Song of the Day: Paradise Lost (by Gain)


ga-in paradise lost

The latest Song of the Day: K-Pop Edition is not just borderline NSFW, but should also piss off the very religious. From the video’s dark and very sexual imagery and choreography to it’s reinterpretation of some long-standing Biblical storytelling, Brown Eyed Girls’ member known as Gain released the song “Paradise Lost” from her 2015 solo album.

The song’s release had the usual fanfare but also reconfirmed her as one of K-Pop’s longstanding artist who pushed the boundaries of the very rigid and structured K-Pop industry where talent is trained and honed and controlled by untold numbers of corporate handlers.

“Paradise Lost” is a 4 minute-plus tour de force of a video that presents Gain in the role of Eve both while in the Garden of Eden and also after her expulsion from “paradise.” Whether it’s the elaborate satin and lace white wedding dress that obscures and hints at Eve’s repressed sexuality down to the black and white sequence where Gain is not just Even after her expulsion, but moving like the snake who tempted her and Adam to eat the fruit from the Tree of Knowledge.

While some will just focus on Gain’s sultry and smoldering beauty and the video’s sinuous and sexualized choreography, when the lyrics of the song and Gain’s powerful and emotionally devastating performance gets factored in the song and video become one of K-Pop’s great masterpieces that even the Western music world hasn’t seen since the days when Madonna experimented and explored her sexuality through her music and her videos in the early 1990’s.

So, come and take a seat and watch for the taboo thrill of the NSFW video, but stay for the message in the song and learn why sometimes it’s the non-believers who truly understands the true meaning behind the things we consider Biblical and sacred.

Song of the Day: Piano Man (by Mamamoo)


mamamoo piano man

The last few Song of the Day in the current K-Pop Edition has been showcasing the cute side (some cuter than others) of the music genre. I thought it time to bring things back to the more mature and sultry side.

Mamamoo’s follow-up to their debut with “Mr. Ambiguous” is another example of why the group has remained relevant and popular with K-Pop fans despite not always catering to what most fans seem to like. They’re neither overly cute nor overly sexual with their songs and videos.

What the lastest Song of the Day does showcase is the quartet’s ability to ooze charisma on-screen while showing the K-Pop world that there are no better group of vocalists. “Piano Man” is all about the classic, jazz piano tempo mixed in with some electronic swing to create a sort of jazz-swing-dance pop song.

The song starts of with a finger snap tempo and gradually becomes more energetic until we move past the break and into the post-chorus where We hear the magnificent vocal range of the group’s leader and main vocalist. Not to be outdone are the other vocalist, especially Hwasa who begins the song with a breathy intro and finishes it off with some great harmonizing with Wheein.

Group rapper and lead dancer Moonbyul adds her own voice to the song. While her rapping at the break doesn’t stand out it does keep pace with the songs tempo she also doesn’t become the distracting part of the song.

“Piano Man” is early on Mamamoo’s career, but already it shows that they bring something new and exciting to the K-Pop scene which their later releases only confirms. The quarter are here to stay.

Song of the Day: Kill Bill (by Brown Eyed Girls)


BEG Kill Bill

This is not the first time I’ve featured the K-Pop girl group Brown Eyed Girls. Their 2008 song, “Abracadabra,” was featured as a song of the day. It was really that song that first introduced me to K-Pop. While my interest didn’t skyrocket after that song, it did simmer for a few years before I was finally fully on-board.

The latest K-Pop Song of the Day is from B.E.G. and it’s their 2013 single release from their 5th studio album, Black Box. It’s a song titled “Kill Bill” and the song and accompanying music video is a homage to the 2003 Quentin Tarantino grindhouse mash-up. Even the music video literally lifts sequences and camera shots from the film.

Some have called this a loving tribute to the film of the same name which inspired the song. Others have called it a blatant rip-off. No matter which side one is on the song showcases the group’s ability to remain relevant in a music industry that either caters to the cute, bubblegum pop scene or to the overtly sexual (at times way too sexual) aesthetic.

B.E.G. continues to show that they can still bring a more mature visual that toes the line between the two extremes of cute and sexual. This is not to say that the song is just all about the visuals. “Kill Bill” is a catchy tune that  shows it’s Western-infused sound of acoustic guitars, bluesy electric guitar riffs and the ever-present whistling of past Spaghetti Western scores.

Song of the Day: Lion Heart (by Girls’ Generation)


Girls Generation Lion Heart.jpg

The latest Song of the Day: K-Pop Edition comes courtesy of the girl group who has helped usher in the worldwide success of the genre beyond just the borders of South Korea and the surrounding region. Girls’ Generation (aka SNSD) has been one of the biggest K-Pop girl groups since they debut in 2007.

Girls’ Generation originally had 9 members, but since 2014 has been promoted as an 8-member group after one of it’s original members, Jessica Jung was removed from the group due to conflicting schedules. Yet, despite this the group never lost a beat and continued to crank out hits after hits.

Their musical style was typical of the K-Pop groups which has been heavily influenced by dancepop and electropop. This made their earlier releases and accompanying music videos to be very high-energy with the bubbly, sugarpop aesthetics of other girl groups of the time.

