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

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[Single Review] Blue, Big Bang: Beautifully Blue

Ah, if anything could break me out of my dead-blogger streak, then it’s Big Bang. My favourite quintet dropped the first single ‘Blue’ from their new mini-album ‘Alive’ four days ago. And despite the many reservations felt when their concept photos were released, I’m finding myself really enjoying this wistful tune.

I know this has been discussed ad nauseum, but last comeback it felt like Big Bang just went through with it for the sake of having a comeback. The whole platter of material we were met with just seemed so anti-climatic, and something tells me that the whole promotional cycle would have completely gone through a neutral K-pop fan. I mean, it felt like miss A dropped more bombs during their promotional cycle than Big Bang did — miss A. But whatever, that was the past, this is the present. And the present is sounding good.

Contrary to popular belief, I don’t want Big Bang to completely revert back to their old sound per say. Music evolves, and what sounded in time 10 years ago wouldn’t sound in time now (not to mention YG’s sound as a whole has completely changed, and Big Bang would stick out like a sore thumb). As much as we’d love artists to never change, for a mainstream idol group like Big Bang, adjusting is necessary. A good example of adjusting would be Brown Eyed Girls — they fit in with the time, but never really lost the spark that made their material theirs.

Last comeback it felt like G-Dragon wanted to record a minimalist electronic track and just grabbed four soloists together and made them sing. Big Bang? What Big Bang? They got some of the flare back for ‘Love Song’, but as a whole everything seemed almost insincere. But, if the year of scandals did anything for Big Bang, then it gave them a good smack around the head because the magic is back for the most part.

‘Blue’ is a very self-effacing song. It doesn’t attempt to blow your mind, nor does it attempt to imitate another song. The melody is stead-fast, and the structure and style is consistent throughout; the verses, the bridge, and the chorus all have the same smooth delivery. It’s a restrained and doleful tune, but Big Bang deliver it with such conviction it doesn’t need to hit you over the head with a hammer to demand your attention, G-Dragon’s croons of ‘I’m singing my blues’ does a good enough job.

Something which I love about ‘Blue’ is the fact it’s innovative, a quality that set Big Bang apart back in the days, and a quality which they somewhat lost during their last comeback. ‘Blue’ is different from a lot of the sounds we’re hearing from K-pop today. For one, when was the last time a mainstream idol group released a mellow song as a title track? Secondly, ‘Blue’ is probably the closest Big Bang has come to returning back to their older style, but at the same time it sounds so 2011/2012 — which is a good thing. It’s them kind of adjusting their style to fit the ‘now’, and the ‘now’ really isn’t all that bad. It sounds fresh, it’s different, but it isn’t a style that’s so beyond the Big Bang we’ve come to know. Which is something I greatly appreciate from any band I love.

As for the music video; what the frack? YG videos are always impeccably shot and styled, but a quite a few of them lack direction. This is one of those music videos that basically go nowhere. And seeing how tainted my usual eye-candy has become (Spockri, do not want), there’s even less redeeming this mess. Whatever YG, whatever. This might as well have been shot for a New York tourism ad.

4.5/5

[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:

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