Dec 31, 2016

10 Favorite Music Videos Of 2016

As the year of 2016 is coming to an end I'm left with conflicting feelings. This year has really been coming for 2014's title as the worst year in K-pop year ever with some of the best veteran K-pop groups like 2ne1Rainbow, Kara and 4Minute splitting up, members leaving groups and countless other scandals. Thus 2016 has also marked a change in the field as most of groups that are active are now from the newer generations, and it's quite strange to witness that transition. The players are completely different now compared to even three years ago, and although I like the new groups a lot I've been around long enough to be able to compare the music scene now to what it was back then. On the other hand I do think 2016 has provided us with good music from many different groups, and as usual I'm going to present my favorites of the year through different posts.

To make things more fair I've decided to only allow each group one entry per list, and that goes for all the other rankings for this year's favorites. Had I not some groups would have been quite over-represented because there is quite a gap between different companies and their conditions. So without further ado I give you my favorite music videos of 2016 in no particular order.

GFriend - Rough 

GFriend kicked 2016 off with a bang, as their song "Rough" killed the charts and remained in the first place for weeks without interruption. The video for the song was equally stunning with it's genuine and vulnerable portrayal of friendship and trust as well as growing up, growing apart and finding your way back to each other. "Navillera" was awesome as well,

NCT U - Without You

SM's new boy group project made everyone confused with it's concept of never-ending members and units, but one thing it didn't do was put out a less-than-stellar music video. One of the title tracks for NCT-U's debut, "Without You", had me feeling all sorts of ways when watching it along with the fantastic song. This too tells a story of love, friendship and adolescence with spectacular visuals, effects and camera work.

Wonder Girls - Why So Lonely

Wonder Girls truly found their way back to the Korean public's hearts this year with the release of reggae-inspired "Why So Lonely", and along with a amazing song the video was also a great follow-up to last year's great MV for "I Feel You". It has everything from a great story to fantastic use of sets and props as well as gorgeous visuals.

Winner - Baby Baby

One of the groups to suffer a member loss in 2016 was Winner whose lead vocalist and composer Taehyun is no longer with the group, and it was his contribution that made this release possible. "Baby Baby" is in itself a wonderful song but the video truly made it come to life in a completely different way. It's just astonishingly beautiful and touching.

Red Velvet - One Of These Nights

It was hard choosing my favorite between "One Of These Nights" and "Roussian Roulette" as Red Velvet's best video this year, but at the end it came down to which MV moved me the most, which seems to be a common theme in the video's I've picked for 2016. Although this comeback wasn't as successful the song and video are both gorgeous, with the MV being one of the most beautiful pieces I've seen in a long time.

Taemin - Press Your Number

With Taemin's solo comeback and the video for "Press Your Number" I felt that SM truly showed just how much they're capable of in terms of making music videos, as they've stepped up their game tremendously in just the last year or so. This MV really momentarily turned my world upside down with its fantastic storyline, visuals and production value.

Oh My Girl - Liar Liar

Oh My Girl had many great releases this year and although I liked the video for "Windy Day" it was clear that "Liar Liar" was the superior MV. I adore the concept, the camera work and editing as well as the sets, styling and plot. There wasn't really much I disliked about this video, to be honest, and I truly wish Oh My Girl could return to this style for next year.

Cosmic Girls - Secret

Starship makes a great move with the video for WJSN's first comeback "Secret". I adore everything about this MV; from the cosmic concept to the gorgeous scenery, visuals and element of mystique and space oddities. Compared to the lackluster debut this MV certainly suits their group name and gives them a new and improved image.

Monsta X - All In

Although the video for Monsta X's "All In" in itself wasn't perfect the impact it had on me was much greater. It made me confused but also curious, excited and intrigued, and marked a new era for this group. The story had me engaged from the start and the visuals were also beautiful and I'm starting that Starship must've hired a new creative director. Wise choice.

