[K-Indie] HyukOh – Full Discography P2


I’ll be continuing my reviews of HyukOh’s discography, this time focussing on their second album.

22

Much more upbeat than the previous record, ’22’ aims to charter new ground for HyukOh. Where there were RnB, soul and even funk influences, the band incorporates reggae, Latin melodies, punk rock and contemporary pop sounds. Much less cohesive than ’20’, I feel that the intention was to experiment rather than send an overarching message.

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[KPOP] Infinite – Bad


Apart from “Be Mine” and “Destiny“, I hadn’t really liked any of Infinite’s songs. That changed when they changed up their sound with “Bad”. I’m usually easily caught by backtracks and instrumentals that include strings/orchestral elements in them, which “Bad” uses very much to Infinite’s advantage.

On top of that, their mainly high range vocals and lower range rappers were used in the quieter sections of the instrumental, whilst the more pop-friendly hook and chorus vocals were kept sparse and repetitive as the instrumental got busier. It really helped to keep the full, epic sound built up in the intro.

The video also matched the lyrics and atmosphere of the song well, and made use of 360VR, albeit in a slightly lazy way.

I’ll leave the music theory gushing to MRJ if you’re interested. Please Infinite, give me more of these kinds of songs.

2014 Year in Review: K-Pop


Since I’ve essentially been inactive in the blog area but been paying a load of attention to K-pop this, and last year, I figured I should at least write a summary post for last year. In an attempt to be an unbiased writer and try out Youtube APIs, I wrote a script to pull all the K-pop releases of this year into a couple of playlists. There were 355 releases this year(albums, singles, OSTs included) so it’s quite the listen. Enjoy after the skip…

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BTS back with bigger dreams


Rather than talking about the album as a whole in this piece I’m going to focus on their 2nd Cypher: Tripiych. First of all, take a look at the translated lyrics by Popgasa.

The cypher starts with a bit of empty gesturing as one would do if this was freestyle. J-Hope shouts “because of whom”? and goes on to take responsibility along with bandmates Rap Mon and Suga. But responsibility for what? We could take them literally and assume that they mean to be the leaders of the rap world, but I’d rather convert what they’ve said previously outside their music. For Rap Mon and Suga at least, there is some want to be a bridge between underground hip-hop artists and the mainstream, which in Korea’s case is the idol industry. I certainly can’t be against the idea of there being more actually talented rappers and artists in the industry, though it is slowly getting easier to get access to indie Korean music. What I believe these two former underground artists really want is for there to be a carved out niche in mainstream Korean music for real rappers to put out good music and make sufficient money off it. Perhaps, or more likely, outside the standard idol machine. We have to start somewhere right?

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[K-POP/HIP HOP] Girl Groups: EVOL


So, to take a small break from all the Linkin Park that has taken over this blog, I decided to do another Korean-Pop post- well K-Hip Hop.

This time, I’m writing my thoughts about a group not even debuted yet! I decided to do this now rather than wait because I have a feeling i’m going to like them so much when they debut that I won’t be able to criticize them. As you may have gathered from the title of this post, it’s about hip-hop girl group, EVOL. They come from the same management company as Block B(discussed earlier), Stardom Entertainment. Now, I really love SE(although I liked their old name better: Brand New Stardom, as in, BNS). Why? Because its artists tend to have quality of raw talent, determination, charisma and openness of character. By raw talent, I mean that the artists themselves cultivated that talent and chose which style they wanted to portray. This could be in dance, singing or rap. Even their public personas.

That said, during my review of JJ Project, you may recall my general distaste of girl groups in Korean music? That’s…changed quite a bit since then. I discovered a few girl groups that ditched the pretty, cutesy girl image and went for something more real. Namely: 2NE1 and f(x). That said, I have only really heard one song by f(x), but they have some really strong rappers and catchy songs.

E-e-e-elecity SHOCK!

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Recommendation: Block B [Korean Music]



Lyrics

So as the otaku I am, it was inevitable that I would make a foray in to the world of K-pop and K-hiphop. Needless to say, I loved it. It may just be the novelty of listening to music with an infectious beat without care for lyrics(as I don’t understand Korean), but there is something undeniably talented about Korean artists-which is not true of all English language musicians.

That said, most of the super-candy-coated music of the female artists* and girl groups don’t agree with me. Nor do the over risque type(in Korean terms anyway), which tend to freak me out. The boy bands, however have the right amount of sass and innocent, not to mention overall music quality to stick it out for me.

Having obsessed over this, like many other things on this blog, for a long time however, even this music is starting to sound the same. That is until I found BLOCK B. Signed by Brand New Stardom Entertainment(apparently now Stardom Entertainment?), created by Cho PD, the boys bring a genuine hip hop vibe to a K-pop dominated market.

Not only is Welcome to the Block, their second studio album, chock full of awesome beats and synth sounds, but the rap provided by team leader Zico is amazing. Zico also composed several songs on the album, which seems to be highly unusual in the Korean music industry. Speaking of – the lyrics actually make sense, INCLUDING the English phrases used in the music. They mostly focus on girls or reputation, without the sex seen in English language rap. This is a huge plus for me.

