Category Archives: Kpop Music Videos

Kpop for Noobcakes 10 Best MVs of 2014

It’s no secret that Kpop suffered heavy losses this past year. The entire country collectively mourned for 3 weeks, leaving many schedules canceled and new releases pushed back. While I didn’t listen to them, the Ladies Code crash rippled to all parts of kpop, and other stars went through injury. Lastly, many prominent kpop stars pushed back against their contracts, switching companies or all together leaving the Kpop scene. Yet I found I was at no shortage of fabulous songs, and like last year, I had to cut songs from the honorable mentions section, let alone the top 10. So without further ado, I give you the music videos that I thought were the best this year. Scoring is biased towards the song, but the video also has a heavy weight to how high the song is placed on the list. Cultural relevance and years in the industry also have an impact on how well the song scores.

10. TVXQ- Spellbound

This year has been a fantastic one for swing, and the trend started with TVXQ on the first of the year when they came out with “Something”. “Spellbound” is the even better follow up to their first song of the year, adding a Vegas style flair to the “One shot” box style video that SM is known for. One thing that particularly impressed me about the video is that the backup dancers actually interacted with the camera instead of trying to blend in.

9. F(x)- Red Light

I rather liked the dark styling in this video and the almost round like song. It was an extremely different and memorable song. The draw backs to it were the lack of a climax and how loud the background layering comes through on headphones. It wasn’t mixed as well as I would have liked. All of the ladies were styled well to their personalities and the stylist left behind the usual Katamari ball of weird accessories.

8. Purfles 1,2,3

The first of several rookies on my list, Purfles took their solid harmonies to the bank on this club style Kpop song. Their name is kinda dumb, and their company is small so their distribution is limited, but I advise you to actively promote these girls and the other rookies on this list. All of the groups feature strong vocals, something I feel we need more of in Kpop. Purfles are still working on reaching cohesion live, but if their introduction video tells me one thing, its that their vocal talent may be rough, but its real. Also workout sections of songs are my soft spot, not to mention that her boxing was actually decent.

7. 2ne1- Come Back Home

This is the song I arguably have the most bias with. 2ne1 is my favorite band, and I identify as Blackjack when asked by another Kpop purveyor. This song sits at number 7 because is a slightly above average song with amazing production value. The song does not reach the level of quality I expect from 2ne1, but I spent weeks watching nothing but this music video. It looks gorgeous and has a story worth unraveling.

6. Kiss & Cry- Domino Game

Can we have more trumpet please in songs? The Latin flare and beat is so good in this Kpop song and the dance follows suit. The vocals are very strong, although whether the strong vocals continue after the loss of a member remains to be seen… its not for certain that the group will even be making a comeback. I hope that even if they do not make it back, that more rookie groups will be following in their style, strong vocals, strong image, strong dancing. Strong is sexy.

5. EXO K- Overdose

I think this song slammed its way onto my list because I (wrongly) attribute it to bringing back Kpop. It was the first song to be released after the ferry accident, and I was grateful to them. The ferry tragedy affected me like it did other Kpop fans, but it also occurred during my student teaching and I felt the tragedy a little differently as a teacher myself. Kpop was my way to bring me out of my funk and I was very happy when news of an EXO comeback came my way. Usually I like the M version of the song better, but for this release, I think the K version is much stronger.

4. Block B- Her

Block B’s move to Seven Seasons seems to be exactly what the doctor ordered for the group. While the lines really aren’t balanced anymore, it seems like Zico having a greater hold of creative control on the group has allowed the members to make videos that adhere to their sense of humor. In addition to that, the songs sound different, and that’s not only musical styling. Zico’s writing doesn’t rely on the same tropes that other pop songs seem to use, and so the words sound different than the typical “saranghae” nonsense. I would love to see more releases from them, or even subunit work.

