I can finally write about k-pop now that most of the groups that I follow are releasing stuff left and right. The first half of 2011 was kind of a dud to me. I barely kept up with k-pop and 2PM was mostly doing activities in Japan so my fangirling was a bit on the low side. For me, the only solid releases during the first half was TVXQ’s Keep Your Head Down which I followed for weeks, EPIC EPIC song and performances that were worth the time. Big Bang also released Tonight which is one of my favorite k-pop tracks for 2011 and Love Song, which was a solid melody but unfortunately had boring performances. Other than that I loved Joo’s Bad Guy single, Dalmatian‘s mini, U-Kiss surprised me with less cringe-y songs after Xander and Kibum’s departure from the group and Kahi‘s single which was melodically okay, but still kind of a dud. The most disappointing comeback for me so far is definitely 4Minute. Mirror Mirror is a horrible song and Heart to Heart does not suit them! I was expecting so much after last year’s epic with HuH and I My Me Mine. Better luck next comeback I guess.
AFTER SCHOOL – SHAMPOO
May rolled in and one of my favorite girl groups, After School, released Shampoo. It was also the last record before Bekah (one of my favorite members) “graduated” from the group. After School is the only group I really like outside of the BIG 3 (SME, YGE, JYPE) + CUBE and Bekah is one of my favorite girls in k-pop so I know this comeback counted for something. They ditched their fierce persona but unlike 4Minute (whose concept did not resonate with me at all), their replacement track was great. I genuinely loved Shampoo from the start. The soft synth mixed well with the soft feel of the song. I will miss Bekah’s flawless English rapping.. but I wish her all the best back home in Hawaii.
F(X) – DANGER & HOT SUMMER
f(x) released ???? (Danger) and I was pleased another girl group I liked had came out with something worth following. Before anything, can I say how hot Krystal is now? I know how she’s a bitch and everything but you can’t deny this girl’s hotness. She rose from being my least favorite members to one of my favorites now. Of course, I still love Victoria and adorable boyish Amber.. I think it’s Amber who really makes f(x) a significant group that it is. I was more pleased with Hot Summer, their follow-up single than Danger although both aren’t wow-songs. They still follow the format of f(x) speaking out the lyrics but I like how you don’t have to take these tracks seriously and just enjoy them as it is.
JAY PARK – ABANDONED
Abandoned English version
Jay finally released his first solo mini album on April but because I was too busy having fun during my vacation I didn’t get to listen to his singles until May. I have to admit it took me time to get used to his new sound. Of course, being a 2PM fan through and through, even though I don’t fully follow Jay’s activities he’s still got my support one way or another. Abandoned was a really solid track which showcased his true talents and where his music direction is headed. It’s very American though.. I would’ve preferred it in English rather in Korean 🙂 this track really proved to have a strong American R&B influence.
BEAST – FICTION
Since I didn’t really follow many k-pop releases this year (aside from my favorites) I managed to skip Beast’s Fiction too. But after I saw their last few performances of Fiction on music shows I realized I actually liked this song. There’s this love/hate thing I have with Beast. I only like them when they’re promoting and performing but other than that the only members I care about is DJ and JH. I thought Fiction was really really good. It’s solid, it shows that Beast really has the vocal and dancing talent. Plus of course like all their recent songs I loved the choreography of this one and the styling wasn’t bad either. They’ve really managed to establish themselves as a group rising to the top with strong synthpop backing and complex choreography.
2PM – HANDS UP
HANDS UP!!! Of course, the only comeback I was longingly waiting for finally came. Remember how I was in Singapore on my birthday? 2PM was there on the same weekend shooting an MV and little did I know it was for this song. I didn’t even know they were gonna have a comeback as fast as June. Anyway, it was everything I wanted and more. JYP explained that 2PM’s finally out of their emo and ridic stage and they’re just here to party and have fun. And boy they did. If there’s one thing you can count on 2PM to be consistent on, it’s their energy. Nobody can deny that. They’re not perfect singers but they can bring a stage alive like no other singers can and that’s what I love most about them. On-stage and off-stage they’re my boys forever <3
2NE1 – I AM THE BEST & UGLY
I AM THE BEST
2NE1’s releases this year were both instant favorites for me. Being one of my favorite girl groups, I thought I AM THE BEST was amazing. It was alive and stayed true to 2NE1’s position as a top girl group in Korea. The only gripe I have is the ridiculous styling and how they can’t seem to get away from this concept. I missed their old styling when it was hip, crazy, fun and over the top awesome without having to be over the top ridiculous. Whatever though, 2NE1’s still undeniably a great group. Especially after their last album To Anyone, which was great don’t get me wrong but after a while it just felt like pots and pans so I AM THE BEST was a step up. 2NE1 also followed up with UGLY, which was different but not unusually different you know? They only moved away from the booming beats and sang a song with deep feelings and CL nails the choruses perfectly (What can’t CL nail actually?).
MISS A – GOOD-BYE BABY
When it comes to JYPE I admit I am pretty biased because it’s my favorite entertainment company (it’s got 2PM after all). So when miss A debuted last year, they had my instant following. It helped even more that they adapted the no-concept concept which is pretty new when it comes to k-pop because there ALWAYS has to be a concept. It was refreshing. They only showed their talents in singing and dancing to a catchy song with simple outfits. That’s what made them one of 2010’s biggest rookies. Fast forward this year, they finally made their comeback with Good-bye Baby and again, I found myself really loving the song. I loooooooove this song, genuinely. Their concept still follows the no-concept concept (lol) but this time with a more glamorous and mature feel. miss A did it again.
AFTER SCHOOL RED – INTO THE NIGHT SKY
After Bekah’s graduation, After School was left with equally 8 members so their company decided to split them into two sub-groups. After School Blue and After School Red. I already knew which group I would like from the minute the members for both subs were announced. A.S. RED presented the fierce sexy concept while A.S. BLUE adapted the cute and girly one. Red has 3/4 of my favorites: Kahi, Jungah and Nana so with UEE it completes the tall and sexy roundup. The song is okay, it’s very catchy and addictive but it doesn’t really spell FIERCE. The video on the other hand, it’s like a Korean Pussycat Dolls mv. Suffice to say it’s one of my favorite k-pop videos so far. The direction was simple but the execution didn’t come out cheap.
SUPER JUNIOR – MR. SIMPLE
The whole of k-pop blew up the minute the concept photos of the group were revealed. They were shocking, weird, colorful, ridiculous, crazy, outrageous but purely Super Junior and that’s what we love most about them. The boys are finally back with their 5th album. The single still follows their pattern of Sorry Sorry and Bonamana, I mean why wouldn’t they, those 2 songs were long-term hits. Mr. Simple is a weird weird song, but it’s listenable and very enjoyable. It mixes all the components the group has and being 10 members, it’s certainly not easy. I guess that’s what I like about k-pop. No level of crazy can really shock me anymore. As always, SJ is always consistent with their over-the-top-over-the-place choreography but I thought the MV didn’t do it justice and they looked really tired. The live performances on the other hand, are always the ones I look forward to watching.
Superman + Mr. Simple comeback stage
New comebacks to look forward to are coming soon! GD&TOP are coming back in a few weeks (LIKE FINALLY), Taeyeang my love is out with a new song on September and so is Girls’ Generation.