Artist Spotlight: Samuel

What happens when you put together Latin roots and K-pop? The answer lies in singer and dancer Samuel Arredondo Kim. Known as Samuel in the K-pop scene, he was born in Los Angeles to a Korean mother and a Mexican father, making him one of the few Latino K-pop stars. He became a huge hit at just 15-years-old, proving that age is really just a number.

When Samuel, now 16-years-old, first made his solo debut last August, he immediately caught my attention as well as the attention of many others. And not just because of his unique cultural background. He possesses certain star qualities and a seemingly inborn talent that distinguishes him from others in the industry. His career began at a very young age when he appeared in commercials for a Volkswagen dealership in Bakersfield. In these videos, we see a young and goofy Samuel, gushing about the cars on screen, constantly flashing a cheeky smile. He even sports an oversized suit and tie and speaks fluent Korean, adding to his more-than-adorable image. His comfort and ease in front of the camera makes it obvious that Samuel was born to be a star.

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At age 11, he moved to Korea to begin his training with Pledis Entertainment. While a trainee, he was in the lineup to become a member of boy group Seventeen and appeared in the live broadcast series, Seventeen TV. In these broadcasts it is not difficult to spot Samuel as he is the youngest of the group and quite visible. He is so small compared to the others, that before watching the video, I questioned whether or not he was a part of the group and whether or not his skills would be up to par. However, when he starts to dance, there is no doubt: it is indeed the young prodigy. In fact, he dances with such skill that he blends in with the rest of the group despite the obvious height difference. Unfortunately, Samuel left Pledis Entertainment and was unable to become a member of Seventeen.

That’s okay though, as it did not stop Samuel from pursuing a career as a K-pop idol. In fact, it was probably for the better as he embarked on a path that would transform him into the Samuel we see today. Shortly after leaving Pledis Entertainment, he signed with Brave Entertainment and became one half of the hip-hop duo 1Punch. They debuted in January 2015 with “Turn Me Back,” the title track of their album, The Anthem. The music video shows Samuel, now a preteen, sporting dreads and an outfit that is highly characteristic of the hip-hop genre. Though his appearance is drastically different, it is still undoubtedly Samuel as only he could possess such advanced dancing skills at such a young age. Although the “Turn Me Back” music video does not adequately show off his full skillset, Samuel is still able to give off a hip (yet adorable) vibe that catches people’s attention.

Not long after their debut, 1Punch disbanded after fellow member One joined YG Entertainment. However, Samuel retained his stage name “Punch” and collaborated with American rapper Silentó in “Spotlight.” This catchy single won them the 26th Seoul Music Award for Global Collaboration, and Samuel later went on tour with Silentó. The fact that he was able to go on tour at his young age proves he has the stamina and qualities of a star and was a good indicator of his future successes.

Samuel’s next big moment came when he joined the survival reality show Produce 101’s second season at the beginning of 2017. He immediately stood out to viewers with his indisputable talent, and even co-choreographed his team’s performances. One of Samuel’s most memorable performances was his performance of Chris Brown’s “With You,” where he displayed incredible footwork and, to the viewers’ pleasant surprise, even lifted his shirt to give a quick peek of his abs. It’s evident through this performance that Samuel has grown and matured so much since he first began his career in Korea. He was such a favorite throughout the show, that people were shocked when he ultimately did not end up making the cut for the 11-member boy group.

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Samuel’s true breakout moment came in August 2017, when he finally made his solo debut with “Sixteen,” the title track of his album.. Just when we thought he couldn’t get better (or cooler), he did. Sixteen was so successful, that the first batch of physical copies sold out, with the title track reaching number one on the iTunes worldwide album charts in Vietnam, Indonesia, and other Asian countries. It’s clear to see why: “Sixteen” is such an irresistibly fun bop that it’s quite impossible to not feel the urge to jam and dance along to it. In the video, we also see an obvious transformation in the young idol’s image. Instead of the adorable persona he once exhibited, viewers find themselves charmed by his cool charisma and attractive visuals. If that wasn’t enough, his vocals and choreography once again improved by tenfold, wowing fans even more.

Not long after that, Samuel released his second album, Eye Candy, in November 2017, which didn’t disappoint with its equally catchy songs. His most recent release was his birthday single, “Winter Night,” which he released January 16, one day before his birthday. Although the rhythm is slower than what we are used to from him, it still shows off his awesome vocals, proving that he is capable of a diverse range of musical styles.

As Samuel has already accomplished so much at such a young age, it’s exciting to see what else he will achieve as he continues to grow in his career and all eyes are on him to see what he does next.

Let us know what you think of Samuel 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.

Actor Spotlight: Park Seo Joon

park seo joon korean actor dramas k-dramas
Tall in stature and charming in mannerism, Park Seo Joon is not a new face in the Korean acting industry. However, this 28-year-old actor from Seoul, South Korea has recently been booming in popularity, especially after his leading roles in the recent dramas Hwarang and Fight For My Way.

