It’s a song where I tried out the combination of pop and hip-hop elements along with rocktronic sounds. When I first made the track, it had a strong rock influenced feel because it was created with electric guitar and real session drum notes. However, I felt like the minor chords didn’t match all that well with the real drum, so I tried using club kicks and the sound became sturdier and the song’s style changed a lot. The reverb kick in part B of the 1st verse gives a tense feel, and part B of the 2nd verb maximizes that tense feeling through a 808 kick. Because I felt like an electric sound would give off a sharper feel, I used a mute guitar and created a softer sound. During the chorus, I used an arpeggio bass instead of a side chain, creating a more bright rhythm. Because I’m the type that thinks about the members’ specialties and personalities or our team’s color when working on songs, I thought about the reactions of the members at every moment. And the resulting concept was a situation where the guy catches his cheating girlfriend! Although it’s a given that you would be angry and would have a mental breakdown, it seemed like the members and I met the situation in a pleasantly positive way. (Truthfully, I had worries that I… was the only one who thought like that). Is this the reason why all the lyrics I write are always positive? When Baro was writing rap lyrics, I asked for lyrics that were witty and pleasant instead of gloomy and in a mental breakdown state. Also, the good day part of the ‘on such a good day’ part during the chorus could be interpreted in different ways, depending on who’s listening to it. To someone, it could be their special anniversary with their girlfriend, or it could be on a day with such good weather. I wrote the lyrics while thinking of many different scenarios. Also, with the hopes that people listening to it would sing along, I didn’t drag the first narration too long, and it can be sung along to the beats. Also, we also made the narrations continue on immediately to part A. Also, who could the girl’s voice behind the ‘I’m at home~’ part at the beginning be? ㅎㅎ
trans. cr; hyejin @ b1a4trans | source cr; naver ; take out with full credits
2PM, “이노래를듣고돌아와” (Come Back When You Hear This Song). Trend alert? This also sounds and looks like it’s come out of a musical (complete with symbolism that can be seen from the back of the house), albeit with a more modern staging than History’s. JYP, at least, should be able to spring for a more lavish set for the comeback performances.
Significant information: This is 2PM’s first Korean comeback in two years, and it’s on the other side of the spectrum from “Hands Up”; their new album is called Grown; and this track, composed by JYP himself, bears a passing resemblance to their Japanese singles, which make a similarly good, simple and melodic use of their voices.
After I found myself walking home the other day shaking my head about a review written decades ago by a wise and venerable critic, I decided to put down the following rules of thumb, for my own reference as much as for anyone else’s. I’m a gringo myself, one who has been writing about Latin music with more enthusiasm than grace for several years. I’ve broken all these rules many times over, which is how I came to figure them out. Be better than me.
Please click through and read this post! Lots of it is relevant to non-Koreans (in nationality or ethnicity) writing about K-pop as well, of course.
I’m reaching old age in my K-pop listening, but it doesn’t help that the pace has been accelerating over the past year, as YouTube and the promise of an international audience (even pre-“Gangnam Style”!) drive more and more no-name entertainment agencies to seek a piece of the pie. (The folly, of course, is in their assumption that it can happen for everyone, which is not the same thing as the confidence that it can happen for anyone.) And even the big ones are looking to score more: EXO’s body is barely cold (though not yet buried) and there’s already rumours of SM Entertainment debuting a new boy group later this year.
All this is to say that as newly debuting groups have needed increasingly to turn to high-concept gimmicks to stand out, I’ve been increasingly needing those gimmicks to make me pay attention, too. So here are the two debuts this year so far that have caught my eye.
The above song is “Beatles” (yes, really) by GI (which, relevant to the above, is short for Global Icon), whose concept is a hard, aggressive, and, well, masculine sound and image (sample headline: “GI: Voluminous body? We’re real men who want to build shoulders like Julien Kang”). While I was initially impressed with their B.A.P-like readiness and aggression, my affection for the song has cooled over time. However, I’m still interested in seeing how they develop as a group. For better or for worse, I can see this turning into a Piggy Dolls-like situation where a group’s shocking high-concept debut image gets worn away over time, so it’ll be interesting to see how they attempt to sustain it - if they last longer than the end of the year, that is.
