JYJ – the Kdrama OST chronicles

The boys managed to work their way into kdrama-land, well each one at his own pace, Yoochun being the most prolific with already 2 main lead roles and Junsu happy with just a cameo appearance. Jaejoong gets the silver medal with a second lead role and a special mention for being the most congenial out of the 3.

Not only did they act but are also featured as OST artists. So let’s see who gets the gold medal this time. The contestants are, of course, the 3 lovely members with 3 solo tracks but also we have one song featuring all 3 of them. I gotta give it to you, it was a close race, with Jaejoong throwing in all of his charms, with Junsu trying to melt my heart by asking all his cats to play as cute as they can and with Yoonchun, well, Yoochun just smiled at me and then it all ended. I knew the winner. I’m just kidding, of course the ratings are based on an objective analyse. So here it goes :

#4. Junsu/Jaejoong/Yoochun – Found You (ShunKyunKwan Scandal OST)

The only more upbeat of them all, Found You is your typical kpop track but with a twist : it’s beautifully sung. Their voices blend together perfectly, they have chemistry and they make up for the obvious flaws this song has. 7/10

#3. Junsu – You Are So Beautiful (Scent of a Woman OST)

I have tried hard to love this song. I do like it, but not so much. The verses are ok, the guitar sounds sweet and so does his voice but the

Just #3, ha? We'll see about that.

chorus just kills my groove. The song builds up my expectations and I want more than just a long Youuuu aaare soooo beauuuutiiful. Then wonderful. Then Oooooohhh. There are hundreds of songs that use this combination of words and interjections.  The second part of the song does have some vocal acrobatics that I like and that Junsu masters so well. He has an insane amount of talent and I do want to hear from him that’s preparing for a solo album. 8/10

#2. Jaejoong – I’ll Protect You (Protect the Boss OST)

Jaejoongmight not be my favorite vocalist among the three of them but this time he nailed it with this

&%@4$ #2??

track. It suits him perfectly and it is the quintessential kdrama OST track. It’s uplifting, you can use it both when the there are tears involved and when romance is floating in the air. The one thing that I don’t like at all is that last note. It makes for a too abrupt ending. 8.5/10

 

 

[drums]

#1. Park Yoochun – Vacancies For You (Miss Ripley OST)

You can say I favored him because I fancy him. No, it’s not just that. The boy has talent and this song is not just a OST track. It is a stunning ballad and the highlight of it are those surprising twists inside the chorus that just melt my heart with a little help form all the sweetness in Yoochun’s voice. The composition is kept simple and the song flows so effortlessly for the whole 3 minutes that you can’t help but wonder if it’s actually that long. Vacancies For You will definitely have a permanent place in my playlist. And Yoochun will have his place inside my heart too, of course.  10/10

Number 1, bitches!

Co-Ed School – Too Late

Co-Ed School seems to have dissipated before I was able to figure out exactly just how many members are there and what are their gender. Some of the girls went to form 5dolls but the boys and the real objects of my interest are nowhere to be found. That’s a pity because I am a fan of this band’s concept. I love dance tracks that feature both male and female voices. I have yet to find something similar in style with Co-Ed and the thought that I won’t be able to enjoy any new material from them is excruciating.

I’m going to talk about Too Late which, in my opinion, is a perfect pop song from start to end. It has a powerful vibe, it is perfect material for clubs, the vocal parts are sharp and crisp, the arrangement is done flawlessly and what I like most is how the verses are delivered as if the two sides, the boys and the girls, are having a fast-paced argument. It is superficial without being cheesy, it is commercial but at the same time easy to digest and in the end does it really matter that it hasn’t the most complex melody or more elaborate vocal parts ? It is a fresh and fun song and the singers are young, we should spare them the steep criticism.

I’m also loving the video. Dust coming out of clothes and dancing in the rain will always look cool.

Rain, erhm, well, water in general is cool.

Dust is cool

I didn’t get the whole robotic-eyes-coming-in-and-out-of-the-blonde-guy-thing, but  the fact that the MV actually had an interesting story managed to keep me glued to the screen the whole 5 minutes.

