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Jay Park – ‘New Breed: Part 1’ album review: Star rising

Just when you thought I could take a break from writing k-pop reviews at the end of year, my favourite k-pop solo artist decides to push out one half of his new album. Still… I’m not going to complain. New music from Jay Park, yay!

It was only last month that Jay released the digital single “Girlfriend,” but now the burgeoning global star is set to release his first full album. Well, in two halves that is.

Jay Park New Breed part 1 album cover korean pop
Not a great album cover... but whatever

After uptempo singles — “Abandoned,” “Tonight” and “Girlfriend” — Jay Park slows things down with his latest single “Star” (๋ณ„).

Jay Park Star music video screencap kpop

The song is a smooth ballad, but being a Jay Park single, still features some choreographed dancing. “Star” didn’t win me over instantly but the song slowly grew on me after repeated listens. It’s got a nice chorus, and Jay’s vocals are fine… except when he attempts the high notes during the bridge – it felt stressed, and shows his limits as a singer in some ways. Jay Park’s a good singer, no doubt, but he’s just a not a power singer.

The choreography is alright – but I do wish Jay would work with choreographers other than his own friends. The moves often resemble dances from past performances. I know Jay likes to help and support his crew and all, but I would like to see something radically different for a change.

As for the video…

Jay Park kissing girl Star MV kpop
Another video, another chance to kiss the girl in the MV. Hmmm, I wonder who comes up with all the ideas for the videos ๐Ÿ˜‰

The MV for “Star” looks like it was filmed by the same production crew that worked on “Girlfriend,” because both videos have the same polish. I’m not really feeling Jay’s mohawk, it looks too big a cut for his head. Then again, I’m a straight guy who cares little for fashion– why should I nitpick about his appearance right?

“Star” may not be a stand out single like “Abandoned” was, but considering there is surely another single coming early 2012, I’m sure Jay chose this song to showcase his diversity as an artist as supposed to something we know we are used to hearing from Jay Park. My rating: 3/5

Here’s a mini-review of the rest of the tracks on the mini-album:

2. “Enjoy The Show” (Feat. Dok2 & The Quiett) – As “Star” ends and track 2 begins, as soon as you hear the first “mother fucker,” you know Jay doesn’t give a shit about being a mainstream popstar! ๐Ÿ™‚ This song is easily my favourite track on the mini-album! Loved it on first listen, especially when the chorus kicked in: “nyah-nyana-nah-nah”. Ha-ha-ha… who has ever used that in a song properly?! And I know damn sure that’s going to turn into a fan chant when this song is performed live. Imagine how funny it would sound! Of course, aside from the taunt, Jay Park proves he’s such a 2NE1 fanboy with the clever inclusion of the “I Am the Best” line in Dok2’s rap. – 4/5

3. “Up And Down” (Feat. Dok2) – Another track featuring Jay Park’s favourite rap collaborator Dok2, track 3 is an electro-pop dance song. Good track, but as soon as I saw the song title I somehow knew the lyrics to match “up and down” were not going to be the most original. – 3.5/5

4. “I Got Your Back” – A very American-sounding R&B track, so if I were to wager a guess — this was written in English first? (Heck, for all I know, Jay writes all his songs in English first) The vocals are smooth, the chorus is cute, and the tempo is maintained throughout. – 3/5

5. “Canโ€™t Live Without You” – If this song sounds familiar, it’s because this is just an acoustic version of track 3 from Jay Park’s ‘Take A Deeper Look‘. I actually prefer this version and his vocals sound better in this recording – something I felt was amiss when I reviewed that album earlier this year. – 3/5

————-

If this was Jay Park’s way of teasing us fans with what’s coming in 2012, he’s done a mighty fine job of whetting our appetites. “Star” may not be a favourite of mine, but just like “Girlfriend,” I don’t see Jay promoting it a hell lot. This being the year end and everybody taking a break, Jay’s definitely got a better uptempo single in store to lead the latter half of New Breed‘s full release next year.

‘New Breed’ may be Jay Park’s last Korean release for a while as he did mention that 2012 will see him begin work on an English album (now that he is signed to Universal Music Group).ย ‘New Breed: Part 1’ is a sign that Jay Park is slowly gearing up for greater success as an international star. The production quality on this album is few notches higher than it was on TADL, and I just can’t wait to hear the tracks on ‘New Breed: Part 2’. Don’t make us wait too long Jay! ๐Ÿ™‚

My final rating for ‘New Breed: Part 1’ – 3.5 out of 5 (Good)

Update 07/02/2011: ‘New Breed’ the full album is out! My review of the other tracks can be found here: Jay Park โ€“ โ€˜New Breedโ€™ full album review: Quality and value like no other in K-pop!

Jay Park – “Girlfriend” review: He kissed a girl!

