Oct 30, 2016

Glorious Photoshoots - October

Nayoung, Mina and Sejeong for W. 

Sung Joon for Singles.

Ji Chang Wook and SNSD’s Yoona for Vogue Korea October 2016. Photographed by Zoo Yong GyunJi Chang Wook and SNSD’s Yoona for Vogue Korea October 2016. Photographed by Zoo Yong Gyun

Yoona and Ji Chang Wook for Vogue. 


Twice for High Cut.

A Pink’s Son Na Eun for Instyle Korea September 2016. Photographed by Kim HyukA Pink’s Son Na Eun for Instyle Korea September 2016. Photographed by Kim Hyuk

Naeun for InStyle.

SNSD’s Seo Hyun for Grazia Korea September 2016. Photographed by Kim Young HoonSNSD’s Seo Hyun for Grazia Korea September 2016. Photographed by Kim Young Hoon

Seohyun for Grazia.

Min Hyo Rin for Singles Korea October 2016.Min Hyo Rin for Singles Korea October 2016.

Min Hyo Rin for Singles.

Jung Woo Sung - Marie Claire Magazine October Issue ‘16Jung Woo Sung - Marie Claire Magazine October Issue ‘16

Jung Woo Sung for Marie Claire.

Fei for Harper's Bazaar.


Red Velvet for Elle.


Nana for High Cut.

SHINee for GQ.


Sunmi for Arena Homme+.

Ji Soo - The Star Magazine October Issue ‘16Ji Soo - The Star Magazine October Issue ‘16

Ji Soo for The Star.

Kim Doyeon - W Magazine October Issue ‘16Kim Doyeon - W Magazine October Issue ‘16

Doyeon for W.

Krystal ( F(x) ) - Elle Magazine October Issue ‘16Krystal ( F(x) ) - Elle Magazine October Issue ‘16

Krystal for Elle.

Oh My Girl - Nylon Magazine October Issue ‘16

Oh My Girl for Nylon. 

Go Kyung Pyo - Elle Magazine October Issue ‘16Go Kyung Pyo - Elle Magazine October Issue ‘16

Go Kyung Pyo for Elle.

Lee Sung Kyung - InStyle Magazine October Issue ‘16Lee Sung Kyung - InStyle Magazine October Issue ‘16

Lee Sung Kyung for InStyle.

Oct 24, 2016

Cube And FNC Present Their Additions To The Fourth Generation: SF9 & Pentagon


The past two or three years or so have really marked the beginning of a new generation in K-pop, with most major music companies putting out their future moneymakers and the scene sort of shifting as many older groups have either split up or are on indefinite hiatuses. There aren't many groups who debuted in 2010 or earlier who are still frequently putting out new music, and those debuting in 2011 or 2012 have either made it big or faded into nuguland. I'd say it was around 2013 when I started feeling a new wave of K-pop groups coming in, but the past two years especially have truly marked the start of a new era of K-pop. YG has debuted Winner, iKon and Blackpink, SM are spending money on Red Velvet and NCT, JYP has made a name for themselves again with Got7 and Twice, Starship with Monsta X and WJSN, and other companies have made huge profit with hit groups like BTS, GFriend, Seventeen and Mamamoo. Not to mention all the groups that have been given their first "little sister groups" like Infinite and Lovelyz, Vixx and Gugudan as well as B1A4 and Oh My Girl. You see where I'm getting at right? These days are obviously a good time for companies to debut their future investments, and FNC Entertainment and Cube Entertainment are not lagging behind.

Both companies actually debuted new groups fairly recently, as Cube did with CLC and FNC with N.Flying. It's fair to say that both groups have performed underwhelmingly, and that's actually mostly because their companies don't seem to know what they're doing with them. FNC seems to be only having eyes on AOA who are clearly doing good. Well, not all of AOA since member Youkyung (who played the drums in AOA Black; if you can remember that AOA once had a band unit) recently left the company, and their oldest group FT.Island are left to promote themselves, basically. N.Flying haven't made a name for themselves at all despite debuting three years ago, and this made me skeptical that this company could or should manage another group.