Park made his entertainment debut in 2011 when he appeared in the music video for singer Bang Yong Guk’s single, “I Remember.” In the video, he plays the boyfriend in a turbulent relationship and is put in a dangerous situation to save the one he loves. Park portrays such raw emotion throughout, leaving a strong impression on the viewer and displaying his acting skills very early on. He is able to convey an intensity that gives him the image of a violent partner, while also conveying the tenderness of a lover, all in under five minutes.

He landed his first role in a drama in 2012, playing the character of Si-Woo, a member of boy band Eden, in Dream High 2. As if he weren’t talented enough, he showcases his dancing and singing abilities in addition to his acting. And let me tell you, not only can Park sing and dance, but he can actually rock the stage like a natural performer.

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From there, Park went on to land roles in more dramas like A Word From Warm Heart and A Witch’s Love. However, 2015 proved to be his big year as he landed major roles in Kill Me, Heal Me and She Was Pretty, jumping from second male lead to leading man within a year in two very popular dramas.

Park Seo Joon’s popularity skyrocketed as drama viewers everywhere fell in love with him. And it’s easy to see why. Not only does Park have an attractive face and physique, he also possesses a kind and down-to-earth personality, which is made obvious through his interactions with costars and fans. He has a unique ability to create irresistible chemistry with any and all of his costars, making viewers fall in love with and wanting more of the on-screen couple.

His acting received such praise that he won the 2015 Excellent Actor in a Miniseries award for his roles in Kill Me, Heal Me and She Was Pretty. He also held his first ever fan meet in 2015 and it sold out in a minute!

As stated before, Park is known for his high fashion and great visuals, evidenced by his Instagram posts. So much so that he became the first Asian male to model for Tommy Hilfiger — I can’t think of a better fit for the job. With his height and his clean, polished look, Park exudes a charisma that turns heads, no matter where he goes.

#ZIOZIA @ziozia_official #지오쟈

A post shared by 박서준 (@bn_sj2013) on

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This year so far has also been another big year for Park, as his popularity saw yet another increase. This was largely due to his work in highly popular dramas Hwarang and most recently, Fight For My Way. In Hwarang, he played a skilled warrior seeking revenge for his friend’s death, and in Fight For My Way, he played a laid-back Taekwondo athlete trying to figure out his career as well as his love life.

His ability to deliver and sell these two contrasting roles is an amazing feat that only those who are truly skilled can accomplish, contributing to the shows’ popularity. It is what makes him such a versatile actor and demonstrates the level of artistry he has as an actor.

Park’s most recent work is his starring role in the movie Midnight Runners, an action-comedy that was released just this past August. In the film, Park stars alongside Kang Ha-neul and they play students at the Korean National Police University. The film was very well received by viewers, once again exhibiting Park’s uncanny ability to capture the attention of his audience.

And did I mention that this boy can sing? He has sung several OST’s for the dramas that he has starred in, including Witch’s Romance, Kill Me, Heal Me, She Was Pretty, and Hwarang. His soothing voice reflects his down-to-earth personality and gives fans all the feels.

Park Seo Joon is truly a man of many talents. Being Park’s fan is a job filled with excitement as he is always leaving us pleasantly surprised. With all that he’s accomplished so far, we can’t wait to see what else this beloved and charming actor has up his sleeve.

Have you watched any dramas with Park Seo Joon? Which one is your favorite? 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.

Artist Spotlight: Rubber Soul

When is an idol group not an idol group? The general definition of an “idol” tends towards any manufactured pop star. Regardless of whether a company decides that a specific group is going to be more artistic sounding or more involved in production, every K-pop group fits into the idol category. Even when trying to distance themselves, no group has ever transcended this. They always fit into the idol system, the litany of teasers, dance routines, music show appearances, all of these things we love about K-pop restrict it. Little known girl group Rubber Soul are challenging this.

The group debuted in 2015 and their origins remain somewhat mysterious. Apparently the brainchild of three different companies, they emerged as hopeful rookies taking on the 90s right before the craze died. Their story is quiet but full of the contradictions you’d expect from an idol group wanting to be respected.

Two of Rubber Soul’s companies were already used to being partners. Happy Tribe Entertainment and Universal Music Korea had previously collaborated to produce the underrated Boys’ Republic. Despite the big name of Universal behind them, they never got very far but obviously in Korea, Universal doesn’t have the same prestige behind it. The third company is withHC Entertainment, primarily home to actors. At the time they seemed to be taking the lead. Most press releases were issued by them and, being the smaller company, they were probably happy to have a potential hit idol group on their hands. The interesting thing about the companies though is that right now, none of them seem to be involved with Rubber Soul. withHC have no info about the band on their website, Universal are still distributing them presumably alongside Happy Tribe, although there is nothing to be found about either or how the latter company works with Rubber Soul.

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This is the first sign of Rubber Soul attempting to step outside of the idol realm. Their original creative decision makers have seemingly taken over on the more administrative side as well. Usually a production trio, madsoulchild are the only constant in Rubber Soul’s life. Their vocalist Jinsil featured on their song “Lonely Friday” and both DJ fellow member Chanwoo and she have taken most of the production duties alongside the Rubber Soul girls. Many groups have had producer mentors before but none have had them take full control.

