~Favorite Korean Albums of the Month~
A lot of albums came out this month, some are better known than others. These are my personal favorites out of them.
First up is the comeback album, Mirage by T-ARA released September 4th!
I know that there was a lot of controversy going on with the band, but I have to say that I still really liked their new album. I don't like to get too involved in the lives of artists, and only focus on the music, and while they did replace an amazing rapper they still have the other members of the band there when it comes to singing. They have kept their same style and the album is classic T-ARA. Their title track "Sexy Love" had a lot of different MVs released for it, which I'll talk about later. The lyrics for the song are kind of funny for people who speak English, but the music itself is really catchy. We also can't forget that the album has more songs that the title song on it. The whole album has the same theme, musically, and the songs have an electronic, futuristic, sound to them. You get the title track, as well as their last song "Day by Day", and many others. This album is the kind that you would want to hear when you're out dancing, it has that catchy club sound that's really difficult to sit still while you listen to it. I didn't get a chance to review this album, but I wanted to mention it at least.
I was able to review the album Five Treasure Box by FT Island, which released September 10th, you can read about the review Here!
This was a great comeback album by FT Island! You got some new songs, along with remakes of their older Japanese songs! You really get to hear them individually, getting to know the talent of each member, as well as how well they work together as a group. Almost every song on the album was written or composed by one of the members, and they all sound distinctly like FT Island. This is one of the albums that I did not hesitate to buy at all. They were one of the first Korean groups that I listened to, and continue to listen to. The album is really powerful and the songs all sound passionate, whether they talk about love, sadness, or reaching for the stars. If you could only buy one album in September, I would say to buy this one.
Next is the first full album by Orange Caramel, Lipstick, Released September 12th!
Orange Caramel is a sub-group made up from members of the girl group After School. They have a unique, quirky style, while still looking stunning. They have to be my favorite band when it comes to cheering me up. Every song they make is so peppy and bright. While it's not for everyone, people who need a boost throughout their day should listen to them. Most of their songs have fun names and lyrics. Their sound is also very J-Pop, which if you listen to both Japanese and Korean pop music you know what I mean. It's so sugary sweet and random at times, and the singing is in a higher range than most people can pull off. I first listened to Orange Caramel when they released the song "Funny Hunny", and got addicted to them after. So when they released a full length album I was really excited! One way I would describe it would be one of the last summer albums of the year, because it has that energetic summery feeling to it, even though it was released in September. The title song was my favorite, and I'll talk about that more in the Music Video section. This is another album that I wasn't able to review and wanted to put on the list.
If there was an album that pretty much everyone knew about it would be G-Dragon's One of a Kind, released September 15th!
G-Dragon is such an incredibly talented artist, both in and out of BIGBANG. His last solo album, Heartbreaker, was great and is one of the albums that I listen to all the time. Everyone was expecting this album, from the first teaser of it. He released MV's for the album before and after it released, and is at 3 videos currently. The album has that distinct GD sound. I have to say that I was pretty upset that everyone said he was just copying PSY, because he has had the same sound for years (he also was a guest singer on PSY's album, because they have similar style but they don't copy each other.) That aside, this is a great album. For the physical album you can choose between the Bronze and Gold editions, they have different art and photos in them. Apparently the physical albums have more songs on them than the digital release, so I would suggest buying it that way if you want it. GD has always been an edgy artist, he pushes the lines of music and puts out music that he wants to, despite what anyone may say about it. His voice and style are both so unique, so to miss out on his album would be a shame. Not everyone is into the kind of Hip-Hop, Rap, music that he makes, but most people will like at least one song off of the album. He has guest singers on it, like his past CDs, and the guests are great singers as well. While he has really coarse sounding rap songs, he also has very soft and beautiful songs where you get to hear his singing voice, which gives wonderful balance to the album as a whole. I didn't get to review this album, but you should definitely check it out!
The next one I was able to review, but not for a while after it's release, it's 4rest's 1st Mini Album.
So maybe electronic, sugary sweet, or hip-hip kind of albums aren't your style. If that's the case, I would look into the 1st mini album put out by the classy group 4rest! I review this one a short while ago, and you can read that Here. This album has an old school jazzy feeling to it. It's perfect for drinking your coffee in the morning, or lounging about in the evening. The album is soothing and the vocals on it are amazing! The group works so well together, and all of them are veteran singers, with matured talent and a great understanding of music. The album is well balanced between high and low, complex and simple, etc. I think that everyone should have an album like this around for days that you want some good music to get through a stressful day. The only problem? The album isn't currently available to buy digitally! So if you want it, you'll have to buy it as an imported CD.
