On Episode 43 of KultScene’s K-pop Unmuted, Alexis Hodoyan, Tamar Herman, and Stephen Knight look back at Kpop releases from June 2019. We discuss Chungha’s “Snapping,” Sulli’s “Goblin,” Yesung’s “Pink Magic”, Monsta X’s “Who Do U Love,” NCT Dream’s “Don’t Need Your Love,” and Stray Kids’ “Side Effects.”
On Episode 37 of KultScene’s K-pop Unmuted, Tamar and Stephen are joined by music writer Taylor Glasby to discuss Monsta X. Along the way, we talk about “Trespass,” “Stuck,” “Jealousy,” “Shoot Out,” and more. Also on the playlist are EXID‘s “I Love You,” NCT 127‘s “Simon Says,” and EXO‘s “Ooh La La La.”
Let us know what you think of Monsta X 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.
While the year may be closing in a very sad and unfortunate manner with the passing of a K-pop icon, artists consistently delivered memorable songs throughout 2017. This year saw a lot of great moments from some of Korea’s most popular new acts, while newer acts also proved their worth with addicting, sleekly-produced music. Trop was the king of this year’s K-pop trends, but far from the only genre of music that saw its moment in the limelight.
Check out the first half of KultScene’s 2017 best K-pop songs list below:
50. “Circle’s Dream” by Subin
Subin is trapped in an endlessly repeating contradictory cycle in her self-written and composed single “Circle’s Dream.” She is told that she is round and that’s good, but then that it’s not. She wants to be angular, to pierce her lover, to make him feel like how he made her feel. Yet she is also trapping herself within a recurring musical structure, as an acoustic guitar plucks an incisive riff throughout the song. It is the only angular part of Subin’s song yet has no variation. Her stark synths come in late but their slow rhythm only accentuates the repetitiveness. Each element is perfectly realised to tell her story. Her voice completes it. Its soft and sweet but particular pronunciations like denggeureureu are key. This word alone combines both the round and angular sides to her. It has repetitions but in order to say it properly she still has to roll her tongue. Subin has enwrapped her whole song with the confusing ideas in her head. No solo idol has ever produced something of such pointed precision.
49. “Wee Woo” by Pristin
If “Wee Woo” had been released at the 2012-ish heyday of Hallyu, Pristin’s debut song would be considered legendary right now. It’s barrage of shifting sounds and onomatopoeic vocals are absolutely classic. The Pledis Entertainment regular songwriter Bumzu brings a bright and breezy feel to the whole production with disco electric guitars taking the brunt of the work. This allows the girls room to deliver the most hooks in a single song EVER. Each part is so complete on its own you could take them individually and create five more songs around them. The fact that they all come together for something that doesn’t feel so monumental is the greatness of “Wee Woo.” It’s arrogant in its effortlessness all the way down to making the primary hook out of the most simple term of jowahae nol jowahae (“I like (you) I like you”).
48. “Beautiful” by Monsta X
Monsta X’s cultivated sound and signature unruly charms finally comes together for the consummate “Beautiful.” Perhaps because it is supposed to be representative of the group’s first studio album, the single feels particularly significant. For one, there’s really nothing quite like the opening out there. Scattered with a prominent distorted electronic beat that is quickly followed up by Jooheon’s explosive raps, the real hook is not in the chorus but here in the introduction, where the task for the listeners to not mimic the unique noises or the clever near-rhymes is near impossible. The vocalists dwindle down the excitement sometimes without sounding monotonous, almost acting like the Apollonian restraint to the Dionysian madness. The constant shower of peculiar oscillations, whirs, and horns all make up the perfectly organized chaos that Monsta X is known for, and though “Beautiful” did not grant the boys their first music show win like it should have, it will always remain a tour de force in our hearts.
47. “Where You At” by NU’EST W
With their revival in popularity following some of the members’ appearance in Produce 101 Season Two, this subunit of Nu’est (missing member Minhyun who debuted in Wanna One) released this flashy track which stayed true to their unique music style. Bursts of electronic instrumentals are mixed with a calm piano backing track and adds a lot of contrasts to the song. It also highlights the strengths of each member, with Baekho’s explosive high notes complementing Ren and Aron’s softer and sweeter voices. JR’s rapping is as stable as ever, and he definitely shines more back in his own group. It’s wonderful to see this talented group get more recognition for their talents, and I can’t wait to see the full group back together again soon.
46. “You Were Beautiful” by DAY6
The February release of the band’s “Every DAY6 Project” can be said to be their most successful, especially domestically, and it’s not difficult to see why. The raw emotions brought out by the members coupled with the sincere lyrics create a sentimental rock ballad which truly tugs on the heartstrings of listeners. The end of the bridge in particular, where Young K and Wonpil’s voices are layered, is such a beautiful and emotional climax of the song. Even though it appears simple to sing along to (and is apparently a favourite among other JYP singers for karaoking), the song is actually very vocally challenging due to the large range required, and the effortless way the DAY6 members sing it shows just how skilled and well-trained they are.
45. “Tomorrow, Today” by JJ Project
After debuting ahead of GOT7’s debut with the exuberant “Bounce,” JB and Jinyoung returned as a more matured rendition of JJ Project this year and it was absolutely glorious. The two vocalists released this sweeping, introspective song about the very-millennial topic of making decisions and fearing regrets. The track provides the perfect forum for the pair to show off how well their vocals work together, with the duo harmonizing over guitar riffs, tapping percussion, and mellow synths. “Tomorrow, Today” is reflective in its warm approach to soft rock, and hopefully we’ll see more of this from JJ Project in 2018. It was a complete turnaround from their first iteration, and definitely more suited for the pair’s artistic style and capabilities.
44. “Don’t Know You” by Heize
Heize’s “Don’t Know You” is a very groovy song full of percussions with a slight mixture of disco, hip-hop, and R&B, which features the soloist using deeper vocals than what we’ve been used to hear from her. The overall appeal of this songs starts at the beginning of the track with the repetitive beats and the introduction of the synth drums that follow different tonalities on the record that give great texture to “Don’t Know You.” Her famous ad-libs are also present on this song as she goes from high to low tones, which are achieved by the reverbs added on the vocal track, that create great contrast between her sexy sweet voice and her solid rap parts. The harmony is very steady throughout and creates a great chill up-tempo track perfect to dance and groove to. Heize continues to show great promise with her experimental sound.
