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Best K-Pop Music Videos of 2018

One of the most important aspects of any K-pop single is its accompanying music video, and though 2018 is over, it’ll be a while before we’re over the MVs released by Korean artists throughout the twelve month period. Taking a look back, the KultScene team took a look at what exactly makes one music video better than another, and several writers shared their perspective on why one K-pop MV or another from last year is superior and memorable in its own way.

“IDOL” by BTS

Doesn’t matter if you look into BTS‘ music, videos, performances, fan-dedicated released content or even the fandom-driven activities on or offline. Whatever it is, there is always so much going on that you might either get confused or fascinated, but never bored. The music video for “IDOL” is no different. Filled with dozens of references (some that only fans will get, some that only Koreans or Korean culture aficionados will get), the music video plays with a lot of stereotypes that are often attached to BTS, to K-pop “idols” and just generally for being Asian men. Displaying a powerful choreography and a deliberate overwhelming aesthetic, the boys show that they don’t have a problem with whatever is it that you think they are (“idols” or “artists”). Because, at the end of the day, they are confident enough in their skins to be anything -or everything at once- while still being, above all things, themselves.

-Ana Clara

“Lullaby” by GOT7

“Lullaby” was not only a blessing to the ears but visually just as impactful. Aesthetics, aesthetics, on top of freaking aesthetics. There was never a dull moment visually or sonically throughout the three minutes and forty-two seconds of the music video. With the exception of the first three seconds, the video was never without vibrant colors, compelling backdrops or snazzy outfits. Colors aside, GOT7 kept the viewers anticipating what was to happen next with each scene, especially since each member had separate sets and themes. And although there were many individual scenes, the members always brought it back together with a unified group choreo and some fancy footwork. But speaking of footwork, the highlight of the music video definitely goes to go to Mr. Dance Machine Kim Yugyeom, as the astounding dance break and sharp moves of his solo stole the show. Even if you didn’t like the music video as a collective whole (don’t lie to yourself, you liked it), there were more than enough things about it individually that should’ve pulled you in.

-Tam

“Apple Box” by nafla

On paper, nafla‘s “Apple Box” reads like an organized crime agenda (“put the money in an apple box,” possibly referring to a common way of accepting business bribes), but in action it reveals to be much more comedic. Under the creative direction of Digipedi, the music video portrays gang activities rather facetiously – a brutal beating in one scene is mitigated through deliberately cheesy special effects and nonsensically looped clips. In another, gambling is done with apples instead of currency. A bit of a step away from the kind you’d do after grabbing a kiss918 Download, right? Ultimately, these all act as red herrings for, as the least suspecting character (a hostess perhaps?) makes off with a chest of golden apples, we are forced to contemplate the ignorance of these traditionally male organizations. Because of its quirky approach to one of film’s most enduring genre’s, “Apple Box” may be nafla’s best work to date.

-Shelley

“Singularity” by BTS’ V

Captivating in its theatricality, the music video, or comeback trailer as it was dubbed, for V‘s “Singularity” ahead of the release of Love Yourself: Tear is an exhibit of the sort of artistry that BTS has thrived on over the years. With a luxurious blue-red-purple color palette recalling that of the group’s 2016’s “Blood Sweat & Tears,” this new music video stunningly represents the struggles with one’s self and the various masks that we wear. With watery allusions to the Greek myth of Narcissus littered throughout, the vivid cinematography enhances the impactful song as V explores the lush neo soul sound. And if that weren’t enough, the music video for the song graced us with one of the year’s most inspired choreographies, giving new meaning to the idea of dancing with oneself.

-Tamar

“1, 2, 3!” by Seungri

Big Bang’s Seungri breathes life into “1, 2, 3!,” his first solo comeback in five years, with a ’50s-inspired video set in the singing and dancing world similar to that of Grease. Like the musical, the music gives insight into his character, our hotshot hero who only loses his cool once he is bewitched by the heroine, played by a stunningly gorgeous Anda. As he grabs her hand and pulls her into a swing, he sings: “When I count to three, you’ll fall for me.” An ensemble dance cast, all outfitted in mid-century modern pomps, tea-length dresses, and oxfords faithful to the era, further integrates song and video by filling out the percussive claps and the hook’s polyphonic three counts. After taking us from one period set to the next, it all comes together celebratorily at the end with a nod to the iconic dance scene from Pulp Fiction between our leads and in a single freeze frame moment, we know he was right. It’s this kind of happily ever after that can make society nostalgic for a past it never knew. Between this and the one-take style reminiscent of Broadway productions, “1, 2, 3!” just feels like an immersive experience that is more motion picture than music video.

-Shelley

“One and Only” by Go Won

Of all the videos for LOONA‘s pre-debut project, none feel as suited to and in need of its trappings quite like Go Won‘s. As the second to last girl of the month, Go Won’s “One and Only” came late into the game. And it would almost seem that she would have too many obligations to the lore to have any sort of personal identity. Instead, along with LOONA regulars Digipedi, she finds herself within it all. Unlike her lyrics, which are confident from the start, the video shows this self-discovery in action. She begins covered in shadows, trying to embrace whatever light she can, but is still afraid of the temptations of Choerry’s apple, or the chase of Yves and Chuu. It’s in the act of watching herself where it comes out. Looking and singing into a mirror, watching her shadow dance to her own song, or imagining herself a princess with a crown on her head. The 1:1 aspect ratio helps her, making each image have an obvious and single point of focus. One image, one thought. Despite this, allusions to David Lowery’s A Ghost Story from 2017, reminds of the dangers of the never ending cycles of LOONA’s own universe as well as that of our own. Go Won finds a way out of her draping, suffocating sheet but how long is it before her time comes back around and she has to do it all over again?

