Monday, July 30, 2012

NOW KPOPPING: State of Korea Playlist

In the KPOP world, things move fast. Admittedly, I'm a bit behind (blame Super Junior), and with promised releases by 2NE1, an English release from Wonder Girls and a comeback by my beloved TVXQ!, I got a bit lost in the shuffle. Currently, girl groups are the lay of the land with 2NE1, SISTAR and T-ARA dominating the KPOP charts but with new releases from PSY and BoA being thrown into the mix, things will most likely change by tomorrow. Here's a quick rundown of recent KPOP staples you should be aware of.

Jo Kwon - Animal
Jo Kwon is best known 1) as a the leader of JYP's requisite balladeer boy band 2AM, 2) for his on-screen "romance" with Brown Eyed Girls' Ga-In for the Korean "reality show" 'We Got Married', and 3) as Korea's all-around snap!faboulous male idol (sorry, Key from SHINee -- Jo Kwon kind of takes the cake). Recently, he took a break from 2AM's brooding love ballads ("I Did Wrong", "You Didn't Answer My Calls", etc.) in favor of a dance-inspired solo EP that couldn't have been a better reflection of his over-the-top personality. "Animal", a thumping club track much akin to say Darin or even Simon Curtis in a dark Lady Gaga blender, wasn't the first single (please see "I'm Da One" for that -- yes, 'Da', in English), but in my opinion, it should have been. His solo dalliance also allowed him to break out of the ballad boy band cliche around in feathers and heels with creepy masked dancers. I'm not kidding. Only in Asia would a member of such a straight and narrow boy band get away with this. Amazing.

Wonder Girls - Like Money (feat. Akon)

"Like Money", which features Akon, is Wonder Girls' second (or third depending on if you count "The DJ Is Mine" from their Nick TV movie...which I do) attempt at an American breakthrough and it's clearly last chance go-time. For the most part, they sound fantastic, although I wish they relied more on their SANGERS in Sunye and Yenny over the vocally weaker Sohee and Lim. They outfits are stellar. The choreography slams. But overall, the execution still Perhaps because it sounds too similar to the dance music that is overflowing at the moment to stand out. Maybe it's because there's SO much Akon (aside from Pitbull, they could have picked LITERALLY any other rapper and I would have been happier). Still, the positives do outweigh the negatives. Perhaps an all-WG version will be released on that ever-allusive English album JYP has promised us.

2NE1 - I Love You
Naysayers be damned. 2NE1 first broke onto the scene a mere three years ago and have evolved into a specific style and sound that is internationally friendly and danceable. (Also, CL -- I kind of want to be you). "I Love You" is a bit a grower at first listen, but remember, we received the solemn "Lonely" before we got hit over the head with "I Am the Best". The song breaks tempo barriers into being a truly pulsating (but still subtle) number -- and then CL breaks it all down. I kind of prefer songs like these from 2NE1, because while they all look fantastic and there is a sick rhythm to it all, at the underbelly, you can hear them actually (gasp!) singing. They've stepped the game up for Ms. Dara, oft considered one of the weaker members of the quartet. Now, if they could inject some more fierceatude into doe-eyed Park Bom, the Fearless Foursome would truly be unstoppable.

PSY - Gangnam Style
PSY, a humor-inflicting member of the YG Crew (Se7en, Big Bang, 2NE1), looks like it would be truly laughable but once you take a peek, you get sucked in. Unlike an American equivalent of the comedy earworm (LMFAO), PSY takes a more intelligent comedic approach. Hearing the song alone is fun for party times, but the video is what makes this truly classic. (You can truly count on one hand how many times I've said that!)

After School - Flashback
My knowledge of After School is relatively limited beyond the fact that they are a rotating lineup group (ie. occasionally members "graduate" to "other pursuits" and leave the group) and they also house the popular subunit group Orange Caramel. Also, their former leader (who also recently "graduated") used to be a dancer at SME and "allegedly" dated JYJ/TVXQ! member Yoochun back in the day. The group lays on the sex appeal with club track "Flashback" and I find it really difficult to dislike it. They all have sexy popstar hair and the whole affair sounds very Britney-esque.

BoA - Only One
BoA returns with her followup to 'Hurricane Venus' via her seventh album title song "Only One". While many (myself included) were keen to label her as a Korean Britney/Christina hybrid, its with performances like this that I think a better American comparison would be that of Janet Jackson (oh yeah, honey -- I went there). With soft and sultry vocals combining with slick, crisp and truly captivating choreography, it's clear who BoA's emulating. The song was also written and composed by BoA. And - bonus points for the color coalition of races featured in BoA's dancers! Yay for internationalism!

Saturday, July 28, 2012

WGO: Chart Watch, United World Chart, Hot Debuts (8/4/2012)

Below denotes songs and artists of note featured on the Billboard Hot 100 (USA), United World Chart, CHR/Top 40 (US Radio), Hot Dance/Club Play (USA), Heatseekers Singles Charts (USA), UK Hot (UK), Japan and KPOP (South Korea) charts. Italicized items have been discussed on Melismatic.

New Additions to the Hot 100 of Note:
12. Jason Aldean - Take A Little Ride
Pop listeners mostly know him for his gorgeous duet with Kelly Clarkson, but if you're into good ol' pop/crossover honkytonk -- "Take A Little Ride" will suit you nicely.

34. No Doubt - Settle Down

While I have some issues with it, it just gets better with every spin.

77. T.I. - Go Get It
Bass-heavy and ego-centric, T.I. returns to his CHR-friendly Rap Throne. Not really my thing, but I can see this dominating at post-Wiz Khalifa/2 Chainz American radio.

78. The Killers - Runaways
Etheral and sweeping, more "Human" than "Mr. Brightside", with more guitar. It gives me good U2 feels.

95. Dave Matthews Band - Mercy
Subtle and quite beautiful. I've never been much for DMB's relaxed rock but this is such a calming song. So many beautiful instrumental layers -- so much to listen to.

Billboard Hot 100:

1. Carly Rae Jepsen - Call Me Maybe
2. Maroon 5 - Payphone (feat. Wiz Khalifa)
3. Katy Perry - Wide Awake (AIRPLAY GAINER)
4. Ellie Goulding - Lights
5. Gotye - Somebody That I Used To Know (feat. Kimbra)
6. Flo Rida - Whistle
7. Rihanna - Where Have You Been
8. David Guetta - Titanium (feat. Sia)
9. Usher - Scream
10. P!NK - Blow Me (One Last Kiss)

CHR/TOP 40 Radio (USA):
#1: Maroon 5 - Payphone (feat. Wiz Khalifa) (4 Weeks)
#1 Recurrent: fun. - We Are Young (feat. Janelle Monae)
Most Increased Plays: P!NK - Blow Me (One Last Kiss)
Most Added To Radio: No Doubt - Settle Down (40 stations)

United World Chart:
1. Maroon 5 - Payphone (feat. Wiz Khalifa) -- USA
2. Flo Rida - Whistle -- USA
3. Carly Rae Jepsen - Call Me Maybe -- CANADA
4. Katy Perry - Wide Awake -- USA
5. Gotye - Somebody That I Used To Know (feat. Kimbra) -- AUSTRALIA/NEW ZEALAND
6. fun. - We Are Young (feat. Janelle Monae) -- USA
7. Rihanna - Where Have You Been
8. P!NK - Blow Me (One Last Kiss) -- USA
9. Usher - Scream -- USA
10. NEWS - Chankapana (HOT SHOT DEBUT) -- JAPAN

Thursday, July 26, 2012

ARBITRARY RANKINGS: Mutya Keisha Siobhan Return

Let's talk Suga, shall we?