43. “Tequila (feat. Hoody)” by G.Soul
One can’t help but want to book an immediate flight to somewhere like Bali while listening to “Tequila,” especially with the brutal winter quickly approaching much of the States. Hoody’s bewitching voice alongside G.Soul’s multifaceted vocals make for the perfect combo in this dancehall track, ideal for both a cookout and the club. Lyrically wise, “Tequila” might not be appropriate for all age groups, as G.Soul sings about only wanting a one night stand. But if you’re someone who’s over the generic “let’s fall in love” type of style that is prevalent in K-pop the majority of the time, this song’s for you. The lyrics aren’t candy coated or sleazy, but come off rather… inviting. This wasn’t meant to be a flashy song, which is what made it even more enjoyable. Although G.Soul wasn’t hitting those high notes (that I love so much) like he usually does, it wasn’t a lack felt by this song.
42. “Wake Me Up” by Taeyang
It is no news that Taeyang can hold a ballad like no other, and in 2017, he gave us two great ones. “Wake Me Up” doesn’t have the same degree of emotional complexity of “Darling,” the other single from the album, but it’s its apparent simplicity what makes this song amazing and addictive. Objectively speaking, it’s a very linear song with no surprise factors when it comes to its structure. It might even seem like Taeyang doesn’t have much to say in “Wake Me Up,” but it’s definitely not because he’s lacking emotions. In reality, what we see is that he just doesn’t know what to do with them. Everything in “Wake Me Up” sounds gorgeously inconclusive and mysterious — from the airy sounds and atmospheric, echoed beats, to the lyrics that offer more questions than answers. No wonder the most touching moment of the song is when he’s constantly repeating “Is it love?” while delivering breathtaking high notes. Overall, Taeyang’s vocal performance amidst the ethereal instrumental creates just the right vibe for a song that is about love, but mostly about confusion and doubt. After so many years, you can still count on Taeyang to get you in your feels.
41. “Honeymoon” by B.A.P
Coming out during the fall when it should’ve been a summer jam, “Honeymoon” is a delightful EDM track from B.A.P’s seventh album Blue. The whistling at the beginning of the song left the remainder open for interpretation; this song could’ve been a sweet one, much like the title suggests, or a somber one. I’m glad it wasn’t the latter. “Honeymoon” puts listeners in a lighter mood, whereas previous songs were dark and heavy, all the while still executing a clear message. “With the overflowing stars from beneath the palm tree. A film on the shining freedom and bright youth,” they sing. Through this track, B.A.P wants to remind us to live life to its fullest, fulfill your heart’s desires to its grandest and emphasises that today’s youth will be the game changer in society going forward.
Also on KultScene: DAY6 explores love & friendship through recent ‘Every DAY6’ releases
40. “Chase Me” by Dreamcatcher
Taking the bubbly girl group image and tossing it out the window, MINX re-debuted early this year under the name Dreamcatcher. Not only did the group have a new name, but they also gained two new members and an interesting concept and sound. Taking the term re-“vamp” quite literal, the group came out with a dark and creepy concept straight out of a horror movie. The video for “Chase Me” takes references from classic horror movies like The Shining but also has cuts to choreography to showcase the girls dance moves. The song begins with pianos and then picks up at the chorus. Adding31 to the darker image, the song melded hard rock elements with a dance pop track to create something very dynamic. There’s something about the mixing of heavy rock instrumentals and feminine voices that is very appealing. Although the song sounds like it’s straight out of an anime, it is also an interesting new sound that’s refreshing to the K-pop world.
39. “Never Ever” by GOT7
Ever since debut, GOT7 have switched up their sound with every release, experimenting with different styles and concepts, and their first comeback of the year was no different. “Never Ever” follows in the same angsty direction as “If You Do,” yet this track mixes electronic and trap sounds while giving it their signature bubblegum spin. Vocally, JB and Youngjae can always be counted on to deliver outstanding choruses and ad-libs. But reveal of the year was that “Never Ever” is probably the song where the rap line is collectively most stable and the flows, while different, work together. GOT7 is building up a name as a dance group whose choreographies are insane, and “Never Ever,” with its glitches and heavy bass, is the perfect performance track in their building discography.
38. “Love Story feat. IU” by Epik High
One of the two title tracks off of Epik High’s new album, “Love Story” is a beautiful song about love lost. The steady drum beats coupled with the sometimes frantic sounding piano and, later on, the smooth orchestra creates a complex yet easy sounding melody that balances well with IU’s sweet voice and the rap verses of Tablo and Mithra Jin. Along with the concept video of a girl reminiscing about her past relationship through videos and photos on her phone, it sets the perfect setting for a song about heartbreak and loss. As expected with most of Epik High’s collaborations, the group and the featuring artist blend perfectly to portray the story being told.
37. “Wake Me Up” by B.A.P
A lot of the times, K-pop consists of clichéd lyrics and similar concepts. There are times when a number of artists will put out a string of songs, music talking about love, relationships and breakups. Again, the repetitiveness. Just when you feel like you’ve had enough of that sappy stuff, B.A.P appears with an eye opener like “Wake Me Up,” a track that touches on societal issues and mental health to stimulate one’s ear buds. The song has a compelling beat, a sound so strong, it’ll act as the pillar that will hold you up when one is fighting off their inner demons and struggles in life. “This is an endless tunnel, in darkness with no light. Wake me up, wake me up. I need to find myself,” they sing. B.A.P wanted to push awareness and wake up a society that looks away and pretends that issues like racism, judgement, and depression aren’t real issues because these things are very much on going and continue to be real life problems.
36. “Palette feat. G-Dragon” by IU
As one of Korea’s most prominent artists, IU on “Palette” seems to be comfortable with her fame and life, assuring both herself and her listeners that she’s changing in ways she embraces. Her lyricism uses cute examples, from changing color preferences to hair length, to demonstrate that she, “Knows a little bit about [herself] now.” The song’s instrumentals are a more alternative play on classic, theatrical IU releases. While the trademark ticking noises and sound effects are present, the song itself is slower and wispier, updated to match a more modern vibe that she seems to have grown into. The top female star of Korean music in the past decade, IU demonstrates that she remains focused on making hits, but now, on her own terms. With the help of a strongly performed and well-placed rap break from G-Dragon, IU on “Palette” lets us further into her excited, changing young adult world. Where she goes next from here, however, we’ll be watching.
35. “Dinosaur” by AKMU
AKMU is known for creating beautiful music, but with “Dinosaur,” the duo really surprised us: they finally added some EDM to their music while managing to make it their own. The electro beats and synths that appear through the track’s melody seem very stripped down and almost make it feel like an acoustic electronic song. The opening guitar in the beginning of the song especially feels like an homage to their earlier music. The synthetic kickdrums that blast before the beautiful notes from Suhyun during the chorus melody and are present through the whole track, giving it an unique mystery to the track. We also get more singing from Chanhyuk instead of his typical talk-like rap, which was surprisingly beautiful. Their voices blend and harmonize perfectly with the synthetic beats that made it an upbeat chill song for the summer. AKMU really had a lot of fun creating this track and used every tool that electronic instruments can give you as a producer. The song is simple but very detailed with a beautiful, heartwarmingly catchy harmony and a light beat that is very uplifting and instantly makes you feel good.
