Nov 30, 2016

Mamamoo's "Décalcomanie" Is As Fantastic As It Is Problematic

I love Mamamoo. I love their vocals, performance skills and individual charms. I don't, however, always love their music. When it comes to Mamamoo I follow them more on a title-track basis, meaning I don't care too much about their albums or b-sides, but I do like to enjoy their promotional songs and performances. Unfortunately their most recent releases haven't been anywhere near as impressive as their earliest tracks, with both "Um Oh Ah Yeh" and "You're The Best" leaving me quite disappointed. "Décalcomanie" on the other hand is everything I've ever wanted from this group; strong vocals, an epic chorus and packed with power and fierceness. The MV however is quite a different story.

Nov 25, 2016

Today's A Sad Day To Be A K-pop Fan

YG Entertainment came out with some news today. None of them too surprising but still heartbreaking. At least one of them had me feeling really upset. Seven years after their debut, 2ne1 is officially disbanding. Minzy left earlier this year and there seemed to be no hope for Park Bom after her smuggling scandal, so to say that I didn't' see it coming would be a lie. Still doesn't make it any less sad though, and despite me not being a huge fan of the group it's upsetting to see such a legendary and groundbreaking K-pop group throw in the towel. I'm positive however that their name and legacy will continue to live on for many more decades to come.

Contrary to 2ne1, who debuted in the "golden years" of K-pop around 2008-2009, Winner are also experiencing a loss in member Taehyun, and this is where my heart truly breaks. I know 2016 has been a horrible year in terms of disbandment and member losses but this I honestly didn't think would happen. I mean, considering Winner's strange hiatus, YG's statement about Taehyun's mental health issues and his own ambiguous instagram posts certainly made clear that something wasn't right, whatever that was.

YG has been treating Winner like shit, quite frankly, and although I can't say for sure what the relationship between the members was like it never seemed like they didn't get along with each other or didn't enjoy working together. I really want to blame YG for this and I'm sure the management of the group has played part in his decision to leave, but I don't know if we'll ever find out. It's said that Winner will stay as a four-member group but I have a hard time seeing how it will work considering that Taehyun was both one of the main vocalists and one of the main composers of the group's material. His absence will definitely not go unnoticed.

I want to say good luck to him and to the rest of the members, but I can't find the spirit to utter those words right now. All I can feel is sadness that one of the groups I rooted for the most had to come to a situation like this one. I'm sure everything will turn out ok somehow, but today is a day of sorrow, and thus I will continue to mourn for a little while longer.

Nov 17, 2016

The Revival of B.A.P And "Skydive"

Whenever B.A.P makes a comeback I'm always unsure of what I will think of it, especially since their post-law suit return to the K-pop scene. When B.A.P debuted in 2012 they took everyone by storm by bringing something new to the scene, and they had a dark, powerful and aggressive style that combined with fierce clothing and choreography made them stand out. They did have some lighter follow-up releases in between which I didn't really thought suited them at all, but their main concept and sound was always the heavier and darker one.

Their final comeback before the law suit with full album "First Sensibility" had a great title track but the rest of the songs were disappointing, and since then I haven't really been into any of their albums or comebacks. I did like "Young, Wild & Free" as their grand return but it hasn't been a frequently played song and the mini album was just ok. The following comebacks both were both lighter, happier and with brighter songs and I although both of them are ok tracks I'm not into that kind of musical direction for this group.

Especially with "That's My Jam" as I didn't even listen to the song twice nor watched any of the live stages. Although their spot as a favorite group of mine had started to fade since almost two years back it seemed like now it was completely gone. It's always sad loosing interest in a group you once truly loved, but you can't force yourself to keep on liking them if they consistently release underwhelming music.

That's why with this comeback I am feeling especially emotional, because after a way too long time I am finally seeing the B.A.P I once fell in love with. "Skydive" really is a treat for us long-time fans who've been there since the beginning, as it is almost everything that made B.A.P so great to begin with. I suppose you could call the song and video "One Shot" 2.0 as there are many similarities between both the style of the music and the concept for the video, but that's a good thing. "One Shot" is probably the best release that this group has come out with, in my opinion, and to me this feels like reliving B.A.P at their peak which is just amazing. The song is powerful, intense and epic, just like what this group released in their early days, but it doesn't feel dated at all. Instead it's like a revival of all things that made me fall in love with this group in the first place and presented in a even more refined and mature way.

As mentioned earlier the MV for "Skydive" bears many similarities to "One Shot", but it's even more complex as well as being about a hundred times more bloody. I don't think it was necessary for it to be 10 minutes long, but I appreciate that they wanted to go all the way with it. That being said it isn't the most realistically made "mini-movie" and some of the effects are way to obviously fake, and some moments in the video are a bit too cringeworthy for my personal taste. Some members' acting skills aren't spectacular and not everyone can pull off blowing someone's brains out, but that's part of the charm as well and always has been with B.A.P and their older concepts.

Like with the video for "One Shot" the boys are part of a shady gang that are up to no good business, and the main character that Daehyun plays is on a mission to find a woman that's been kidnapped (presumably a woman he cares deeply for), but something's not quite right. There seems to be a traitor among them and none of the members can be completely trusted. In the end it's revealed to be Jongup that has had them all fooled, that being after a bloody shoot-out has taken place which (once again) has left the rest of them dead.

