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K-Pop Unumted: April 2018 Roundup

On Episode 29 of KultScene’s K-pop Unmuted, Stephen Knight and Joe Palmer look back at Kpop releases from April 2018. We discuss HIGHTEEN’s Timing, EXID’s Lady, Lovelyz’s Shining Star, HAON’s Boong Boong, Snuper’s Tulips, and Pentagon’s Shine.

You can listen to this episode, and previous ones, of KultScene’s K-Pop Unmuted on SoundcloudiTunes, and Stitcher.

Let us know what you think of K-pop in April 2018 and KultScene’s latest episode K-pop Unmuted in the comment section below and be sure to subscribe to the site and follow us on FacebookTwitterInstagram, and Tumblr to keep up with all of our posts.

Weekly K-pop faves: Nov. 13-19

It seems the K-pop gods had the best saved for last, for we have been bombarded with great single after great single in the last couple of weeks.

“Beautiful” by Wanna One (Released Nov. 13)

Not that fans didn’t already know this, but still, “Beautiful” was a cute reminder that the OngNiel ship is real and sailing. For Wanna One’s latest comeback, instead of veering towards the typical love story that accompanies a ballad, the group gave us the romance Wannables actually wanted: the one between bros Daniel and Seong Woo. But music video aside, “Beautiful” shows yet another facet to this wildly successful group. Known for their energetic performances, Wanna One came out with a ballad that highlights the members’ vocals —especially those on the sub vocal and rapper lines. It’s so interesting to see the members’ development as performers and singers before our eyes, considering some of them hadn’t been training for that long. With “Beautiful,” we get to see that all their hard work is paying off.

—Alexis

“Twinkle” by Lovelyz (Released Nov. 14)

While Red Velvet are a little late to the Halloween game, Lovelyz are ahead of the pack with their (sort of) Christmas song “Twinkle.” It’s not a typical Christmas track thanks to Lovelyz inability to stray from their electronic influences. Produced by 1Take (who takes a lead single for the first time after producing a number of b-sides for various groups including Wanna One’s only good song “Wanna Be (My Baby)) and Tak, “Twinkle” uses an incredibly dense backing electro track under typically lovely bell and string details. The electronics change as the song goes on, adding 8-bit moments and classic big euro synths for the chorus. What makes “Twinkle” a little bit strange is the way Lovelyz’s vocals are the same as always. They are used to synths but not quite an intense rhythm section. Jiae, Jisoo, Yein’s rap part is particularly important than as it adds a great amount of personality to a vocal section that could veer towards Disney territory. That being said they are just setting the stomper of a chorus which the unstoppable Kei knocks out of the park. It feels like the chorus happens five or six times but it’s so good you want it to keep coming anyway.

—Joe

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: Feb. 20-26

The last full week of February saw a lot of new releases from K-pop’s female acts, some of which caught the attention of KultScene’s team. Continue reading to hear which new songs by Lovelyz, TWICE, and Dal Shabet’s Subin won us over.

”Knock Knock” by TWICE (Released Feb. 20)

I’m not a TWICE stan but I can’t deny that their title releases have always been addictive and catchy, albeit sometimes a little annoying. When they made their comeback recently I was expecting much of the same, but “Knock Knock” proved to be a surprise. Yes, it has a concept and melody that we’ve come to recognise as TWICE. But this was the first time I genuinely liked every part of the song (especially the bridge!) and thought it suited the group very well. The accompanying choreography is definitely one of my favourites so far and this no-longer-rookie group definitely feels more comfortable now. Their comeback has felt a little undermined in light of BTS’s immense success but the song has still done remarkably well and I hope TWICE only goes up from here!


–Anna

Also on KultScene: Is K.A.R.D the future of K-pop?

