What I’m Listening To: “Maria,” Heo Young Saeng

HEOYOUNGSAENG_jpopasia

Ever so often, I like to share what’s on heavy rotation on my iPod. It isn’t always the newest thing, or the most popular thing, but for some reason this is the stuff that I’m grooving to.  I make no distinction between idol and non-idol Kpop, popular and obscure, mainstream and indie. It’s just what I like, and some info about it. Maybe you might like it too.

What I’m Listening To

Heo Young Saeng, of SS501 (because, as every Triple S knows, they are NOT disbanded), recently made his comeback with “The Art of Seduction,” from  Life, his new mini-album. That’s great, but his comeback reminds me of my favorite song, “Maria,” from his last mini-album, Solo.

Who Does It

Young Saeng is a major vocalist in SS501, best known for ballads that show off his range, both in SS501 songs as well as his solo work. He’s best known for slow songs, like “Rainy Heart,” although he did switch it up by releasing “Let It Go,” a dance track, as the first single from his first mini-album of the name. Anyone who is familiar with his work knows that dude loves love.

Why I Like It

So, most people know that Young Saeng is my bias in SS501 (go Bad Boy Otter Prince!), and I’m not even going to try to hide how much I liked this song from the get-go. I like “Maria” because it allows Young Saeng to break from expectation and belt out a rock ballad. As the video shows, he has a live band behind him at this performance, and his voice is a great complement to the guitars. Idol groups are so often pigeon-holed and it’s really great to see Young Saeng show his vocal range. It also tickles me that this song is the longest (over 5 minutes!) on the album.

Image: Heo Young Saeng

What I’m Listening To: “Kkum (Dream),” Big Mama

BIGMAMA_bigmamakr

Ever so often, I like to share what’s on heavy rotation on my iPod. It isn’t always the newest thing, or the most popular thing, but for some reason this is the stuff that I’m grooving to.  I make no distinction between idol and non-idol Kpop, popular and obscure, mainstream and indie. It’s just what I like, and some info about it. Maybe you might like it too.

What I’m Listening To

Recently, Big Mama released their final single, “Cleaning Drawers,” but I’ve been listening to their debut album, Like the Bible, and “Kkum (Dream)” in particular.

Who Does It

Big Mama consisted of Shin Yeon Ah, Lee Young Hyun, Lee Ji Young and Park Min Hye.  So named because they were curvier than other singers, Big Mama gained and maintained a reputation for being stellar and consistent R&B vocalists from 2003 to 2012.  Most people remember their hit, “Breakaway,” with the slick video that places critiques about appearance in the forefront.

The female group consistently delivered powerful performances on the album with “Breakaway” and their cover of “His Eye Is On the Sparrow,” but my favorite is “Kkum (Dream).”  All of the members of Big Mama are great singers in their own right, but they give you goosebumps when they join their voices together.  This song gets even better when they perform it live here:

Why I Like It

I think I like “Kkum” because it is a song that really showcases their strong vocals. This live performances is especially great when they break it down at the end.  It reminds me of old school R&B.  It’s no wonder.  Jangta reminds us:  “Instead of finding inspiration from American pop stars – such as Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera – they’d rather pattern their music to Soul/R&B legends Ella Fitzgerald, Stevie Wonder, and Whitney Houston.”

BONUS: Did you know that Solid does an acapella version of the same song on their album Solid? Go listen!

Image: BigMamaKr

Sources:

Big Mama, “Dream.” Uploaded by cho3515. YouTube. 2 Jun 2007. Web. 1 Mar 2013.

Jangta. “Seoul Singers.” Green Tea Graffiti. 9 Feb 2010. Web. 1 Mar 2013.

What I’m Listening To: Can’t Stop Loving You, Brown Eyed Soul

Source: http://www.unionpress.co.kr/news/detail.php?number=84225&thread=03r02r03

Brown Eyed Soul

Ever so often, I like to share what’s on heavy rotation on my iPod. It isn’t always the newest thing, or the most popular thing, but for some reason this is the stuff that I’m grooving to.  I make no distinction between idol and non-idol Kpop, popular and obscure, mainstream and indie. It’s just what I like, and some info about it. Maybe you might like it too.

What I’m Listening To

Who Does It

This time, it’s Brown Eyed Soul‘s Can’t Stop Loving You, a single released in 2010.  The group, made up of Na Ul, Jung Yup, Sung Hoon, and Young Jun, debut in 2003.  They are primarily known for being a Korean R&B group, and their other albums, Soul Free (2003) and Brown Eyed Soul (2010) testify to this.  Brown Eyed Soul are serious students of soul.  In an interview, one of the members explained:  “Basically, we pursue soul – a genre of African-American roots.”  While the group is inactive, individual members have been pursuing solo projects.

