Favorites from October 2012

With Halloween ending, and October coming to an end, it's time for my Favorite things from Korea for the month! I made one of these for September before, and I want to continue writing them. It's nice to condense my top picks all in one place, for future reference. There were a lot of spooky and awesome releases this month, along with long awaited comebacks! Once again, I didn't post much this month because I'm currently traveling. You may think, is she ever not traveling these days? Really, I'm not used to traveling around so much in a year, and this is new for me too, but though I didn't get much posted I wanted to post about my favorite happenings from the month. I'm going over my favorite albums, videos, and product reviews (that I wrote) for the month of October 2012 in this post, so let's get started!

~Favorite Korean Albums of the Month~ 

I liked a bunch of albums that were released this month, thought I didn't review many, but I did like some more than others.

First one the list is an album that I did review, Blossom by BIGSTAR! This was their first mini album, and it helped me grow to love the band even more. This album stands out with completely honest songs, in both the lyrics and the sound of their voices. They have a Hip-Hop background that adds more flavor to the album, even though it's in the Pop genre. I was pleasantly surprised to hear such a great album from a debuting band, and this album made me a fan for the future. A lot of bands debut every month in the K-Pop world, and few stand out and make great albums that set them away from the rest. Big Star did an amazing job, and even though the album is sad songs, I think anyone can enjoy it. 

This album is a bit more difficult for you to find if you want to own it. It's another rookie artist, debuting with their first single album! It's The Lunatic by CRAZYNO! This debut artist is hilarious and full of fun, he has that personality that you really just can't resist! If you've seen "The Pest", he kind of reminds me of John Leguizamo. That really loud and out there personality, and his is extremely likable and more toned down (I'm complementing him, not putting him down with that comparison). Although he is full Korean, he was raised in Australia so he speaks English and has an Australian accent. He did a self interview video, and that made me like him even more, both him and his manager are pretty funny and crazy guys. The music they make is the same, crazy fun, because it's a reflection of their personalities. The album only has 2 songs on it, and currently isn't available for purchase digitally. I'm going to talk more about the title song later for my favorite MV section. 

There were a lot of good debut bands this month, and here is yet another one! First Bridge by Toxic is their first Mini Album, and it's great. They released an MV for their song Lonely, which caught my eye and made me want to listen to more music. While the last two were pop artists, this is a rock band to their core. The music sounds like the rock I listened to a few years back, with their distinct Korean flair. If you want to listen to Korean music, but don't really like Pop, this is a great album for you to check out! It sounds great, and they are wonderful musicians who do their job well. I didn't get to review this album, but I had really wanted to. While "Western" music left that '90s-2000's rock sound behind, bands in Korea and Japan kept it alive and did amazing things with the genre. Toxic is a band to watch, because they made a professional sounding album on their first try. 

Invitation by Ailee is next on the list, and it's also her first mini album! I was a fan of hers from the start, and I'm really glad to see more from her! Ailee was raised in the United States, speaking English and Korean fluently, and she's also performed some Spanish songs in the past. She has one of the most powerful voices out there and you really can't hate vocals like this. Her song Heaven made me cry like a baby, and the main reason was because of her emotional singing. It's a pop-solo album, which people who are new to K-Pop seem to avoid for some reason, at least some of the people I know do. You should listen to her album at least once, because she has that R&B-Pop sound, with a powerful voice like Beyonce. While her style of music isn't my personal favorite, I still love the album because it's done so well! There are a bunch of new songs, guest apperances, and she ends it with her single Heaven.  So give it a chance, because I think that it was worth putting on this rather short list, because of her talent. 

This is my all time favorite off of the entire list, Blockbuster by Block B! I was able to review this album, and this put Block B in my Top 5 K-pop Favorites groups. It's diverse, chalked full of crazy talent, and has to be one of my favorite albums of the year. You may think I'm over-exagerating, but for me it really is one of my new favorite albums out there! You can read more about what I thought in general in the post for the album, but I'll still talk a bit about it. The title song Nillili Mambo, it's great! The classic, old-school sounding, R&B and Hip-Hop in this album, also great! You get Rap, Jazz, Ballads, and Pop all extremely well done, from one band, on one album! I liked them before, but this made me realize how far ahead they are in the K-Pop world. It's fantastic, I think if you could only get one album off of the list it should be this one, it has so much swagger that it's insane, and everyone needs to give it a chance. 