”Circle’s Dream” by Subin (Released Feb. 23)

It seems like everyone I’ve spoken to about Subin’s “Circle’s Dream” either compares her to Lorde, Lim Kim, or both. The low-key instrumentals–including what sounds like a whimsically plucked ukulele– act as the backdrop of the Dal Shabet member’s vocals, which are somehow simultaneously sonorous and mellow. Even as playful as Subin sounds rolling her ‘r’s and singing sweepings “woos,” the song is actually about being hurt by love. The single’s style–and Subin’s solo work in general– is such a fresh approach to a topic that K-pop’s covered before, it’s really a pity that her solo efforts are getting essentially ignored. Dal Shabet had one of the best K-pop songs of 2016, and “Circle’s Dream” highlighted the fact that it’s not just by accident: Subin is an artist not to be overlooked.


–Tamar

”WoW!” by Lovelyz (Released Feb. 26)

Lovelyz are the best girl group of the new generation. Sadly rethreads of older groups are hogging the limelight so no one really knows this. “Destiny” was one of the most complete songs of 2016 and every single by Lovelyz since their debut has been good or great. “WoW!” is their biggest departure to date although nothing is lost in the transition. Lovelyz retain the synthpop style that dramatizes their potentially overbearing cuteness. On “WoW!,” produced by Lovelyz regular Onepiece, they add a level of quirk. The structure is odd, opening with a rhythmic talk-sing of the title with funky guitars. It then moves onto handclaps and eventually the surprising, but oh so satisfying, chorus. As usual Jiae is the secret weapon of Lovelyz. She perfectly captures the saccharine cuteness while still being totally weird. Her babyish, high-pitched “jyae ippeo” adds another whole level to the song, keeping it constantly exciting as opposed to maybe just a bit different. Lovelyz put effort into their music that goes unnoticed but revives the K-pop cutesy girl group sound every time.

–Joe

What was your favorite song of the week? 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.

Spiritual K-Pop: Lovelyz & Berry Good Find Their Destinies

Lovelyz & Berry Good
Destiny and fate are some of the most common themes in pop music. Songs about star crossed lovers are part of pop lore and continue to be evocative stories. One reason why I love K-pop is that it regularly breathes life into old concepts like this. Now that two songs have been released within a week of each other that incorporate these very ideas, I thought it would be a good time to examine how K-pop deals with such inevitable love.

Aesthetically Lovelyz and Berry Good are immediately similar. They represent what we expect from cute girl groups, predominantly white clothing and soft fabrics emphasising innocence and purity. They have had much different shots at success though. Lovelyz, coming from Woolim Entertainment the home of INFINITE, were expected to make it big not only due to backing but because their concept was tried and tested. Berry Good have gone unknown since their debut in 2014 under Asia Bridge Entertainment and, like many small groups, have lost a number of members. Both groups however, whether with the help of their company or some divine powers have arrived at the best songs of their careers.

Lovelyz “Destiny”

Since debuting Lovelyz haven’t dared leave their comfort zone. I’d usually be critical of groups like this but the quality of every one of their songs has defied that. Heavily influenced by J-pop, Lovelyz have proven themselves the best when it comes to innocent concepts by being youthful but never childish.

Harking back to their debut “Candy Jelly Love,” “Destiny” is driven by heavy synths that keep the song from ever feeling too serious. These combine wonderfully with a string section that gives the song a sense of fantasy. It’s in the chorus where these sounds all come to fruition as lighter synths twirl up and down while the strings and distorted synths drive the song along. Vocally it’s their best work too. Aside from the usual stronger vocalled members, the other girls are arranged to fit with each other, adding harmonies that were previously absent from Lovelyz songs. Yein and Jiae especially come together nicely with their fragile voices. Small ad libs of “oohs” in between add layers as well.


Also on KultScene: Seventeen’s “Pretty U” Music Video & Song Review

“Destiny” is polished pop perfection. Each part balances so well. The verses have an added length to them that seems incongruous but is justified by the huge chorus. It is worth the wait. Big moments like this tie in well with the subject matter of the song. “Destiny” is something that is predicated on having a lot of blind faith. It’s something that one has to believe whole heartedly or not at all. Who else better for something like this than a group of young girls?