Each of the girls, Lala, Kim, and Choi Cho, take part in production too. They’re a group born of three companies but their output to date has been contained to a limited number of creatives. Maybe that’s why they are just so good.

Debuting with “Life,” the most 90s of all 90s throwbacks, Rubber Soul marked themselves as the most interesting rookie group of the past few years. The international K-pop fanbase definitely responded, and many blogs were writing about the gorgeous neo-soul track. From the opening beats to the echoey backing chorus “Life” recreates not just the sound but the very essence of 90s music. The clothing was teetered at the absolute edge of embarrassing and iconic even with the bucket hats.

“Life” at its best is found in the lyrics though. Matching the languid rhythms, the girls tell a simple story perhaps inspired by the slightly simpler times in which they are emulating. Each of the girls raps about the things they left behind, small pleasures that they are better off without. Choi Cho describes the minute details of the monotonous daily life she passed over. “In the tangled hair, a slight touch in the dried skin moisturizing cream” she opens with. Kim remembers the late nights drinking. “Everytime we lament our misfortune, in a glass of the drink, in our two loose hearts, we suddenly become king of the world.” Lala brings it back around, reiterating the point featured rapper Mad Clown made in the opening. Describing her role in her family she says, “Our princess, our daughter, older sister Lala, let’s eat! I mean that‘s love.” Ordinary lives can be exciting and rewarding if you can realise the beauty of the mundane.

Rubber Soul’s music is filled with the personalities of the girls. Each of their verses is distinct, lyrically and tonally. They build off of each other too. For example, “Lonely Friday,” the b-side to “Life,” starts off with Lala’s apathy towards partying on Friday nights despite the “flooding emptiness” she feels from browsing Facebook all night. By the time the last verse comes around, she is rapping with her other members as if she’s been convinced by them. “Stop those habitual excuses, with you, stop digging the floor, let’s run together” they repeat together, ready to turn this lonely Friday into something a bit more exciting.

Rubber Soul promoted these songs as any group would. A short run on the weekly Korean music shows, a feature from a well known rapper., etc. They got a cameo slot on season six of Saturday Night Live Korea and Kim even appeared on Unpretty Rapstar’s second season. Their promotions were failures though. On Unpretty Rapstar Kim was eliminated in the episode following the one in which she was introduced. Her taking part in the show was already under scrutiny thanks to her being shoved in halfway through the show alongside future Cosmic Girls leader Exy.

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Two things usually happen after a failed K-pop debut, either the company doubles down on more comebacks so as to gain attention through sheer attrition or the group fades into obscurity waiting maybe years for another single. Given that their company has little to do with them anymore it’s clear what route Rubber Soul took. They returned almost two years later to considerably less fanfare.

Now seemingly under not just the production talents of madsoulchild but managment and promotion as well, Rubber Soul’s latest track “Freedom” continues their throwback trend with a more electro R&B inspired sound. Processed beats and synths build the otherwise tame song towards a great ending. The flitters of autotune eventually take over as the song transitions from its chorus directly into an abstract climax. A trap beat takes over as the girls’ voices collide, articulating a certain sadness despite the party setting of the video. This sadness is amplified by Choi Cho’s final vocal. Without even an English translation of the lyrics it’s clear that “Freedom” is a song about being yourself to find,well, freedom. Definitely in line with what Rubber Soul had been talking about before, although it’s harder to get into it when you can only understand the corny English lyrics. (So if any Korean-speaking readers would like to translate for us…)

“Freedom” represents a new, uncharted territory for Rubber Soul. Under madsoulchild they have a great chance to do something interesting while maintaining an idol image to try and show the masses a new kind of idol. K-pop groups don’t need to be managed by small production groups like this to be innovative, but Rubber Soul’s new venture does represent something that has not been done successfully to date.

The potential is seen in their “mixtapes.” Two short videos that they released titled Mixtape 1 and Mixtape 2 are not really mixtapes but inventive little rap samples. They could add up to a mixtape eventually but Rubber Soul are probably just using the word to seem a bit more underground. The first, which sampled Daft Punk’s “Get Lucky,” was called “I Wish You Good Luck” and was released shortly after “Life” and “Lonely Friday,” back in 2015. It acted as a showcase for the girls’ rapping skills, with each one getting a verse and absolutely killing it. The “Get Lucky” beat remains one of the most infectious ever and Rubber Soul reworked it just enough to highlight their flows.

The second mixtape samples Lauryn Hill’s “Doo Wop (That Thing)” to marvellous results. Lala and Kim rap with such ease as they lay back on a bed. It’s relaxed but full of personality, the girls vape, burp, and lounge around the bed with ramen packs (which also offer the best part of video when Kim smashed one with her elbow in time with the beat.) Choi Cho ends with an excellent Mary J. Blige impression.

