Wednesday, February 15, 2012

NOW KPOPPING: Block B Returns with "NalinA"

"Just look at me, lady
Don't you wanna go crazy?
Wherever I go there are shouts
Coming out of people's mouths...
It's my own thing
Do not copy what's mine
And make it yours...
Because everything about me is perfect"
-Block B,
rough English translation of "NalinA"

The sophomore rookies of Korean boy band Block B made their official debut onto the scene last year with their album, New Kids on the Block (yes, I know the joke is right there in front of me - I'm choosing to ignore it.). In a sense, their style is a fusion of YG's Big Bang and JYP's 2PM, a hip hop meets pop idol feel -- and I stood behind them mostly because out of all of the male rookies, Block B stood out in terms of sound, energy and appeal. Also, their song "Halo" (sonically, ha-low) is really effing catchy.

What's interesting about Block B is their amount of creative input into their music -- leader, Zico, actually serves as a producer for much of their sophomore album's content (not totally unlike Big Bang, which is clearly a huge influence). Also - given their hip-hop-influenced sound, their main stumbling block appears to be the banning of a lot of their music on main music platforms, often because the content is deemed too sexual and therefore too inappropriate for broadcast. (It goes without saying that "too inappropriate" in Korea definitely does not equal "too inappropriate" in the USA -- so clearly I'm not in the right mindset to judge...but you get where I'm going with that one.) In my opinion, this only serves to bolster their "bad boy image", but let's be truly fair. Being blocked on major networks in South Korea is more than just a mere difficulty that can easily be overcome (case in point: JYJ). Without having a medium to promote yourself, it becomes that much harder to connect with an audience -- especially when you're still a relatively young and inexperienced artist.

They have recently returned to the music scene with their second album, dubbed Welcome to the Block (again a play off the word "Block"? Really?), fronted by the lead single "NalinA" or "NanrinA" (translated: I Go Crazy or I Make You Crazy). It doesn't exactly cover new ground for the group -- it's really more of what sort of worked before -- but unlike in 2011, there are additional kinks to this equation. Once again, the group has suffered setbacks in a few singles already being deemed "too risque" for broadcast. They now have new competition in the "bad boy band" genre in the form of B.A.P. (Best Absolute, I'm not joking) who have already recieved quite a bit of hype and fame, and long-time kings of the genre, Big Bang, have a scheduled comeback at the end of this month.

Still, "NalinA" is a fun dirty party jam that sonically has a bit heft to it than B.A.P's "Warrior" -- more of a club appeal. Will it be enough to make Block B a household name? Probably not. But still - I applaud Block B for being themselves in a musical market that doesn't usually allow such nonsense to happen. And clearly, the market is there -- Welcome to the Block recently achieved an "all kill" in the KPOP market, which basically means the act/era was #1 on all important "charts" for a ambiguously "significant" period of time. It's the KPOP equivilant of having a #1 record on the Billboard Hot 100.

Spend some time on Block B with "NalinA" below.

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