Monthly Archives: December 2016

For You K-Pop Love Songs for Valentine’s Day

Chocolates and flowers are great, but Valentine’s Day is all about love — and what better to relay heartfelt feelings than a good pop song? Korean pop, in this case. Korea is flooded with songs that address the ups and downs of relationships while trying to understand the emotion that makes people do crazy things.

For Valentine’s 2017 we’ve picked 25 K-pop songs that depict all sorts of romances: Happy ones, sad ones, lustful ones, innocent ones, and even one or two quirky ones. The whole range of the phenomena that we call love  is included in this playlist, so take a listen:

“Some” by Soyou & Junggigo

With this 2014 megahit, Soyou and Junggigo solidified the word “some” into K-pop fans’ vocabulary to describe the tricky in-between of a relationship that isn’t official, but has potential to grow into something more. Musically, the duet takes on that same sentiment as the duo trade off verses and varying feelings in a track that never gets too fast or too slow, but stays somewhere right in the middle. It’s undoubtedly a situation many may find themselves in on Valentine’s Day with this charming track relatable on so many levels.

“Symptoms” by SHINee

With high-flying vocals, the SHINee boys are lovesick and are trying to cope with all the dangerous signs that come from falling hard for someone. In fact, the guys’ love goes so deep, they end the moving R&B cut declaring: “I can’t live if I lose you.”

“Eat” by Zion.T
Korean R&B crooner Zion.T touches on what people really love the most in this snappy tune: food. “Take this song out and eat it like chocolate,” he sings, offering this jazzy song’s heartfelt lyrics up like the perfect Valentine’s Day gift, even if it’s not wrapped in a red heart-shaped box.

“My Love” by Lee Seung Chul​

One of Korea’s best live performers, Lee Seung Chul broke his four-year hiatus away from the music scene in 2013 with this heartbreaking-yet-uplifting rock-pop tune to detail love torn apart and a situation where it’s too painful to even say “I love you,” much less goodbye.

“Gold” by Hyomin

The warm embrace of the hazy synths and layered strings paired with the T-aramember’s breathy cooing sounds a bit more like British pop or something Sia would try than K-pop, but it works incredibly well with “Gold.” As Hyomin earnestly expresses how love improves her, or makes her golden, it’s hard not to feel the power of love.

“Eyes, Nose, Lips” by Taeyang

Love may be over, but the BIGBANG member mournfully reflects on the beauty of an ex in this tender R&B ballad. His emotions overflow on this romantic track, surpassing its melancholic nature to become one of the most beautiful Korean love songs ever.

“Heaven” by Ailee

From her debut single, Ailee proved that she had an ability beyond her years to communicate the deeper experiences one feels in love. In this dedication track, Ailee’s partner protected her and “taught her how to love in a harsh world.” Or, as she describes it, it’s simply “Heaven.”

“Wild Flower” by Park Hyo Shin

It may be about getting over the past and moving forward, but there are few rock ballads more beautifully poignant than “Wild Flower.” Park’s tender vocals soar over the accompanying instruments, rising and falling to match the building strings as he wails in anguish to match the pain of a longing heart. Despite the intensity, the song crescendos then lands gently, with the promise of renewal hummed along by Park’s mellow “la la la” melody.

“Airplane” by f(x)

This standout album cut on their adored Pink Tape LP sees f(x) using an “Airplane” as a metaphor to a potentially dangerous yet important adventure in romance. It’s all done over a fascinating blend of soaring harmonies and melancholy electro-pop production to paint a picture both lyrically and sonically.

“Love In The Ice” by TVXQ

Although it’s nearly a decade old, the operatic “Love In The Ice” is still a chilling-inducing ballad. The sweeping melody and earnest, soaring vocals are filled with such overwhelming passion as to induce a visceral response from the performance’s intensity.

“Touch Love” by Yoonmirae

With quivering vocals, the veteran rapper-singer describes how a love can create a true sense of warmth — even without touching — on this moving, piano-driven soundtrack ballad.

“Pretty U” by Seventeen

If you’re looking for some sweet encouragement on Valentine’s Day, here you are. Beginning with an a capella harmony and propulsive rap before launching into a sweet pop sound, “Pretty U” is an upbeat, light-hearted song perfect for the start of new love. The song’s staccatoed pacing between singing styles reflects the bafflement that accompanies the beginning of a relationship and the lyrics ask all the big questions, like when should you tell someone you love them and what should you wear when you do so. It’s pure, saccharine bubblegum love.

