2014 Year-End Special

[Year-End Special] IU – 소격동 (Sogyeokdong)

IU is always a refreshing figure in K-pop and if the nation’s little sister partners up with the grandfather of K-pop, you know something special will come about the collaboration. While Seo Taiji did produce his own version of the song, I personally enjoyed IU’s version more due to her more stable and appropriate sounding vocals for the song.

I really enjoy pop music because, in more ways than expected, pop music is a reflection on the nation’s culture and history. Most of the time, pop songs are talking about love, romance, wealth, and so on because those are ubiquitous themes on any commoner’s mind. However, occasionally, we get gems like “소격동”, which reflect on uncomfortable histories, which provide a perspective on an event in time that isn’t widely talked about mainstream. Whatever transpired in the 80s in 소격동, I have not learned about yet but I can still feel the melancholy emotions conveyed through the song and the music video.

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[Year-End Special] T-ara – Sugar Free (Whichever Version I Clicked on First)

Oh, T-ara. These ladies have had quite the share of controversies and drama. Not surprisingly, building your reputation back up after a slew of scandals is very difficult, especially in the scathing eyes of the K-pop fandom.

In an attempt to be relevant again, T-ara decided to follow the big room trend this year with “Sugar Free”, much to my chagrin. I have never been a fan of the EDM scene here in the US and the reason is that a lot of EDM tracks are vapid – all energy and not much else. “Sugar Free” pretty much embodies that – high energy and intense music at the expense of vocals and everything else apparently.

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[Year-End Special] Infinite – Back

If you have been following my posts here, you probably have noticed that I have a slight bias toward girl groups in that boy bands tend to turn me off so I write less about boy bands. Infinite is one of those rare bands that happen to be appealing to me because they have a consistent sound that they churn out with every release and, of course, they are a very handsome bunch of guys. Their music has such a classic, retro quality to them and yet always remain very well-situated in the realm of K-pop.

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[Year-End Special] AOA – 사뿐사뿐 (Like a Cat)

“I’m good I’m hot I’m fresh I’m fly! Brave Sound~” Oh boy, you know what that means.

However, if “Sticky Sticky” was the McChicken of BB’s menu, “Like a Cat” would be one of those premium 100% Angus beef menu options. There’s still that crisp, top-notch BB sheen on the production of this track but the difference here is that AOA has competent to above par singers and an interesting pool of talents to tap into and that BB actually put a little more TLC into this one.

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[Year-End Special] Hello Venus – Sticky Sticky

My eyes roll out of their sockets every single time I hear that intro because it reminds me why this song sounds so familiar – it’s another Brave Brothers-produced song. I would describe Brave Brothers as the McDonald’s of K-pop. Step into any McDonald’s and you will be greeted with generally the same menu containing food that is prepared the same way and, though their Big Macs are the epitome of the ticket to obesity, you can’t deny that Mickey D’s fries are rather delicious.

Similarly, every time you hear the phrase “Brave Sound” in a K-pop song, you know what to expect: retro-meets-hip-hop, obnoxious growling, lots of 섹시, seedy lyrics, plenty of oohs and ohs, a handful of horns, and, of course, strong production. The annoying part about BB is that they know how to produce songs well. All of their songs may sound alike but they all sound damn addictive and pop-friendly; a BB-produced song is the K-pop equivalent of a fresh order of McDonald’s fries.

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[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.

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