Recent muzak #1

Been out of the loop for the past month due to finals and other related tomfoolery, but I’m back and am working on a few personal projects at the moment (one of which is a revamp of the blog layout, so watch out for that. Finally finished on 5/20! Hope y’all enjoy~)

K-pop world has been full of suckage lately….and I won’t say much more than that, heh. There’ve been a few exceptions in terms of straight-up music, but as for the scene itself…let’s not talk about it. That said, here’s a dump of some music that’s caught my attention as of late:

SHINEE – REPLAY (JAPANESE VER.)

Hate to say it, but the primary reason I’m losing hope in K-pop is because of this group. I already ranted plenty about SHINee and their consistant decline since debut and I will probably rant more about it in the future, but one thing’s for sure: SM’s sending everyone to Japan and I am headdesking all the day long.

There are a bunch of DBSK/JYJ/profit loss-related theories out there that I’m not qualified to make, and there are a bunch of things about SHINee’s new image for Japan that shouldn’t be up for judgment so early in the game. But what I can say, though, is that I don’t like the KARA and Big Bang-esque way that EMI is managing SNSD and SHINee, and I really don’t like the Japanese version of this song. Maybe it’s because the bad feelings I have towards SHINee’s debut in Japan on the whole, or maybe it’s because I generally find Japanese translations of Korean songs to be grating on the ears. Either way, SHINee’s Japanese debut doesn’t look like it’s going to be as bright as their name implies (ha ha), and I know I’m going to be whiny and annoying about it until the end of never….because that’s how I am with SHINee, unfortunately.

DAVID TAO – 望春風 (SPRING WIND)

I was first introduced to David Tao and this song out of necessity – it’s a long story involving this contest – but his music has really grown on me. I don’t listen to much Mandopop (shame on my family, I know), but considering the way things are going, I doubt it’ll stay that way for long. I got into K-pop and J-pop first through Korean and Japanese rock/indie/urban/otherwise-non-mainstream-music, so it’ll be no surprise if I’m suddenly into Fahrenheit or S.H.E. a month from now. (Wait, Fahrenheit and S.H.E. aren’t even active right now, right? Sure goes to show how much I know about Mandopop.)

“Spring Wind” is David Tao’s soulful remake of a Taiwanese folk song. Judging from the rest of his stuff, I never could’ve guessed that he could sing like that, but he can. All the more reason to stan.

BEAST – BACK TO YOU

Good album, Fiction and Fact is. I would’ve thought that Cube had their hands full managing 4minute and G.NA’s material these past few months, but the quality of Beast’s first full-length album is impressive. I’ve always found their past minialbums to be a bit shaky structure-wise – the lead singles are almost always good, but the rest of the stuff on the mini doesn’t always play to the same standard and often ends up sounding like filler. On the contrary, Fiction and Fact is incredibly strong all-around and it makes me wonder if Cube was just saving Beast’s best material for this album….which doesn’t play by my usual rules at all, but if the end result is an album that’s as strong as Fiction and Fact, then I’m all game.

U-KISS – I DON’T UNDERSTAND

Same thing goes with U-Kiss, except I think U-Kiss’ latest album is a bit more commendable considering the level of sheer improvement exhibited in Bran New Kiss (wow, most embarrassing album title or what?). I liked U-Kiss for a brief stint during Break Time promotions a few months ago, but let’s face it – if you liked U-Kiss prior to Bran New Kiss, chances are you didn’t like them for their music because their music was legitimately terrible. NH Media probably knew it, too – which then most likely prompted U-Kiss’ massive overhaul a few months ago. To be honest, I don’t think replacing Kibum and Xander with AJ and Hoon was really all that effective (although it did make the Ubiquitous Korean International Super Star group a whole lot less ubiquitous and international). The biggest change probably took place in the production infrastructure – i.e., the autotune-happy guy who was producing all their songs was probably fired and replaced with someone who – you know. Actually knew what they were doing.

I’m debating doing a full-length album review for Bran New Kiss since it’s already been so long since the album was released, but review or not, I only have good things to say about this album. As always, the title song isn’t the strongest track on the album. Despite Soohyun’s embarrassing and repeated voice crack in “I Don’t Understand,”  (seriously, how did that get past production?) I think this song best exemplifies U-Kiss’ transformation and I hope that this is the path that the group intends on pursuing, sound-wise.