Why I Like It

In this song, Brown Eyed Soul brings back the old, ’60s type soul: horns, melodies.  It’s a refreshing change. Some people assume that if K-pop groups emulate American soul, it’s the 1980s/1990s variety, but Can’t Stop Loving You shows the range of the genre in Korean popular music.

Photo Source:  Union Press News

Source:  Brown Eyed Soul Interview, Reika No Rakuen

What I’m Listening To: “씨스루 (See Through),” Primary (feat. Gaeko and Zion T)

Source: http://kmins119.tistory.com/725

Ever so often, I like to share what’s on heavy rotation on my iPod. It isn’t always the newest thing, or the most popular thing, but for some reason this is the stuff that I’m grooving to.  I make no distinction between idol and non-idol Kpop, popular and obscure, mainstream and indie. It’s just what I like, and some info about it. Maybe you might like it too.

What I’m Listening To

This time around, it’s 씨스루 (See Through)  by Primary, featuring Gaeko and Zion T, from Primary and the Messengers Part 3. I was at the end of my monthly allotment on Soribada, and decided to take a chance on Primary. I was especially excited when I saw that Gaeko from Dynamic Duo was featured on the track.

Who Does It

So, who is Primary and where has he been hiding? According to Leesa86, “Primary is a talented producer who has the ability to collaborate with many talented and unique artists to create fresh sounds of music, drawing new talents out of the artists that have never been seen before.” Paloma gushes, “the production in all of [the songs on the album] is flawless, and the instrumentation fantastic.”

I wish I could show you who Primary is, but my intrepid research skills have yielded little beyond the box on his head.  Despite this, and other groovy tunes, Primary remains much of an enigma.

Why I Like It

While Paloma calls the song funky, the bass-line strikes me as more smooth and groovy.  Verses strewn with lounge-like vocals are broken up by a variety of breaks. Mid-tempo raps punctuate the song in ways that do not disrupt the flow of the single.  It’s one of those songs that I instantly liked after hearing the 30-second preview.

Sources:

Leesa86, “Rapper Primary releases “Stance” featuring Gaeko, Choiza, & Simon D,” allkpop

Palomo, Primary’s Got a Message, seoulbeats

What I’m Listening To: “Chulchek (출첵),” Dynamic Duo (feat. Na-Ul)

Ever so often, I like to share what’s on heavy rotation on my iPod. It isn’t always the newest thing, or the most popular thing, but for some reason this is the stuff that I’m grooving to.  I make no distinction between idol and non-idol Kpop, popular and obscure, mainstream and indie. It’s just what I like, and some info about it. Maybe you might like it too.

It’s probably clear by now that I’m an omni-Kpop fan: I’ll listen to practically anything, and I’m always looking to expand my horizons. I already had some Dynamic Duo, but not nearly as much as I thought I should have, so I just downloaded a bunch-0-stuff from Soribada (’cause you know, I like to keep it LEGAL).

What I’m Listening To

Chulchek, Dynamic Duo (feat. Na-Ul)

Who Does It

This go around, it’s Chulchek, by Dynamic Duo, featuring Na-Ul of Brown Eyed Soul.  This track comes from their 2007 release, Enlightened.  Dynamic Duo is made up of two guys, Choiza and Gaeko.  After their success with their second album, Double Dynamite – Operating Manual, they formed the record label Amoeba Culture.  They are also part of a Korean hip-hop crew, The Movement, that includes the likes of Epik High, Dok2 and Tiger JK.

The members of Dynamic Duo find inspiration from American hip-hop and soul music.  In a recent interview, one member recounted:

I remember that I tried really hard to get the nominated albums of American Music Awards such as, THE NOTORIOUS BIG’s BIG POPPA, 2PAC’s DEAR MAMA, and WARREN G’s REGULATE, back in my elementary school. I recorded the Awards ceremony and watched it hundred times. I think 90s Hip-hop inspired us a lot. . . . we don’t think we have to mention about Stevie Wonder’s music, but his passion that makes him continually working as an artist even after he achieved everything is very inspiring. Although we cannot be such a great artist as he is but we can be the artist who are continually working hard. We would say Al Green and Marvin Gaye’s music is the root of our music. Codes, scale, singing style and the feelings of melody are all influenced by their music.

Why I Like It

I LOVE this song…it was on heavy rotation from the minute I downloaded it. I like it for a couple of reasons. First, it has that old-skool vibe to it, and I LOVE old-skool. The baseline reminds me of some 1970s funk, that makes it very groovy.  The other reason why I like it should be clear:  Na-Ul!!! I love Brown Eyed Soul, and the combination of his vocal is a nice contrast to the stronger rap of Choiza and Gaeko.