BTS - Blood Sweat & Tears

Last but not least we have everyone's favorite group of 2016 (me included); BTS, and in particular their comeback with "Blood Sweat & Tears". Although I'm not keen on the interlude in the middle of the MV as it kind of ruins the flow the rest of the video has very little to be criticized. Beautiful, thoughtful and extremely well-made sums it up pretty nicely.

Honorable mentions:

GFriend - Navillera
Red Velvet - Roussian Roulette
Winner - Sentimental
Twice - Cheer Up
Luna - Free Somebody
EXO - Lucky one
Astro - Breathless

Dec 30, 2016

K.A.R.D's Debut with "Oh NaNa" Is Probably The Best Unexpected Release This Year

KARDs foto.

The news that DSP Entertainment was going to debut a new group came as quite the shock to me considering the poor state of their current roaster. After the disbandment of Kara earlier this year the agency is left with 2012-debutees A-Jax and rookie girl group April, the later of which has already undergone several member changes. I really wasn't into the idea of a new group because of this, and wondered why DSP found it a good decision. However when I saw the teasers and realized that this new group K.A.R.D was indeed a co-ed group with both male and female members my interest was woken. Additional curiosity sparked when it was revealed that one of the girls was Somin, ex-member of Puretty, participant in "Kara Project" and most recently also ex-member of April, was going to be in it. I always liked Somin and thus decided to give this group a shot, and I found myself being surprised by how much I liked their debut song.

Their debut track is called "Oh NaNa", and has a sound I would not have expected from a company like DSP, whom to my recollection hasn't produced anything like this before. It has a very modern western type of pop sound with various electronica influences and definitely doesn't sound much like a regular K-pop song to me. This is naturally a good thing, as I'm always happy when K-pop groups include other genres and styles from other parts of the world. In this track the ladies do the singing, and the song does mainly consist of vocals, and they guys rap in between the choruses. All of them sound great and the rapping matches the song in a way that sounds natural. The overall impression is a laid-back, sexy song with a great melody and hook that sticks in your head. It only took me two listens to love the song, and I'm sure I wasn't the only one.

KARDs foto.The MV on the other hand is confusing and definitely the least impressive aspect of this debut. It doesn't really have anything to do with the lyrics of the song and the scenes don't exactly connect with each other either. It's a bit spacey and I guess that goes with the vibe of the song but it honestly doesn't make much clear sense, at least not in a way that is understandable to me. Visually the MV is very dark which wouldn't be much of a problem hadn't in been for that fact that some of the choreography can't be seen properly due to lack of lightning. I will say though that I like the styling of the members and that the choreography that can be seen looks cool and sexy in a fun way that works both for the guys and girls.

I guess I should mention Youngji as well no matter how much I want to forget her appearance in this debut. K.A.R.D's concept is, from what I've understood, that the members represent different cards in a deck. For their coming releases a "hidden card" will also feature, like a guest member for that specific release, to help the group gain some recognition. Using ex-Kara member Youngji is thus a wise choice since she's quite well-known, but I do not like her parts in this song at all. She comes in in the final bridge and almost ruins the song for me with her squeaky vocals, and although I understand her purpose the song would've been so much better without her. Thankfully she won't be there for K.A.R.D's next release.

KARDs foto.
I also want to mention how much I love that this group is co-ed, because there's really no other group like that at the moment (apart from the AKMU-siblings). There have been some attempts at co-ed groups in the past with little success, mainly because of the nature of K-pop fandoms. Boy-group fans don't want to see their favorites interact with other girls and vice versa for girl-group stans. I, for one, am in huge favor of more groups like K.A.R.D, just because I think there's a certain dynamic that can only be achieved with members of different genders.

They do have a unique advantage and I hope it can be well cared for and utilized, because with a debut like this one I think that the potential is enormous. The song is fantastic and I already like all the members and their group chemistry, so I can only hope that Korea can get on board and that DSP do their job right for once.

Song: 4,25/5
MV: 3/5

Dec 29, 2016

The Answer To Pentagon's "Can You Feel It?" Is YES I CAN!!