For Cube the situation is probably even worse, since literally everyone is leaving the company. A Pink, whose current company originally was a subsidiary of Cube, recently parted ways and have now nothing to do with each other, and all of 4Minute but Hyuna left earlier this year as well. Just a couple days ago it was further announced that Beast are not renewing their contracts and are looking to promote elsewhere (possibly starting their own company), and it's hard to imagine that Cube once was on the way of becoming one of "the big 3" back in 2011-2012. For that reason this recent debut is especially important for the company's future, and even more so considering CLC's lack of impact. However it's hard to have high expectations since they've managed to lose all of their big acts in recent days.

Thus the topic of this debut is approaching; the debuts of FNC's and Cube's newest boy groups. One thing they have in common is that they, like many up and coming idol groups these days, participated in pre-debut reality shows.

This isn't anything new at all as pre-debut reality shows existed even back in the "golden" days of K-pop, with hugely influential groups such as Big Bang was part of one before they debuted. However it seems like they're getting more and more common since many of the newer groups were on these kind of shows, such as Monsta X, Twice, Seventeen, iKon, Winner and most famously I.O.I. As the idol market is extremely saturated it's really not that strange for companies to want to create some kind of following prior to a debut, and reality shows have proven to be quite effective as well in building hype and anticipation. Both of FNC's and Cube's new groups participated in reality shows, neither of which I watched, but with slightly different approaches. FNC had two pre-debut groups take part; one dance-based group and one band, and the viewers got to decide who would debut first. As for Cube it was an individual competition with members being eliminated, but for some reason they decided to debut all of the original 10 members anyway, making me wonder what the show's intention really was. Nonetheless there are now two brand new groups that are ready to take on the world; SF9 and Pentagon. 

SF9 stands for "Sensational First 9" and debuted first on October 4th with "Fanfare", and are actually FNC's first male group that aren't a band. Unfortunately it shows. It took a few years before FNC got it right with AOA and chances are these boys will be around for some time before they gain larger momentum as well. There is really nothing special about this debut, from the terrible generic and unoriginal "hip-hop" dance track, which is a genre I'm really getting tired of seeing in K-pop, to the video and performance.

I might be slightly biased already from the start because I don't particularly like FNC and their way of managing their acts, but the members of SF9 aren't attracting me regardless. The rapping is not that great, the singing is average and the the choreography is lackluster. I also have a really hard time just listening to the song because the production quality of it is not very high and you'd think FNC would have enough money to hire some decent songwriters and producers. Same goes with the music video which I don't get at all, as it seems to have neither a plot nor purpose and just seems to be a collection of random scenes. It gives off quite a cheap feeling too which again is weird because FNC has the money, but for some reason they decided to not spend it on this debut. I know I'm coming off as harsh and I agree that perhaps they don't deserve to be shamed like this but at this point I consume way too much K-pop to have time and energy to listen to groups that give me nothing. Let's just say I look much more forward to the upcoming debut of their band rather than this.

Song: 1,5/5
MV: 2/5

Here's where I'm going to be contradictory because I actually don't dislike Pentagon's debut that much at all, despite it not being too different from SF9's. Pentagon debuted on October 9th, only a few days later, and from an objective standpoint this debut is probably just as eye-catching as the other one. That meaning not very eye-catching at all. It's pretty much the same story here; a "hip-hop" dance track with a instrumental beat drop and rugged-looking boys acting tough in front of the camera. This trend in music among boy groups has to go because it's making it hard for me to like any new boy group, but at least this song is much better than "Fanfare". "Gorilla" actually has a good production behind it and the melody and beat drop are much more comfortable to listen to. The vocalists are quite impressive too, with the big name being Jinho, who for a long time was a known SM trainee who never got to debut and finally switched companies. I'm truly happy for him to finally debut and his voice is much welcomed into the world of K-pop. Other known faces include Hongseok; one of the trainees that almost debuted with iKon but didn't make the final cut, who gets another shot at fame.

