[End Of Year/Album Post] Play the Song Again – Jams of ’11

I always knew I was special. Australia is a whole day ahead of the rest of the world when it comes to New Years, and I’m still two days delayed. That’s talent, it really is.

Most bloggers I realised, do a really epic year-end post outlining the best of the best. They also usually do this a a day or so before, or on the day, of New Years — not two days later like me. I wanted to outline some of my favourite things this year, but in the midst of writing things I realised I’m way too type-happy and to finish the post would take several days. So instead because I’m a special, I’ve decided to try something different. So as a New Years gift for everyone, I’ve made an end of year album, so without further ado:

Play the Song Again – Jams of ’11

Play the Song Again – Jams of ’11

Tracklist:

  1. Superman – Super Junior
  2. Me, In – Wonder Girls
  3. Before U Go – DBSK
  4. Fiction – BEAST
  5. Na Young – ALi
  6. Please – Kim Hyun Joong
  7. In Heaven – JYJ
  8. Cry – MBLAQ
  9. Tonight – Big Bang
  10. Virgin – After School
  11. Neverland – U-KISS
  12. Trick – Girls’ Generation
  13. Roly Poly – T-ARA
  14. STEP – KARA
  15. Hate You – 2NE1
  16. VVIP – Seung Ri
  17. Sixth Sense – Brown Eyed Girls

Download Link: http://www.mediafire.com/?pavnevry5n29tdu

I hope you guys enjoy it! The title ‘Play the Song Again’, came from the song ‘Virgin’ by After School, and I decided on it as the album’s title because well, it pretty much sums up the effect all these songs have had on me.  Also, I’m horrendously uncreative.

Honestly a lot of thought was put into making this album, and I realised it’s harder to make a cohesive album than I thought (not that it excuses the entertainment companies). I had so many thought processes going on — because by now everyone should know I take K-Pop and music seriously — and everything is where it is for a reason. To break it down for everyone:

Track Order:

It’s highly recommended to listen to all these songs in order, because this was intended to be an album. I put in a lot of thought when ordering the songs, and I changed it around a lot, and I also got Nikki to help me switch around some tracks to where she thought it was appropriate. Obviously, I’m not an expert, and all these songs are so different that it isn’t going to be a completely cohesive album — but I tried. Essentially I attempted to start the album out with a big ‘boom’, something epic to really kick things off, and slowly I dissolved into the ballads and slower paced songs before turning things up again and heading into up-tempos which get steadily more chirpy and loud. I questioned where to place Sixth Sense, because it was really hard to fit it in anywhere, but with Nikki’s advice, I settled in putting right at the end — to finish with a bang.

I really enjoyed picking and choosing where to put each of the tracks, and it definitely helped me understand the idea of ‘cohesiveness’ and the importance of track order even more. Also, I don’t mean to brag, but I personally feel I did a better job of putting together an album in a few hours, than SM has done for every single album they’ve released this year. Take that as you will.

Album Cover:

Yes, it is Seungri. I wanted to feature a pretty girl group member, but I couldn’t help it, my bias was too strong. Also, that specific picture of him was perfect. For those who don’t know, Seungri did take home the award of being my ultimate bias of this year — in that he has made me the most proud. So, it’s only fair he features on my end of year special, amrite?

I designed the cover with the songs ‘Tonight’ and ‘Virgin’ in mind. I wanted to show the synth-heavy feel of ‘Tonight’, whilst still maintaining the dark aura that ‘Virgin’ had. In the end I wish I had done a better job with the spacing, and I should have lowered the opacity of the light textures. But argh, it took so long to do as it is now.

The Songs:

Of course, the songs. To be honest, there are a lot of songs I loved this year that aren’t on the compilation — so I settled with choosing songs that would work well with other songs (the blip is with Sixth Sense though, but I felt compelled to put in a BEG song). Every single song on this list is significant to me one way or another, and it’s only fair to outline why.

1. Superman – Super Junior

Keep Your Head Down has nothing on this. As far as I’m concerned, this, is the epic song of the year. I’m astounded at how well Super Junior carried this song, as in, they were the ones that made it work. When it comes to Super Junior I find that it’s usually the songs that carry them, and then they perform the hell out of it on stage. With Superman they brought the song to new heights, and then they proceeded to perform the heck out of it. I understand why this wasn’t made a title track, it’s not really one of those songs that are suitable for the charts, it’s one of those songs that bands perform to create hype as a concert starter. Or in this case, an album starter.