It's time to talk about an epic comeback, it's 99 by Epik High! This is their 7th album, and the comeback is amazing! YG led up to their comeback for weeks with teaser images and announcements, sending fans into frenzied excitement! Epik High has always been really popular, if you can't tell by the fact that this is their 7th album, and I became a fan when I saw their MV for One. They made several MV's, one of which I will be listing later, and the other is for their song Up featuring Park Bom from 2NE1! Some people were upset that they had a happier, more pop influenced, sounding album for their big comeback, but I liked it! They went through a lot, and had some pretty dark music before, so they wanted to release something fun and lighthearted for their return. I didn't feel like they changed to be marketable, I think that their lives have changed since their debut, and their music will be a reflection of who they currently are. Epik High always makes great music, so this album is worth owning, and it's also good to support their comeback. 

I didn't review this album, and I probably never will, so I wanted to mention it on this list. It's an LP (Long Playing) album, Primary and the Messengers by Primary! Primary is the producer of the album, and the singers are 23 different Korean artists! It broke the record for number of artists on a single album, and has artists like G.O., Dynamic Duo, Dok2, Jay Park, and tons more! I won't review it because it's a 2 disc album with 20 songs, and I just cannot write something that long! They have released two Music Videos so far, "?/Question Mark" feat. Choiza and Zion T, and Poison feat. E-Sens (which I'll talk about more later)! Most of the artists are "lesser known" ones, who are really talented, mostly from Hip-Hop backgrounds. You should try to listen to it at least once, and it's definitely worth owning. This album was literally the final album of the month, as it was released on October 31st, and put a great end on October! 

~Favorite Korean Music Videos of the Month~

Lots of great videos were released this past month as well, so here are some of my favorites! First up is a remake of an old song by EXID, Every Night.

I really like EXID, they don't go for the cutie girl image that a lot of other girls groups go for, and I respect them for that. This MV is a remake of their old song "Phone Bell", and it's pretty good. I like the plot line of the video, it's a bit like dark humor. If you take is too seriously, you'll probably not like to video, but if you can just watch it like a video that's making fun of serious ones like it, I bet you'll enjoy it! It's all in the surprise of what happens that makes the MV great, so I'm not going to talk about that too much. I will say that I like the song and video a lot though, and it's a good start to the list. As a bonus, there is an English Sub option for it! 

The next one is on here mainly because of subtitle options, it's Stuck by A.Cian!

Whatever language you speak, I'd say they have a version of this MV for you! They released this with subtitles for over ten different languages! Just look up the video on YouTube and see what I mean for yourself! The song and video are pretty good, not incredible, but good. They dance well, and put out a good K-Pop song. I really like this group and think that they did a great job. The main thing though is that they cared enough to Sub. their music in so many languages, which shows a lot of dedication to international fans! I'm really impressed by that, so they get on the list!

Next is a video from an album I mentioned earlier, it's I Remember/Think by BIGSTAR! 

I love how this one highlights one relationship for one band member, instead of them all being in love with the same girl. The main character visits all the places that he used to go to with the girl he loved, remembering the better times of his life, and also breaking down because they are gone. The concept is clever and well done, and the song is great too. There were disputes of people saying that he was faking playing the piano at the beginning, but they were assured that he really does play and that it wasn't faked, though people always seem to want to disprove everything. I happen to think they are telling the truth, since Kim Rae Hwan lists "Piano" as one of his talents. Anyways, it's a good MV and I really like it, especially the dancing. 

The next video is in English, but is a K-Pop song, Eddie Shin/Azaitix's If Only!