-Joe

“Dally (feat. Gray)” by Hyolyn

Hyolyn is a hip-hop diva in full control of her life, her body – and of your attention! – in “Dally,” the second music video released under her own label, BRID3 Entertainment. The artistic concept of the video is pretty simple – but seriously, do we need anything else when we have a team of such skilful dancers, led by a magnetic performer like Hyolyn, executing one of the most difficult choreographies seen throughout the year? In “Dally,” it’s hardly possible to take your eyes off of Hyolyn, or to doubt that she has everything it takes to keep wowing us with her self-managed works from now on.

-Ana Clara

“Now or Never” by SF9

As time passes, SF9‘s concepts continue to get more charismatic and sexier *phew, wipes sweat.* And it is totally working on their behalf. The group’s previous tracks and music videos had flavor to them but “Now or Never” really took it up a few big notches. The song and styling were both executed to perfection as the concept had just the right doses of cool, seduction, and dreaminess. The choreography was simple but alluring, and it played well with the bass. And how about that Michael Jackson homage? Classy. The cinematography was exquisite; the colors and abstract backgrounds made this music video fitting to be played at a museum. The track itself is solid but the visualization and styling gets an A+.

-Tam

“What Is Love?” by TWICE

Sometimes it pays not to take yourself too seriously, and when ruminating on the immensely philosophical question of “What Is Love?,” TWICE served us up with one of this year’s most fun music videos. Throughout it, the nine women parodied the likes of La La Land, The Princess Diaries, Romeo & Juliet, and a wide range of movies from across the globe while trying to depict what the idea of love look likes. They then paired casual scenes of the nonet chilling at a slumber party while watching the films with elegant scenes where they perform the questioning choreography, serving up one of the most fun visual experiences of 2018. Since their start TWICE has always exuded a sense of infectious vibrancy in their music videos and “What Is Love?” overflowed with that to the nth degree.

-Tamar

“Moonlight” by Neon Punch

Neon Punch‘s “Moonlight” is how you make an effective K-pop music video on a smaller budget. It’s a classic example of the genre with no real story, just the members dancing, singing, and looking pretty in random locations. Its first minute is so brilliantly made though that all those tropes feel fresh. Song and video seem to become one, as they bounce off each other, reacting to each turn. Extremely simple but great visual effects are used to make this melding feel real, as the music bends the visuals while it builds and releases. This also makes the editing feel musical all by its own which gives the video great impetus to keep moving. As the effects start to dwindle the editing keeps the same sense of pace and wonder that they had built up. The funkiest bass line of the year feels at home among these vibrant visuals.

-Joe

“Instagram” by DEAN

Sitting alone in a warehouse full of random objects, DEAN strums a skateboard as if it were a guitar. He sports a short mullet under his cap, along with generously slitted eyebrows, a (potentially appropriative) grill, a bandage under his right eye, and black overalls that cover part of his sweatshirt. Like the feed he scrolls through, he is a mess of different aesthetics and styles. “Instagram” the song is about endlessly scrolling through the app in moments of sleeplessness, reflecting our loneliness and insecurity back to us as we see others enjoying themselves on our screens, and the song emulates that.

From the warehouse room’s walls leak black paint, becoming screens that play a stream of videos and images characteristic of a social media feed. As the images spread further across the room, the video abruptly goes black. “Sometimes I feel alone, even when I’m with a lot of people,” a strange voice says in the dark. The video cuts back to the warehouse, and DEAN begins laughing hysterically, overtaken with the misery of his sleepless Instagram scrolling.

The video is simultaneously simple and complex, capturing a very unique relationship between phone and human, account and user. Using social media is repetitive and endless, an unhealthy distraction we know all too well. In bringing the feed to life in all its chaos and stress, the video highlights the emotional and psychological toll we endure in using social media every single day.

-Kushal

“Playlist” by DPR Live

“Playlist” is a colorful adventure following DPR Live as he vies for the attention of a mysterious woman. The song incorporates tribal and bossa nova beats as Live maintains his signature rhythm and swagger. While the song is a new turn for DPR Live, the music video expands the Latin trend in Korean music by including some aspects of African influence in Latin American culture through instruments and religion. From the beginning we are met with vibrant colors, gravity defying visuals and psychedelic art transitions set in a replica of a Peruvian neighborhood. Stand out moments include the shaman’s rain dance and spinning neon umbrellas during the instrumental breakdown of the song, as “Playlist” offers a glimpse of the creativity DPR Live has in store for the future.