34. “Dream In a Dream” by Ten
SM Entertainment’s Station project has produced a bit of a mixed bag this year, delivering some truly great pieces of music amid a majority of lackluster ones. But “Dream In a Dream” was one of its glorious high notes. The ambient, east-meets-west styling of the song serves to relay the performance-heavy music video, which highlights Ten’s immense dance skills. Providing a soundtrack to the highly-stylized, contemporary dance video, it’s a song filled with drama and passion. But even as a stand alone track, “Dream In a Dream” delivers something truly special through its symphonic instrumentals relaying Ten’s echoing declaration of love. Lush synths and pulsating beats guide the track as it layers traditional Asian strings and into the atypically-structured melody. So far, Ten has participated in both this and NCT U’s “The 7th Sense,” two hauntingly beautiful, choreography-focused singles, and if this is the direction SM continues pushing him in, it may be the thing that could breathe new life into this era of all-too-similar K-pop male acts.
33. “Shall We Dance” by Block B
Ever since Zico cemented his status as a hip-hop icon in Korea, Block B has pretty much taken a backseat on the ride. And after a couple of quirky, even cutesy releases, it seemed the group had gone awry of the sounds and concept they made a name with. That’s why when they dropped “Shall We Dance” it was way more impactful. More in tune with the “trendy” sounds Zico is known to produce for his solos, the track explores different urban Latino sounds, which particularly stood out this year when artists are still releasing trop-house songs. “Shall We Dance” is groovy, smooth, and just as the title suggests, dance provoking. Being an older male group with a diverse lineup of talented members, it’s important for Block B to color outside the lines and continue to push the envelope as they have always done. And with this song, they did just that.
32. “Girl Front” by ODD EYE CIRCLE
“Girl Front” felt like a particularly important moment for LOONA. When LOONA ⅓ debuted as a unit they were still fairly unknown, a weird project group going about their own thing. By the time of ODD EYE CIRCLE, they had significantly grown with more people both at home and internationally taking notice. The fact that they absolutely nailed it came as no surprise to me, but how they did it was so impressive. By combining the songs of three girls (Choerry, Jinsoul, and Kim Lip) producers Ollipop and Hayley Aitken created something unprecedented in K-pop. “Girl Front” has the peppiness of “Love Cherry Motion,” the dense, propulsive beat of “Singing in the Rain,” and the electronic sheen of “Eclipse.” It’s a miracle that it all comes together to form something coherent let alone this good. The girls give it the last edge of excitement with non-stop vocals as they bounce off one another with glee, building a climax of unstoppable motion and further push forward the most exciting story of the year.
31. “I Wait” by Day6
“I Wait” was the first release of the group’s ambitious project, which set a high bar for their following monthly singles. The opening of the song draws the listener in with somber synthesized keyboard notes and dreamy vocals. The mellow beats gradually increase to the more aggressive instrumentals of the chorus, showcasing a much harder sound than what the band has been previously known for. The song continues to bounce back and forth between a softer sound and the heavy chorus, which creates and interesting medium. The video itself isn’t really anything special but somehow still complements the song with the changing graphics and effects. Overall, “I Wait” fulfilled its purpose of drawing in the audience with a new sound, showcasing the band’s versatility and ability to deliver quality songs throughout the year.
Also on KultScene: 7 K-pop music styles we’d love to hear more
30. “MIC Drop (Steve Aoki Remix feat. Desiigner)” by BTS
“MIC Drop” was already a good song before Steve Aoki’s remix, but with his production, the producer added the aggressiveness that the track needed to be fully solidified as an anti-haters anthem for BTS. He did this by converting the hip-hop track into a hip-hop, R&B, and EDM infused song that made us remember the old BTS from their debut era. The track is energetic and gets you pumped up as soon as you listen to it; V’s deep voice and RM’s raps are major highlights from this record. The lyrics take a very sarcastic tone that even if they seem cocky it makes us sympathize with them. With the new added English lyrics in the chorus, the song makes everyone want to stand up against haters and face them off. BTS creates yet another ode for outcasts and bullied kids all over the world by once again taking on topics that usually K-pop bands don’t talk about.
Also on KultScene: Astro ‘Dream Pt. 02’ Album Review
29. “Darling” by Taeyang
This ballad stands out with its somewhat unconventional structure and chord progression, but it’s truly beautiful and addictive when listened to in its entirety. The way that Taeyang’s smooth voice connects the various parts of the song elevates it and showcases his impressive range and ability. His raw emotions are showcased front and center here too, especially with the way the song “progresses” in intensity from verse to verse. It’s soothing and intimate all at once, and allows Taeyang to present a more honest side of himself, as compared to being a charismatic star glorified by the limelight.
28. “Hola Hola” by KARD
Over the course of three project singles, KARD was able to develop a musical formula that worked. The tropical house and dancehall that undergirded “Oh Nana,” “Don’t Recall,” and “Rumor” provided a strong foundation for when they finally did make their official debut with “Hola Hola,” a timely and bright synthy number perfect for the summertime. Being co-ed is more than just a gimmick for this group; the exchange between tender vocals and throaty raps is the contrast listeners need to keep engaged. The chorus, on the other hand, shifts its weight onto an island beat, and while it would be easy to dismiss this sudden move as overly simplistic, the hypnotic effect is undeniable. It sweeps the carpet from under our feet and displaces us in a chimerical paradise. It is a nice recess from Jiwoo’s spunky rap midway or from any other strained moments, providing us with a sensual and personable comfort. “Hola Hola” only marks the beginning, but already the internationally beloved group has been dealt a good hand, and are making all the right plays to keep momentum going.
27. “Cherry Bomb” by NCT 127
Without a doubt, “Cherry Bomb” definitely encapsulates the sound of NCT127. The different mixes of genres that create a very fresh and futuristic sound create a unique style for the band that has everyone falling in love. The track starts off with a heavy bass and the repetitive “Hurry, hurry, avoid it, right Cherry Bomb feel it yum,” then goes off to Mark’s and Taeyong’s rap, with the pair proving to be the real standouts for this track, while the bridge explodes with Taehyun’s, Doyoung’s and Taeil’s beautiful vocals that melt any listener’s hearts. The song is filled with background synth noises, singed hooks, and creepy sounds that create a very chaotic but interesting track that is reminiscent of the album cover and the title of the song. It’s a classic, sassy and rebellious track and shows great direction for the boy band.
