[Year-End Special] K-pop Final Grades 2014

AKR K-pop Final Grades 2014

Another year is quickly coming to a close and every blogger and their mothers are gasping at how quickly time has elapsed. We all swear that it was January just last week but, alas, my darlings, all those late nights spent crying over underutilized study sessions and ensuing poor marks on exams and drowning oneself in Korean dramas, buttered popcorn, and one’s tears all add up. The reality is that Christmas is behind us and New Year’s is just around the corner. It’s that time of year once again.

It’s not a heavily guarded secret that the Korean education system and the US education system both, for lack of a better word, suck; the former breeding a viciously cutthroat environment where your sense of self-worth unhealthily derive from how much information you can memorize and the latter suffering from bureaucratic issues, insufficient funding, inconsistent educational standards, and general imbalance.

But I digress – this is a K-pop blog and K-pop should be at its forefront. However, I stand in solidarity with those brokenhearted students who have just recently received news of their grades. We have faced enough evaluation, grubbed more than enough points, and done way too much to miss the mark. It is time to turn the tables but turn it at an angle directed toward K-pop (because the best we can do at evaluating professors is just through writing bad reviews for them at the end of the quarter and, if they’re tenured, they could care less).

That’s right – to commemorate the end of 2014, I will be evaluating K-pop tracks that stood out to me this year, for good and for bad. Instead of a series of long as hell playlists, I will be releasing brief, standalone reports on 7 choice tracks, restricting myself to only promoted tracks (if you know me, you know how I love my B-sides but Professor Jimmy ain’t playin’ favorites this year!) released anytime between January 1st to December 27th, 2014.

Professor Jimmy’s Grading Scale and Criteria

Each song will be given a grade on the following categories:

Concept: This includes the visuals, the context of the song, the thematic elements, etc..

Cohesion: This refers to how structurally together the song is and how well all of the elements of the release are woven together.

Execution: This includes the vocals, the production, the instrumentation, and etc..

The grades above will be factored into what will be the final grade of the song, which generally are described below:

AReserved for hallmarks of superior Korean pop music, A-ranked tracks are tracks that have nailed it in terms of concept, cohesion, and execution. These tracks are likely to be the iconic ones, the ones that transcend time because they are just that good. 

BThese songs are above par and solid in that they either have a fantastic theme or sound or they boast vocals of superb quality but are just missing that extra ingredient to put them into that A-range. Typical B-ranked songs will have lots of elements that are strong but a few elements that are weak that prevent them from being truly legendary. 

CRelegated to standard pop fare, these songs have at least one or two elements going for them but are not flaunting anything extra. Bare bones, uninspired, generic K-pop receives this designation. They are most likely solidly produced tracks that don’t push the envelope because they don’t even have an envelope. 

DSubpar K-pop, these songs fail to capture much interest from listeners because of many glaringly obvious flaws in production and execution. This is not K-pop gone wrong but it sure is close. 

FThis is K-pop gone wrong. Let’s hope no song gets this grade. 

Of course, since AKR University is a snobby Ivy Leaguer and is an elite university fed by the dollars of “elite” beneficiaries, there are + and – designations to further add to the shame of countless students precision of the grading process.

Of course, with only 7 slots on my roster of songs, I will be missing out on many releases but, please, keep in mind that this list is not the usual spotlighting list; I will be critically evaluating promoted K-pop tracks that I just happened to come across this year.

And, with that, let the grading begin!

– Professor Jimmy


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