-Nnehkai

“Kiss Me Like That” by Shinhwa

Simplicity is key and Shinhwa had that and then some in the “Kiss Me Like That” music video. The styling was sharp and neat; the linen button ups and suspenders? Crisp. Those blue silk suits? Elegant. “Kiss Me Like That” doesn’t have a pivotal climax but that worked out perfectly because it really didn’t need one. The music video gives a sense of relaxation. It doesn’t make you think or analyze. You just gotta kick back, grab a mojito, and enjoy the guitar strings. The video wasn’t over the top, just very clean, straight forward, occasionally flirty and wholeheartedly fun to watch. Shinhwa’s just really out here living their best life on that ship though. Next course of action, petition to have Shinhwa do a yearly cruise with fans (like New Kids on the Block)!

-Tam

“Egotistic” by Mamamoo

Kicking off with a guitar riff, tropical plants, and neon buildings that add an Old Havana-like vibe to the video, Mamamoo is bold in aesthetics throughout “Egotistic” as they issue a warning of a lover scorned. How can anyone forget the intensity Hwasa’s stare-off with a jaguar?
The Flamenco inspiration is apparent in the core of the beat of the song, the choreography, and the flowy dresses the ladies wear in the video. Their take on Latin-inspired tracks plays up the girl crush concept Mamamoo has become known for with fiery makeup, confident attitudes, and sexy dance moves. They also included the ultimate girl crush move: dancing in a ring of fire in front of buildings while executing a choreography filled with hair flips and and seductive shimmys. Overall, “Egotistic” captures a small portion of Latin America’s musical richness and is welcomed contrast to the highly mainstream trap beats that accompany the usual Latin trends in K-pop.

-Nnehkai

“Something New” by Taeyeon

Inspiring fan speculation and theories since it was released in June, Taeyeon’s “Something New” music video is, like the artist it belongs to, uniquely enigmatic and hard to place. Beginning on the red carpet at a ritzy celebrity event, the video quickly transitions to a hotel, where Taeyeon instigates a fight by suddenly throwing a hammer at a suited man during an elevator ride. The fighting then continues with her hotel room’s maid-turned-murderer, who leaps at the singer with a knife during a room service delivery.

It’s around this point when “Something New” begins to feel more like an action-packed spy blockbuster than a music video for an SM Entertainment artist. The scenes are fast-paced and cinematically captured, and they move artfully with the pace of the song. Most interestingly, Taeyeon takes the fights in stride, seemingly unfazed by them after they happen.

The end of the video, in which Taeyeon shoots suitcases of cash over a cliff facing the sea, is probably the subject of the most interpretation and discussion. Worth noting to most theorists is that Taeyeon has never been shy when discussing the hardships of celebrity life. Is the cash a representation of the net worth she’s built over the years? Are the fight scenes emblematic of encounters with online and offline haters? While it seems that “Something New” is an in-depth commentary on the difficult life of a celebrity, the beauty of the music video lies in the fact that it is truly up to interpretation. For dropping one of the most cinematic and mysterious MVs of the year, Taeyeon gets a nod from me.

-Kushal

What were your favorite K-pop MVs of 2018? Let us know your picks in the comment section below and be sure to subscribe to the site and follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Tumblr to keep up with all of our posts.

K-pop mid-year review: 3 distinctive music styles dominating 2018 so far

 

The year 2018 is passing by so fast. Can you believe that we have only five months left until 2019? When it comes to K-pop, a lot can happen in a matter of a few months, but so far we’ve already been taking notes on the music styles that have been trending in charts and album releases.

While some styles are always present, like electronic dance music (Sunmi’s “Heroine”) and R&B (Red Velvet’s “Bad Boy”), and some trend styles of 2016 and 2017 are still popular, like tropical house ((G)I-dle’s “Latata,” CROSS GENE’s “Touch It,” etc.), we chose three less frequently heard musical styles that have been present in a lot of comebacks and B-sides so far this year.

Check some of them out below:

Disco / Electropop / Retro K-pop Sound

When 2017 ended with the tragic news about SHINee’s Jonghyun, I thought the K-pop industry would have a hard time hyping fans up again. But when Momoland released the catchy and comic “Bboom Bboom” a few weeks later, I was smiling again. This was exactly the kind of fun we needed! The song was produced by Shinsadong Tiger, the same producer behind some of T-ara’s most legendary hits, like “Roly-Poly” and “Lovey-Dovey,” and so “Bboom Bboom” immediately gathered comparisons with T-ara and their disco-themed hits. But, whether people were mad or glad about the similarities, the fact is that “Bboom Bboom” led Momoland to huge success. The group then repeated the formula and released “Baam,” also produced by Shinsadong Tiger.

In late May, girl group AOA had its first comeback without former lead vocalist ChoA, releasing their Bingle Bangle EP full of fun and upbeat songs. One of those songs was “Ladi Dadi,” an electropop summer jam that recalls the same vibes of the catchiest hits of K-pop circa 2010-2012. Is 2018 making people nostalgic about the old days of K-pop? All we can say is we’re having so much fun with these retro sounds!

