Wednesday, April 11, 2018

March in Music

Here are my top picks from last month!

1. IKON - Rubber Band
Released: March 5th
After the impressive success of "Love Scenario", IKON quickly followed up with a special single. Like the former title, "Rubber Band" is of a similar genre: it has a hip-hop beat hidden under a variety of mellow sounds. The lyrics describe a relationship that has been pulled too tight and is about to break - like a stretched rubber band. As usual, the lyrics and composition were worked on by IKON's leader B.I. But this time, rookie YG producer Millenium and Winner's Mino took part in the creation as well!
Review: Song - 3/5  MV - N/A

2. Sojung - Crystal Clear
Released: March 5th
Ladies' Code, member Sojung made her solo debut in April 2017 and now has had her first comeback. "Crystal Clear" was revealed ahead of Sojung's single album release and it clearly has the distinct style of Ladies' Code that fans have missed very much during the group's long absence. "Crystal Clear" is an electro-pop ballad that showcases Sojung's crisp, clear voice. The music video is beautifully artistic with shots of ocean and forest landscapes.  The ethereal scenery is filmed in black and white until finally, the picture bleeds color.
Review: Song - 3.5/5  MV - 3/5

3. Big Bang - Flower Road
Released: March 13th
Big Bang's last group project was in December 2016. Since then, the members have started enlisting for their mandatory military service (TOP, the oldest member was the first to start in 2017). Because of this, it was assumed that it would be years before the whole five-piece would be together again. But thankfully, Big Bang gave us a special goodbye song ahead of their long hiatus! "Flower Road" was initially intended to be a part of MADE, but was cut with a plan for later release. G-Dragon and T.O.P. wrote the lyrics with the group's enlistment in mind and the song's message conveys, "good-bye, for now, we will meet again."
Review: Song - 4.5/5  MV - N/A

4. BTS - Don't Leave Me
Released: March 15th
On March 15th, BTS revealed a preview of a song from their third Japanese studio album. The song was later released in full on April 4th along with the rest of the album "Face Yourself". "Don't Leave Me" is an OST from the Japanese remake of the 2016 Korean hit drama "Signal". It's the group's first OST as an entire group and has a very intense, exciting EDM composition! I find that Japanese releases from K-pop artists tend to be much lower in quality than their Korean music, however, "Don't Leave Me" is definitely an exception. BTS sing and rap very naturally in the language, and the overall genre and style suit their voices well. 
Review: Song - 4/5  MV - N/A

5. Meng Jia - Weapon
Released: March 20th
Meng Jia (孟佳) surprises me again and again as a soloist. Each time she returns, she presents herself in a different way and masters each style that she chooses. In "Who's that Girl" Meng Jia was serious and self-reflecting, in "Candy" she was playful and coy, and now with "Weapon (炎)" we get to hear a pleading love song. "Weapon" opens with a memorable English line "drop your weapon please" and starts with a subdued beat. Then, the song moves into a more exciting beat and fun chorus. This is only a pre-release to Meng Jia's upcoming album and I'm very eager to hear more music from her!
Review: Song - 5/5  MV - N/A

6. Monsta X - Jealousy
Released: March 26th
Monsta X returned with a new album and its title track perfectly captures the group's unique color! "Dramarama", from their previous album, disappointed me, but "Jealousy" is pure redemption. "Jealousy" is a smooth, but upbeat R&B song with hints of hip-hop that point back to the group's roots. The entire package exudes the same manly aura that Monsta X delivered this time last year with "Beautiful".
Review: Song - 4/5  MV - 2.5/5

Info: 1,3,4
Images: 1,*,3,4,5,*
* are screencaps I made myself

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Asian Pop Stars with Orange Hair

Pop stars tend to be daring when it comes to fashion and with hairstyles too. These K-pop, J-pop and C-pop stars pulled off hairdos with neon orange, scarlet, and tangerine hues!

1. Jane Zhang
Group: N/A (solo)
Song: N/A

2. Doyoung
Group: NCT
Song: 7th Sense

3. Hyuna
Group: Triple H
Song: 365 Fresh

4. Seulgi
Group: Red Velvet
Songs: Russian Roulette, Happiness

5. Jimin
Group: BTS
Song: Run

6. Lisa
Group: Blackpink
Song: As if it's Your Last

7. Hwasa
Group: N/A
Song: You're the Best

8. Rainie Yang
Group: N/A (solo)
Song: Angel Wings (天使之翼)

9. V
Group: BTS
Song: Boy in Luv

10. Park Bom
Group: 2NE1 (formerly)
Song: N/A

11. Sehun
Group: EXO
Song: Ko Ko Bop

12. Mami Sasazaki
Song: N/A

13. G-Dragon
Group: Big Bang
Songs: Sober, Let's Not Fall in Love

14. Hebe Tian
Group: S.H.E.
Song: N/A

15. Sojung
Group: Ladies' Code
Song: Stay Here

16. Rosé
Group: Blackpink
Songs: Playing With Fire, Whistle

17. Hyosung
Group: Secret
Song: Into You

18. Meng Jia
Group: Miss A (formerly)
Song: Good-Bye Baby

You may also like:

