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The Color of K-POP [album]


[Pictured, left to right: top row, Kara Jiyoung, Sistar Bora, 4Minute Gayoon, Secret Sunhwa, After School Lizzy, 4Minute Hyuna, SISTAR Hyolyn, Secret Hyosung, After School Nana, Kara Nicole, bottom row, MBlaq G.O, Teen Top Niel, B2st Yoseop, 2AM Jo Kwon, Infinite Woohyun, Infinte Hoya, Teen Top L.Joe, 2AM Jung Jin Woon, B2st Gikwang, MBlaq Joon]

I really laughed when I saw SBS’s Gayodaejun project. K-pop loves doing really gimmicky “concepts”. I thought the idea was interesting, though. I’m all for mix-and-matching (especially if it’s an 오소녀 reunion stage). As it turns out, there is a reason that some of these guys would never have been in even the same project group as trainees, let alone be in an official debuted group.


White is supposed to be the romantic fairy concept, I get that, but the whole thing sounds painfully clearly plastic. The song is fairly… consistent? with the exclusion of the random sax bridge, but basically, the song is bleh.


Blue’s Muse is basically an IU single sung by five guys. SBS probably picked Niel because he sounded the part and Jo Kwon because he looked the part and then drew straws for the others. They’ve all got nice vocals, like Yoseop’s been on Immortal Song, but the groups they come from are all over the map in terms of style. It’s a nice, well-sung song but that’s all there is to it. Again, nothing special.

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Red’s This Person is basically Alone except with Hyuna rapping and Hyolyn not taking all the lines. The nasally voices of other three singers (Hyosung, Nicole, Nana) actually complement Hyolyn’s throatiness pretty well but Hyuna was annoying. The singing isn’t fabulous but they try. They nearly succeed at salvaging a record boring tryna-be-sexy song ever. Emphasis on nearly.


Jung Jin Woon’s intro gives me chills. I know what’s coming right away but because it’s JUNG JIN WOON, it doesn’t feel like a bad thing. Yesterday has the adolescent angst, like one of those rebellious “Break Out!” songs but also like one of those stressed out “Going Crazy” songs. It’s a tried-and-true formula. Pop industry songwriters have it down to a science. This is all stuff we’ve heard before but I eat it up anyway. Until it ends with that anticlimactic “Yesterday” whisper.


These songs summarize “K-pop” very well. Most of it is boring, industry-driven drivel in pretty packaging. Some of it sounds pretty cool (disturbing when the listener realizes it sounds like a million other songs). Most of the time, though, even those aren’t good enough. Let’s be honest. If Jung Jin Woon weren’t in team Black, Yesterday probably would be significantly less convincing.

The actual rate of K-pop debuts have been increasing in the past few years (possibly exponentially but I haven’t done the math) and it has just been an inundation of unexceptional talent. It’s like the judges’ stance in K-pop Star: I know y’all got talent but you’ve got to show me what’s special about you. A lot of agencies aren’t doing this and it’s weakening Korean pop.

Psy, like, sneezed, and then put “K-pop” on the map of Western pop but how could other Korean singers show that they belong on our radio? There is real talent floating around in the Korean industry, and it would really show if only people would throw out all the crap that is anything less. Look at T-ara, they can sing and dance but their albums always have filler, mediocre pop songs on all their albums. It’s lazy. Korean pop, get it together. Why else do you think I cringe whenever I see “K-pop”?

Korean pop might not have anything more unique than the materialistic, industry-centered-ness of the industry (reiteration was intentional) but we won’t know that unless it trims down and polishes up. I know there are real gems in there so it’s worth a shot, right?

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