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Archive for the 'Korean Music' Category

I’m in love again (with fusion group Clazziquai)

Clazziquai (클래지콰이) are a fusion group, blending together aspects of acid jazz, electronic, house and groove to create something very unique and very catchy. They have the sort of sound that’s very easy to love or hate, but whether you love it or hate it or are feeling pretty neutral about it it is still quite a breath of fresh air when compared to all the standard pop/dance/R&B styles floating around.

I find that Clazziquai is pretty good “chill out music”. It’s the sort of stuff you can have on in the background while you’re doing other things, and it won’t be in your face and distracting you. That’s not to say it’ll put you to sleep – it won’t, because it’s definitely very upbeat music.

Clazziquai was formed by DJ Clazzi, who was then joined by Korean-Canadian brother/sister vocal team Alex and Christina. Christina was soon unable to participate fully in Clazziquai as she was working in Canada, at which point 호란 (Horan) took over her place.

Clazziquai’s first releases were in the form of three digital mini-albums, followed by their first album Instant Pig in 2004. Over the past five years they have released several Korean albums and remix albums, as well as some Japanese releases.

One of my favourite songs of theirs is Flea, and the MV for it is one that I find very, very cool. It’s weird and kind of creepy, and I absolutely love it:

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More recently, they released their latest album MUCHO PUNK last month. The main single from MUCHO PUNK is the song Love Again. I really enjoyed this song. Check out the MV:

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And here’s Clazziquai grooving to it live.

Pop-rock FTIsland have Hope & Brown Eyed Girls say Abracadabra

I mentioned pop-rock group FT 아일랜드 (FT Island) back in January (check out that post if you want to know a little bit more about them!), when it was announced that guitarist 원빈 (Wonbin) was leaving them and that his spot would be filled by 승현 (Seunghyun). I was curious to see how things would go with the new member, as well as being quite sad, since I’d followed FT Island since they were preparing to debut and 원빈 had always been there. It was definitely going to be a change.

But it’s turned out to be a change that I really, really like. 승현 fits in with the rest of the group really well, and he even looks like he belongs there.

The change also didn’t see FT Island’s music changing in any ways that it wasn’t already – I feel that it has matured, and shifted focus slightly, but I think that was something that was going to happen regardless of what the line-up was.

The group have recently released their third album, Cross & Change. It is by far my favourite of any of their releases, and I think they are going to have something really great going on if they continue in this direction. The sound is a little more mature than their previous albums, while still keeping their trademark style.

The first single from Cross & Change is the upbeat 바래 (Barae).

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It is everything that FT Island are – fun, colourful and feel-good.

브라운 아이드 걸스 (Brown Eyed Girls) also released something new recently. They’re a four member girl group, consisting of 제아 (Jea), 나르샤 (Narsha), 미료 (Miryo) and 가인 (Ga-in). They debuted in 2006 with their first album Your Story, and have just released their third album Sound G. With the new release also comes a rather radical change in their image, aimed at making them seem more outgoing – probably to give them a better shot at grabbing attention, since they will be up against plenty of competition from girl groups like 2NE1, 4minute, 소녀시대 (Girls Generation), and 카라 (Kara).

Abracadabra is the first single off Sound G:

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What do you think? I think it’s kind of catchy but nothing too special. I do like the MV though.

But I think this song is quite far away from the style that they originally started with. When they debuted, they had a soulful R&B type of sound, with the usual pop and hip hop infleunces to it. Now it’s electronic pop. Changing your style to better fit the current trends is simply what needs to be done if you’re a pop group and trying to survive – but I’ve always been of the opinion that the trick is to never completely let go of your own style, to find ways to make the current trends fit your style in a way that you are still instantly recognisable amongst everyone else. I’m not so sure that they’ve successfully done that, but then again I am not a Brown Eyed Girls fan so maybe I’m wrong!

SNSD’s Genie & Big Bang’s GARA GARA GO!!

Nine member SM Entertainment girl group 소녀시대 (So Nyeo Shi Dae, or Girls’ Generation) released a new MV recently. You might remember the ‘Gee Virus’ they spread at the beginning of the year, with their super catchy song Gee. Even if you didn’t like the song much, you probably had “gee gee gee gee baby baby baby~” stuck in your head for a while. (Did you live under a rock and never hear the song? Now’s your chance!)

I definitely don’t think that they’ve necessarily done it again with 소원을 말해봐 (Genie), but the song is still cute, catchy, and I really enjoy it (and I love the outfits! Rawr~):

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The original album cover caused a bit of a stir, because netizens have hawk-like eyes (and maybe not much of a life). This is the original cover. Apparently that’s a Japanese fighter plane. Oops. It caused such a stir amongst netizens that SM Entertainment actually delayed the release, so that they could make a new cover.

What do you think? Too much fuss over something silly? Or was SM Entertainment careless in the first place, by allowing such a thing to be used? Or did they do it on purpose to get more eyes on them?

