Weekly Kpop Faves Sept 25- Oct. 1

Each week, KultScene’s team rounds up some of our favorite releases or performances out of South Korea from the week before. This week, writers were fans of new music from boy bands B1A4 and DAY6.

“Call Me” by B1A4 (Released Sept. 25)

It is not unusual for me to fall in love more with album B-sides and filler tracks than the actual singles, and I encourage all K-pop fans to explore the complete works of the artists, so you can delight yourself with hidden pearls like this one. I really like the whole Rollin’ EP but “Call Me” absolutely caught my attention. It’s hard to stand out in K-pop nowadays with a song that goes for the way of synthpop, EDM or tropical house (since these are becoming so cliché); but this song does all of this and still is amazing and somehow distinctive, maybe because it goes more to the direction of sexy and alternative R&B that reminds me of Canadian singer The Weeknd. This sensual vibe works very well with the sweet provocative lyrics and the melody that explores the great vocal range of the boys. We can see their talent through the songwriting too, since this song was composed and written by members CNU and Baro, along with songwriter Choi Myung Hwan. I’m very impressed.

—Ana Clara

”Why Am I Alone” by DAY6 (Released Sept. 29)

DAY6 released their two singles for “Every Day6 October” a little earlier this time, and while I was slightly underwhelmed with their title track “When You Love Someone,” this piece blew my mind. Also known as “I Need Somebody,” the emotional song opens with Jae singing in the lowest octave he’s ever sung in (seriously, I barely could recognise his voice). It initially sounds like a quiet ballad, albeit one that is a bit more jazzy than usual, but suddenly blows up in the chorus with Young K’s explosive “Why Am I Alone.” The instrumentals build up from this point, even reaching a surprising but well-placed whistle melody, and a full-on rock chorus toward the end. With heartbreaking lyrics and unpredictable musical twists, this song was awesome and really showed how multi-talented DAY6 were as singers and musicians, making it one of my favourites of this year’s series.


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.

B1A4’s ‘Good Timing’ Album Review

B1A4 always brought something different to K-pop. Of all the boy groups K-pop provides us with, I think this quintet is the one I have personally neglected the most. Their brand of pop tends to lean at a more cheesy ballad angle, which is usually a big turn off for me. B1A4, however, bring a level of innovation to each song that moves them into a space that’s hard to define. To start, think of One Direction through the lens of Seo Taiji’s eyeglasses.

Their leader Jinyoung can probably be thanked for this as his move into producer and composer has not stopped their great run of form. New album Good Timing is probably their best to date. It’s a seriously smooth and diverse long player that retains a sense of playfulness on every track. Best of all Jinyoung and rapper Baro are all over the track list’s credits, a clear reason as to how they perform so well in their niche.

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The album opens with one of K-pop’s patented abstract intros. “Intro” is an interesting little instrumental. A hollow percussive sound taps out a slow beat as sci-fi beeping synths fade in gradually. Those synths are the first sign of B1A4. They’re familiar to fans as a sound they use a lot, especially to contrast with their other signature instrument, the electric guitar. All of the different instruments seem to be reversed. This creates an odd atmosphere, a certain feeling of anxiety that is supplemented well as we move through the album.

Naturally the album then moves into lead single “A Lie,” a not quite ballad about an ending relationship. Like the intro suggested there’s a longing to Jinyoung’s lyrics that have accepted the loss even the pain carries on. Musically “A Lie” is B1A4 at their best. Mixing slight electronics with a band allows a balance of emotions. Pulsing processed drums provide a constant to the verses, giving them freedom to move around whether it’s the member’s vocals or Baro’s raps. The drums take a backseat for the chorus as it provides the emotional brunt of the song, Jinyoung’s falsetto pining as he says he was lying all this time.

“A Lie” epitomizes B1A4’s sound so well that they can move onto different, newer styles in the rest of the album. Tracks three and four provide some lovable pop. “Moment I Fall For You Again” is similar in structure to “A Lie” but takes a more soulful route. Its verses are loungy and its chorus is cheekily inquisitive compared to the passion of “A Lie.” By the time “Good Timing” comes along you’ll probably wish they had switched it up somewhat despite it adding more to the B1A4 brand. This time it’s a bit more ‘80s, the electronic drums are more clearly electronic, and the chorus has a much more prominent hook. I don’t know if I really like it but I do appreciate the fact that they go all out and give it a guitar solo. I mean, it has to be an upside given how few K-pop songs you can play the air guitar to.