I really love his voice! He has an amazing range and a really smooth tone. The video itself is really creative, the different phrases that he uses come up in the background and all around him as he sings them. It's a simple concept, but it's a really cool idea. I also like the contrast of the digital sets and the sort of rustic house set. It's in English, but it sounds distinctly like K-pop as well. There isn't too much to say, other than it's a really great song and video! 

The next video is a bit sad, it's When I Look at Myself by Kim Tae Woo

This is a lesser known video, but I really liked it! I realized that I already owned a song by him because he did Dropping Rain for the Personal Taste OST! I think the best way to describe it is "Impacting", it makes you think and brings out your emotions. The MV goes back and forth through time, showing the man before, after, and during his rampage of sorts. You can tell what the song is about just by listening and watching, no explanation or subtitles needed. I will worn you to not turn it up too loud though, because there's a surprise in the middle of the song that gets pretty loud!

To cheer you up from that last video, there's MUSICHE by CRAZYNO! 

How can you not love this video? It's so fun and quirky, and I absolutely love CRAZYNO! The song is clever, as the word Musiche can either mean music or to be crazy/stupid, so I love how he changes the pronunciation to change the meaning throughout the song. The video is him handing out CDs and getting people to dance, along with several other sub plots and funny clips. For a debuting artist he did extremely well, and I also love that green suit, looking sharp! I laughed so much watching this, and it has to be one of my favorite things to be released in October! 

Next up is a comeback video by Miss A! 

I didn't include their album in the top album section, mainly because I didn't get a chance to listen to it (I know, shame on me). I'm still excited for their comeback, and I love this song and video! The song is from their new album "Independent Woman and the video depicts different situations where woman are depending on men, and how they don't need to do that. Being an empowered and strong woman who can survive on her own is a good message to send, instead of the "be cute or sexy to get what you want", it's the message that you can work hard and achieve things on your own. While its a more serious theme, they address it playfully with this. They also included English Subs for this video, making it even better for international fans! Overall, great comeback, check out the album as well! 

Another MV was released by NU'EST from their Action album, this time it was Sandy!

This is an adorable MV, similar to their last one for "Not Over You", but with a different twist. They go out with a group of girls, guessing that they are their fans, hang out in different shops, and eat together. It's another laid back one and it's fun to see them interact with their fans. These kinds aren't for everyone, most people need to be fans to like them, but I thought it was pretty good!

After a cute boy band video, it's time for Lonely by Toxic!

This song is by a rock group, and is a simplistic video based on watching them perform, but with a creative twist. The song starts out slow and builds up, then the instruments and other band members come in and liven things up. While it's mainly the music that I like about this MV, the video suits the mood of the song perfectly. You would think a video of people playing instruments might be boring, but they play with so much energy that I can't look away! Even if you don't like this kind of video, you can at least watch it to listen to the song. I love this kind of rock, it's really youthful and clean sounding, and it's always nice to take a break from synth and electronic music for a bit.

Another album that I mentioned before has a MV as well, Ailee's I Will Show You! 

I love how all of the different companies are adding subtitle options for their music videos, this one is no exception. The theme for this song and video are great, instead of the friend-zoned girl giving up or something, she changes herself to make the man regret leaving her behind. This kind of "transformation" theme has been popular in the past, and I like their take on it for the video. I found it a bit funny, and I was rooting for Ailee throughout it as well. I also like the older music style that she uses throughout the song. 

They had my favorite album of the month, and they also have one of my favorite videos, it's Block B's Nillili Mambo! 

This video... is amazing. I grew up watching "cheesy" Chinese Kung Fu and Mafia films, and this MV is making fun of them and doing all the cliches! The lighting and video effects match the theme perfectly, and I love their outfits and hair! It's not supposed to be cool, it's supposed to be funny, once you get that it's a great video. I was cracking up during the opening with the cliche boat scene and the beauty parlor, and later with the chicken scene. The ending is also great, and so is the "bonus ending". The song will get stuck in your head forever, but it's a fantastic song so I don't really care. Out of the MVs I picked, this one is in my top favorites of my favorites!

Up and Don't Hate Me by Epik High came out at the same time, while I like Up, I like Don't Hate Me more. 