The MV is not as impressive though, even though it's slightly more high-budget than the one above. It's still a pretty standard dance video with lots of choreography and individual shots of the members in various dark and gritty sets. They try and play it up a bit with the lightning and camera angles, but at the end it's still a pretty boring video that doesn't do much to set Pentagon apart from other groups. The choreography is quite good though and they all seem to be good dancers, but it's not a video I would watch on repeat just for the sheer pleasure of it. I will say though that I will keep an eye on this group because I do see potential, and especially I see a company who's desperate to earn back some credibility, so I do think Cube will invest as much as they can into this group. This group also has its fair share of ridiculously good looking guys so at least there's that if the music bit doesn't fully work out (like my relationship with Got7).

Song: 3,2/5
MV: 3/5

Overall I'd say that these two debuts didn't wow me particularly much, and I think that in both cases it will require a lot more work if the two companies want to see them succeed. Right now I think that Cube has the upper hand but who knows what the future will hold. What do you think about SF9 and Pentagon? Did any of the groups catch your eye?

Oct 20, 2016

BTS' Comeback Is The Gift That Keeps On Giving

BTS is really something special. Their popularity is unlike of any other group at the moment and not only in Korea but arguably equally as much in the rest of the world. If you meet someone who's a K-pop fan, chances are extremely likely that they stan BTS. That also includes me, and although I do try to stay away from groups are are too hyped there's just something about this group that pulls me in. Their gravitational force is too strong and I honestly wouldn't have it any other way. Being someone who's been around since their debut it's extremely awarding just watching BTS grow more and more with each comeback, and this time around it's unusually noticeable how much different of a group they are compared to three and a half years ago.

Title track "Blood Sweat & Tears" is another instant BTS classic, and it's incredible to me that this is their fourth comeback in a row where they've managed to pick a title track that hits all the right notes. It's like they can't produce anything less than stellar at this point. The song is quite different from most of their previous work and sort of marks a shift in sound for BTS as they turn to a more contemporary electronica sound that sounds slightly more westernized. "Blood Sweat & Tears" has a wonderful structure that centers around a reggaeton beat, mixed with smooth rapping and a lovely falsetto breakdown. All of the members carry an equal load in terms of vocal and rapping (apart from Jin who has very few lines, sadly) and it's clear for anyone to see that this group has talent, and tons of it.

The lyrics also show another side of BTS that's up until this point been undiscovered; sex, lust and desire, and it matches the more mature vibe of the comeback. Going from a concept centered around wanting to be young forever they've made a 180 degree turn and are now adult men that aren't afraid to sing about their desires. The lyrics are interesting in the sense that they are showcasing a submissive form of sexual desire, as they're putting everything they have on the line for their lover. Lines such as "Tie me up, it's ok if it hurts. So that I can't run away" make it clear that they're not in a dominant position, but  I actually like that they're embracing this kind of submissiveness as not many boy groups tend to since masculinity is a fragile institution.

In this video BTS manages to portray this sexual submissiveness without loosing an inch of their masculinity or coming across as "weak", both in terms of the dancing but also the members individual portrayals and actions. I would think is the main reason most boy groups do not go down this path is because of the fear of appearing fragile, but BTS takes this fragility and turns it into something beautiful and, at least to me, ridiculously attractive. They're sexy and gorgeous but at the same time soft and tender; not turning into aggressiveness as a way to express lust which is unfortunately quite common for boy groups. It definitely helps that the video is also very beautiful in a classy and high-quality way, with the use of art to enhance the theme of the song.

I'm going to be completely honest when I say that I don't fully understand what the video is about despite being able to pick out some themes and important plot sequences. I wouldn't say the MV directly correlates to the lyrics of the song apart from the dancing portions and the some of the members' individual scenes, but the fact that the meaning of the video is hard to pick apart it doesn't really make the video any less worth enjoying. However I do think that the one and a half minute long interlude in the middle of the video is unnecessary as it ruins the flow of the song and doesn't really add much to the viewing experience as a whole.

Apart from that the video really is aesthetically pleasing to look at with many beautiful shots, beautiful sets and beautiful boys, and I wonder who their art director is because the quality of BTS videos have really shot through the roof since "I Need U". Other favorite moments include Jin kissing a statue, Suga looking hot in black hair (finally!), V's bare back, Jungkook's lethal crotch grabbing and Jimin's, well, everything. He is doing the absolute most in this MV and I love it. The entire choreography is amazing in general too and the boys look so perfect doing it.