26. “O Sole Mio” by SF9
Is it possible for someone who lacks rhythm AND coordination to find themselves swaying ones hips and body with precision to the entrancing latin sounds of “O Sole Mio”? This track comes from SF9’s third mini album, Knights of the Sun, only one year after their debut. Rather then SF9’s usual upbeat dance tracks, “O Sole Mio” is captivating in it’s own mellow way. The transitions between the vocal and rap lines were smooth and well-versed, building up to a tender climax without it ever being over the top. The fusion of latin pop to K-pop is still new, but, let’s be real: we all could’ve used a break from some of the generic sounds we’ve heard this year, and the fresh sound of “O Sole Mio” delivered just that.
Stay tuned for the second and final half of our Best K-pop Songs of 2017 list, which will contain the top 25.
What was your favorite release of the year? Let us know in the comment section below and be sure to subscribe to the site and follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Tumblr to keep up with all of our posts.
Monsta X returned to the K-pop scene on Nov. 7th with “Dramarama” off of their fifth mini album titled The Code. This is the third comeback from Monsta X in 2017, after releasing “Beautiful,” “Shine Forever,” and “Newton” earlier this year. The title track intertwines distinctive guitar riffs to create groovy instrumentals and blends them with the group’s signature hip-hop sound.
On a regular basis, it takes a couple of listens for me to capture the vibe of a song. With “Dramarama,” I was able to enjoy it after listening to it for the first time. Compared to the group’s previous title tracks like “Beautiful” and “All In,” which have been strong and in-your-face, this track has a funky vibe, thanks to the prominent guitar instrumental.
“Dramarama” is a stepping stone for the septet, showing a new side to listeners. It’s steadier than their previous title tracks, which have been fast-paced. It starts off at a steady pace, playing along with the guitar riffs, added by vocals. The build-up from the pre-chorus, led by Hyungwon, is a great transition into the chorus. The chorus is catchy, and I enjoyed the rap section because of Jooheon’s grittiness and I.M’s deep tone.
What I enjoyed about this track is the way they were able to attempt a different sound that is usually hip-hop with a mixture of EDM, but keeps the aggressive style Monsta X is known for. It was surprising to hear this type of sound from the group, since it’s something that listeners are not used to hearing from them.
Also on KultScene: Taemin’s ‘MOVE’ song & music video review
The video for “Dramarama” explores the theme of time traveling and the price that comes along with it. The plot revolves around Kihyun, Minhyuk, and Wonho discovering a watch that allows them to time travel. It centers primarily around Kihyun, who goes back in time to save Jooheon’s life after a car accident, while Minhyuk is taken back to an alley where both he and I.M are being chased by men in dark suits, and Wonho goes back in time to kendo fight with Shownu. As for Hyungwon, it seems he’s a time traveler who skips around time to help the others by giving them the watch to fix or do something in the past.
Along with “Beautiful,” this is one of the group’s best videos to date. The symbols that are included within the video like the watches, the clue on the newspaper suggesting that Hyungwon is a time traveler, the voice over stating the watches are not allowed in first few seconds in the video helps viewers understand the storyline. But there are more questions that I have. What is the story behind Minhyuk and I.M’s friendship? What is the connection between Wonho and Shownu’s characters? Why is Hyungwon’s character so important?
The song and video relate to each other because in the song, the members talk about trying to figure out their “drama” with someone. In the video, Kihyun, Minhyuk, and Wonho are attempting to figure out their dilemmas by using the watches to prevent tragedy, win battles, and reunite with a longtime friend.
Between the narrative, choreography is included, where the members are dancing inside a tunnel, decked out in a mixture of red and black ensembles. Even though the video focused more on the narrative, I enjoyed the dancing, especially the shoulder shimmy and the little milly rock that Jooheon, Kihyun and Minhyuk do in Jooheon’s rap section.
Also on KultScene: The story of LOONA: ODD EYE CIRCLE
Monsta X has shown excellent growth this past year when it comes to music, and “Dramarama” is a good example of that progress. Compared to the other tracks released this year, which have been edgy and glitchy, “Dramarama” is slightly toned down. They are known for their powerful tracks and performances, so it’s refreshing to see a slight change in this song, while still fusing their original style into the track. Hopefully this will be the song that will encourage the group to experiment with different sounds in the future.
What did you think of “Dramarama?” Are you liking this new vibe Monsta X are going for? Let us know your thoughts in the comment section below. Be sure to subscribe to the site and follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Tumblr to keep up with al
On March 21, Monsta X released their energetic and heartfelt song “Beautiful” and, paired with its equally beautiful music video, it might just earn them their very first music show win. Ever since this young group debuted in 2015, they’ve increasingly improved their talents and proven that they are not a group to be ignored.
This is one of Monsta X’s most musically cohesive and infectious songs yet. At times, the rap verses of K-pop songs can feel forced or too intense for the song they’re featured in. Thankfully, that is not true in this situation. The falsetto-heavy chorus pairs very well with rappers Jooheon and I.M’s hard-hitting lyrics. All of the members’ talents were also nicely showcased in this song without any of members seemingly overshadowing the others. Main vocalist Kihyun shined as always, but we also got a nice look at the vocal abilities of members like Minhyuk and Hyungwon — whose talents may be overlooked at times.
This song was pretty heavy handed in its use of EDM and, while that can tend to be overwhelming if not done correctly, it works to its advantage. The electronic beats in the background allowed the members’ choreography to really be the focus when they weren’t busy singing. It’s nice that Monsta X have seemingly gone back to their debut sound but with the maturity that has come with their growth as artists.
Also on Kultscene: CNBLUE’s ‘Between Us’ music video & song review
Monsta X does an excellent job at producing exciting music videos that instantly catch the attention of viewers, and this one was no different. The video is reminiscent of those from “The Clan” series (“All In” and “Fighter”), but with more symbolism and less of a storyline. Each member got their own themed room that highlighted the strong visuals of this group.
“Beautiful” is a lot more aesthetically pleasing than some of their previous videos like “Rush,” and it was nice to see a more subtle side to the group. The only criticism is that it would’ve been nice to have a stronger plot, or at least for it to not have been quite so difficult to figure out what was going on.
Also on Kultscene: KCON 2017 Mexico’s M! Countdown Day 2 Concert Recap
This is one of Monsta X’s strongest comebacks yet and it will surely gain them the popularity and respect they deserve. “Beautiful” is a song that portrays the strengths of every member. Vocalists Shownu, Wonho, Kihyun, and Minhyuk’s harmonizations and falsetto give the song an ethereal feeling that matches the dreamy music video, while the rapper line (Jooheon and I.M.) brings it all back to earth. And, of course, no review would be complete without applauding lead dancer Hyungwon’s excellent execution of the music video’s choreography.