By now, Rubber Soul should have already carved out a niche fanbase for themselves. Most rookie groups would have had numerous comebacks and would at least cement them in the industry. As it stands Rubber Soul have no place in any environment, not the idol or underground. A commitment from madsoulchild could allow this group of big personalities to express themselves.

What do you think of Rubber Soul? Do you hope to see more of them in the future? Share your 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.

Translation Source: Life, Lonely Friday

What’s the deal with A.Leean?

On Jan. 5, f(x)’s Amber Liu posted an image on Instagram to promote a “famous singer, new alias.” The image announced that a singer, using the alias A.leean, will make her U.S. debut on Jan. 7 with the single, “Fall Back.” Amber’s fans were quick to offer options as to whom the mystery singer A.leean might be. Many of the guesses veered towards Ailee, a K-pop singer known for her outstanding vocal performances.

A.Leean’s chosen alias offers clue to her identity, but the fact that Amber posted the image also suggests that it might be Ailee. Amber and Ailee are close friends and have performed together. At KCON NY in 2016, Ailee, a Korean-American singer raised in New Jersey, did mention that she was angling to release music in the United States.

To find out a bit more about A.Leean, Kultscene reached out to David Kim, a Hollywood-based entertainment lawyer promoting the singer’s debut in the U.S. When asked to reveal the singer’s identity and confirm her K-pop credentials, he chose not to comment. However, he did say he’s not worried about the singer’s existing fans outing her and revealing her identity. “We’re not afraid of fans,” he said. “Because we’d actually like more fan participation. We just won’t be making an official statement until later.”

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For a few weeks, A.Leean won’t publicly state her identity or make promotional appearances. The release of the song’s music video will also be delayed, leaving listeners free to speculate on her musical background. According to Kim, the decision to release music anonymously enables listeners to judge the singer on the merits of her voice and not her background.

If A.Leean is, in fact, already a K-pop star, she has chosen a different route than other Korean or Korean-American singers attempting to debut in the U.S. As yet there is no predictable formula for a successful crossover. Psy dominated the charts with his Korean language “Gangnam Style,” while 2NE1’s CL released the English language single “Lifted” in Aug. 2016 and reached 94 on the Billboard Hot 100. Even Korean-American bands have until recently met with limited success; the most successful was Far East Movement. The group’s record “G6” reached first place in Billboard’s Hot 100. Any k-pop singer trying to break into the U.S. market will confront complicated concerns, including misleading preconceptions and the possibility of racial prejudice.

“We wanted to focus more on the music and not so much on the person behind the song, which is what musical pop culture has evolved into,” said Kim. “Not that pop culture is a bad thing, but we wanted to focus on her talent. When the song gains traction and becomes popular, we will reveal her identity.”

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The international platform that YouTube offers can make a formal music release in the U.S. seem less important to some recording artists, but A.Leean’s team sees it as the logical next step toward global recognition.

“The U.S. music market is still the official authority on what music is broadcast all over the world,” Kim told KultScene. “Our artist is not an amateur. She’s been singing for years. We felt like the whole world could be seeing her perform and not just a segment of the world. We wanted to broaden her base and felt we had to do it through U.S. market first. “

Kim is working with LA-based Westside Entertainment to launch the singer he describes as “having powerhouse vocals” and “being a mix between Whitney Houston and Ariana [Grande].” Westside Entertainment is the company behind The Notorious B.I.G., Nelly, MASE, Lil Fizz, and Keyshia Cole. After playing the single for members of his music industry family, Westside Entertainment VP Stephen Umavitz is confident that this singer has what it takes.


This gonna be ? #ALeean #FallBack #AleeanEncounter

A photo posted by Amber J. Liu (@ajol_llama) on

“A good handful of Hollywood legends and entertainment music industry veterans have already personally listened to the song,” said Umavitz in an official statement. “They said it has a crazy hook and that it’s gonna be a hit record.”

“Fall Back,”A.Leean’s single about falling in love again has a Jan. 7 release date. On Jan. 11, the lyric video will be released on YouTube. The official video will be released at a later date, depending on how “Fall Back” performs in the U.S.

A.Leean is not the first recording artist to anonymously release music. Electronic dance producer and DJ Marshmello is currently at 84 on the Billboard Top 100 and his real identity remains unknown. But while anonymity creates hype at first, that won’t matter if the singer does not ultimately climb high on the charts. Luckily, if this is who we think it is, we’re sure A.Leean’s vocals are going to impress America.

Do you think A.Leean has what it takes to succeed in the U.S. market? Can you guess who she is? Share your thoughts in the comment section below and be sure to subscribe to the site. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Tumblr to keep up with all of our posts.

Artist Spotlight: 4Ten

When 4Ten released their first album “Jack of All Trades” earlier this month, the title and tracklist got me thinking about their career so far. The term “Jack of All Trades” when referred to pop groups brings to my mind groups like 4minute, SHINee, and TVXQ. Groups with talent across the board or talent so good that even the seemingly-less talented members are given their chance to shine. The tracklist of “Jack of All Trades” does little to show the variety of 4Ten. It contains three old tracks re-recorded with the new members and two new ones. Less than half are new and those re-recordings removed some key elements to those old songs. Hardly “Jack of all Trades.”

