Tag Archives: K-Pop

2012 in review, K-Pop edition Part 2

The men have been listed, ordered and critiqued, now let’s get on to part 2 of my 2012, K-Pop year in review.

Female Artists

5. RAINBOW – A (Japanese Version)

Note: RAINBOW have yet to release the Japanese Music Video for A digitally so above is a live performance of the Japanese Version

Unfortunately the ladies haven’t held their end of the bargain in 2012 and this is a real sneaky entry. RAINBOW actually debuted A in 2010, only after two years of focusing on South Korea did they debut into the elusive (and cashed up) Japanese market. A was a fun and bouncy number which lost none of its energy in its transmutation from Korean to Japanese. Their coordinated dance choreography will excite even the most jaded K-Popper.

4. 4minute – Volume Up

Dat saxophone. I have no idea where they sampled it from but 4minute has one sweet sax interlude which accompanies this powerful and shouty track that marked 4minute’s comeback in 2012.  You might fail to realise Hyuna of (now) Gangnam Style fame is amongst the ladies that are pleading with the listener to indeed, turn the Volume Up. She is kept quite in check and out shined by the vocal talent of the other members who stretch out wails and pump melodies throughout.

3. miss A – Touch

Gentle, delicate; Touch makes you really feel the pain and sorrow that the 4 members of miss A are conveying. This soft and precious number mixes up short synth injections, a slow beat and the occasional rap to tug at the heart-strings.

2. SISTAR – Alone

Simplistic piano keys, soulful bass and husky voices make up Alone, SISTAR‘s star attraction from their latest album of the same name. Where as miss A’s touch was all heart, Alone is straight up sex appeal (just check that porno wah pedal action) which is not necessarily a bad thing when you can do it well.

1. f(x) – Electric Shock

Often over shadowed by their label mates Girls Generation, f(x) bring to the table a punchy electro pop smash hit that is super catchy without being too repetitive. Breaking up the funky dance melody is smooth vocal segments that focus the talent (if not a little autotuned) of the 5 members and let them shine without being drowned out by the backbeat.

Special Mentions

Orange Caramel – Lipstick

Kooky, Strange, Weird, a little bit spanish but a whole lot of fun; Orange Caramel (subunit of Afterschool) specialise in the category of bizarre pop but its all in the name of a good time. Watch and listen without your preduce and you may find yourself bopping to the beat.

Girls Generation – Paparazzi

While I adore Girls Generation as my gateway drug into the world of K-Pop, I didn’t have the heart to put Paparazzi in the top 5 purely because it’s essentially a modern-day version of their smash hit Genie. And while that isn’t a bad thing (I love that song to bits), I prefer to reward innovation rather than cookie cutting for the sake of the dollar dollar.

That’s it ladies and gentlemen. 2012 K-Pop in a snapshot. Hope you have enjoyed my take on the year. Please feel free to comment and add your thoughts at the bottom of the page.

Lets finish of with a creation by the ever talented DJ Masa featuring 75 songs of 2012.

2012 in review, K-Pop edition Part 1

2012 was a pretty big year for K-Pop, we saw solid entries from staple groups like BIG BANG, SHINee and miss A, successful debuts from EXO-K/M, B.A.P and Block B and it even made the world stage with the man whom you are probably already aware of in PSY.

I’m going to break down what I thought was the best 5 from each side of the fence from the year and a few worthy mentions.

Male Artists

5. B.A.P – Warrior

B.A.P (which stands for Best Absolute Perfect) is a 6 member group now synominis with two things, bleach blonde hair and powerful rap. Nothing displays this love of hair product and shouty vocals like Warrior. Whenever I listen to this song I cannot help but follow along with the HOO’s at each segment; certainly a song to pump you up for a session in the gym or a solid run. Must be the testosterone.

4.  TVXQ – Catch Me

Now veterans of arguably the biggest powerhouse in K-Pop, SM Entertainment; TVXQ returned with this catchy (see what I did there)  track that features an almost egyptian come synth tune paired with a house beat that could see it slot directly on to any DJ’s track list in a Western Club. And while it does make use of the dreaded dubstep, it is done so in a limited and tasteful way as such I can forgive the (self?) proclaimed kings of K-Pop.

