Despite that it’s only the beginning of February, it seems like a lot has been going on already in the world of K-Pop. While obviously this happens year round, I think a goal of mine will be to post a monthly faves list, to highlight some of the releases that most caught my eye each month.
To kick things off, I’ll talk about the obvious highlight of my January, B1A4’s second album, Who Am I. The title track “Lonely (없구나)” has been doing amazingly on music shows, to date it’s won 1st place 7 times on various shows, and it’s still in the top 10 of Gaon; making it one of the biggest, if not the biggest, hit of the month. It seems like each release, B1A4 keeps doing better and better. But with the exception of “이게무슨일이야” off of the mini album with the same title and Let’s Fly, I can find tracks on each B1A4 release that I prefer to the title track(s). Despite not being a fan at the time, I’m still annoyed “너때문에” wasn’t the title of The Ignition Special Edition over “Baby Goodnight.” Very rarely do I find a K-Pop group that has excellent album tracks aside from the title, and B1A4 is that standout group. Who Am I is no exception to this trend, and it actually took a while for me to warm up to the single track compared to the rest of the album. Upon first hearing Who Am I, it reminded me of the 2009 Super Junior album Sorry Sorry. I feel like I’m late in the game to write a full album review, but “Who Am I” was an early favorite of mine, since it reminded me of the Ignition era B1A4 which I love to death. I’ve found myself replaying “사랑 그땐” constantly, which sometimes I feel guilty for since my favorite member has two lines in the song; but the 1970s vibe that sounds like something out of The Rescuers movie is everything to me. Other tracks I’m obsessed with are “음악에 츼해” (CNU’s Solo), “예뻐” and “Oh My God”. The whole album is amazing though, and I cannot stress it enough. It was a grower for me, since I generally prefer more uptempo music, but I’ve found myself listening to Who Am I while relaxing, doing homework, or just want some nice calming background music.
The initial song that caught my eye this month was TVXQ’s “Something.” Despite how much I respect DBSK, I never really felt connected to them, nor would I consider myself a fan. Of course I love “Mirotic,” and really enjoyed the 2012 releases “Catch Me” and “Humanoids,” but most of the group’s work doesn’t connect with me. “Something” is a major exception, since it caught my attention instantly. I loved the retro vibe of the song, and how it was different than pretty much everything TVXQ has released to this point. I was expecting it to slay everyone, but unfortunately it didn’t have quite that effect. I wholeheartedly blame SM Ent. They barely pushed the whole “10 Years with TVXQ” like they should have (especially since it’s more likely than not that leader U-Know Yunho will be entering the military this year), and once Girl’s Day was announced has having a song with the same name (which I won’t talk about beyond this point), SM needed to hurry up and do something about the title. But they didn’t, so it likely cost them promotion/marketing and SNS points for music programs. Regardless, the song is perfection, despite I haven’t bothered to listen to the rest of the album. Oops. I love retro K-Pop songs more than life itself.
Speaking of retro songs, Spica, despite coming back late in the month, had one of the best songs with “You Don’t Love Me.” I’ve had my eye on Spica since 2012 when they released “I’ll Be There,” but thought they were pretty much done when “Tonight” flopped despite the help from Queen Lee Hyori herself. This time, Hyori ran the ENTIRE show, and basically handed Spica a reject off of Monochrome. I feel guilty calling it a reject, since it’s an amazing song, honestly, but part of me can’t help but wonder why Hyori didn’t keep it for herself. I feel like this still won’t help Spica advance in the music scene, but it’s one of the better releases for the month. These girls have amazing vocals and deserve so much more success than they’re getting.
My favorite girl group song of the month belongs to Dal Shabet with “BBB.” The Eurythmics sample in the beginning gives it the retro vibe, and is nothing short of perfect, and the English in the song…makes sense. I’m surprised they worked with Shinsadong Tiger on this, since they’re E-Tribe’s (the genius behind “It’s You,” “Gee” and other iconic songs) project group. But everything about the song is perfect. I’ve been into Dal Shabet since I first heard “Be Ambitious,” which I think could have done amazing if it wasn’t for the controversy over the video. This concept is mature, sexy without being trashy, and everything your faves aren’t. Gaeun’s rap is perfect, and even though I’m disappointed at Serri getting minimal lines, there’s nothing I would change about this release except for it to be doing better on the charts and music shows.
I’m going to go ahead and combine two songs into this one paragraph here because they both fit in with the ridiculous overtly sexy girl group trend of the past month. I’m not really into either group as a whole, but AOA and Rainbow’s subunit Rainbow BLAXX released songs this month which directly competed with Girls Day’s “Something” and Dal Shabet for the title of “Sexiest Song.” To me, AOA is a huge mess. They debuted with “Elvis” in 2012, and had 8 members; now I think they’re down to 7, and a subunit with the extra girl? I literally have no idea, and don’t care to. AOA’s tune “Miniskirt” is another Brave Brothers song, and pretty much everything they touch turns to gold (including the 4minute track “Only Gained Weight” which shot up the charts despite absolutely no promotion). Jimin’s voice is kind of annoying, but endearing at the same time, and the rest of the girls have pretty solid vocals. On to my favorite wreck of the month, “Cha Cha”, it’s basically a 180 degree turn from Rainbow’s aegyo filled comebacks of 2013, one of which, “Tell Me Tell Me,” I’m still obsessed with. I thought the teasers and music video were pretty and I liked the aesthetics with the macaroons, but the company was trying too hard to fit in with the trend, and the concept came across as a bit trashy, even though I love their girl!version of B1A4’s iconic scarf dance. The song is extremely catchy though, but it would have worked better with a classier MV and dance. Overall both of these fail to live up to “BBB” for me, but are still great tunes I find myself humming constantly.
Kiss & Cry seems to have a lot of international fan attention with their debut song “Domino Game.” It wasn’t the worst thing I heard this month, and I think they have pretty solid vocals overall. Look out for them!
I’m really looking forward to Ladies’s Code and btob’s comebacks in February! Not to mention I’m excited to see what what a mess SM The Ballad turns out to be.