Overall, to call me a fan of the Sugas would be putting it mildly but the day Keisha left was the day it seemed to be over for me. I'm aware the Sugababes as they are now are supposedly conspiring for an "eighth" album, and I'm welcome to see what they will be bringing to the table, although I feel the name should be changed at the very least to give themselves a fair shake. The era of the Sugababes is over. We might as well get used to that.

Back in early 2010, we began hearing rumors swirl of a possible reunification of the three original members of the British super group, the Sugababes. While there was a lot of back and forth with the will they or won't they, everything was officially nailed down just recently with the formal announcement of their return under the name Mutya Keisha Siobhan.

Other than being more than a little ego-centric, the name doesn't exactly roll off one's tongue the way say, Sugababes does. Still, it gets its point across I suppose. With the girls impending comeback and also the alleged Girls Aloud reunion, 2012 is shaping up to be a pretty awesome year in terms of Brit GirlPop (we'll get to Little Mix in just a bit). Here's to hoping we don't get let down.

Hands down, my favorite Mutya Keisha Siobhan in the Suga catalogue:

In an attempt to get (even more) excited for what's next for Team MKS, here's my list of my favorite Suga Songs (of the Moment, anyway -- this will change every hour, on the hour):

06. About A Girl (Sweet Seven, 2010)
Released during the Sweet Seven debacle with alternate versions with or without Keisha, for many it exemplified the selling-out of the Suga ideal. However for me, "Girl" (along with "Thank You For The Heartbreak") is a primo dance cut and was definitely a return to form for RedOne. Definitely didn't get a fair shake.

05. Supernatural (Angels With Dirty Faces, 2002)
I like it for many reasons other than it shares it's title with my favorite TV show. Just saying.

04. Girls (Catfights & Spotlights, 2008)
The lead single from the album who's title couldn't have better described the Suga's image better. "Girls" had a retro twist that harkened back to the One Touch era but still felt deliciously modern. Oh, and the horns. The horns.

03. My Love Is Pink (Change, 2007)
A lost opportunity for a killer dance single.

02. Red Dress (Taller In More Ways, 2005)
The thumping bass & 808. The lyrics. The swagger. Does it get better? Hardly.

01. Too Lost In You (Three, 2003)
If I could choose a version of a Suga ballad for MKS to emulate, it's this one. "Too Lost In You" perhaps goes down in history as the group's best acheivement in terms of vocality, harmony, blending and lyrics itself. It was what solidified me as a Sugababes fan without even releasing a single song in the States. It's their "Don't Let Go (Love)" (En Vogue). Period.


Wednesday, July 25, 2012

HEAR THIS: Watch Pastele "Reach The High"

"Just breath it in
It's all you need
It's in your veins
Running through your body"

Keeping on the grind, Team Pastele serves up another hot dance cut to follow up Pastele's fab EP City of Pastele in "Reach The High", produced by her oft-collaborator AntMaestro (single "Step 2 This", amongst other goodies). It's one for the discoteques with chanty oh ohs, trippin', losin' control-ol-oh's.

Keep it comin', hun!

For more on Pastele, check out my review of one of her first live performances as a solo artist this past January here and/or check out my interview with her from back in March '11 (in her prior incarnation as "Pasquelina").

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

WATCH THIS: Manika is a "Good Girl"

My girl Manika somehow fit in time between dates opening up for One Direction to shoot the music video for her single "Good Girl". It's about time she got some big budg pushing and that's what "Good Girl" is shooting for. Note the Jessie J-esque styling, the hot (but cheating) boyfriend and the cameo appearance of Clint Eastwood's daughter Francesca (the blonde host of the party in the breakup scene).

I wish I had a smokey backdrop whenever I rock out and sing by myself at night. Ditto to a wind machine blowing my hair as I text my BFF while sitting on the steps of my apartment. Ahh, to have a popstar's life.

Dear Team Manika - I know our girl is into the whole fashion thing and I really have to say if ya'll were to sell that lavender spiked jacket, or even the rainbow feather-esque skirt she wears, I would snatch that up so quick.

For more on "Good Girl", check out my review of it here, along with my exclusive interview with the adorable Manika herself.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

'Settling' Into Summer: A PLAYLIST

It's almost August, fam. How did that happen? So much good music is making its way onto a Spotify and general conciousness near you (or rather, me), it's hard to keep up this diary that I call a music blog. Here's a quick rundown of the "repeat offenders" in terms of big singles I've been wearing out lately.

NO DOUBT - "Settle Down"
You knew this one was coming, right? After an eon (literally), No Doubt finally returns with a new single. Their last proper release was the gigantic 2001's Rock Steady ("Hella Good", "Hey Baby", "Underneath It All"). It's very obvious the pressure to "stand & deliver" was astronomical, and it's arguable one of the reasons why it took the band so long to finally produce a single was because they were waiting for the moment. I have my disputes with "Settle Down" -- mainly, it's too long, not very punchy for a radio single and the instrumentals are a bit needless (for an album version, I understand but for the radio?). That being said, No Doubt always broke through doing their own thing and that hook is just undeniable. The chorus alone makes the entire song worthwhile. Who would have thought six little words would be so catchy? (Get. In line and set-tle down!)

THE XX - "Angels" (view here)

"Angels" is the lead single from The Xx's upcoming sophomore album, Coexist, set for a September release. It's beautifully haunting and slow-moving. Subtlety was always one of their strong points and that could never be more poignant than it is here.

CADY GROVES - "Love Actually" (fabulous live acoustic video here / studio version)
It's a shame "This Little Girl" didn't take off (Every girl is capable of murder...if you hurt her!) but "Love Actually" is every bit as punchy and hooky as Cady's debut single. It's very clear that Cady knows a killer chorus when she hears it and with the right support, Cady could totally waltz right in to that proverbial pop meets country token slot currently left vacant by Taylor Swift.

NERVO - "You're Gonna Love Again" (music video here)
Aussie twins Miriam and Olivia joined forces as Nervo and made waves as a pop songwriting team before getting their own record deal in 2010. Most notably, they co-wrote the Kelly Rowland breakthrough "When Love Takes Over", but have also worked with a variety of other popstars before releasing a handful of dancefloor friendly hype singles. "You're Gonna Love Again" is their first proper release and to say it's stellar would be selling it short. Attention discoteques: you're welcome.

MARINA & THE DIAMONDS - "How To Be A Heartbreaker" (live perf on Kimmel / studio version)
Marina follows up the Dr. Luke-produced first single off Electra Heart ("Primadonna" -- coincidentally also the name of the Ginger + Liz nailpolish I am currently rocking) with another Luke production in the US only single "How To Be A Heartbreaker". Overall, Electra Heart has lived up to the hype for me, even though I do feel The Family Jewels was a bit more consistent overall. There is no question "Heartbreaker" was a great choice for a single here in the US, even if I do fear the Katy Perry and Jessie J comparisons she may inevitably face.

