Thoughts on some recent (and not so recent) music

Long time no blogging! I’ve been really busy with school, and I still am, but now I’ve decided to procrastinate by writing. Haha.

Anyway, a lot of stuff has been released and I have a lot of feelings about them, but I never really got a chance to voice them until now. So here it is, a mini-review of some of the singles out of K-pop this year. Starring: Super Junior, T-ARA, BEAST, After School, f(x), 2NE1, JJ Project, and the Wonder Girls!

Sexy, Free & Single – Super Junior

So I’ve warmed up exponentially to this single over time, to the point where I like it quite a bit now. It’s really low-key and mellow as a song, and because of that I’m surprised at how much I love the choreography for it. Although I don’t think it’s the perfect choice for a title song, what I love is how smooth and clean this entire song is (bar the hook). That silky and polished auditory sensation is something I haven’t heard from Super Junior since ever, especially since YYJ decided to take them on the SJ Funky Triology.

Of course, there is a reason why I was cold towards this song at first, and that reason was the hook. For lack of a better term, it trolls the entire song into that cheap and uninspired territory that Super Junior has dabbled in for the last three years or so. It’s like someone over at SM decided that this song desperately needed a hook (or that Siwon needed some lines), and just stuck the most generic and grating one in there. Which is a complete shame, the song is melodic enough to be able to stand on it’s own without having a shameless hook hammered over our heads. But, le sigh, what can you do? I guess it’s staple Super Junior by now.

The rest of the album is pretty meh. Maybe I’ll review it when I’m bored, but frankly it’s probably the weakest album Super Junior has put out in a while. It’s like, none of the songs (sans Gulliver and Bittersweet) are really crash-and-burn, but they have so little thought put into them. It’s like, there could have been a good album there, but SM didn’t bother. But hey, it’s Super Junior. Who cares about the music? Nonetheless, if I had to recommend songs from it, I enjoyed ‘From U‘ (which sounds like YYJ ft KRY) and ‘Daydream‘, and that’s probably it.

Single: 4/5
Album: 2/5

Day By Day – T-ARA

Everyone’s saying it, and so will I, it sounds like Britney Spear’s ‘Criminal. A song which I didn’t like either, so heh. I mean, Day By Day isn’t the most offensive thing to come out of T-ARA’s womb or anything, but it’s pretty boring and it makes for some really boring performances. Nikki always talks about ‘kick’ whenever she reviews songs, and what this song lacks is exactly that. Kick. Everything sounds so diluted, and that’s probably why Hwayoung’s rap sticks out so much, it’s the sole part of the song with even a bit of bite.*

Can I talk about how much I despise the processing on T-ARA’s songs? Especially this one. It’s like they compress all of their voices and they’re singing with their chins to their necks. I could understand it when they were doing their fantastic electropop thing, but now it’s just annoying. If you listen to other of T-ARA songs, all of the members (‘cept Hyomin) have rather open voices, and so why are CCM so hell bent on turning them into whispering chipmunks?? Soyeon’s voice is beautiful, but they make it sound so generic and flat here. As for Hyomin, I really like her voice when she sings songs that require straight up singing and none of that other nonsense. It’s smooth and has a unique texture. But she sounds like crap when she’s processed. For a voice that already has nasal qualities, processing does no favours for her. She’s talented, but both her and Eunjung are given no favours vocally by being in T-ARA. Everytime they get a song that requires singing, Soyeon is always given the bulk. Apparently Ahreum has a voice, but it’s hard to tell with this release.

Don’t Leave‘ is the only other song on the album that’s worth a listen. It’s a total mess live though, Soyeon sounds tragically strained.

*I find it funny that prior to the T-ARA scandal it was pretty much universal consensus that as a rapper Hwayoung was pretty mediocre. But now that she’s being bullied suddenly she has loads of potential and musical talent. Hmm…

Single: 2.5/5
Album: 2.5/5

Beautiful Night – BEAST

Beautiful Night is another song which grew on me exponentially over time. When I first heard it, I was hammered with Kikwang’s over processed and nasally voice, and safe to say it didn’t make a good impression on me, and it sounded kind of messy. But if you listen to the song the whole way through, it makes a lot more sense. It’s really high energy and feel good, and it taps into their ‘Bad Girl’ roots and gives it more class. At first I was complaining about how shrill everyone sounded, and although that still stands, I think it makes sense now. The synths are really strong and biting, and the shrillness is how they come above it, and it’s also become a staple BEAST sound. I love the Music Video, despite the absolute white-washing of New York, but I’m disappointed that the choreography for it is so unremarkable.

It’s Not Me‘ is also such a great song, it’s like an eerie version of ‘I Don’t Know’. The whole mini-album is a really great listen, as expected.

