The good, the bad and the ugly. Although it’s the title of a classic Western, that’s exactly how I felt reviewing these new releases in the third edition of Round-up-Review.
Korea’s ‘Queen of Pop’ – BoA -has been around the music scene for over a decade. And she’s only 25. Given BoA was only 13 when she debuted, and despite the fact there are K-pop idols older than her, Kwon Boa is still considered a ‘senior’ artist by her peers.
With her 2012 comeback, BoA released the title track “Only One,” but soon followed it up with the second single “The Shadow”. While “Only One” wasn’t bad, I instantly loved “The Shadow” on first listen! The song’s instant appeal (for me) was the old-school ’90s vibe, and in particular – Janet Jackson. The classic “If” – one of my favourite Janet tracks – was what came to my mind when watching the MV. It’s subtle, but clearly serves as an inspiration (hint: the dance at 1:30).
Due credit to SM Entertainment’s in-house producer/songwriter Kenzie, for it’s nice to hear a song that’s a throwback to a bygone decade but still manages to find a place in today’s purely electronic sound of music. – 4 out of 5 (Very Good)
KARA – “Pandora“
They may not be my favourite girl group in K-pop, but KARA won me over last year with “Step” – their best single to date (in my opinion). So when I heard they were making a comeback with the same producer, Sweetune, I held much anticipation.
Sadly, I was disappointed at first listen itself. So I gave it a few more listens. My opinion only moved slightly positive. I could get the bits that sounded like “The Chaser” mixed in with James Bond-inspired synthesizer hooks. But the fast pace and overall production… meh, just passable.
Unfortunately, Sweetune faltered on this one. It sounds a bit dated. Had KARA come out with this track around “Lupin,” sure. But after “Lupin,” “Jumping” and “Step,” this comeback track feels like a mis-step for a group that is supposed to be on-par with SNSD as far as status among K-pop girl groups are concerned. I really hope KARA have a re-package album coming, because DSP Media better select a finer song than this to keep their most valuable girl group on the right track. For a fifth mini-album release, “Pandora” was a box best left unopened. – 2 out of 5 (Poor)
G-Dragon – “One of a Kind”
The most talented member in BIGBANG – and all of K-pop possibly(?) – makes his solo comeback after a gap of three years. Known for his trend-setting style, it’s obvious fans can expect something away from the norm when you hear the name “G-Dragon”.
“One of a kind”. Truer words couldn’t be said about G-Dragon. The mega-talented idol is a singer, songwriter, producer and swagger-master all rolled in one. He’s a one man music army. The song, just like GD&TOP’s “Knock Out” isn’t an all out club stomper, but the swagger and the beats will still make you groove. The vibe is cool and if you appreciate urban music, you will appreciate this song.
The MV is best defined as: “wah?”. Tigers, random black kids, a bear cub, sexy female dancers and hooded male dancers. It’s all a bit random – and bizarre. But hey, that’s G-Dragon for ya. He even goes through an array of blonde hairstyles, looking at which I couldn’t help but nickname him “Ghetto Goldilocks”.
I hope G-Dragon’s got more music up his sleeve, but with a BIGBANG Japanese comeback on the cards, we may not see, or more importantly, hear new solo music from this K-pop genius for a while. Still, G-Dragon has given us enough awesome music in 2012 – first with his contributions to BIGBANG’s ‘Alive’ and now this. It may take a few listens, but you’ll love the groove once you are into it. Like the title says, the song is “one of a kind”. – 3.5 out of 5 (Pretty Good)
Previous K-pop Round-up-Reviews: