Keeping it short -10 bits and thoughts

Well, it’s been a while. And a lot has happened in kpop utopia.

Even though I haven’t been active here I’ve been actively following new releases and listened to anything that appealed to me and I really love a lot of those new songs. Also I may have changed preferences over the last year, looking back, on some of the posts I was way too harsh , on others, let’s not call it biased, but too subjective.

I’ll keep it short and on point :

1. Way to go and steal wigs on a daily basis 2ne1. I’ve been blown away by each and every release of them, also CL’s solo. Digging the rapping and baddass attitude, although ocasionally forced or cheesy sounding, but all in all, great music, cool MV’s, good job.

In my defence I still think those first releases, up until I am the best, were a bit too similar and quite tamed. The girls had it in them to kick ass.

( to be really honest I’m having a hard time liking Happy. H-a-p-p-y?! Seriously now. Also too soon, too PharellHappy. )

2. On a similar note, loved Alive, loved TOP’s solo, loved Taeyang’s solo, loved Seungri’s solo, GD,…I don’t know. Only liked both song and MV for Coup D’état. The rest, not so much. Still jamming to Heartbreaker.

3. Among the oh so called rookies, well not all of them are still technically rookies, I loved : EXO singles ( even Wolf, I can’t believe what a silly crush I had on that crazy song ), Lee Hi’s songs, all time favourite being Rose, Ladies’ Code, Crayon Pop, B.A.P ( B.A.P , actually hit or miss for most of the times) , History, Tiny-G. Favourite new group – LC9. Stupid name. Huge potential, Great mini album. Worth tons of listens.  And a lot others. I lived with the false impression that most of the new acts are not so special, or interesting but seeing all these names constantly on my playlist, the situation is looking actually pretty good.

4. Crazy cool comebacks by Rain ( oh Rain, y u so hot !!), Epik High, Leessang, Infinite, Lee Hyori, Kahi, Miss A, block b, PSY, Sunny Hill, Ga-in, Jay Park ( really underrated) etc.

5. Somewhat dissapointed by or expected more from : Shinee, Ailee, TVXQ (biggest dissapointment, with Shinee being 2nd tier ), Super Junior, etc.

6. Still trapped in kpop limbo : U-Kiss, Teen Top, B2ST, CN Blue, Nine Muses, Secret, A Pink, ZE:A, FT Island, despite having really cool songs, choreos and/or lovely personalities.

8. What the hell, 2PM, what the hell ??

9. Biggest revelation : Cho Yong Pil ( whole album, great material ).

10. On kdrama land things for me haven’t been so exciting. Loved the Reply series, couldn’t get past episode 3-4 of any of those new Lee Min-ho dramas, and pretty much nothing else got me hooked. Oh, no, I’m lying, LooooooVED Queen In Hyun’s Man. The guy is crazy hot and the girl is pretty damn funny, both on screen and in real life. Also, talking about real life, they’re a couple. Ain’t that really cute ? I think it is.

On variety programs – I have a soft spot for 2days and 1night ( both old and new seasons ) and Immortal Song 2. ALi rocks!!!!!

Sorry about any typos. It’s been a long time and english is still not my first language.

Advertisements

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? )

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

Big Bang – Always (album review)

I was ready to give the 5 boys from Big Bang more credit, right before the release of their last album, Tonight. That was compassionate Tha. Back then I even had a thing for Daesung. Meantime there was that horrible car accident, GD&TOP playboy incident and an announcement about a G-Dragon solo album release in october. Oh, and a Universal Tonight craze. A bit too much drama for my taste.

I have nothing but respect for G-Dragon for being such a prolific composer. He’s the brain behind most of Big Bang albums. Well, he and his label mate Teddy, however he does get on my nerves every times he plays the fashion diva.

 

TOP can be an interesting rapper when he’s not on peroxide and steroids :

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Seungri will always be the overestimated maknae of the group.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Taeyang has to tame his hormones, they’re all over the place. And don’t even get me started on his stubborn refusal to wear tops.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And Daesung …I am really SAD about that nightmare he’s in right now. He had the most vocal potential out of all of them and I  envisioned a nice solo career for him. It really was his turn to shine. He shouldn’t be remembered solely for this powerful interpretation!

Their first mini album is actually one of their best releases. Each of the boys is well incorporated in the songs and the choruses are top-notch. The intro is fun, most of the intros by r&b and rap artists are something different. The sampling could have been more carefully selected, but their solo parts each have a nice flow. They make me shake my booty.

Lies is a great song. The chorus and the middle 8 are stunningly well sung and the moment when G-Dragon says something in Korean that sounds exactly like : Drop dead, bitch!, oh… pure ecstasy.

I knew Wrong Number’s English version, So Beautiful, which, if you were to ask me, sounds better. I have no idea which of the two is the original, but even the raps are better synchronized with the beat in the English version. G-Dragon really sounds tacky with that “that’s the shit/real shit” insertion.

TOP’s solo track, As If Nothing’s Wrong featuring Ji Eun has a sampling very similar to that gruesome song by Busta Rhymes and Mariah Carey. This is the one reason why I don’t like it.

