After several months hiatus, I am back just in time to see the latest San Diego Comic-Con arrive and pass by with the latest in comic book-related news whether in print, video games or tv and films. One surprise news which dropped during Marvel Studio’s popular Hall H panel this past Saturday was the surprise announcement that the character of Blade has been recast. He will be getting his own film for the ever-growing juggernaut that is the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
While rumors in the past had Wesley Snipes (the original actor who played the character Blade in a trilogy of films) in meetings with Marvel Studios, it would seem that Kevin Feige and his casting crew decided on a new face to reprise the role of the Daywalker. Out is Wesley Snipes and in comes two-time Academy Award winner Mahershala Ali (Moonlight, The Green Book).
Thus with that announcement the character of Blade has returned to the forefront of pop culture. One thing that the trilogy of films had that impressed me as a fan was the eclectic batch of licensed music that was a mixture of techno, rock and hip-hop. I’ve already featured one song from the Blade II soundtrack (“I Against I” by Massive Attack ft. Mos Def).
So, it’s no surprise that the latest Song of the Day comes from the very same soundtrack and this time it’s a collaboration from hip-hop gurus The Roots and techno legend BT.
It’s not too much a surprise that today’s latest Song of the Day is very much Valentine’s Day or, at the very least, romance-related. The song chosen comes courtesy of Taeyeon’s ballad from her first full-length album, My Voice, which saw it released in 2017.
“Make Me Love You” actually was part of the album’s deluxe edition which was released a couple months later with the song part of a trio of new one added just for this new edition.
The song has an R&B pop ballad sound that does a great job in incorporating Taeyeon’s unique voice. There’s a reason that for many year’s now that she’s been one of K-Pop’s top soloist in addition as being part of the biggest girl group in the country as leader and Main vocalist of Girls’ Generation.
We have a song that where Taeyeon seems to almost speak to the listener. For the listener to take the leap in allowing the romance begin between them and singer. It’s a ballad that speaks to the anticipation of a potential new romance and also the self-doubt that everyone goes through whenever one should or should not make the first move, leap or step in making it happen.
Just a day before that hallmark of all Hallmark days. Usually there’ll be a flood of Valentine’s related postings and this latest Song of the Day will not be an exception.
Today’s Song of the Day: K-Pop Edition sees the return of one of my favorite K-Pop girl groups: Red Velvet. Seen by many K-Pop fans as the younger SM Entertainment sister group to SM’s main girl group, Girls Generation (aka SNSD), Red Velvet has managed to forge their own success with a unique sound that balances their dual concept of girl crush (Red) and sultry, mature (Velvet).
The previous two Red Velvet entries as Song of the Day sees example of the group under both concepts. There’s “Be Natural” which is their first “Velvet” concept. Then a little later there’s “Ice Cream Cake” which is them in their “Red” aka girl crush concept.
With today’s Song of the Day, we have Red Velvet’s lush ballad from their Ice Cream Cake mini-album: “Candy.”
It’s a track that’s well-suited for all the happenings today and for the rest of the week as even the most jaded will try to find a semblance of romance, if just for a couple days or so. A song that talks about both the effect that love has on couples. An emotion that’s both heartwarming and bittersweet as the emotional aspect of love can also lead to an overwhelming fear of that attachment fading that ultimately leads to separation.
“Candy” being the title is the group’s play on words as the whole Ice Cream Cake mini-album’s songs has done. The title may be about something sweet and enjoyable, but the lyrics definitely shows that it is a bit more than a sweet confection.
Ailee is the sort of K-Pop artist that would be more at home in the US with the type of music she performs. Sure she dabbles in the dance pop genre that K-Pop is famous for. What she seems to not do is what K-Pop fans would be calling bubble or candy pop. Not cutesy concepts or vocals from this artist.
Ailee’s sound is heavily influenced by Western R&B and late 70’s disco. While those two seem like an odd match, with her powerful voice and vocal range she makes it a match in heaven.
As part of her debut album, the song “I Will Show You” does a great job of letting the listener in at her vocal talent and that she’s not one to be an early flash in the pan success. It would remiss of me to say that her success has been mostly because of her looks. Ailee is one K-Pop artist who has it all. She’s not just beautiful, but her talented voice puts her in the same league as her Western counterparts in the R&B and pop music scene.
As for the video which accompanied “I Will Show You.” It’s an energetic music video which tells the oft-times told tale of the ugly duckling blossoming into the beautiful swan to the surprise of those who ignored her due to her earlier looks. While an entertaining music video, it also has its detractors due to how the video ends with the very man who ignores her when she was in her “ugly duckling” phase suddenly realizing his mistake and tries to woo her.
Maybe it’s a cultural thing, but the video goes the “happy ending” route with Ailee taking back the very man who dumped her in the beginning but now that she’s the swan it’s all better. Again, some have liked the video while others see’s the ending as being problematic.
Time to return to our latest Song of the Day: K-Pop Edition. While most of the entries, so far, has been K-Pop artists who fall under either the bubbly pop or the more mature sound, there are a bevy of K-Pop artists who we in the West would probably characterize as indie solo or group artists.
These are K-Pop performers whose music don’t easily fall under the well-known K-Pop music categories such as dancepop, bubble pop, R&B or Jazz fusion. Their songs are usually more indie pop or folk rock.
One such K-Pop artist is the duo Bolbbalgan4 or BOL4 for short. The group’s comprised of Ahn Ji-young and Woo Ji-yoon. The former handles the main vocals of the duo’s songs while the latter does everything else from being the group’s guitarist, bass player, rapper and back-up vocals.
The one song that’s gotten some major playtime and has become a favorite of K-Pop fans worldwide is their “Song” which talks about a girl at the cusp of puberty who is preparing to deal with her first love (or crush) and going through stages on how to prep, practice and go about dealing with it.
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.
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.