[Year-End Special] #2: IU – 스물셋 (23)

“인사하는 저 여자 / 모퉁이를 돌고도 아직 웃고 있을까”

It really is unfortunate that IU has such jealous and and spiteful netizen haters that she had to be embroiled in such a petty “scandal”. A poorly constructed argument regarding IU’s “lolita” concept on her latest release managed to gain traction because, well, K-pop fans seem to operate with a hive mindset and throw truth and logic out the window in favor of a few articles written by butthurt antifans who are just mad that they can’t be adorable, self-confident, and talented.



[Album Review] Ga-in – Hawwah


Ga-in’s solo work has been impressive thus far, with her gimmick being a particularly mature, if a bit pretentious, strain of sexy. “Fxxk U” from last year covered the very touchy subject of sexual abuse whereas “Truth or Dare” was her declaration of not giving two middle fingers about her haters. The lady knows her concepts are overtly provocative and she owns them completely despite having such a conservative audience, something that I believe many of her fans and even some antis laud her for. Ga-in thrives off of pushing the envelope and being unashamedly bold about being sexy. Burgeoning girl groups in K-pop have much to learn from this veteran when it comes to sexy concepts.

“Hawwah” is a visually and conceptually clear album but unfortunately does not deliver such cohesion on the audio front – “Paradise Lost” is the glaringly obvious lone wolf in the EP and will either be the deal-maker or deal-breaker for “Hawwah”. Sans “Paradise Lost”, the album is rich with jazzy influences and inflections, eclectic finishing touches and flourishes, and material that fans of Ga-in have come to expect from her.

But, of course, her EP is an invitation for the pretentious and the thought-provoked to dust off their literature class notes and to pick at the various metaphors and other literary goodies hidden in the lyrics, aesthetics, and sounds of “Hawwah”. When you’re using the Bible as inspiration, like how many canonical English novels do, you just can’t avoid being critically scrutinized by English majors and the like. And Ga-in seems to be inviting such analyses of her work. After all, intellectual buzz is still buzz for her album, 그치?


[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.


[AKR’s Playlist] You Had One Job

AKR's Playlist - You Had One Job

As a blogger, I am tasked with one job and one job only – to write about what I am passionate about. I had one job. Many apologies to my readers; I have been drowning in this sea of college life and it seems that I haven’t been able to secure an island of reprieve until now. It’s a small island but I’ll take it.

Of course, this is another catch up playlist where I will update you on what has been reaching my ears from the K-pop realm since I went MIA around August. All of these great tracks have kept me relatively undeterred by the doom and gloom atmosphere of K-pop recently. Hopefully, you all have been holding up well despite all of the drama that has happened in the industry. Regardless of all the scandals and lineup changes, the K-pop machine is still churning out some great music and I hope to highlight some of the standout tracks of this summer/fall.


[AKR’s Playlist] The Sounds of 2013: The Fight

AKR's Playlist - The Sounds of 2013 C

Click here to read the premise for this playlist. 

“The Fight” encompasses my favorite tracks that were either released or that I had discovered after September. This first quarter of my second year of college was a tough one both academically and personally. I had a lot on my plate and I had a lot to juggle. I think the main message that I took from this period of time of my life is that, in any given fight, there will be a winner and there will be a loser, and sometimes, you can work your ass off and still lose and you can not lift a finger and still win. Life is a constant struggle because it is never as expected. K-pop really helped me remain grounded during this stressful quarter and reminded me that I don’t have to grieve over my losses alone. I do have friends, contrary to my constant loner jokes, and these friends really do listen and really do care. And, if anything, I always have the option of belting out my favorite k-pop tracks or dancing to some k-pop bangers when I’m down. Though k-pop lyrics are usually vapid, they sometimes are like my friends. Some give me candied answers, some give me bitter truths – both of which I will graciously accept.


[Album Review] IU – Modern Times


After a relatively long period of silence from the Nation’s Little Sister, IU finally dropped her third full album, “Modern Times”. What’s so great about this album? Jazz, jazz, and more jazz. The theme for this release is Roaring Twenties jazz, a throwback to the carefree, extravagant nature of the 1920s in the US. Out of all of the decades that I had to study for AP US History back when I was in high school, I was particularly enraptured by this decade, perhaps because of the jazz music that was prominent during this decade or the classy fashion of this era. Making an homage album to such a grand era is indeed an ambitious task and there have been a multitude of k-pop artists trying jazz on for size lately but I believe this release did an especially spectacular job at capturing the essence of jazz and translating it into a digestible form fit for k-pop.


[Upcoming Release] IU – Between the Lips

IU - Between the Lips

IU’s upcoming album, “Modern Times”, is dropping on October 7th but she has already released a neat little teaser to quell some of the anticipation. From the overall look of the teaser photos and the snippet of this track that we have been offered thus far, it seems that IU is abandoning her whimsical, innocent sound from her previous releases for a more mature, refined sound.

I am anticipating heavy influences from jazz and RnB as her teaser boasts a very jazzy sound and the music video was very classy and certainly sensual. During IU’s previous release, I was hoping for her to commit to a more mature concept as it was supposed to be a sort of coming of age album. However, I was somewhat disappointed by the recurrence of a whimsical, more childish tone that a handful of the songs on the album had.

This release seems to be striving for something more serious and grown up because the Nation’s Little Sister has finally matured to the point that it would seem extremely odd for her to sing another orchestral pop song. Yes, I understand that it is her niche but IU needs to progress as an artist and I think this release might be her ticket to adulthood. From the seductive staring while on the bed to the jazzy little sample of a track on the album, “Modern Times” seems very promising and I am excited to listen to it.