This is a song that works in many aspects and has the ability to succeed in both radio stations as well as through live performances. Whether it’s the choreography, the vocals, or the visuals, this release excels and inspires excitement in Monsta X’s fans (Monbebes) about what they will do next.
As mentioned in part 1, 2016 turned out to be a year full of surprises in the world of Korean entertainment. Groups we held dear disbanded or lost key members, but it does not do well to dwell just on the negatives. 2016 was a transformative year that saw K-pop’s generation shift, with second-tier groups rising to the top spots and the explosion of new groups, especially girl groups. This year may not had been the best for older fans and their groups, it was a tall glass of fresh water. K-pop’s all about innovation and reinvention, and that’s just what we got this year.
After 2015 being a nearly perfect year in music releases, 2016, on the surface, might seem like it didn’t live up to expectations. However, this was the year of more variety in the industry and a much deserved and needed shakeup. And after much consideration, the KultScene staff painfully narrowed it down to our favorite 50 songs of the year. Make sure to get all the way to the end to see a special year-end video!
25. “Monster” by EXO
The single off of their Ex’Act album, “Monster.” has the same air of self-seriousness as some of EXO’s most iconic works (“MAMA,” “Wolf,” etc.) while shedding the corny lyrics and audiovisuals. The distorted synths are eerie like the monster inside of them, and Chen’s repetition on the word “creepin’” at the end stresses this, well, creepy factor. But what carries the tune throughout are the up and down contours of the refrain, which are inevitably designed to be an earworm. Even if you have never been a fan of the group, you can at least agree this one has staying power.
24. “Drip Drop” by Taemin
In terms of Taemin’s 2016 singles, “Press Your Number” was an extremely digestible track. However, the lead-up single “Drip Drop” made for a much more interesting audible experience. “Drip Drop,” with it’s massive blend of R&B, pop, dance, and hip-hop, together with the beat shifts and whatever’s happening on the chorus, is a song you either love or hate. However, the juxtaposition of the smooth vocals and verses paired with the up-tempo, futuristic chorus and progressions on the second half of the song, and how it dips again on the pre-chorus is a masterpiece in itself. “Drip Drop” is a rollercoaster, but an exciting one we’d keep riding on and on.
23. “Letting Go” by Day6
The unofficial princes of breakup songs return with their sophomore release Daydream and the title track “Letting Go.” In this pop rock ballad, Day6 does what they do best: deliver a heart-wrenching song about young love lost. The boys create lovely harmonization between the vocals and instruments, with none of them overpowering or outshining the rest. But this release was a bittersweet mix of emotions for fans, with keyboardist Junhyeok leaving the group a month before the release. And though the song may or may not be about him, the music video surely plays homage to their lost member with the empty keyboards throughout the video. Overall, “Letting Go” is the perfect combination of music, lyrics, and visuals to get all the feels happening.
22. “Press Your Number” by Taemin
By the time Taemin’s first full-length album Press It dropped, audiences already knew SHINee’s maknae could hold his own from his previous mini album Ace. Moreover, much buzz resulted from the fact that Bruno Mars and the Stereotypes had produced his lead single “Press Your Number.” And while the artists didn’t get to actually collaborate, the American songwriter/producer gave Taemin a real gift, for it completely complimented his style. “Press Your Number” builds up perfectly, starting with snaps, light twinkles, and Taemin’s sorrowful vocals before exploding at the chorus into a full-fledged dance song. Plus, you don’t even have to understand Korean to feel the yearn behind Taemin’s interpretation. K-pop groups are a dime a dozen. So when a real performer comes out of a K-pop group, survives, and excels, they deserve all the kudos. While we all hold SHINee dear to our hearts, we can’t help and crave more Taemin solo singles for they show him at his absolute best.
21. “All In” by Monsta X
Following tradition, Monsta X’s “All In” retains much of the noisy ambitions and fighter attitude that the seven piece hip-hop group have shown in the past with hits like “Hero” or “Trespass.” The opening, with its yawning horns, revving engines, rhythmic claps, and warped electronic beats, is overwhelming, and the raps about patriotic loyalty and protection in the name of love lyrically manifests the song’s belligerent tones and war motifs. In both themes and music, the song is characteristically Monsta X, so then, what about it causes such a visceral reaction? It could be that this time, the clamor and riot of its heavy beats act as a thin veil for the song’s sublimely melodic undertones. The “go hard” sentiments of the past is only second to the optimistic pre-chorus and ballad-like chorus. Especially integral in these hopeful moments are the subtle percussive rings of increasing pitch, which provides us with a much needed contrast and softening effect. It is here where the song’s contours change when we least expect them to. Indeed, under all the polyphony is a delightful gem, a magnum opus.
20. “Angel” by Berry Good
Berry Good’s most glorious moment of the year is a triumph of personality over production. “Angel’s” cheap sheen is the first obvious thing about it. It’d be very easy to switch it off after 20 seconds thinking it won’t go anywhere. Yet the longer it goes, the more you get out of it. There’s a tenderness that grows to absolute euphoric love. The girls hold nothing back; every ounce of them is on this track. Their climactic vocals burst through any sense of balance. You forget everything else that came before and just want to hear it again and again.
19. “Knock” by KNK
Hands down and without a doubt, KNK had one of the most impressive debuts of 2016 with “Knock.” KNK couldn’t have debuted at a better time, considering how boring of a year we were having. With a noticeably catchy chorus on the mid-tempo, rich ballad, it’s no wonder they garnered fans so quickly. 2017 can be a blossoming year for these guys if they continue at the pace they’ve gone at in the last nine months.
Also on KultScene: 50 Best Korean Songs of 2016: Part 1
18. “The Rain ” by Ladies’ Code
Musically, Ladies’ Code had a fantastic year. “The Rain” is an incredible continuation of themes established by “Galaxy” in both song and visuals. While it is sad that the Korean public hasn’t taken as much notice of the group’s musical blossoming, we here at KultScene definitely have. Taking the soul, trance-influenced vibes of “Galaxy” and adding a dance element, “The Rain” adds another level to an already complex musicality and demonstrates the members’ collective prowess in both vocal and emotive performance. Bravo, Ladies’ Code. The three talents have come back from one of K-pop’s worst tragedies with some of 2016’s best music.
17. “Tell Me (What is Love) by Yoo Young Jin X D.O
SM Station hasn’t always worked out commercially, but it has done a great job as a platform for sometimes experimental and fresh K-pop. It’s also an avenue for several idols to collaborate with other singers, as in the case of EXO’s D.O and Yoo Young Jin’s remake of EXO’s song. Both singers are extremely skilled and they build on each other’s strengths successfully to create the beautiful soulful track “Temm Me (What is Love).” The song has a pretty complicated rhythm, but they sing so effortlessly, it’s just a work of art.