The second debut concept I’ve found interesting is for a boy group, History, whose video for “Dreamer” is below:
History comes from LOEN Entertainment, the same label as IU (whose voice is in the MV, but not her face - that’s Son Dambi). “Dreamer” is the kind of oddly structured song that often comes to maturing or offbeat girl groups (Brown Eyed Girls, who are both, come immediately to mind), and it has an appropriately nostalgic appeal when combined with the Busby Berkeley sets and outfits. Unlike with GI, however, this “musical theatre” concept doesn’t seem inherent to the group itself, and I can see History transitioning into a more generic image with greater ease. (Of course, I can’t help but wonder if that has to do with the gender divide as well. But rereading this, I’ve noticed that I’ve compared GI to a successful boy group and History to a successful girl group, so who knows.)
Beast: 1. “Fiction”. If someone told me they’d never listened to Beast before, I would want this song to be the first one they heard. Not only because it’s my favourite song of theirs, but because it’s a good compromise between the two extremes of their music: it’s sad and melodic, but you can still dance to it. 2. “숨” (Breath). It’s either this or “Shock”, but I like “Breath” better. I feel like these two singles are still what people think of first when Beast comes up, and not wrongly; even though their sound has matured a lot, it’s in keeping with this style. 3. “비가 오는 날엔” (On Rainy Days). Again, if someone had never listened to Beast before, I would want to be sure they heard their low-key side as well. 4. “Midnight (별 헤는 밤)”. The most representative of the current Beast/Shinsadong Tiger Sound with a capital S. 5. “아름다운 밤이야” (It’s A Beautiful Night). I wouldn’t place it in my top 5, but for the sake of an introduction it’s their most recent single, and as with the best Beast songs it showcases each member’s abilities nicely.
Block B: 1. “Freeze!”. Arranging Block B chronologically is maybe not the most convincing argument for why you should listen to them, but it’s the most responsible representation. This sums up Block B’s fumbling debut year, where they tried to fuse “real hip-hop” with so-dumb-it’s-fun idol pop and only ended up with the latter minus the fun. I would play the first 1:30 of this and then move on to the next song. 2. “Halo”. The kind of single they should have released to begin with. (See also “Wanna B”, and then imagine if that had been their debut single instead of “Freeze!”) 3. “난리나” (Nalina/Go Crazy). In which they finally got it right, embracing their goofiness and underground-style rapping rather than trying to squish it to fit the accepted idol modes. The lyrics are jam-packed. “Nillili Mambo” is this on steroids. 4. “로맨틱하게” (Romantically). Their chill/jazzy side, which happens more than one might think. 5. “Action”. This is my favourite Block B song, all of the giddiness without all the posturing (and some soul horn samples to boot).
seasquared asked: omg maddie i love "stop girl" and completely non-sheepishly. can we talk about how great it is some more *____* also embarrasingly enough when i first heard timberlake's most recent single i mistook it for a ukiss song and was like "WOW THIS AMAZINGLY FLUENT ENGLISH?" before i realized my error
Absolutely! “Stop Girl” is really good, not only composition-wise but because it suits U-KISS’s voices so well, which is not something you’d suspect from their other songs. Like, I can’t really picture another group doing this. And I agree with you, the first five minutes/suite/whatever of “Mirrors” could totally pass for a U-KISS song, with some noisier production and a rap part. (“Yesterday is history/Tomorrow is a mystery” is the kind of cheesy English truism that’s right up U-KISS’s alley, too - lest we forget “Don’t deny our r-squared-pi”.)
