K-pop Round-up-Review: U-KISS, A-Pink and Trouble Maker

I didn’t want to dedicate one post to each one of these songs, and thus, one post for all. First up, a boyband that made me shut up and take them seriously this year.

U-KISS – “Tick Tack”

U-Kiss Japan single Tick Tack mv members screencap
U-Kiss deliver another smashing single to appease their fans

I know, this is their Japanese single. So technically it’s J-pop, and not K-pop. But aside from the Japanese lyrics, everything else about this song and video just reeks ‘K-pop’. From the standard ‘wiping lips with finger’ actions to the song itself. Produced by the same geniuses behind much of U-KISS’s stellar Korean album ‘Neverland,’ this song could have easily began as a Korean track that was then changed to Japanese. But for once, Japanese really works for this song — it sounds natural.

It’s a heavy dance track, yes, but the vocals are still given a chance to shine (although the ‘non-singers’ in the group, Eli and Dong Ho just mouth their allotted lines). The choreography isn’t bad and I particularly love the part at 1:40, how they spread apart with that leg dance.

U-kiss Japan pv Tick Tack screencap
Finger swiping lips. Yup, this is still K-pop alright.

I felt sorry for U-KISS after they failed to win a single award despite appearing on just about every Korean music show for nearly two months promoting “Neverland” and then “Someday”. Here’s hoping the boys do really well in Japan with “Tick Tack”.

Rating: 4 out of 5 (Very Good)

Update: U-KISS’s Kevin tweeted this:

U-kiss Kevin Woo tweet
Thanks Kevin, this clarifies both my doubts!

A-Pink – “My My”

One of the more hyped girl groups of 2011… but yet another that I cared a damp squib about with their first single. A-Pink, from Cube Entertainment’s sister company, were just another one of those cutesy angelic young idol groups that found a fanbase among the tween crowd and the older “oppa” crowd. I wasn’t either of them.

Their comeback song though…

… is pretty good! Sure, they still haven’t strayed away from their formula and the girls look innocent as ever. My only gripe is — man, they all look alike! Usually for such reviews, I would make a screen cap photo of each member but after figuring out four of the members, I just couldn’t figured out who the other three individuals were!

A-pink My My music video members screencap kpop

Anyway, the song. A lot of people have said it’s a throwback to the first generation of K-pop girls groups, like Fin.K.L and S.E.S. But since I never grew up listening to them, the reason this song still resonated with me is because of it’s very 90s vibe. I was instantly taken back to the days of Mariah Carey’s “Dreamlover” and Shanice’s “I Love Your Smile,” and “My My” has the same retro pop vibe many such pop hits had in the 1990s. Even the dance choreography in “My My” is very 90s-inspired.

A-Pink have really good vocals, so in many ways, I feel this group will eventually grow the SNSD-way and shed their cutesy image in a year or two (and turn ‘sexy’ eventually). If not that, I hope the girls at least get different hair cuts!

A-pink My My mv screencap mithunonthenet
Yes…erm, whichever one you are… I’ll anticipate A-Pink’s next release

Rating: 3.5 out of 5 (Good)

Trouble Maker – “Trouble Maker”

Another Cube Entertainment offering and a rather surprising project. 4Minute’s HyunA and B2ST’s Jang Hyunseung form the duo Trouble Maker, something quite different and not an expected idol pairing. HyunA’s hot off her “Bubble Pop” viral hit and B2ST has had a great year with “Fiction“.

Trouble Maker HyunA Hyunseung mv screencap kpop

After a steamy performance at MAMA 2011, expectations were sky high and with the song officially out, Trouble Maker doesn’t disappoint!

The instant I heard the whistle, I wondered if the people behind this track were influenced by Maroon 5’s “Moves Like Jagger”. The other song that came to my mind upon hearing the whistle part was the hook from Perfume’s “Love Beam”. Influences aside, “Trouble Maker” still stands on its own as a funky pop song with a catchy chorus.

Troublemaker JS Hyuna video sexy screencap k-pop
What HyunaA gets in ‘sexy’ screen time, Hyunseung makes up for with more lines to sing

Cube gets a lot of criticism for promoting HyunA way too much. For good reason. I mean she already had her solo success with “Bubble Pop” and became a sex symbol overnight. From cute to sexy, Hyuna is surely one of the prettiest k-pop idols out there and Cube really have a ‘star’ on their roster. Her sexy demeanor works for Trouble Maker, but it does seem a bit unfair when an artist whose singing capabilities are lacking gets way too much attention than say, her fellow 4Minute members. Oh well, if Britney Spears can last 10 years…

Even though the song is essentially ‘Hyunseung featuring HyunA,’ for the sake of the visuals, the pairing makes sense. The MV is alright: sassy, sexy and… erm, actually I don’t know what the video was about. Two spies/agents spying on each other? Get caught, make out? Somebody gets shot in the end? Who knows, maybe there will be a continuation.

Which I hope there is. Judging by the song alone, “Trouble Maker” will be a hit and should do very well on the charts. I’m sure 2011 is not the last we have seen of these two ‘trouble makers’.

Rating: 4 out of 5 (Very Good)

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