Jan 30, 2017

Glorious Photoshoots - January

Park Se Young - InStyle Magazine January Issue ‘17

Park Se Young for InStyle.

Seohyun for Nylon. 

Park Bo Gum - Arena Homme Plus Magazine January Issue ‘17Park Bo Gum - Arena Homme Plus Magazine January Issue ‘17

Park Bo Gum for Arena Homme+.

Mina (Girl’s Day) - Allure Magazine January Issue ‘17Yura (Girl’s Day) - Allure Magazine January Issue ‘17Sojin (Girl’s Day) - Allure Magazine January Issue ‘17Hyeri (Girl’s Day) - Allure Magazine January Issue ‘17

Girl's Day for Allure.

Krystal ( F(x) ) - W Magazine January Issue ‘17Krystal ( F(x) ) - W Magazine January Issue ‘17

Krystal for W. 

Mingyu, S.Coups, Wonwoo, Vernon (Seventeen) - Dazed & Confused Magazine January Issue ‘17Mingyu, S.Coups, Wonwoo, Vernon (Seventeen) - Dazed & Confused Magazine January Issue ‘17

Seventeen's hip-hop unit for Dazed & Confused. 

Monsta X - Cosmopolitan Magazine January Issue ‘17

Monsta X for Cosmopolitan.

Eugene - InStyle Magazine January Issue ‘17Eugene - InStyle Magazine January Issue ‘17

Eugene for InStyle.

Yoo Ah In - W Magazine January Issue ‘17Yoo Ah In - W Magazine January Issue ‘17

Yoo Ah In for W. 

Park Seo Joon - Harper’s Bazaar Magazine January Issue ‘17Park Seo Joon - Harper’s Bazaar Magazine January Issue ‘17

Park Seo Joon for Harper's Bazaar. 

Jessica - W Magazine January Issue ‘17Jessica - W Magazine January Issue ‘17

Jessica Jung for W. 

Jung Chaeyeon - The Star Magazine January Issue ‘17Jung Chaeyeon - The Star Magazine January Issue ‘17

Chaeyeon for The Star.

Song Ji Hyo - W Magazine January Issue ‘17Song Ji Hyo - W Magazine January Issue ‘17

Song Ji Hyo for W. 

Shin Se Kyung - Marie Claire Magazine January Issue ‘17Shin Se Kyung - Marie Claire Magazine January Issue ‘17

Shin Se Kyung for Marie Claire. 

Jan 29, 2017

Another Legend Gone; Wonder Girls Announce Disbandment


When 2016, the year of veteran girl groups splitting up, finally was over I was not anticipating 2017 to start off with the announcement of the disbandment of the Wonder Girls. The group, whom this year has been active for 10 years are saying goodbye to each other and to their fans as the four current members Yubin, Yeeun, Lim and Sunmi are parting ways. The group has been through many member changes, as some have left and some have returned, and there was a time where I almost thought the group were done for after Sunye and Sohee left, but they managed to comeback in the most spectacular way possible with "Reboot" back in 2015. The album remains one of my all-time favorite K-pop albums and after the huge success of "Why So Lonely" last year I was sure they were going to continue releasing awesome music now that they've managed to find steady ground again.

Obviously I, and I'm certain many others, was wrong since the girls are now calling it quits. I can understand how they want to try out different things after being in an idol group for such a long time, but it still breaks my heart to know we won't be hearing any new material from them again. Additionally it makes feel incredibly sad seeing another legendary girl group come to an end, as there now aren't many groups left from the "golden era" of K-pop. There are so many newer girl groups right now that are killing the scene and that's good to see as well, but those new groups won't ever come close to what groups such as the Wonder Girls, Kara, 4Minute, 2ne1 and Girls' Generation achieved back in the day. Those groups did really pave the way for the current generation, and all K-pop fans should be grateful that such amazing groups did exist.

To say goodbye the Wonder Girls will release one last single titled "Thank You For Being So Wonderful" on February 10th, which is the 10th anniversary of their debut date. Like with 2ne1's "Goodbye" and I.O.I's "Downpour" it's nice of them to actually release a final track to say goodbye rather than disappearing into nothing, and I can't wait to hear it. I wish all the members the best in whatever they chose to do next and thank them for being amazing for 10 years. To honor their memory I want to share some of their biggest hits throughout the years, whom will never be forgotten.