16. “Secret” by Cosmic Girls
After a rocky start, Cosmic Girls fulfilled the promise their otherworldly name suggested. “Secret” combines space age synths and symphonies to great effect, creating something befitting the cosmos. Despite this, it still moves with an insatiable groove. “Secret” is grounded by the rhythm section and soars thanks to its contrasts sounds. Similarly, vocals are put against each other to accentuate the range of WJSN’s voices. This works best in the lead up to the chorus with it moving from Cheng Xiao to Mei Qi to Seola. Quivering strings and fluttering voices make “Secret” one of the greatest songs of the year.
15. “Very Nice” by Seventeen
Seventeen had one of the most exciting debuts we’ve seen in awhile last year. And while “Pretty U” was a lovely song, “Very Nice” takes the cake for their best single of 2016. “Very Nice” is like taking a big bite out of a cotton candy ice cream on a summer day. It’s sugary, it’s big, and it’s fantastic. Seventeen single-handedly brought back bubblegum pop for K-pop boy bands in a time when everyone was trying to be edgy and swag-tastic. Seventeen, coming from a smaller company, is one of those groups that started from the bottom and have excelled purely based on their talent (and not on the prestige of their company, cough, cough). With “Very Nice,” Seventeen further cemented their brand and showed us all they’re here to stay.
14. “Pieces of You & Me” by Fromm ft. Giriboy
One word: woah. “Pieces of You & Me” is just one of those songs you question where has it been your whole life and is a great introduction to K-indie for anyone who has been thinking about testing its waters. From the gentle toots of the trumpets to the mellow acoustics of the guitars, the song uses grassroots instrumentals to stay true to the independent genre. The slow tempo and brilliant lyrics (Let’s build a castle of our own / I’ll drink all the sad tears) is reminiscent of a simpler time, and is quite fantastic in the word’s original “existing only in imagination” sense. I feel not only protected in Fromm’s fair vocals, but I believe that such a dreamworld exists. Likewise, I also find reassurance in Giriboy’s contrastingly deep and soothing lullabies, for to simply write them off as mere vocals don’t nearly do justice to his feature. Now if only the duo could collaborate on more music in the future, world peace may actually be an attainable goal.
13. “Free Somebody” by Luna
Keep in mind, everyone: Luna was recruited to SM Entertainment for her dancing, not her singing. And today, she is a main vocal and a lead dancer (a very rare sight in the world of K-pop), and also (occasionally, and thankfully!) a solo act. While Korea may not have exactly given this release two thumbs up, “Free Somebody” is incredibly infectious and addictive. Mixing traditional K-pop hooks with EDM and house, the song is incredibly innovative, perhaps ahead of its time even. Not just anyone could do a song like this — it takes the kind of multi-faceted talent that Luna wields so flawlessly to pull this off. Our conclusion: Luna is a gem, and we hope her solo efforts continue as the years go on.
12. “Russian Roulette” by Red Velvet
Red Velvet seems to have a thing for quirky tunes that repeatedly drill their hooks into your brain, and that’s not a bad thing at all. The underlying synths and catchy melody create a retro sound without feeling dated, while the video, like the song, is colorful and a bit strange in a good way. Who would’ve thought that you can make killing your friends look so cute and playful? The visuals of this song is also quite genius with the robotic acting and facial expression of the girls to match the electronic and repetitive beat of the music, making “Russian Roulette” a fun audio-visual experience.
11. “Why” by Taeyeon
Taeyeon showed in this song what she’s truly capable of. “Why” is energetic and melodious, but not in an annoying way that “I” often was; it’s downright addictive. The way Taeyeon’s voice sounds so natural in the midst of the funky instrumentals of the song and how every part of the song seems to blend so seamlessly is audible glory.
Also on KultScene: Top 50 Korean Songs of 2015
10. “Better Day” by 100%
After going from a seven member group to five members, to six, and then back down to a five all within the span of a few years, it’s amazing that a K-pop group could still be standing, let alone releasing music. With the return of the group’s leader from military service and the recent loss of another member, 100% held strong and released their comeback song “Better Day.” The song is about wishing to return to a past relationship and has a dark mature sound with a heavily synthesized backtrack. But this song is really all about highlighting the group’s amazing vocal abilities. The vocals on this track are mind-blowing (yes, they sound like that live as well), and Rockhyun and Hyukjin do an extraordinary job conveying that sense of longing that can be felt within every commanding note. The group does a good job balancing soft vocals with powerful notes all while lacing in solid and steady rap verses, creating a dynamic song that is something that should not be underrated.
9. “The 7th Sense” by NCT U
While the different NCT sub-groups released a few singles and even an album this year, NCT U is the clear ground breaking satellite that actually brought something new to the table. To say “The 7th Sense” is yet another K-pop song would be a tragic disservice, for it’s too great to be reduced to such confines. It’s a chaotic yet smooth trap-infused trance; an acid trip meant to mesmerize the senses with the R&B vocals. With every listen, you find new sounds — whistles, doors opening, yawns, monk-like chants — making it a true intricate piece of sonic art. SHINee is the known SM Entertainment group that handles the “experimental” releases, while the “dark” is reserved for EXO. Will NCT U have the “weird” and “interesting” down? One can only hope that this particular sub-group is a permanent one for it dropped the best SM song in 2016.
8. “Fly” by GOT7
2016 was an exceedingly busy year for the members of GOT7. They released their fifth EP Flight: Departure earlier this year, had their Fly Tour, circling throughout Asia and North America this summer, and released their second full-length studio album Flight Log: Turbulence this fall. It’s clear that they took their “Fly” concept to heart, because the guys definitely took flight this year. Ha-ha, get it? “Fly” showed off the members various skills and even charismatic personalities through their individual lines. Considering that they’re still under the control of their company, the members might not openly admit or even have the time to do this, but they’re all still at the prime stages of dating and wanting to be in love, so as cheesy as these lyrics are, can you really blame them? Why are you afraid of being loved, I’m next to you so why are you scared and afraid? Yeah, why would you be afraid of anything if it’s GOT7?
7. “Galaxy” by Ladies’ Code
Ladies’ Code may as well change their name to “Phoenix,” because “Galaxy” brought new life to the career of the girl group after one of the most devastating moments of recent K-pop history. In 2014, two members of Ladies’ Code passed away in a car accident, reviving interest in the b-list group and turning Ladies’ Code into martyrs. “Galaxy” turned the trio into survivors, and into one of the most musically innovative K-pop groups of 2016. Rather than return to their original colorful retro-pop styling, their comeback single brought Ladies’ Code into the realm of ethereal, jazzy R&B. The combination of gentle synths with jazz instrumentals, mellow vocals, and lilting chimes is a pure eargasm that doesn’t limit itself to K-pop banality. “Galaxy” doesn’t soar, and it’s not song to play at a party: it’s soft, and it’s simple, and it’s melancholic. And it’s safe to say, it’s near perfection.