ADELE – ROLLING IN THE DEEP

Ahhh, putting this song on this list just kills my inner contrarian. “Rolling in the Deep” is one of those songs that will just about guarantee you a slow and painful death from a bunch of screaming women between the age of 18 and 25 should you dare voice your distaste for it. This song has dominated both the iTunes Top 10 Singles and Top 10 Albums charts for several weeks running, but don’t let anyone catch you calling it a ‘pop song’ because apparently, it’s too “good” to be pop. I’ll save my rant about music snobbery for another time, but there’s something about the general psychology surrounding this song that instantly turns me off to the song itself. And yet, I went and bought Adele’s 21 album in full yesterday. I’ve since found that Adele’s not really my style, but apart from the general elitist attitude of her fans (oh, ‘scuse me, enthusiasts), there’s not much to hate.

All in all, “Rolling in the Deep” is a good song. But you don’t need me to tell you that.

NAVI – 끝까지 듣어 (LISTEN TO THE END)

In short – I LOVE HER. TO THE ENDS OF THE EARTH AND BACK. FOREVER AND ALWAYS.

In long – It goes without saying that solo female K-pop artists don’t receive half the amount of attention that they deserve, despite the fact that they’re consistently – I don’t know, better – than most girl group members out there today. Navi has a voice similar to Bom’s, but it’s a lot more open and it’s done justice when she performs live. I also tend to like female solo artists more than I do girl groups, hence my preference for Navi over Bom.

Navi finished promoting “Well Done” a few weeks ago, but I think I prefer “Listen To The End” because despite its great opening, “Well Done” just doesn’t move as well as “Listen To The End”.

F(X) – 아이 (LOVE)

Oh, the things I have to say about f(x)’s new album. Also debating writing a full-length review for Pinocchio – it’s either this or U-Kiss’ minialbum – but the general vibe I’ve gotten from Pinocchio (and f(x) as a whole, actually) is that it’s trying to go the hipster route in an industry that doesn’t see ‘hipster’ as much as it sees, at best, ‘fashionable’ (and, at worst, ‘weird’). A lot of the music off of Pinocchio are Korean remakes of European songs, and while SM’s constant habit of buying songs from Swedish composers is another topic for discussion, it really says something about f(x)’s intended image and sound as a group, and it makes me wonder how long f(x) will be able to last with this image. I didn’t like most of f(x)’s album, but for whatever reason, “Love” really grooved with me even though it oozed a European hipster vibe with every beat. I’ve come to believe that “Love” is the exception, though – going the hipster route with your music leaves you prone to making that classic hipster mistake: trying too hard.

BRITNEY SPEARS FEAT. NICKI MINAJ AND KE$HA – TILL THE WORLD ENDS

For whatever reason, I’ve been morbidly fascinated with American pop as of late, and current American pop is, undoubtedly, ruled by the pop divas. Maybe it’s just my general affinity for female solo artists that’s got me on this kick. Either way, I’ve been listening to an inordinate amount of Ke$ha as of late with no good excuse with which to explain myself.

I was in second grade when Britney Spears first came onto the scene, so it probably goes without saying that my image of Britney Spears growing up was punctuated more by her paparazzi photos and intermittent baldness rather than her merit as a performing artist. Which is a shame because she’s good at what she does and she’s definitely still kickin’ it with her most recent releases. (Did I really just say ‘kickin’ it’? What am I, a steakhouse special menu? Sigh.)

Wasn’t the biggest fan of this song when it came out – I found the whole concept of it all to be kinda obnoxious and excessive, and Britney sounded a bit flat throughout the song. But man – and mock me if you will – Ke$ha completely saved this song with this remix. She doesn’t sing much, but she completely owns the song when she does.

I will profess my love for Ke$ha once and only once, and it is with this post. Now y’all know.

SUPER JUNIOR-M – 西風的話 (THE WHISPER OF THE WEST WIND)

I was playing this in my living room as I was writing this post and my mom instantly started singing along to it. I guess that sums up my feelings about the song pretty well. Yaaaa~

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedintumblrmailby feather