TONI BRAXTON - "I Heart You" / "Maybe"
Alright, alright. Obviously I prefer my Toni in her 90's incarnations ("Breathe Again", "Another Sad Love Song", "Unbreak My Heart", "You're Makin' Me High") but her early 00's re-surgence doesn't get enough credit. That seems to be who Toni is currently channeling in her most recent effort in the dancey "I Heart You", which recently hit #1 on the Billboard Dance Charts. I'm comfy with Toni being a dance diva -- she certainly has the pipes for it. "I Heart You" was immediately on replay the minute I heard it, mostly because it reminded me of her under-appreciated single "Maybe" (in now hard-to-find remix form, obviously). I'd be down for that mashup.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

WGO: Chart Watch, United World Chart, Hot Debuts (7/28/2012)

Below denotes songs and artists of note featured on the Billboard Hot 100 (USA), United World Chart, CHR/Top 40 (US Radio), Hot Dance/Club Play (USA), Heatseekers Singles Charts (USA), UK Hot (UK), Japan and KPOP (South Korea) charts. Italicized items have been discussed on Melismatic.

New Additions to the Hot 100 of Note:
85. Frank Ocean - Thinkin Bout You
The subject of the biggest hype in the biz at the moment. In Frank's case, it's sincerely warranted. I miss old, fearless R&B. Kudos.

95. Ed Sheeran - The A Team
Two-time BRIT winner tries is hand at the American biz. "The A Team" is surprisingly smooth acoustic goodness, a la Jason Mraz or James Morrison (the latter actually inspired Sheeran to begin with).

Billboard Hot 100 Top 10:
1. Carly Rae Jepsen - Call Me Maybe
2. Maroon 5 - Payphone (feat. Wiz Khalifa)
3. Katy Perry - Wide Awake
4. Gotye - Somebody That I Used To Know (feat. Kimbra)
5. Ellie Goulding - Lights
6. Rihanna - Where Have You Been
7. Flo Rida - Whistle (STREAMING GAINER)
8. David Guetta - Titanium (feat. Sia)
9. P!NK - Blow Me (One Last Kiss) (AIRPLAY GAINER)
10. Usher - Scream

CHR/TOP 40 Radio (USA):
#1: Maroon 5 - Payphone (feat. Wiz Khalifa) (3 Weeks)
#1 Recurrent: The Wanted - Glad You Came
Most Increased Plays: P!NK - Blow Me (One Last Kiss)
Most Added To Radio: P!NK - Blow Me (One Last Kiss) (67 stations)

United World Chart Top 10:
1. Maroon 5 - Payphone (feat. Wiz Khalifa) - USA
2. Carly Rae Jepsen - Call Me Maybe - CANADA
3. Flo Rida - Whistle - USA
4. Katy Perry - Wide Awake - USA
5. Gotye - Somebody That I Used To Know (feat. Kimbra) - AUSTRALIA/NEW ZEALAND
6. Rihanna - Where Have You Been - USA/BARBADOS
7. fun. - We Are Young (feat. Janelle Monae) - USA
8. P!NK - Blow Me (One Last Kiss) (HOT SHOT DEBUT) - USA
9. Usher - Scream - USA
10. Nicki Minaj - Starships - USA

Tuesday, July 17, 2012


L to R: Jobob, Ruba, Max & Cy
In keeping with last week's theme of BOY BAND BONANZA, I'm super stoked to present to you all an exclusive interview with the dudes of indie boy band Social NetworkK.

Social NetworkK recently unleashed their debut single, "It's True", which features a heavy sample of Milli Vanilli's "Girl, You Know It's True" (ooh, ooh, ooh, I love you! -- minus the lip synching) at the end of June and it's takes up right where VFactory left off (with a dash of NLT -- they also feature radio personality "JoJo" Wright in their music video).

 You can grab "It's True" for yourself for the price of one tweet (so for free, basically) here. Check out my interview with the boys below to find out where they got their name (Social NetworkK -- with a backwards second 'K'), their own boy band faves and just why they chose the guilty pleasurific Milli Vanilli to cover for their debut single. If you dig what you hear, be sure to 'like' them on the Facebooks. My thanks to Jobob, Cy, Ruba & Max for taking the time out to answer my silly questions. Best of luck to you, boys -- and stay in touch with your favorite blogging fangirl. ;)

MEL: Hey Guys! Let's introduce you to my section of the blogosphere. Names/Ages?
Jobob (JB): My name is Jobob (yes, Joe & Bob) and I'm 21 years old.
Ruba (RB): I'm Ruba and I'm 20.
Cy (CY): My name is Cy and I'm 21.
Max (MX): I'm Max and I'm 21.

MEL: You decided on your name Social NetworkK because you all met through social media channels, correct?
RB: Yes, that is correct. Max and I met at this Disney movie premiere a few years back and we always kept in touch via Twitter and I had an idea to start a "boy band" and told Max about it and he was down from the start. Then we started our search via Twitter/Facebook and a few messages later we had Social NetworkK.

MEL: What's the significance of the two 'K's at the end?
RB: I'll try not to get too deep but... I just thought it would be super cool and stylized to have two "K"s and one backwards "K" at that.

So none of you knew each other prior to recording together? How would you describe your relationship now?
JB: I say we're decently close friends now. It's gotten to the point where we can share each other's problems and help each other out.

How long have you all been singing/performing prior to Social NetworkK?
CY: I have been singing most of my life, mostly in choirs and school musicals.
JB: I had been doing my own music since I was around 14. I played in a few different bands beford recording my own solo album in 2009.
RB: I grew up in a very musical family. Dancing is my passion. I went to Los Angeles County High School for the Arts (LACHSA) for dance. Overall I would say that I'm an entertainer.

Do you all write your own music? Do any of you play instruments?

RB: I co-wrote our single "It's True" with Grammy-nominated artist Shanice Wilson. As far as all of us writing together, we haven't crossed that bridge yet but later this summer we will be writing together for our next single!!
JB: I play pretty much whatever I can get my hands on but primarily I stick with guitar, drums and bass.
CY: As for instruments, my guitar playing is getting better!

What is your most favorite song that you've recorded so far?
Social NetworkK: We can't say the name but let's just say that it's gonna be pretty sick...just wait! ;)

Were you fans of pop music groups in the past?
JB: Absolutely. I've always been a fan of pop music. It's caused a bit of ridicule especially from the guys on my rugby team but it's all in fun.
CY: Absolutely! Some of them are *NSYNC, NLT and NKOTB.
RB: Pop music is my life! It's feel good music!

The term "boy band", although a source of extreme excitement for some (ME!!!!), tends to take on a weird connotation in the industry to mean "pre-fabricated". Do you feel any pressure to prove naysayers wrong?
Social NetworkK: Not really. We're going to do what we're going to do and to say that the objective is to prove anyone wrong would be the wrong way of doing things. I'd encourage people to call it how they see it without any preconceived notions and with that, we'll show you what we are as a group and as individuals.

You covered a bit of Milli Vanilli's "Girl, You Know It's True" for your first single, "It's True". Why Milli Vanilli?
RB: I swear - everywhere I went I would always hear people say "Yo, Milli Vanilli!" I had not a clue who they were until I got invited to see Prince in concert and there's a section in his show where he calls people up on stage and he just so happened to call me up on stage and said, "Milli Vanilli, is that you?" and the crowd lost it and the rest is history. LOL.

What album (besides your own, eventually, obviously) do you feel all of your fans should ABSOLUTELY NO EXCEPTIONS have in their personal collection?