3. Taeyang et ala- Eyes Nose Lips cover project

By itself, “Eyes, nose, lips” is a simple but forgettable ballad. The original song was well sung, and while Taeyang was shirtless for the entirety, the shooting never focused on what he looked like. Here is the original:

YG did a very smart thing with this song and allowed other artists on their label to reinvent the song in their style, bringing out the cover project. The first is the brother sister duo AKMU, who did the song in a soft spring-like indie style.

The second was the English rap ballad version done by Tablo of Epik High. Taeyang sings the bridge on this version in English. The lyrics are decent; listen to this one carefully.

The third and final YG cover is by Lydia Paek, a choreographer under YG. Her cover is a English Ballad. Lydia is formerly of Quest Crew, a dance crew based out of LA, so her English is very accurate and slang infused.

Lastly, while he is not under YG, Eric Nam, a Kpop artist born in Georgia did a verbatim English translation of Taeyang’s original song.

Now all of these songs separately would not be enough to make it onto the list, but together the concept of “Eyes, Nose, Lips” is enough to make it to the third spot on the list.

2. Mamamoo- Piano Man

This song nearly became my number one song of the year. Mamamoo debuted at the beginning of this year, but they seemed to be on very few Kpop fan’s radar. This song however, is a brilliant use of their vocal talents to deliver swing music that uses excellent piano that was clearly live recorded for the song. The video evokes a 1920’s speakeasy, and each idol is cast as a different person inside the club. What is even more spectacular than the video is the live performance, which not only sounds exactly like the recording, but every single performance version differs from the others. They do a different action or add a different flavor sentence to the blank spaces of the song. It gives the viewer a reason to sit through all the live versions to find the differences. It also shows how talented these girls are, to remember which version is happening at which show. There are at least a dozen live performances, and if you like this song even slightly, I encourage you to watch a live version… or two… or 8.

1. Spica- You Don’t Love Me

Do I even have to explain? I hope the 3 rookie groups mentioned on this list this year reach the vocal prowess that Spica just is. The styling of the video uses a lot of 40’s and 50’s makeup, hair and outfits, and while this is a box video, they actually interact with the set, to hilarious fashion at the end of the song. Their take on the use of butt padding in the industry is amusing as hell and the whole thing is quite frankly perfect. The only issue I’ve ever had with it has been the English translation of the song being not quite as girl power as the video is, but since I can’t speak Korean, it’s not really an appropriate complaint, nor would it change the spot on the list if I added that problem into the equation.

At the end of every list, I add five slots for videos that didn’t quite make it on the list. As for my honorable mentions:

1. Everything that Orange Caramel touched this year. Seriously, they had Catellena and My Copycat for main songs which both had awesome videos. They had a great commercial video for Baskin Robbins called Abing Abing, and my personal favorite Gangnam Avenue. If I liked their group concept even a tiny bit more than I do, any one of these songs could have been on the list.

2. High4 and IU- Not Spring, Love or Cherry Blossoms. This was huge in Korea, especially because they really like seasonally themed music. This is the first time I really enjoyed a song centered around the start of spring and how the writer did not want to have to deal with love blossoming.

3. Kara- Mamma Mia. I was pleasantly surprised with this song; I was worried with the loss of 2 members that Kara was not going to fair well. This song was really good.

4. Masta Wu ft. Dok2 & Bobby- Come here. It’s a guilty pleasure to be honest. I liked the stripped out mixing and I’m rather a fan of the flow of all the members featured. I have no idea what they’re saying and I think if I did I probably wouldn’t like it as much as I do. I’m trying to stay blissfully ignorant.

5. Got7- A. As you may be able to see by my lists, I enjoy female groups far more than male groups, because I like their singing a lot more. What carries this song is the video, especially the dancing and the humor used and how sometimes they intertwine the two. It’s also pretty damn catchy considering most of the chorus is AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAYYYYEEEEEEE.

