The K-pop Round Up: January & February 2014

Wait, what month is it? Oh yeah, April. Honestly, January and February were filled with some really… mentionable releases. Whether they were really good or really bad, almost every song on this list had to be mentioned for one reason or another. I couldn’t pass up the opportunity and let 2014’s start K-pop music fly by! Enjoy the joint January and February edition of The K-pop Round Up!

Girl’s Day kicked off the overly sexual concept trend of the year with their latest mini, Every Day III, released on January 3rd, 2014. Something was used as the lead track. In a previous post, I criticized the group’s sudden switch of image for purely visual purposes, but I didn’t go into much detail about the video itself. Shall we?

Looks like the caller didn’t have much to say.

Now, I’m not exactly sure if there was some actual plot to the video–I feel as though there was, but it wasn’t presented very well. The parts with the telephone and the camera in the bedroom, among other parts, must have meant something. It could be related more to the lyrics, but of course, I ain’t fluent in Korean, so the hell if I know. Other than that, it seemed a little like your average “sexy glam” shots. Long legs, heels, disheveled hair, weird placement: the average stuff you get in a “subtle sexy” video. I do have to commend Girl’s Day for their wardrobe. I like how the costumes were rather sexy and classy while showing a very minimal amount of skin. There was a high leg slit, long sleeves, sheer fabric, and bare midriffs. It was exceptionally well done. Not only are they fabulously gorgeous, but it isn’t over the top. Sexy =/= revealing a huge amount of skin.

The feathers were an interesting touch. They didn’t do much, however it was nicely unique. It’s a little disappointing that they lost focus in them one minute into the video. It would’ve been even cooler if the feathers represented something during the “glam shots.” Speaking of the focus of the feathers, during the dance, those moves with the feathers made the whole choreography look juvenile. Not to mention, the stiff bouncing during the chorus looked horrendously uncomfortable. Maybe there shouldn’t have been one at all.

The song itself isn’t horrible, but isn’t anything we haven’t heard before. It didn’t have a truly unique sound or twist to it. Honestly, it sounds like something SISTAR would release, only with less powerful vocals. Actually, this whole video gives me a SISTAR vibe…

The K-pop princess, Ailee, started the year off strong with her latest single, Noraega Neureosso, released on January 6th, 2014. Ailee was determined to continue her activities as planned even after the disgusting Allkpop scandal. Good thing, too.

Goddamn, she’s such a powerhouse.

The video(and I’m assuming the lyrics as well) are centered around the couple, Ailee and Joon. Clearly, these two are mad for each other. Not only that, it looks like the two work together musically. Tsk, tsk, Ailee. You should know better than to have romantic relations with your manager! But, the young love doesn’t seem to last long because Joon is spotted by Ailee kissing another girl. I don’t know about you, but I think she jumped to conclusions a little too fast. You never know, that could be like, his cousin or something who just happened to drop by for coffee. Anyway, Ailee ain’t playing no games. She immediately flips shit and kicks him to the curb. Yeah, serves you right! My only thing was… why did she appear in all black with a bunch of men dressed in tuxedos at the beginning of the video? My first guess was that she was at a funeral. Or maybe it wasn’t a literal funeral–maybe it was the dying of their love. Gasp! Metaphors!

Can we all just sit back and soak in how professional Ailee looks now? I mean, not that she wasn’t really good in the past, but now, it looks like this is all cake for her–as if she’s been in the industry for a decade, just belting out fierce notes and playing with the camera like it’s her job(uh, well, it is… you know what I mean!). She’s just an all-around threat for any soloist in or trying to get in to the game.

I was a little worried at the beginning of the song. She sounded a little too… Korean for me. Okay, let me rephrase, she sounded very generic. You know, like one of those decent Korean singers that, with a bit of processing and tweaking, sound pretty good? That wasn’t good enough for me. However, once she blasted that first big note right as the chorus began, everything fell into place. Like I’ve said before, Ailee is one of the few singers ever that make the hairs on my body stand on edge and bring me near tears.

Dal Shabet became the second girl group to jump on the sexy bandwagon. B.B.B is the group’s latest, released on January 8th, 2014. Big Baby Baby was the lead track.

You all should know that I have an enormous soft spot for the girls of Dal Shabet. Their vocals aren’t anything fantastic, but I find their talent and songs to be superb. They still have a bit of a way to go, but I definitely think they can be one of the top girl groups in Korea.