Tell Me (2007)

So Hot (2007)

Nobody (2008)

Be My Baby (2011)

Like This (2012)

I Feel You (2015)

Why So Lonely (2016)

Jan 28, 2017

Day6 Continues Being The Absolute Best With "I Wait"

DAY6s foto.

One of my absolute favorite debuts of last year was JYP group Day6 and remains to this day one group whose releases I'm always anticipating. Despite loosing a member early on they came back with "Letting Go" and "Daydream", which was without a doubt my favorite mini album of 2016. Thus I was incredibly excited to hear about the news of "Every Day6", a year-long project in which the group will release one new single each month and hold a concert. New music from these guys every month? It can't get better than that. To start it off they released "I Wait" earlier in January ( I'm aware that I'm late on this one) and are kicking things off in the best way possible.

DAY6s foto.Although Day6 made it clear from the start that they are indeed a band who play their own instruments and compose their own songs, their music so far has been rocky but still pretty radio-friendly, or at least their title tracks have been. I don't mean that in any negative way as I have clearly adored their music, but I'm pointing it out because "I Wait" takes quite a different direction. While both "Letting Go" and "Congratulations" had a slightly more pop-rock sound "I Wait" is much quicker, more intense and definitely more J-rock sounding. Both Japanese pop and rock music, and combinations between the two, have a certain sound that can quite easily be pinpointed as it doesn't sound much like Korean music, or any other genre for that matter. Thus hearing the way that "I Wait" goes and especially the way the chorus sounds it's obvious where the inspiration comes from.

I generally don't love Japanese music and J-rock isn't normally my cup of tea, but "I Wait" makes it work unexpectedly well. Like with some other more recent K-pop songs it has a bit of a feeling of an anime soundtrack, which again can be either hit or miss for me, but the fact that this song still has a bit of that special Day6 flavor to it makes it fall into a kind of "in-between" category. In this case it's absolutely a positive thing as the song is great and has a chorus that is very memorable, but I don't think it's my favorite title track of theirs. But then again, nothing will probably ever come close to the impression that "Congratulations" had on me.

DAY6s foto.One thing that Day6 seem to have mastered though is to write these songs with perfect chord progressions set in a minor key, as they, combined with heartfelt and honest lyrics, make for a intense emotional experience for the listener. I personally love tracks that tug at your heartstrings and make you feel what they're feeling, and I applaud them for their ability to create those kind of songs.

As for the MV however I'm not as pleased. Both "Congratulations" and "Letting Go" had great music videos, the former especially, and for them to go from those high-quality productions to a MV mostly set in front of a green screen is disappointing. It's possible that due to the fact that they're releasing a new single and MV every month they budget isn't going to be as high for each one, which is understandable. They have to make it work with whatever they've got and the outcome won't be as impressive, but I guess it's a compromise worth making. In the end it's the music that counts and this is a great way for them to get their name out.

DAY6s foto.I won't say the MV is completely terrible though as it does have some nice shots and cinematography, but the obvious use of green screen is distracting. Although the background sceneries chosen do suit the mood of the song and the entire color palette of the video is cohesive and appropriate it definitely takes away some of the viewing enjoyment. However I do really love the scenes of the guys just rocking out on their instruments as those feel the most genuine to me, and the addition of rain in the last minute or so is a great touch, cliché or not.

As per usual I'm all heart eyes over YoungK as he's just captivating as a performer, but all of them are great to watch and I believe that is their main strength as a band. They're also much better at conveying emotion when holding an instrument and putting it all out there compared to walking and lip syncing in front of a green screen. As proven once again Day6 are indeed amazing musicians and I can't wait for their next release which I believe will be out pretty soon. Hopefully the song is just as amazing and the MV is even better.