Let’s take a step back for now though, it is just a title after all.

4Ten are a four member girl group who debuted under Jungle Entertainment in 2014. The name is derived from the English word “potential.” Try pronouncing the number “4” as if you were Korean (since Korean doesn’t have an “f” sound) and it’ll make more sense. The original four members had a, shall we call it, distinctive look. It wasn’t something K-pop fans would not be familiar with. Their faces were, well, let down by the doctors. Two especially, Hyeji and Eujin, were operated on by surgeons with Parkinson’s disorder. TEM, the rapper, doesn’t look like an idol although she was probably scared of surgery after seeing her groupmates. The remaining member looks like a regular enough idol which in a way is boring for this group.

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Hoping to blow away their competition (zing!) 4Ten debuted with “Tornado” in August of 2014. Like all rookie groups coming from smaller companies, the low production value is immediately obvious in the song and music video. “Tornado” is a messy club banger that somehow combines Crystal Castles and David Guetta into a relatively palatable pop song. Everything about it is close to being at least something that could be popular, but everything about it is also something that should be left as a demo. The pianos that should twinkle in contrast to the synths are flat and not varied enough. Those big synths are not clear enough so get lost amongst a million other things in the chorus. The video was shot in a bunch of dusty brown exteriors that do little for the girls except make them feel at home. The choreography needed a lot more practice too, not that it looks particularly difficult. The one saving grace is TEM, whose rap is genuinely good and promises the possibility of building around her for the future.

That future resulted in “Why.” It does not make TEM the focus but it can be called an improvement. It recycles the cheap synths for a europop verse that is almost hard to get through but builds by adding a rock drum beat. Mostly it’s the chorus that makes “Why” superior to “Tornado.” Its hook is pretty generic but it has an authentic energy that was missing before. After the chorus, it transitions straight into a rap, which is again the highlight. TEM has a few more little spits towards the end that indicate a possibility that Jungle have realised the real talent of this group. Let’s look for — hey TEM where are you going? No, wait, please don’t go. Goddamn.

Let’s start again I guess.

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Poten are a five member girl group who debuted under Jungle Entertainment in 2015.

After the departure of TEM and Eujin, 4Ten rebranded themselves by adding three new members, Hio, Yoon, and Haejeong and changing their name to free themselves of the number four. Not that that stopped groups before — I’m looking at you Nine Muses and Day6 (too soon?). This all proved to be beneficial, however, as the revamp gave the girls their best song. “Go Easy,” released in the summer of 2015, is a slick funky track that sounds a million miles from their precious work. The loss of TEM is more than made up for with great vocals and great production. In the video, they once again dance and pose in an American town, but this time they themselves and the camerawork actually looks good. The life of a young girl group is a difficult one, but it’s always good to see when a group starts to even slowly improve.

4Ten are a four member girl group who debuted under Jungle Entertainment in 2016. Goddammit not again.

This time it was Haejeong’s turn to leave, and with her departure the chance to revert to their original name and pretend Poten never existed, which was too enticing for Jungle. Luckily Haejeong had little to do with “Go Easy’s” quality, so her loss was not damaging. 4Ten returned in February 2016 with the aforementioned album and lead single “Severely.” It continues on the work of “Go Easy” by going full 80’s throwback. “Severely” would be up there with all the great throwbacks we’ve had recently if its production was that bit better. The vocals are great, they snap out of the track with power. The chorus group singing is especially good, evoking the period perfectly. The synths are just that bit too drowned out to be really satisfying. I can so nearly imagine Tom Cruise kicking ass in a training montage with this in the background. In reality, it’s closer to “Wet Hot American Summer” than “Top Gun.” (I embedded the live version because it has more bite than the video and might make me love it wholly).

So maybe 4Ten are not jack of all trades, but does it really matter? What I really like in underdog groups like these is the almost tangible feeling of desperation that comes from their songs and videos. The sense that even if it looks and sounds like it cost $5, that they put their all into it and for a split second thought they could be the next Girls’ Generation. With the K-pop industry becoming less exclusive to groups out of the big three companies, it is a lot easier for this to potentially happen. Yet we can always count on new upstart companies to try in earnest with groups like 4Ten. Maybe members won’t be able to dance, maybe they won’t be as pretty as Suzy, maybe they can’t even sing that well. Groups like these have to try new things in order to grab our attention and sometimes that yields great results. With 4Ten we have gotten one great song, an interesting failure, and some spectacular misfires. Most importantly they gave me a good time. I hope groups like these never die out.

What’s your favourite 4Ten song? Share your thoughts in the comment section below and be sure to subscribe to the site and follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Tumblr to keep up with all of our posts.

Artist Spotlight: April

Artist Spotlight April

DSP Media’s rookie girl group April entered the scene last August and has released three albums since then. They’ve also had their fair share of pre-debut drama and member departures, even though it’s only been less than a year since their debut. With so much going on for them however, why is it that April remains so unknown and underrated?