Wearing a bit more clothes (sadly), is 빅뱅 (Big Bang), YG Entertainment’s 5 member hiphop/dance/pop boyband. For the uninitiated, Big Bang’s music is a fun concoction of pop, dance, hiphop and electronica, and they’ve enjoyed huge popularity with hits like 거짓말 (Lie), 마지막 인사 (Last Farewell) and 하루 하루 (Haru Haru), and have a successful career in Japan as well as in Korea.

The members of Big Bang also dabble in their own things. G-Dragon is known for his slightly odd fashion taste and word has it that he’ll release a solo album this year, TOP is co-starring in the upcoming action drama IRIS, 대성 (Daesung) released an adorable trot song, 승리 (Seungri) had a taste of solo success with his song Strong Baby, and 태양 (Taeyang) released a very well received mini-album last summer (does anyone remember 나만 바라봐?).

Big Bang are releasing their 2nd Japanese single at the moment, so here’s the MV from their latest Japanese song, ガラガラ GO!! (GARA GARA GO!!):

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Is it the best song in the world? No. But like a friend of mine said, “It resembles everything I love about Big Bang: shamelessly upbeat and youthful, blazingly bright colors, and a hint of 90s pop.”

New MVs from rocker Moon Hee Jun & R&B artist M

Two excellent MVs and songs have been released since I last posted. The first is the latest from rocker 문희준. 문희준 used to be in an SM Entertainment boyband called H.O.T. Although they didn’t last as long as labelmates 신화 and Fly To The Sky, they are considered one of the most well-known and influential Korean boybands of the time. After H.O.T split ways, the members enjoyed themselves some solo careers.

Personally, while I love me some old school k-pop, I hated probably all but two or three of their songs. I much prefer the member’s solo works. Their solo stuff ranges from ballads to hiphop to R&B, with 문희준 doing something a little different – rock.

His stuff is a bit hit and miss with me. Some of it’s incredibly cool, some of it’s boring, but I have only good things to say about his latest mini-album, Last Cry. It’s great. It’s better than great. The main single off Last Cry is Toy, and it’s really so good. Check it out:

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The other MV and song is from M (or 이민우)’s latest mini-album MINNOVATION. Unless I’m mistaken, this is M’s last release before he enlists to do his military service – and he made sure he went all out with this one. The thing I love about M is that he’s never afraid to experiment. He really mixed things up with his fourth album M RIZING, playing with a lot of different styles, and although I was a little iffy about the final outcome one thing was for sure: whether it was good, or whether it was bad, it dripped of something that we call ‘The “M” Style’. M made it his own. He’s done the same with MINNOVATION (the mini-album as well as the title track). He’s taken the popular electronica influenced dance style that’s hot at the moment, and made it his own. He’s set himself apart from everyone else who’s doing the same style. That’s what I love about him, his ability to do that, to actually use a style, rather than just copy it.

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I love the song and I love love love the MV. It’s so fun!

SS501 – a boyband’s comeback

SS501 (pronounced as Double S five oh one, or Double S 오공일), are one of the boybands that I think are pretty underated. Signed under DSP Entertainment (A’ST1, Kara, and previously 이효리), this five member boyband has been around since 2005. I’ve often wondered if perhaps the lack of the spotlight has been due in part to the fact that they debuted in the same year as Super Junior, who kind of sucked up all the fangirls into this big black hole and didn’t let them back out for a long time.

Consisting of 현중 (who played the role of 지후 in 꽃보다 남자 or Boys Over Flowers), 규종, 영생, 정민 and 형준, SS501 have had a fair amount of success in Japan as well as in Korea. Recently they’ve been getting more attention than usual, because of 현중’s participation in 꽃보다 남자.

They’re set to make their comeback later this month with a 20 minute MV music drama, which comes in five parts – each part being a member’s solo. I really like the way they’re doing this, because it gives each member the chance to show what they can do on their own. So far three of five teasers have been released. I’m not too fussed about 규종’s Wuzz Up, but 형준’s Hey G sounds alright and he’s looking pretty fine.

So far my favourite of the teasers would have to be 현중’s 잘해줘 제발:

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I am really liking what I can hear of that song.

I’m looking forward to seeing what 영생 and 정민 will come out with, and I’m definitely looking forward to hearing 정민 for an entire song, he’s got a lovely voice.

But these teasers don’t do much to show who and what SS501 are. So, I bring you some good ol’ MVs.

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Unlock is one of my favourites, and if they made music like this all the time, I’d be a pretty happy person. But they mix it up with cute tracks like 겁쟁이, and things like 4chance.

Over the past several months though, I personally think that they’ve been bringing it better, hotter, and catchier than they have in the past.

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널 부르는 노래 might not have matched 소녀시대’s Gee virus, but I think it’s a super fun and catchy song.

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And despite only featuring three of them (현중 was doing 꽃보다 남자 and 정민 was playing Danny for the musical Grease), U R Man is one of my favourite SS501 songs.

I’m hoping that they stick more to this smoother, sexier image, and I’m glad that although they might not have enjoyed quite as much as success and spotlight as some of the other boybands, that they’ve stuck around anyway and are still going strong.