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=txWmd7QKFe8&w=500&h=281]


ALSO ON KULTSCENE: K-POP UNMUTED JUNE 2018 ROUNDUP

Mid-tempo Piano Hip-Hop

In late January, iKon scored a perfect All-Kill on Korean charts with their hit “Love Scenario,” a mid-tempo hip-hop song with a minimalist production and a bright piano accompaniment. Just a few months later in April, it was Pentagon’s time to show they could “shine” with the same musical approach, releasing the catchy and cute “Shine.” And even if it wasn’t a title track, let’s not forget “Kangaroo,” a great b-side from Wanna One’s first special album, 1÷x=1 (Undivided). “Kangaroo” is a fun hip-hop song produced by Block B’s Zico, with light beats and a mid-tempo cadency sweetly accompanied by piano chords. Those 3 boy groups killed this style and gave us some of the best songs of 2018 so far!

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vecSVX1QYbQ&w=500&h=281]


ALSO ON KULTSCENE: 7 K-POP MUSIC STYLES WE’D LOVE TO HEAR MORE

Caribbean & Latin Influences

In the last months of the year 2017, we could hear a few K-pop songs with influences of Caribbean and Latin music, such as SF9’s “O’ Sole Mio” and AOA’s Jimin “Hallelujah.” Little did we know that it would continue in 2018! In April, Super Junior caught the world by surprise when they released an iconic collaboration with Dominican-American singer Leslie Grace, the sensual “Lo Siento.” Later in May, it was BTS fans’ time to get delighted when they heard a flavour of salsa music on the group’s third full studio album Love Yourself: Tear with the irresistible “Airplane pt. 2.” The song was promoted on music shows and became an instant fan favorite due to the mention of cities and countries around the world, a reference to mariachis as a metaphor for the septet’s life on the road, and, of course, the Latin feels. More recently in mid-July, girl group MAMAMOO also continued their path of exploring different music genres in 2018 by releasing “Egotistic,” an elegant song full of Spanish guitars.

I think it’s safe to say Latinx and Caribbean fans are happy for seeing their culture being represented like this!

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZbB4SYJNuTo&w=500&h=281]

What’s your favorite sound of K-pop so far in 2018? 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.

K-Pop Unmuted: Jazz & K-Pop

On Episode 28 of KultScene’s K-pop Unmuted, Stephen Knight is joined by musician and podcaster Rhodri Thomas to discuss Jazz and Kpop. We talk about the influence of jazz on a dozen Kpop songs. We also discuss our K-pop Unmuted picks, The Snowman by Jung Seung Hwan, and Bboom Bboom by Momoland.

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

Let us know what you think of K-pop in 2017’s latest and KultScene’s K-pop Unmuted 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.

Snuper & Vromance: Review of the Stupidly Named K-Pop Boy Groups

snupervromance
As every new girl group we see these days seems to be in someway infected by “Produce 101,” the boys are going about business as usual. ‘80s loving Snuper are making their second comeback of the year after their mediocre ode to getting out of the friendzone “Platonic Love.” The other group of boys are the anticipated brother group to MAMAMOO, Vromance. They are debuting with a similar style to MAMAMOO and Hwasa is on board to help out in the video. What I love most about both of these groups is there wonderfully silly names. Snuper is apparently a mix of “supermen” and “super,” and Vromance is “bromance” with a “v” to signify vocalists.

”You=Heaven” by Snuper

Speaking of stupid titles, Snuper’s latest single is called “You=Heaven.” Iconic. It also has nothing to do with the lyrics. I imagine the songwriter thought it was a cool enough title to ignore the actual content of the song.

True to their first two singles, Snuper deliver an ‘80s inspired synth pop track but with more of a twist than the previous times. Produced again by the legends we see far too little of these days, Sweetune, “You=Heaven” is part ballad part summer bop. Sweetune have only produced for Snuper so far this year, so they must have some sort of deal but it seems they are ready to give up entirely. “You=Heaven” has the structure of a potential K-pop classic. Mixing genres and sudden tonal changes are a great part of what K-pop does, yet here it feels tired. The individual parts of the song need to be equally dynamic but in different ways. Starting off with a ballad slows everything right down and this isn’t even an interesting ballad. It’s even more cheap sounding and dull than OST tracks.


Also on KultScene: IMLAY Remix of Jonghyun’s ‘Deja-Boo’: Exclusive Premierec

There are light synths that play under it, preparing us for the chorus which is a total switch up. “Stop” they shout as the song turns to motivational cheesy pop. The moment it changes is exciting; it feels like it could become something interesting with these genre changes. The synths are naturally crystal clear and could be used for a group better suited to something like this. Snuper’s raps and their apparently stronger vocalists are actually quite weak. Hearing them even on the track ruins any momentum they might have had.

From the chorus on, “You=Heaven” sticks with the synth pop, not letting up until the very end. It’s an interesting structure as it feels like the chorus never actually comes to an end. Without the opening and with a bit more work into giving it some sort of ebb and flow, it could have been great. Yet, by the end, I almost wished they would go back to the ballad. The cheesiness goes past any kind of infectious fun to plain annoying.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gnp8zAk3NbM&w=500&h=281]


Also on KultScene: Battle of the Underappreciated K-pop Groups: A.cian vs. Lip Servicec

”She” by Vromance

A lot more was expected of Vromance. RBW Entertainment’s latest group come hot off the sassy heels of MAMAMOO, one of the biggest breakout stars in K-pop at the moment. Recreating that spark would be difficult but they have started to attempt it by going for a similar sound.