Hoping for a good 2015 for Kpop. Have a happy New Year everyone.
❤ Rebecca

Saranghae: Purfles “1,2,3”

I think this is a perfect example of a over talented trio plagued by a stupid name. This song came out 6 days ago and just recently broke 100,000 views and I suspect there’s no hype because Purfle sounds strangely like the sequel to a Furby. It’s not, and it’s not even a poorly done translation of the English word Purple. A purfle is an ornamental design especially seen on the back of a violin. You know why I knew that? I looked it up and I bet most other people will have to do the same; purfle is not a common word. But their song tho:

The song is relatively simple, deep booming bass, simple rhythm and all the trimmings included in typical club music. Their vocals are typical for a Korean girl group until you get to the “nana” sections and the breakdown, where the harmonies kick in. It’s not the best thing since sliced bread, but it deserves more hype that 100k views in a week. I think I’m also a bit more hype about it because I can see them getting into even stronger vocals as more songs come out. We could have a tiny Spica on our hands, especially because their introduction sounds like this (only the first 10 seconds):

Also because their debut stage sounds rough but clearly not lipsynced. That ending flourish that wooyoung did after the breakdown was pretty damn cool.

As for the video itself, the club scene was ok, but please feed me workout videos all day long. Workout style shots celebrate the strength of the body, and the company shot them in greyscale, making the feel grittier and more raw. Even the shots featuring a body part typically panned or was shot in a wide angle, making the focus less on that particular body part and more on the act of working out. The ladies in this video are in control and I like that so much.

I can’t wait for their next song, and I look forward to more bands that sound like this and Kiss and Cry. This style needs to keep happening please.

❤ Rebecca

남주긴 아까워 by Spica S is a minor dissappointment

This is less of a review and more of an inquiry as to who else on the wordpress blogosphere feels the same way as me. To preface, I find it to be an enjoyable, well constructed song that just unfortunately sounded a lot more like Sistar than Spica. I like me some Sistar, but switching Sistar for Spica is like getting promised a well prepared steak and getting served M&Ms. Those two foods were picked because I feel like Spica has a meaty deeper tone that is full bodied, where Sistar is high and sugary. This song has low points (mostly the rap section) but stays extremely high and nasally throughout the chorus and most of the verses. I find that I can’t even enjoy the decently made music video, because I got something that was just so far away from what I wanted.

I think mostly it’s my fault. I really shouldn’t assume Spica – Boa is going to sound the same as Spica itself. The leader is an important voice to go without and I think that really impacted their sound. I also shouldn’t assume that Spica S SHOULD sound like Spica. Many sub units are formed simply because they want to take on a different sound, and many times I appreciate the branch from the original (looking at you Orange Caramel). I think my problem was I was thinking that this would be the opportunity for Spica’s members to shine while Boa wasn’t there, cause they would have a more generous line distribution. Instead I spent my time thinking about how much Bohyung sounded like Hyorin, how Juhyun sounded like Bora and how the other two just melted into the background. Very much standard Sistar.

To compare here is the song:

Here is Spica’s most popular song according to peak number in Korean charts:

And here is Sistar’s most popular song based on number of digital downloads (because Sistar has multiple number 1 songs):

Want to refute my opinion? Agree with me? Let me know if I’m going crazy or not, please.

❤ Rebecca

Kpop MV Day 26

Kpop Music Video: Day 26
“So Cool” by SISTAR (씨스타) under Starship Entertainment

Sistar is a 4 member girl band full of the peppiest songs and the sexiest times. They were formed in 2010 and have graced the Kpop world with their majesty for 3 whole years. Unfortunately for Sistar (and for most other Kpop bands), I have a tendency to compare them to Beyonce. I don’t know why, because I don’t think Beyonce is the best thing on the planet, but I feel like her life is a really solid thing to draw comparisons with so that people who don’t listen to Kpop have a pretty good grasp of what’s going on in the world of Hallyu. To shed some light, Sistar made some decent videos their first year, but none that really captured the kpop world by storm. They realized that they had to use sexy to take it over, so they made Sistar19 with two of the members of Sistar singing a vaguely Sistar type song and doing all the body rolling there ever was. After that, “So Cool” was released and so started Sistar’s meteoric rise of joining the A list of the Kpop world. Why is it like Beyonce? Cause Sistar is kinda like Destiny’s Child.