As for the album "Wings", which is their second full length album, I have nothing but praise. I know this review is awful because there's really no critique, but BTS are that good and I don't say this because I'm a huge fan because I have no problem dissing a bad song even though it's by one of my favorite groups. It's simply the fact that this group is really talented and put out great songs with great lyrics, and there's not an inch of their success that they don't deserve.

With that said I don't think "Wings" can beat "The Most Beautiful Moment In Life" because the emotional value and song quality of that era is pretty much in it's own game, but it's a big improvement from their first full album "Dark & Wild". I didn't really like that album all too much, if you can remember the review I wrote two years ago, and comparing that to this is like it's hard to believe it's even the same group. Not only have their come into their own and have found their identity as group, but the change in quality of the songs and the vocals and rapping is mind-blowing. Listening to this album truly does feel like a start of a new era because although their mini albums last year showed development too this album feels like the beginning of something entirely new. If you can't tell I'm literally swelling with pride.

One of the biggest differences is that each member gets their own solo track, which of course is very exciting. It's no secret that all of them can hold their own in their respective fields but this allows them to really show what they're made of, and that's exactly what they do. It's incredible to me how suiting all of the solo songs are for the member singing them, and although all of them are different from each other there is still a cohesiveness between them. My personal favorites are Jungkook's "Begin", Jimin's "Lie" and J-Hope's "MAMA". I'm especially impressed with Jimin as he's really showing improvement with his technique, which I think is what has been holding him back since his tone is wonderful.

The other four are good too but both Suga and Rap Monster's tracks take a bit too long before they get going and I'm not quite happy about V singing in falsetto for almost the entire song. He's got a nice voice but I don't think it's best utilized in that register. Jin's ballad "Awake" is actually really beautiful but his vocal tone isn't my favorite, unfortunately. As a whole I'd say that the group tracks on this album are much better than the solo tracks, but I do appreciate that each member does get the chance to shine.  As for the group tracks I obviously love this album's "Cypher" as well as the emotionally heavy "2! 3!" and the fun yet impressively empowering "21st Century Girl", which is a song all dedicated to lifting up and celebrating girls without sexualizing them. I didn't even know that was possible.

Overall this comeback has been giving me life on so many levels, from the sexy live performances to the gorgeous styling and fantastic music. I can't count how many fancams I've watched of either Jungkook or Jimin nor how many times I have squealed over the very deep v-neck shirts they've been sporting. They know what the fans want and they give it to us in the best way possible, and that goes both for visual appeal and music quality. This might not be my favorite title track or album but it shows incredible growth and development and watching them conquer new land each comeback is the biggest gift you could possibly receive as a fan. I don't know where BTS will aim for next but I do know that with this group, there seems to be no limit of what they can achieve.

MV: 4,4/5
Album: 4,35/5

Oct 16, 2016

SHINee's Retro Comeback With "1 of 1"


This years' October is truly one special month. This week in particular is extraordinary. Will I ever see SHINee, Got7, BTS and Infinite promote simultaneously on music shows like this again? Four of my bias groups on one stage? It's too good to be true, and yet it's happening. This fall has really been delivering so far, and all I need know is for my favorite girl groups to come back too and 2016 will end in the best way possible. SHINee released their new single and fifth full album "1 of 1" on October 5th and it was about time considering it's over a year since "Married To The Music" and even longer since "View". This comeback provides yet another side of SHINee to prove their endless versatility, while at the same time giving the feeling that this is what they've always been doing.

What impresses me the most, I think, is how drastically different this title track is to last year's "View" and "Married To The Music", but how it doesn't feel any less like SHINee, not even the slightest. How do they do it? How do they switch between concepts, genres and styles whilst still remaining that typical SHINee vibe? I don't understand how it's possible, but if anything that speaks of how atypical this group is and how special and unique they are to be able to pull it off. Anyone who says that SHINee isn't one the best groups to bless K-pop, at least in that aspect, is clearly lying to themselves. Call me biased, and I'm aware that I am, but don't tell me this group isn't fantastic at what they do.