Their debut single “She” is a soulful, R&B track for the summer. It recalls MAMAMOO through the strong vocals and copious use of horns. The comparisons end there, however. I don’t want to continually compare them to MAMAMOO, but it is the best way of explaining why “She” doesn’t work. While MAMAMOO’s charms come from not just their music, their unique aspects permeate everything. Their sense of humour and individuality can be heard in their voices and how they work with the structure of their music. Vromance unfortunately have nothing of this quality. Their voices are fairly indistinguishable and the song maintains its laid-back nature throughout. Almost the opposite of Snuper’s problems yet it still doesn’t work. Their vocals are strong but the instrumentation is flat and does nothing to support them. Even the endlessly wonderful Hwasa can do nothing for them.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MICKDtMUm34&w=500&h=281]

Verdict

Having a silly name has turned out to be not as fruitful for boy groups as I had hoped. 2016 is turning out to be another weak year for K-pop boys. Without exciting new groups (Seventeen being the exception) to galvanize things, it doesn’t look like it’s going to change anytime soon either. Snuper and Vromance do nothing to help by sounding like tired veterans so early into their careers. Even with an exceptional producer like Sweetune, Snuper have shown their mediocrity. In the shadow of MAMAMOO, Vromance have done the same.

The obvious verdict is that they are equally bad and we all lose.

Who do you prefer Snuper or Vromance? 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.

The K-Pop Phoenix: The New Generation of Girl Groups

Girl Groups

K-pop is one of the fastest-changing industries known to man, woman, fanboy, and fangirl alike. Just think about it: two years ago, MAMAMOO’s derpy quirks, Sana’s “Shashasha” and GFriend’s stage falls were almost or entirely unknown to the public, Korean or international. But fast forward a few debuts and comebacks later, and the world of K-pop has changed immensely. I recently explained why the Second Generation of K-pop Girl Groups is slowly (and painfully) falling apart. And now, some seven or eight years since the fateful debut stages of legends like Girls’ Generation and 2NE1, the New Generation of Girl Groups is here carry the torch forward.

The advent of a new generation is pretty exciting — it essentially only happens once every few years when a wave of popular girl groups hits the scene around the same time. Starting in the late 1990s, the First Generation consisted of groups like S.E.S, Fin.K.L, and Baby V.O.X. It was about ten years until the Second Generation came around, with Girls’ Generation, KARA, Wonder Girls in 2007, joined by 2NE1, SISTAR, 4Minute and more in 2009-10. Now, we finally see the Third Generation, starting with MAMAMOO and Red Velvet 2014 and joined by TWICE and GFriend in 2015. The exact breakdown and timing of the Generations is something commonly debated by K-pop fans (and believing it breaks down differently than I described is totally cool, too), but it’s pretty clear that, regardless of how you define the generations, a new wave has come to dominate K-pop post-2014.

While our past faves may be beginning to fade, the K-pop phoenix is reborn again with the advent of the Third Generation. And the new groups both parallel and differ from their predecessors immensely. Let’s take a closer look at four of K-pop’s newer stars, and see how they stack up next to top Second Gen groups SISTAR, f(x), 2NE1 and Girls’ Generation.


Also on KultScene: Intro to Red Velvet

SISTAR has quite a reputation in the K-pop world. With unforgettable hit-after-hit, the four member act has asserted its place among girl group royalty since their debut in 2010. Most notably, SISTAR is known for their memorable hook songs, which tend to define an entire season of the year. They are affectionately considered the Queens of Summer Bops, launching 2012’s “Loving U,” 2013’s “Give It to Me,” 2014’s “Touch My Body, ”and 2015’s “Shake It” to the number-one spot on the Korean charts every summer. And, as this is being written, the group’s latest release “I Like That” inches closer and closer to a perfect all-kill as well. Few groups have been able to cultivate such a long string of hits. [ed note. It is currently within the top 5 on numerous Korean music charts.] With so much public recognition for their songs, SISTAR has one considerable weakness in the spectrum of girl group success: fandom strength. Since the group is so known for its public popularity, it lacks a strong fandom to buy up albums and sell-out concerts when the chance comes around.

Sistar and Gfriend

GFriend, a six-member girl group debuted only last year, boasts a similar situation. So early into the game, the group has two very well-known songs: the cute, catchy and stage-fall inducing “Me Gustas Tu,” and the intense and memorable mega-hit “Rough,” which dominated charts early this year, becoming February’s monthly number one song against frighteningly powerful artists like Taeyeon of Girls’ Generation, who released her single “Rain” around the same time. Digitally, GFriend shows a lot of potential, and boasts a lot of public popularity and recognition as well. While they are quickly being noticed as a top girl group, GFriend isn’t exactly known for having a huge domestic or international fandom. While this could definitely change in coming years, and the groups are stylistically and musically very different, GFriend seems to line up with SISTAR’s legacy right now — captivating the public with a stellar title track and leaving the albums to a small, dedicated group of fans.

