~Favorite Korean Albums of the month~
Girl's Generation - I Got a Boy
SNSD made their comeback on January 1st, after being away from the Korean music scene for quite some time! They changed up their style quite a bit for this album, and I think I like the change personally. The Music Video for I Got a Boy is worth mentioning I think, but I can't honestly say that it's in my top MV picks of the month... I loved certain parts of the video, and the dancing a lot, but all together I've liked some of their past video better. The title track is amazingly addictive, and you like it more each time you hear it! It reminded me a bit of Mr. Simple by Super Junior, because it had that same "mash-up" kind of sound. The other songs on the album are great, and I love to see the fiercer and softer sides of Girl's Generation. I don't like the album just because they're popular, but because it genuinely is a great album! It's worth checking out, and I'm sad that I didn't get a chance to review it.
Kim Jae Joong - I/Mine
This album, however, I was able to review (which you can read Here)! As a member of JYJ, and former member of TVXQ/DBSK, it's no surprise that Jaejoong made an amazing album for his solo career! The sort of Rock-Ballad, Theatrical, vibe of each song was great! Jaejoong has a very special tone to his voice that cannot be duplicated, and I love the Japanese influences in his music. I've already written my rant about how much I adore this album, so there's really no use repeating myself. Let's just say that it's great, and it's one worth owning!
PHANTOM - Phantom Theory
I have been in love with the group Phantom since the teaser for Burning came out! I've also mentioned their previous album in my top favorites before, so it shouldn't shock anyone that I've listed them again. They released a Music Video along with this album, which I'll talk about some more later. This album took even more of a Hip-Hop road than their previous one, and the collaborations on the album are really good! This is a creative and unique album, which is why it stood out to me this month.
Infinite H - Fly High
Speaking of Hip-Hop, Infinite H released their Sub-Unit album Fly High! This is another album that I was able to review, and you can read more about my thoughts about it Here. The two members of Infinite, Dongwoo and Hoya, impressed me even more with this ambitious album. They are both rappers in the larger group, and really got a chance to show off their skill and style with this one! I am in love with the music from this album, and that Hip-Hop/Jazz sound they used, teaming up with Primary and others. While I'm a fan of Infinite, it was this album that made me love the group even more.
Boyfriend - I Yah
Boyfriend released a full length album with "I YAH", including new songs and ones from previous albums. Not only are there songs with every member, but also solos from Hyun Sung, Dong Hyun, and Jung Min! Boyfriend has really been stepping it up and going for a tougher, manlier, image lately. Honestly, it really works, and I've been loving the music that they've been releasing! The Music Video for this was controversial because it showed school violence, though personally I didn't see it as a "negative influence". You can watch the video Here and decide for yourself. The album is a good balance of their older and newer styles, and shows off multiple sides of the band. Overall, I really suggest checking out the new music by Boyfriend, and the progress that they've been making.
Eric Nam - Cloud 9
The competition winning, previous Los Angeles resident, Eric Nam made his debut into the K-Pop world with his EP! This album has a much softer sound, especially compared to the ones I've mentioned already. He has a beautiful voice and a kind of innocent sound to his music, that instantly puts a smile on your face. If you're a fan of Korean Music, but not necessarily Idol Groups, I'd suggest this album. It has the same type of relaxed and cheerful sound that Juniel's albums do, but in his own unique style. New artists tend to have a fresh sound that's worth hearing, and Eric Nam was also able to incorporate a matured sound to that as well. This is a great album to start off the year with, and matches the Winter and Spring seasons really well.
SPEED - Superior Speed
There are barely words to describe how I feel about the first album by Speed. They did a spectacular job with the music, and also the videos for this album (which I'll mention more later)! While their music still has an Electronic Pop sound to it, they added so many other elements to the music that makes it unique. The album featured a bunch of guest collaborations, along with versions by the band alone. An interesting fact about this group is that the member Taewoon is actually the brother of Zico from Block B, one of my all time favorite groups! So to me it's no surprise that Speed did so well from the get-go!
Never Mind - Shooting Star
Another band released a pretty great album this past month, with Shooting Star by Never Mind! Their first mini album had strong J-Rock roots to the sound, which I love! This band isn't really well known, and there are probably many people out there who have never heard of them before! I mean, with all the debut and comebacks of K-Pop stars, a little known Rock band probably won't get too much recognition, right? Well, regardless if you've heard of them or not, this is a wonderful group. They also released a Music Video for their Song Hoi Hoi, which was fun and spunky. The group is from a Taiwanese-Korean label, and wants to make music like their idols the Sex Pistols. It's new, and it's fun, so it's really worth listing as one of my favorite albums from January!
