Watch This! The New Edition Story

A you a big fan of Boy bands? K-pop? Pop in general?  Have you heard of New Edition? If not you should. Considered the trailblazers of the modern boy band  New Edition was founded in 1978 in Boston, MA. Unfortunately like many pioneers they are often forgotten and the credit given to those who became more “successful” in their wake.

Their former manager Maurice Starr went on to create another boy band comprised of members of the caucasian persuasion named New Kids on The Block who became a huge success and the face of the boy band  in the U.S.and around the world.

All you K-pop and boy band fans should watch this movie to get a little history.

 

Check Out the New Edition Story Jan 24th on BET!

How do you think New Edition influenced the pop and K-pop world?

 

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Let’s go back…..Christmas in 1999

Christmas 1999 the last Christmas before the millennium  and in the K-pop world SMTown’s  first Christmas album Christmas In SMTown.com. Featuring the hottest artists of time and the original pioneering groups of K-pop.

smtown christmas album

 

I like how music video gives the feeling of the SMTown  artists as an family.

Even though these next songs are from  albums  released in 2000 and 2001 it still has the 90s vibe their predecessor contains.

One of my favorite Christmas songs. I even include this song in my Christmas mix for Christmas parties lol.

Another great music video with the SMTown “family”. Angel Eyes is not your typical sounding Christmas song but is upbeat and joyous (and it also sounds like songs from the  Sonic R video game lol).

Do you have any favorite K-pop Christmas songs?

 

Merry Christmas!

 

 

B.I.G.-Taola MV and single Review

Boys in groove

 

For this review I’m going to have to rescue a review from my music abyss (lol). I discovered B.I.G.( which stands for Boys In Groove mind you) by way of their second single Between Night n Music. I was attracted to their neo disco sound and cute MV with a simple but actual storyline and their outfits (who could forget those polka dot outfits). Between night n music was released in March of 2015 and B.I.G. has been silent since. This November B.I.G. emerged from the silence with a new look and of course new single! This new single is entitled Taola.
With this new single B.I.G. is still going strong with the retro theme this time jumping from 70’s inspired neo disco beats to a dramatic 90s R&B/pop melody (the melody of the song and vocals sound very familiar). Taola contrasts greatly with their last single Between night n music the latter they sound much younger and upbeat. Taola showcases the members deeper voices (especially in the rap segments) well with the dramatic chorus which brings back memories of old school k-pop hits. In the beginning of the track a member is heard stating that this song is a “New chapter” it seems his statement is correct.

 B.I.G. Then

As one can see  the Between night n music mv was produced (well) on a meager budget and gave B.I.G. an image that truly matched their name (boys in groove) as (invisible) disco dancers that help cheer up a woman evening that was going wrong.
  B.I.G Now

     Taola takes a cue from old 90’s videos were each member has their own theme and room but updated with the trend that’s overtaken almost every music video..neon lights. With its use of bold and dark colors (both in the member’s clothing and background sets) and shots of the members looking intensely into the camera Taola gives off a much more mature and dramatic vibe. Despite the differences B.I.G. stays true to their name and delivers a great dance song.
With this new single I look forward to their next incarnation if they choose to stay with this look and vibe or go with a totally different theme its bound to be a dance hit.

Rewind!!Xia – Yesterday album and MV review

 

Now that its officially Winter, Ready for some “Autumn music”?

junsureviewimage

Kim Junsu (known as XIA) was one of the members of the original DBSK who left in 2009 (for more info on the reasons why click here). After Kim and two other members left DBSK  they formed a trio named JYJ  and released a few albums. During this period Junsu under the name Xia began a solo career. He released his first album Tarantallegra in 2012 followed by Incredible in 2013 and Flower in 2015. Xia released his most recent album Yesterday in the fall of 2015.

A short video history of XIA

This is the first solo track I’ve heard from “Xia” back when he was still in DBSK

Xia’s music videos are always dramatic and often rife with symbolism. So despite Xia’s newest single Yesterday being a slow ballad I knew the mv would at least be interesting to watch the mv did not disappoint. In short the video is a story of a man surviving a disaster and remembering his loved one that he had a fight with just before the disaster occurred. We follow the man on his journey to find his lost loved one. In the end he finds her and thinks she is dead but it is implied she is not and we see the entire earth in a red hue perhaps signifying a global disaster has occurred. In the last scenes the moon begins to break apart (meaning more awful things to come) so it makes one wonder, he found his love when the world is truly about to come to an end?

xia yesterday cover

Xia’s Yesterday album contains eight tracks. While all of the tracks are great in their own right I will be reviewing the four tracks that stood out to me.

Now on to the review.

Oeo a bright dance track with a chorus of the exact spelling of OEO is very catchy and definitely a club song. Unlike most of his EDM tracks OEO has a cooler  sound to the instrumentals as compared to Xiahtic for example.