I honestly feel quite horrible as I know the only reason I started paying more interest to Pentagon after their debut was because I thought they were good-looking and not because I particularly liked their debut track "Gorilla". I know I'm terribly shallow, but I think we're all kidding ourselves if we think visuals don't play a big part in our interest in K-pop. Let just say I love all the prettiness just as much as I love my favorite K-pop songs and albums. However I can proudly admit that I do genuinely like Pentagon's newest single "Can You Feel It?" and all the handsome visuals are just a bonus for this comeback.

I'm actually quite astonished how Cube has managed to scout all these pretty boys, because compared to some of their fellow debuters this year the visual level is extremely high with this group. It's well known that girl groups generally are more beautiful than their male counterparts as the guys can get by just fine if they have the talent and personality despite not being that handsome, so I'm naturally excited when 10 fine men like the boys of Pentagon show up on my screen. Like I said though for this comeback the visuals are actually only an added bonus because the song itself is a huge improvement from their debut and is an example of a song in this genre done right. It's sexy and powerful but with a catchy melody and great vocals and rapping.

The video isn't that great objectively, let's be honest, but I would be lying if I said I hadn't contributed to the view counter. It's a pretty standard box video with minimal props and effects, but I still think it's a better video than their debut MV. It's much cleaner and definitely feels classier and more mature, without the try-hardness of "Gorilla". I also enjoy the cinematography and choreography as well as the members' performances as they are pretty good at interacting with camera despite lack of experience. Naturally I enjoy seeing their faces in any way possible so I might be a bit biased towards this MV for that reason, but I do think it's a step up and a step in the right direction for them.

I absolutely can't wait to see what the future holds for this group; that is if Cube doesn't completely collapse in the near future which sadly isn't too improbable. I will keep my fingers crossed that they'll keep on going and that Cube will in some miraculous manner recover and give these boys the management they need. The potential, as showcased with this comeback, is huge and I hope it's taken care of properly. I at least will keep an eye open for them and their future ventures.

Song: 3,8/5
MV: 3,25/5

Dec 28, 2016

Seventeen Score Another Solid Comeback in "Going Seventeen"


Oh, Seventeen. They haven't been around along for long yet have managed to gather a large fanbase both in and outside of Korea as well as gaining public recognition and acclaim. Coming from a company that was on the way down the success of these 13 boys has been extremely important for Pledis and has sparked a rebirth of the company as they're now debuting a girl group in 2017. What Seventeen are mostly known for is their engagement in their material, from composing, rap-making and choreographing, and so far it has definitely worked out in their favor. After one of my personal favorite tracks of theirs "Very Nice" was released earlier this year they've now come back with another catchy tune, "Boom Boom".

With every new comeback from this group I feel like they're further establishing a certain sound that is only theirs, and I think that's a very positive evolution. However I have to admit that this musical direction will not be everyone's cup of tea, and I personally am quite neutral to it. "Boom Boom" is, like most of their previous comeback titles, a grower, and it took a few listens for me to get into the song. I still don't love it but I can appreciate it and jam along to it even though it's not my absolute favorite type of music. One thing that I do love is the way the rapping and singing flow together (and this goes for basically all of their stuff) and the way the group's personality and charms are incorporated into the track as it truly highlights all the members in different ways. China Line are, as usual, left out with only minimal lines which I think is unfair since both of them know Korean well enough to have more lines. Apart from that though I really like the distribution of the various parts.

SEVENTEENs foto.The video, sadly, doesn't really do much to enhance the song's positive aspects. It's a decent video for sure but I'm not really following the plot and I also think the clothes are horrendous. I appreciate the way the jackets are incorporated into the choreography but they could've been a bit more classy, and also the fact that they're wearing sweatpants isn't making it much better. Although the members do their best to entertain with their fantastic stage presence and energy it's not as interesting as, for say, "Very Nice" or even "Mansae".