CN Blue - RE:BLUE
CN Blue kicked their Rock sound up a notch with this album, with a harsher kind of sound, which sounds awesome! They released several teasers for the Music Video made for the main song, titled "I'm Sorry", which you can see Here. CN Blue was one of the very first Korean bands that I listened to, and they continue to be one of my favorites! I love this album, the music, their new look and style, and was really excited when I heard about the release. Since I didn't get a chance to review the album, I had to mention in on this list. They are also a Rock band, like others I mentioned, but they have a kind of "Classic Rock" twist to their music, and put out music that is hard to resist. Whether you like Pop, Rock, or something in-between, CN Blue's new album is a great one to listen to and own!
~Favorite Korean Music Videos of the Month~
VIXX - On and On
The VIXX Single Album is another that I was able to Review, and my favorite aspect of the album was definitely the Music Video. After releasing Rock UR Body, which was bright and colorful, this video is a lot moodier and edgier. The makeup and costuming job was awesome, and there are so many different scenes and sets as well. My favorite part has to be the Thriller inspired dance though, which really took the video to the next level.
The Sub-Unit of SISTAR is back, with a heartbreaking new Music Video and Album! They said themselves that their music has a darker kind of theme to it than the regular SISTAR group has. The lyrics for this song are pretty profound and almost brought me to tears. The flash scenes in this video were really well done, and the dance is pretty classic SISTAR, with the distinct slow movements. Really well done, and I especially love the song, and the gorgeous voices of SISTAR!
Dalmatian made their comeback under the new name DMTN (Desire Motivation Timing Now). They changed up their style with E.R, and are keeping with the change. Their image is a lot tougher, but it was toned down a bit for this new album into more of a "stoic" kind of look. I love the electronic sounds in this song, and the different city shots in the video. With a song about protecting the person that you love, it's no surprise that the video is about rescuing a girl. The MV has a lot of semi-slowmotion scenes of running and fighting, along with reaching out towards their loved one. It was put together really well, and the music break in the music suits the video perfectly.
Infinite H - Special Girl
This song has been on repeat via every music device possible by me since its release! The Music Video is probably a key factor as to why I love it so much. Not only id the song arranged by Primary, and features Bumkey, but you also get to see the Primary Mascot, and the CEO of Woollim Entertainment! Though you don't get to see Bumkey in this video, which is probably the only downside I can think of. The video matches the lyrics, the costumes and dances are wonderful, and they just did an outstanding job with this one! They also released a Music Video for "Without You", and while it was good, I still preferred this one. It's really cute, clever, and fun, and showed off Infinite H's style exactly.
Baechigi - Tear Shower (Featuring Jiwon/Ailee)
This song is a bit confusing when it comes to the "featured", because in the video/studio it's Jiwon from SPICA, and in the live version it's Ailee. Since this is the music video that I'm talking about though, I'm focusing on that version. The video is pretty artsy, and starts off with the girl singing in a Karaoke bar alone. In other scenes it shows the different men singing in movie posters as they walks past them, sitting in a coffee shop with a smaller version of their self singing, singing to the Television which they are on. Needless to say, it's full of trippy shots that mess with your head a bit, but combine to make a pretty interesting video! I also really enjoyed the kind of Hip-Hop Ballad song of the music, and though it suited the mood of the scenes really well.
This next video by Speed is probably one of the saddest videos I have seen. This is part one of a storyline that takes place during the Democratization Movement in South Korea, on May 19th 1980 in Gwangju. When something is based on real events, your heart doesn't just break for the plot line you're watching, but also for the people who lived through that time. The storyline for the video is a love story between two different couples, both of which were brave men who gave up their lives for freedom. They made a Dance Version of this song as well, along with part two which goes along to the song "It's Over". While I did think the other video were really good, this one gets first place from me. I seriously could not contain the tears (like the last song, it was a tear shower...) and although I love this video, I may not watch it again because of that. However, I do think everyone should see it at least once. Another bonus is that there are English Subs for everything, to make sure you understand the story and the dedication at the end.
Another story based video is Eraser by So Ji Sub, featuring Park Shin Hye as the actress in it! This one tells the love story of a couple who fall in and out of love. Even though they love each other, she ends up leaving for her career, and the man has to go on with his life without her. In the beginning you see the singer run into his younger self, and the story unfolds from there. In the end you see him age and mature, pretty much bringing you back to the beginning of the video. I love the concept, as well as the song.
Eric Nam - Heaven's Door
JeA - While You're Sleeping
BAP - Rain Sound
Phantom - Like Cho Young Pil
1sagain - Love is Over
K. Will & Chakun of ELECTROBOYZ - Even if U Play
~Favorite Korean Product Review of the Month~
HBMIC - Vitamin C Ampule Mask
Are you prepared for one of the sweetest Music Videos (featuring one of the fluffiest dogs) ever? Eric Nam's debut album is great, and this video really showcases that. Playing in the snow, running around with a dog, setting up signs to lead your girlfriend to where you are, etc. made for a super cute and simple video! I also really liked all of the winter outfits used in this video, which made it really seasonal. Because it's simple, I can't say too much about this MV, but I can say that it's one of my favorites.