Like SISTAR, f(x) is one of K-pop’s Second Gen giants, but for a different reason. While SISTAR is more public-friendly and promotes music that people can quickly find fun and engaging, f(x) is known for an experimental style, bringing in exotic musical styles that are less familiar to the Korean crowd. They brought some alternative electronic with “Rum Pum Pum Pum” in 2013, EDM with “Red Light” in 2014, and house with “4 Walls” last year. The now four-member group has introduced and familiarized diverse musical styles among the South Korean music scene. For a K-pop girl group, it’s pretty impressive that they’ve maintained relevance for so long even though their songs aren’t the most public-friendly off the bat. The SM-produced group also has a huge fandom behind it, as albums regularly sell in excess of 80,000 copies and concerts quickly sell out.

f(x) and Red Velvet

And as f(x) enters its later years (it’s now been about seven years since their debut), labelmates Red Velvet are poised to follow in their footsteps. With distinct R&B, alternative and electronic influences, Red Velvet has become one of K-pop’s newest jewels, with multiple top 10 singles “Happiness,” “Ice Cream Cake,” “Dumb Dumb” and, most recently, “One of These Nights.” With a very distinct and eclectic musical style, Red Velvet sets itself apart and succeeds. Much like f(x), Red Velvet has established a unique musical color with a strong fandom behind it, as their two mini-albums and studio album have all topped album charts and sold about 50,000 copies, much more than other girl groups at the moment.

Now we get to the really big leagues — digital and talent monster groups with strong domestic and international fandoms. With the most number-one singles of any act in South Korean history, 2NE1 is exactly that. Iconic hit after iconic hit, the group was known since 2009 for promoting multiple singles from the same album (something very rare in K-pop, but typical of YG groups), and succeeding with each and every one of them. Since their debut in 2009, 2NE1 have launched immensely successful songs to the forefront of K-pop trends, starting with their debut single “Fire,” is one of the best-selling songs of all-time in South Korea. To date, the group has never promoted a single that charted below number four on weekly charts (that totals to seventeen top-four songs), and consistently sold albums into the 100,000s. They are also the only of K-pop’s girl groups to complete two full world tours, demonstrating their fandom power both within and outside of Korea.

2NE1 and Mamamoo

While a stylistic 180 from 2NE1, MAMAMOO aligns most closely with where 2NE1 stood in the K-pop world a few years ago. With a similar four-member structure and powerful vocals, rap and dance, MAMAMOO has the incredible stage presence, talent and personality that made 2NE1 so successful to begin with. The group already has two top-three singles “Um Oh Ah Yeh” and most recently, “You’re the Best,” and MAMAMOO is known particularly for having a large and supportive fanbase. While Daum Fancafe isn’t always the best metric to determine how many fans a group has, the numbers tell us something interesting here: MAMAMOO currently has about 75,000 members in their fancafe and counting. They were the fastest girl group to 50,000, and their numbers exceed other majorly successful girl groups including AOA, 9M– USES, f(x), and even 2NE1. Going off of that, all 8,200 tickets to their first solo concert sold out in only one minute. And considering that 80% of the ticket sales were to female fans, the group is definitely finding its place as 2NE1’s successor.

There are, however, some major differences. While 2NE1 went for badass electronic pop music, MAMAMOO is one of K-pop’s only jazz-influenced pop groups, bringing in some of those elements in “Mr. Ambiguous” and “Piano Man.” The group also regularly performs on shows like “Immortal Song” and makes appearances on varieties like “We Got Married,” something 2NE1 rarely did (another YG custom). With impressive talent and stage presence, MAMAMOO is all set to rise up in the Third Generation of K-pop, just as 2NE1 did in the Second.

Last but the opposite of least, Girls’ Generation epitomizes what it means to be a successful girl group in Korea. With nationwide public recognition, a frighteningly large fandom, international acclaim, and strong digital sales, the group definitely led the Second Generation. Once GG made it big in 2009 with iconic title track “Gee,” no one stood a chance against them in the fight for the number-one spot among girl groups. From Korea to Japan, Girls’ Generation has become a household name and a nationwide craze. Speaking of Japan, GG was arguably the most successful Korean girl group there, as their debut Japanese album sold a whopping 870,000 copies. Even the Korean version of their 2011 album The Boys sold 140,000 copies in Japan — yes, the Korean version — not to mention over 450,000 album sales within Korea itself. As we can tell, it’s pretty hard to live up to a monster girl group like GG. So who is the ringleader of the Third Generation?

Right now, it seems to be none other than JYP Entertainment’s TWICE. Right off the bat, the groups are structurally similar — three strong vocals (Taeyeon, Tiffany and Seohyun line up with Jihyo, Nayeon and Jungyeon), a visual center (Yoona lines up with Tzuyu), an aegyo-centric attention-grabber (Sunny lines up with Sana) and a strong dance line (Sooyoung, Yuri and Hyoyeon line up with Mina, Tzuyu and Momo). The groups also wield a similar, glamorous girl-next-door vibe, looking for love and accessing their femininity. TWICE’s success is comparable as well — in fact, they are the only girl group other than Girls’ Generation to have an album selling above the hundred-thousand mark, which their most recent mini-album Page Two did very quickly. Along with a fierce fandom, TWICE’s digital sales are nothing to laugh at, either. After two months, “Cheer Up” still remains in the top ten of most charts, which is an incredible success in the K-pop world.