 Midnight Show takes me back to old school J-pop from the late 90s. It’s a very upbeat track with strong piano chords which give the song a more mature pop sound.

Tarantallegra (Acoustic Ver.)  is a great rendition of the song as the vocals are re sung (not just laying the original track with new music) this version takes on a much less dramatic tone and with Spanish flavored guitar melodies and raspy vocals lends this version  a “warmer” vibe.

Incredible (Acoustic Ver.) is the surprising track out of the mini album. Incredible is a prime example of how loud or distracting instrumentals can drown out good vocals. In the acoustic version only the notes of a piano accompany Xia (as well as the background singers) giving Incredible an intimate feel like you’re listening to Xia live at a small venue.

 The Yesterday album was released as autumn  release to give listeners music that fits the season (much like the brighter, upbeat “summer music” genre) with its cooler tone instrumentals in its dance songs such as OEO as well as R&B flavored songs such as Midnight Show and ballads such a Yesterday and the touching Incredible Xia’s album surely is a great “fall music” release.

Rewind!! Luhan Reloaded Part 1

The history of Exo is long and complicated for a short version of the story of Exo click here. Fast forward  to 2015 Luhan debuts his first mini album and music video as a solo artist. Below is the review for Luhan’s first solo release  Reloaded part 1.

After leaving Exo Luhan  changed his image so to prepare those are have only seen or remember Luhan in Exo .

Luhan went from this

luhan past

To this

luhan now

Now on to the (mini) Album!

luhan album cover

That good good hits the ground running with its hip hop influenced beat and catchy repetitive hook of the phrase I got that good good similar to Willow smith’s whip my hair song. As if luhan performing in this genre isn’t enough of a 180 degree change of his image some of the lyrics in the song (especially the pre chorus)may give one pause as they may be perceived as sexual . Some fans debate that maybe Luhan  doesn’t understand what the term “the good good” means but in the video watch his “dance” move whenever this verse arises. It is definitely a image shattering single which is probably his intention.

Adventure Time Is the true surprise track off this mini album even more so than that good good. The track starts off with dramatic piano chords mix in the instrumentals. The music is very reminiscent of western hip –hop (or trap) music which is a huge departure from the music Luhan had been doing with Exo. There had been a lot of negative reviews of the extreme use of autotune on Luhan’s voice . However it does give his voice a unique sound in the chorus and at his part at the end of the song.

That good goodSquaresound remix
A surprisingly dark melody starts off the track and builds up during the first stanza to a dub- step like climax with chiptune music. Great restructuring of the song ; taking the song from its high energy hip hop tunes to a low tempo electro / chiptune groove.However the chorus is only heard once and the bridge is absent which was a slight disappointment.

That good good – Penthouse remix
Like its brother remix on the mini album the Penthouse remix is much more low tempo than it’s original. While using electronic instrumentals  like the Squaresound remix the melody in this version  is much brighter. The beginning has a lounge like sound and midway after the chorus more hip hop elements meld their way into the music. Despite its fall release this remix would be a good summer song.
With this release Luhan makes his foray into the music world all on his own but he isn’t done yet as of this review he has already released two more songs possibly for a Reloaded part 2 release.

TVXQ- Rise as god

tvxq2

In the year of 2003, a band with an legendary name as well as a unusually epic career began. Formed by SM entertainment TVXQ or DBSK (which stands for Dong Bang Shin Ki) roughly meaning Rising gods of the East, which is a high name to live up to. After their debut song Hug (which was not epic lol) TVXQ became a force in Korean and Japanese pop music. They were a groundbreaking and barrier breaking k-pop band reaching countries and audiences not yet touched by the newly growing k-pop industry. As time went on and their fame grew the good times hit a climax. In 2009 just even years after debuting three members split from TVXQ and sued their record label SM Entertainment to dissolve their contracts, for more info on why click here. In 2010 TVXQ  reemerged as a duo with the two members who decided to stay with SM entertainment Yunho and Chagmin. Becoming a duo was a drastic change, despite this setback TVXQ came back strong with their first single Keep your head down and the rest is history. TVXQ the duo began to rise again as gods of the east with a successful career and like before once TVXQ’s success reaches its zenith as a new challenge appeared. On July 21 Yunho was drafted into the Korean Army and the possibility of Chagmin entering later this year, meaning TVXQ will be on hiatus for at least two years. So before they leave the music industry for a while TVXQ released Rise as god as a farewell album for their fans.

A short TVXQ MV history

TVXQ –Hug

TVXQ – Triangle

I remember seeing this on t.v. in the U.S.A on the international channel!

TVXQ –Mirotic

TVXQ- choosy lover

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=044f9C9LBlE
Japanese single

TVXQ the Duo!!!

