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.


DBSK (Tohoshinki) – Superstar

Minho and Leeteuk think otherwise

The newest Japanese release by Korean super band DBSK, Superstar, is simply put, an ugly song. The definition of an ugly song* : an ugly song doesn’t do justice to either the singer or the listener, it is usually harmful to the delicate ears of children and elders and it has a lifespan of up to 3 weeks untill it disintegrates as if it never existed. Or that is what it should happen in order for the singers to be released from the shame of having promoted that horrendous piece of shit. And also to release them from Hell’s 7th circle.

Superstar reminds me of the atrocities that are being composed year after year for the Eurovision contest. Actually I’m not that far from the truth with this comparison because the composer is Swedish, a long time acquaintance of SM.
And, on top of all, the base sampling of the songs is so similar to Lady Gaga’s Pokerface that even I feel ashamed.
It doesn’t help either that the only live performance I saw had the worst vocals I’ve seen in kpop world (I know Japanese music programs  have some problems with the sound system, but this is no excuse for the bad quality of the performance ). I was used to Changmin’s screams crackings from time to time, but this was just too much. It just isn’t a soliciting song, why would you dare turn it into a wreck ?
The B side track, I Don’t Know isn’t as ugly as the first one because it’s too forgettable, too similar to other DBSK songs, too plain…
Final rating : 3.0/10 ?? I think so…
* By Tha( The know-it-all kpop guru )

Super Junior – Sorry, Sorry

I don’t like Super Junior. I simply don’t. No hidden reason, is pure animosity. They are given too much credit when only 3-4 of them really deserve a place on a concert stage. And not necessary as a group. Another thing that I dislike about them : on live performances there’s always at least one member that’s trying hard to look bored and like not giving a shit about the audience.

Oggghhh, me likey being a star

That member that gets on my nerves is usually Heechul, but not always. I’m not saying that we should ban all big numbered boy groups because they are hard to handle. How about those other groups that manage to look professional and honestly enjoy performing ? There are lots of them. The problem lies inside Super Junior- the band. The majority of the members have better jobs than that of a singer. They usually earn their popularity by guest appearances or MC-ing on radio or variety shows which is far more appealing than delivering 2 lines on a track and learning the moves from a silly choreography.
Despite all these allegations, I do believe Sorry Sorry to be not only one of the best kpop songs ever released but one of the best international pop songs too. What makes it so special ? Well, don’t just listen to the song, watch the dance version of the MV and you will understand. The minimalistic setting, the b/w filming along with the best group choreography I’ve ever seen work their magic on turning the listening of a ordinary dance song a memorable experience.

what was I saying...

Keeping things at a certain level of balance it’s the best one can do with such a big project. The song is rich sounding so you have no choice but to make some of the voices to sound-alike, even through the use of autotune. The choreography is complex and covers all space available so keep the lights toned down and the setting at a minimalistic level. And the most important, don’t show portrait shots. This is a group song, none should outshine the others.

Sorry, sorry makes me forget the fact that it is sung by an idol group. This MV deserves its place in modern art history not only because it’s exponential for kpop, but, like I said before, it’s at an international level. I dare say it does a lesser effort to represent kpop than to be the most straightforward brilliant a standard dance track and MV can get.

I will never consider pop music to be a superficial genre, not while I’m so aware of the efforts being put in for each and every artist. I’m referring to the legions of composers, stylists, choreographers, designers, concept artists, etc. All of these people work together in order to create a brand out of a group or artist. A brand the size and level of any other product on the market, be it a popular fizzy drink, gameboy or car. Albeit the fact that they must also compete in sales with those products.
Attention is today’s tool of trade in the world of showbusiness. SJ deserved international attention and recognition for Sorry, Sorry because is one of those brilliant ideas that stand the test of time.
Final rating : 9.7/10

They went from this ...

To this (a 3/4 members SJ)

They went from this …

SS501 – S.T. 01 Now ( album review )

Around the year 2005, the most anticipated rookies that were testing the kpop market were Super Junior. Aside from them, another name was coming to the light, a name that brings the nostalgia of a reunification in the hearts of the fans. On theory, the band still exists. On paper, I mean in terms of a palpable contract, not really. The boys spread around each at his own luck and the fans started to enjoy the fun of anticipating one solo album after another.

Getting back to SS501, their direct competitors were SJ. Both bands released similar singles, so is normal to compare Existence and Don’t Don ( both released in 2006 ). Firstly, I have to say that for more coherence in a song, it is easier to compose it for 5 vocalists, rather for up to 13, the proven unlucky member number of SJ. It is hard to imagine any rock influence in today’s kpop, but back then the trend was something similar to nu-metal, of course, on a softer note. It is not a bad thing to make

songs that follow a certain pattern that is proven to be succesful as long as new good songs are being born this way. Keeping the sam

e standard of quality in the work involved is a must.  All in all I have to say that Existence is a far better song than Don’t Don, not because I like SS guys more ( Heil! ), but because Don’t is a 5-songs-in-1 track (501, heil!#2). In the end, a thumbs up for the part starting from 2:15 in Existence. That’s how you do a serious track!