Of course all the boys look pretty and I actually kinda like Mingyu's bleach blonde hair but apart from the dancing the MV doesn't offer much substance. I'm sure a plot with a direction or conclusion of some sort could've been made up, but what this video gives only leaves me confused. Still, it's an above-average MV with pretty colors and pretty boys so I can't be too disappointed.

SEVENTEENs foto.I am, however, slightly more impressed by Seventeen's newest mini-album "Going Seventeen", which isn't so mini at all with a whole 8 tracks. Like their first studio album this year it features songs by either the three main units of the group, mixed units or all of the members. I appreciate that they do divide the tracks because there are many members and everyone wouldn't get a chance to shine hadn't they done so. I definitely think more groups with large amount of members should take note. All of the tracks on the album sound very "Seventeen", meaning that you can hear their signature sound even though the songs all sound different from one another.

There are upbeat pop tracks like "Beautiful" and "Boom Boom", laid-back tunes like "Lean On Me" and "Fast Pace", slower songs such as "Smile Flower", "I Don't Know" and "Don't Listen In Secret" and even the high-energy dance track "Highlight". The album certainly offers something for everyone, me included, as I enjoy some of the songs whereas others don't appeal to me as much. The overall quality of the album is nice and I enjoyed listening to it, but it didn't really stand out to me as an album of growth of particular musical development. At this point it's more like they're solidifying their sound and although some risks are taken they're still playing it pretty safe. In the end it's a solid album and has been another successful comeback for them, but for their next one I would like to see them challenging themselves even further as I'm sure they would do splendidly.

MV: 3,2/5
Album: 3,8/5
Favorite Songs: "I Don't Know", "Highlight", "Don't Listen In Secret"

Dec 19, 2016

Dark SHINee Emerges With "Tell Me What To Do"

SHINee - 1 of 1 Repackage

This review comes quite late as SHINee has already completed their short two-week promotions of follow-up single "Tell Me What To Do", but I've been incredibly busy with school and have had little chance of writing anything, really. I do however want to briefly touch on the topic that is SHINee's comeback with their repackaged album "1 and 1" and their new single which takes a different route than the retro and upbeat "1 of 1".

"Tell Me What To Do" is in fact everything but retro as it's probably one of the most modern-sounding singles SHINee have put out in their career. Along with "View" it's one of the most contemporary western-sounding pop songs, and I mean this as a good thing. While I love K-pop as a genre because it's mostly different from western pop music I also love it when K-pop groups try out sounds that are more prominently heard in other parts of the world. I'm not necessarily talking about mainstream radio music, because that's not really my thing, but more so other kinds of pop music within the trap, house or electronica genre for example. This song is more on the R&B side while still being pretty obvious electro-pop, and I love it. I love the underlying darkness, the moodiness and the sadness of it. I love these kind of songs where the emotional depth is present but not overbearing, and of course the members' stunning vocals add to the heartbreaking lyrics.

Key, Minho (SHINee) - 1 of 1 RepackageOnew sounds like heaven here and Jonghyun and Taemin are consistent as always, with Key pulling off both an impressive rap part and crystal clear vocals. My only complaint is Minho's rap, which breaks the flow completely as it rhythmically doesn't match the tempo of the song at all. This probably has less to do with Minho and more to do with the arrangement of the song, but it's still a shame on such an otherwise flawfree song.

This is a song of despair, desperation and heartbreak, as the members are brokenly asking their loved one what to do and how to make things right. Seemingly taking place during a break-up, it deals with the conflicting feelings of anger and sorrow as well as confusion. The lyrics might be simple but they're clear and straight-forward, getting right to the point and leaving no one untouched. I do however feel like the MV confuses things slightly as it seems to be more about a love triangle and a friendship gone south rather than a full-blown breakup between two lovers.

SHINee - 1 of 1 RepackageTaemin and Minho are the main characters as they are caught in a love triangle with a female lead, and the plot is quite vague as much is left to interpretation but the story does involve a physical fight, an almost-kiss and a car on fire. Like the song itself the video isn't too complex and you can tell that this isn't one of SM's most budgeted projects this year, but it does the job well. What I like about it is the feeling it conveys rather than the story itself, as I enjoy the dark and gritty theme that is portrayed through the shooting locations, cinematography and editing.