Final rating : 9.3/10

Dalmatian – 1st Mini Album (review)

Firstly, I think Dalmatian is an awful choice for a band name unless you are one of those kids that appear in a Disney Channel

Spots and my nerves don't really get along together

series. How serious can I take them if you add to the name issue these horrible outfits. The more I try to look at them the more puzzled I get. Is it supposed to be funny ? Is it hip ? Is it hop ? They sure like to hop around in this choreo…
I almost managed to get the paws-fashion-nightmare off my mind for a few months (with a little help from some Xanax pills), then I found out they were planning a comeback. I admit I was getting a bit curious after seeing the cover photos. Those were cute spots. The kind that weren’t necessitating any medication to get over them. And to add to my surprise my cerebral activity wasn’t harmed by the next live performances and the listening of the mini album either. I found out that the boys seemed to have a charming side and the songs weren’t all that bad. Of course their style still needs a lot of polishing, but they have enough potential to become a decent r&b boyband.


Lover Cop’s beginning steals a smirk from me at first but I almost instantly get hooked by the energetic beat and its crescendo. I know how to enjoy a flashy start.


The biggest shock ( as in positive shock ) I had while listening to The Man Opposed. It really is a fun song, the beginning is stunning and I fancy even the use of autotune for the stanzas.


Lost In Love stats of with a nice funky beat but its strong points are the falsetto chorus, the original middle 8 and the convincing rap parts.

I love all the screaming that’s going on at the end of Real Eyes which is probably the best track on the mini album. Kpop rarely leaves us without the heavy processing of the voices and this songs is one of those satisfying exceptions.
The rest of the songs, Really Really, Home Run and Round 1, all sound excessively cheesy for my taste. It was agonising to listen to some questionable English verses and the tunes didn’t really get to me.
In the end, the whole experience gives me mixed feelings because I have no idea what’s coming next and this album has a lot of attractive elements but also a big number of things that really get on my nerves.

Final rating : 6/10.

I reeeally have a crush on this adorable Smurf.

Code V – Honestly (album review)

I am the perennial defendant of the weak and underrated. Code V boys belong to the last category. Not having a potent label behind you has its bitter price exactly when it comes to some of the most interesting faces in kpop. Music gives me a lot of satisfaction when I stumble upon an amazing piece of material. All those heavily promoted releases make me uneasy because I have expectations. The results are always one of the two : disappointment or ecstasy. Each with its own scale ranging from high to low. But I have a curious personality and the habit of always searching for something new. That’s how I met these 4 charming boys. Well, not personally, of course, though it wouldn’t be such a bad idea. I managed to know them through Honestly, their last album. And, boy, it was with butterflies and the whole treat.

There isn’t much info to spare about them, they were 5, their leader left, now there’s 4 of them, they sing beautifully and they’re more talented than many of the heavily promoted faces in kpop. Now getting back to the actual reviewing, Honestly has some heavy stuff going on. I should warn you now, before you get to listen to the tracks : these boys kick ass at singing and especially at singing together. I’m talking here about Brown Eyed Soul kind of chemistry. I feel that soul sparkle coming from them. It’s vivid and most noticeable with their ballads.

In We’re Going To See Now I really like how the Haru Haru part sounds. I’m not so moved by I’m Sadder, the adlibs and rap sound extremely out-of-place for this album. Summer Love manages to be cutesy without sounding too cheesy.
And now let’s get to the songs I’m really exited about.

 Miracle is a marvelous old school r&b song, I’m loving the way it takes enough time and effort to build up, I’m living the climax and I even fancy the whole “we can fly” thing even though I’ve always hated that song by R.Kelly. You know which one I’m talking about. The one featuring Bugs Bunny. The best part has to be the one where we have 3 wonderful layers : the guitar solo, the choir and one of the member’s lovely vocals. Oh, it’s epic!

Go is the perfect dance song. The guitar riff I hear on the background is a very nice touch, the chorus blows my mind away with its beauty and the middle 8 adds more piano just enough to send me to fantasy-land. One thing does come as a turn off : the autotune in the end. Big no-no!

I like both versions of Addiction. They surely sound more kpop-like but nonetheless are very powerful songs. The cases when the remix versions of the songs sound as good as the originals are a rara avis in kpop. Usually, remixes are used solely for the purpose of filling a blank spot on the album and there’s usually little effort put in the actual new arrangement. Thankfully, this is not the case with Addiction.