It’s clear that compared to majority of Dal Shabet’s previous songs, BBB is a huge difference. Quite frankly, I’m loving it. I don’t mind that the group ventures into unexplored territory(for them) and tries something new. It shows the evolution and maturity of the group. However, if they completely change their aesthetic just to follow some mold, that’s when I have a problem. Anyway, Dal Shabet has a similar approach as Girl’s Day did. All the girls are covered up and the idea is to reveal as little as they can. However, with Dal Shabet, it feels a little more natural, and a little less, “we need to change our image forever!”

The video has a great adult, classy vibe–there’s actually very little “sexy” in this video. Everything is sleek and polished. The solid color backgrounds and quick pops of color perfectly contrast with the girls’ loud outfits during the solo shots. I also adore the flashing lights and text, as well. They are a nice touch without being too overwhelming or unnecessary. Although, I wish they were utilized even after the one-minute mark. I’m not quite sure what the deal is with the plastic head-pieces. In the dance shot, the pure solid colors work great and give a great spin on the usual jet-black costumes. Speaking of the dance shot, I’m loving the choreography. For whatever reason, I’m feeling a Madonna vibe. There’s something about the smooth transitions yet sharp movements that reminds me of Vogue.

Last but not least, the song is killer. It’s catchy as hell. The 80’s dance track infusion is to die for. This is just the sultrier, Korean version of Tokyo Girl’s Style, and it is perfect. I am very happy with this release–it is solid.

Through further investigation, I found out that Rumble Fish was actually a 4-member band in which all members except the vocalist departed from in 2010. Choi Jin Yi decided to continue as a solo artist with the band’s name still intact. I must also say that her look now is leagues different from her look then. I am Rumble Fish is the first album as a solo, released on January 15th, 2014. The Virulent Song(lol @ this name) was used as the lead.

Although unfocusing and bright lights can translate into mystery and sultry, it was overbearing in this video. In almost every shot, Jin Yi’s face was obscured by a blinding light or blurred out. It actually started to make my eyes hurt. Jin Yi herself looked stunning and the costumes were lovely, modern vintage. However, the cinematography completely took away from an otherwise good experience watching the video. I like the visuals during the rap part, though.

Other than that, there isn’t much to the video. Jin Yi’s got an interesting voice on her. It’s strong, but it’s got a throaty sound, kind of like a Korean Nana Mizuki. Unfortunately, there’s not much about this song that strikes me as extraordinary. Not to mention, the rap bit feels misplaced. This is not a song I’d have on repeat.

A.O.A was the group that really made the sexy trend out of hand. Jjalbeun Chima is their fifth single which was released on January 16th, 2014. Eugh, well…

This whole thing is just sleazy. It honestly took me a few replays to even get a grasp on what I was watching.

For one, the bed scene is so unnecessary. Like, I’m talking more unnecessary than random cars in K-pop videos. Nothing in the lyrics even remotely mentions a bed or sleeping or peacefulness–just… nothing. I can’t even think of anything that it could symbolize. It’s pointless. And goddamn, aren’t those shorts uncomfortable? And aren’t they uncomfortable trying to sleep in bed? And why does Jimin watch the girl through the blinds? And what blinds is she even looking through? Why would someone have blinds inside their house? As a matter a fact, why is there a window between two rooms, anyway!? And a car scene… Why? What are you doing undressing in a car? For what purpose? Drive or get out. Oh, let’s not forget the random suggestive eating scenes. A strawberry and whipped cream. Yup, totally necessary to the development of this video. How about that shower scene? Because it’s totally normal to shower with clothes. Hey look, a random undressing scene. Cool.

Nothing in this video makes the slightest bit of sense–especially paired up with the lyrics, which are essentially about a girl that’s trying to win some dude’s attention while constantly mentioning how revealing her clothes are. All of it just makes me angry. On top of that, all of the outfits are horrendous. Oh yeah, the song. I don’t even remember it.

And Jimin, seriously, can you get a haircut that actually flatters your face for once?

There was a shitload of hype surrounding JYPE’s latest creation of a boy band, GOT7. Their first mini-album, Got it?, dropped on January 20th, 2014. For whatever reason, these boys have got chicks screaming their heads off–or at least that’s what I’ve seen… Girls Girls Girls is the lead track.

So, those bulky scooter things are rather hilarious. Could you imagine some dude trying to be cool, cruising down the street in that thing? I think a simple skateboard would have been cooler than that.

Alright, so I’m not horribly impressed. But I can see these guys have potential(as if they haven’t caused a whirlwind already).