Thursday, March 8, 2018

English Songs by Asian Pop Artists (Pt 2)

There are some cases when Asian pop artists deviate from their usual language and make a song in English, whether it be to reach a wider audience or to treat their international fans. Here is a list of completely English tracks by K-pop, J-pop and C-pop artists. Some of these songs are exclusively English, whereas some are an alternative version to the original. Here is Part 1.

1. Jane Zhang - 808
"808", the English version of "心電感應808", is a promotional song that Jane Zhang recorded for Budweiser. She performed this EDM banger live at the 2017 Victoria's Secret Fashion Show, and subsequently, it charted at number 31 on the US Billboard Hot Dance/Electronic Songs!

2.  Wonder Girls - 2 Different Tears
As I mentioned in part 1, the Wonder Girls have quite a few English songs aside from their hit "Nobody", this being one of them. "2 Different Tears" was released shortly after "Nobody" and continues the retro concept that was in the former. The five Wonder Girls dance in an 80s inspired music video and sing about the joy of a relationship and the pain of it's ending.

3. CL - No Better Feelin'
CL still hasn't started her American music career full-fledged, but in the meantime she recorded an official soundtrack for The My Little Pony Movie. In this, CL shows off her powerful vocals, which is something she doesn't always get to do as a rapper. One may expect that a song for an animated children's movie would be juvenile, but "No Better Feelin" is quite enjoyable for all ages.

5. Taeyang - Wedding Dress

The English version of "Wedding Dress" appeared on the International version of Taeyang's first solo album. With this, Taeyang proves true to his title of the "Korean prince of R&B" and sings bitterly about his love who is walking down the aisle with another man.

6. Utada Hikaru - Come Back To Me

"Come Back To Me" is a single off of Utada's third English album. The song is an R&B ballad that has a similar sound and meaning to Mariah Carey's We Belong Together.

7. Diana Wang - Skinny Love

On her debut album, Diana Wang included a beautiful cover of Birdy's "Skinny Love". Wang added her own charm to the British singer's piano ballad.

8. Henry - Monster

Henry has been dropping singles here and there for the past year, each with different sentiments. "Monster" (also released in Korean and Mandarin) is an angsty song about a a man's change of emotions during or after a relationship. Henry, yet again, shows he's a great songwrtiter by writing such emotive lyrics. "And if you listen to me, Hear all the words that I speak, Trying to hold it but the pieces are falling, I just can’t stay by your side, I just have to live my life I’m not the monster."

9. Tiffany - I Just Wanna Dance (Remix)

Girls' Generation Tiffany made her solo debut in 2016 with the 90s inspired "I Just Wanna Dance". A bonus English remix of the song is available for download on specific platforms, and unlike the original, it's written and composed in part Tiffany herself.

10. Miss A - Love Alone

"Love Alone" was created as a promotional song for the Olympic figure skater Yuna Kim. Miss A peformed the song at Yuna Kim's "Ice Show" in 2011. It was accompanied with a music video in which the ladies are shown performing and getting their make-up done behind the scenes.

11.  Jolin Tsai - I Wanna Know

Taiwanese pop sensation Jolin Tsai was featured on Swedish DJ Alesso's "I Wanna Know". This is actually a remake: the original is between Alesso and Nico &Vinz. "I Wanna Know" has a groovy house compostition and its lyrics were re-written to be from a woman's point of view.

12. Jay Park X Yultron - Forget About Tomorrow

Jay Park teamed up with Los Angelos based producer Yultron for "Forget About Tommorow". Jay Park is American himself and often has an explicitly Western sound in his music that is especially apparent in this EDM track. He recently signed with Jay Z's record company "Roc Nation", so I am curious to see whether he will make more English songs like this to promote under the label!

13. Tablo X Taeyang - Eyes, Nose, Lips

Soon after Taeyang came out with "Eyes, Nose, Lips", his record company held a YG Family cover project in which his labelmates perfromed their own rendition of the hit song. Epik High's Tablo turned the piano ballad into a rap song and delivered clever lyrics about a failed relationship. Contrary to the orginal, Tablo's lyrics are in English and hold animosity for his former lover.