Keep your head down mv

Tvxq-Something mv

Riseasgod_cover

First track Vertigo opens with a vocal loop that repeats throughout the song. Powered by bass and a slight orchestral note Vertigo has a bit of the Epic sound I was hoping for. Yunho and Chagmin’s voices blend so well in the stanzas but more definitely in the chorus that it almost sounds like one voice is singing.
After the smooth dark intro by U-know and Max, U-know’s solo track Champagne brightens up the mood. With its disco-esque dance beat Champange is a definite party song. As it is Yunho’s solo track we are also graced with an accompanying music video.
Champange mv review
The music video for Champagne is as bright (literally) and energetic as its track. Yunho sheds his usual serious visage for a lighter and at times comical image in this mv. Yunho shows off his dance moves and even tries something a little different like his “cane dance” near the end of the music video.
Rise as one is Max’s first solo song on the album. Unlike like Yunho’s solo track Max is a slower tempo song with dramatic orchestral elements. It’s surprising with a chorus that places emphasis on we’ll rise as one that the song wasn’t sung as a duet.
Every day it Rains opens with the appropriately fitting sound of rain which then fades into the background of retro R&B music the beginning reminds me of never can say goodbye by Jackson 5. The premise of the song is how rainy days make the singer remember his ex-girlfriend. However it may not be truly just rainy days that stir these memories hence the songs closing line everyday it rains.
Smile lifts the mood with its jazzy melody which sounds very similar especially on the chorus to Grazing in the grass. Once again TVXQ shines with their vocals and use of English in the chorus.

Top of the world a bouncy piano infused number with 90’s flavor keeps the old school  theme flowing. High energy with a slightly laid back feel this song reminds one of R&B summer songs from the mid 90s.
Max brings down the high mood of Top of the world left us and leads us to the somber track Apology. As its name suggests it’s a song from the POV of a man missing his ex (once again) and offering apologies for his wrong doings almost to the point of begging hoping it would win his ex back.
Komplicated is Yunho’s second solo on the album and as expected is another dance track keeping with the old school theme. Komplicated brings as an early 90s house/dance themed track complete with minimalist instrumentals and repetitive lyrics. This song would fit right in on their Tone album.
Dominus meaning “master or lord” is a fitting title of this jazzy number about falling for a woman and wanting to her make his own. With its smooth jazz feel it would fit in well on one of their Japanese releases.
Lucky Star brings this farewell album to a close. This however is not a sober or sad song by any means. With its dramatic piano cords and building guitar in the dramatic chorus Lucky Star is more like an anthem song from TVXQ to the fans. After Lucky Star fades off (fittingly) the music of TVXQ will go silent for at least two years.

The selection of the solos highlight the contrast between the two singers Yunho (U-know) represented by upbeat danceable tracks while Chagmin (Max) shows his talents with slower, downbeat and somewhat solemn songs. As often with an impending loss or possible career ending event it tends to bring out the best in people in this case TVXQ. As a group that went through many hardships as a whole and individually in the end (for now) prove that they are truly The Rising gods of the East!

Let’s go back…….. to 2014 Taemin solo album ACE

Taemin has been a member of the super popular South Korean boyband “SHINee” since its inception (2008). As most boybands go SHINee’s catalog of works contained upbeat candy pop, dramatic anthems and R&B influenced pop songs. Being that Taemin is a member of this group one may typically expect his solo album to have similar influences. However this is not the case. As listeners will find out upon hearing the diverse tracks of Taemin’s first solo album ACE.

A very short video history of SHINee

   Taemin_Ace_EP

The following review is of tracks from the mini album that stood out to me as a listener.
Ace The album’s title track is a surprising intro to the album with its slight 80’s R&B ethereal vibe the airy chimes and keyboard notes creates a cool atmosphere that showcases Taemin’s lucent voice.

Danger Taemin’s debut song contains influences that is blaringly obvious from the first stanza: Michael Jackson. The song as a whole is an interesting mix of 90’s style euro-pop and Michael Jackson. MJ’s influence is heard in the details ranging from the song’s melodic rapping thru Taemin’s shouts of Danger! In case you are still not sure of  the Michael Jackson influence in threaded in Danger the video will clear that up.

Play Me brings us back to the flowy dream like sound that the opening  track Ace introduced. Taemin’s soft voice once again is complemented by lighter instrumentals and delicate melodies. Play me sounds like a homage to an older R&B song “Rock the Boat” by Aaliyah with its cool airy vibe and its repetitive chorus.

Pretty Boy This track interrupts the cooler tone Ace was leading. Taemin voice takes on a hint of base as he sings/raps with confidence and bursts with energy in the chorus. In variance with the track’s title of ”Pretty boy” Taemin tries to come across more macho and “hard” as a stark contrast to the smooth R&B crooner he portrays on the other songs off his album.

For a solo debut Ace demonstrated Taemin’s vocal talent in a musically diverse collection of tracks . The album as a whole establishes Taemin as a possible contender in the R&B realm, giving him a more mature and suave image than his k-pop counterpart (image?).

So what do you think about Taemin’s solo album ACE a year later? Did it help establish him musically and image wise as an solo artist?