It is becoming near impossible for me to do a full review on all the content released in Kpop while also keeping up with other personal endeavors in my life. While I still plan on reviewing music as a whole, I also want to write more things about Kpop than just new releases.
Therefore, I decided to take the format that I use for my “Song I Missed” series, but making it a full-on one. That doesn’t mean I’ll stop doing full reviews on songs occasionally, but only if it’s something I can really make a post out of. Beyond that, other songs will be compiled in my Songs I Missed lists!
So here’s to more diversity on Nae the Kpop Junkie, and here’s to the songs I missed over the past week or so.
Thunder ft. Goo Hara – “Sign” (December 6th, 2016)
Ever since MBLAQ virtually broke up in 2014, it’s been really unclear what is going on with any of the members. Thunder is probably the first to come out of the woodwork since then, this time with a solo comeback that’s about as awkward and forced as it sounds. While Thunder could play that aloof, mysterious guy well during his MBLAQ days, a lot of the cracks in this persona show up this debut. The song is fine and all, but it’s not something that caught my eye, even if you have the funk guitar in there (which I love, by the way), or if you have Goo Hara and Dara (Thunder’s older sister), behind it.
The song could be fine on its own, but the music video ruins it with the awkward “going-back-in-time” sequences that involve Thunder getting shot a lot, and Thunder not owning his character at all. If anything this debut did little to convince me that Thunder was worthy of being a solo act.
PENTAGON – “Can You Feel It” (December 6th, 2016)
I missed reviewing their debut, “Gorilla,” in October, but I think it’s safe to say that I didn’t like it that much (especially since one of the big parts of a chorus is acting like a gorilla when PENTAGON has a crush one someone, which is nothing short of scary imo). However, they’re from Cube Entertainment so they got a bit of a following from it anyway.
“Can You Feel It,” takes the light hip-hop present in “Gorilla,” and replaces it with some electric guitars to give it some edge. It also loses the weird circus-sounding horns that annoyed me before – and therefore I like it more. It’s not something I’d go searching for on my own, but it’s not bad. The music video is nothing much to talk about, although I have to admit I like the way they used the lights to interchange between three outfits the boys wear, and I also really like the dance sequences here because they remind me of when SHINee and INFINITE used complex dancing in their prime.
Jessica Jung – “Wonderland” (December 9th, 2016)
Jessica reminds me of the type of person you see in college who is kinda talented but doesn’t seem like she’ll get anywhere with it, and then ends up being rich and famous and you have no idea how. The only thing I ever saw going for Jessica was her voice, which is easy to distinguish because it’s light and airy but not that strong. She’s been trying to make a solo career since getting kicked out of Girl’s Generation in 2014, but it’s only been mildly successful and that might have something to do with SM Entertainment blacklisting her on music shows.
In “Wonderland,” it seems like Jessica is going in Taeyeon’s direction in music and image, since it sounds very “mom pop” and “inspirational.” However, I feel that Jessica may be going a little more on the nose about it (if you look at her previous single, “Fly“, you might understand what I mean). As a result it’s not really my cup of tea, and neither is the music video to be honest. It’s just all very “meh,” and despite the unfair way Jessica was kicked out, I still prefer the other Girls’ Generation solo artists any day of the week.
AS A SIDENOTE: Coridel Entertainment’s logo sequence at the beginning of the video sounds like the video forthcoming is a movie and not a Kpop single, and I find that kinda hilarious.
BIGBANG – Fxxk It (December 12th, 2016)
Big Bang is a lot of things in Kpop, but the last thing almost anyone would say about them is “boring.” One of the biggest contributors to the Hallyu Wave and one of the biggest groups in Korea, they make a scene every time they come back because they release multiple singles and videos, and basically make a big deal out of it.
Too bad this single was so disappointing.
It’s a nice and bright release when you think about it in context of the winter season, but as a full package it makes me wonder if YG said, “fuck it,” and created a lazy song and video just to please their massive fanbase (see what I did there). The video would be shocking with its implications of its members watching porn if they were younger, but all of them are close to their 30s and it doesn’t surprise anyone.
BIGBANG – “Last Dance” (December 12th, 2016)
Thankfully, BIGBANG came through with their second single this comeback, “Last Dance.” The song is a ballad with some light hip-hop elements , but it shows one how to do a Kpop ballad right because of its progression in the instrumental so you don’t get bored.
The video is also ten times better here than “Fxxk It” and that is solely based on its cinematography. The shots are faded from color with black and white, sepia, and blue washes, and the camera angles suggest a lack of certainty and confusion. Just by the video alone it’s a triumph, but the song is also beautiful and my favorite so far in BIGBANG’s latest comeback cycle.
However, it also suggests that BIGBANG may be on their last leg in their careers, since there’s a sense of loss and closure. I wonder if YG is thinking about disbanding BIGBANG at this point so their new groups, BLACK PINK and WINNER can carry the torches 2NE1 and BIGBANG lit for them. With the amount of big disbandments this year, it wouldn’t be a surprise if BIGBANG was next.
K.A.R.D. – “Oh NaNa” ft. Hidden Youngji
Out of the bunch of songs this week, this is the one I liked the most.
After being teased about in the most confusing way this past month, K.A.R.D. is the newest entry into co-ed Kpop groups released their first single, “Oh NaNa.” Coming from DSP Media, who had two of their groups disband this year (KARA and Rainbow respectively), it’s no surprise that DSP debuted a new group to make up for the fact their biggest money maker broke up and they gave up on Rainbow.
For a debut, this actually isn’t too bad. A sleek pop number, “Oh NaNa” fits the winter season but also gives us a darker feel than anything DSP has put out for artists thus far. On top of this, this is a co-ed group, which is a rare finding in Kpop these days, and a part of Kpop virtually untapped.
The music video lends itself to being a mysterious affair, from the dark lighting save for washes of red and blue, we also have the question of where former KARA member, Youngji, fits into all this. In the teasers she was advertised as a member of the group, but here it seems like she’s only a feature. Only time will tell with her standing in K.A.R.D.
Overall, solid debut. I like it a lot. I look forward to anything else they release later on.
SIDENOTE: It definitely isn’t weird that the name of the group is K.A.R.D., which sounds very similar to KARA, and it features a former KARA member…
And that’s all from me this week! What did you think of the releases this week? Let me know in the comments below! I’ll see you guys next time!