6. “FXXK IT” by BIGBANG
Taeyang’s opening lines to “FXXK IT” definitely set the tone for the rest of the song. It’s a bright, delightful and cheerful song; all of which might’ve been purposely done in order to leave fans with positive feels as the members get ready to enlist in the following years. “FXXK IT” is all around carefree and simplistic, and despite this not being your typical BIGBANG adrenaline pumping tune, it’s smooth enough to make you want to get down, get drunk, and party (maybe one day with BIGBANG). This is a well balanced composition; the entirety of the song blends well with no excessive tunes or over usage of certain lyrics. Although it only took them a year and a half to finalize the MADE album, if that’s what it takes for full gratification and perfection, then we’ll happily take it.
5. “Oh NaNa” by K.A.R.D
From the first few seconds of this song, it was clear that K.A.R.D meant business. The quality of this song was both incredibly impressive and very surprising, considering that DSP Media’s groups have been on a downward spiral recently due to a lack of musical or popular impact. But “Oh NaNa” is an entirely different story. With two impressive female vocals and two charismatic male rappers, the song is balanced almost perfectly. Not to mention, the “na na na” hook is incredibly infectious. The fact that this song, released only a little more than ten days ago, has been able to make our top five says something tremendous about this group’s potential. Maybe co-ed groups are the future for K-pop. Only time will tell. For now, we can keep jamming and hoping that K.A.R.D will start a trend of stronger music releases from DSP on the whole.
4. “Save Me” by BTS
BTS has had an amazing year, chock full of quality releases with their Wings LP and the compilation album The Most Beautiful Moment in Life: Young Forever, earning them the success and recognition they deserve. In particular, “Save Me” stands out with its addictive melody and instrumentals, which feel fresh while still being definitely familiar. It’s admirable how BTS’s songs are always instantly recognisable as theirs; their group identity as musicians is undeniably strong, which unfortunately can’t be said for many other groups in the K-pop industry. If they keep up the momentum, this identity, as well as the members’ individual talents and charms, will definitely keep the group at the top for a long while more.
3. “The Eye” by INFINITE
While it took INFINITE quite a long while to make a comeback, the wait was definitely worth it for their amazing album INFINITE Only. Its title track didn’t disappoint either, with “The Eye” being one of the group’s musically better releases in recent years. Accompanied with a heartbreaking and haunting music video, the song combined unique instrumentals with the emotive vocals of INFINITE’s members. In particular, rappers Dongwoo and Hoya really stood out for their vocal performances in this rap-less song, while Sungkyu’s quiet opening was pitch perfect. While the content of the song is pretty similar to other recent INFINITE releases, its dramatic melody is pretty arresting and makes the song an easy one to put on repeat. The way “The Eye” intensifies through the verse from member to member, building up to the chorus and several mini-climaxes that allow for cool dance breaks, is sonic perfection.
2. “Blood Sweat & Tears” by BTS
BTS came back with their widely successful Wings album in the latter quarter of the year, and with it, showed their maturation with the sensual “Blood Sweat & Tears.” At the intersection of the burgeoning Moombahton Trap genre and K-pop, the song about a boy who falls into irresistible temptation uses reggae as its base and finds the perfect blends of EDM and trap to form a wonderful medley of sounds accessible to fans and casual listeners alike. The near whispers of the vocals mesh well with its chill synths too, recreating an epicurean spirit in form and content. But the real highlight of the piece is in its chorus, where the trap influences can be found in rapper J-Hope’s intonation: wonhae manhi, manhi, manhi (I want it more, more more). It’s inexplicably charismatic and familiar. It’s easy to appreciate how the song’s individual parts work in harmony with each other to form a melodious fusion. The title cannot be any more telling of the ingredients that went into its production.
1. “TT” by Twice
Standing tall amongst the wreckage that is 2016 is Twice. The JYP girl group capitalized on a strong debut, turning into human memes, and delivering catchy tunes to become one of the strongest forces in K-pop. Musically, they didn’t really hit their stride until “TT,” though. Black Eyed Pilseung found his feet with them, giving them something quirky but not forceful. Their voices are not strained, but wrapped around the beat as if they are all one. Jihyo’s vocals are much better as a result; her inflection as she sings, “I eat all day and I’m still hungry” is the best part of the whole song. Numerous musical details litter the song that make every new listen rewarding. The synths are in constant flux along with the electro drum beat that becomes more physical as it signals an increase in tempo. “TT” is perfectly suited to be representative of its group. Twice’s joyous oddness was a constant comfort in a year where we all felt like TT. Don’t think twice. Get into Twice.
Make sure to watch our video countdown to the best song of 2016!
What was your favorite Korean song this year? Share your picks and thoughts in the comment section below and be sure to subscribe to the site and follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Tumblr to keep up with all of our posts.
As summer comes to a close, K-pop releases are beginning to slow down. However, we still racked up a short list of our weekly faves, which have proven to be a bit biased, but oh well! Gotta work with what we’re given.
“Shh” by Nine Muses A (Released August 4)
Considering their seemingly imminent demise, it’s a great relief to hear anything from Nine Muses, even if it is a sub-unit. Nine Muses A consist of Kyungri, Hyemi, Sojin, and Keumjo and are debuting without the usual tag of a cute or badass or whatever version of their parent group. Their album “Muses Diary” is a superbly tight work of sexy and sweet pop. The standout is “Shh,” a blistering mix of euro pop and orchestral music. It has an anime theme song feeling to it with its pulsing bass drum and swirling strings that build momentum. Each moment brings back different memories of pop for me. The aforementioned anime influences, the rapping in pop which K-pop has revolutionised, and best of all the Max Martin-esque chorus with its little delay before the beat kicks in again.
Also on KultScene: KCON 2016 LA’s M! Countdown Day 1 Concert Recap
“That’s My Jam” by B.A.P (Released August 7)
Throughout the years, B.A.P has experimented with music a lot. Their discography has a diverse range; from fighting everyday injustices, innocent first loves, to just down right having fun. The group’s latest EDM infused release “That’s My Jam” is unlike anything they’ve ever delivered before. Prior to it’s release today, fans had already gotten a taste of the group’s strong interest in EDM and rock during their recent Live On Earth 2016 World Tour.
This energetic song and it’s consistent overflowing addictive beat will without a doubt get you on your feet! Even without watching the music video, you can easily sense the members high enthusiasm and “fighting” spirits. Their delightful (and Yongguk’s heavily attractive) voices will quickly absorb and hypnotize one into a deep trance. Oh but if we had to talk about the music video, all I have to say is “VISUALS.”