“Friday” by IU feat. Jang Yi-Jeong

For this acoustic duet, the pair realstically describe the anticipation of counting down the hours to see a new beau again. IU decides “Friday” is the perfect day to reunite with her new love — more or less because she says so — and croons alongside History’s Jang Yi-Jeong while the duo ponder what makes the other so irresistible.

Co-Ed K-Pop Group K.A.R.D Reveals A Second Single with ‘Don’t Recall’

Rookie K-pop act K.A.R.D continues to impress with the release of their latest single, “Don’t Recall.”

The second of three project singles, the co-ed K-pop act released “Don’t Recall” on Wednesday (Feb. 15). The tropical house track is the follow up to last year’s “Oh NaNa,” which landed K.A.R.D the distinction of being one of Korea’smost intriguing new pop acts.

“Don’t Recall” solidifies K.AR.D’s synth-pop and hip hop hybrid styling. With lush synths and rhythmic beats, “Don’t Recall” is a mellow dance song, fitting with the angsty post-breakup lyrics. But while “Oh Nana” benefited from the catchy hook, the post-chorus’ whirring instrumental drop becomes the driving force of “Don’t Recall.”

The brightly-colored music video features the members in the lap of luxury, playing chess and flipping cards, while appearing desolate about their ended relationship. The highlight of the video is the sharp, provocative choreography — including shirt-lifting motions — that are almost too sexy by K-pop standards. (But just almost.)

Since their first single, K.A.R.D has gained a staunch international following thanks to their unique co-ed concept with two female singers and a pair of male rappers. The group is produced by DSP Media, the company that created popular Korean idol acts like Fin.K.L, Sechs Kies, SS501 and Kara. Along with K.A.R.D, the label currently also houses the boy band A-Jax and the girl group April.

“Don’t Recall” is the second in a trilogy of singles, each of which will featured a “hidden card.” The first song, “Oh NaNa,” featured Kara’s Heo Youngji as a third female vocalist, while DSP has yet to unveil the alternate version of “Don’t Recall” featuring the secretive addition.

The Reason BTS’ ‘Spring Day’ Is the Perfect Move for the K-Pop Boy Band Both Artistically & Professionally

If there’s a K-pop act that is navigating the global music scene best, BTS is arguably the top choice. Since their 2013 debut, the boy band has broken records on the Billboard 200 — becoming the Korean act to land the most albums on the chart and net the biggest first-week opening — in addition to being a constant presence on charts like Billboard‘s Social 50, World Albumsand World Digital Song Sales tallies. Yet, it’s only with their latest release “Spring Day” that a BTS single seems most likely to break the group into new chart territory and that’s thanks to smart artistic and professional decisions.

Undoubtedly, BTS has found the major enthusiasm for their LPs thanks to the deeper social and personal topics the band discusses with past album tracks touching on bullying, mental health and the dark sides of adolescence. Meanwhile, past singles like “Run” and “Blood, Sweat & Tears” and their accompanying videos stood out for exploring deep devotion, but ultimately only explored that one topic. “Spring Day” takes things a step farther by getting more into the journey one takes during a tough time or break up.

On the single, the members sing and rap about an internal winter inside them due to missing someone and, at first, there does not seem to be an end to the heartache — likely a commentary on depression and mental health, topics the band had discussed in past album tracks and mixtapes. Yet by the end of “Spring Day,” there is a change and the boys describe how there is a light and warmness that inevitably comes with Jungkook declaring, “No darkness, no season, is forever.”

The guys are still pining for their lost love, but they aren’t staying in a one-track mindset. Instead, they use the weather and seasonal metaphors to describe how things get better — a lesson many of their young fans can find comfort in when dealing with relationships, or school, friends, family, their careers or beyond. While it’s all done over hard-hitting beats, buttery vocals and punchy rap verses — as one would expect from any BTS release — it’s this newfound maturity and enlightenment that makes the single stand out so much.

Not only was “Spring Day” a smart artistic move, but it was extremely savvy for BTS and their Korean label BigHit Entertainment to focus on one single for the repackaged deluxe version of their hit album Wings titled You Never Walk Alone.

Wings already broke — and continues to break — multiple chart records, including when it became the first K-pop album to spend multiple weeks on the Billboard 200 and also as it celebrates a remarkable 18th week on World Albums this week. By leading a re-ignited excitement over You Never Walk Alone with one single, fans are more than ever collectively focused on this one song.

