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 and...well...dance 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 feels...off. 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!





1 comment

VforVera said...

Mel! Have you seen the new SPY trailer from Suju? Prepare yourself for more dancing in boxes and Donghae perfection.

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