It’s again your definitive guide on the latest music releases out of Korea. Now this week we had more than 25 features to choose from! Yup, we had to let go of some, but look – anyone who has an inkling of Korean culture is that they go hard or go home (a bit stereotypical, but nonetheless valid – Google “Miracle on the Han River“. Also, do you know how many hours a day K-highschool kids are in school? 16 hours! Although, this is changing). So it should be no surprise that Korean artists work almost as hard as Korean engineers (here’s looking at you Samsung). So, if you wanna keep up with this industry, be prepared to bust some behind a bit.
This week we have: Jinusean, Fromm, Inmay, Jung-A of After School and Han Dong Geun, Peter Pan Complex, Johnny Kim, ODB Seoul, San E, Infinite H, Cross Gene, The Ark and 24K.
JINUSEAN Returns From Long Haitus with Nostalgic “Tell Me One More Time” (‘한번 더 말해줘) feat. 장한나 (Jong-Han na)
This is one sweet nostalgic trip down memory lane. Right from the beginning with the BMW 3 series you know something interesting is about to happen. Then up comes the borrowed set of 90’s Mase and P-Diddy’s “Mo Money Mo Problems“, the hippie 60’s band references, the groovy 70’s swag, the 80’s Run-DMC gettup, and all those Michael Jordan jerseys and Air Jordans, by now has anyone who could even say “dada” by ’97 up out their seats, laughing and dancing.
The music is fun and exciting with an electronic disco beat and a side of funky.
“Tell Me One More Time” was released at 12 a.m. on Wednesday April 14, 2015, and according to the Korea Times “quickly topped eight online music charts after it was available for only nine hours.”
“I’ve waited so long to come back as Jinusean,” said Sean, one member of the duo. “I never lost my passion for the stage over the last 11 years, even when I was backing up young artists behind the stage.”
“As a frontier hip-hop duo from YG Entertainment, Jinusean debuted in 1997 with their first album “Gasoline,” but the rappers’ biggest success came with their second single “Tell Me.” The duo is made up of Jin-woo Kim (김진우) and Noh Seung-hwan (노승환).
Tablo of Epik High helped write “Tell Me One More Time.”
Fromm’s (프롬 ) Serene “Love Buzz (찌잉)”
This moving single from the K-Indie singer-songwriter is heavy on the piano melody, and has a simple rhythm. It was released on April 9, 2015.
Vocally, Fromm is gentle, only bothering to emphasize a few notes especially as she gets into the hook and chorus.
The video is simple, and has just one angle, and that is Fromm sitting in what appears to be a parked car in front of a beach, while she watches the rolling waves. But, as her vocals are so captivating one barely notices that the scenery never changes.
According to our resident Korean expert, Woo, the song in a nutshell: “She was watching TV, and suddenly she recalls time the person she had a relationship with. She recalls his face, especially when he smiles at her. But, he disappeared and gone. She keeps singing why did you disappear kinda resentful of him.”
The week before on April 2nd she released another stellar single called Aftermath (후유증), and it featured Minhyun ( 민현)
Here again for parts of the video she’s motionless in front of a window.
Fromm’s music is beautiful and soulful, but not in a soul music kinda way,but soulful in a deep and heartfelt kind of way. Her vocals are not necessarily intense, but instead are gentle, sweet and kind. She does do some cute motifs refusing to stay on the same note as she stretches out a word in the song.
Inmay (인메이) Wants Us to Join Her in “Home Party” (홈파티) feat. Hwi (휘)
The beat is infectious and the accompanying video really is about a bunch of friends just having a good time together,and with what they have.
Inmay’s album [Home Party] is a bit different from former albums, because of the participation of female vocalist ‘Hwi.’ ‘Home Party’ tell us about friends enjoying home party together. Even though it’s a sloppy party, it will be an absolutely fun party, if we are with dear friends.
ODB Seoul Opens Time Capsule in Mixtape “Move Da Culture”
Listening to this mixtape of 5 singles is like listening to hip-hop out of a time capsule from the early nineties in Brooklyn, which somehow got transformed and comes out in Korean. As odd as it sounds, rappers like ODB Seoul are preserving the genre. And they are doing it all the way from South Korea. They practically continue where Tribe Called Quest left off.
ODB Seoul are a duo made up of David Lee who goes by DebiKingDavid and Owen Ovadoz. Looking at Owen’s Instagram, it looks like it’s the same Owen who went head to head with Olltii in SMTM3, during the battle rap knock off rounds. And, as we said then, it was practically a tie. Also, Tablo should have brought him back, when he tried to save B.I. behind. ODB formed up in 2014, which is surprising given how solid their style and content is.
From the lyrics, it’s clear that ODB are preservationist and conservationists. They place a lot of emphasis and importance on staying true to the original essence of hip-hop. The single “Keep it in the roots”, which is largely in English is a litany of the hip-hop artists that educate, inform and define their style: “MC’s act like they don’t know this is hip-hop… when I be on the mic I go real heavy, spreading the word easy Tribe Called Quest, look at those Roots, You gonna have to check Mos Def, you gotta know the Method Man, keep it in the roots,” and in Korean he says “this is how we do it.” He finished the verse with “move the culture not the crowd.”
Their mixtape can be downloaded on SoundCloud.
Infinite H Makes a Hip-hop Comeback with “You’re *** Crazy”
This is a hiphop track with some really chill beats, and sweet rhythms. It’s hip-hop of the mid-2000s, and Infinite H get it just right with the flow, the sound effects, the high-hats, which are all mixed in appropriately.
The chorus separately will work, but admittedly with the rapping it seems a bit too heavy. The rapping is seductive, but the chorus a bit too active. But it’s no surprise, given the inspiration of the track, hip-hop from the first decade of the 21st Century, which featured rich R&B choruses and hooks. So, it still works.