Sure, they have a loyal group of supporters who have followed them since the start (especially for Chaewon, who was part of the “Kara Project”), but their fan base has remained stagnant over the year, unlike fellow rookie groups such as TWICE and Oh My Girl. For a group that has produced consistently good music, April really deserves more attention.

They kicked off their journey in August 2015, when the original six members released their first mini-album “Dreaming.” With their title song “Dream Candy,” April really sold their image as pure and innocent young girls, which seemed especially appropriate for this group with an average member age of 16-17. Although this cute concept led to April’s eventual blending in with several other girl groups who were all using similar concepts, it would be hard to imagine this youthful and energetic group of girls doing anything else.

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While I wasn’t immediately taken by their debut, mostly because of how similar all the members looked and the rather mediocre quality of their title track, once I listened to their whole album I realised that they had a lot of potential, both as individual members and as a group. There were standout tracks that I really enjoyed and gave me faith in the group, such as “Hurry Hurry.” It had the catchy melody that “Dream Candy” slightly lacked, and also much less auto-tune so I could enjoy the unique voices of the members better. All in all, the album was merely a stepping stone for this group, as evidenced by their subsequent releases.

Three months later, along with the news about the departure of leader Somin, came the news that April was making a comeback with “Boing Boing,” a new mini-album. Despite the member shake-up, April didn’t seem to be too affected by the change and came back with an even better song than before. “Muah” still had the same identical styling and cute dance that “Dream Candy” had, but with a more addictive melody and less auto-tune. The music video was also more entertaining because it had a storyline that was both adorable and suitable for the members. They weren’t proper and perfect little girls this time, rather they fantasized about romantic encounters with cute guys, just like most teenage girls. This made them more endearing, in my opinion, because they acted more like themselves and not as if they had just come out from a K-pop idol training factory. Each member was also given more time to shine as there were more individual scenes this time around, allowing fans to enjoy April’s individual charms.

Towards the end of their whirlwind year, in fact, even before finishing their “Muah” promotions, DSP media announced that April would be releasing a Christmas album.

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I was skeptical about this because April seemed to be releasing way too many songs for a rookie group but at the same time I was excited to see what they would have in store for their fans. “Snowman” was a definite success in my books because it showed their growth and slight maturity as artists, despite the short period of time since their debut. The style of their music video was very much the same as the previous two releases and, despite the lack of a proper storyline, it was a sweet video filled with scenes of the members preparing for Christmas.

The best part of the release however, was the song itself. “Snowman” didn’t just fit the winter and Christmas theme perfectly, it was also a platform for the members to show off their vocal chops in a way that they had never done before. Even less vocally impressive members were able to sing without much auto-tune this time, and the two main vocals, Chaewon and Jinsol, simply amazed me. I had known for a while that Chaewon had a great voice, but the fact that Jinsol, the 14 year old maknae (youngest member) of the group, had a voice that was stronger than all her fellow members shocked me.

Jinsol’s voice has a very unique tone that makes it instantly recognisable and despite her young age she controls her voice well, it’s powerful when it needs to be and subtle in the quieter parts of the song. The two main vocals had more adlibs on this song as well, allowing it to be more layered and nice to listen to.

Although they probably spent a lot of their time recording songs and practicing for their countless stages, April somehow found the time to do some variety as well. Apart from having their own variety program, “Here Goes April,” they also guested on well-known programs such as “Weekly Idol” and “Let’s Go Dream Team!.” Although they are still very young and inexperienced, (with the departure of Somin, who was their oldest member, their oldest member is only 18 years old) there’s a lot of potential for April because they’ve proven (albeit in minor ways so far) that they’re able to let go of their pristine idol images for the sake of good entertainment. Energetic members like Jinsol are also able to hype up the atmosphere so I’m really looking forward to their future variety programs.

Since their debut April has given us many venues to see how hardworking and talented they are. Though they are still starting out, and they have a lot of room to grow, they’re also very young and brimming with potential. I trust that their troubles are over and from now on, as long as they keep improving with every song or album that they release, they’ll definitely be successful and go far.

What do you think of April? 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.

Artist Spotlight: THE ARK

the ark kpop bio profile

By Sana Parvayz

If you’re sick of cute/sexy girl concept and those girly dance moves, which every other K-pop girl group does, then you need to dig out THE ARK. They are a rookie girl group under the management of Music K Entertainment who debuted on April 2015 with their single “The Light.” The concept and innovative logo of the group are inspired by the famous French heroine Joan Of Arc, who was a warrior and a military leader. Another term for an arc is a bow, so, ‘The ARK’ means the bow which would set a new direction in K-pop and would overcome hardships with ease.

THE ARK is a multicolor group which consists of five members and focuses on portraying various images of society.They are trying to depict what it is like to be a new icon which is not only independent, strong, and active, but also have a hidden delicate side to them. The group consists of Jeon Minju, Kim Yuna, Jung Yujin, Lee Halla, and Jane (Cheon Jaein). Before the formation of THE ARK, Minju was on “KpopStar season 2” and Yuna was on “Superstar K season 3.” Jane also auditioned for “The Voice Kids.” Later on, the entertainment company recruited them.