Social NetworkK: Bieber's.All of them. Chris Brown's Exclusive album.

Fans of idol groups tend to get VERY excited if/when they get to actually meet their faves in person. Which musician would/has made you totally starstruck?
JB: John Mayer.Despite his past incidents and his reputation, the dude is a phenomenal musician.
RB: Beyonce.... THE END.
CY: Probably Justin Timberlake.

OK - Be Honest. Team *NSYNC or Team Backstreet Boys? (Obviously, there's only one correct answer, but I won't hold it against you if you four don't agree with me. Just kidding...kind of. ;) )
JB: Backstreet Boys. Hands down. No question about it.
RB: I have to give it to both of them 50/50.
CY: *NSYNC all the way!

Since you are a boy band, I need to ask the ultimate boy band interview question -- if you were a crayon, what color would you be? (Brownie Points for creative answers!)
JB: I'd be black. Reason being because regardless of what it is you're coloring, you can always use black.
RB: I would be purple because when I was younger I loved the book "Harold & the Purple Crayon." He was able to get out of any situation with his purple crayon. Swag. LOL.
CY: Ocean Blue Pearl.

What's one weird fact about each of you that most fans wouldn't know?
JB: I'm a nerd. Not like video game comic book nerd but instead, the studious nerd. I read for fun and just like to learn about new things.
CY: I dance by myself ALL the time!! :)
RB: I'm a workaholic. I hate downtime, it freaks me out.

Do you have any touring/show plans?
JB: I'm not at liberty to say just yet...just hold tight. ;)

When can we expect more music?
JB: Soon. Keep your ears open!

Saturday, July 14, 2012

WGO: Chart Watch, United World Chart, Hot Debuts (7/21/2012)

Below denotes songs and artists of note featured on the Billboard Hot 100 (USA), CHR/Top 40 (US Radio), Hot Dance/Club Play (USA), Heatseekers Singles & Albums Charts (USA), UK Hot (UK), Japan and KPOP (South Korea) charts. Italicized items have been discussed on Melismatic.

From now on, I will also include the United World Chart (UWC) to help put in perspective how popular the tracks are on a global scale. UWC tracks songs by paid download, single sales and overall airplay all around the world. It's very interesting to see songs popular in the American Top 40 tend to take the lead, but songs from the UK, Australia, Japan and Korea also rank high when put into proper perspective.

New Additions to the Hot 100 of Note:
58. P!NK - Blow Me (One Last Kiss)
Not quite as instantly classic as some of her previous hits, following on her slightly less edgy but still chart winning singles a la "Raise Your Glass". It's definitely a grower -- the chorus gets more hooky with each listen.

97. Trey Songz - 2 Reasons (feat. T.I.) (DEBUT)
Handclappy party track (if you can get over the fact that the "two reasons" he's coming to the part for are the b*tches and the drinks...eye roll). Even still, I'm am preferring Trey's material to Chris Brown's material these days by a long shot.

99. Pitbull - Get It Started (feat. Shakira) (DEBUT)
Well, it's immensely more listenable than that "Back In Time" shlock. Still very run of the mill Pitbull party track. Good for the clubs, for certainty.

Billboard Hot 100 Singles Chart:
1. Carly Rae Jepsen - Call Me Maybe
2. Maroon 5 - Payphone (feat. Wiz Khalifa)
3. Gotye - Somebody That I Used To Know (feat. Kimbra)
4. Katy Perry - Wide Awake (AIRPLAY GAINER)
5. Ellie Goulding - Lights
6. Rihanna - Where Have You Been
7. David Guetta - Titanium (Feat. Sia)
8. fun. - We Are Young (feat. Janelle Monae)
9. Nicki Minaj - Starships
10. Usher - Scream (STREAMING GAINER)

CHR/TOP 40 Radio (USA):
#1: Maroon 5 - Payphone (feat. Wiz Khalifa)
#1 Recurrent: The Wanted - Glad You Came
Most Increased Plays: Owl City/Carly Rae Jepsen - Good Time
Most Added To Radio: P!NK - Blow Me (One Last Kiss) (53 stations)

United World Chart: (global paid downloads, sales & airplay)
1. Maroon 5 - Payphone (feat. Wiz Khalifa) - USA
2. Carly Rae Jepsen - Call Me Maybe - CANADA
3. Flo Rida - Whistle - USA
4. Gotye - Somebody That I Used To Know (Feat. Kimbra) - AUSTRALIA/NEW ZEALAND
5. Katy Perry - Wide Awake - USA
6. Fun. - We Are Young (feat. Janelle Monae) - USA
7. Rihanna - Where Have You Been - USA/BARBADOS
8. Usher - Scream - USA
9. Nicki Minaj - Starships - USA
10. Pitbull - Back In Time - USA

Thursday, July 12, 2012

BOY BAND BONANZA: (NOW KPOPPING) Super Junior's "Sexy Free & Single"

"It's just something everyone should experience once...
I've become stronger
Finally it's time for our romance
Again I fly toward a bigger dream
Another upgrade
Just watch me
Leave it to me
-"Sexy Free & Single", Super Junior

Are you ready to bingo? (Honestly guys, it will never get old. Ever. It's like Loverholic Robotronic or Fantastic Elastic.)

Good Gravy, it's difficult to get a screen cap with all of them in one shot. L to R: Siwon, Ryeowook, Sungmin, Shindong, Eunhyuk, Donghae, Kangin(!), Leeteuk & Yesung
It's been just over a week since Super Junior dropped the music video for their latest title song off their sixth album in Korea -- "Sexy Free & Single" -- and it's already racked up almost six million plays on YouTube. Six million. Let that sink in for a second. The album was released just before the video. My copy is en route to me as we speak. Before we get into the album proper, let's chat about the song.

Eunhyuk (with Donghae creeping to the right)
"Sexy Free & Single" the song itself on paper had every possibility of being "Sorry Sorry (Part 57!)". I didn't join the brigade in knocking SuJu for it's repetative, if-it-ain't-broke-don't-fix-it-mentality for its singles, mostly because my favorite songs by them don't follow the "Sorry Sorry" formula ("Sorry Sorry - Answer" and "It's You" if you are so curious). However, "Single" was written by the Korean Max Martin in Yoo Young Jin, who also wrote "Sorry Sorry", "Bonamana (Miinah)" and "Mr. Simple". It is a bit AutoTuney and synthtastic. It's an uptempo dance song and it's hook is monotonous ("SEXY FREE AND SINGLE I'M READY TO BINGO AWOH"). 

But set those facts aside and the is actually quite refreshingly different than the usual "SJ Funky" style previously showcased. In fact, it sounds much more "funky" than any of SJ's previous singles ever were. For me, I just wanted a good dance number with stellar choreography in which they sounded good and broke away from the mold and for the most part, "Sexy Free & Single" accomplished this. The style is much more along the New Jack wave sound SHINee was promoting earlier this year with "Sherlock" with a bit of a Girls Generation' "The Boys" rhythm structure.

Also, rather than having a song about professing how much they are in love ("Sorry Sorry", "Bonamana"), instead "Single" is a story of a guy who apparently screwed up his last relationship and is now single and taking steps toward starting fresh. It's about the initial excitement of new possibilities rather than being tied to one person.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012


My original KPOP bias/husband - Shim "Choikang" Changmin

"The emptiness has caused the conquered world to be too thin
There's no such thing as passion anywhere...
Even if you are insecure
No matter why, no matter how
You have a fighting chance
Let's break it through; we can do it
Challenge it all with no fears
Freedom waits with your glowing body
Make it true, make it so; illuminate it
Never give up...
All you've got to do is just believe in yourself
-"Android", Tohoshinki

This has been the Gospel According to Toho with a message we all can get behind, methinks.