After releasing his first mini-album as a solo artist back in April, Jay Park is back with a new single! Jaebom had tweeted a few weeks back wondering if he should release something now and a mini-album next year – or – make us fans wait until 2012 for new music. I guess Jay ultimately decided he didn’t want Jaywalkers to wait that long! ๐Ÿ™‚

Jay Park Girlfriend MV screencaps Jaebom
Unfortunately, all we get for now is a single

“Girlfriend” isn’t something I was expecting as a single from Jay. I mean, as an album track, yes — but not as a single. Which isn’t to say it’s a bad song:

After “Abandoned” and “Tonight,” Jay makes no qualms about his love for rapping and chose to showcase his rhyming skills more than his singing with a single release like “Girlfriend”. I love the beats and his rapping is slick! It’s the kind of hip-hop I really love. The chorus is sweet, but all-in-all, “Girlfriend” is smooth rap track in the same vein of B.o.B’s “Nothin’ On You” — and we all know how much Jay Park loves such songs ๐Ÿ˜‰

As for the music video, again it’s an unexpected one from Jay Park. It shows he’s maturing and growing as an artist, and does away with the expected choreographed dances. But a Jay Park MV without dancing? Surely not, and “Girlfriend” features a dance break in a club soon after the very first chorus. It does break the flow of the song early on but it works for the narrative of the video, which shows Jay trying to win over a girl he first spots at a cafe.

Of course, Jay impresses the girl with his slick b-boy moves, surprises her by placing headphones over her ears, and tunes back to the song asking her to be his girlfriend. Then he takes her out on a date and brings her back to his room — which is full of photos of her pasted all over his wall! Now, in the MV, the girl smiles. But all I kept thinking was: “Wow. Stalking much Jay?” LOL

Jay Park Girlfriend video screencaps Jaebom kissing
Obsessive Jay Park fangirls aren't going to like this actress much

It’s refreshing to see a Jay Park video with a female lead. Mostly because Jay is hardly ever seen around the company of women! “Abandoned” did feature a sexy girl but the scenes which featured Jay and her were blink-and-miss. I figured it was because Jay looked so awkward acting with her, and although the awkwardness hasn’t completely worn off, in “Girlfriend,” Jay has improved a lot with his expressions and ridding his shyness on camera.

With most of k-pop following an unsurprising formula, I can always count on Jay Park to release a song that strays away from the usual k-pop sound. Maybe it’s because Jay writes all his music in English first and then turns them into Korean. That’s probably why his songs don’t necessarily feel like standard ‘k-pop’. Just like “Abandoned,” “Girlfriend” too would sound just as good with English lyrics. (Take the hint Jay ;))

I can’t wait to see what Jay Park has in store for 2012. It may not have happened yet, but I still stand by what I wrote about Jay’s impending global stardom when I saw him live in Bangkok last year. I can’t wait for his English album, and if that’s not happening soon, I’ll still eagerly await his next Korean release in early 2012.

My final rating for “Girlfriend”: 4 out of 5 (Very Good)

Jay Park – ‘Take a Deeper Look’ album review: About time!

It’s finally here! Jay Park finally makes his solo debut!

2011 may only be into its fourth month, but with the deluge of idol groups hitting the Korean pop scene, the music has gotten pretty stale to me. Every time I heard the line “Check it out…” “…Brand new sound!” as the intro to some song from new idol groups, all I kept thinking was: “Nope, it’s the saaaame sound I heard yesterday from that other girl group who debuted!”.

There have been a few decent songs this year, but after being disappointed by the comeback offering from my second favourite girl group (first being SNSD), I had all my hopes pinned on Jay Park to actually bring something fresh to the K-pop scene.

I’ve been anticipating Jay Park’s solo debut for a while now. Ever since I heard “Demon” last year, I knew this dude was destined to be the next big star. Not a star like how Rain is popular as an ‘Asian star,’ but a star of Asian descent who will become a worldwide superstar!

For one, he has the advantage of being American (of Korean descent). Born in Seattle, Jay Park grew up dancing and performing, and his influences are deep in R&B and hip-hop — not cutesy idol pop. Not to mention his love for b-boying.

Since leaving getting kicked out of 2PM, Jay Park has been slowly whetting the appetite of his fans, a.k.a Jaywalkerz. A few YouTube covers later, he’s now out with his first album ‘Take a Deeper Look‘. He’s on his own now, so he has the freedom (I guess) to do the kind of music that he wants, not what JYP any labels wants him to do.

Jay Park Take A Deeper Look album cover Abandoned single

Which brings us to his first single “Abandoned”.