07_B48CB8EC221F4F8FA"1 of 1" maybe isn't their best title track and MV might not be their best either, but I love the dedication to the 90's retro concept. We've seen the 60's, 70's and 80's been represented before, but the 90's has probably been too recent of an era to count as retro up until now, apparently. I like that they're going for it with the questionable clothes and cheesy-sounding music, and I'm quite positive that any other group doing this would've looked ridiculous. But not SHINee of course, because they have the magic ability of making anything look cool.

The song is really nostalgic sounding and they've truly mastered some of those classic 90's elements, and that goes for the video too. Neither are especially groundbreaking or brilliant, but they're charmig and puts a smile on my face. The song in particular has really grown on me, as it's much better when you just take it as it is; a quite generic 90's pop track. It sounds much like many other songs that were released during the same time period, but the musical arrangement is really enjoyable once you give it a proper listen and the vocals and harmonies are flawless as usual.

The video is also quite generic, but with a retro twist, and although it's not really that exciting the members are always bringing their A game. It's a pity Onew injured his ankle by the time of the shoot so he wasn't able to join the choreography scenes, but the other members cover for him well by dancing as well as only they can. The choreography is, by the way, much better than the one for "View", and although they aren't as synchronized or sharp as when they were younger they're still better performers than most acts. SHINee's charm is really what keeps this video alive because although I live for the cheesy 90's video transitions and outrageous clothing there isn't really much else happening, and I do find it strange that there are so many girls in the MV when it's about loving only one girl.

The album, which is the group's fifth, feels more like a long mini-album since there are only 9 songs on it. I personally would've liked even more tracks but I guess I'll just have to deal with what we're getting, and I can't complain about the material that is on the album. Personally I think that the album as a whole isn't their best work, and that goes for this comeback in general, but I'm happy to see them continuing to reinvent themselves and change up their musical direction. Without loosing any piece of their already established identity this album tries out a variation of sounds; from 90's disco music to alluring R&B as well as the classic SHINee pop.

03_A67378FF6FCE44B9I think he first five songs on the album are all brilliant with "Feel Good" and "Don't Let Me Go" being two favorites, and although I don't think "Prism" is as fantastic as fans are claiming it's still a great song. The second half of the album isn't as good, but I really like "Shift" and I'm on the edge of whether I'm intrigued by "U Need Me" in a positive or negative way. In the end the album does have a great flow and a cohesive sound, and the boys deliver flawless vocals as always. I'm especially impressed with Minho's constantly improving vocals, as he gets to sing a lot more on here compared to other releases. Like I said before; this isn't my favorite album of theirs nor is it my favorite comeback, but that doesn't make it any less wonderful. I know I'm SHINee trash but I actually don't think it's possible for this group to not impress me every time they come back.

MV: 3,5/5
Album: 4/5

Video(s) of the Week #32

I previously wrote a post about Oh My Girl's Seunghee and her marvelous performance of "Cheer Up", but that performance isn't the only good thing to come out of JTBC's singing program "Girl Spirit". Below you'll find some of my favorite performances of the first season (won by Spica's Bohyung) and I'm already looking forward to the next one.

One word: chills. 

Both of them are just fantastic performers.

Two vocal powerhouses and sexy Lovelyz, yes please!

The tears are flowing.

This performance hits me right in the heart.

Oct 14, 2016

Monsta X Continues To Impress With "Fighter"

Monsta X's first year wasn't very good, let's be honest. Their debut track and second single, "Trespass" and "Rush" respectively, were both quite forgettable and failed to make me take any kind of interest in the group. My eyes were first opened with the follow-up track for "Hero" which made me interested in their comeback earlier this year with "All In", which I realize in hindsight kind of turned me over completely into a fan of theirs. I enjoyed both the song and the video as well as the mini-album, and the concept they were going for with "The Clan" series. Now they've come back with the second part and a title track called "Fighter", and it's just as good.