The single was release April 13, 2015.
Cross Gene Releases Single “Play With Me” (나하고 놀자)
So, I guess the question is who came first Cross Gene or Block B?
Cross Gene, the six member boy band cameback on April 12, with “Play With Me.” The comeback has a bad boys vibe and concept, with tattoos, scribbling on walls, and one of them being dragged into what looks like a crazy house or insane asylum. And, here’s why they begin to look like a Block B clone. From the concept, including the sound, their style and outfits, tattoos, one of them in a hat, another of them in glasses, what appears to be a crazy leader, and their random weirdness all point to Block B.
The single is heavy on rap, which is done quite well. Visually, the video is a little dark, but in a kpop way, which is more of a grey…. or shadowy twilight. Even the sweet, innocent looking nurse has a dark side to her – which makes her immune to their charms and wiles. After all, she’s here to dominate. But, at least she sips tea with them.
The single is part of Cross Gene‘s second mini album
Now, as to who came first? Block B did. Cross Gene debuted in 2012, Block B in 2011.
24K(투포케이) Holla’s “Hey You”(오늘 예쁘네)
Another boy band that debuted in 2012, also came back last week, 24K. The music video is fun, and has them doing the dougie at the beginning. The group have been out of the scene for the last 18 months. With this hip-hop inspired track, it shows at least they are still got a little game, even though it seems a little contrived at times. The scratching beat is done quite well, and the bridge is really cool.
THE ARK(디아크) Debuts with “The Light” (빛)
The Ark made their debut with this single called “The Light” on April 9, 2015. There seems to have been a level of anticipation for this girl group.
The Ark (디아크) are a 5 member South Korean girl group formed in 2015 by Music K Entertainment. They are made up of Jeon Min-ju (전민주), Yuna Kim (유나킴), Lee Han-ra (이한라), Jung Yu-jin (정유진), and Cheon Jae-in (천재인). H
The track starts out with a pleasant guitar riff, which you’d only find in Korean hip-hop, where live instruments are more the norm than exception. And, it rapidly progresses into a rapping verse, followed by the sung choruses. But something happens in the middle of the track, when the hook begins. Coincidentally, there’s a peak in the mood of the video, as a single mother bids her smiling daughter goodbye at a bus stop. Musically, the singing that then follows is heavy on harmonies that tug at the heart strings. And, for good measure, because the subject matter of the video is one that may have you reaching for a box of tissues.
Considering that today, April 16, is the 1 year anniversary of the Sewol tragedy, this single is even more poignant as it deals with a mother losing her daughter, leaving her all alone. It may seem trivial, but giving that more than 300 families were put in the exact same spot exactly a year ago is sobering. As reenacted in the music video, many mothers and fathers bade their young teenage children goodbye that morning, as the kids embarked on a trip, only to have the TV interrupt the course of the universe for them. The sun might as well have risen in the west and set in the east that sad day. RIP Sewol.
Here’s a lovely interview the girls did, recently. It ends with a dance number, that makes them seriously look like the girl version of Bangtan Boys.
I have to say, from the interview it seems lost on the girls that their single was released exactly a week to the day of the Sewol anniversary. They’re young, we know – but management should have prep’ed them.
San E _ On Top of Your Head(모두가 내 발아래) (Feat. MC GREE(그리))
After Kieth Ape and Cohort’s surprises success with It G Ma, which came on the heels of OG Maco’s “You Guessed It“, it’s no surprise that K-hiphop artists would be falling over themselves to get into the this trap movement. And, San E isn’t one to be left behind holding the empty bucket.
In this single, San E, although less so than Kieth Ape, borrows from elements of OG Maco’s track. It seems for the forseeable future, fans will not be able to get away from that high pitched scream that accompanies all the offsprings of “You Guessed It.'”
Jung-A(정아) And Han Dong Geun(한동근) in “Between Us” (우리 사이…)
The pull of Korean love songs is like a steady tug that doesn’t quite hurt, it just leaves you with a sense of intense loneliness, as u wonder what could have cause such beautiful melodies to come together.
So it seems PLEDIS is doing a new duet project in 2015, after winning a lot of affections in 2014 for ‘A midsummer night’s sweetness’.
“The first singers for the duet project which will carry various feelings of love is Jung-A of After School and Han Dong Geun, and their song ‘Between Us’ is singing emotions of the couple near the moment of parting.”
‘Between Us…’, shows the quite different harmony of Jung-A, the lead vocalist of After School who is loved for her unique tone, and Han Dong Geun, whose talent has proved at the broadcasting and musical stages after the victory of ‘Audition 3’, sings the changes of emotions that a long-term couple can experience with appealing voice
Peterpan Complex’s “First Love” Feat Sol (몸치탈출 댄스교실 / 전지한(피터팬 컴플렉스) ‘첫사랑’ 댄스)
The best part of this video, apart from the music is the dancing of this cookie couple, having a good time. The music is a soft rock indie-electronica. And like the video, which is a low budget delight, gives chill mellow vibes. The band is called Peter Pan Complex, and is made up of Jeon Ji-han, Kim Kyung-in and Lee Chi-won
Johnny Kim (좌니킴) Returns with Midnight Monsters (미드나잇 몬스터스)
All those dogs used in this music video, means we cant skip this. If the meow like vocals do don’t it for you, then watching all these dogs will be more than worth it.
“Electronic artist Johnny Kim (좌니킴), of duo Hologram Party (홀로그램 파티), returned with his synth-pop project Midnight Monsters (미드나잇 몬스터스) and released the single ‘SUNNYSIDE‘ (available on iTunes) on April 8th.”