Block B hit their highest popularity with the single release of Nalina(Go Crazy), a song about “causing a commotion” which is definitely something they do. Block B is one of the only Korean idol groups that allow themselves to joke around and be themselves in interviews and when on television(i.e MTV Match Up). Most fans love them for being such trolls, but it’s this that got them in big trouble. Unfortunately, they took their light-hearted attitude to an interview in Thailand and wound up disrespecting all of Thailand. A huge controversy followed, including a reprimand from follow Korean artists and international criticism.

Block B formally apologized numerous times but that did not stop the backlash. In fact, some people went so far as to petition for the suicide of Block B members, which sent the youngest member of the group, P.O into shock, for which he had to be hospitalized for. It seems if Block B is going to come out of this controversy, they will be much more careful. I for one hope they don’t lose their playful, honest edge and I know a lot of other fans would agree.

Here’s to hoping that “if” will become a “when” because Block B is a talent that would be a shame to lose!

*though I think IU is an exception based purely on her amazing voice

CODE GEASS: Lelouch of the Rebellion Episodes 1 – 10


MegaHouse G.E.M Lelouch

Image by Vylen via Flickr

SPOILER ALERT

What is my opinion of Code Geass? Right now, it’s getting better. I’m one of those viewers who likes to have a main character that I have something in common with. Someone likeable is preferable, and this is one anime that goes in the completely opposite direction. Lelouch is a rather sad character. Likable on the outside, when he is playing his innocent role for his friends, but otherwise bitterly twisted. The most shocking thing to me was, of course, when he murders Clovis in cold blood. Who can murder they’re own brother? However, I sense the story will give an adequate explanation for this.

The saving grace on this part is Suzaku. He fills in for Lelouch in all the places in which he is lacking. The friendly way in which he deals with people and his warm heart and ideals make him the classic hero. As we are told repeatedly, the two friends have the same goal in mind but very different ways of going about them.

My favourite episode thus far will be the 10th, in which we see Lelouch fighting for his life and Suzaku being a big softie. Another interesting character is … whose disastrous family life gives the characters actions some depth, if leading to a praditable soppy scene towards the end.

All in all, Code Geass is interesting enough for me to keep watching, which is the point in most anime. Has anyone else watched this series? If so what were your thoughts at this point in the anime?

5 Animes/Mangas that should be more famous


This being an otaku’s blog…I figured it was about time I did this. That said, my favorite manga happens to be Bleach, despite the reoccurring battle scenes. And my favorite anime? I think it’s still Mobile Suit Gundam Seed, followed by Blood +. Just sayin’. No hatin’.

1.  Blood +

This is an anime with an honestly unique plot line. It’s definitely something for older, more mature first timers and more seasoned otakus. And by more seasoned, I mean watched a lot of anime and looking for something new.

Description:

Pros:

+unique plot

+well explored characters that grow to feel like real people

+that addictive factor

+intelligent, folk lore type story, reworked into amazing storytelling

Cons:

-its a bit slow in the beginning. Get past the first 8 episodes and you’ll be fine.

-it takes a while to warm up to some of the characters

-cliffhangers!!! unless you like that stuff(which i do)

-the writer is EVIL. Good for the story, horrible for your nerves.

-violence…hehe.

2. Scrapped Princess

Now although the title immediately puts a childish shojo into your head, this anime develops into a real surprising contender. It’s a little childish in the begginning but the best things in this anime are the characters-for them you’ll continue to watch!

Pros: 

+lovable characters

+robots and sword fights

+interesting undertones of religion and omnipotence of worship and a little bit of religious fanatisism

+surprises!

Cons:

-first four episodes are a little annoying

-slightly childish acts and childish behaviour of the the main character

3. Eureka Seven

This is one of my absolute favourite animes. It turns from a light-hearted, futuristic, slice-of-life anime into something with a real message. Real characters. A real point. Watch it!

Pros:

+lovable characters

+character development at every turn and some mystery

+a fairly interesting, unfolding plot

Cons:

-filler, oh, filler

-violence, slightly sexist undertones

4. Fruits Basket

I can hear the shojo-criers calling! But this is a fairly cute, quirky, less annoying version of a shojo act. I actually read the the manga so I’m not sure how much filler is in the anime, but I still love it.

Pros:

+characters you want to hug…or hit

+twists and turns

Cons:

-takes a while to get to the point

-maybe a little to “and they lived happily ever after”

-not completely satisfactory ending

5. Bakuman

This one really is for the Otakus in us! It’s all about two teenage boys trying to become mangakas. What could be a better way to gain an insight into the world we love so much? Plus, there’s bonus content: the story!

Pros:

+great characterisations

+somehow manages to give itself that “battle manga” quality

+insight into how manga is made

+lots of name drops that get you a little excited and drawn into the story more

Cons:

-a little repetitive

-sometimes doesn’t make the most sense, but it is about teenagers right?

What are some of your favourite anime and manga? Let me know! If I watch/read it, I’ll definitely feature it! And if you have similar posts, send me a link and we can build a network of OTAKUNESS! MUHAHHAHAHA!

Ahem.