“Nightmare” arrives at a great time on the album and probably provides Good Timingwith the impetus it needed to keep it going. “Nightmare” is a hazy reggae track that jettisons the structures and sounds we’ve gotten used to over the first four songs. Interestingly as well, B1A4 uses synths to create the sound coupled with a classic reggae beat. Eventually reverbing guitars and hammond organs bring the highlight in the second half of the verses. As the title informs us, it’s not a sunny reggae track. Not quite on the dub spectrum but there’s an uneasiness to the way it sways.

The album’s opening half is characteristic of the consistency and skill of B1A4. Their unique flavour permeates throughout an album that does not stop giving. “Sparkling” is synth-led urban pop that goes past just sparkling and pops right out. Shimmering synths lead up to the chorus, which then has a guitar take over funk duties as it becomes more chant-like. Baro shines here along with CNU, whose voice has fragility to it that brings out great emotion. “To My Star” provides the smoothest moment yet, with Its synths well supported by keys to make a chilled slow jam before it picks up again.

“Melancholy” does a great job of masquerading B1A4’s anxiety. It’s a contradiction of sounds and words that somehow comes together. Similar to their punchy and weird single from 2013 “What’s Happening,” “Melancholy” has tiny details and big transitions that move the song to place we could never expect. Its effusive synths and dazed vocal delivery constantly clash with the repetition of the word “melancholy.” It’s a mess of tones and ideas that feels true to the melting pot of emotions that exist in this album.

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The energetic high of “Melancholy” gives way to a more subdued conclusion. Ballads “I Will Find You” and “Together” have some nice intricacies although do nothing to stand out here. “Drunk On You” meanwhile is a wavy hip-pop track that shows how best to make a predominantly rap sounding song sound good with a pop angle. But, let’s be honest, put B1A4’s vocalists on any track and it’d be hard to not make at least a little delightful.

B1A4’s plight is that they are too unique. In Korea they may have once been popular but now that heavy hip-hop and EDM sounds dominate boy groups it’s hard to see them finding a lot of success. That being said they may attract a more mature ballad-loving audience looking for something to spice up their usual coffee-shop playlists (no pumpkin spice jokes please). Similar to Beast who were more known at home for their mid-tempo tracks. Even internationally their boy next door image is taken over by newcomers like Astro who appeal to on much easier levels than B1A4.

No matter what though, Good Timing shows the diversity B1A4 can find within their own style. Given the length of a full album we get a number of great ideas and sounds that all mesh well together as Good Timing traces the steep highs and deep lows of any relationship. Songs are clustered together in terms of positive and negative views of the relationship. It’s hard to keep up with where they are in the relationship but by the time “Melancholy” comes along it’s impossible to even know what to think anymore. In the best possible way, the album itself is as much of an enigma as B1A4.

What’s your favorite song from B1A4 and this album? 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.

August’s Best K-Pop B-Sides

August B-sides
As another month comes to an end we can safely clock August as another great month for K-pop. To celebrate I’m going to look back at some b-sides that might have unfortunately gone unnoticed. With another slew of high profile releases there’s plenty to discover. This month we have lots of retro goodness, with influences coming from all over the world giving a new lease of life to K-pop.

Primary feat Sunwoo Jung-A and Gaeko “Paranoia”

If there is one artist continually releasing great work this year it is Primary. He’s had songs out nearly every month since the start of the year and there has always been something interesting amongst them. These have culminated in the fantastic album “2” and my favourite from it “Paranoia”.

“Paranoia” is a wonderfully slow and restrained piece of trip hop. Primary has never been afraid to show off his parade of influences within the genres he has worked in. He invigorates these with a new modern life while never forgetting what made them special in the first place. This time he takes on that very British style of trip hop. The echoey drums recall Portishead and give the song its gloomy feeling. What really makes it though is Sunwoo Jung-A’s mournful voice and Gaeko’s energetic rap.They seem to be directly referencing the British artists of that time like Thom Yorke of Radiohead and rapper Tricky. It lends an authenticity but mostly makes the song work totally.

