My Mainstream Playlist 01/05/2017

Thursday, January 05, 2017

There was a time when I published K-pop playlists on my blog. For a short time and they were pretty lame. But I thought maybe it would be fun come back to that, although I can't guarantee they're going to be any less lame. I tend to have a moderately mainstream taste in Asian music, so I usually go for the music that's in the charts as it is the easiest way to discover new songs.

So forgive my basic awesome taste, but here's what I've been listening to these days:

SEVENTEEN - "Highlight"

"Highlight" is the most recent song in this post as it came out just a few days ago and I immediately took a liking to it. It's a dance song with impressive vocals and an addictive electronic melody. 

The song is performed by Seventeen's sub-unit Performance Team, which includes the members Hoshi, Jun, The8 and DinoAlthough I tend to always miss the other members with most sub-units, I think it is working quite well for Seventeen, as they do have a huge member count and it's hard to include them all into a single song, without making it sound like a mash-up. So, I like that their sub-units help each of the members show their strengths and not get lost among the other boys. "Highlight" is successful at that, giving members like Jun and The8 a chance to actually sing more than one line, resulting in a more cohesive overall sound.

I really like the music video, which showcases their skillful dance moves, but thanks to good camerawork and beautiful individual shots it's not plainly a choreography clip. The minimalistic design of the set and cool lighting effects are also well-suited for this EDM track.

Berry Good - "Don't Believe"

It's actually my first time ever hearing there exists a group called Berry Good, but thankfully they caught my eye (ear?) with their newest release "Don't Believe". It's a surprisingly solid mid-tempo pop song coming from basically a nugu group. It's got a pretty good hook and an enjoyable chorus. I also like the girls' vocals, which are similar enough that they compliment each other, but different enough to make the song sound more dynamic. The English at the beginning is quite awkward, but since this is a rookie group some awkwardness is already expected.

Although the choreography for this song isn't particularly unique, I like it, especially since there's more emphasis on them moving around, than on them looking seductive and pretty.

Seo In Guk - "BeBe"

After years of watching Seo In Guk in dramas, I had almost forgotten he debuted as a singer after winning Superstar K's first season. He's one of those singers that has totally turned around his career by moving onto acting and being rather good at it, so I was never expecting him to really return to music. Surprisingly, however, he came out with a solid R&B track "BeBe", reminding me how talented he is musically as well. Smooth and sexy, the song gets better with each listen and fits well with my current winter mood.

The music video also has an attractive aesthetic, with a color scheme that contrasts warm colors with cool tones and makes everything look all moody and artsy.

SEVENTEEN - "Boom Boom"

If I'm being honest, "Boom Boom" didn't capture my interest immediately like Seventeen's summer single "Very Nice". However, I do enjoy their teamwork together as dancers and after watching them perform the song live, it grew on me. It's really a song that's better when you watch the boys dancing along and winking at the camera. Having said that, it's not meant as a criticism to the song since K-pop has always been about the whole package - song, music video, choreography - and taking away one of them can hurt the overall experience, and that's what I mean here. So, because the boys are such talented performers, I like watching how the visuals work together with song.

Key (SHINee) & Do Young - "Cool"

I don't have much to say about this entry. This was shared on Twitter by one of my followers and it was too catchy to not include. I never even watched 38 Task Force, so it was not one of those drama OSTs that grew on me after the umpteenth time it was played. I just like it, it's cool.

MAMAMOO - "Décalcomanie"

We can all agree that MAMAMOO is one of the most talented K-pop groups out there today, but even if that's the case, their song releases tend to vary from hit to miss for me. "Décalcomanie" is a hit. It would be redundant to say the vocals are amazing (though they are), but what makes this song good in my eyes is that it's not trying to just sell me the vocals, which sometimes can be a issue for me with this group. Instead, it actually has the energy and flow that makes the song itself addictive, while the vocals are there to enhance it and make it sound glorious. 

I do think the music video is a little weak. It lacks a good concept and the male models are awkward props. At least the girls look great, but since they always look great, I'm not sure it's a compliment.