What do you think of “Standing Still”? It’s not quite “Stop Girl”, but I think it does a good job of mixing that smoother vocal style with the Eurodance beats of their other, shoutier singles. Could it be that after five years and a lineup change they’re finally hitting their musical stride?
subdee asked: Ukiss! Do you like them? If not then B1A4. I would ask about Z:EA but I'm not sure they have five notable songs to write about (yet).
Why not all three?
I do like U-KISS! Albeit sheepishly. My primer for them is straightforward:
1. “만만하니” (Am I That Easy). What they used to sound like. 2. “시끄러!!” (Shut Up!!). The above, but grimier. 3. “0330”. What they tried to sound like. 4. “Neverland”. What they sound like most of the time. 5. “Stop Girl”. What they’re capable of sounding like. (It gets really good once the extra background noise comes in at 1:40.)
The most comprehensive B1A4 primer would come from Radio Palava, but here’s five songs that make for a good overview:
1. “Beautiful Target”. This doesn’t come first chronologically, but it’s B1A4 in a nutshell: sweet melodies, goofy-voiced rapping, hammy MV, and earworms for days. 2. “못된 것만 배워서” (Only Learned Bad Things). Establishes them early as capable of a mellower, more R&B-based style. 3. “Baby I’m Sorry”. This is the first of three (and counting) title tracks written and produced by leader Jinyoung, and fairly typical of one-half of his production style: an interesting but easy to follow melodic line over a cluttered backdrop, with an attraction to unnecessary bells and whistles (in this case autotune). 4. “너때문에” (Because Of You). This is the other kind of song Jinyoung writes, with the same melodies but more acoustic-based production and a softer edge. It’s nostalgic, yet without a referent. 5. “걸어 본다” (Tried to Walk). Hopefully this is indicative of their future direction, nominally more mature and continuing to build on this electronic pop sound. Then again, they immediately followed the darkish “Baby I’m Sorry” with the chipper “Baby Good Night”, so who knows?
And finally, my ZE:A recommendation is to listen to tracks 2-6 of Spectacular (“Aftermath” through “Never End”) and spare yourself the embarrassment of hearing any of their singles before that.
seasquared asked: TEEN TOP PLEASE because i keep meaning to see what others see in them but that keeps falling to the very bottom of my to-do list
For me Teen Top’s best songs by far are their singles, so if you’ve already heard those you may end up back at square one. In chronological order:
1. “박수” (Clap). Their debut single introduces the basic elements of their music: the smooth, nasal timbre of Niel’s voice, the plaintive melodic singing of the others, and songwriting that is better than they likely deserve. Those two seconds of silence at 1:38 alone make this one of the most musically interesting debut singles of the last few years, to the point where the MV actually fills it in in an attempt to normalize it. (Accept no substitutes for the recorded version.)
2. “Supa Luv”. Produced by Hyuk Shin, a.k.a. “the guy who [co-]wrote ‘One Less Lonely Girl’”, as it’s been publicized. Biebs got this guy’s nostalgic side; Teen Top gets his futuristic one. This one takes a few listens.
3. “향수뿌리지마” (Don’t Spray Perfume). The shimmery synths are beautiful, but to enjoy them you either have to get past or give in to the squicky concept and lyrics (as unimaginatively illustrated in the MV). This mix of cringing guilt and pop pleasure is the essence of Teen Top’s appeal.
4. “To You”. The Teen Top/Brave Bros. partnership has proven a fruitful one; even if they are getting retreads of his other work, they imbue it with a sprightly energy that’s harder to reproduce. (See also their newest single, “Miss Right”.)
5. “사랑하고 싶어” (I Wanna Love). Teen Top are vocal Big Bang fanboys; if it isn’t already evident from the fact that they have a rapper named C.A.P, here’s a video of the three youngest members goofing off to “Fantastic Baby”. While “Crazy” is their most blatantly Big Bang-ish single, “I Wanna Love” is in the same striding minor-key mode as Alive, and expands their musical range in the same way. (Bonus: The MV was filmed in Hong Kong, and the cans of pineapple at the beginning are apparently an homage to Chungking Express, which, ?!)