Lovelyz’ idea of destiny stays big by referring to the solar system. In “Destiny,” the girls are the moon and the boy they love is the earth. This is a destiny that can never be fulfilled though. Like the earth and the moon, these two people are inherently connected yet can never touch. “You’re my destiny, the gravity that pulls me,” sings Lovelyz. The moon spins around the earth in cycles totally focused on it while the earth remains preoccupied, “Why do you keep circling around her? When I revolve around you like the moon.” These are extremely clever lyrics that highlight a Romeo and Juliet style of destiny. It’s beautiful and exciting but this love will never prosper.

Circles are used a lot in the choreography and video to reinforce this idea. Constellations and solar patterns are seen in the video, the girls form rings while on stage, evoking ideas of infinity. Pairs are also used in interesting ways. When split into pairs the girls rarely look at each other, they always touch but seem distant. The same happens when they split 50/50 as a group too. The two halves, while aware of each other, maintain a spiritual distance.

“Destiny” is a decidedly melancholic look into the fates of love. It taps into youthful abandon. You fall madly in love with someone and claim it as destiny with no other way to express it. It’s inevitable and unavoidable even if you’re aware of it. “I can’t look away, You’re all I see,” the girls cry as the song comes to an end. They are destined to be stuck in a cycle of impossible love.

 

Berry Good “Angel”

That thing I said about big moments, Berry Good go all out in search of them.

With Lovelyz and Berry Good we can get a distinct image of the difference between groups with money and groups without it. Lovelyz are polished, their music is clean and focused, and their choreography tight and impressive. A rookie group ready to be the unnies right from the start. Berry Good are their little sisters, a bit messy but full of energy and passion, despite debuting first. They have to do more to be heard and they certainly try.

Like Lovelyz, Berry Good have had a clear J-pop influence on their music. In “Angel” it isn’t quite clear until the chorus though. The song starts off with a piano and string section before adding a guitar and drum rhythm section. The introduction of the guitar and drum is a bit stilted but nicely changes things up a bit. It also serves as a warning of what is to come; this slightly dissonant sound makes us sit up and listen. It primes us for a huge chorus of distorted synths and power vocals. The violins lift alongside soaring vocals taking us into heaven. After taking it easy again with an odd little whispered post chorus, “Angel” begins its ascent once again. It doesn’t let up and finally reaches a euphoric climax. Vocals let loose to unimaginable heights, synths, strings, and guitars crash together, and small harmonies add a kinetic energy. It’s an incredible last forty seconds or so.


Also on KultScene: 5 Vocally Impressive K-Pop Girl Groups

With such cathartic gusto in “Angel” you would think this is all about a great, impossible love. Berry Good are doing things differently though. This is a song about the most important kind of destiny, a personal faith. The lyrics regularly mention a ‘you’ as if the girls are singing to someone but looking closer, it can be seen as self-motivating. In the first verse member Sehyung sings “I’m so lonely, I need someone,” to which Seoyul replies “Have strength, You’re not alone.” The girls are speaking to each other, giving each other help in times of need. “I have a faith, By destiny,” “Angel” is a song about learning to trust your own destiny. “I’ll tell you in the mirror, You’re going to be fine,” Berry Good are singing directly to themselves, not worried about other people or boys. What else could they be so passionate about? They are the only people that deserve the incredibly strong emotions that come from this song.

The video plays up their distinctly feminine traits. A room covered in white veils, the girls dressed in clothes to match this. Time stands still in this room that traps a girl from taking a chance. She slowly starts to take the veils down. It isn’t until we reach the chorus that things start to change, in this case a single tear drop and confrontation of the mirror give the room colour. An outpour of emotion, even if internalized, can change a destiny. When the song begins its climax, the girl finally leaves the room, the bright sun is piercing but a comfort. She did this herself and it feels so much better because of it.