This song is infectious from the get-go, and reminds me of a time when hip-hop was about the party. It’s a fun song, and I love blasting it in the summertime while I drive.

Sources

Kanara, Korean Hip-hop on the Rise: Interview with Dynamic Duo, Audrey Magazine

What I’m Listening To: Soulmate, Shinhwa

Ever so often, I like to share what’s on heavy rotation on my iPod. It isn’t always the newest thing, or the most popular thing, but for some reason this is the stuff that I’m grooving to.  I make no distinction between idol and non-idol Kpop, popular and obscure, mainstream and indie. It’s just what I like, and some info about it. Maybe you might like it too. With Minwoo’s release from military service, the mighty Shinhwa is now complete and poised on the brink of a legendary comeback in March.  It seemed only fitting to share one of my favorite Shinhwa songs.

What I’m Listening To

Who Does It

Shinhwa holds the distinction of being the oldest Kpop male group of the Hallyu era that has maintained its original lineup.  I think many people wrote them off as part of that first generation of Hallyu groups (i.e. H.O.T., SES, Fin.K.L.).  I might have agreed with you. Have you gone back to see “Resolver,” (1998) their first video?  Remember those shiny suits? That swinging pendulum? You know you thought that was hot. Ok, in some ways, I still think it’s hot.  However,  Shinhwa has stood the test of time, through ups and downs, even through having five of the six members undertake military service.

Shinhwa is made up of three rappers (Eric, Andy, Jun Jin) and three singers (Minwoo, Dongwan, Hye Sung).  Since debuting, they have produced their own music and starred in Kdramas.  One of the other things that distinguishes Shinhwa from other groups of their era is their legendary exit from SM Entertainment.  Rather than sign a contract without some group members, Shinhwa walked out, and later sued SME for the right to use their name (all Tina Turner-like) and one. They’ve tried just about every concept in the book and lived to tell the tale.

Their last Korean studio album was released in 2008, and at one of their last concerts, they promised their fans, called Changjos, that they would return. Some may have been skeptical, as military service has broken up many a male group.  However, even before the release of Andy and Jun Jin, rumors started flying about a reunion. In late 2011, members of Shinhwa began confirming plans for a comeback.  In May 2011, Eric and Minwoo formed Shinhwa Company, and by October 2011, Hye Sung confirmed a Shinhwa comeback during his Japanese concert.

Why I Like It

“Soulmate” is a single from Shinhwa’s 2002 album, Wedding, and in many ways, exemplifies the best of the group. Shinhwa features three rappers and three singers, and one might think that the singers would overshadow the rappers, or the rappers would steal the spotlight from the singers.  One of the things I like about Shinhwa is that they do a good job of balancing these talents, and “Soulmate” is a nice example of that.

The song begins fairly mellow with individual singers.  It features simple instrumentation throughout.  The tempo picks up, with harmonization by singers, followed by a brief,  rapid-fire rap, and then a return to the up-tempo pace.  This completely works for me.

Several customer reviews on YesAsia suggest that the album takes multiple listenings to really appreciate it. I concur. When I first listened to it, I completely disregarded “Soulmate,” but thanks to the sneaky iTunes shuffle feature, it popped up one day, and I was hooked.

Sources:

Shin Hye Sung Confirms Comeback Date for Shinhwa, allkpop.com

Eric and Lee Minwoo form “Shinhwa Company” for Shinhwa’s 2012 Comeback, koreaboo.com

Customer Reviews for Shinhwa’s WeddingYesAsia

What I’m Listening To: U Make Me Feel Brand New, 8eight

Ever so often, I like to share what’s on heavy rotation on my iPod. It isn’t always the newest thing, or the most popular thing, but for some reason this is the stuff that I’m grooving to. I make no distinction between idol and non-idol Kpop, popular and obscure, mainstream and indie. It’s just what I like, and some info about it. Maybe you might like it too.

What I’m Listening To

“U Make Me Feel Brand New,” 8eight

You can listen to a snippet of the song here.

Who Does It

“U Make Me Feel Brand New,” by 8eight, is from their 8eight ep.  8eight is one of a handful of mixed-gender Kpop groups.  The name of the group is taken in part from the symbol for infinity, ∞, which is an “eight” turned on its side.

Composed of Lee Hyun (leader), Baek Chan,  and Joo Hee (the lone female), they began their career in 2007.  Although they do more upbeat, dance music, they are known for  their soulful vocals. They have released several albums, including The First (2007), Infinity (2008) and Golden Age (2009).  “U Make Me Feel Brand New” comes off their latest ep, released June, 2011.