How could you write about September albums without mentioning the comeback of U-Kiss with Stop Girl, released September 20th!
If you are a regular reader, you'll know that I am a big U-Kiss fan. I have anticipated this album for a while and I am so incredibly happy with it! While they are short a member, who is currently studying in New York for College, they still have the U-Kiss sound that you love to hear! Each member is so passionate about music and the group, and they all really support each other, which shows through in their music. I don't think I've seen a band who loves their fans more then they do, and they have said that every song on every album is dedicated to the fans. Their singing, rapping, dancing, and style is great in this new album, and I'm sad that I didn't get a chance to review it. There aren't many new songs on the album, there is an acoustic remake of an older song, and their title song is in Korean, English, and has an instrumental. After that there are still some other songs, which are all really good. There were people who didn't love their last two albums and MVs, and they came back better than ever with this new CD.
Last, and certainly not least, is LUNAFLY's How Nice Would it Be? released September 27th!
Okay, so I hope to still get a review out for this band (hopefully tomorrow), but since they released in September I am including them in the list! Holy amazing new rookie group, Batman! I think I found a new band to add to my "favorite bands of all time, ones that I can loop forever" list! I won't say too much about them, since I'm saving that for later, but I do want to talk about this album. They released two English songs before this album, on September 5th, and both albums are great! They have a great acoustic sound, and their voices work so well together. I instantly fell in love with their sound and bought the album, without hesitating for a minute! You have to check out this album because they deserve it! They may be new, but they sound like they have been making music their whole lives (and they probably have!) They are the last album released in September that I loved, and they made a wonderful end for the month.
~Favorite Korean Music Videos of the Month~
I started out the album list with T-ARA, and I'll be starting this list with them as well.
I was waiting for the release of this MV since the ending of Day by Day. They do wonderful drama versions of their videos that never neglect to pull on my heartstrings! The post-apocoliptic, futuristic, weapon wielding version of this song is great, even though it takes a while to watch. If you don't have the patience, they released several other versions. There is the Dance Version, the Tokyo Trip Version, and the Robot Dance Version. Out of those three, I really like the one in Japan. You get to see the members when they are laid back and having fun! There is a version for everyone, so pick a favorite!
The next one is by Urban Zakapa
While they started off being an Indie group, Urban Zakapa has grown in popularity. Their song Cafe Latte was extremely popular, and so it this one. The MV is really simple, black and white with a piano. You get to see each of the members sing, and it's not too fancy or complex. The whole thing is shot really well, so that it's interesting without being distracting.
While the last one was pretty serious, this next one is not serious in the least!
UV is known for being olds chool and pretty crazy! This MV, I Want to Live with Her, is hilarious! It's shot like an old Korean drama from the '80s for the story parts, and the other part are '80s hair band style! They have huge, long, wigs and crazy looking electric guitars! If you need a laugh for your day, or love retro music, this is the video for you! I loved it and want to go back a watch it, just like this song Itaewon Freedom with JYP. The song and video are great, in that special UV way, so make sure to watch it!
Next is the comeback MV from Able!
I loved everything about this one. The song is great, it's catchy, edgy, and has great singing and rapping in it. The dancing is crisp, cool, and unified. The best thing is that the MV really matches everything. It really is mysterious and causes you to think while you watch it. They use a lot of interesting filming techniques and effect throughout it. The lighting adds to the video and the kind of creepiness that it has. It's not scary, but more mysterious than anything. Though it seems that it got overlooked, it's really worth watching.
The next video is stunning and creative, and it's by Baek A Yeon
What a great debut MV! Video wise, this is one of my favorites! The song itself is wonderful, it's sung with so much emotion and her voice is gorgeous. The video was shot beautifully and the concept is also great. I love the contrast of the blue against the black and white. Having red as the "stand out" color is cliche, but the blue looked stunning. I also love how more color was gradually added as the rose petals fell into the white roses, and the floating chairs were a really cool touch. Even though it messed with your head a bit, to me it really matched the song. I like the way the flashbacks are done, and also when everything just burst and the pieces flew around the room. Overall, this is a MV that shouldn't be missed!
Now for the MV portion of the FT Island September releases!