That focus was seen when “Spring Day” flew into the the Top 10 of the Top Overall Songs chart on U.S. iTunes after its release on Sunday and remained high even as tracks from the 2017 Grammys began racing up the rankings. No K-pop group has sent a song as high on the iTunes singles chart, with only PSY being the other Korean act to land a song as high when “Gangnam Style” topped the ranking in 2012. A tweet from BigHit’s CEO Bang Sihyuk even commented on the accomplishment on Twitter:

Hitman Pd-nim said

What an honor! Thanks! BTS is the first K-pop group to reach the US iTunes Top 10 with #SpringDay!

The hype for “Spring Day” is particularly high in America as the band gears up for three arena concerts in America, a major indication of the fans ready to support, buy, stream and watch the music video for this single and not be as distracted by a full-length album’s worth of material. (Though, one should not disregard the new tracks including ultra-fierce “Not Today,” the long-awaited thumper “Outro: Wings,” or the introspective “A Supplemental Story: You Never Walk Alone.”)

There are hurdles BTS will need to jump over to have their single be a chart hit in America, including releasing the song two days after the charting period started on Friday and major competition from songs associated with the Grammys. But if the numbers end up in BTS’ favor and they chart a single on the Billboard Hot 100 — or even the Bubbling Under Hot 100 chart, which counts the 25 singles just below the top 100 — it will be a major accomplishment, but not one unearned. By continuing to progress as artists, the band’s business- and chart-savvy moves only make their releases able to be that much more celebrated.

News K-pop Biggest Agencies Drawn Into South Korean Of Presidential Scandal

The political scandal threatening to bring down South Korean President Park Geun-Hye moved into the realm of the Korean entertainment industry this week when K-pop agencies were connected to the family of Choi Soon-Sil, Park’s friend who has been accused by critics of manipulating South Korean politics.

Popular acts like Psy, known internationally for his hit “Gangnam Style,” and Korean rocker Lee Seung Chul denied connections to Choi.

Following Choi’s arrest and Park’s reshuffling of her cabinet this week, the K-pop world was dragged into the mix when Representative Ahn Min Seok of the Democratic Party of Korea told a radio show that Choi’s sister, Choi Soon Deuk, exerted influence over entertainment businesses through her connections with Korean celebrities. According to Ahn, Choi Soon Deuk befriended members of a celebrity soccer team and her daughter, Jang Si Ho, used her family’s influence to become entrenched in the entertainment industry.

YG Entertainment, one of Korea’s Big Three entertainment companies, denied all links to Choi Soon-Sil and her family after rumors ran wild following Ahn’s revelation that a “giant agency and its artist” gained favors from Choi. According to Korean news outlets, the agency refuted any claims of connections to the Choi family, including the alleged relationship between Choi’s niece and Psy, who joined the agency in 2010. The company also denied the rumor that Choi’s niece, Jang Si Ho, was employed by YG. Billboard has also reached out to YG Entertainment for a statement.

Since it was founded in 1996 by CEO Yang Hyun Suk, YG Entertainment has been a leader of K-pop and managed numerous acts including K-pop icons BIGBANG and2NE1.

The agency of Korean rock star Lee Seung Chul also denied allegations of connections between the singer and Choi, clarifying that he was a member of the celebrity soccer team over a decade ago and has no relationship with Choi. Lee was linked to Ahn’s claims due to his high-profile performances at the closing ceremony of the 2014 Sochi Winter Games in Russia and a UN event earlier this year.

As more revelations about Choi’s influence were unveiled, the Culture Ministry reassessed and announced this week that it will review all projects allegedly influenced by Choi and her alleged associate, a television commercial director named Cha Eun Taek. Cha was on the Presidential Committee and allegedly used his power to push Choi’s vision on the Culture Ministry.

Choi, who has never held office nor has any sort of security clearance, was closely involved in Park’s career and personal life to the degree that she reportedly edited some of the president’s most important speeches and oversaw Park’s presidential wardrobe. The discovery of her impact on the Korean government has led to an immense upset in South Korea, where people have taken to the streets to protest the extent of a civilian’s pull on Park’s administration.

South Korea is notorious for corruption scandals plaguing politicians and Park was distinguished for having few close connections to influence her. Her father, dictatorial President Park Chung-Hee, ruled Korea from 1961 until 1979 when he was assassinated by the chief of his security team.

During a televised apology on Friday (Nov. 4) where Park took full blame for the political turmoil, she emphasized that it was her connection with Choi that led to the situation. “I put too much faith in a personal relationship and didn’t look carefully at what was happening,” she told South Korea, appearing on the verge of tears.

Park said she will cooperate with the police investigation surrounding Choi’s activities.