Oh My Baby sounds very generic and I can’t put my finger on exactly where I heard it before, however I like G-Dragon’s cries at the end of the song.

Always can be  a playful quite enjoyable song if you are capable of  ignoring G-Dragon’s “Bang them” from time to time.

Kids, what have we learned from the listening of this mini album ?

All together : That G-Dragon  has a very dirty mouth!!!

Final rating : 6.5/10

2ne1 – First Mini Album ( review )

As I said before, I am definitely not a fan of YG and most of its artists. 2ne1 and Big Bang, both fail to impress me, only some of the solo acts do sometimes break this wall of indifference between us. What is it that the girls from 2ne1 do to annoy me ? Well, they promise much but deliver almost nothing. Same way a politician would do. They’re supposed to be this hip and powerful girl group, a kind of empowering role model for young girls and women. Instead their music fails to be something out of the ordinary.

I really have the impression their first album set the bar in terms of composition for the latter ones. The excessive use of autotune, the plethoric adlibs  and the simplistic melody lines do manage to appeal by means of catchyness, however they fail to remain memorable. Yes, I know it’s a paradox, but bear with me.  After a complete listening of the album I don’t see any of the songs as the prominent one, the main track or at least the track that should be the supporting element and reason behind the release of a mini album. Is it because I try to be most objective that I refuse to have any contact with other info about these albums before the first listening, including MVs. This way, at the moment I’m writing these words I have no idea which of the songs was used as a debut track.

So, by the time I reached this 3rd paragraph I had listened to the first track for 5 times in a row and it still sounds unfamiliar every time I press play again. Why in hell’s name does it have to be like this ? Can’t I get over my hate for YG and deliver a decent review of their artists ? Or is this grudge really justifiable ? I developed this hatred over the course of long hours of fastidious efforts to get into the Big Bang craze. I tried hard to make the difference between a solo song by Taeyang and a  Big Bang song. I’m not that insensible, wait a minute, I’m referring to the compositions. If you try to ignore the vocal parts and occasional use of rapping, the melodies and arrangements are practically the same in the cases of many of their songs. Of course, it isn’t a such an unusual practice, everybody does it. Still, in the case of YG songs it is more palpable because they hardly give their artists any r

I'm gonna kill myself out of so much joy with this tiny tiny gun!

oom to test their boundaries. They’re always kept inside the fragile shelter of “what’s hip at this very moment”.

I’m making one last appeal for divine guidance in my arduous task of writing an objective review of this mini album. Fail. The songssound so generative kpopish, so plain and boring that they manage to turn that last

song, Lollipop, featuring Big  Bang into an obscenely good song in comparison to the first 6 tracks. Albeit the fact that it was created for a CF.

Final rating : 3.5/10

Ha, that first forgettable song was indeed their debut single !

Se7en – Baby, I Like You Like

( The only video of this remix I could find, from what I know this version exist on the 747 album )

I can’t say I dig the copying of the American blockbuster’s title, but Se7en is a guy I like. I like him so much that I am willing to get over the fact that he comes from the label that gave us Big Bang and 2ne1, some of the most unlikable appearances in kpop. This is me at my highest level of subjectivity. Bear with me, I’ll someday explain to you why there is so much animosity on square feet between me and YG.
Getting back to Se7en I have tostart by saying that I am oh, so glad that he started singing at the beginning of the decade. It was my favourite era in the history of pop in general. All singles had a certain je ne sais quoi that inspired relaxation. Like laying back and simply enjoying the feel good message of the track kind of relaxation. Sadly, this is no longer found in today’s pop. All the electro grew up to be like a hard to handle adolescent and things got so out of hand that autotune became a substitute for instrumentals. Of course, autotune was given birth around that time but back then it was used with extra care and the impact of it was mainly positive. Take Believe from Cher as an example. It still is considered one of the best pop songs of all time because it is innovative and timeless. Trends may come and go in pop music but every now and then there are some songs that go beyond the tests of time. There are those songs that have the melody that stands out, making the rest of the package to come in second.
After all this useless talk I should return to the actual subject of the post. My favourite track in the whole world from Se7en is : Baby, I like you like that. But the remix that’s upgraded with bits from Baby, U and has a more electric sound. If you get past the horrible adlib copied from Hot in Here by Nelly,and by this time you would have gotten used to the minimalistic beat, you will most certainly get surprised by the beauty of the melody. But even more surprisingly, you will adore the catchy melody.
Anytime I seem to have a strong crush on a track, the first thing that comes into my mind is : after how many days of keeping it on repeat will I get enough of it? Because once I’ve gotten past that threshold, any intention of going back and listen to it again will be a fruitless effort. Well, in the case of Baby, I like…, I can openly state that I have found the hidden jewel in the palace. I have hit the jackpot. I have rubbed the lamp the right way. Call it anyway you like it, I’m so infatuated with liking this song that I can’t go on writing this review.
Final rating: 9.7/10. ( I seem to have kept some trace of sanity, after all)