The beginning of the video basically just set the location for the video: an underground, hidden “club.” Of course, this was never touched on again because we got to the dancing part of the video–which ended up being the only remaining part of the video. This didn’t strike me as anything amazing. The dance wasn’t all that eye-catching, even though the guys themselves did a pretty good job. However, I did like the little “split-screen” moments–those were cool.

The song itself is also no game changer. There wasn’t really anything to it. And it was rather quiet throughout the whole song. No build-up, no breakdown, just very meh. I’m confused why JYPE even chose this song as a debut. Maybe it’s the lyrics? Literally, the whole thing is about how girls fall in love with these guys are first sight. Boast here, boast there, nothing very ground-breaking here.

Meh, they could probably do better.

You all should know Rainbow is one of my favorite girl groups; they have a special place in my heart. Although their latest releases lack, they aren’t doing to shabby. Rainbow Blaxx was meant to be the counterpart of the previous sub-unit, Rainbow Pixie. Unfortunately, their debut mini-album, RB BLAXX, released at the worst time possible: right in the middle of all the sexy trend nonsense. Cha Cha served as the lead track.

There’s something going on here, but unfortunately it’s damn near impossible to figure out what it is.

If you can’t tell that there is a storyline/meaning that’s trying to break through all the “sexy” nonsense, you’ve gotta get your eyes checked. Or brain, one of ’em. This creepy, stiff lady is watching these girls, measuring these girls, and well, pressuring these girls. Rainbow eats all these sweets located all over the video and soon enough, a gem falls from their lips. Someone watches them through a peephole. Ladies are there to wait hand and foot on them, as the small guy keeps watch for a potential gem. The lady slithers in and collects all of these gems. A maid puts a gem in her mouth. What does this all mean? Where is this all going? It’s so hard to pinpoint considering the video is drowned by all the sexy fluff–all of which are extra cheap. I mean, unless that was the point and went with the story, I’m a little disappointed with the zooms, focuses, and positions.

The girls look really 1990’s in this video. Something about the hair and the costumes and the settings radiate an early 1990’s vibe. Maybe it’s just me.

This song had some potential, but ultimately is a little disappointing. It has a very light build-up and break, so it just doesn’t do it’s job for me. Even though there are moments that I like, the song isn’t very dramatic. It could have been better.

I’ve never been so happy to watch a purely aegyo video. Grade 7 Class 1 is currently an obscure girl group; I can barely find any information on them. But their first and only release at the moment is Oppa Virus, which released on January 23rd, 2014. I’m excited, come on.

Omg, anime song is perfect.

I don’t know what else to tell you guys other than this song is adorable and I love it! It’s very rare that I actually truly like the cutesy songs in K-pop. Most of the time, they’re cute and all, but the video or girls end up pushing this subliminal sexual look, which totally kills the mood of the song. But, but, but… I love this! The cuteness is captured throughout and doesn’t just get thrown to the side for something questionable later on.

The girls are dressed as cheerleaders in most of the shots and dance lightly to the upbeat song. It’s rather sweet towards the end because they kind of celebrate every “oppa” there is, as you can see from the array of males focused on in the center. My only thing is, why are they all adults? That worries me a little bit, but hopefully they didn’t mean anything weird by it…

These girls are exceptionally adorable. I’m loving the fact that they are fresh to this recent overload of trends.

Ever since his return from service, Janghyun has decided to fall back from being a member of SunnyHill and take care of business from behind-the-scenes. Although, it does suck not being able to see Janghyun up and center, I’m sure he feels much more comfortable giving the girls music he produces himself. Amumaldo Hajimayo is SunnyHill’s latest digital single, produced by Janghyun himself. It released on January 24th, 2014.

Janghyun didn’t do a bad job producing this one. I’m not totally sold, but it’s rather touching.

One by one, the girls enter a monochromatic room filled with colorful balloons tied down by something. As the song progresses, the girls dispose of the balloons, leaving the room in sad shades of silver, grey, and white. My thinking is that the balloons represented any happiness or good they felt in life. Now that they’ve thrown them all away, they’re left with a big, empty, saddening space. Admit it, whenever we get overwhelmed or seriously hurt, we only think about the bad things in life. We get rid of any happy moment and focus on anything that’s ever gone wrong. This is SunnyHill visualizing that for us.