Here is the Beyonce of Sistar:

This is Hyorin. She is the Alpha and the Omega.
This is Hyorin. She is the Alpha and the Omega.

She has superior singing skills and excess sexy. She pretty much is the carrier for the group in terms of ability and could probably solo at any time if the management so chose. Which they do choose, because a solo project has been in the works for a while.  She is one half of the subgroup Sistar19, the group that garnered interest for the quartet initially and posed any amount of “threat” to SNSD after they released their single several weeks after I got a boy (chicken) this year.

And then here is the Kelly Rowland:

Meet Bora, the second half of sexy.
Meet Bora, the second half of sexy.

Now fans of this group may be wondering why I’m comparing Bora to Kelly, since Bora is the rapper for Sistar. If you had to pick a popularity tier the members in Sistar, Bora is definitely the Kelly Rowland to Hyorin’s Beyonce. Both very famous, one more famous than the other.   Bora doesn’t rule the world with the forcefulness of her rapping ability; it’s decent but it isn’t the best. Rather, Bora owns the world by sheer force of her legs. Her dance skills and quite frankly the way she looks is why everyone keeps talking about her.

Now I get to the sad part of this analogy. There are two more members in Destiny’s Child, and two more members in Sistar. The good part is I know the names of the 2 girls in Sistar. But I believe you get the point, Soyou and Dasom get completely overshadowed by the other two group members, even though Soyou is the main vocalist (she sings most of the choruses) and Dasom sings mostly the bridge, but makes up a majority of the acting talent in the group.

Here’s the lovely Soyou:

I'm glad I screen capped this image because most of the time she looks tame and she looks sassy in this picture. I'm a fan of sassy
I’m glad I screen capped this image because most of the time she looks tame and she looks sassy in this picture. I’m a fan of sassy.

And Dasom:

One of the best things about getting screen caps is you have to focus on members that you've never concentrated on before. Watch Dasom next time. You won't be disappoint.
One of the best things about getting screen caps is you have to focus on members that you’ve never concentrated on before. Watch Dasom next time. You won’t be disappoint.

One of the most remarkable things about Sistar is that they’ve managed to tread the sexy line for so and so well that I feel that they’ve never fell too far to one side. The sexy line is hard to maintain because you have groups like SNSD that really never got the chance to mature (save the outfits and dance in “The boys”) and on the other side you have Hyuna, Girl’s Day and Rania. Now I like all of the groups, but SNSD can be boring due to the girls trying to still be “Girls’ Generation” and not “Womans’ Generation”. The ladies are too old to be acting the way they do. And on the other side of the line you have Hyuna and Girl’s Day (Female President) that are using sex to sell. Now sexy is an image and yes it does sell, but there becomes a point where sexy will overshadow everything else in the video. Sistar always has a dance that features their butt in some sort of way, but I’ve always felt that was a trait of their dance as opposed to pandering to the audience.

Should you decide to continue on with Sistar, check out the following:

“Alone”, a sexy mature concept. Like the office version of everything sultry.

“Loving u”, their summer song. How you film on location correctly.

“있다 없으니까 (Gone, not around any longer)”, the latest from Sistar19

And then if you wanna get really into the background, check these out:

“나 이런사람이야 (I’m guy like this)” by DJ DOC, the guys in the neutral colored suits.

Sistar’s interview with Eat Your Kimchi:

❤ Rebecca

PS. You’ll find it funny that I thought Bora was Hyorin and Hyorin was Bora for about a year. I saw this video and got confused at the 2:03 mark where they show all the girls in front of the chairs with Bora first, and then they cut to a more close up of Hyorin, Soyou and Dasom, where Hyorin was first. I thought that they had cut out the left most girl instead of the right most girl and Hyorin was Bora from then on. She still kinda is Bora in my mind.