“That’s My Jam” showcases a brand new side of B.A.P, which can only make us anticipate for what’s to come in the future. As the members matured and grown, so has their styles. It’s great seeing them getting away from their darker concepts and actually enjoying themselves, even with fake beers in hand. If you were in search of summer anthem, then this is your jam!
“Stuck” by Monsta X (Released August 7)
Monsta X was clearly busy while in Los Angeles earlier this week. Between opening up the second night of KCON 16 LA and flying between the US and Korea, they had the time to film the music video for “Stuck.” They pulsating track brings Monsta X’s style of aggressive dance music that they’ve been promoting over the past few months, but their vocals really shine and the distribution between the seven members may be the group’s best yet. (There’s no “Trespass”-style dominance by rapper Jooheon and vocalist Kihyun). “Stuck” is a gift to fans but even people who haven’t heard their other songs will be grooving to this track. (Plus, the music video has an insane dance break with Shownu flaunting his abs so if that’s your thing make sure to watch).
Also on KultScene: KCON 2016 LA’s M! Countdown Day 2 Concert Recap
“Do Better” by Y Teen (Released August 5)
I promise we don’t have an agenda to push Monsta X down your throats. But since last week’s KCON 16 LA, I have to admit I’ve been paying more attention since coming face to face with Shownu’s arms. Alas, I digress. The point is that now that I’m paying attention I found this collaboration with a few members of fellow Starship Entertainment’s girl group Cosmic Girls called Y Teen. Their collab song, “Do Better,” is a CF for… something requiring them as models… and sounds like your regular Monsta X song with the EDM-y, clap ridden jam. However, I could’ve done without the cutesy element Cosmic Girls brought into the mix. And while it may not offer anything new necessarily, it’s still a fun song where the rappers dominate and excel — especially Exy from Cosmic Girls who hasn’t been allowed to showcase her full potential. Monsta X kill it though, but what else is new?
What’s your favorite song of the week? Share your pick 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 final (full) week of May brought a lot of returns from some of our team’s favorite artists. Girl groups, boy groups, solo artists, and a wide variety of genres are represented in this week’s KultScene weekly K-pop faves.
“Windy Day” by Oh My Girl (Released May 25)
With “Windy Day”, Oh My Girl threatened us with a most dreaded coffee shop ballad. I nearly stopped listening after twenty seconds due to intense disappointment, especially this being the best and most exuberant of all rookie girl groups. I perked up by Yooa and Binnie’s angelic pre-chorus and was absolutely hooked by the Middle East-inspired break after the chorus. Between these parts, the song is driven by Oh My Girl’s perpetual dynamism. First by the chorus vocals in which seven of the members participate in and then by those wonderful strings (might be an Oud) and choreography. No group has exuded such youthful apathy towards musical norms quite like Oh My Girl. They are the rightful heirs to Girls’ Generation’s throne.
“Life in Color” by Beenzino (Released May 26)
After the lackluster that was “We Are Going To,” it’s comforting to see that Beenzino is back at it making up for the lost momentum after his “Up All Night” album. It’s no secret that Beenzino is #artsy: one of his most artistic music videos is last year’s “Break.” Continuing the concept and, with another Digipedi music video, comes “Life in Color.” The track is more on the experimental, hypebeast hip-hop side rather than the Southern rap stuff Illionaire regularly does, which makes it that more refreshening. Korea is all about making rap music that doesn’t sound like rap music (mainly slow tempo tracks with a singer at the chorus), but Beenzino mastered this practice by creating something interesting and new while keeping it upbeat. I for one am now highly anticipating his new album (which drops tomorrow!) and hope we see more songs on par with “Life in Color” rather than “Break” and “We Are Going To.”
“so-so” by Baek A Yeon (Released May 23)
I accidentally came across this song while scrolling through Youtube. Baek A Yeon’s soothing vocals blended with the soft melody is easy on ears. This ballad track has R&B and soul effect to it which portrays the feelings of being single and lovesick. The lyrics are quite relatable and hold some bitter reality to them. The subdued effect of the song is neutralized by using pastel shades for the video. The music video has a cute concept and is pleasing to eyes. Baek A Yeon’s “So So” is skyrocketing the music charts, like her previous hits.
”Monodrama” by Lay (EXO) (Released May 26)
I really missed hearing R&B from EXO, and even though he only makes up a ninth of the group, Lay’s “Monodrama” was enough to satiate that musical craving. Performed in his native tongue, this song is exactly what I imagine when I think of Chinese R&B. And like all quintessential R&B slow jams, this too makes generous use of layered claps and sensual guitars, giving it a very classic, old school sound. I don’t have to read into the lyrics (I mean, I did) to understand that this isn’t exactly a celebratory song because the instrumentals more than expressed the heartache that “Monodrama” is all about. Lay may not be the strongest vocally in his group, but with this comeback he definitely was able to brandish more than he did when he had to share lines with eight other members. Those several laudatory high notes alone probably made this one of SM Station’s best releases yet.
I was thoroughly absorbed in the music video for “All In” when I heard it the first time, to the degree that I honestly missed much of the song and had to go back to listen again. This music video, which appears to set up a dystopian trilogy featuring some of the members of Monsta X committing suicide, had me thinking of Nazi Germany, The Lord of the Flies, Japanese-occupied Korea, The Walking Dead, yaoi manga, and at least ten other K-pop music videos from the past decade. All at the same time. That said, because of the convoluted plot I feel like the music video honestly didn’t suit the song. As with all Monsta X singles, “All In” has an aggressive sound. Despite the pounding chorus and horn-heavy raps, the song isn’t actually about war or anger, so I feel like it should be accompanied by a music video about sports or some other difficult to achieve goal rather than a fight-for-life plot. The lyrics reflect being all in a relationship; translating this to being all in on a team or a competition makes sense while depicting it through revolution seems off the mark. But, back to the song, within two listens this pounding beat got stuck in my head and I really enjoyed the raps; It’s their most diverse single to date, while still retaining their specific style.
What song was your favorite 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.
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.
If anything, 2015 has been the year for rookie male K-pop groups as many fresh groups such as iKON and DAY6 have made their successful debuts. Armed with both youthful energy and high-level performance skills, these groups are likely to become big hits and household names in the K-pop industry in the future. From synchronised dancing to powerful rapping, each group has their own strengths and has showcased their individuality well through their respective releases, earning themselves strong fan bases despite their recent debuts.
Have you ever wondered which rookie male group your personality is most similar to? Here’s Kultscene’s latest quiz to help you find out more about these groups and yourself!
Also on Kultscene: What K-Drama Cliche Is Your Life?
What did you think of your result? Did you pick the rookie group that you thought you would? Let us know what other quizzes you’d like to see from KultScene! 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.