All throughout the video you can both follow Daehyun as he pursues his mission as well as flashback scenes with all the members, and it's definitely intriguing to try and guess who the traitor might be. Like I said before the video isn't the best action MV ever made but I wasn't really expecting it to be either. What warms my heart the most is that this video is so B.A.P in the way that I got to know them back in 2012, and this is exactly what I think they should be doing.

The album is called "Noir" and it is their second full length album, and like I said before I didn't have high expectations for it or the comeback in general considering my feelings for their most recent work. However I still decided to give the album a listen since I liked the title track and MV so much, and boy am I glad I did. This is probably B.A.P's strongest album to date, and I can't express how happy it makes me to finally remember why I liked this group so much to begin with. It is a revival indeed, a revival of this group and their music and also their spot in my heart, which has started to grow again after a period of fading. I think that I, as a disappointed fan, needed this to know that they still have it in them and that I didn't stan them for nothing back in the day.

"Noir" is packed with different kinds of songs in somewhat varying styles, but there is still a nice cohesiveness to it and I love that there are so many darker sounding tracks. Apart from the title there is "Ribbon In The Sky", which is probably my favorite track as well as "Confession" which is Zelo and Yongguk's rap track. Both of them are really dark and heavy tracks with a sound that's right up my alley. There are also some softer songs, like "Killer", "Walk" and "I Guess I Need You", that are more chill and with lighter instrumentals, but contrary to some of B.A.P's earlier tracks within the same musical genre these ones aren't boring.

One of my main problem with "First Sensibility" was that there were so many of these kind of songs and none of them were really that great, as in they lacked originality and had forgettable melodies. This isn't the case here as those songs have fantastic melodies as well as a mature approach and stunning vocal work. You can really tell how much this group has grown musically, and I suppose with that I mean mostly Yongguk, who's in charge of most of the material. The only song I'm not feeling on "Noir" is "Chiquita", both because I don't think its funky sound fits in with the rest of the album but also because it's not my kind of music. Otherwise I love almost every track and I'm especially proud of Jongup and the fact that he gets a solo all to himself, and I think I must've missed something because when did he get this good at singing? He's definitely the one that's been standing out the most to me this comeback, both with his improved vocals but also his dancing, stage presence and acting in the MV.

I don't think I need to summarize much because my feelings have been quite clearly put on the table in this review. B.A.P have proved themselves to be a force to be reckoned with for real and redeemed themselves from underwhelming past work, and now my only wish is for them to continue in this direction. I'm not asking for them to always be this dark and gritty but I don't want to see another 180 degree switch to a concept that makes you question if it's even the same group.

It is possible to evolve musically and conceptually without losing ones identity. Other groups have done it and I'm sure B.A.P can do it too. Whatever happens in the future I'm happy for what they've given us here and now, and I hope that Yongguk will get better soon so that he can join the boys on stage.

MV: 3,9/5
Album: 4,4/5

Nov 12, 2016

Another Very Twice Comeback With "TT"

Twice's story really is something special, and what they've achieved in only a year is truly astounding. From a skeptical "Sixteen" to a surprisingly well-received debut and earlier this year a mega-hit these girls are on their way to becoming the next big deal in K-pop and Korea. I wasn't the biggest fan of "Cheer Up" but I couldn't deny that it was catchy and understood the appeal of it, but I never in my life thought it would take them as far as it did. If you're in the K-pop realm like me you know how enormous the impact of that song, dance and "shy, shy, shy" was. However as one often thinks when a group has a big hit you wonder if it's just a one-time thing or if they can keep the momentum, and with the release of "TT" and "Twicecoaster: Lane 1" Twice has proven they're nowhere near loosing any of their popularity.

Nov 6, 2016

Song of the Week #64

BoA - No Matter What (ft. Beenzino)

I have so much respect and admiration for BoA and her work and it saddens me when newer K-pop fans dismiss legendary artists such as her because they're not young or "hip". This song however is very modern and I feel like this is the kind of music she could do more of.  The sound is great, melody is amazing and her vocals are flawless.

Nov 4, 2016

I.O.I - Very Very Very

I can't believe how fast time has gone by. It feels like yesterday that I.O.I was formed and now suddenly they're having their last comeback before disbanding. I've grown to like this group and these members a lot, and I know I'm not the only who's going to be sad when the finally go their separate ways. What I.O.I has is something truly special and I don't know when we're ever going to see a girl group with as much star power as this one, because these girls coming together as one has resulted in one of the most popular groups in Korea. Unlike their last comeback with "Whatta Man" this time it's all the members, and it seems they're going back to their roots with a comeback that feels like a sequel to their debut "Dream Girls".

Nov 3, 2016

TBT - Rainbow's "To Me"

Released: April 8th, 2011

Earlier this week we were met with the disheartening news of the disbandment of Rainbow, who decided to part ways after seven years together. This group has always had a special place in my heart and the fact that they're separating is as heartbreaking as it is expected. It makes me happy however to know that they ended it on good terms and I do wish all of the members the best of luck in the future. To honor their memory I've chosen the single "To Me" which is one of my favorite Rainbow songs, and also one that shows this group at the very peak of their career.

You will be missed, ladies.