Tell You Honestly really reminded me of something 2AM would sing. It has the same vibe as Can’t Let You Go Even If I Die, still

Yes, boy, number one!

these boys have more soul in them and the beat of the melody is more noticeable. The middle 8 and bridge manage to drain all energy out of me. These boys sing their hearts out in such a charming way and they get so little recognition ? They deserve to be DBSK big. Immediately!

Final rating : 9.8/10 ( And did I tell how handsome some of the guys are ? Ha ? HA? )

Secret – Madonna ( EP review)

I wasn’t so well familiarized with the whole kpop concept when I first saw a Secret performance. It was around their debut time and they were doing some Magic tricks to appeal the audiences. With Madonna they did more than just that, they went down the “seduce-them-or-prepare-the-retreat-way”.

I have to admit I was seduced at first. By the choreo. After the song ended I remember there were also sounds coming out of my

That's some girl attitude right there

computer while I was busy staring at their wigglely moves. I felt ashamed of my shallow attitude and gave the song a good listen. Yes, without the video. Just the music. Purposely trying to be serious and to keep my hips from doing the shaky shaky move. Of course I failed. Even badly considering I was doing this while laying on my back in my bed. All I got from the entire experiment was a terrible back and neck ache and a serious addiction to all of Secret’s songs. As a conclusion, Madonna comes with a trojan attached. Once it gets installed inside your head, every song by Secret activates the hip extension and you start the wiggling. Please, tell me I wasn’t the only sucker in this world that doesn’t have a competent antivirus system !!

Of course I am capable of delivering an objective opinion about the song. It’s solely my problem if I do it while remaining static or not. So, here it goes : the introduction is stunning, from the jazzy instrumental, the adlib again Madonna inspired up to the insertion of the chorus, altogether make up for the other flaws the song has. And there’s plenty of them. The stanzas are weakly delivered, the rap parts are sometimes too annoying and not because I don’t like Zinger’s rap skills, it’s the verses that are tedious at times and, lastly,  there’s too much breathing going on. Other highlights are the last part of the pre-chorus and the bridge.  Mami mai mami aaah.. aha, that incredibly catchy thingie that added the neck aches. Madonna is a great dance song. Its single main problem is that it was released after Magic. And here I rest my case.

Lalala songs are great for live performances.  Just point the mic towards the audience and keep doing the slow headbanging while giving them the mandatory approval winkie.

I was ready to enjoy the Do Better!! feat Baek Chan from 8eight whole bad-ass attitude but the hearing of a “it’s a boy” somewhere around the chorus area really spoiled all the fun I had. I know they’re supposed to say It’s you X-Boy, but that’s miles away from what I’m hearing. However, the song gains points for being quite addictive.

Hesitant is both generic and a subliminal indication that cutesy is next on the list. See Shy Boy.

The best these girls can do is to add more soulful ballads to their repertoire like the fifth and last track on this EP, Empty Spice. They could take it one step further and add more orchestration and layering of the vocal parts. Yes, that would be a nice touch.

Sadly the EP manages to draw only a faint sketch of what’s the real secret behind Secret. And, to make matters even worse, Shy Boy comes right after Madonna.

Final rating : 6.3/10

Wiggling alone is awkwaaaaaaaard.

ZE:A – Lovability (1/2 album review)

Here I Am makes Hyun Joon hyperglycemic

Could anyone have a nervous breakdown while watching a MV ? I almost had one because of Here I Am. Seeing a guy act all cute and bubbly can sometimes be a fun sight. Seeing 5 of them might be a tad disturbing. When there’s 9 of them, oh, is inducing me a diabetic coma. This whole aegyo thing ruins even the small credibility ZE:A had in my eyes before the release  of this single.

Mazeltov was an unutterable mess, yet I still believed that 9 good-looking guys can pull it out. They had the right attitude, they were energetic, the choreo was stellar, yet the one thing that was supposed to pull al these together, the song, was a mess.  They came back with All Day Long and I was finally touched (compliments to the Brave Sound team) .  I know, is more Big Bang than anything ZE:A pretended to be, but they win a ton of points with the MV. The Crow’s Zero concept fits them like a glove and that mass fight in the end is one of those epic moments in kpop cinematography. So where the bleep does Here I Am belong in this picture ?