2. Me, In – Wonder Girls

While I understand why Superman wasn’t made a title track, it is BEYOND ME why Me, In wasn’t made one. It’s sassy, a touch of retro, and since it consists of mostly Ye Eun and Sunye — they would be able to pull it off live. Once again, I am astounded at how well Wonder Girls carried this song, and the sass their vocals have honestly took me by surprise. The opening pretty much blew me away, and the song borders epic without becoming epic to the point that it’s a one-listen (ala Keep Your Head Down). The arrangement of the song was fabulously done, and rap sections aren’t usually my favourite part of any song, but Yubin totally rocks it here!

3. Before U Go – DBSK 

Before U Go was an amazing song, completely stunning. And the reason I adore it is because it shows Changmin and Yunho’s growth as singers and that they’re more than capable of pulling off anything they want to pull off. The problem with Keep Your Head Down was it tried too hard to show off Changmin and Yunho’s awesomesauce, and it ended up being obnoxious and completely backfired. Before U Go on the other hand, concentrates on being a great song first and foremost, and it’s not in our face that Changmin and Yunho can work it — we can hear it for ourselves.

Aside from that, it’s just a generally brilliant song, and it restored my faith in Yoo Young Jin after he delivered a slew of mediocre releases. I’m not a ballad person, but I can’t really control myself when one soars. The middle eight is amazing, and is pretty much baby making music in it’s prime. This whole song in general was just made with the purpose of boosting procreation.

4. Fiction – BEAST

What’s an end of year post without mentioning one of the many fabulous songs on BEAST’s album this year. Fiction is so different from your standard title track, in the sense it doesn’t venture to crawl into your ear and gnaw on your brain. It’s a really well-made, well-composed, and well-sang song, and surprise surprise, the end result is fantastic. The light piano line throughout the whole song, the layer of light synths, the scribbling sounds, they all work together so well. There’s so much attention to detail on this song that it blows my mind that it’s a boyband song… from Cube. Not to mention it’s catchy, but it doesn’t try hard to become catchy or memorable, it just tries to be a good song. And honestly, that’s all I really want from any boyband.

5. Na Young – ALi

ALi is my new favourite thing this year, I LOVE her voice. There’s so much soul and power in it, and she knows how to use it well. But the only problem is… it becomes way too shrill and grating when she really pushes it, and when there’s no busy instrumental to dilute the raw power in her voice (as shown by Round and Round). What I love about Na Young is it’s sang with fragility and gentleness, and the whole song just echoes and resonates — and as a result ALi is in her prime. I’m also giving the credit to the instrumental, because it’s so dynamic and it really makes the whole atmosphere of the song eerie. There’s really no other way to explain it.

(Also, note how this song flows almost flawlessly from Fiction. Four for you, Ree. Four for you.)

6. Please – Kim Hyun Joong

So there’s only three ballads on this album… and one of them is from Kim Hyun Joong. What? No, you’re not dreaming. This is happening. I was thinking of what songs to put on this compilation, and I really wanted to add in some pop-ballads. After searching and thinking for ages, I realised that there’s no escaping it… this song really stuck with me. It’s nothing remotely new, fresh, or different. But it works so well (props to the arrangement), much too well . And it does a really good job of making you think Kim Hyun Joong is a decent singer. When you hear it for the first time, everything about this song seems to soar. But listen to it carefully, the lines Kim Hyun Joong sings are simple, they aren’t hard to deliver, and Kim Hyun Joong can deliver easily because it’s nothing above him. Of course, the song could have reached the heavens if it was done by say… someone with actual talent. But Kim Hyun Joong does a fine job, and the timbre of his voice is enough to carry this gem and make it work really well. Favourite orchestral pop ballad of the year? Unfortunately so.

7. In Heaven – JYJ

The last ballad of the album, and it’s by JYJ. Although I initially wasn’t a big fan of the song, after listening to the whole album, this ended up being my favourite song on it. Everything I complained about before still stands — the verses are a bit too low key, the introduction is still too long, the song essentially relies on the steady climax from the pre-chorus to the chorus, the instrumental during the verses are pretty but not pretty enough. But you know what, the pre-chorus, chorus, and middle 8 have always been my favourite parts of any song — and they’re really what makes it for me. After thinking about it a bit, although In Heaven isn’t a perfect ballad, it’s still a good song. JYJ sing the life out of it — duh, and the harmonies are gorgeous. Also, most importantly, it makes me want to crawl into bed and stare out the window listlessly — and isn’t that what a good ballad is meant to make you feel?

8. Cry – MBLAQ

As far as everyone is concerned, Mona Lisa was the MBLAQ song of the year. And in a lot of ways it was — it marked the departure of MBLAQ from ‘Rain territory’, to them embracing their own style. And Mona Lisa nailed what their debut song tried so hard to do — be catchy and exotic. But it still doesn’t stop me from believing Cry was the better song.

