I might have to make an admission, many of my k-music loves are rather obscure, older, or from genres outside of pop. I may have snuck a few of them in here. I think that might be okay though? Maybe I’ll find out some of you are fans too!
So here we go …
The first Korean artist I listened to: TRAX – Oh! My Goddess
I was quite heavily into JRock when I was at high school and college and TRAX were at one point produced by X Japan’s co-founder Yoshiki. I still follow the group now they’re just two members, even if it is hard as I think they live in SM’s basement when they’re active! I chose this more recent track because the intro is ‘So, the one I desired for, Two, my girl, Three, the dazzling Lorelei oh!‘ Someone I worked with for years called me Lorelei, this ended up being my alarm tone for months.
Artist whose songs make me happy: Lee Hi – It’s Over
Any song. What ever she is singing about. I know this girl is ridiculously young, but with that voice she is massively empowering.
The world of music needs more empowering young girls like Lee Hi instead of the young women that claim to be ‘gangsta’. Maybe I’m just too opinionated but there are a lot of bad role models in music for teenagers. This girl is great, she is a little powerhouse with her own cool style.
I chose It’s Over to represent her because the music video shows her having so much fun, and it’s packed full of references to the seniors she respects most in YG and that kick started her music career at the company!
A group that recently caught my attention: 2PM – A.D.T.O.Y.
You might not believe me, but I had never bothered to look into 2PM because I wasn’t at all interested in the image I had come to perceive they had.
I’m not sure if they really did have this image of six super sexy men that were marketed largely on just how super sexy they are, or if I’d come to believe that as many of their fans I’d come across were primarily interested in that.
When they came back with Grown I actually paid attention because, wait, 2PM are covered up? Their comeback mvs are extremely mature.
Turns out, I like Grown far more than their previous work, so it was a good point for me to start paying attention to them.
A song that picks me up: g.o.d – One Candle
g.o.d have tonnes of songs with great meanings, thats what their hook was as one of the big first gen groups! One Candle is all about giving you strength so you know that people will always be with you because they care for you & and will be beside you in your darkest times.
Danny Ahn is one of my favourite Kpop rappers, back when g.o.d were in their height of fame he was considered the most unique rapper in the kpop industry because of his low voice. Low voiced kpop rappers are ten a penny now, but Danny made that cool!
My favourite music video: Nell – The Day Before
As someone who is always watching new videos to write about them this is such a hard thing to choose. I could have about two dozen videos here. Though my answer will always come back to this mv by Nell. Nell are an indie group, some of you might now know their name as one of the groups SM C&C have acquired from Woollim. They’re a favourite of mine.
Song Jae Rim and Lee Minki are in this mv and it covers a topic that is particularly taboo in South Korea, meaning it was a big hit!
Minki is reading a book by John Berger, one I’ve read myself, it explores using the camera to narrate a story and covers many thoughts on mortality and death and how we understand the topic.
The camera records Minki’s suicide note, his explanation to his friend, but we are left never understanding why he does what he does. Just like the situation in life for many people.
Even in his grief Jae Rim can forgive his friend, the Christian symbols of forgiveness left on the table to show us he at least understands, accepts and forgives Minki’s decision.
The first time I saw this video I was in tears, every time I watch it is hard to not be moved by the messages Nell included here.
Song I’m loving right now: Royal Pirates – Shout Out
These guys are from America and have just debuted in South Korea, but I’ve been following them for a ridiculous amount of time on YouTube. They used to sing rock version of Kpop songs. Their cover of SuJu’s Sorry Sorry got them on the news in South Korea back in 2009.
They’re ‘pirates’, they have Naval inspired uniforms, and a pirate ship – what more could I want from their debut?
Song I listen to when I want to relax: Kangta – Pine Tree
I listen to this whole album quite a lot, but it’s really great to chill out to, as there are a lot of songs of this style on the album. Pine Tree is my favourite Kangta album. Also – check out the drama in this SM video! Old SM, good times.
I love this song because it’s so dynamic. It’s about not being able to say I love you, and now it’s too late but it’s hard for him to erase this person from his mind. So he’s wondering if she’s hurting just as much as he is. As he hurts more in his lyrics and comes to his conclusions about how he’s going to live without her the music becomes more intense.
It builds and builds, and you expect it to fall into a quieter ending but it never comes, he just wishes that she might come back. It’s on that amazing crescendo that the album ends.
Song that means the most to me: Tablo – Airbag
This song doesn’t have an mv, but it was the first track Tablo released from Fever’s End on the 13th of October 2011. It might seem peculiar to know such dates, but his release dates fall exactly between, and on, very significant days in that month for me.
I hadn’t listened to any new releases in a while, I just hadn’t had the time or the will. A friend sent me a link to Airbag, and told me I had to listen to it. I don’t know why I made an exception for Tablo, but I listened. Either she didn’t know what Airbag meant, or she got 5 when adding 2 and 2. I’m not sure if listening to it that day was the best or worst thing I could have done.
Tablo had never felt my pain, but it was like that song was my story, it was as he intended, a song for everyone suffering from a great sadness or loneliness, Airbag isn’t autobiographical at all.
Alas Tablo has since felt the great sadness I had to, so I’ll let anyone who knows about him figure that one out without me having to find the words to write it down.
Favourite song of the year so far: Kim Jaejoong – Mine
Is this my favourite? This is such a hard one actually. I chose this because I didn’t know what to expect from Jaejoong, not really following him avidly, and this came out and it encapsulated a lot of things I love.
Song I hate: G Dragon – MichiGo
How many people can I offend here? I know there are a lot of GD fans in the UK, I’m so sorry! I’m a little bored of G Dragon’s big ego parties where he gets his clique involved in things or sings about his money and swag, or you get a big treat and he hits you with both à la One Of A Kind.
I actually love BIGBANG, and I don’t mind G Dragon, I write about his mvs a lot. MichiGo as an mv is really interesting and symbolic; I just had to watch it on mute to write about it.
Song that is stuck in my head recently: M.I.B – Dash/Men In Black
I don’t actually know much about M.I.B, I simply watched the teaser and then the mv because of the blog I write about mv concepts, and this one is a fantastic re-imagining of the way in which agents are initiated into the Men In Black agency.
I’m not sure if unfortunately is the word, but since that first watch I can’t stop listening to this song, and can’t get it out of my head. I also am compelled to do that little shoulder dance they do in the chorus. If this isn’t in your head after watching this you are very, very lucky.
Of course these are all my own opinions, completely biased, and I’ve probably lined myself up for a good telling off from you guys and some of the other staff members, especially for that G Dragon entry 😀 I admit, I probably deserve that, being a BIGBANG fan, right?
Let us know your opinions on this personal playlist in the comments below!
What songs and categories would be in your playlists?