Song: 4/5
MV: 3/5

Jan 26, 2017

NCT 127's "Limitless" Is A Hot Mess But I Like It

My relationship with NCT and all their various units has been, to say the least, complicated. At first I was strongly against the idea and concept of NCT, but then I was completely won over by the debut of NCT U and the amazing songs "The Seventh Sense" and "Without You". However when NCT 127 made their debut with "Firetruck" I was not impressed and although NCT Dream was cute I was not in the right demographic for that unit. I didn't know what to expect at all from NCT 127's first comeback with "Limitless" except that now Doyoung, from the U unit, and well-known trainee Johnny was going to join the group, both of whom I dearly like. As for the concept the teaser images made me feel disappointed again because if there's one thing I've had enough of its's this appropriating hip-hop nonsense that almost all boy groups nowadays have done at some point. Thus I went in with low expectations and the outcome was definitely a mixed pot of emotions.

As you can tell there are two different versions of the MV with one of them being solely a performance video, and let's just say I'm not really feeling neither of them. I would've liked the performance MV because I do like the choreography and the boys are all great dancers and performers, but the horrendous styling is really off-putting. I don't see why they're styled like this because it's not doing any of them any favors nor does suit the song better than any other, better styling would. These boys are all ridiculously attractive yet here it seems the stylists have decided to try to make them look as ugly as possible.

NCTs foto.As for the other version, called the "Rough ver." for some reason, I don't think I've watched the whole video more than twice. It's super strange and has nothing to do with the song and its content, and like with the performance video it features horrible styling which doesn't make it easier to watch. Huge parts of it are also shot with what appears to be a old-fashioned VHS camera, which I have understood is to give it a home-made feel and thus make the video more casual, but it doesn't look good at all. Those shots definitely clash with the ones shot by modern recording devices and the awkward editing makes it feel even more disjointed.

On top of that there is no plot or story at all in the MV as it's basically made up of shots of the members doing a bunch of random things that seem to have no connection whatsoever. To put it short; the video looks cheap and quickly put-together and is a huge step down from all of NCT's other videos. It makes me sad not only to know that they can do, and have done, so much better than this but also that they're wasting such an amazing song.

NCTs foto.
"Limitless" as a track is pretty fantastic and although I can see how it connects to their debut track it still has a slightly different musical direction and one that I personally like much more. It actually reminds me a bit of EXO's earlier musical ventures such as "Overdose", but in my opinion much better. The chorus is really heavy and epic-sounding and does come as quite of a surprise as the verses do have a different sound, and there are a few break-downs in the song which also stand out. However they've managed to make it work as the different parts do flow in and out of each other nicely without being jarring at all once you get used to it.

I will complain about the line distribution though because poor Yuta and Haechan get only one line each, with Haechan being a lead vocalist in the group. I do get that when now that Doyoung's in the group Haechan will be shafted but he still deserves more than 1 line. Apart from that I don't really have any complaints about the song as I've been jamming to it repeatedly since it came out, but I do wish that it had gotten the MV it deserved.

NCTs foto.As for the mini-album however I have nothing but praise. I liked their debut mini album too as it had some good tunes and felt like a somewhat coherent first release that let you know what kind of music and image they were aiming for. "Limitless" however is on a completely different level, and although it has some similarities with their previous album it has a slightly different approach. The overall sound is definitely more mature and showcase both impressive vocals, rap and lyrics. Additionally I find that the album definitely is more cohesive and more refined too as all of the songs are blending perfectly with each other yet still standing out on their own. The production on the mini is high and you can tell that they put a lot of work into it, with almost every single track being brilliant.

The only song I'm not 100% loving as "Angel", which is the token mid-tempo ballad-y song of the album. It's sweet and has a lovely instrumental but feels a bit out of place with the rest of the songs that are more intense, as "Angel" is incredibly soothing. I know some people will like this song but I'm simply not one of them.

Overall this comeback has left me conflicted as I've loved the title track and the mini-album but strongly disliked the styling and the MV. However I have to say that the music is the most important which I can tell since this comeback has turned me into an even bigger NCT fan. I'm loving that Doyoung is back and that Johnny finally got to debut and I've been watching plenty of their live stage stages (while trying my best to ignore all their clothes and hair) because they are genuinely great performers. It also makes me happy to see how much all of them have warmed up in front of the camera and are seemingly more comfortable both off- and on-stage. I'm already looking forward to the rest of the year and what it has in store both for NCT 127 and NCT in general.

Song: 4/5
MV (Rough ver.): 1,5/5
MV (Performance ver.): 2,5/5
Album: 4,4/5

Jan 23, 2017

2017 Is Saved: Cosmic Girls Release "I Wish"

우주소녀_ WJSNs foto.