3. SHINee – Sherlock

wubwubwubwubwubwub SHINee’s back wubwubwubwubwubwub. It seems while you can escape Western pop’s traditional antics you cannot escape dubstep (much to my dismay). Thankfully it is combined together with pitch perfect vocals, a little rap and more synth noises than a trip back to the 80s. Weird combination, yes but it does work. This unholy mix session is due to Sherlock actually the end product of two different songs coming together in unison, the dubstep/rap number Clue and the snare drum/synth overload track Note. I guess some opposites can make a whole…

2. EXO – History

It took a lot of will power not for this to be number 1 but EXO, who debuted after twenty billion teaser trailers (I gave up after number 5) with MAMA, blew me out of the park. I didn’t think it would be possible for debut group to have such a diverse but consistently high quality selection of tracks on an album much less one from a group that is divided in two in an effort to conquer both Korean and Chinese markets. Ambitious but they have done something special.

History is a rather simple song; the tribal soundtrack and occasional pop of electro playing second fiddle to the showcase of strong Korean or Mandarin voices that display a good range and variety.

1. BIG BANG – Fantastic Baby

Despite being the 3rd released single of their album entitled ALIVE, the highly charged fun dance number Fantastic Baby has fast become the favourite among fans and myself. Designed to do one thing and one thing only, Fantastic Baby will get you out of your chair and trying your latest dance before you can say “Boom Shak-a-lak-a!” Switch on and get moving!

Special Mentions

Block B – Nillili Mambo

Debuting around the same time as B.A.P and featuring men of similar testosterone-fueled nature, Block B is just as outlandish with a good mix of varying hip hop and steady beats (not to mention how silly their music video is).

LEDApple – Time Is Up

I was never a fan of the instrumental K-Pop groups masquerading as bands (CNBlue was the low point for me at the 2011 K-Pop Music Fest in Sydney) but credit where credit is due, LEDApple‘s Time Is Up is a catchy song that will grow on you. Doesn’t hurt one of the members is actually Australian

PSY – Gangnam Style

I don’t think this one needs explaining but Gangnam Style, designed as a tongue-in-cheek commentary on the province of the same name in South Korea where by the ladies dress to a high fashion standard during the day and let their hair down come the cover of nightfall has taken the world by storm. Why? Tough to say. Having a combination of easy to remember key lyrics, catchy beat and ridiculous dance moves helps; ultimately, I think the song expresses best what PSY wanted from the song; pure, simple, no-nonsense fun. Oppa Gangname Style

The lovely ladies of K-Pop are featured in Part 2

Anything you would change in this list? Simply want to add your opinion? Comment below!

Girls’ Generation debut on American TV

For many fans of Girls’ Generation (often referred by SNSD or SoShi, both come from their Korean name) today has been a long time coming. The Hallyu wave, as it is called, has reached the shores of the United States and into the households of the populous across the nation. I, myself cannot claim to be a long-time fan.

I first happened upon Girls’ Generation after clicking on a rather inviting topic title on NeoGAF forums that promised to mesmerise and surprise. So with cautious excitement I proceeded to watch a video linked in the opening post of this topic. I was presented with nine beautiful ladies, dancing in sync, singing powerfully to a quick bass beat. Never have I been a great fan of anything pop related; I have always stuck to metal, electro & rock, but something in the beat had me hooked. It wasn’t long before I was constantly replaying this video, over & over. Simply astonishing was the whole package that came before me; both visual and aural senses completely overwhelmed. I craved more…

After returning to the topic that brought me to the video I started to dig, dig for anything related to this group, and I found more, lots more. Little had I known Girls’ Generation has been around since 2007 and there were plenty more hits than the one I had experience, even different versions of the same song.

This was back in 2010, I have since not only discovered more fantastic music & dance from the world of Korean Pop but I have even seen Girls Generation live, in the flesh when they, along with many others came to Sydney for the K-POP Music Fest.

Fast forward back to today and we have Girls’ Generation debuting on American TV (they have performed in the US but only in concert, never on public television) with a remixed version of their latest hit ‘The Boys’. With any luck (and early feedback is looking positive), Girls’ Generation will become a less of a leading group in a niche genre and more of a household name. Like TVQX and BoA did for Korean POP in Japan, Girls’ Generation hope to pave the first stones to success in the otherwise elusive American music market.

Watch and judge for yourself

The music & dance in Korean Pop is simply the tip of a very large ice berg. I implore you to go out and explore the crazy world of Korean Pop if you are interested in something outside the culture you grew in.

Good luck and enjoy the ride