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Their debut single “The Light” is a contemporary R&B song with lyrical guitar riff that adds a groovy rhythm and hip-hop feel and was composed by Kim Tae Sung, who also composed “The Boys” by Girls’ Generation. This song expresses the strength for the loved ones and supports them in their difficult times. “The Light” shows the uniqueness of THE ARK as a group and their strong rapping, vocal, and performance abilities. Being a rookie group, they rapidly gained the attention of the audience. Their music video gained nearly two million views by the end of 2015.

During their pre-debut years, THE ARK covered the songs and dance choreography by various international and K-pop artists. One of the covers includes “Love The Way You Lie” by Rihanna and Eminem. This cover further proves their great singing abilities, as Yuna and Jane are good in English. So, they amazingly covered this song.

They have done various dance covers of EXO and BTS songs. Being five members, it is pretty hard to choreograph and cover those boy groups with fewer members. But they have done a great job and their dance covers were on pointe. Even, BTS complimented them on their dance cover of “Boy in Love.” This is one of their famous dance covers and got 1.7 million views on Youtube.

However, it was hard for the group to cover boy group dances and they often got ill during practice. But, they are really happy to show their charismatic side to the audience. Can you hear those fanchants?

Imagine a girl group with swag. Oh, there is no need to imagine it because The ARK has already got that and they are confidently portraying themselves as a different girl group. The powerful “INTRO” by the group really amazed the viewers and the elegant choreography for their song “The Light” perfectly shows the promising future for THE ARK.

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I love the concept and the whole persona of THE ARK. Hence, I am a huge fan and I wish them success for the future. I am definitely rooting for their upcoming projects. Ending this post on a happy note, here’s a wonderful live performance by The ARK.

So, what are your views about this new rookie group? Did you like the concept and the whole attire of the group? Do you think girl groups should stick with the cute/sexy concept only? Or they should do something out of the box.
Don’t forget to subscribe to the site and follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Tumblr to keep up with all of our posts.

Artist Spotlight: Burstered


Punk rock is back in a big way with Burstered. If you’ve never heard of this Korean rock band, don’t worry, you’re not alone. I only discovered Burstered when my YouTube autoplay kept going without permission. But I wasn’t disappointed. The Korean music scene is sorely lacking in the rock department, and not since the TRAX’s debut has there been any attempt at putting together an idol rock band. Burstered is the answer to all of our prayers, although calling them idols would be doing them a disservice.

The group first got their name out there back in 2014, when they appeared on “Superstar K6” and made it to the final six. Burstered made a big impact on the show with a unique sound and style that’s not usual in Korea, and their hardcore-hip hop hybrid cover of After School’s “Shampoo” with T.O.V is absolutely outstanding.

Burstered claims on their homepage to be an “emotional rock” band, and features vocalist No Daegun, guitarists Ahn Junyoung and Lee Kyejin, bassist Cha Hwanhee, and drummer Jung Sangyoon.

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Take note, their name is a bit confusing. In Korean, and whenever the band members say their name, it clearly is “Buster Red.” Unfortunately, Burstered has never offered an explanation for the “r” in the first part of their name. We like them well enough anyway.

Burstered debuted formally in February under Evermore Music, whose tagline is “the real music company for the real musicians.” And it doesn’t get much more real than Burstered.

A little less intense than their “Shampoo” cover, Burstered’s debut song “Whenever You Call Me” starts off with a soft melody and then turns into a garage punk rock style song with a cool half-tempo chorus. This song is pretty Korea-friendly, and lacks the screams and wails that Burstered has utilized in other songs that they’ve performed before their formal debut. (The group has numerous song covers on their YouTube page, so check that out.)

The music video for “Whenever You Call Me” is a bit dark until the very end, but has some great cinematic shots of both the plot and the bandmembers themselves. Visually, the music video also bares some similarities to 30 Seconds’ To Mars’ “Kings and Queens,” which makes sense considering vocalist No Daegun credits the group as one of his inspirations on Burstered’s official homepage.

Seriously though.

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Although they’ve only been around formally for a bit, Burstered has really made an impression. In August, Burstered appeared on KBS1’s “Concert Feel” and hilariously were introduced by “The Imperial March” from “Star Wars” before the band started playing their own music for the next 45 minutes.

In September, Burstered made a comeback with “Lost Child,” a much more hardcore punk rock song with metal elements that were missing from the group’s debut song.There’s more of an emphasis on the band’s music in “Lost Child” than in “Whenever You Call Me,” with more of a screamo vibe. The new track doesn’t try as hard as the earlier song to fit Burstered into Korean mainstream music.

To match the metalcore style, the music video gets rid of any convoluted plot. Gone are the beautiful shots of “Whenever You Call Me,” and instead we get a vibrant, band-focused music video. The only gimmick is to hide the members faces by mummy-style bandages, as if Burstered is demanding people to listen to their music rather than admire their handsome features, a la the average K-pop band.