I did not expect to turn into a WJSN fan at all considering how indifferent I felt towards their debut, but their comeback with "Secret" last year certainly did the job. I grew to love the song and the MV was initially what pulled me in with its amazing aesthetics and space theme, and thankfully Starship realized that that direction was the right one to take. That's why with their new single "I Wish" they've created a MV with an even higher production value and an aesthetic that looks like nothing I've seen before.

There are quite a few similarities between this MV and the one for "Secret", although the two have quite different approaches. Both of them are absolutely stunning with gorgeous shooting locations, colors and effects, but "I Wish" is definitely brighter and more colorful which does suit the sweeter tone of the song. While "Secret" took its inspiration from the group's name "I Wish" doesn't have that same clear sense of direction in terms of a theme. However I do find that all the scenes are better connected to each other and the visual coherence is better as well. It makes for a more even video, so to say. As for what is actually going on in the video I really don't have a clue, but that's obviously the point and the charm of the MV.

우주소녀_ WJSNs foto.
Like with "Secret" the members are grouped up and have their own unique set and narrative, all of whom are kind of related by all these pop-up squares on a computer screen. I do find it interesting that in a video as fairy-like as this one that technology is incorporated to this extent, but I guess it's part of this other-dimension world this MV must take place in. The members' different scenes are also connected by this one single door that pops up as well as the heart-eyes emoji that appears throughout the video.

I don't know the exact symbolization of these but it's nice that there is some kind of connecting factor because everything else that happens seem to be completely random. There are unicorns, furry jackets and endless amounts of rainbows and I get definitely get behind this tumblr-esque aesthetic. It's random but with a purpose of being exactly that, which is a concept I enjoy and especially when done as beautifully as here. All of the members look gorgeous as well, but I am skeptical about the styling for this comeback. With a MV as kooky and fun as this one you'd expect clothes that match, but instead they've gone with the classic school uniforms, which is a trend that needs to go. I don't think it matches the song nor the concept and I feel like they could've done something a bit more exciting.

우주소녀_ WJSNs foto.
The choreography is also a slight let-down, as it seems the quality and complexity of their dance routines has decreased constantly since debut. Although "MoMoMo" was a dull song the choreography was fun and energetic with interesting formations, and while "Secret" wasn't as complicated it still had some pretty moves and definitely great formations. Being 13 members there are definitely a lot of things you can do to make it interesting, but this choreography is frankly quite boring. I know they can do a lot better in that department, in order to make the performances more enjoyable. Especially since the song, which is by all means good, doesn't hold quite the same power as their previous one.

Overall I've enjoyed this comeback as well, but perhaps not as much as their last one. "I Wish" is a cute song with a good melody and chorus and the MV is an amazing creation that has to be watched many times in order to take everything in. Sure, the choreography and styling could've been better but I'd still say it's a successful comeback for the girls.

Song: 3,7/5
MV: 4,2/5

Jan 22, 2017

Song of the Week #66

I.O.I - Downpour

This group deserved to live longer, but nonetheless I'm grateful for the short time spent with I.O.I. One thing's for sure; they will never be forgotten and until they can reunite we're left with this beautiful yet heart-wrenching goodbye single and it's equally stunning MV. We will miss you girls.

Jan 13, 2017

15 Favorite B-sides Of 2016

I thought I was finished but then I remembered that I hadn't posted this list yet, so here it is! Not going to lie, this was probably the hardest list to put together out of all of them. There have been a lot of good albums this year with plenty of great b-sides. I initially tried to narrow the ranking down to my top 10 but it was actually impossible, and so I've instead managed to gather my 15 favorites with a big number of honorable mentions. Let's dive into it!

Lovelyz - Dear You
Relaterad bild
This is one of my absolute most played songs of 2016 without a question, and one of many great tracks on "A New Trilogy". It has that special J-pop-inspired bubblegum sound that Lovelyz does so great and a melody, structure and instrumental that's to die for.

Day6 - First Time
Bildresultat för day6 daydream
Don't get me wrong here; I do genuinely love every single track on the mini-album "Daydream" but "First Time" definitely stood out to me. Not only is it a fantastic opener to the album but the song itself is quite simply put everything I enjoy about pop-rock music.