Also on KultScene: Let’s Discover: Mamamoo

Going off of these facts and stats, some have been quick to call TWICE an SNSD-copy, trying to emulate their success by emulating the group itself. The differences between the groups, however, throw this accusation right out the window. While TWICE may have successfully become the Third Generation frontrunner for having a similar vibe as SNSD, they definitely aren’t the same. The most glaring is the member dynamic — while Girls’ Generation is all Korean or Korean-American, TWICE has five Korean members, three Japanese, and one Taiwanese, making international expansion that much more logical and accessible for the group. Dahyun and Chaeyoung also serve the roles of Lead and Main Rapper, respectively, which are positions that weren’t very defined at GG’s debut. TWICE title tracks also deviate incredibly from the GG mold as well, employing diverse vocals, rhythm-changes and instrumentalism that GG’s more musically homogeneous tracks don’t use.

Girls' Generation and Twice

Fundamentally, all of these groups show similarities to their predecessors, but the differences make it clear that K-pop isn’t simply repeating itself with the Third Generation. Our Second Gen faves aren’t being replaced and forgotten. Instead, they’re being honored and built upon with new sounds and ideas. Such is the nature of the K-pop phoenix — not only being reborn again, but also with new talents, music and charms to share with the world, learning from past mistakes and successes. As the girl group landscape changes yet again, we can only hope that our new faves become just as well liked as the ones before them, and carrying the K-pop legacy forward for the man, woman, fanboy, and fangirl alike to enjoy.

Who are your Third Generation faves? 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.

6 Reasons to Attend the Los Angeles Korean Festival

los angeles la korean festival 2015

As fans, we all love K-pop concerts. Your bias group comes into town and you save up to buy a ticket plus everything else it entails, you show up the day of, and enjoy the show, finit. However great that experience can be, it’s also very limiting. That’s not the case with festivals, especially the Los Angeles Korean Festival, which hosts an annual event to celebrate Korea’s community, culture, and entertainment. Oh, and brings K-pop stars for a slew of great performances.

This year, the Los Angeles Korean Festival Foundation (LAKFF) has done it again by bringing an impressive lineup of Korean stars and expanding the festivities by offering more of everything. So if you’re in or around Los Angeles and are still on the fence about attending or are not even aware of this event, here’s a little bit of persuasion from our part as to why you can’t miss it.

1. It’s a Four Day Celebration

This year, the LA Korean Festival is a four day event filled with food, goodies, and, of course, Korean performers including talented K-pop stars, from October 1 through the 4 at the Seoul National Park. The truth of the matter is that the performers are what draw in much of the attention, but with four days, the festival will host many activities including a parade, beauty pageant, and traditional music performances. So no matter what, there’s something fun for everyone of every age and gender.

2. Food, Food, and More Food

What’s a festival without food and what’s a celebration of Korean culture without Korean food? Get ready to taste some great food from local restaurants and vendors, Korean and non-Korean alike. So if you don’t feel like eating kimchi fried rice, seafood pancakes, or garlic shrimp, you can always go for the lemonade ice bars, pipe ice cream, or waffle bites. There will be something delicious for every palate from sweet to spicy to salty.

toppoki dubokki los angeles korean festival

via Los Angeles Korean Festival Foundation (LAKFF) Facebook Page

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5 K-Pop Songs To Help You Unwind from the Work Week

Whether you just finished a strenuous week of work or school, it’s time to unwind and enjoy the next couple of days of relaxation and no work. These fives songs will help you release your stress and frustrations from your busy week. So forget about the past and enjoy the present.

1. Mamamoo- Baton Touch

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K-Pop Idols Who Need to Release Holiday Songs

This Holiday season we all need some music to fit the mood. It’s about time that some K-Pop idols release a Holiday song or even a Holiday CD. The idols listed below are known for being able to sing in both Korean and English, which is beneficial for this particular concept considering there are a lot of Holiday songs originally sung in English. English or Korean, or another language, it would be great to see these songs happen this year.

Eric Nam

eric nam holiday songs

via jjigaehouse @Tumblr

Eric Nam is well known for being the main host of After School Club. His quirky and fun personality keeps fans engaged and entertained throughout ASC and the After Show. Not only does Eric have the personality, and looks, but his voice is spectacular. Winter Wonderland, The First Noel, Christmas (Baby Please Come Home) and others would all be great choices for Eric Nam and he would be do justice to all of them.

Also on KultScene: Best English Covers By K-Pop Artists

Ailee

ailed holiday songs

by kpopcorngifs

Ailee could ace any Holiday song coming her way. Her voice is so powerful and regal that any song would sound great. But a few that would sound amazing are Silent Night, O Holy Night, and the Holiday classic All I Want For Christmas Is You. She has actually already sang the latter song choice, but I wouldn’t mind a solo performance where fans can really feel her power.

miss A

suzy holiday songs

via TAEMON

miss A is a group that doesn’t have many comebacks and are extremely talented. Instead of a full on comeback before the Holidays, we’ll settle with a song or two for the season. Carol of the Bells would really show off their abilities vocally and would sound great with a girl group at the helm. It would be hard to pull off, but miss A can definitely sing Carol of the Bells beautifully. For a more fun route, they could take on Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree as well. The fun and upbeat Holiday tune would be much more fun with miss A singing it.