My review:ย  “Abandoned,” if sung in English, would sound like a lot of the modern day R&B one would hear on radio. I love the chorus, the overall look of the sets, and the choreography by Andrew Baterina is slick! It’s not a ‘fresh new sound’ but a good track in the same vibe of many other good pop R&B tracks from artists such as Ne-Yo & Chris Brown. For a self-penned track, it’s a great effort — given how rare it is that K-pop stars make their own music. If I were to nit pick, it would be Jay looks so awkward from 0:05 to 0:07. Yeah he’s short, and quite shy in real life so I can imagine how awkward it may have been to do some of the scenes in this MV :). I hope he recorded an English version of the same. Or at least has a dance only version of the music video!

My rating – 4/5

As for the other tracks:

Touch The Sky (Feat. The Quiett)” – Kicking the album off with a smooth hip-hop track, Jay Park straight away reminds listeners he can rap too. Love the beat and the retro loop music. (This track also reminded me of the late Nujabes) – (4/5)

“Tonight” – I’m guessing this was supposed to be the first single, but after BIG BANG released their hit “Tonight” a few weeks back, Jay Park and SidusHQ may have had second thoughts on pushing back this track for a second single release. It’s more fast-paced and only the pop-sounding track on the album. Not bad, but I’ll probably like it better with the video.

Jay Park Tonight ์˜ค๋Š˜๋ฐค MV music video screen capsUpdate (11/05/2011): The MV is out!

Here’s my review:

I’m kinda disappointed :-/ When I watched the behind-the-scenes from a news interview a few months back, the concept seemed cool: dance all the way to a party. But seeing the final result, to me it comes off as a half-assed effort. Stepping out of the house, I would have thought Jay and the ‘public’ would be pulling off slick dance moves continuously and pulled along more people on the way to ‘the club’. At least that is what I thought the concept was. But instead, the dancers seem restricted by the set. Maybe, they should have stepped out and filmed this in the real world and on the streets. Another thing, it’s as though the camera cuts away every time the director felt Jay’s facial expressions (or acting) wasn’t good enough. (Jay’s really got to improve on his facial expressions!) Also, did Andrew Baterina work on the choreography for “Tonight” as well? Because some of the moves look recycled from “Abandoned“. Overall, it’s a cute video which his younger female fans will appreciate, but it really doesn’t improve the song much for me.

My rating – 3/5

“I Can’t Be Without You” (๋„ˆ ์—†์ด ์•ˆ๋ผ) – A slow-tempo R&B ballad. I don’t know, Jay’s vocals sound a bit off to me on this track. (2/5)

“Don’t Let Go” – Keeping the tempo, another smooth R&B ballad. Listening to the track, it makes you wonder if Jay writes a song in English and then translates it into Korean. (3/5)

“Level 1000” (Feat. Dok2) –ย  Essentially a rap track with a gangsta vibe. Jay Park raps pretty well and is joined by his buddy Dok2, who also appeared on “Abandoned”. (3/5)

Update (14/05/2011): Even this track got a music video! (Although on a much, much lower budget)

Bestie” – Essentially the Korean version of โ€œBestie,โ€ an English track Jay Park released last year and performed at his fan meets. The chorus is concert-friendly and a fun track Jay performs with his AOM posse.

Listening to the album, you know Jay Park is striving to be a R&B star, and not a pop star per se. All the tracks, with the exception of “Tonight,” have a strong R&B/hip-hop vibe and I wonder if they would have sounded better had they been sung in English.

Overall, for a first mini-album, ‘Take a Deeper Look‘ is a solid effort from Jay Park. It’s not a ‘classic’ by anyย  means. The production could use some improvement but regardless, you have to give credit where its due. Jay Park worked on this album by himself and his friends, mostly Cha Cha. Not with any industry big shots — and for that, ‘Take a Deeper Look‘ gets an overall rating of 4 out of 5 from me.

(By the way Jay, when is “Demon” getting an official release?!) Edit (05/09/2011):ย  Well that just came out of nowhere! The “Demon” MV is released!

Hmmm, doesn’t look…erm, very good. Very poorly produced in my opinion. I know it has 3D sequences but anyway, even Jay himself tweeted about the MV:

Jay Park Demon MV tweet
Even he didn't know the MV was going to be released!

I agree with him. The sound in the MV doesn’t do the song justice. They should have just released the single.

(/end Edit)

Last November, I delayed my return journey from Bangkok just so I could see Jay Park live (you can read about my fan meet experience here). It was money well spent to see Jay’s talents at that stage in his career. He’s only going to get bigger now.

There’s still some awkwardness in his appearance, but I guess its got to do with his shyness and humble nature. He’ll probably grow more comfortable in front of the camera in due time. (Actually, act all hip & cool in music videos, I really get annoyed when people act like that in real life… so I hope he stays the same in real life). ‘Take a Deeper Look‘ is Jay Park’s first solo Korean album, but with his recent meetings with Will.I.Am and getting to perform as Ne-Yo’s concert opener, Jay’s slowly gearing up for his US debut.

I can only wonder how good his first English album will be!

I Can’t Be Without You (๋„ˆ ์—†์ด ์•ˆ๋ผ)

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