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B1A4 “You Are A Girl, I Am A Boy”

More 90s alternative influenced music here with B1A4’s “You Are A Girl, I Am A Boy”.

Okay that may be a bit of a stretch this time but it was the first thing that came into my head when I listened to this track. The reverb laden guitars immediately brought Sonic Youth to mind. This thought was quickly dispelled but that doesn’t lessen the effect of the guitar. It’s an entirely new sound to be found within K-pop and is why this song is on the list. This use of the live band sounds are what set apart B1A4 for me. Amongst many samey hip-hop influenced boy groups they stand out thanks to this and their distinctive voices.

SHINee “Chocolate”

Retro was certainly a major theme for august. SHINee as always delivered an amazing throwback with the whole of the “Married to the Music” album. Jonghyun’s effortlessly sexy “Chocolate” stands out.

“Chocolate” goes for retro synths in a big way. They sound almost 8-bit and hit with a strong but smooth force. There’s layers to them that feel almost physically tangible. The verses that change tempo and general intricacies of the song make it something more than your average album cut. It’s clinically sexy yet has delicate touches that elevate it above other sexy sounding songs.

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Wonder Girls “One Black Night”

Speaking of retro, I don’t think any K-pop group has ever pulled it off as well as Wonder Girls have with “Reboot”. With that “Reboot” and “I Feel You” they have released probably the best album and song of the year all while also learning and playing instruments for it.

With an album this good it’s hard to pick just one b-side. So I’m just going with my mood right now which means “One Black Night”. Ever since I first listened to “Reboot” I felt like it was a soundtrack album to some amazing 80s movie that never existed. If so then “One Black Night” would play when the main character is at their lowest point so they go out to get totally wasted for one black night.

The song starts off slow with a plodding piano and stripped back drum beat. It recalls member Yenny’s solo work as HA:TFELT, mixing solemn piano melodies in the verse with crashing electronic sounds in the chorus. The emotions are also similar, ones of pent up angst finally being released in cathartic acts. In this case drinking and embracing.

Girls’ Generation “Bump It”

Girls’ Generation came back again before the summer officially ended with their album “Lion Heart” and there’s a lot to get stuck into. Most may have assumed that with a double single release there wouldn’t be much left of interest. They would be wrong.

Album closer “Bump It” is the highlight as it cleverly walks the line between the Girls’ Generation we know and love and the Girls’ Generation many want to exist. By that I mean it starts off like a fairly standard sweet ballad before turning urban pop at Tiffany’s request. With the singles being a great signifier of what Girls’ Generation can be, this is the perfect song to close out the album.

What it does really well is using both styles within the song. Once the ballad part at the start ends it would have been easy to leave out but the piano remains and reinvigorates the song at the chorus. Similarly towards the end when Taeyeon is about to begin her crooning, Sooyoung cuts in with a rap to make sure one style does not win over the other. Girls’ Generation are at their best whee unpredictable like this.

Is there any other August K-pop B-sides you loved? 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.

What to Expect from ‘Go! B1A4 2.0 – Road Trip’

B1A4 recently visited four U.S. cities with their Road Trip Tour, and Mnet America documented it all in Go! B1A4 2.0 – Road Trip. The four episode show will showcase B1A4’s adventures in New York City, Chicago, Dallas, and San Francisco, where they explored the cities and mingled with fans.

To people acquainted with the boy group, their playful and high spirited manners are no surprise, but for those of you who are not, you’re in for a treat as well. B1A4 showed their charms in previous Youtube series and more, but Go! B1A4 2.0 – Road Trip will follow them as they made their way through the country in their first ever American tour. And even though the guys were pretty active on SNS and fans flooded different social media sites with their accounts on their interactions with the group, there’s still a lot unknown from their travels.

So whether you’re familiar with them or not, B1A4 is a group that will have you smiling ear to ear with their antics and their overall fun nature. But taking all this plus the several teasers uploaded to Youtube, what does Go! B1A4 2.0 – Road Trip have in store for viewers? Let’s explore the possibilities.

Interactions with American Fans

From past shows, fans know that B1A4 is very dedicated to their fans. For example, on B1A4 ‘Road Trip’ Ready? Behind Clip, Gongchan says he monitors fans through SNS to see what they say about him and amongst themselves. Moreover, clips of them greeting fans at different events are also common, so having the boys on this side of the world means that they will now cater to American fans.