The song for this is great, it has a neat Spanish-Tango mixed with Ska feel to it. The MV was pretty interesting, though I wish they had done more with it. The story parts of it seemed under acted by the female lead, but it also had good parts. The parts I liked the most were the ones of the band performing. They have amazing stage presence, I would love to watch them live some day! So being able to see that in this MV, like you do in most of them, was great. They also have great style, it looks fashionable yet still wearable on the streets. I liked this one mainly because I like the group and watching them do their thing, so it's not for everyone.
Another MV from an album mentioned earlier, this time from Orange Caramel!
This video matches Orange Caramel's style so much! They always put out such funny, creative, and fun MVs and this one is not an exception! The theme is that they pretend they are bad at table tennis so that the good looking guy will "teach them". Later, he is defeated by someone else in a match and they step up and show off their crazy skills. It's like those cheesy movies about table tennis, but with cute dances and a peppy song. I have to say that I'm jealous, because I cannot play Ping-Pong, even if my life depended on it! It's harder than it looks, for me at least... The costumes, makeup, and dances for this video are all amazing, and everyone should watch it at least once.
Up next, a fantastic MV from the Indie group The Koxx
This MV is painstakingly brilliant! The song is amazing, as usual for the band, and I cannot imagine how long it took to make this video! The English is pretty bad, but the music and video are so wonderful that I couldn't care less! They took stop motion filming to the next level and I can really appreciate that! The Koxx usually make great Music Videos, and they did not disappoint. I love the use of paper and magazines throughout it, and how they match the music (timing wise) perfectly. If you haven't seen this one yet, you are really missing out!
It's time to get to the craziest MV from the bunch by G-Dragon!
Talk about classic GD style! This video has that strange charm that Knock Out did! It all seems so random, and only somebody with G-Dragon's swagger could pull it off. The song is called "Crayon" because it's supposed to stand for "Get your cray on", as in get crazy! So of course the video would be far from normal. Between One of a Kind, That XX, and Crayon, this one is by far my favorite! The bright colors, all of the crazy scenes, the crazy doctor, tiny car racing, football padding,and the part where you think it's a girl and it's really GD, plus his usual unique fashion sense, makes for a hilariously awesome video! I love the way it was filmed with the skipping and reverse shots that matched the beat, and all of the sets were really cool. There is so much going on in this video that I can't fit it all in this paragraph, so you'll have to watch it and see for yourself!
Next is a MV that's full of K-Drama clips!
This song is by J-Min, from SM Entertainment, and is on the OST for the K-Drama "To Beautiful You", which was also airing in September. I read the Manhwa/Manga for it, and so I really love this video. It's simple, with clips that progress through the Drama by episodes, along with clips of the band. I really like the Rock 'n Roll sound of the song, it's so much different than the usual ballad song for dramas. If you're not into dramas, you may not like it, but the song adds a lot to the video.
Time for another MV from one of my favorite albums, by U-Kiss!
This MV was released in black and white, as well as a color version, and I prefer the B&W one. U-Kiss is back with their sleek choreography and distinct sound. This video is really classy and I couldn't think of a better comeback! I love the part when Kevin dances with the girl, it's done really well and isn't seductive as much as it is a duet. This is their first MV with female backup dancers, and they did a great job with it. I love the camera work, the lighting, and it shows best in the black and white version.
Next up is another stop-motion MV, by ChAOS!
I reviewed the last album by ChAOS (Here), and this song is a new side of them. Their image before was edgy and extreme, but this MV is about a softer side of them. While their previous "image" was tough, you get to see the band how they probably are naturally. I really love this song, it's the instant "stuck in your head" kind. The chorus especially is really catchy. The singing is also great, and I love all their voices throughout the song. The video for it is just as great, I am such a sucker for stop-motion filming. While the one by The Koxx was really great with the magazines and paper cut outs, this is more of the "traditional" version of it. It's incredible how they got their lip-syncing so accurate for it, on top of all the other things going on in the scene. The imagination of the director, and I imagine the patience of the band, really made this a unique and special MV that became a favorite for me. I love the moving, spinning, objects and especially the parts where they are laying down and "moving" up through fields and floors.
Next is more of an Indie music video that most people probably didn't see, but I loved, by Met.