Single: 4.5/5
Album: 4.5/5

Bounce – JJ Project

I’m sooooo late with reviewing this, but I really wanted to talk about it. I LOVE JJ Project, and I think they’re probably one of the most solid things to come out of JYP in a while. Part of the reason why is probably because there’s only two of them, and even though only JB can sing, that’s already half the band with vocal ability. And JR does well with that he’s given, and he’s a pretty good performer. His rapping leaves a lot to be desired, but considering the youthful ‘just for fun’ feel that this duo is going for, he slates in well. Both of them have really good chemistry as a duo, and as such their performances are always really fun to watch, to the point that I’ve actually warmed up to their debut song significantly. It’s still a hot mess, but they can make it work. The song is pretty much all over the place, and I guess that was the style JYP was going for since he loves being ‘unique’ and all that (*snort* *giggle* *dissonance*) , but it just ended up giving me a headache. But now, after watching the performances, I’m beginning to love how high energy and… bouncy it is. Even though JYP’s productions are pretty sloppy, for the most part he gives his acts songs that they can pull off well (with some major exceptions :x ).

Their whole maxi-single thing is a great listen. ‘Hooked‘ is so much fun, and it listens like one of those old school Disney Channel songs (which is a good thing, I promise). ‘Before The Song Ends‘, disjointed as it is, has a beautiful melody and Suzy sounds great on it.

Single: 3.5/5
Maxi-Single
: 4/5

Flashback – After School

Recycled. Europop. Trash.

The song is really flat, and After School doesn’t have great and colourful vocals to make it anything otherwise. I pretty much forget how it goes after the first listen. This whole song was pretty much released for the purpose of fanservice, and it’s so blatantly obvious (just look at the performances and MV)! There’s none of that ‘bang’ and effort I felt with ‘Because Of You’, ‘Bang’, and ‘Shampoo’, the stuff that made me like the group. The sheer amount of Nana in it is completely ridiculous, I love the girl, but there was no reason to include that auto-tuned rap break in the song. It has really weak structure, and no ‘umph’ to make it better than it really is. I mean, you know a song is pretty flat when the best part of it is the dubstep.

My favourite song off the maxi-single is ‘Eyeliner‘, and that drives me INSANE. Because it’s Nana’s solo, and it’s so grating that her solo song is so much better than the group’s official single. It’s also grating that she gets an awesome solo, and Raina and Jungah are stuck with a ballad duet. I mean, I like Timeless, but it’s nothing special, let’s be real. They both could have done waaaay more for ‘Eyeliner’ than Nana did.

Single: 2/5
Maxi-Single: 3/5

I Love You – 2NE1

I really like the entire vibe of the song, but do I like the song as a whole? The jury is still out on that. There are bits of it I really enjoy, like Dara’s parts. And then there are bits that are kind of just like ‘alriiiiight’. Minzy, CL, and Dara (yes) sound great on it, but Bom has gotten to the point where even her recorded voice sounds warbly :/ And it makes me so upset, because her voice used to be so glorious, and she’s my favourite in the entire band. But if I can’t even hack her voice recorded, then she has little hope left.

The live performances are embarrassing to watch, I wouldn’t recommend it.

Single: 3/5

Electric Shock – f(x)

I’m not sure if I have a right to hate this song as much as I do, since the song I do really like off the album, ‘Jet‘, is the one everyone hates, but I can’t stand Electric Shock. I’m not a fan of f(x), although I do like the individual members enough, and this song is just another reason I probably won’t ever be a fan of them. I actually liked the group enough up until they released ‘Danger’, but after that I just… stopped. Electric Shock has moments of greatness, I mean the pre-chorus is great, as is the middle 8, but it makes no sense in the context of the song. It completely sticks out. That’s not dynamic — that’s sticking a random melody into an otherwise mind numbing track. Electric Shock is just so loud and grating, and frankly, quite obnoxious. Needless to say, I don’t enjoy it very much.

Other than that, although I’m not head over heels for the mini-album, it’s probably the best from f(x). And it has some good stuff on it. ‘Beautiful Stranger‘ is a great uptempo, and I enjoyed ‘Jet’ and ‘Let’s Try‘ as well.

Single: 2/5
Mini-Album: 3.5/5

Like Money – Wonder Girls

Firstly.

WHY AKON, EW, WHY, NOOOOOOOOO. WHY AKON.

I like the Wonder Girls less than I like f(x) (although I like the members more), and even though I really loved ‘Wonder World’, ‘Wonder Party’ as a whole was just… meh. The autotune on Sohee and Lim really bothers me, since it sounds cheap. As for the song, it’s catchy, yeah, but it’s pretty generic stuff. Their english is great, but the song is just sort of… not interesting. Yubin’s rap is my favourite part of the song because it’s the only thing that’s not completely predictable.

There was too much Akon. Waaaay too much Akon. He gets a whole verse and chorus to himself, and takes up most of the second-half of the song, which sucks since I really don’t like his voice. I mean, the song isn’t bad, and there isn’t too much wrong with it. But there’s nothing particularly great about it either.

Single: 3/5

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