Wednesday, January 04, 2012

NOW KPOPPING: Trouble Maker, T-Ara & Infinite

For this offering of Now KPopping, we have a collabo "sub-unit" from Cube's finest, a promising new-ish boy band & a sophisticated version of a sophmoric girl group. I'm refraining from squeeing over the latest Eunhae (Super Junior's Donghae/Eunhyuk "disco" romp, "Oppa Oppa (Oppa Has Risen)") -- I think its needless to say that it's brie cheese rolled in gorgonzolla and dipped in Velveeta, right? I'm totally side-eyeing Lee Soo Man for reportedly thinking that was the song to promote officially over the gorgeous "I Wanna Love You". But still, they are so pretty and do look like they are having a blast when they perform it live...Yes, Donghae, you are a yeoja kee-lah. ::sighs:: Anywho, where was I?

TROUBLE MAKER - Trouble Maker
Cube Entertainment has announced plans to create a string of "sub-units" for its three main idol artists -- 4minute, BEAST & soloist G.NA (pronounced like Gina, not like DNA, like I originally thought) -- and first out the gate is Trouble Maker, featuring one of BEAST's lead vocalists, HyunSeung(dubbed JS), and 4minute's resident sexpot HyunA. I have to admit the concept behind these sub-units is very promising, and I really love the cross-promotional idea helping keep their idols relevant and allowing them to explore new genres.

Trouble Maker is of a lounge, mellow kind of vibe, complete with a whistled hook that you can't get out of your head if you try (I blame Maroon 5 and OneRepublic for making this a global trend) and lots of at times awkward shimmying on each other. Given South Korea's at times ridiculous censorship cries, much of this is considered very risque, but in terms of an international view, it kind of helps make KPOP reachable, especially to a jaded, oversexed American public (just saying). I kind of wish more Idols would be willing to be so touchyfeely with the opposite gender, as often when they do, it's a huge deal. Whether or not we'll see this sub-unit pairing again is anyone's guess, but there is no denying there is a bit of a spark with this one.

For those of you who aren't as familiar with 4minute & BEAST, I suggest you get to know them better with some of their best offerings: "HuH" and "Breathe", respectively.

T-ARA - Cry Cry
Sexy seven-tet in girl group T-Ara (like tiara) has been making big moves since I first joined the KPOP scene in late 2009. I originally wrote them off as being too cutesy musically for my taste ("Bo Peep Bo Peep" anyone?), but after taking that very song in its Japanese incarnation to the #1 Position in Japan (a first for a "rookie" KPOP girl group...ever), I was forced to take a second glance. They wowed Asia with their summer single "Roly Poly", but for me, it doesn't get better than their latin- twinged, smokey sizzler "Cry Cry", off their most recent EP, Black Eyes. It's reminiscent of Oops! or Britney era Britney in a very good way, and shows the group in a more sophisticated light than previous releases. Since it's debut on the charts a few weeks back, it's remained in the Top 10.


Really, Mel? Another boy band? (If you have to ask, you clearly don't know me at all.)

INFINITE is a seven-membered boy band (ranging in age from 18 to 22, so I don't feel too old) signed to the same entertainment company that brought the KPOP world the hip hop troupe Epik High. The group debuted in 2010, but really gained momentum this past year, blowing past other rookie boy band competition. While their original EP, First Invasion, did nothing for me, their slickness and sheer appeal was brought to the forefront with their full Korean release, Over the Top (and even more recently with its repackage, dubbed Paradise). They also quickly embarked into the Japanese market.

Their music is distinctly different from my usual faves in the KPOP boy band spectrum (read: the SM Entertainment Aesthetic), as they rely less on party-time synth and more on the tried-and-true boy band themes of yore. "Paradise" sounds like something straight out of the early to mid 90's (not complaining), but if I have to pick a must-hear, it's "Be Mine". The 'Orchestral Remix' of the song often used on music performance shows harkens to a bit of Ace of Bace's "Beautiful Life". Below is the original music video.

Infinite is a glaring reminder to my heart that there doesn't have to be an American boy band to keep me content -- South Korea can get the job done very well.

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