The chorus of this song is stunning, and I love the laid back RnB feel to it. The song as a whole is just so… pretty. It’s a Rain rehash, sure, but it’s not as if Rain had bad songs (bar the I’M GONNA BE A BAD BOY, I GOTTA BE A BAD BOY). Sometimes you need to forget principle and just go with what you like, and I like Cry. I like it a lot. I mean, it was released at the same time as KYHD, and it blew my mind that I liked an MBLAQ song over my HoMin bb’s. It felt like treachery at it’s finest, but you know what? It happened. What can I do?

9. Tonight – Big Bang

I liked Love Song better, I’ll say it now. But Tonight as a whole fit in with the album more, and on successive listens I realised it wasn’t a bad song. At all. On the contrary it’s actually really really good. I realised the reason I wasn’t so hot about this song when it came out was because… I was biased . It’s true, had this song been released by say, U-KISS or something, I’d be all over it. But I’m a huge Big Bang stan, and as a result I expect a lot of things from them. And whilst they didn’t fail to deliver with their material, this isn’t what I wanted either. But disregarding all that Tonight is a really great song, it was auto-tuned tastefully, and it climaxes beautifully. It also sealed the deal on Taeyeang being the vocalist of Big Bang. Don’t get me wrong, I prefer Daesung’s voice 1000x more, and I even like Seungri’s timbre better. But Taeyang embodies Big Bang’s sound, his voice was made to be processed and fit songs like this. Daesung on the other hand works as Park Bom, he’s the highlight, the feature. Taeyang is the bread, Daesung is the  nutella, and Seungri is… the toaster?

(Also, I have to say this. TOP and G-Dragon’s rap on this song is the definition of meh, the vocalists made this for me. Stick to Haru Haru boys.)

10. Virgin – After School

I’m probably one of the few people who really liked Shampoo, but that didn’t stop me from wishing the title track was something more like ‘Virgin’. I didn’t really feel it at first, but then I sat down and actually listened to it, and now I’m half all over it, and half pressed about it. It’s so so so close to being a brilliant song, but in the end it kind of falls before it can become anything fantastic and it sort of ends up not going anywhere. Nonetheless, it’s my favourite song from the album, and it could have been great. Give it some more spicing up, more kick, a more interesting arrangement, and it would have been ‘song of the year’ worthy. It’s dark, sort of eerie, but still up-beat. I have a feeling it would have been on more people’s year-end lists if it was released as a well-arranged promotional single, but instead it just ended up being a decent filler track to a pretty-at-best lead single. I still really really like it it, but not as much as I could have. It almost kills me how good this song could have been, but isn’t — they couldn’t even insert in a few ad-libs or something???

Why it’s on the album? Because it’s still a good song, and I thought it fit. I thought it would be a good transition between Tonight (keeping the low-key vibe), and Neverland (keeping the repetitiveness).

11. Neverland – U-KISS

I couldn’t not have U-KISS on this list. What other group managed to make a complete-but-not-really 180 degree turn as well as them? (MBLAQ doesn’t count). Honestly, I don’t think I have a soft spot for any group that’s as big as my soft spot for these humble dorks, if they do end up winning on a music show I think I may actually cry tears of happiness. Although I’m in the minority opinion that Neverland is sort of generic (reminds me of Hit the Lights) and I wish it wasn’t as stuttery during some parts — It’s still produced really well, absolute gold. There is no part of this song that’s boring or not jammable. It’s old U-KISS combined with the classiness of the new U-KISS. Neverland has got to be one of the hottest dance tracks of the year, and my favourite U-KISS title track to date. And how that pre-chorus launches into that chorus, amazing, kill me now. Fantastic song.

12. Trick – SNSD

I generally have the same beef with Trick that I do with Virgin. Both songs showed promise to be great, but ended up never really going anywhere. It’s more prominent with Trick than it is with Virgin though. The verses are unimpressive, but the pre-chorus, chorus, and everything else in between is catchy as. Where Virgin is dark, Trick is quirky — and I happen to really like quirky.

But the dynamics in Trick could have been so much better. See, even with the lackluster arrangement and dynamics I found myself repeating this song to death, I can only imagine the possibilities if this song was tweaked to perfection. Keep the quirky vocals but make them louder, and get rid of the congested instrumental and replace it with something with more dynamic, also get an interesting arrangement with an epic-middle 8. And there you’d have a great title track. It’s a good song, I really like it, but it didn’t reach it’s potential. It’s on the album for the same reasons as Virgin.