Why I Like It

This is a really mellow, soulful song.  I happened upon it while listening to my iTunes in shuffle mode. It begins very simply with two instruments and some percussion, leading to the introduction of a very simple walking bass line. One of the male vocals comes in, and his voice sounds like a lazy Sunday afternoon.  His vocals are complemented very well by the instrumentation.  When the other voices do come in, they form a very nice blending. Rather than having a lead singer lead the vocal and the other singers trail behind, the song showcases all the voices. No one voice dominates and the voices don’t compete. It’s a nice song.

The group’s profile on soompi.com says 8eight has been compared to Black Eyed Peas, but I think this song shows they are more soulful than that. Their smooth sound  puts me more in the mind of some Neo Soul groups from the early 2000, kinda like if you put D’Angelo, Maxwell and Jill Scott in a group.

Wikipedia defines Neo Soul as “being heavily based in soul music” and “distinguished by a less conventional sound than its contemporary R&B counterpart, with incorporated elements ranging from jazz, funk, and hip hop to pop, fusion, and African music. It has been noted by music writers for its classicist influences, conscious-driven lyrics, and strong female presence.” However, many artists discount the label Neo Soul. Mark Edward Nero writes: “[Many artists] dislike the term Neo-Soul and have disassociated themselves from it, calling it nothing more than a shallow marketing tool. Many of these artists refer to themselves simply as Soul musicians.”

Sources:

8eight’s Profile, soompi

Neo Soul, Wikipedia

Mark Edward Nero, Neo-Soul: What is Neo-Soul?, About.com

What I’m Listening To: Mujugeon Haepiending (Stick Wit U)/Just Happy Ending (Stick Wit U), SNSD

Ever so often, I like to share what’s on heavy rotation on my iPod. It isn’t always the newest thing, or the most popular thing, but for some reason this is the stuff that I’m grooving to.

What I’m Listening To

Mujugeon Haepiending (Stick Wit U)/Just Happy Ending (Stick Wit U), SNSD

How I Came to Listen to It

This was another instance of letting my iTunes shuffle taking me where it will.

Why I Like It

As a child of the ’80s, the sheer super-happy upbeat nature appeals to me. I can see why the SONEs like SNSD, especially when the pool the power of the Nine for stuff like this. People may complain that it is too saccharinely sweet, but I think it’s really a good example of what a pop song should do: hooks you from the first time you hear it, doesn’t drag on longer than necessary and doesn’t take itself  too seriously. It is the musical equivalent of cotton candy!

What I’m Listening To: “No Way,” 015B

Ever so often, I like to share what’s on heavy rotation on my iPod. It isn’t always the newest thing, or the most popular thing, but for some reason this is the stuff that I’m grooving to.

What I’m Listening To

“No Way,” by 015B from the Lucky 7 album

You can listen to it here.

How I Came to Listen to It

I was listening to hellokpop radio, and it came on. I thought it was groovy, so I noted the name of the group and the song and downloaded it LEGALLY (hint hint folks).

Why I Like It

So, once you get past the cutesy intro, the song has a groovy vibe that is emphasized in this case by the instrumentation. Thanks to Ask a Korean!, I learned even more about my favorite new group (even though no one except me and a DJ at hellokpop radio seem to favor “No Way), like it’s a group made up of musicians with no regular lead vocal (go figure!). Jun.K is singing on this track.  Ask A Korean! also says 015B is important because: “It distinguished itself by adopting genres that were lesser known in Korea at the time. It did not seek popularity, or at least the kind of popularity that involves numerous television appearances to which teenage girls scream. 015B, notably, did not have a main vocal — for most of its songs, the band casted other singers to sing them.” They are nifty!

Source:  50 Most Influential K-Pop Artists, 29, 015B, Ask A Korean!

What I’m Listening To: Warrior Baek Dong Soo OST (2011)

Ever so often, I like to share what’s on heavy rotation on my iPod. It isn’t always the newest thing, or the most popular thing, but for some reason this is the stuff that I’m grooving to.

What I’m Listening To

Yanoe, BMK (Big Mama King)

Yanoe, Park Eun Tae (Acoustic)

Goyeo, Shin Sung Woo

How I Came to Listen to It

These three songs were prominently featured in the Kdrama, Warrior Baek Dong Soo.

Why I Like It

Yeah, I know I’m supposed to like that Kim Tae Woo ballad, but I like these songs from the OST. I love BMK’s voice on Yanoe, and it’s not often that you get a woman singing a powerful song, as opposed to the slow, ballad number or peppy, poppy song on a Kdrama OST. It really was used well in the Kdrama also, and really supplemented key scenes.  The acoustic version by Park Eun Tae, is really nice too because it gives a completely different vibe from BMK’s version. Finally, Goyeo was another song that I really liked too. I told you, I’m contrary, I like what I like! :D