The mood of the song flows very well with the angst of the video and although it objectively isn't SHINee's most impressive videos it left quite a big impression on me. I quite enjoy the simplicity of it and the way it conveys the message of the song without being to complex or over the top. It's a good MV with great visuals and the song definitely enriches it as well. I sadly can't say the same thing about the repackaged album which comes with five new songs (the title track included), and it's mostly ballads. I generally like SHINee's ballads but none of these sit well with me, apart from perhaps "Beautiful Life", which means I enjoy the original version of their fifth album "1 of 1" much better than this one. I do, however, like "Tell Me What To Do" better than "1 of 1".

Song: 4,25/5
Video: 3,9/5

Dec 18, 2016

Song of the Week #65

Kim Sejeong - Flower Way

I.O.I/Gugudan's power vocalist Sejeong recently released her first solo single "Flower Way", which was produced by Zico based on a letter she had written for her mother. This ballad is absolutely beautiful and she sings with such emotion and clarity. No matter what will happen to the groups she's in one thing's for sure; this young woman has a bright future ahead of her.

Dec 11, 2016

Video of the Week #33

I.O.I - People Are More Beautiful Than Flowers

The ladies of I.O.I are truly more beautiful than flowers. This performance is wonderful and so are they. Please don't split up! :(

Dec 5, 2016

Rookie Galore: Astro, KNK & Berry Good

Two up-and-coming groups recently made their comebacks, although the two of them have had quite different journeys so far. Berry Good debuted way back in 2014 which would mean that they're not exactly rookies anymore, but they've had so many member changes since then so they might as well still be considered rookies. Now they've come back with yeat another new member and are promoting as a six-piece with a new sound and style, one that for the first time has caught my attention. Astro and KNK on the other hand had my attention from the beginning with their respective debuts earlier this year, and I think this marks the third time they've promoted at the same time. Unlike Berry Good however, the boy groups are sticking to their respective sound and concept, which are as different from each other as they are appealing.

Five of the current Berry Good members have been a team since early 2015 and have made a couple of comebacks with songs like "My First Love", "Because Of You" and 2016-single "Angel". All of the songs have been quite on the cute, sweet and innocent side of things and while that isn't something that would stop me from liking a group none of the songs stuck with me. I didn't help that the videos were not very enjoyable to watch (because of a low budget for the most part) and thus I didn't have a chance to get into the group. With this comeback however they've opted for a change in style, with a more mature sound and concept and a song that sounds quite unlike their other title tracks. "Don't Believe" is a very modern-sounding song as it includes EDM-themes and vibes of the tropical house genre, and I would lie if I said I haven't been enjoying this song immensely since I first heard it.

The video isn't exactly high-budget this time around either but it's a lot better than their earlier MV's, however it doesn't make a ton of sense. It's composed mainly of dancing shots as well as sequences of the girls in various situations, with little to no relation to each other. What all of the scenes do have in common though is the fact that they're connected to trust and faith in one another, and in this case it's portrayed as the trust between the members. There's the balloon that's about the get cut off, the pouring of water as well as many other symbolic instances. One that stood out in particular was Sehyung's gift of a golden apple to Daye, most likely as a reference to the poisonous apple in "Snow White". It's not a perfect video but it's pretty too look at with a tropical color palette suited for the genre of the song. The choreography is also very impressive as it's certainly different from their past work, with this one being by far the most complex and hard-hitting. I don't think we need to touch on the styling as you all will know by seeing the MV, but the girls still do look insanely pretty.

Song: 4,25/5
MV: 3,2/5

"Confession" is Astro's third release this year and their second comeback after their debut with "Hide & Seek". With their past material it was clear to say that kind of sound, concept and image they were going for and it was one that both suited them well and made them stand out among other rookie boy groups this year. It seems to be more popular to go for a sexier, maturer style with EDM-inspired songs, and Astro has done quite the opposite of that. These six members are your cute, friendly and harmless boy-next-door and has a playful and upbeat musical sound to match. Both of their previous title tracks have been fun and catchy but not particularly astounding, with their debut track still being my favorite as it was a fresh and exciting at the time. The problem however is that once you've heard that particular genre of music before the next time you hear it it isn't as exciting, and that's kind of the problem here.

