It’s been a long time since I’ve liked an album this much (and also since my last review: sorry!): VVIP is testament to one way an album can do good: it doesn’t have to be ground-breaking or genius-experimental, neither does the talent have to blow me away. Sometimes just excellent song/genre-choice and production quality can send an album into the memorable.
Chariteee pointed out to me that this album might actually be better than Taeyang’s SOLar, and she has reason. I can’t decide which of the two title tracks I like better (both are crazy-addictive). I feel strongly enough about White Love as an awesome follow-up song. Two are very smart collaborations (one with GDragon and the other with IU), and the one last full song, Magic is at the very least, only mediocre upon comparison: on its own, it’s a very interesting and catchy song.
“What do You Want” already had me replaying the 30 second trailer a million times. Yes it could very well be a Chris Brown song, the perfect pop-R&B mix transportable to the club, but that’s exactly the point, I think it’s what kPop was wanting for me for quite some time, what with the overuse of gimmick/beastly/cute concepts. Add in the awesome choreography and great dramatic build-up, you’ve got me on board. The other title single, VVIP was weird for me at first listen, but really mostly because “What do You Want” already got me at satisfaction, but listen to it one more time and it gets stuck in your ahead. It’s funky, it’s disconnected, but you know what, I still like it. I think it’s that melody of vocals in the chorus that was missing in the GDTop album (and has stopped me from enjoying it) that made all the experimenting done here easier to swallow, and more catchy. Let it be stated that I hated the music video (even if legal Alice is so pretty) because of the implications of what happens to that little girl and what she dreams about. But watch the live performances, and you’ll this is a song meant to be performed.
Really, I cannot stop listening to White Love. That’s a great chorus right there, I believe it’s a throwback to 90s pop, but maaaan am I enjoying it. Plus, you get treated to perfect placement of Seungri’s falsetto as we head into that last chorus.
What happens in “Open the Window” is exactly what GDragon does consistently: turn collaborations with him into gold. On his own, its easy to imagine Seungri turning this into a boring song (something about those sustained notes), but GDragon breaks that monotony. And that final stretch where backgrounded by all that jazz, they simultaneously go at it with rap and riffing: that’s the sweet spot right there. I’ll be honest that the collaboration with IU was the most mediocre for me, and its saving grace is really IU’s lovely voice, I really don’t want to say anything more about it. Magic is a song with its own credit, very chill, but still very interesting in a continuous way, like how the ‘yeah-yeah-yeah’ part of the songs just creeps up on you and sounds good.
Now on to the generalizations. First, this is what YG does best: this is an album that will appeal to a lot of the international kPop fans because of the American Pop/R&B influence to it. It’s a theme that runs generally throughout the album and I think it’s the main reason why the songs are raised to a general level of being easy-to-listen-to. None of these failures that SOLar makes. Second, not much is expected of Seungri here, no intense notes, no ellaborate choreography. But it’s done well and realistically appropriate as to how much he’s grown (it’s not SOLar where Taeyang clearly wants to impress people also). So less probability of failing; more chances the song will be catchy. So dialing back down my emotions, it’s not a mind-blowing album, but it is excellent.

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Mastermind by BEAST

The short of it: This’ll be the album where I think Beast establishes firmly who they are as a group and as a sound. The neutral kpop listener will appreciate the complete package that Breath is, and fans, well, they will adore it.

take-a-fourth: Breath, V.I.U (Very Important U)

Tracklist: 01. Mastermind 02.  04. Break Down 05. Clenching My Fist Tight

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Intensity: Rain, UKISS, Christian Bautista

Of course, I went to the concert with the mindset that I would rather be with samkpopsal and chariteee over at the SMTown ’10. But then again, Rain’s been in the industry for this long because he’s an excellent artist: so the concert turned out to be a must-see—you’ve got to see Rain perform at least once in your life if you call yourself a consumer of kpop.

Setlist: Christian Bautista: Wrong Number, Beautiful Girl, The Way You Look At Me; U-KISS: 빙글빙글 (Round and Round), 뭐라고 (Nothing), 만만하니, End of the Road; Rain: It’s Raining, Touch Ya, 태양을 피하는 방법 (How to Avoid the Sun), I Do, 널 붙잡을 노래 (Love Song), Love Story, Rainism, Hip Song, 안녕이란 말 대신 (Instead of Saying Goodbye)

Having been exposed to Rain only during these latter years, I actually came in not knowing most of his songs, so the highlights for me were when he performed his latest songs, Hip Song and Love Song, but on to the review… Continue reading

Beautiful Journey by F.T Island

The short of it: F.T Island’s too talented of a group that any album’s at least worth one listen, and the sophisticated Beautiful Journey is no exception.

take-a-fourth: Baby Love, 돈키호테의 노래 (Don Quixote’s Song)

01. 사랑 사랑 사랑 (Love Love Love) 02. 굳은 살이 박혀버려.. (Calluses Being Stuck..) 03. Baby Love 04. 미친 듯이 너 하나만 (Being Crazy Looking Only At You) 05. 돈키호테의 노래 (Don Quixote’s Song)

It’s been over a year since their last Korean album (stints in Japan as is quite a common case nowadays), but at last, here they are!. Continue reading

Got to Be! by Eru

The short of it: As a ballad album, it’ll sound very traditional, but when you’re a veteran like Eru, there’s not a lot of mistakes you can make vocally or otherwise, except maybe not being interesting enough for the younger listeners.

Take-a-fourth: 하얀 눈물 White Tears, Time (feat. Shorry J By 마이티 마우스), 늦은 후회, 생각해봐요 With 주희 (from 8eight) Continue reading

Time to Shine by Supernova

The-short-of-it: With only three new songs, one of them less than a minute long, you’ll be disappointed.

take-a-fourth: Intro

Tracklist: 1. Intro 2. 그리운 날에 (On Days That I Miss You) 3. 라라라 (Lalala) 4. 그리운 날에 (On Days That I Miss You) – Accoustic Ver. 5. 그리운 날에 (On Days That I Miss You) – Instrumental 6. TTL Listen 2 Continue reading

“A” by Rainbow; “Madonna” by Secret, “No Playboy” by Nine Muses; “No Need to Know” by JQT

the short of it: Four non-autotuned releases, each drifting towards a different style; but doing a whole 180 away from their first debut single, Rainbow takes this one with “A”.

I can only handle a certain number of releases from artists I don’t know. So this week, mediocre groups (in terms of popularity at least) like Rainbow, JQT and Secret pushing out follow-up singles and new group Nine Muses debuting, I got quite overwhelmed. So partly in order to be able to digest this, partly because I really didn’t want to go through all these girl groups’ albums and partly because there’s much to be mined from a comparison-contrast analysis on these four, I’m doing this thing on all their current singles Continue reading