13. Roly Poly – T-ARA

I have pretty much no justification as to why this song is one of my favourite songs this year. It doesn’t mark any development for T-ARA, nor is it the embodiment of a T-ARA song (there is essentially no such thing as a T-ARA song as far as I’m concerned). It doesn’t do anything to show the group at it’s prime, the vocals are cutesy/squeaky with no depth — and why is Hwayoung still in the group? Technically it’s not a good song, and it’s sort of trashy and really shallow, and on paper Cry Cry is fifty times better. But screw paper, screw technicals, because there is not one song this year that has surpassed Roly Poly as ‘most played’. By god, it will not leave my head. Yeah it deliberately tries to be catchy — but it freaking succeeds. The loop on this song is crazy addictive, the melody is a disease, the verses and pre-chorus are like too sweet sugar with nicotine mixed in, the chorus and hook is pure crack. Just like how no part of Neverland is boring, no part of Roly Poly will not crawl into your ear and lay it’s eggs of  bittersweet redundant goodness. Even that rap segment, it’s so stupid, that it won’t leave me alone. So although on paper it isn’t that great, it’s pretty damn brilliant considering how much I enjoyed being tortured by it.

Argh. Only you, T-ARA, only you.

14. STEP – KARA

I love STEP, I love KARA, this was a no-brainer. STEP isn’t anything really revolutionary, in the grand scheme of things it’s easily forgotten, but man it is such a good song. It’s fun, it’s cute, but not cute (if you know what I mean), the whole song is bursting with colour and flavour. It’s also really catchy, but it doesn’t try hard to be. KARA isn’t the most talented girl group — it’s a dead horse that I don’t particularly want to beat. But their material is honestly really good stuff, and whilst I can’t say STEP is a classic, it’s definitely likable, very likable. And that middle 8, albeit slightly out of place and — what is it doing there? Is still gorgeous nonetheless. The synths are so light and pretty, and the vocals just float above it. In fact, the whole middle-8 just floats above the whole song, it’s a nice refreshing break from all the noise and clutter. And honestly, with such lovable members, and such guilt-free pop songs as lead singles, is it any surprise that KARA is my favourite girl group?

15. Hate You – 2NE1

It took me a while to realise it, but Hate You was my favourite offering from 2NE1 for this promotional cycle. And it’s also the most pop-like song 2NE1 has released to date. Put two and two together. It doesn’t hit you hard over the head like Ugly or I Am the Best, and it doesn’t represent a total style change for 2NE1 like Lonely, but it is probably the most universably likable out of all their songs. And I say this because the song doesn’t attempt to go above and beyond, and although it leaves it ‘not as memorable’ (hence the great MV), it’s also the song I’m most likely to not get sick of any time soon. Case in point, I can only listen to Lonely, I Am The Best and Ugly when I’m in the mood. But between all those moods the song I have blasting is Hate You. So even though the rest left more of an ‘impression’, I don’t jam to them as much as I do ‘Hate You’. And for that, Hate You gets a spot on the album. This song also made me realise I’m waaay more of a pop princess than I thought. K-Pop, what have you done to me?

16. VVIP – Seung Ri

Okay, I KNOW I’m in the minority opinion for this. Seungri released two title tracks this year: What Can I Do? and VVIP — I preferred VVIP, the rest of the world was salivating over What Can I Do?. And whilst I like What Can I Do?, it doesn’t stick with me as well as VVIP. I think what threw most people off was the out of place trumpets, but it totally set the mood of the whole song for me. The contrast between the verses + pre-chorus, to the chorus, is almost astounding, but it keeps the song interesting. The chorus climaxes in itseld, and it’s so stunning, so so stunning. And the verses aren’t any sneeze either, Seungri sings the verses well, and his voice reflects the cockiness of the song’s lyrics. The whole song is this roller coaster ride of mid to high energy, that it makes me want to jump around and then just stop and listen to let the whole thing sink in. And to think, Seungri composed this himself. Impressive maknae indeed.

17. Sixth Sense – Brown Eyed Girls

If I regret putting any song on the album, it is this one. Not that it’s a bad song, but it just seems to out of place. Whilst it does assure that the album ends with a bang, I’m beginning to think a song as loud as VVIP would have sufficed too. But it’s here, and it’s here to stay. The chorus is kind of anti-climatic, but the verses and pre-chorus are so smooth and catchy. This is a performance song, but as a result it is kind of ‘one-listen’. But honestly, what better way to end the year with the Brown Eyed Girls’ and their ever-stunning, sometimes overbearing, vocals. Meow.

Songs that were considered: oH! aH! – Kim Hyung Joon, Love Alone – miss A, Trouble Maker – JS & Hyuna

Anyway guys, I hope you have a great year! And I’m sorry this is so delayed, but better late than never right? And I honestly hope you all had fun reading this :)

Love, Ree

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2 thoughts on “[End Of Year/Album Post] Play the Song Again – Jams of ’11

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