This juicy little nugget of poppy goodness first reared it's head around my birthday in mid-June. The name alone got me all giddy with excitement. And now, 2/3 of the World's most celebrated boy band, Yunho & Changmin of TVXQ!, have officially released (after what feels like eons) their latest (uptempo!) Japanese single, "Android".

I'm not quite sure where the single is supposed to live, as it's well after the Tone era -- although it is the third single released after this album (preceded by ballads in "Winter" last November and March's "Still") with no followup album/EP in sight. For more on Tone and it's singles ("Superstar", "I Don't Know", "B.U.T. (BEAUTY)" and the Japanese remake of "Keep Your Head Down"), you can read my super long and gushy review here.

Suffice to say, "Android" serves as a nice little distraction -- throwing the Cassies a bone while we all wait impatiently patiently for HoMin's followup Korean release, set for "the later half of 2012" (which will probably mean December sob sob sob).

As much as I love "O", "Rising Sun", "Keep Your Head Down" and of course "Mirotic", there's just something about the formulaic, reliable power behind TVXQ's uptempo Japanese singles. While their Korean dance songs are much more brash, in-your-face and intimidating (we're looking at you, "Rising Sun"), their custom-fitted brand of JPOP is the epitome of the familiar boy band ideal. It's probably for this reason that I find myself listening more of Japanese back catalog in general, even more so than their big, well-known Korean singles (past and present). "Android" fits into this mold quite nicely, sonically sounding like a 'Part II' of sorts to previous (recent) stunners in 2010's "Break Out!" and (my personal fave Toho UpTempo) 2009's "Survivor". Is it as good? Well, no...but pretty close.

Unfortunately, the video falls victim to the SM "let's put our grand artists in a box and call it an artistic theme" mentality (don't worry, we'll get to Super Junior tomorrow). I thought TVXQ's Japanese videos at least got a reprieve from that usual complaint but their past few (ie. all since DongBangApocalypse) have stuck with the SM formula. That fact aside, the robotic allusions are pretty cool and the breakdown choreography is tight and exciting (as exciting as you can be with two people and a bajillion faceless dancers, I suppose)! While overall, the video lacked a sense of urgent intensity that prevous Toho videos have thrived on ("SUR-BYE-BURR!"), even the predictable "let's throw in a dubstep-esque bit into the dance breakdown" is forgivable because the song is trademark good JPOP fluff.

Oh, Changmin. I'm such a fool for you and your attempts to dance beside SM's alleged King of The Dance Floor.

And, as per tradition, for the Fangirls/Fanboys...aka my "Cassie" Brethren:*
*By "fan", it should go without saying you should also have this little itty bitty thing called a sense of humor. FYI.

Jung "U-Know" Yunho with his pretty pink suit
  •  I'm pretty sure attractive suits exist, SM. And even though Yunho and Changmin are basically sized like the Korean equivalents of Shaquille O'Neal, I'm sure a tailor could make sure everything's kosher. Just throwing it out there.

  • I wonder  if the costumes came with all the spikes and grommets or if someone actually took the time to bedazzle all of that ish.
  • Yunho. BB. I love you. But even you don't look too thrilled to be rockin' that pink suit with the spikes combo. Oh, to be a stylist coordinator for SM boy bands...the fun I'd have.

  • Something tells me if one of the stylists even attempted to give that monstrosity to Changmin, he would have just walked out.

  • Then again, he did try to pull of the skunk shouldered suit. ::shudder:: I was willing to let the "Keep Your Head Down" couch suits that look like they were made of owl wings slide but...seriously, guise?

  • They really are fooling absolutely no one with these recycled sets. Sometimes I sit and wonder how much it costs to rent them out for all that green screen garbage and wonder if its even cost effective.

  • If it is cheaper, I'm guessing Avex blew all of the rest of the budget on the spare seconds of CGI with the "android" x-ray scans and the dubstep dance breakdown.

  • FYI - if we were to find out today that Changmin is actually an android, it would totally be a huge A-HA moment. That would explain how he could be so cold and awkward and still hit all of those screaming notes (during exhaustive dance performances!) perfectly.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

BOY BAND BONANZA: Current US Affairs

When one thing works in the music industry, you can count on every major label in America trying to find their own "version". Given that One Direction and The Wanted have re-opened the floodgates of frothy, one-part-"You Can Take Me Home To Mom!", one part-"But I'm Still Vaguely Suggestive" pop music that makes up a good boy band's ace catalog, it's safe to assume every pop manager worth his salt is looking to associate themselves with the American equivalent. 

However, given the three groups I mentioned yesterday are either broken beyond repair (V Factory), done and dusted (One Call) or lying in wait (After Romeo), this leaves the requisite US boy band slot wide open. (In fact, I just heard 5ive are making attempts at another reunion after 2007's failed attempt...again with just four members...#epicfailface. COME ON, *NSYNC. Stop crushing my dreams, damn it!)

While there is a slew of promising indie acts sticking their adorable, grinning faces onto a YouTube Channel near you, the fact of the matter is, I'm 25 years old now, fam. I've seen and adored my share of boy bands. It takes a lot to impress me and considering Korea is doing it better than just about everyone at this point (yes, including One Direction -- they don't even dance, okay? Come at me, bro!), it's clear America has a lot of catching up to do. Here are a few of the USA's biggest contenders (ie. boy bands with major label backing).


The New (younger) B2K
Signed To: Interscope/Universal
Toured With: Janet Jackson, Justin Bieber, Backstreet Boys

I first heard about Mindless Behavior after seeing them live when they were the sole opening act for the one and only Ms. Janet (if you're Nasty) Jackson. To open for Janet is a big deal to someone like me, especially since my own beloved *NSYNC opened for her back in 1998 just before they really hit the big time. Of course, in 2011/2012 the music scene is not quite the same, but Mindless Behavior seem to be doing alright for themselves. Their debut album, #1 Girl, debuted at #7 on the Billboard 200. While their singles haven't done too much on the Hot 100 for a mainstream breakthrough (yet), they worked their way through the R&B/urban crowd, particularly with their Top 10 R&B hit "Mrs. Right", which featured Diggy Simmons. The groundwork has been set for a potentially very big payoff for their sophomore record, with the intent to have a more "grown up" sound. Hey, it's working for Bieber...

It's also very pertinent to state that though they may be the youngest duckies on the block, they have the most ferosh stage presence (meaning: at least they try with their choreo!). Despite being double their age, me and my girls found ourselves giving them the A-OK seeing them work it out on stage (until the next day when we realized we were jamming to 13 year olds...but still!).


AKA: The new O-Town (I mean this lovingly)
Signed To: Interscope/Universal
Toured With: New Kids On the Block, Carly Rae Jepsen

The boys in Midnight Red are being touted as RedOne's boy band (get it? Midnight Red?). While this certainly opens doors in terms of namedropping and being radio accessible, I will be very quick to point out that NLT had a Timbaland single and a Ryan Tedder-written single and was still never given a chance, so it would be silly to put all of your eggs in the producer basket (especially given Red's track record with his "homegrown" artists reads like a who's who in artists with potential who get shelved: Mohombi, The Dolly Rockers, Love Generation).