I like the comeback with "Don't Hate Me", they had scandals and were gone for a while, so it makes since that they would come back and say "don't hate me!" The opening line is "Everybody hates me, but you love me and I love you", which makes sense to me. I love this song, the whole song is perfect to sing along to and I can't pick a favorite part because I like them all! From the chorus, to the bridge, to the verses, and every members part in the song. I'm a fan of Epik High, though I discovered them about a year ago, and this makes me love them more. I picked this video from the two because it's morbidly adorable in a way, it's hilarious, and it suits October with the Halloween theme. They start out by working in a grocery mart, and after a while just absolutely failing at their jobs and being obnoxious to customers (in real life it's not funny, in an over exaggerated video it's the funniest thing ever). Little kids run into the store to help them destroy it, and they are dressed up like Joker, G-Dragon (from One of a Kind), Two Face, Agent Smith, Lady Gaga, Hannibal Lecter, and many others! It's fun to watch and see all the costumes that the kids have on, and I love their interaction with the band. I say it's morbidly cute because they have jokes in it with the kids "stabbing" the people in the store, and painting their faces to look like Jokers too, all done in super cheesy ways so that it's more "funny" than "violent". Epik High did a great job with this one, and who can't love little Korean children? 

Next is another Halloween type MV, it's Childlike by John Park!

I am a huge John Park fan! From Falling, to I'm Your Man, to Childlike! He has incredible vocals and I love his powerful, yet restrained, smooth voice! The video is clips from a Korean Film called "A Werewolf Boy", which was released this past month. He has such a bluesy voice, and he sang this balled beautifully! The emotional song, mixed with the movie clips, will make you cry! You don't need subtitles to understand what's really going on, and the movie also looks brilliant (I want to see it!). The director wanted John Park to do this song because he believed only he could portray the feelings of the characters from the film, and I have to agree with that. 

I'll give you a hint for the next video; What's cute, magical, and blonde all over? It's BAP's Stop it! 

B.A.P. is back, and blonde, again with this hilariously cute music video! It's really clever and sweet, and I like their take on the "invisible man" kind of video. From what I've heard, Bang Young Guk dies in the beginning, or is at least knocked out, and is brought back as her "Familiar", like a magical pet, hence the tail. This means other people can't see him, but it seems like she may be able to and is just pretending. Having him be her loyal magical pet makes her like a Mage of some sort, which I think makes the video pretty interesting. The main controversy is that BAP was so awesome with their tough and edgy style, with Warrior, No Mercy, and Power, but their last couple songs have been really "Cutie Boy". While they do a good job with it, and fans are satisfied with the change (if it's temporary), this makes them appeal less to the people who like Korean Music, but not flower boy music. I like the song and video, but I just hope they can continue to make their harsher looking videos that make them stand out and appeal to other fans. Whichever side you're on, it's worth watching the video. 

The next video is from a group that isn't as "popular" as the others, in that they just aren't as well known, it's Good Night by Miss $! 

If you didn't know them, Miss $ (or Miss S) did a song for the soundtrack for You're Beautiful! It's one that they used for the different happy scenes, and it's probably what most people may know them from. This song is great, and I'm so happy to hear more music from them! They have a classic R&B, Women's Rap sound that's refreshing. The video is really cool, because I love the transitions that they use. They freeze a frame, and place it in the next section of the video in a picture frame, a news broadcast, packaging, etc. It's a creative idea, and it works well with the more muted colors for the video. The plot is about a guy messing with the different members hearts, making it a pretty sad plot, but they turn it around by having all the members being there for each other in the end. It's a difficult one to explain, but my favorite part is more the editing than everything else.  

This MV is from the giant group project, it's Primary's Poison with E-Sens!

Wow, I love this song and video so much! This is a rap song at it's finest, and is a powerful song about addiction. The video is artsy and simple, focusing more on the artist than distracting you with too much going on. It's almost more of a spoken word song than rap, it's just about the words/rhymes than the beat or anything else. I got shivers from listening to this song, and while I'm not fluent in Korean somehow I just knew what it was about before I even looked up the words. If you also don't know much Korean, I suggest looking up the lyrics, because they are incredible. Songs about your personal journey and triumph are the best, and I love to see them in the Korean music scene. Make sure to watch this one because it's just amazing to me...