It's obvious at first watch that this MV is connected to "All In" as there are a lot of similar themes, with the blue flowers being the main connector. Their function still remains unknown to me but it's becoming clear that the boys are all part of some clan that are in some way doing business with the flowers and their produce. The purpose or motive is however still unclear and I don't know how this video relates to the other in terms of chronology, because a lot of the questions that were raised earlier this year weren't answered here at all. Instead even more questions pop up; like what's the deal with the hospital, what is Wonho building and why are I.M. surrounded by Teddy bears? It's quite tricky to try and tie the two videos together with everything being so vague and confusing, but aesthetically it's more obvious that the two belong.

The production value is once again super high and anyone can tell that it's a video that took a lot of time and effort to put together. It really has a similar aesthetic to "All In" both in terms of camera work, editing as well as the set production. Additionally this video doesn't have any choreography either which I actually think is a good move. The music is better expressed through the plot of the MV and makes it look a bit cooler and a bit edgier in my opinion. Although I don't have a great idea of exactly what's happening I still appreciate that they are trying to think outside the box and not resort to a "typical" K-pop MV. 

Furthermore the song itself is amazing, at least in my opinion, and like with "All In" it sets itself apart from Monsta X's debut sound which wasn't any kind of amazing. This is certainly a rockier kind of pop track which I'm all for, and the balance between the rapping and singing is perfect, also unlike their debut stuff where the vocalists weren't made use of much at all. Kihyun sounds fantastic as always and Shownu is doing his job well too, but the biggest surprise of all is Wonho, who suddenly has as much lines as the other two. He sounds great too, which makes me wonder why they kept giving him so few lines previously. The rappers are, as expected, spot on with their parts and Minhyuk and Hyungwon are, well, very pretty boys. But they all look super hot in this video to be honest, and as ridiculous as it may be I very much enjoy Wonho's crop tops (and piercings for that matter).

The accompanying mini album is definitely worth a listen too, and so much so that I consider it one of my favorites so far this fall. Not only is the title track great but the B-sides are all super catchy too, with my favorites being "Blind" and "Queen". Their previous mini showed huge signs of progress and this one almost even more so. They're starting to find a sound and style of their own as well as producing songs that have great melodies, rapping and singing. As you can tell from my praising I do think I've become a fan of theirs with these last comebacks, maybe not so much that I would say I stan them, but definitely a fan of their music. I only wonder what the next (and possibly final) part of this series will bring, but I hope it's as awesome as this.

MV: 3,8/5
Mini Album: 3,9/5

Oct 11, 2016

What I've Missed - August & September

Hi guys...long time no see, right? University life has been off to an incredibly busy start since in Sweden we don't have a orientation week, we have several orientation weeks. I've been settling into my new home, getting into a good studying rhythm and attended countless parties and other activities surrounding school and my new classmates. Everything has been fantastic and I'm loving every minute, so much that I've had to put this blog aside for the month of September. Now I intend to make a comeback, I guess, but I don't think I will be posting as frequently nor will I be making posts that are as long and intricate as the ones you're used to seeing. I want to keep this blog alive somehow because I  love to rant about all things K-pop, but I will have to cut down in some ways because there are only 24 hours in a day.

Anyhow, here's a fun little post about the stuff that was released in September and how I've been enjoying all the comebacks as of recent.

Oct 10, 2016

Glorious Photoshoots - September

Jonghyun for GQ. 

Chaeyeon for Céci.

Sunmi for Star1.

Nam Joo Hyuk for Céci.

Nana for Elle.

Ahn So Hee for Marie Claire. 

BTS’ Suga Opens Up About Being Agust D And His Dreams

Suga for Grazia. 

Min Hyo Rin for Cosmopolitan. 

Suzy for Elle.

Lee Jong Suk for W Korea August 2016. Photographed by Ryu Kyung YoonLee Jong Suk for W Korea August 2016. Photographed by Ryu Kyung Yoon

Lee Jong Suk for W. 

Sulli for High Cut. 

Lee Je Hoon for Céci. 

GFriend for Céci. 

Taeyeon for Beauty+. 

Han Seung Yeon for Harper's Bazaar. 

Mino for Arena Homme+.

Hyuna for Allure. 

Spica for The Celebrity. 

Fei for Arena Homme+.