Things began to evolve with each new album release and while the group still retains their high-energy dance and electropop origins they’ve also added hip-hop and punkpop to their repertoire. They remain cute and accessible, but now with a nice edge to round them out.

This could be seen with their “Lion Heart” release and especially with their msuci video for the song. The song itself has basis on bubblepop with some soul infusion to give it a retro sound. The video itself conveys a 60’s-retro aesthetic mixed with the candy color palette of past K-Pop videos.

And as the image above shows, the video also shows a bit more of the group’s ever present sultry side as choreographer Tony Testa and in-house choreographer Shim Jaewon get the ladies to provocatively get low with their hip sways and rolls.

It’s definitely a nice bit of dance move that’s hypnotic and catches the viewer’s eye. It’s especially surprising in contrast to the glittering, Flapper-style fashion the group wears in the video during the song’s breaks.

Girls’ Generation is one group from the previous generation that I would recommend for those new to the K-Pop scene. While the group itself is now down to 5-members, they still continue to make an impact on the K-Pop music industry and have cemented their legacy as one of the first K-Pop groups break through beyond Korea and the surrounding region and be successful globally.

 

Song of the Day: As If It’s Your Last (by Blackpink)


Blackpink

It would be impossible to talk about K-pop without putting up as a “Song of the Day” a track by one of the most popular K-pop girl group of the last couple years. I am talking about YG Entertainment’s quartet known as Blackpink.

The group made their debut on the K-pop scene on August of 2016. The quartet are seen as taking up the YG Entertainment K-pop legacy with the disbandment of the ultra-popular quartet girl group 2NE1. Even their stylistic choices have been compared to their predecessors who were able to combine both the cutesy image seen by many as K-pop with the edgier sound of hip-hop and R&B.

For the most part, most of their singles since their debut in 2016 have what the group itself call as their “Black” concept which leans heavily on hip-hop, drum and bass and R&B influences. The choice for today’s Song of the Day is the group’s first foray into introducing their “Pink” side.

“As If It’s Your Last” still retains the highly-energetic beats and tempo of their previous releases, but also incorporates the more traditional dancepop influence in K-pop. While it helps showcase their cute side both in their vocal deliveries and the music video, the song still manages to mix in some reggae and moombahton influences.

This gives “As If It’s Your Last” not just a dance house edge but the familiar catchy hooks of traditional bubblepop K-pop.

Song of the Day: Ice Cream Cake (by Red Velvet)


Red Velvet Ice Cream Cake

For the most part all the K-pop I’ve shared have been on the more mature sounding side of the spectrum. As I mentioned before, for some this side of K-pop is more to their liking while others prefer the more cute and bouncy side of the genre.

Pantsukudasai56 has made it known that he is into K-pop and, for the most part, also J-pop (though from what I could gather it’s more the latter than the former). I can see why he’s more drawn to the cute and bouncy side of K-pop since J-pop has made that type of pop a cottage industry in Japan’s music scene.

So, just to show that K-pop is not just what I enjoy listening to, but what others have come to find entertaining and interesting, I give you Red Velvet’s “Ice Cream Cake” from the mini-album of the same name which came out right after their first debut singles, “Happiness” and “Be Natural.”

The song is a far cry from the R&B and jazzy sound of “Be Natural” but instead has a blend of drum and bass and dance pop that’s the staple of what non-fans think K-pop sound is all about. While the song does have that cute and bouncy sound, not to mention a video with visuals to match it, there’s also a subtle discordant layer to the proceedings. Whether it’s the group doing a haunting harmony that helps start off the song and returns throughout the song right up to some discordant chords.

Even the lyrics of the song could be mistaken for just your typical K-pop song about young love, or as some have mistaken just about ice cream cake. Yet, at further listening and understanding of the song’s translated lyrics there’s more than a hint and level of double entendre and innuendoes to the song’s wordplay.

So, for those who like their K-pop visually popping and bouncy with the vocals to match then Red Velvet’s “Ice Cream Cake” is a nice starter.

Song of the Day: Miniskirt (by AOA)


AOA Miniskirt

We may be seeing a pattern now when it comes to the K-Pop Edition of the Song of the Day feature. While K-Pop has been typically known for the cutesy and bubblegum pop that has made them a worldwide sensation, it’s worth noting that K-Pop girl groups have been expressing their sexier and more mature side.

This side of the K-Pop scene has it’s own followers and fans just as the high-energy and cute side has it’s legions. I will even suggest that some contributors to this site have a personal preference for the latter. I, for one, prefer the sexier, sultry side of K-Pop though I’m not averse for some sugar-high once in awhile.

The group AOA, consisting of 8 members (Choa, Jimin, Chanmi, Youkyung, Yuna, Hyejeong, Seolhyun and Mina), and their 2016 release, “Miniskirt,” is today’s latest Song of the Day. It’s a good combination of sexiness and enough uptempo to the song’s melody that it should appeal to the dancepop crowd. While it doesn’t have that bubblegum pop energy it showcases a much more flirtatious mood with the theme of high-heels and thigh-high stockings.

Even my fellow co-founder, who is probably learning about K-Pop through these K-Pop postings, will enjoy this song and video if just for the sultry dance choreography, the fashion and, most especially, the surprise star of the video who appears in the end.