With the best songs of their respective careers so far, Lovelyz and Berry Good have also given us new ways of looking at old themes. They both used big emotions articulated by excellent vocals to breathe life into our ideas of destiny in pop music. Whether we see destiny as being between lovers, friends, or a personal faith, these two groups have shown us that it can be beautiful and terrible. This was all done with a youthful vigour that feels so right for themes like this too. Young girls are taking back these ideas and showing how it can hurt them but also how they can be used to heal them.

What do you think of these songs by Lovely and Berry Good? Would you like to see more concepts like this? 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 Vocally Impressive K-Pop Girl Groups

EXID, Spica, Brown Eyed Girls, Mamamoo, Lovelyz
In a world where K-pop girl groups can have anywhere from two members to 100, it’s a given that not every single one of them is made up of award winning vocalists. Despite this, each K-pop idol brings something to the table and has crawled their way past other trainees to get where they are today. But from amongst the crowd of the beautiful and the talented, there are those surprising vocally impressive K-pop girl groups whose combined singings skills are outstanding.

SPICA

This female quintet stands out from amongst the K-pop crowd even before they debuted in 2012. Bohyung, who nearly was part of 2NE1’s final line-up, and Bora, a vocal trainer of many K-pop stars, alone would make SPICA outstanding as a group, but Sihyun, Jiwon, and Narae’s skills are also nothing to overlook. There’s no vocal hole within the girl group, where each of these singers would be phenomenal on their own as a soloist. Put them all together and you get one of the most overlooked K-pop acts of all time. 2014’s “You Don’t Love Me” is one of SPICA’s particularly outstanding songs, that gives each of the ladies her own moment to belt her vocal colors in the best way possible while showing off her retro-inspired assets.


Also on Kultscene: 5 Reasons Why You Should Be Watching ‘INFINITE Showtime’

Mamamoo

If SPICA is all about the bombast, Mamamoo is all about the sweet, girly vocal power. This girl group has done everything, including cross dressing to singing about having a “Girl Crush,” all while making South Korea take notice of them from amongst all of the K-pop competition. Without a major agency, getting people to notice another girl group in South Korea would be nearly impossible without these talented vocalists. While Solar is all around perceived as the best singer in the group (and one of the best female idols in K-pop overall), Hwasa, Moonbyul, and Wheein have all stood their own over the years. Each member of the girl group has featured on countless songs by other artists. And that’s without even touching Mamamoo’s own songs, like the groundbreaking “Um Oh Ah Yeh” and “Mr. Ambiguous.”

EXID

EXID is that K-pop girl group that just has it all. It took them awhile, but this quartet shot to fame overnight thanks to a viral video of their dance from “Up & Down.” And then only afterwards were they recognized for their vocal talent. We already highlighted how all of KultScene’s staff was impressed by EXID’s vocal performance in “Thrilling,” but it’s not just a one off. The girl group’s range overall is insane, with even rapper LE’s vocals being entirely unique. Solji’s vocal range is the very backbone of EXID’s latest songs, but Hani, Hyerin, and Junghwa aren’t just there to look pretty. Instead, the three add their own powerful, melodious voices to the mix. Need proof that this girl group is more than just “Up & Down?” EXID’s impromptu acoustic, drunken rendition of their latest single “Hot Pink” is out of this world.

Brown Eyed Girls

If you’ve somehow missed out on how phenomenal Brown Eyed Girls is, just take a look at this 2009 ballad rendition of their hit song “Sign” featuring. K.Will. Brown Eyed Girls originally debuted in 2006 as a faceless R&B group, and kept their faces unknown by the public, even after their song “Hold The Line” became a hit. Ten years later, Brown Eyed Girls have remade themselves numerous times, and explored numerous genres of music, but they’re still very much the five women who just own their singing.


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

Lovelyz

While they’re still rookies, Lovelyz garnered international attention after a video featuring the eight members singing an a capella version of Michael Jackson’s “Beat It.” So far, Lovelyz’ songs have been cutesy and sweet, and have yet to grasp the attention of South Korea overall, but the member’s vocal talent just can’t be denied. 2015 brought us a lot of great female K-pop rookie acts, but Lovelyz just has that vocal talent that we have our eyes on.