YG's 2NE1 replacement group BLACKPINK might finally be settling into a style that suits them. Or at least I hope so, because if their future releases are anything like "Stay", I might genuinely become a fan. It's a beautiful pop ballad with a lovely melody and nice rhythmic touches that keep it from being a mopey love song or a bad cliche. It's actually a song that I can see myself listening to years later and think "damn, it's a pretty good song". It still reminds me of 2NE1 (especially reminiscent of "Lonely"), but this time in a good way. It isn't a tryhard attempt at being trendy or being hip-hop, but it's more timeless and earnest, and I can buy that.

SHINee - "Tell Me What to Do"

I like when SHINee shows off their vocal prowess, but I also like when they don't sing bland ballads. This is why "Tell Me What to Do" works for me. It's a nice balance between a ballad and a dance track, giving Jong Hyun, Onew and Tae Min a chance to wow us with their far-carrying vocals, without getting too weepy and dramatic in the process. I've heard mixed opinions on the song, some claiming it's too boring, others saying the sound is confusing, but I'm personally a fan. I think the EDM synth works well here, even if it's an easy way to liven up a ballad, and the echoing longing in the members' voices adds to the narrative in the lyrics. 

I do wish Min Ho's rapping was better as it sticks out like sore thumb next to beautiful vocals, but I've kinda learned to block out his rapping and focusing on his lovely face instead.

AOA - "Excuse Me"

Girl group AOA made its anticipated comeback with two new tracks - "Bing Bing" and "Excuse Me". Sadly, the first was kinda impossible for me to listen to due to Ji Min's chipmunk rapping and awkward "hey!"-s ruining every bit I found remotely enjoyable. "Excuse Me" was thankfully a lot better and after a few listens it became decently catchy. It also helps that "Excuse Me" has a much better video concept and outfits that accompany the song nicely. I even like the choreo, although, as usual, it's more focused around the members' sexappeal rather than actual dancing. That said, I'm not prudish enough to pretend that I'm not aware how hot these girls are.

Ladies Code - "The Rain"

I feel a little guilty for admitting that Ladies Code came into my attention only after the tragedy that took the life of two its members, but that is sadly the case. Since then the remaining members have made two comebacks, the latest one promoting mini album "Strang3r" and its title track "The Rain". This latest release is beautiful and haunting with its kinda moody, kinda jazzy sound. The music video also perfectly accompanies the song with gorgeous visuals and artistic direction. Put together, the song and video create an experience that feels quite unique in the mainstream K-pop scene.

By the way, allegedly, no goldfish were harmed during the making of the video. 

B.A.P. - "Skydive"

I'm glad that B.A.P. has finally overcome, more or less, the mess of a situation with TS Entertainment and are back to making music that I like. In November, the boys made their comeback with second studio album "Noir" and title track "Skydive" that is accompanied by an epic 10-minute music video. It also makes me happy that the group seems to have returned to their roots, with "Skydive" reminding me their earlier works "Power" and "One Shot". This musical style suits them the best and allows the members to show their strengths the most, be it rapping, dancing or overall performance energy. I do hope 2017 brings more success to B.A.P. and that Yong Guk recovers well, so that the group can resume to being awesome. 

I did watch the 10-minute music video as well and while I don't think it's anything I haven't seen before, it's quite decent for a drama MV. It's certainly not as cringy as I expected.

GOT7 - "Hard Carry"

It took me a while to start liking this song, but it certainly grew on me over time. I still have no idea what exactly "hard carry" is supposed to mean, but I figure it's some slang phrase that I'm too uncool to understand. Again one of those songs that's better when you watch the members dance along to it, and thankfully that's exactly what the music video is for.

Previous favourites (that I've listened far too much by now, but wanted to share to give a bit context to what this playlist follows):

BTS - "Blood, Sweat & Tears"
Ailee ft. Yoon Mi Rae - "Home"
IOI - "Very, Very, Very"
Yoon Mi Rae - "Jamcome on Baby"
Monsta X - "The Tiger Moth" (Shopping King Louis OST)
Juniel - "The Time" (Shopping King Louis OST)
Jung Joon Young - "Where Are You?" (W: Two Worlds OST)
Infinite - "The Eye"
Drug Restaurant - "Mistake"
Luna - "Free Somebody"
Vixx - "Fantasy"
Sistar - "I Like That"

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