The thing with bands that have that many members is that you’ll never be able to discern which voice belongs to whom if you’re not a dedicated fan. And you shouldn’t even bother taking the time to study each one of the 9 boy’s voices. Is even harder to do so while listening to Mazeltov, the vocal parts tumble one over the other, all sounding from awkward up to a high level of weirdness. Which is a sad thing because the tune was likable and the arrangement was done decently. In All Day Long thankfully they all sing beautifully and the splitting of the verses is done nimbly.

Getting back to Here I Am, I fint it a confusing song because it takes you all over the place while getting nowhere. It starts as a nice mid tempo ballad, then goes down the bubbly route with the pre and actual chorus. After that it is your typical kpop dance track with lots of members each delivering an average 2 verses per person,  until it desperately dives back into the bubblyness with the second chorus. The middle 8 gets even more soppy at times ( butterfly, butterfly/superstar superstar ?? ). I am a fan of loaded pop songs. Good use of musical embroidery can enhance the appeal of a track. With Here I Am there is an obvious excess of ideas all squeezed together. From this point of view, ZE:A don’t seem all that far from that Mazeltov dementia.

Still there’s a whole different story with the next two tracks from this EP. Be My Girl is well-rounded, the chorus is surprisingly composed of 80% good quality English verses and the song itself is one of those rare exceptions that show a correct use of autotune . This song really took me by surprise because I wasn’t expecting such a solid track to be so unjustly hidden in the middle of a mini album. It would have worked insanely well for a killer live performance. Again starts of with a strong beat and builds up nicely towards a very convincing chorus and the rap parts are well delivered. I’m not sure about the sudden ending, the song had room for a few more twists.

The last track, Special Day (For ZE:As) seems to be dedicated to their fans. The soft vocals work well the melody, especially within the chorus and as a whole it is a nice ballad.

I really want to like these guys, Dongjun is a lively elf and Kwanhee is hilarious in his own special way but their producers make too many bad choices. They should really sit down and brainstorm a more convincing concept for them. In what concerns the songs, Be My Girl and All Day Long were excellent picks. Try an encore. Try to make an EP or album that has consistency. Throwing together tons of ideas in the same pit helps nobody.

Final rating : 6.5/10 rating for 1/2 of the album because I haven’t been listening to all of the songs on Lovability. 

Dongjun seems full of Lovability

Miss A – A Class (album review)

The one girl group that manages to impress me is Miss A. I have all the confidence in the world when it comes to JYP‘s capability as a producer. He’s a master at polishing rough talents and at discovering all of the out of the ordinary traits hidden inside those artists he works with. You could say that this is a must for any producer, but you really have to be a genius in order to make 2PM that succesful. Geesh, is so obvious the boys are nothing more than mediocre singers. But the moment they start taking those tops of and doing all those group acrobatics…

Why is it that the perfect abs of 2PM boys are a recurring topic on this site ??

Miss A’s latest release, the A Class album is exactly like the title says, nothing less than A Class. I really dig that whole feet fetish thingie, especially in the video. They’re slim, they’re young, why shouldn’t they flaunt it ?

Out of the 4 girls I’m more familiar with Suzy‘s role in Dream High and that hilarious bad-ass attitude of Min. That girl can seriously kick some ass with just a bat of an eye.

I’m impressed of how convincing these girls in their late teens or early 20s sound. This is why Miss A is so much better than most of the other girl groups : they refuse to play cute, yet don’t try to be too seductive. They’re natural when performing live and give an overall impression of a mature and full of girl-power group. It also helps that they have strong vocals, I’m guessing Min‘s the most prominent one.

The overall mixing is done nimbly, some mediocre melodies are saved by the arrangers, the exact case of  Blankly, the, oh, so plain ballad without that orchestral intro.

I have some favourites, One To Ten, Help Me, Goodbye Baby of course, a wonderful breakup song, Love Again and Good Girl Bad Girl an even more wonderful break up song, keke “Shut Up Boy!!”. Break it, Play The Music DJ and a few others don’t rise to the awesomeness of those before-mentioned.

A Class is a very good pop album. It has all those elements that worked well in the 80s but wrapped in the finest up to date orchestration. The kind of album I would recommend to anyone that thinks pop isn’t all that complicated.

Final rating : 9/10