While I really like this song, it's the video that stood out for me. It's concept is simple but well done. There are three kinds of shots throughout the MV, all of which blend together well. First, there is lighting done with matches and matches alone. I can't be the only person who wondered if he burnt his fingers while filming this. Next, there's a chalkboard where names of different classic rock groups/singers are being written in a long list. And finally, where he is staring blankly into the camera while specs of light pass by him. They sound strange when written down, but they fit the mood of the music and look better when you actually see them. The song is in rough English, and the singing and instrumentals are really good. The song is simple just like the MV, and while it's not everyone's taste, it's still worth checking out.
Next is the comeback that we have all been waiting for, by TVXQ!
After being MIA in the recording world for over a year, TVXQ made a comeback in September with Catch Me! I loved the MVs for Keep Your Head Down and Before You Go, because they have a distinct style that I can't resist. Honestly, in this video, they pull off choreography that anyone else would probably not look cool at all doing. The song has an old school Techno feeling to it, like a mashup of Techno and Pop, with some dubstep parts in it as well. While they usually have interesting sets, clothes, and lighting, as usual the dance is the centerpiece of the whole thing. They always work with backup dancers, since there are only two of them, but they manage to work together well and stand out at the same time. They have a really distinct dance style that's like a mixture of modern dancing, interpretive dance, and hip-hop. And I love how they use their arm pieces throughout the dances to bring it even more into unison, especially when they all lock together, it was a really creative idea. Plus, those high notes in the song really rock, they are pretty much the reason I started listening to TVXQ in the past. The main thing I would say is that if you are looking for some crazy choreography that no average dancer could ever do, you will love this video. (But seriously, SM Ent., those embedded advertisements need to die...)
Now it's time for the band and video that recently stole my heart, LUNAFLY.
This song was released in Korean as "How Nice Would it Be", and there is an English version of the same song and MV named Superhero. The intro with LUNAFLY is a bit odd, to me at least, but the rest of it makes up for it by a lot! I prefer the Korean version of the MV, I just feel like it's more natural, and it's also the one that I saw first. While there were a lot of debuts in September, this is the band that impressed me the most. Other bands just seemed like repeats of current bands, with the same kinds of songs, sets, names, titles, etc. Once you listen to a lot of K-Pop, you start to notice when rookie groups just seem recycled. They are talented, that's for sure, but the way they were marketed were all wrong. LUNAFLY, on the other hand, stood out to me because I didn't think "Oh, they just look and sound like ___" when I heard them. When I first saw this I thought, "Is this album out yet? I want to buy it right now! Subscribe. Like. Favorite. Share with everyone. Follow on Twitter." I think you get the point. They aren't debuting as a pop, dubstep, or electronic band but fully acoustic. The video is a basic studio MV, with shots of them performing. You get to match the voice to the face and it's like being at a live performance in a coffee shop. It's not as fancy as others that came out, but it still stood out as one of my favorites from September.
Finally, I want to end this list with a fun MV by a group of people from JYP Entertainment.
JYP hasen't been in the spotlight very much lately, with all the other companies making comebacks and debuts like crazy, but they are still doing well and have great artists. Classic has JY Park, Taecyeon and Wooyoung from 2pm, and Suzy from Miss A in it. It's a very casual and sweet co-op video where all of the members perform throughout the song. It's nothing fancy, both the song and video are meant to showcase the members. It's a love themed song and video and they did a good job of making it seem fairly natural. The lyrics match the video well, and I like how they are in a movie theatre since the song says "crazy movie". With a theme of "somethings are timeless, classic", a love story was the best way to go. I was really happy to see different members from the label work together, which is why this made the list.
~Favorite Product Review of the Month~
As I said before, I didn't get chance to write many reviews this month, so picking one from this section will be easy.
My favorite product for September has to be my latest review, Etude House's Dear My Milky Gloss. I absolutely love this lipgloss and will probably end up owning every color from the brand eventually. I have yet to find one that I like more, so it's a must for me. If you are looking for something you will want to keep with you every day of the week, I would definitely try this one out. This products didn't come out in September, but it's my favorite review that I wrote for the month. (It's difficult to get new products with how long shipping takes...)
That's it right there! My favorite albums, videos, and product of the month! September was a great month for me, even though I got behind on my writing in the beginning. I cannot wait to see what October 2012 has in store in the world of Korean Music and Cosmetics! I hope to get better at these "Favorites of the Month" articles in the future, and I hope that you enjoyed my first attempt at one. Let me know what your favorite releases were! September 2012 is now over, so have a wonderful October!
See you next time you jump down the Rabbit hole,