the best way to get a good video of the INFINITE members, and that was to rush to gather around their exit route before the press conference ended. While I wasn’t the first to think of that idea, I did make it there before most of the other fans did, and that enabled me to stand at a distance of less than five meters away from the members as they exited the venue. It was a precious experience, and it thoroughly hyped me up for the concert that was to take place the following night.

Also on Kultscene: INFINITE’s ‘Reality’ Album Review


It was the 13th of November, also known as the day I had been waiting for for the past five to six months! Though I was exhausted from the previous night’s fervor, I was also very excited to finally attend the concert. Once again, the concert started right on time with a thrilling trailer that ended with the appearance of the seven INFINITE members. Though the concert venue was small and the capacity of the place was limited to 3,000 people, the deafening screams of the fans more than made up for the lack of numbers. The energy was very high, both for INFINITE and for the fans as the group started off with three of their hit releases, “Before The Dawn,” “Paradise,” and “Be Mine.” Unfortunately, Hoya (main dancer and rapper) was injured so he could not participate in most of the dances during this concert and had to remain seated at the side of the stage. Despite his absence, the rest of the members managed to fill up the stage and still performed their dances with much synchronicity and precision.

My favourite moments during this concert were probably when the members gave speeches because they were all so sincere and their true personalities really shone through. For one thing, they all made an effort to speak as much as they could in English, and some of them (L and Hoya) were actually pretty proficient in the language. From photos of the press conference the day before, I could tell that the members were all pretty tired, especially since they had hectic schedules and another concert lined up in Jakarta after Singapore. However, this did not show during their performances and speeches because they gave their all and brought a lot of energy to their stages. Dongwoo in particular was seriously high throughout the concert and his wacky actions made fans laugh out loud several times in the night. The best line of the night probably came from L though, and he repeated the same line two more times at the end of the concert and on his Instagram post: “I’m your darling L!”

After the energetic performances came some slow ones as the members performed their newest ballads “Standing Face to Face” and “Love Letter.” These two songs were the ones that I looked forward to the most, partly because I am a huge ballad fan and partly because I wanted to hear their voices live. The performances sent chills down my spine because of how good they sounded in real life, if it was possible they sounded even better than on their album. To watch their emotions, to hear the strength of the voices, to hear their high and skilful notes, no words could express how overwhelmed and blissful I felt in that moment. This is a phrase that I’ve been repeating a lot but INFINITE’s love for their fans really shined through their rendition of “Love Letter,” and I’m thankful that I got a chance to experience it.

Also on Kultscene: Touring With BIGBANG, Fangirl Style


The special stages put up by INFINITE H, Woohyun, INFINITE F and Sunggyu were fantastic as well. I especially loved the subunit performances because they went around doing fan service and interacting with the fans. Though they nearly got mobbed in the process, the members bravely stuck it out and continued throwing adorable stuffed plushies to their fans. They even gave sweet reminders for fans to stay safe even while rushing to catch the presents they handed out. This fanservice continued through other performances of songs from their latest mini-album “Reality” and they even performed their newest unreleased song, “For You” with a great choreography. I can’t wait for this song to be released!

The concert “ended” with a bang with their latest title tracks “Back” and “Bad,” and the reason why I’m using these inverted commas is because they obviously had an encore prepared for the fans. After about five minutes of fans alternatively chanting “Encore, encore” and “돌아와“(Korean for comeback), the members reappeared in fresh outfits and performed their debut song, “Come Back Again.” It was a nice throwback to their earliest days and started the members off on a sentimental note for their final speeches. I’ll be honest, I started tearing up during these speeches, not just because they were touching but because I couldn’t believe that the concert was ending so quickly. It had already gone on for around two hours and there was hardly a moment when the members were not on stage, but it was so fast-paced that I thought the concert had just begun. It might be a delusion but I had the impression that the members felt the same way. During their speeches, it was evident that they felt sad about leaving Singapore so soon after they had arrived, especially in the case of Woohyun and Dongwoo, who came close to tears as they spoke and sang their final song, “Together.”

I knew from watching concert videos that INFINITE would definitely perform this song at the end, but nothing prepared me for the emotional rollercoaster that I would feel as I heard them sing. A simple and heartfelt song written by Woohyun after the first world tour, I fell in love with it the first time I heard it, but it’s definitely different when you hear it live. Woohyun’s extra high note at the climax of the song gave me goosebumps and it was so beautiful, the way the members sounded when they sang in harmony. The song carried the concert to an emotional high, and that’s when it truly ended with white confetti falling from the ceiling. Together, they took a deep bow as they thanked the fans who had gone to the concert and the amazing band who had played for them the entire night. As I was furiously snapping photos, tears were also running down my cheeks because of this show of unity. The reason why I love INFINITE so much is because of the strong friendship between the members, and this bow reinforced my belief in them. No matter what may face them in the future, I know that they will always have each other along with the support of all their fans, including me of course.

Infinite effect

All in all, as my first K-pop concert, INFINITE EFFECT really set the bar for me and I can’t wait for them to come back already. These two days that INFINITE was in Singapore were really two of the best days in my life, and they really reminded me of why I became an Inspirit in the first place. Even as INFINITE continues their world tour till next year, I hope that they will continue to receive the support of all their Inspirits and that they will continue to achieve great success.

Have you ever attended an INFINITE concert? 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.

Fantasy Vs Reality: MAMA 2015 Award Winners

MAMA awards

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

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

1. Best New Male/Female Artist

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

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

2. Best Male/Female Artist

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

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

3. Best Male/Female Group

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

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

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

4. Best Dance Performance Solo

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

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

5. Best Dance Performance Male/Female Group

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

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

6. Best Male/Female Vocal Performance

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

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

7. Best Rap Performance

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

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

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

8. Best Band Performance

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

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

9. Best Collaboration & Unit

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

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

10. Best Music Video

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

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

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

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