There are a handful of groups in K-pop that actually know how to play instruments, amongst them CN Blue has lately been getting the most notice, but Trax, a group that has been around since 2004 is SM Entertainment’s “rock band” offering. Their new song, Oh My Goddess, is mostly being hyped because fellow SM artist, Seohyun of the top group Girls Generation, is featured in the video. Actually the video seems pretty standard, and the song’s not that interesting, the best part of the whole thing is just that I appreciate that these artists can do more than just dance around with a lot of auto-tune to help their weak voices (the lead singer has a decent voice). Oh and I like that TRAX actually stands for, believe it or not, Typhoon of the Rose Attack on Xmas.
Dalmation: This brand new group does indeed wear black and white with spots. No, I’m not kidding. They are another offering in the ultra-young and super bubbly category, but this time with all male members. About half the song is rapping, again in the bubbly category of rap. I have a friend who has done some research on this and she found that without singable (chantable?) lyrics that would even work with karaoke, rap doesn’t fly in Korea. Needless to say rap does not contain a lot of explicit and objectionable to some content. The song, Round 1, has a little too much chanting of “bow wow wow” for my taste, but it’s reasonably catchy so it may be quite successful.
Sunny Side released a song with Gayoon from 4 Minute. The song, Bad Guy Good Girl, is not so bad, but it doesn’t stand out, it’s fairly conventional for K-pop. The vocals are better than most releases, though. Both of the Sunny Side guys are rappers, so it’s Gayoon, who may be the best singer in 4 minute, singing.
Kara, one of the annoying interchangeable girl groups, has released a song that’s actually part of the soundtrack for an online game. The song itself is called 2ME I think (hard to tell), the video just has the girls in the studio, which is refreshingly under-produced. It’s a bit amusing just because they sing “kiss me touch me show me what you want from me” and such and they look pretty young (they’re not as young as they look) and some netizens have been getting all in a bunch about how they must not know what they’re singing when it’s English, how it’s so racy for young girls, etc.
G.NA’s latest song is also for a soundtrack, the new drama “Playful Kiss.” The video shows scenes from the drama. I haven’t watched it yet, because only the pilot has aired so far, but since the drama stars Kim Hyun Joong (of the group SS501 and the hit drama “Boys over Flowers”) it should do well. The song, 키스 해줄래, which I’d translate as “Gimme a Kiss” would be forgettable if you didn’t hear it five times per episode of the drama.
After listening to all these new songs, none of which are exciting to me I had high hopes for Nassun and G.O. (of MBLAQ)’s release O-IWI-O, because G.O. can really sing and Nassun is a good rapper, but the song is too soft and dreamy for my tastes. The video is black and white, fairly simple, but nicely made.
The group Goofy, very popular a couple years before I first came to Korea, has released their first EP in a very long time, including the single 못난 남자야 Ugly Guy. It’s not bad, but I doubt it will catapult them back into the spotlight.
I just hope 2NE1's upcoming release isn't as disappointing as the pre-release 30 second clip made it sound...