The next video is a cute comeback MV by Girl's Day, it's Don't Forget Me!

I won't say too much about this video. I really like Girl's Day, they are talented and do a lot with a small amount of members. The video is cute because it focuses on the relationship of one girl and one guy. They have shots of them going through High School together, as their feelings for one another grow. It's really sweet and will warm your heart. 

Next up is a video where it's the band I want to mention more than anything, it's "Hurray For Idols" by TimeZ!

I saw this band doing a live performance before watching the video and was instantly intrigued. TimeZ is a Chinese-Korean band and they debuted with a Mandarin song instead of a Korean one. It's a cutie boy-lovey dovey video for the most part, it's good, but it's not like "wow, look at this new band concept!" They did a good job, don't get me wrong, but it was more their language choice that made this one stand out for me. The video is pretty cute though, as the different members take turns pampering the main girl, and they do a good job with transitions as well. I love the sound of Mandarin, it's really sharp and unique sounding, so I like this song mainly because of this. The title, Hurray For Idols, means more like "hurray for famous people", not like grab your fruit baskets to worship this golden statue. Anyways, I really look forward to more from this band and they did a good job with the debut. 

After such a Cute-Pop song, it's time for some Indie music with Pillow by Hot Potato!

This video reminds me of the Okay, Go! one with the treadmills. The song is "gentle" and sung really well, Hot Potato has a pretty amazing voice. I found this one powerful in an artsy way. As he walks against the other people in the crowd, he's all by himself. Slowly, he sheds all of the things on his back that are weighing him down, and eventually sits down and slides back. I may be reading too much into it, but that was my first impression. I love the filters for this one, and how his walking pace matches the song perfectly. These are the kinds of videos that I really love, ones that are softer that I get completely immersed in while I watch it. 

It's time for a video that I was extremely excited about, it's Maxstep by Younique Unit! 

Hyundai and SM Entertainment collaborated to release this unit and album. The group consists of Kai from EXO-K, Lu Han from EXO-M, Taemin from SHINee, Eunhyuk from Super Junior, Henry from Super Junior M, and Hyoyeon from Girl's Generation. They picked out pretty much the best dancers from their more popular groups to make a "Super Group" for promotional purposes. Whatever their reasons for making this group doesn't matter to me, because it's so freaking amazingly awesome! Taking people from some of my favorite bands and putting them together in one song, how could I ask for more? The dancing, singing, etc. are all really great! There's not much to say because it speaks for itself. I love group projects like this, so I'm really happy that SM released one! 

Finally, the last video on the list is also a group collaboration! It's ?/Question Mark by Primary, featuring Choiza and Zion T! 

This collaboration was great and had a mix of Hip-Hop and Bluesy music for the song. The MV is really cool, with black boxes that have labels on them for different "every day objects" like Books, TVs, Houses, Cars, etc. They also have so much swagger, adding a lot to the video. It's got a clean edge look to it because it's black and white with boxes and squares for all the objects. All I can say is, good job! This made a great end for the month!

~ Favorite Product Review of the Month ~

It's pretty easy for me to pick my favorite review post from the month, so this will be pretty short.

My pick is technically not a Korean product, though a lot of Korean Beauty Gurus use it, it's a website review on Coastal Scents! I love this company, their eyeshadows and nail polish are the favorite brand that I currently own. I went over the different palette options, what products they offer, and their Nail Polish! Make sure to check it out because I wanted to promote this great company simply because they do a good job. 

There you have it, my favorite albums, music videos, and review from October 2012!  It was a pretty crazy month, with lots of comebacks and debuts, and I'm sad that it's already gone! I'm also looking forward to see what November has in store, and I'm hoping to post more these next couple months as well. Thanks for reading, and let me know what your favorite things from the month were! 

See you next time you jump down the Rabbit hole,