I’m not exactly in love with this release. Although it’s great and captures a very memorable feeling for a lot of us, the thing as a whole feels generic. Sad breakup song, sad feeling, sad crying, I’m alone, sad, sad, why can’t I be happy, sad. It’s been done before, many times. Even though SunnyHill added a great spin on the video, I couldn’t shake the feeling of “wow, this is so redundant.”

As for the song, I also wasn’t totally impressed. I adored the beginning, with the lone piano playing. But everything after that sort of went downhill. I was hoping for a very independent, couple instrument song. But the bass and beat invaded and I felt a little disconnected. Again, it could have been better.

Powerhouse girl group SPICA dropped their fourth digital single, You Don’t Love Me, on January 27th, 2014. They’ve become one of the only groups to be able to use sexy the right way. I’ll tell you how…

I’ve already fell deeply in love with this song and video. It’s powerful and just damn magnificent. SPICA really isn’t one to clown around when it comes to big business, I must say.

SPICA basically shit on any femininity and womanly role created in this video. What makes it even better is the fact that they are dressed in 50’s-60’s gear: a time where the gender roles were most likely starting to get broken but women were still expected to be the caretakers and slave after the breadwinners: men. Everything in this video screams: “I can do whatever the hell I want!” Women don’t have to be these fragile, feminine creatures unable to take care of themselves. Oh, you don’t love me? Alright, let’s move on, I can do better anyways. You know how cupcakes are supposed to be cute and small and sweet? To me, that stomp on the cupcake represents the crushing of all stupid stereotypes about females. Did anyone notice Kim Boa splitting the banana in half? I’m sure you know what a banana tends to represent sometimes and the clear message that suggests. My favorite scene in this whole video would have to be the very last scene with Na Rae spitting out the tiny figurine of a man. At first, I thought it was pretty random, but it works well when you think about it. I don’t need you, remember?

Man, I feel totally feminist for writing that, but this video just felt empowering! The meaningful video paired with emotional, raw vocals just rocks me. SPICA, you have me sold.

This video also made me love Yang Ji Won.

Former hip-hop champs(because majority of their newer releases ruined that), B.A.P, dropped their first album, First Sensibility, on February 3rd, 2014. The lead track was 1004(Angel).

B.A.P have been crying so much, that even when they try to portray something powerful, I can’t take them seriously.

I guess they’ve caught a case of EXO. Seems like they all dated the same girl, she died, and now they’re doing whatever they can to live through her somehow. Some guy looks on a merry-go-round, another watches some old clips, another guy punches through a wall, another digs in some sandbox that reminds me of Mortal Kombat. I don’t know man, I don’t think guys actually go through these sort of lengths to be with some girl. Plus, she was cheating on you all with 5 other dudes! You’ve got to be a moron to try to “get her back.” Tch.

Jokes aside, the video had some nice visuals going on. Pretty good CGI here, some cool settings there. Overall, it was a very good-looking music video. But like I said, I just can’t take this group seriously anymore. They’re just going to keep the “boys who cry and rap” title. As much as I loved that one guy at the end’s acting skills, I can’t help but giggle inside.

The song seems to be some mixture between rock and ballad, I don’t know. It was forgettable. I also am completely confused by the random song change during what should have been the instrumental break. It didn’t flow and sounded ridiculous.

The dancing was definitely my favorite part of this video.

At first, I thought Lip Service was just another girl group trying to push their way into 2014, but it ends up that this is a hip-hop duo. Quite interesting. Their debut mini entitled Lip Service Reality came out on February 4th, 2014. Yum yum yum was the lead track.

I decided to watch the subbed version for some enlightenment, because I’m pretty sure KT Music took the lyrics off the official version. But why, oh why would they do this?

Because this is a friggin’ joke.

It must be, right? Sure, it might relate to a lot of people. “I’m eating so much, why can’t I stop!?” This kind of reminds me of Berryz’ recent diet song, “I’m eating, so it must be good, right?” But there is absolutely nothing ground-breaking about Lip Service’s song. I really cannot tell if they’re trying to be funny or are dead serious. The hard beat paired with these silly lyrics and repetitive “nyan”s just screams, “Hey! I don’t go together well!” It… it has to!

And what’s with mentioning America? Yet another jab at how our country is morbidly obese and has terrible food? Why does every thin country have to point this out? We get it, America is fat and our food is shit. That’s like telling a fat person they’re fat and a thin person they’re skinny every single day. I think they get it. It’s not like us people can do anything about it. There’s bad shit in everything, even in the things we think are healthy. Hormones there, sugars here, some more fat over there. I’m not even close to being obese or overweight, but it gets ridiculous that we’re blamed for being a “fat country” when we have no choice but to eat the food our government gives us.