Their debut single, last year's "One Step At A Time" was used as a promotional theme for So You Think You Can Dance and played like a less cringy JLS dance record. The single EP also included a needless but still guilty-pleasure-y cover of NKOTB's "Step by Step" (ooh, baby!). And then 2012 happened, and the group was revamped with a fresh single -- the very RedOne "Hell Yeah!" which sounds quite a bit like Enrique Iglesias' "I Like It" (no surprise, it was also produced by RedOne) fused with Taio Cruz's "Dynamite". That's not a bad thing, but it is a marked shift from their more traditional boy band fair with "Step". I don't have too many complaints -- other than the song itself is just too generic and doesn't stand out. The group themselves are pretty good singers and at least they try to dance (try being operative...but I'm not judging).


The 2012 Monkees
Signed To: Columbia/SONY
Toured With: Bow Down, ya'll because technically, JoJo & One Direction opened for THEM

There is no debate in that Big Time Rush has the poppiest, most straight-ahead/mainstream tunes of the bunch -- and it's also pretty fair to say they are the in the lead in terms of what America has to offer on the boy band circuit. When I hear cuts like "Music Sounds Better With U" (written by Ryan Tedder) or "Elevate", I really really want to shamelessly like them. Sincerely. So I decide to give their little TV show a spin. And then I stop listening to them for about a week. It's that much of a turn off.

Yes, "Big Time Rush" the television show is probably not meant for my demographic. The acting and comedy is over exaggerated and ridiculous, but is that so awful? (Well...) I give them credit for being able to not take themselves so seriously -- having a sense of humor is one of the most attractive qualities a man can have, really -- but it's so cringy sometimes I like to pretend the TV show doesn't exist. 

Their latest single, "Windows Down", samples Blur's big American hit "Song 2" (WHOO HOO!), was co-written by Mike Posner (remember him?) and was supposed to be a Ke$ha cut before BTR decided to grab it for themselves. It's summery and every bit as hummable as "What Makes You Beautiful" or "Chasing the Sun". While the sample made me a little uncomfortable at first (A boy band sampling Blur? What in the...), after a few more listens, it becomes much more endearing. The song debuted on the Hot 100 this week at #97. Their highest bow was their 2011 single "Boyfriend", featuring Snoop Dogg at #72.

You tell me -- who do you think will be the most successful? Is there a different American boy band you are lemming for?

Monday, July 09, 2012

BOY BAND BONANZA: State of the US Boy Band

And it's long overdue. This week is officially BOY BAND BONANZA Week (BBB for short) here at Melismatic. Hold back your tears, girls. It's going down.

Everyone who knows me knows I love me a good boy band. Just give me 4-6 cute boys with sweet/adorable/funny personalities (unless you're in Super Junior, then you can multiply that number a few times), dancing around to a catchy uptempo in matching outfits and I am good to go.

In fact, one of my very first posts on this here blog was about a proposed Battle of the (New) Boy Bands, mainly between NLT (Not Like Them) and V Factory. However -- times change. That post was written in 2008 and it is now 2012. The State of the US Boy Band is completely different, especially now that out of nowhere, the UK's exports in The Wanted and One Direction have come to sweep us fangirls/fanboys off of our proverbial feet. So before we go off and running with all the good stuff that is happening now, let's give a little props to the boys who are still grinding...four years later.


(formerly, a five-piece group signed to Warner; currently, a trio that is still signed to Warner?)
Status: ??

Their debut (and only) single "Love Struck" was officially my favorite song of 2009. But after lead vocalist Asher Book's turn in Fame, things started to run downhill instead of uphill like I so desperately hoped. In 2010, both Asher and Wesley Quinn announced their amicable departure from the group, and later, Jared Murillo headed off to the UK to serve as a pro dancer on Strictly Come Dancing. He returned to the States in early 2011 -- and the V Factory Official Twitter stated "...Now for more Vee!"...In a cruel turn of events for my heart, that was actually the last formal post they've made. 

Depending on who you talk to, the group is 1) totally over, 2) working as a trio, 3) looking for new members. Asher Book, on the other hand, has re-emerged as Asher Monroe with a handful of internet singles ("Hello Baby", "Like I Do", "Every Night") which are all pretty damn good indeed. Say hello to falsetto in 3, 2...


(a four-piece co-produced by Darkchild, managed by Johnny Wright)
Status: Done.

From the ashes of my favorite 00's boy band, NLT (Not Like Them), came One Call -- a group that featured NLT's JJ (Travis and V are pursuing solo works, while Kevin is a current star of the FOX hit "Glee"), along with two members of the former new Menudo in Chris and Jose. (In fact, VFactory, Menudo & NLT all toured together in 2008.) The trio was rounded out by newbie AG and One Call was born (because apparently all it takes is ONE CALL to change your life). The group debuted with a slinky Darkchild-produced hype single "Temporary Love" back in 2009, along with videos of them re-recording the Darkchild-produced Se7en English single "Them Girls".

Despite having an all-star crew behind them and a decent (and sexy) jam in their 2010 first single "Black Light", the group really failed to go anywhere after their big break of opening for Britney Spears during her comeback Circus tour. Incidentally, it was while they were prepping for this tour that I accidentally ran into them (literally) while shopping in Times Square.

Currently, the group has officially broken up and gone their separate ways. Jose went on to compete in the Puerto Rican version of American Idol and AG also jumped ship. Chris and JJ originally stated they would be getting replacement members but that idea has been shoved by the waist-side in favor of the two of them pursuing matters on their own.

(originally, a five-piece signed to EMI/Capitol; currently, a five-piece under a new name with new members)

Varsity Fanclub was a boy band helmed by Drew Ryan Scott, one of the two original members of VfC that have survived all lineup changes. Scott writes a LOT of VfC's material as well as hits for some of my faves in KPOP (most recently TVXQ's "Superstar," but has also written for SHINee, Girls' Generation and Super Junior, as well as Selena Gomez and Willow Smith). The group original debuted in 2008 with the song "Future Love" (co-written by OneRepublic's Ryan Tedder) but the song was re-recorded (and re-released) in 2009 by fledgling popstar Kristinia DeBarge. By mid-2009, their debut album was shelved and the group was back at the drawing board.

PLEASE NOTE: Might want to turn your speakers down a bit - the sound is a little...wonky. But it's the best version I could find that didn't have too many screaming German fangirls in the background...

Lineup changes abounded, but the group toured in Europe (mainly in Germany), promoting singles like "Spank That" (cringe) and "I'm Your Guy". Things started to look up in 2011 with the announcement of a new single called "Opera" (masks and all) produced by Red One. However, the supposed EP went without release and the group was  recently re-branded just a few weeks back as After Romeo. Fingers crossed that this is the last setback for the boys...

Stay tuned all this week for more boy band goodies, including thoughts on Midnight Red, Big Time Rush, Social NetworkK and of course, my guys in TVXQ (HoMin) and Super Junior...

Saturday, July 07, 2012

WGO: Chart Watch, United World Chart, Hot Debuts (7/14/2012)

Below denotes songs and artists of note featured on the Billboard Hot 100 (USA), Hot Dance/Club Play (USA), Heatseekers Singles & Albums Charts (USA), UK Hot (UK), Japan and KPOP (South Korea) charts. Italicized items have been discussed on Melismatic.

