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Weekly K-pop faves: Nov. 13-19

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

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

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

—Alexis

“Twinkle” by Lovelyz (Released Nov. 14)

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

—Joe

What was your favorite release of the week? Let us know in the comment section below and be sure to subscribe to the site and follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Tumblr to keep up with all of our posts.

K-Pop Unmuted: KCON & Produce 101 Releases

In the 22nd episode of of KultScene’s K-pop Unmuted, Stephen Knight, Alexis Hodoyan, and Tamar Herman discuss what it was like being backstage at KCON 2017 LA and New York, and how Produce 101 is shaping K-pop right now. We also discussed new music, including Henry Lau’s sentimental “That One,” Sunmi’s groundbreaking “Gashina,” and HyunA’s age-defying “Bebe.”

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

Let us know what you think of K-pop in July 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.

Weekly K-pop faves: Aug. 28- Sept. 3

k-pop kpop songs playlist august september 20167

The last week of August and first few days of September saw a lot of good new music from South Korea, both from new and old acts alike. Former 4Minute member HyunA made her return, boy band of the moment Wanna One released a new music video, and Produce 101 finalist Jeong Sewoon made his debut. Check out what we liked about some of their releases.

“Just U” by Jeong Sewoon (Released Aug. 31)

It feels like every day there’s some new music from a Produce 101 Season 2 alum, and the last day of August brought about Jeong Sewoon’s debut with his first EP and the single “Just U.” While I would have expected generic acoustic pop from Sewoon after what he seemed to lean towards during Produce, his debut single is a guitar-driven smooth R&B pop hybrid that doesn’t sound so out of the wheelhouse of what someone like Lee Seunggi would attempt. There’s some funk and electronica elements thrown in, and Sik-K adds a melodic rap break, turning “Just U” into the epitome of K-pop’s freewheeling nature. Jeong showed a lot of promise during the reality series and though he didn’t make it into the final lineup for Wanna One, this is a promising debut and I can’t wait to see what he does next.

—Tamar


Also on KultScene: The story of LOONA: The first five girls

“Babe” by HyunA (Released Aug. 29)

I had completely given up on the trend before these last two weeks. Thanks to the work of the new gen girl and boy groups (Victon, DIA, and Pristin in particular) there’s been a resurgence of interesting tracks within the genre. The queen of K-pop brought the best though as she returned with “Babe” a song that uses the sound as her base and roams around it trying different things. Teaming back up with Shinsadong Tiger was Hyuna’s best decision in a long time. Alongside steel drum synths he packs the chorus with sawtooth synths to contrast the softness of the verses. “Babe” also represents Hyuna’s fight back against the haters. In her own version of IU’s “Twenty Three” she teases those who simultaneously drool over her and shame her. In a great reflexive moment in the music video she literally steps off stage during her routine seemingly fed up with it and walks off to a transcendent plane where maybe she can find some peace.

—Joe


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

“Wanna Be” by Wanna One (Uploaded Aug. 30)

While the boy group of the moment, Wanna One, released a music video for their fan song “Wanna Be,” it was their performance of it on one of the music shows that grabbed my attention. It usually takes groups awhile before they release a song dedicated to their fans, but given their finite lifetime and the fact that they actually exist because of their fandom, it makes sense that they’d feature one on their first EP. “Wanna B” might be a gift for Wannables, their fandom, but this performance is a gem in itself. All of the members stepped up their aegyo game all the way up with this one, and for having such a hectic schedule, the members look like they’re having fun while performing. The song, for its part, is bubblegum pop gold and super infectious. I especially like the fact that all the main vocalists got their chance to shine at the chorus — especially Seungwoo. If you’re a Wannnable, it’s impossible not to fall deeper for these dorks with this rendition of “Wanna Be.”

—Alexis

What was your favorite K-pop release of the week? Let us know 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.

Weekly K-pop faves: Aug. 7 – 13

kpop songs k-pop playlist k pop wanna one
Each week, KultScene’s team gives you a taste of their favorite new Korean music of the past few days. The second week of August 2017 brought some new music from Gugudan’s subunit Gugudan 5959, the debut of Produce 101 group Wanna One, and a special anniversary celebration from former Girls’ Generation member Jessica Jung.

“Ice Chu” by Gugudan 5959 (Released Aug. 11)

Between this and their last single, “A Girl Like Me” Gugudan are proving that they can hold down chaotic tracks with relative ease, and they pack a huge amount of musical details into standardly structured songs. With “Ice Chu” the first (and hopefully not last) release from sub-unit Gugudan 5959, made up of maknaes (youngest members) Mina and Hyeyeon, the pair deliver a funky summery disco track. Brass takes the frontline for the gloriously fun chorus but as the song progresses more electronics are added to change the tone, notably at Mina’s second rap and the voguing breakdown in place of a bridge. The thing that really sets apart Gugudan is that they add personality to their music through their vocals, especially Mina whose raps here are just the right amount of sweet and cheeky. In what feels like a particularly crowded battlefield of new girl groups forming out of I.O.I’s corpse, none of the other groups can claim this yet.

—Joe


Also on KultScene: Wanna One’s ‘Energetic’ song & music video review

“Burn It Up” by Wanna One (Released Aug. 10)

After participating in the second season of competition show Produce 101,Wanna One finally made their debut this week. And while fans voted for “Energetic” to be their debut track, they also released a music video for the runner up “Burn It Up.” On this track, the boys showed a darker, sultrier vibe than the bubbly and, well, energetic from the debut track to match the hard-hitting EDM sound. “Burn It Up” is not particularly bringing anything new to the table, but as a Wannable (their fandom name), I was obviously sold on the choreography, the styling, and the waterworks on the music video. Although Wanna One has plenty amazing dancers, with “Burn It Up,” the rest of the guys showed their growth as performers, mainly Guanlin and Jaehwan. For me at least, this video shows that Wanna One isn’t just a group of popular members who got through solely based on looks or likeability. And even with a couple of more seasoned performers, the group looks cohesive and proved they can go up against any other boy group.