Honorable Mentions

When we make lists like this, it doesn’t mean that there are no other talented K-pop girl groups. Stellar, Sunny Hill, Bestie, Wonder Girls, Ladies’ Code, and many more are also some of our favorite groups with truly talented members.

Which of these groups are your favorite? Did we miss anyone? 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.

Best K-Pop Girl Group B-Sides of 2015

Listening to miss A’s amazing new album Colours got me thinking about the quality of music in K-pop this year so far. We’re only four months in now and already I’d claim it’s a better year than 2014 — especially for the girls. Nearly every release from a female artist has been a complete knockout, and what’s best is that there are even more great tracks hidden on their albums. Missing out on great album tracks is something I do a lot and have been wanting to change that recently. So as KultScene’s self-proclaimed girl group expert (i.e. girl group biased) I’m going to go through some of my favourite album B-sides from the girls of K-pop this year so far.

miss A Love Song

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Intro To Lovelyz

Woollim Entertainment’s upcoming girl group Lovelyz is the long-awaited little sister group to popular act INFINITE, and the company’s first girl group. Because of these two factor and the fact that Woollim is also the company that created popular hip-hop trio Epik High and one of Korea’s most popular indie rock band’s Nell, Lovelyz is highly anticipated.

Fans have been waiting for the so-called “Woollim Girls” for a long time; one fan reserved the Twitter handle @WoollimGirls in August 2011. Because of their popularity, some people are wondering who these eight girls are, and we know about them.

Lovelyz also released a teaser video for the group’s debut song, Good Night Like Yesterday. Yoon Sang, who has written songs that IU and Ga-In have sung, wrote the song. The album will be called Girls’ Invasion. 

[UPDATED TO MUSIC VIDEO]

Image credit: Woollim Entertainment

Image credit: Woollim Entertainment

Baby Soul

The leader and vocalist, Baby Soul, was born in 1992. Her legal name is Lee Soo Jung, and she’s one of the most popular members in Lovelyz. Fans of INFINITE’s subgroup, INFINITE-H, will recognize her rapping on the songs Fly High and Crying.

Also on KultScene: Intro To WINNER

However, Baby Soul’s done more than just feature on songs. She released a solo song, Stranger featuring Wheesung, in 2011. She also released a duet, She’s A Flirt with former Woollim trainee Yoo Ji Ah in 2012. Along with several other members of Lovelyz, Baby Soul has appeared in several of INFINITE’s dance performances.

JIN

The main vocalist gained attention for her solo song Gone due to the music video featuring popular actress Kim Yoo Jung and EXO’s Xiumin. She also featured on INFINITE-H’s Life Goes On. JIN’s legal legal name is Park Myung Eun.

Lee Mi Joo

Lee Mi Joo appeared in INFINITE’s music video for Last Romeo as the love interest. She will be Lovelyz’s rapper/dancer.

Also on KultScene: Intro To Red Velvet

Yoo Ji Ae

Lovelyz’s visual and vocalist released a solo song, Delight, in 2013. She is best known to long-time INFINITE fans who watched the group’s pre-debut show, You’re My Oppa, where she acted as the group’s little sister. Yoo Ji Ae also appeared on a 2013 episode of Running Man with other trainees.

Seo Jisoo

Born in 1994, Jisoo appeared as a contestant on Korea’s Got Talent in 2011. Her special talent? Imitating animals, specifically puppies!

Kei & Ryu Soojung

The two members only appeared publicly as Woollim trainees during a year-end KBS show, where seven members of Lovelyz danced with INFINITE.

Jung Yein

The maknae joined Woollim Entertainment in July 2014 and was born in 1998.

Lovelyz also released two other videos, a teaser image video and a pre-debut video. The image teaser is Girls’ Invasion:

And their pre-debut video:

What do you think of Lovelyz’ members? Are you excited for their 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.