New Additions to the Hot 100 of Note:
18. Owl City & Carly Rae Jepsen - Good Time
This debuted in the Top 20, officially making both Owl City & Carly Rae more than one-hit machines. It's much poppier than Owl City's previous fare (but still synthy). For some cynical reason, I wanted to dislike this, but I can't. A great summer jam.

80. Maroon 5 - Wipe Your Eyes
A bonus song from Overexposed, written & produced by J.R. Rotem. It's the "Overexposed" version of the third single ballad M5. Nothing to dislike -- it's much more classic Maroon than the album's singles.

81. Nero - Promises
The fourth (British) single by UK synth group Nero is a doozy and already a certified hit on the Heat Seeking/Bubbling Under Charts. It's already gone to #1 in the UK last summer. We shall see if America is also digging, but for now - I certainly do.

95. Linkin Park - Lost In the Echo
Linkin Park's most compelling single in a long time, mostly thanks to the rap provided by Mike Shinoda, who co-produced this one with Rick Rubin.

97. Big Time Rush - Windows Down
America's main contributor to the Boy Band Bonanza 2012 -- Nickelodeon production Big Time Rush (or are they BTR these days, a la NKOTB?) -- re-assert themselves as a force to be reckoned with versus One Direction & The Wanted by gleefully using a British sample in Blur's "Song 2". More on this one shortly...

Billboard Hot 100 Singles Chart:
1. Carly Rae Jepsen - Call Me Maybe
2. Maroon 5 - Payphone (feat. Wiz Khalifa)
3. Gotye - Somebody That I Used To Know (feat. Kimbra)
4. Katy Perry - Wide Awake
5. Rihanna - Where Have You Been (AIRPLAY GAINER)
6. Ellie Goulding - Lights
7. fun. - We Are Young (feat. Janelle Monae)
8. Nicki Minaj - Starships
9. David Guetta - Titanium (feat. Sia)
10. Usher - Scream

United World Chart: (global paid downloads, sales & airplay)
1. Maroon 5 - Payphone (feat. Wiz Khalifa) - USA
2. Carly Rae Jepsen - Call Me Maybe - Canada
3. Flo Rida - Whistle (GREATEST GAINER) - USA
4. Gotye - Somebody That I Used To Know (feat. Kimbra) - Australia/New Zealand
5. Katy Perry - Wide Awake - USA
6. fun. - We Are Young (feat. Janelle Monae) - USA
7. Rihanna - Where Have You Been - USA/Barbados
8. Pitbull - Back In Time - USA
9. Nicki Minaj - Starships - USA
10. Usher - Scream - USA

Friday, July 06, 2012

POP POTENTIALS: For Mina Koo, it's "More Than A Crush"

Get ready to 'shake your bellies'.

I'm always down for new DIY indie dance music, especially when its shamelessly in-your-face. Mina Koo, an aspiring pop artist original from Seoul (hello KPOP!), has recently relocated to Los Angeles and dropped her indie debut EP, Mina, this past May. The eight-track EP is basically summed up as fun on the dance floor, while Mina herself recalls such unique voiced pop artists like Shakira and Bjork. Her appeal is really centered around her stage presence -- writhing and strutting about with a palpable natural sex appeal a la The Donnas.

While Mina is clearly a dance record through and through, Koo herself is quite versatile -- performing many of the songs acoustically with guitar. With the right production, Mina could be one to watch for the underground dance set.

She's currently promoting her latest single of the project, "Troubadors (Dance Floors)", but for me, it doesn't get better than the project's lead single, "More Than A Crush". You can listen to Mina on Spotify, or pick it up on iTunes if you dig what you hear.

Thursday, July 05, 2012

HEAR THIS: Dirty Little Billy Needs You To 'Listen & Learn'

I've notated my interest in indie pop & R&B fusion artist Dirty Little Billy once before coinciding with the release of Put Your Love On Me, her debut EP released earlier this year. However, homegirl is on a grind and recently released another EP, dubbed Listen & Learn (now available on iTunes & Spotify) -- and has proved my suspicions are correct regarding her pop potentials...

The EP is backed by the more R&B-laced jam "No I Don't II (The Rematch)", a sequel to "No I Don't", featured on Put Your Love On Me. In comparison, "The Rematch" is much punchier, poppier and overall, tighter in sound in terms of mainstream appeal. Dig it.

While I quite enjoy all six tracks on Listen & Learn, my hands down favorite is the quirky "Palm Trees & Concrete" (you can listen to the song as well as a plethora of others on her official website). I feel a serious Imani Coppola/Little Jackie vibe throughout the entire EP, especially in this track.

Wednesday, July 04, 2012

THROWBACK: Happy Fourth of July!

Howdy, Americans.

Today is the day we take a little bit of time to remember just how awesome it is to be us. Hope you're gonna eat some BBQ, chill and watch some fireworks. Let's take it back to 1997 from the Goliath album that was Mariah Carey's Butterfly (among one of my all time favorites -- and it should be for you as well).

Tuesday, July 03, 2012

HEAR THIS: Charli XCX is the "One"

"You're the one that can make me stay
You're the only one that makes me feel this way
You're the one that's been stealing stars
Your golden arrow through my eye
You're the one who can turn the page
You're the one that gave me light in another gauge
Now I'm dancing in the tide
-"You're The One", Charli XCX

Charli XCX, a Brit indie popstar has released her first big single "You're The One" in mid-June. It's fantastic. At just 19, Charli (real name: Charlotte Aitchison) is quickly becoming the most buzzed about hipster pop artist and it's for good reason. She will soon be joining Coldplay on tour in Europe as an opening act alongside the likes of Robyn and Marina & the Diamonds. Heavy stuff indeed.

As for Charli's sound herself, she has the sardonic, darker appeal that Marina herself likes to dabble in mixed with more underground artists like Canadian Lights or Ellie Goulding in terms of that hard to label ethereal-ness. To put it plain, "You're The One" sounds really good at eleven (that is volume-wise and not time-wise, although I suppose both would probably be good, too).

Monday, July 02, 2012

NOW KPOPPING (well, JPOPPING): SNSD Hides from "Paparazzi"

I know what you're thinking -- Mel, 2-hoshinki has a new single in Japan and its UPTEMPO! Mel, SuJu has 6JIB and it's AVAILABLE TO LISTEN! What the hell! Where's the spazzing?

In due time, my beloved Cassies & ELFs. In due time. "Android" will have it's own review once I have a video to spazz over. And as for SuJu's "Sexy Free & Single", again - the album's on order and we'll get to that when I can. In the meantime, it's time to spazz about Girls' Generation. Oh yeah - I said it.

Left to Right: SooYoung, TaeYeon (leader), Seohyun, Tiffany, YoonA, Jessica, Sunny, HyoYeon, Yuri
We all are very much aware that when I stan for SM Entertainment, it's for the boys. TVXQ! (past and present), Super Junior, SHINee, hell, even EXO is starting to grow on me with their "Bohemian Rhapsody" shtick. I'm a sucker for boy bands. What can I tell you? It's probably for this very reason why I was/am/will be hesitant to say I've actually grown to quite like Girls' Generation for what they are -- a performance group full of pretty girls with catchy songs. While there are some members who frustrate the hell out of me (they shall remain nameless as I fear for my life at the hand of some SONEs), there are more than a few that I really like, if only for their variety standpoint (SooYoung, Yuri, Sunny), their dancing (HyoYeon) or their crazy amazing and underappreciated vocals (TaeYeon! TaeYeon! TaeYeon!).