—Alexis


Also on KultScene: BlackPink & 2NE1: Unexpectedly Different

“Summer Storm” by Jessica (Released Aug. 10)

With Girls’ Generation’s long-awaited 10th anniversary comeback crowding the airwaves this past week, the release of Jessica’s third mini album has been shown markedly less attention. And that is truly a shame, because My Decade’s single “Summer Storm” is nothing short of a pop confection, as Jessica’s signature sound becomes ever more clear with each release. The song begins with the musical twinkle of a Disney movie: she hits notes lightly but with poise and precision, mixing Korean and English lyrics with greater ease than most K-pop artists can (fitting of the Korean-American singer). While verses carry a building sentimentality and nostalgia, they quickly, but effectively, move into an infectious chorus, characteristically uplifting despite lyrics centered around what seems to be a breakup. But the conspiracy theorist and Golden S<3NE that I am, I can’t help but question Jessica’s lyrical motivations. “Will we be able to go back?” she asks, calling herself a fool “tied up with the memories.” Is she talking to a lost love, or maybe her former groupmates? As tension builds during the bridge and resolves into the final chorus, Jessica makes it clear that she still has mixed feelings towards someone. And on her 10th anniversary, she unwinds that anxiety into a song that is unapologetically her own, adding further definition to her budding career as a singer-songwriter.

—Kushal

What was your favorite K-pop song released this week? Share your picks and thoughts in the comment section below and be sure to subscribe to the site and follow us on FacebookTwitterInstagram, and Tumblr to keep up with all of our posts.

Wanna One’s ‘Energetic’ song & music video review

wanna one energetic produce 101 review song music video mv broduce kpop k-pop

Korea’s “national” boy group has finally made their grand debut. On Aug. 7, Wanna One released their upbeat EDM title song “Energetic” to the public. After being chosen by the public on the second season of Produce 101, the 11 members are ready to take the K-pop scene by storm with their charm. The title track was chosen by fans by voting between “Energetic” and “Burn It Up.” “Energetic” won the public vote with over 2,227,041 votes.

wanna one gif energetic mv music video song

via kimsjaehwan @ Tumblr


Also on KultScene: K.A.R.D’s ‘Hola Hola’ song & music video review

Song

“Energetic” was produced by Flow Blow and Hui, a member of Cube Entertainment’s newest male group Pentagon. Hui and fellow Pentagon member Wooseok wrote the track. Notably, the duo also wrote the Produce 101 song “Never,” which did pretty well on the charts and was performed by most of the current Wanna One lineup. “Energetic” talks about the love of two people who have an instant attraction to each other, and how it sends sparks between them.

The song starts off with the sound of a piano, which is perfectly represented in the choreography, with the boys emulating playing a grand piano. We hear Minhyun’s vocals first, then Seongwoo and Jihoon’s vocals follow in. Seongwoo kicks off the chorus, which is strong and distinct. The chorus alone adds an extra punch, with the help of him leading the first couple of lines.

wanna one energetic choreography gif choreo song mv music video

via ong-seungwoo @ Tumblr

The line distribution in big groups is always tricky, especially a group with eleven members. Of course, members with stronger vocals will get more lines. On this particular song, it could have been a bit better if Jisung and Jihoon were given more lines. Guanlin receiving fewer lines is fair, since he is still learning Korean and the fact that the group has two other rappers. Daniel’s rapping was a surprise to me because I wasn’t expecting it, but he held his own and did a good job. Jaehwan and Sungwoon’s voices were showcased very well, which helps them stand out to listeners.

The response to the track has been overwhelming. After one hour of its release, “Energetic” went to number one on Melon and six online music charts, earning the group their first all-kill.

Music Video

The video gives a playful and relaxed vibe between the members. There were scenes of most of the members being pushed around inside grocery carts, spraying each other with water hoses, playing tee ball, eating doughnuts, knocking down plastic bowling pins while on a skateboard, and other fun antics. The choreography, for its part, is very strong in the scenes where the boys were decked out in denim. As aforementioned, the scene at the beginning where the boys formed a human piano stands out because it showed a lot of creativity.

wanna one energetic gif piano choreography choreo song mv music video

wanna one energetic choreography choreo gif piano mv music video song

wanna one energetic piano gif choreo choreography mv music video song

via kimsjaehwan @ Tumblr


Also on KultScene: KultScene’s K-Pop Unmuted: July roundup [podcast]

Overview

Wanna One is looking to be one of 2017’s successful rookie groups, which comes as no surprise due to the popularity of the members thanks to Produce 101. “Energetic” is a strong song to debut with, given it shows their charm. Just like I.O.I, Wanna One’s time is finite, given they’ll only promote for two years, so it will be interesting to see what they can show us within that time length. For future comebacks, it would be nice to test out different sounds, but keep that boy-next-door concept they have. Overall, this was a solid debut and makes us all look forward to what Wanna One keeps having in store for fans to see.

How did you like Wanna One’s debut? Share your thoughts in the comment section below. Be sure to subscribe to the site and follow us on FacebookTwitterInstagram, and Tumblr to keep up with all of our posts.