"Confession" is by no means a bad song, as it is fun, catchy and puts a smile on your face, but this is the third single by this group to have that kind of approach. I still like it, yes, but I would like to hear something a bit different next time. The same goes with the MV, as cute as it is, it's nothing that I think brings anything new to the table. The boys do look adorable and I love how age-appropriate it is but I can't help but to feel a bit underwhelmed. I know I sound like a hypocrite because I love GFriend and they've done essentially the same thing throughout their short career, but I just can't seem to fully engage in this comeback. As always I think that the choreography is great and they're all fantastic dancers, but there's kind of the same problem here as with the song. With their debut track I was amazed by the dance as it was something new and unique, but after two more releases with a similar type of choreo it's not as groundbreaking anymore. The quality is still high, but the wow-factor has gone down quite a bit. For their next comeback I hope they can change up their style only a tiny notch, and I would be very happy.

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

Where do I even start with KNK's comeback? The comeback that was messy before it had even happened and made both fans and non-fans alike simultaneously exclaim: "Why?". As you may or may not know depending on whether you follow this group, only a few days before the MV for comeback single "U" was scheduled to be released it was announced that it in fact would not be released. The MV release had been cancelled and the entire video had ben deleted, and the reason for that was because of the quality of it had been too low. They were basically saying that the video was too bad to release and thus decided to scrape it all, without any plans to re-shoot. I find this extremely odd as they've obviously spent money on this video and although the result may have been below expectations I doubt it was that horrible. If it was up to par with their previous MV's then I have no understanding why they couldn't release it.

Instead we're left with this performance video for the song, which is a shame but I guess it's better than nothing at all. The group has really carved out a sound for themselves and this song has many similarities with their previous single "Back", truly channeling that "2009 Beast" sound and I'm not too angry about it. Sure it sounds a little dated, but they're so talented in both dancing and singing that it's hard not to like them. I can't really judge the entire comeback of off this performance video alone but going by the song, choreography and styling it's quite a solid comeback. However, like with Astro it would be nice for them to try something different next time as well just to see if they can deliver outside of this comfort zone as well.

Song: 3,25/5

Dec 1, 2016

Glorious Photoshoots - November

Red Velvet - Céci Magazine November Issue ‘16

Red Velvet for Céci


Seventeen's performance unit for Dazed & Confused

Luna ( F(x) ) - Beauty+ Magazine November Issue ‘16Luna ( F(x) ) - Beauty+ Magazine November Issue ‘16

Luna for Beauty+

Cheng Xiao (WJSN) - Grazia Magazine November Issue ‘16Cheng Xiao (WJSN) - Grazia Magazine November Issue ‘16

Cheng Xiao for Grazia


Onew and Key for InStyle

A Pink - Cosmopolitan Magazine November Issue ‘16

A Pink for Cosmopolitan

Seo Kang Joon - GQ Magazine November Issue ‘16Seo Kang Joon - GQ Magazine November Issue ‘16

Seo Kang Joon for GQ


Hyuna for Céci

Lee Jun Ki - Singles Magazine November Issue ‘16

Lee Jun Ki for Singles


The Jung Sisters for Cosmopolitan


Infinite for The Star


Kai for Arena Homme+

Kyungri (Nine Muses) - Cosmopolitan Magazine November Issue ‘16Kyungri (Nine Muses) - Cosmopolitan Magazine November Issue ‘16

Kyungri for Cosmopolitan

Sulli for High Cut

Jin Goo - Cosmopolitan Magazine November Issue ‘16

Jin Goo for Cosmopolitan


Nam Joo Hyuk for L'Officiel Hommes


Fei for Céci