Hyomin - Gold
Bildresultat för hyomin sketch
Although I tremendously enjoyed the other b-sides on this album "Gold" is, in my opinion, on another level. This sounds like it could be a western song with the way the music and melody is constructed, and I mean that in the best way possible. It's incredibly beautiful.

Red Velvet - Some Love
Bildresultat för red velvet russian roulette
Sadly I was quite disappointed by Red Velvet's "Russian Roulette" as a mini-album, but this song was the one and only saving grace. It's light, poppy and sweet but with a slight undertone of maturity to balance the playfulness. Again it's one of my most played songs of 2016.

Luna - Galaxy
Bildresultat för luna free somebody
Once again I had to choose from a mini-album full of marvelous songs, but there was no hesitation that "Galaxy" was my favorite out of all of them. Apart from the fact that it's a beautifully put-together dance track my favorite part of it is the joy it exudes, much thanks to Luna's vocals.

I.O.I - Hold On
Bildresultat för i.o.i miss me
B1A4's Jinyoung participated in writing b-sides for both of I.O.I's mini-albums, but this one must be my favorite one. The young ladies of I.O.I do a great job with the vocal work but it's the song itself that pulls me in the most; the mixture of feminine softness, maturity and emotion is wonderful.

Twice - Next Page
Bildresultat för twicecoaster
I was completely floored when I heard this song for the first time as it felt to me as a song with a sound that Twice hadn't really tried before. Gone were the high-pitched vocals and sticky sweetness and instead it allowed room for the members larger registers and a rockier, edgier sound.

SHINee - Don't Let Me Go
Bildresultat för shinee 1 of 1
This track really is a standard SHINee-esque mid-tempo ballad and they've done quite a few songs similar to this one throughout the years, but I still can't get enough of it. The vocals are spot on as usual (I especially enjoy Key's part) and I love the emotion of the melody and chord structure.

Oh My Girl - Step By Step
Bildresultat för oh my girl pink ocean
Another song composed by Jinyoung, this time for his label-mates for their mini-album "Pink Ocean". It has many of the great characteristics that have made his songs so popular, but it's truly brought to life by the ladies flawless vocal performances.

Winner - Pricked
Bildresultat för winner exit e
A duo by Mino and Taehyun (the later no longer being in the group and yes I am still upset about this), it's a emotional guitar-based ballad with painful lyrics heartfelt vocal performances from both of them. It pains me that now we might never see this song sung live.

Astro - Innocent Love
Bildresultat för astro spring up
I was actually surprised when I heard this song since Astro's regular sound, the one they're now associated with, is always so upbeat and lively. Although this ballad is about being young and experiencing first love it's actually very mature-sounding and definitely beautiful.

GFriend - Water Flower
Bildresultat för gfriend lol
It was so hard to decide which song I liked the best from "LOL" because there are so many, but in the end I think the song I've listened to the most is this J-pop-sounding piece. It literally sounds like it could be the opening theme to an anime and that a fantastic one.

BTS - 2!3!
Bildresultat för bts wings
This is probably me being a sappy BTS fan but this song really speaks to me on an emotional level. There are many great b-sides on "Wings" but there's no denying that "2!3!" is the one that I hold most dear, with its lyrics directed to all BTS fans and a chorus that hits right in the heart.

NCT - Switch
Bildresultat för nct127
This song was featured as a bonus track on NCT 127's mini-album, but it's well-known that this is the unofficial song of NCT as the performed it when they were still trainees. It does certainly hold a lot of nostalgia, but it's also a genuinely great song.

B.A.P - Ribbon In The Sky
Bildresultat för B.A.P noir
Although I loved most songs on "Noir" it was clear from the first time I heard it that this song was the one I loved the very most. It's dark and powerful and has just the type of sound I need to hear from this group, as well as having a strong chorus not easily forgotten.

Honorable Mentions:

Taemin - Soldier
Got7 - Rewind
Seventeen - Say Yes
GFriend - Distance
BTS - 21st Century Girl
Monsta X - White sugar
I.O.I - When The Cherry Blossoms Fade
EXO - Artificial love 
SHINee - Feel Good
4Minute - Canvas
NCT 127 - Wake Up