CNBLUE

cnblue holiday songs

via cnbjonghyun @ Tumblr

CNBLUE would be a great group to add a rock vibe to the Holiday classics. They really could pick any Holiday song and pull it off. They have the looks, the sound, the talent, and the vocals to make any Holiday song a smash hit. Little St. Nick, Feliz Navidad, and Jingle Bell Rock are a few classics they could rock on a small stage or a huge arena.

Also on KultScene: The Colors Of K-Pop: Red

Mamamoo

mama moo holiday songs

via @lovelyhari99

The all female rookie group would bring Holiday classics to a whole new level. Their sultry and soulful voices would only enhance current classics, such as White Christmas, Jingle Bell Rock, and more. Mamamoo would have the best stage for a Holiday classic. I can see it now, they would be in a red dresses with white faux fur trim and their makeup and hair would be spot on (as usual).

The ultimate Holiday gift would be if all of these artists got together to create a Holiday CD and collaborate on a few songs with each other. If only, if only.

What Holiday songs do you want to hear from the K-Pop world, and who do you want to sing them? 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 Overlooked Female K-Pop Singles

Is there anything worse than discovering a song and then realizing that it has not received the love and support it deserves? In short, yes, but for the purpose of this article, no, there is nothing worse than that discovery. Below is a short, and by no means complete, list of overlooked K-Pop singles by female artists. Theses ladies, in most respects, get shafted quite a bit and we wanted to shed light on a few hidden gems of the K-Pop music scene.

HELLOVENUS- What Are You Doing Today?

HELLOVENUS’ What Are You Doing Today? was released in December 2012. Even though it is a fun song that may not be everyone’s style, the peppy, synth-dominant music will grab your attention during your first listen. But, the girls’ vocals will either pull you in more or make you turn and run the other way. Make sure to give the song a chance! The song perfectly embodies the phrase, “bubblegum pop;” the sweet, innocent vocals are prominent throughout the chorus. Leading up to the chorus, the girls only give listeners a small fraction of the sweetness they are about to unload.

About two-thirds of the way through, the song starts to get repetitive. But there is a saving grace, the rapping. In a song like this rap verses are not expected. The rapping is perfectly placed. It breaks up the monotony of the song and adds rock guitar to the instrumental. HELLOVENUS’ What Are You Doing Today? is a fun song that should be in everyone’s music library.

Also on KultScene: What To Expect From ‘Go! B1A4 2.0 – Road Trip’

Kiss&Cry- Domino Game

From the opening musical and vocal notes, it’s clear that Domino Game and Kiss&Cry are different from the mainstream female K-Pop acts. There’s something familiar about the style of Domino Game, yet one cannot put a finger upon what it is. The music utilizes horns on top of a pop, ballroom dancing-style beat. This creates a sound that is current, but not widely used in K-Pop.

The ladies’ vocals sound great together and individually. But together they create a force of power that rings through the speakers. Domino Game is a song that does not sound like any other K-Pop song. The use of the horns, the guitar, and ballroom dancing-style music helps make the song stand out. It’s so unfortunate that the group has disbanded.


D-UNIT- Talk To My Face

There is a lot going on music-wise and in the music video, but somehow it all works. If you just listen to Talk To My Face you will notice there are a lot of sound effects and layers of music throughout the song. Although there is a lot musically, the vocals are never compromised. Even when watching the music video, which also has a lot going on, the vocals and dancing are still the highlight of the video.

Talk To My Face is a song that will make you get up and dance. You simply can’t sit still while listening to this song. The music video adds to the song, but the song is also capable of standing on its own. The music video has a fun video concept, a lot of bright colors, and a fun dance. When Talk To My Face first came out, I was surprised and impressed. The vocals are not overly sweet, but they aren’t fierce either. They fit the group’s image for this particular song and create a pleasant listening experience.


퍼펄즈 (Purfles)- 1,2,3

Who is 퍼펄즈 (Purfles) you may ask? To be honest, we’re not really sure here at KultScene. They just appeared out of no where and debuted with this amazing song. 1,2,3 showcases these talented ladies’ vocals as well as gives K-Pop fans, and music fans in general, a strong dance track.

From the opening acapella notes to the strong club beat, 1,2,3 is a diamond in the rough of constant releases of K-Pop songs. These ladies are fierce and show it through their powerful vocals and their dancing in the music video. 1,2,3 is a song that will be on repeat.

Also on KultScene: Album Review: BEAST “TIME”

Mamamoo ft. Bumkey- Don’t Be Happy

Mamamoo is one of the most underrated girl groups to come out of K-Pop. Although their debut was only this year (2014), they deserve much more recognition and popularity, hopefully in time.

Don’t Be Happy was a pre-debut release single and is actually different than the album version (Bumkey has a more prominent role on the album version). Don’t Be Happy showcases the ladies’ soulful and powerful vocals. Mamamoo’s style is different than other K-Pop groups and songs currently out. Swing and jazz are major influences,which add to the refreshing style of the quartet. I really cannot say enough about Mamamoo or Don’t Be Happy. And once you listen to the song and hear their amazing vocals, you will understand why.

There are many female K-Pop singles that have been overlooked throughout the years. What are some that you enjoy? 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.