Kpop MV Day 25

Kpop Music Video: Day 25
Step by Kara under DSP Media

So after I put out my most recent 10 about, I realized that I had never put out a Kara video as a Music video day. This was upsetting to me as I feel that they are a strong band that had a lot of impact on the Korean market, and still continue to make bank in Japan. They are a 5 member group that debuted in 2007 and had their first major hit “Honey” in 2009. However, most of their success came from Japan, where they were the first foreign female group to have a number 1 hit on the first week since the creation of the Oricon charts. They also won New Artist of the Year award from the Japanese Golden Disk awards. I think that this may have been the reason they gained popularity:

Stole this magnificent gif from http://5shiningshinee.tumblr.com
Stole this magnificent gif from http://5shiningshinee.tumblr.com

The girls have grown up since this gif, taken from the song Mister (which I can only find in Japanese for some reason) and you can check out my 10 about if you’d like to see how much. However, Step seems to be a great merger between the image that Kara had then, and Kara has now. Kara in the beginning was very bubblegum pop, cute in a very Jpop inspired way as opposed to the SNSD route. I feel now they have a more mature feel, not necessarily sexy, just older. Step seems to be the last song from that old “cute” style of thinking and it allowed half of the members to remain cutsy while others could be sexier and more intense. The girls as shown in the Step video:

Nicole is the sexy lady on the left, Jiyoung thinks she's a duck, SeungYeon laughs at you, GyuRi is being dismissive and Hara's like "Whatever"
Nicole is the sexy lady on the left, Jiyoung thinks she’s a duck, SeungYeon laughs at you, GyuRi is being dismissive and Hara’s like “Oh hai”. Typical day in the life of Kara.

Now the song is absurdly catchy, and I think the video (which is a version of SM’s box videos hit with a Dr. Seuss color palette) is great at showing off the decent parts of the song. While this isn’t the butt dance from Mister, the hip sway is super sexy and super easy to replicate. Honestly, the fan dance-ability to this song is really high and that’s one of the great things about it. You mean I can stick my hands up in the air and jump up and down and then wave them from side to side and I’m doing it right? Awesome! Also, it’s a series of close ups and group dances, but the way they stage the “different clothing scene” is like a weird version of a street party, so it attempts to relax the feeling that they’re trapped in the box. In this, they own the box, it is their home and they invite their friends for dance parties. (This is further corroborated by Pandora, when someone opens the box and peers into their world. It’s a glass box, just look from the outside; don’t be a creeper.)

Those eyes are one of the most intense things I've ever seen.
Those eyes are one of the most intense things I’ve ever seen.

I also say that the girls are allowed to be more than just the kawaii idols from videos past, because even though the girls are all doing cutsy things, it’s hard for Nicole not to come off as sultry, and for Gyuri not to be the sexy unni (even if you’re older than her, because she looks mature). But most notable for me, Goo Hara is one of the most distinctive faces in Kpop. Her facial structure is razor sharp and her eyes can be so laser focused sometimes that I think she’s going to come out of the computer and discipline me. DSP, sexy librarian outfit. Make it happen.
They’re currently going through a ‘scandal’ to which I say, “honestly, what group’s aren’t going through a scandal?” Korea seems to expect their idols to be completely perfect, and I think that’s due to the highly competitive nature of the business over there. Goo Hara was one of the very few idols who was open about her relationship with another Kpop star, and she got alot of flack for it, especially when they broke up (which contributed to the current scandal). Kara in the past has also gone through a contract dispute, but they actually successfully resolved it with their company.

Anyway this is one of my most scatterbrained reviews, but I think that it’s the best I’ve got considering the blood loss from all the nosebleeds. Kara is one attractive group, this is a great song, and you should watch it. The end.

❤ Rebecca