The main hurdle for me to jump in terms of admitting my fandom is much of their (Korean) material is so darn stomach-ache causing sweet, you need Pepto Bismal ("Gee", "Oh!", "Kissing You", "Hoot"). The tide is turning, thanks to jams like "Genie (Tell Me Your Wish)", "Run Devil Run" and last year's "The Boys" (I liked it, come at me bro), but their real biting, dancey attitude tracks seem to come to us via their fresh Japanese material. It began with their 2011 Japanese release Girls' Generation (under their Japanese name Shojo Jidal), featuring Japanese re-writes of "Genie" and "Run Devil Run", along with the catchy "Mr. Taxi" and the fabulous "Bad Girl"(!). The album was recently re-released to feature "The Boys" in Japanese along with new song "Time Machine".

This brings us to "Paparazzi", the group's latest original Japanese single (taking the Tohoshinki route with releasing a new, original single in Japanese first -- no word if this will also be released in Korean...although I think it's a pretty good guess that it will) off their upcoming sophomore Japanese release. And it is awesome. Its originally a Swedish product, written by Fredrik Thomander who brought us cuts by Darin, Dream Street (holy flash back), Agnes and (wait for it) *NSYNC. Boom boom boom, indeed.

The music video looks very high budg -- something that most SM-related videos somehow fail to exude (yeah, I'm looking at you, SuJu, sadly). The choreography is tight and clean, and in my opinion, some of the girls' most original and engaging stage performances yet. The song itself feels very Girls' Generation -- immediately catchy, sassy and brimming with hooks all around. Think hay-day Britney Spears with its big catchy chorus(es) and cooed "Ooh la la la"s and "Ra-Ta-Ta-Ta"s. It's Swede Pop cooked on a Korean BBQ and served up to Japan, and I say yum yum (too far? No?).

Most importantly, it continues the descent toward "darker" Girls' Generation -- a shimmering fungu toward the flashers, the cling-on-ers and yes, the paparazzi themselves. An English translation of (one of) the chorus(es): The love that matures with a price tag/Shooting in the darkness/Flashes at the sight of money/Life is a party from garage to suite room/No matter if I'm sleeping or awake/Boom Boom Boom.../Life is a party/The more damage caused, the more it sells.

And as per, tradition -> for the fangirls (and fanboys):
  • Why are they on stage to "Singing In the Rain" when 1) they are not singing (at that point) and 2) there is no rain? Hmmm...
  • Why are the "paparazzi" flashing them while they are on stage? Does that happen in Japan/Korea? Also - why do they all stop what they are doing and look shocked? Isn't the point of the song that they are aware the paparazzi are there? #isconfused
  • I dig the song, I really do but -- it has wayyyyy too little TaeYeon wails, belts and vocal gymnastics. Someone should have remedied that. Just saying.
  • Someone get me a pair of Sunny's stockings stat. Kthanks.
  • Also, I would also like HyoYeon's entire outfit, too. Kthanks.
  • And also, Seohyun's jeweled headband/headpiece. ...OK, now I'm done.
  • Sparkly Peplum Capri Pants for SooYoung? Really? Yeah, let's put the tallest (therefore, the one with the longest legs) in capri pants. That will go over well. Still, even SooYoung's terrible outfit can't hide just how adorable amazing she is.
  • I can't quite say the same for Jessica.
  • Whoever thought feathers was a good should probably get a new job. It makes the girls look less glamorous and more birdlike.
  • Why do they give HyoYeon so much space to get down during her dance break when she doesn't even dance much? It's basically just a little bit of posing and dancing sexy. I know for a fact homegirl can dance. Why doesn't she get to show it off? Shisus.

Sunday, July 01, 2012

WGO: Chart Watch, United World Chart, Hot Debuts (7/7/2012)

Below denotes songs and artists of note featured on the Billboard Hot 100 (USA), Hot Dance/Club Play (USA), Heatseekers Singles & Albums Charts (USA), UK Hot (UK), Japan and KPOP (South Korea) charts. Italicized items have been discussed on Melismatic.

From now on, I will also include the United World Chart (UWC) to help put in perspective how popular the tracks are on a global scale. UWC tracks songs by paid download, single sales and overall airplay all around the world. It's very interesting to see songs popular in the American Top 40 tend to take the lead, but songs from the UK, Australia, Japan and Korea also rank high when put into proper perspective.

New Additions to the Hot 100 of Note:
42. Maroon 5 - One More Night
This summery ditty has more immediate impact to my ears than "Payphone" ever did, and is my current fave of the Overexposed album set. Produced by the legendary Max Martin, I will admit some of the verse lyrics are a bit cringy for the Maroon Faithful ("You and I go hard...You and I get sick...") in an attempt to better fit into the mainstream rather than be the quirky pop-rock act with hooks they debuted as. The reality is -- there is no need to overanalyze. It's catchy. That's all you need to know.

72. Justin Bieber - Beauty & A Beat (feat. Nicki Minaj)
It wasn't one of my immediate faves from Believe, but other than a pack of nameless rappers, Drake and Minaj herself, Justin Biebs seems to be the only artist on the Hot 100 currently to have b-tracks/non-singles make an appearance -- hence he's a force to be reckoned with. It's a 180-spin from Maroon 5, and yet is also produced by Max Martin. The majority of it is pretty forgettable dance pop and the highlight of Nicki's appearance is the line "But I gotta keep an eye out for Selena", referencing the Bieb's GF, Selena Gomez.

93. Kelly Clarkson - Dark Side
Three songs deep into Kelly's Stronger album and it's the requisite power midtempo/ballad-esque. A great rallying cry track, custom-fitted for the slightly self-conscious (a la Christina's "Beautiful") and Kelly herself is heralding it as a "take me as I am"/"you are beautiful the way you are" single. What's not to like?

95. Justin Bieber - Right Here (feat. Drake)
This sounds more like a Drake cut than a Bieber cut. Take that anyway you want.

Billboard Hot 100 Singles Chart:
1. Carly Rae Jepsen - Call Me Maybe
2. Maroon 5 - Payphone (feat. Wiz Khalifa)
3. Gotye - Somebody That I Used To Know (feat. Kimbra)
4. Katy Perry - Wide Awake
5. Rihanna - Where Have You Been (AIRPLAY GAINER)
6. Ellie Goulding - Lights (DIGITAL GAINER)
7. fun. - We Are Young (feat. Janelle Monae)
8. Nicki Minaj - Starships
9. One Direction - What Makes You Beautiful
10. Usher - Scream

United World Chart: (global paid downloads, sales & airplay)
1. Maroon 5 - Payphone (feat. Wiz Khalifa) -- USA
2. Carly Rae Jepsen - Call Me Maybe -- CANADA
3. Gotye - Somebody That I Used To Know (feat. Kimbra) -- AUSTRALIA/NEW ZEALAND
4. Flo Rida - Whistle -- USA
5. fun. - We Are Young (feat. Janelle Monae) -- USA
6. Katy Perry - Wide Awake -- USA
7. Rihanna - Where Have You Been -- USA/Barbados
8. Pitbull - Back In Time -- USA
9. Usher - Scream -- USA
10. Nicki Minaj - Starships -- USA

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