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boys republic artist spotlight profile kpop korean boy band

Artist Spotlight: Boys Republic

boys republic artist spotlight profile kpop korean boy band

In an oversaturated market of male K-Pop idols, many aspiring boy bands face intense competition every year to make an impact. One such group currently vying for success is Happy Tribe Entertainment and Universal Music Korea’s five member boy band, Boys Republic. The group comprises leader and eldest member Won Jun, main vocalist Sun Woo, rapper and dancer Sung Joon, fellow rapper and dancer Min Su and Su Woong, vocalist and the youngest member.

The group trained together for two years prior to debut, after which their exemplary work earned them an endorsement deal with Jeju Air, a budget airline, which adopted Boys Republic’s Orange Sky as its company theme. Three of the members also had previous showbiz experience; in 2010, Sun Woo (known then as Da Bin) had a brief stint in boy band Touch and subsequently joined Cube Entertainment, Su Woong was a trainee at Big Hit Entertainment and Sung Joon was under the wing of JYP Entertainment.

Thanks to their manager, Jung Hae Ik, Boys Republic have an outstanding musical pedigree. He is a former SM Entertainment executive who ensured the massive success of such illustrious groups as H.O.T, S.E.S, G.O.D and Shinhwa in the mid 90s and his vast experience was put to good use when Boys Republic made their much anticipated debut on 5th June 2013, with the highly addictive anthem “Party Rock.”

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It is a heavily auto-tuned and synthesized dance song with a colourful and quirky music video, in which Won Jun tries unsuccessfully to flirt with a girl. She rebuffs him and disappears into a cardboard box which the members proceed to throw around, much to her annoyance. Boys Republic and their fellow party goers are then seen dancing in the box, whereupon the girl emerges, angrily steps on it and walks away.

“You Are Special,” the group’s second single of 2013 (which coincided with their first mini album Identity), saw a complete change of image for Boys Republic. They become edgy rockers in a music video filled with such standard K-pop devices as the members looking angst ridden, Sung Joon breaking a concrete wall with a sledgehammer and assorted wild dogs! Boys Republic also showcase some impressively athletic choreography on what appears to be a freezing cold day, then the video culminates with a scene of them all walking towards a burning door frame.

At the beginning of 2014, Boys Republic’s management announced the group’s “fantasy trilogy” concept, which would aim to fulfill their fans greatest wishes. “Video Game” formed the first part of the project and the story version of the song features the members wearing virtual reality helmets, which enable them to participate in a game. The heavy EDM sound of “Video Game” proved a winner with fans and the choreography, by Nana School, marked Boys Republic’s most demanding routine to date. Incidentally, the song received increased exposure when a video of Girls Generation members listening to it was uploaded to the SM Town YouTube channel.

The group followed this up in the summer with the release of “Dress Up,” a catchy 90s style pop song, which showcased Boys Republic’s lovable and humorous side. With a plot which involves a female friend receiving a confidence boosting makeover, this music video has a worthwhile message, which strongly condemns superficial beauty standards, after their friend becomes the target of bullies who judge her harshly due to her perceived lack of style.

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Towards the end of the year, Boys Republic surprised and delighted their loyal fans, affectionately known as the “Royal Family”, by unveiling their second mini album “Real Talk” and promoting the music video for its title track, “The Real One.” It involves all five members, smartly dressed in suits, engaging in a dance off with themselves and features choreography far more suggestive than anything they had previously attempted. All of these elements, plus a funky and danceable song, combined to give Boys Republic a solid winner.

Prior to their European “Royal Tour” in July 2015, the boys released the melancholic ballad Hello, in June, to commemorate their second anniversary since debut. The group’s first ballad single showcases the members sensitive side and is accompanied by an anguished music video, in which the boys mourn the loss of a previous love who has abandoned them. Boys Republic’s strong vocals are evident here and the change of pace clearly demonstrates that the band’s management is not afraid to try new approaches

Apart from their obviously close friendship and down to earth approach towards their fans, Boys Republic are well known for their philanthropic work. They have been appointed ambassadors for the Korean Federation of Youth, participated in a Salvation Army charity fundraiser and Sun Woo has even knitted hats for a Save The Children project.

Recently, Sung Joon, Su Woong and Sun Woo demonstrated their versatility by starring in the web drama “Alchemist,” alongside Kara’s Young Ji. With this kind of exposure, Boys Republic can surely look forward to a rapid increase in the size of their fan base in the near future.

Do you like Boys Republic? What’s your favorite song? Share 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.

Artist Spotlight: Kevin Kim (ZE:A)

kevin kim, ze:a
What makes you love a group? How do you choose a bias? Or is it in the opposite order? Do you unexpectedly stumble upon a member and then find yourself falling in utter and complete love, to later on being converted into that person’s’ actual band? Sometimes, that’s the best way to do it. Discovering Kevin Kim and seeing him singing on ”K-Pop: The Ultimate Survival” and thinking to myself, “Is this real life? Is that really him singing?” was a pivotal moment in my K-pop life, a definite game changer. Read more