JeA, from Brown Eyed Girls, released her Solo Album along with this Music Video. She has a gorgeous voice, and did a great job with this song. The camera work in this video is beautiful! I absolutely love the was it was shot, especially since the settings were simplistic. Also, I'm always happy to see the band included in a Music Video, so I appreciated the addition of them a lot. It's really intense and artsy, with the moving Piano and the musicians in the floating chairs. Such a powerful song and video really had to be in my top favorites.
Illtong - Someone's Footprint (Featuring J.)
Speaking of interesting and artistic videos, Illtong put out a really creative video! The acoustic Jazz sound of the song is gorgeous, and J really added a lot to the track. The video is based off of picture/photo frames that pass in front of the people, finished and transitioning scenes. They also have shots of J with a mirrored lens, that has the same kind of soft filter. From the moment it started this video got my attention, and held it the entire time. It's almost an underrated video because it doesn't have as many views as Girl's Generation or CN Blue, and it really should have more so check it out!
BAP also made a comeback early on in the year with Rain Sound! I was pleased to hear this style of music after their previous albums had more of a Flower Boy vibe to them. The song is pretty unique, and I liked the touch of the rain effects. The different colored lights, and the sound of the music, reminded me a bit of Mona Lisa by MBLAQ, which is one of my favorite songs. While most of the video is about symbolism and emotions, my favorite part really is when they wear the white suits and the paint rains down on them. I think it was a bold and intriguing spin on the usual rain videos, you can actually see where they get wet distinctly, and the progression of a few drops to being drenched in the "rain". Some people didn't care for it, but I especially loved the video because of the ending.
Phantom - Like Cho Young Pil
I'm going to start off by saying that Cho Young Pil is one of the most acknowledged K-Pop founders out there, who started his career in the '70s. He's an inspiration to many Korean artists, and is referenced in this song because they are trying to be a wonderful artist like him. The song is really unique, and talks about the struggles of becoming a musician, having no money, no food, and working constantly to make it in the industry. It's not about the glitz and the glamour, but the hard work that goes into getting to the place that they are. The Music Video is the story of Phantom, and is available in English, Korean, and Japanese text. I won't say much about it because you can watch it for yourself, but I will say that many people, myself included, really respected Phantom even more after watching this.
1sagain - Love is Over
I lost track of how many teasers I saw for this video before it released. The anticipation really built until it was finally available, and it was really worth the wait. The video depicts a love story, with a constant camera and story flow on a single set (at least it was filmed to look that way). It's all done in a kind of interpretive dance that's really engaging to watch. The story shows how his best friends girlfriend wants to be with him, and he wants to be with her too, and she even breaks up with his friend to make it possible. But they both know that if they date he will lose his friend, so their love is over and can't ever be fully realized. The costuming for this is really good, and the dancing is definitely the best part!
K. Will & Chakun of ELECTROBOYZ - Even if U Play
Just from reading the title I knew I was going to love this song and video! K. Will is one of the best singers in the Korean music world, and he teamed up with a killer rapper for this collaboration. The editing is really well done, with black and white scenes for the flashbacks, and the harsher colored filters for the "current life" ones. The video highlights the life of a girl who lost the man she loved, and keeps think of him no matter how much she "plays around" with any other man or type of entertainment. Most of the scenes are of the photographer taking pictures of her, I especially liked the part with the lighting stick. Even though she seems cold and emotionless at first, in the end you start to pity her because you see that it was all just an act and that she's truly heartbroken on the inside. This song is worth owning, and the video worth watching, which makes it the perfect MV to end on!
~Favorite Korean Product Review of the Month~
HBMIC - Vitamin C Ampule Mask
My favorite review has to be the one that I gave the highest marks to, the Vitamin C Ampule Mask, which you can read more about Here! Although this is a lesser-known company, they make really high quality products that are worth checking out! Make sure to read more about the review for how to purchase items from them, and learn more about why I chose this one.
There they are, my favorites from January 2013! This always takes me a while to write and publish, so I'm glad it's finally finished! I'm really looking forward to 2013, and to February as well. I have a big project I've been working on for a while now that I hope to get up and running this month, so hold on tight! Also, if you had any favorite Albums, Music Videos, or Products from this past month, let me know in the comments! It's always great to hear from others and know what their opinions are, so feel free to add your own thoughts. I hope you had a great January, and I wish you an even better February!
See you next time you jump down the Rabbit hole,