Fuck this shit.

Your song is annoying as fuck, Lip Service.

Ga In is the queen of controversy at this point–and I’m loving every bit of it. February 6th, 2014 came her third overall mini-album release, Truth or Dare. I can’t believe how long ago her last one was. Since we all know what FxxK U is about–and I don’t want to beat a dead horse–let’s talk about the real lead track, Jinsil Hogeun Daedum.

This video leaves me with a mist of confusion.

In the beginning, various people are talking about Ga In’s attitude and work ethic. For the most part, she doesn’t get very good reviews. Most of them think she’s in love with herself and couldn’t care less about the people around her. At first, I was a little confused, but once the song started playing, it made sense. It worked well. These lyrics are quite clever. All of these people hear that Ga In’s work ethic is shotty, but they won’t know for sure unless they meet her. Ga In knows they’ve heard rumors and they want the truth. But this is truth or dare, my friends, and Ga In chooses dare. She creates a big show of the rumors, making it seem like they are actually true, but all of these people don’t know the real her, so why does it matter what they think? The rumors make her laugh because people only believe what they want to.

I decided to also watch the performance version to get a feel for the actual video minus the story.

Ga In really has a fondness for that cheap blue eyeshadow and red lipstick. Remember kids, this is only okay when K-pop stars do it. Not anyone else. Please don’t do this to yourself. Trust me, that whole outfit looks cheap. I really don’t get her styling choices here: the chevron long sleeved shirt, fur cuffs, panties, fishnets, and hooker boots. Dear lord, Ga In. However, the other arrangement–red dress, white-clothed guys, and teal background–works exceptionally well. The colors actually give me ideas for something creative(only God will help me figure out what that’ll be).

I’m still a little confused about whether or not Ga In purposely sampled and took the video idea from Robin Thicke’s Blurred Lines(y’know, the summer 2013 song that everyone in America hates(even though I still like it)). I guess we’ll never figure it out since it’s not like Robin Thicke’s management or label has done anything about it(or maybe they’ll pull a Karen Gravano and sue 5 months after the release!).

Otherwise, this is a very fierce, risque release, Ga In. Bravo.

After watching a little of this video already, I’m surprised GP Basic even has fans. Pika-Burnjuck is the name of this horribly awkward “hip-hop” girl group’s latest. It’s no surprise have released close to nothing but digital singles. February 6th, 2014 was the release date.

New coat, new shoes, my crew, no lose.

Just that line alone perfectly explains how awkward this goddamn group is.

They aren’t selling me anything. Their lyrics are lame. Their rapping is subpar. They can barely afford a decent choreographer. Just, what is this? Let’s not forget how messy this song is. Not even the chorus is a high point of this song. There is no high point. What’s with the girl with the shaved head? I didn’t see her until the very end.

There’s really not much to say other than this group needs better management.

I really don’t know why I didn’t take notice of Ladies’ Code before. So Wonderful is the group’s second digital single released on February 13th, 2014.

So the lyrics were a little disappointing. They basically said the guy was handsome about 30 times and “So Wonderful” makes no sense in the song. I don’t know, am I missing something?

The guy appears to be a mannequin maker and the girls are the mannequins? Blah, blah, the girls fall in love with him. He dies somehow. And then they keep him like he kept them. This had so much potential to be better.

This is so vanilla.

Sun Mi has crossed into dark territory with her first solo mini, Full Moon. Released February 17th, 2014, the lead track is of the same name and features a rapper named Lena.

Looks like Sun Mi’s getting more of a boost than her former group.

Full Moon is close to perfect. Everything about this just falls into place. Sun Mi is a vampire who has bitten an unsuspecting guy. She waits until the full moon for him to turn into her kind and they can be together forever. Hey, he was sick already. Why not make him immortal?

The settings are dark and single-toned coupled with a eye-catching red highlight. I adore how powerful it looks. Let’s not forget that the CGI doesn’t look like crap as it usually does with many Korean videos. We can totally get the “vampire vibe” from this video. Sun Mi’s fresh-faced look is proving to be very unique.

This song is another ear-loving one from Sun Mi. I can definitely see myself listening to this on repeat. I love the rap as well, even though the rapper in the video really didn’t do a good job portraying her part.

Very classy yet again, Sun Mi.

One thought on “The K-pop Round Up: January & February 2014

  1. Pingback: Recommended Kpop Reading: April 12, 2014 | Idolminded

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