What to Expect from ‘Go! B1A4 2.0 – Road Trip’ gif

via 6xc @ Tumblr

From the several teasers of the show, we can see the boys roaming the cities while always being followed by fans. Instead of leaving the site or having someone make them stop recording them, they acknowledge and/or approach the fans and even take pictures with them. Right from the get-go we know their interactions with fans won’t be limited to the high touch events at concerts. Instead, viewers will see more direct interactions on Go! B1A4 2.0 – Road Trip.

What to Expect from ‘Go! B1A4 2.0 – Road Trip’ gif

via koreanpants @ Tumblr

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Baro’s Sexy American Accent

Out of all the boys, Baro is probably the member who speaks the better English. As seen on their various Danny from L.A. appearances, he can easily make himself understood. Since the show will follow them through four U.S. cities, we can assume we’ll see B1A4 speaking English at times, but no one will be as good as Baro. And while some people may find K-Pop idols’ attempts at speaking English cute, others (like this writer!) finds them hot.

Maybe it’s because he’s the rapper of the group or because he carries himself in a very cool demeanor, but when Baro speaks English, he owns that ish. Even if he struggles, Baro will bluff it through and the outcome will be flawless.

Fun Adventures

As mentioned several times before, Go! B1A4 2.0 – Road Trip will feature the boys’ antics through Dallas, San Francisco, New York City, and Chicago, and not just focus on the actual concerts. While not preparing for their shows, the guys visited a few tourist attractions such as when they were in Chicago, B1A4 visited the Navy Pier and Willis Tower, which is the eighth tallest freestanding structure in the world. Moreover, headlines plagued different sites about fans doing a flash mob in San Francisco to welcome them and show their appreciation for the group. And while we’ve seen fan cams and a short clip in the teasers, we’ll finally see the full length version in the show.

What to Expect from ‘Go! B1A4 2.0 – Road Trip’ gif

via orange-sandeul @ Tumblr

Members Tease Each Other a Lot (Especially Sandeul)

Having five guys around or of the same age who live and work together filmed is bound to reveal something very close to their true natures. In past shows, we’ve seen the members tease and borderline bully each other –especially the main vocalist. Who can forget that mean joke where they made Sandeul believe a cute, blonde girl was asking him out during the Danny from L.A. taping? However, they all get their fair share — remember CNU, Sandeul, and Jinyoung making fun of Baro’s Esquire editorial in B1A4 ‘Road Trip’ Ready? Behind Clip? It goes around, and this show won’t be any different.

Just by the teasers, viewers already see a few instances of how playful the guys are amongst each other. Whether they’re teasing Sandeul for eating a lot of deep dish pizza or mocking Baro for being afraid of heights or filming CNU while sleeping, viewers will get lots of moments to laugh with and at B1A4. To say the least, we can expect it to be funny and lots of fun.

What to Expect from ‘Go! B1A4 2.0 – Road Trip’ gif

via orange-sandeul @ Tumblr

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Acoustic Versions of their Songs

B1A4 made their mark in K-Pop for not sounding like any other idols in the industry. The guy’s concept is a lot quirkier than most boy groups since they don’t have flower boy or beast idol images, and their songs reflect that as well.

The group has lots of slow tempo songs, but their singles are mostly always upbeat and have lots of production behind the melodies. However, through the show’s features we see various instances where the boys unplug for acoustic sessions or just jam it out for fun. In Washington Square park, they sing Lonely and, in San Francisco, Because of You. Plus, Jinyoung plays his newly bought guitar in the Chicago hotel room while Sandeul delivers a powerful rendition of Baby Goodnight. Needless to say, viewers are in for reinterpreted versions of their favorite songs.

Since each episode will follow a reality show format, fans and viewers (aka future fans) can expect to see the boys let loose, have fun, and enjoy their new journey through a new country and meeting new fans. Go! B1A4 2.0 – Road Trip premieres on November 5th through Mnet America.

Are you planning on watching Go! B1A4 2.0 – Road Trip? Let us know and be sure to subscribe to the site and follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, and Bloglovin’ so you can keep up with all our posts.

Review: B1A4’s Road Trip Tour in San Francisco

by Lynh Nguyen

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