The rest of the S.T 01 Now album keeps on getting better. It abounds of songs with attitude, aside from Existence, there are Four Chance, Man and Unlock, from start 4 songs with powerful sounds, a courageous choice, I say. The guitar riff is something of an rara avis in kpop but they don’t seem to get enough if it on this album.

Coward and Bye Bye seem to predict the bubbly style they’ll embrace later on. Again and Hana are very good ballads. The remixes at the end of the album, for Existence and the “heavy and hidden” (?!?) version of Unlock don’t actually bring anything new to the listener. The rest of the tracks are easily forgettable.

Final rating : an honest 8/10 coming from a recently self-proclaimed big fan.

Shinee – Lucifer (album review)

Still being considered the juniors from the SM Entertainment family, I think Shinee should be getting a lot more attention than Super Junior. They sing better, they are a lot more homogeneous as a group and, as an all they seem to inspire more professionalism. It is hard for me to take SJ seriously as a band, I get lost among so many faces, many of them completely useless to the economy of the group and the songs juggle from being very good to being awfully bad.
The 5 members of Shinee are the happiest version of a boyband: 2 strong vocalists, another vocalist with both vocal and rapping skills, a flexible dancer and one model, I mean rapper. As far as itgoes, Lucifer, aside for its obvious flaws and weaknesses, it is one of the best albums in kpop ( I may be a bit subjective … on a decent measure).
I’m not a fan of intros. Sometimes there are bits from what could have been a great track, but most of the times are a mix of samplings from the entire album filled with way too many ridiculous adlibs. I totally prefer a promising start like Up&Down. I can easily foresee the loops that will take me up and down the road of a good listen during this album. It is the perfect appetizer.
Lucifer is saved by the amplitude of the live performance. The boys had already had a rough start with Minhoon the bench for most of the time, trying to perform the best he could, but visually they managed to do wellon a 4 men formula and to keep up with the crazy rhythm of the song. It isn’t a bad song, but I find it hard to find the melody inthis song. I especially hate the part where   Jonghyunhas a never-ending verse. It’s just …eeeeww.
If on Year Of Us, Y.O.U. was the song that was a healing patch for my broken heart, on Lucifer that role belongs to A-Yo. Forget the original version, forget Shinee, it is a good song that was saved from being mediocre.( The classic Cinderella story ). What I don’t really understand is why put Obsession right after A-Yo. The two similar tracks should be separated by at least 3 other songs. Maybe one of them belongs to the end of the album in order to create a grand  finale. Also I like the dramatic tone of the song, maybe because I am a Drama Queen ? And hallelujah for the guitar solo, such a breath of fresh air for k-pop.

Going next, Quasimodo is a nice ballad. Electric  Heart, on the other hand, is one of my favourite upbeat songs from Lucifer, especially because of the “My love is active, baby” verse. It’s funky, it’s fun and it fits their voices. The rap could have been better polished by a more deep voice. Poor Minho, it’s getting harder and harder for him to keep up with the other guys. Especially in the case of Shout Out, such a lame excuse for a skill show off.

Wowowow is another one of my favourites, the same funky sound they should embrace and start having children with because it fits them like a glove. The autotune it’s a nice touch, totally opposite to the nightmarish one in Shout Out. It also has the best rapping on the whole album.

 I could be superficial and underestimate SM’s ballads by saying that they all sound the same. On a smaller scale I could say that Your Name resembles a lot some of DBSK’s songs. Life is simply put : forgettable.

Prrrraaaaaaaargghhhh, and so the party started. Oh no, the party started a long time ago. Awkward number 11 for such party song. Still I like Onew’s parts and the Girrrrrrrlll shoutings. This was Ready Or Not.

Love Pain isn’t forgettable but rather painful for me to listen to it. Don’t know why but the feeling is visceral. Yes, that deep!
In the end, Love Still Goes On brings nothing but an ok chorus. Such a failed attempt to close a lovely chapter. I especially hate the instrumental part of it. It sounds rather cheap.

For an album to be great it is not necessary for all the tracks to be great. It doesn’t need a story or hidden meanings. Not even the impression of a main musical style or genre. A good album contains diversity, surprising elements and creates a soothing atmosphere. Lucifer is that kind of album. It makes me listen to it as a full and it even manages to make me forget about it’s not so strong parts. I’m looking forward for their next project and I anticipate it will have an even more refined but still fresh sound.

Patience, for now they seem to be testing the the Japanese waters.
Final rating : 9/10








P.S. The diversity of these gestures is simply killing me!