Recent muzak #2
Since I’ve returned from Taiwan, I’ve started about four different drafts in an attempt to get back into the groove of writing. This post is the sole survivor. :( It seems that I’ve been out of the writing loop for so long that I’ve somehow completely forgotten how to write critically (lol) about K-pop. Oh, the tragedy.
Anyhoo, here’s a rundown of the music that’s wormed its way into my brain lately.
Jet – f(x) (Listen)
My love for “Jet” was born largely out of my insistence on watching every live performance of this song in one sitting solely for the benefit of seeing Krystal do her stupid helicopter-ponytail move. (Does anyone have a gif of this? I kind of need it.)
There are parts of this song that are undeniably ridiculous, but I think the same could be said of almost every other f(x) song and that hasn’t stopped me from liking their music. “Jet” has a Clazziquai-esque sound that I really like, the beat is well-constructed, and it’s youthful and quirky without being excessively, well, weird.
Paparazzi – SNSD (Listen)
Why haven’t I met another person who loves this song as much as I do? :( I don’t really understand the basis for the intense criticism it’s been getting. It’s simplistic and catchy in the way that’s required of a pop song without trying too hard to do so. On the flip side, I can see where one could say that it’s too “safe” a song, with verses that are kinda boring and a chorus that sounds c0mpelling only in the “tried-and-tested” sort of way. But let’s be honest, guys — with SM being all “experimental” as of late, I don’t have too many complaints about a song that plays it safe for once.
Call Me Maybe – Carly Rae Jepsen (Listen)
I am an embarrassing human being and if you don’t want to be friends with me anymore, I understand.
Considering my musical taste, it probably goes without saying that I was jamming to this song like mad when it came out. Sure, it probably doesn’t deserve all the accolades it’s been getting for the craptastic production value of the instrumental alone, but I appreciate it because it doesn’t intentionally try to break any rules or push any limits, which American pop is prone to doing. Like Justin Bieber’s “Baby,” it doesn’t make itself out to be grander than it actually is. And that’s how I like my pop, yo.
On a side note, it’s been interesting to see the reception to “Call Me Maybe;” I think this is the first time in a long time that American audiences have been hit with a catchy pop song that is actually
tolerable kinda good, and it’s amusing to watch the (startlingly large amount of!) people who have begrudgingly admitted to liking the song. Sure, there are still a good bunch of people who will just hate on any pop song that’s actually popular (and America wouldn’t be the same without them), but the popularity of “Call Me Maybe” has given me a little more faith in the idea that pop music can still be universally enjoyed without the overbearing snark. Maybe K-pop does have a chance here!
Mama – Gangkiz (Listen)
Still not entirely sure what “Gangkiz” is supposed to mean, but it’s been a while since we’ve had a girl group with an average age that’s above 18 active on the K-pop scene. Makes me a little nostalgic for the good old “Wonder Woman” days.
Girlfriend – Wonder Girls (Listen)
Not impressed by Wonder Party at all, but “Girlfriend” will probably end up being one of my favorites this year because I’ve been waiting for forever to hear this kind of sound come out of K-pop. It’s sensual, but subtly so, and doesn’t use any cheap tricks (read: unnecessary sky-reaching ad-libs) to convey the emotion in the song. The emphasis is placed more on the girls’ voices than the jazzy instrumental, making the song all the more raw. I seriously can’t get over how clear and striking Sunye and Yeeun’s voices are.
Timeless – After School (Listen)
At the root of things, “Timeless” is just another forgettable filler track, just another weepy Korean ballad to go with the trillion other Korean ballads already in existence. It makes me a little sad that most ballads are overlooked and relegated to being filler tracks, only because there are just so many damn K-pop ballads already and Korea doesn’t need yet another one. But putting aside the context of the ballad-happy K-pop scene for a second, I think “Timeless” is just a really nice song that would probably be stunning live. As definitionally “filler-y” as it is, “Timeless” is one of the better ballads to come out of K-pop lately.