Loud Music, Louder CD Packaging
Graphic Designer and artist Don’s commentary on K-Pop’s exciting (and at times extravagant) music CD packaging
By Don Ang
When one typically thinks of a musical CD or a single album of a song, it usually consists of a CD inside a CD case. But in my opinion, the K-pop group producers do not see the CD packaging as merely a box for the CD, but as a space to make even “louder” the attractiveness of the product by increasing the size of the case, including more photos of the artists, and presenting everything a little more “larger than life”. With photos of the CDs that I have collected over the years, I will share with you what designs I consider noteworthy and those that range from simplistic to extreme.
2009 Lee Jung Hyun | Avaholic: Textured case, a unique CD presentation, not to mention the CD itself is mostly see through is just naming a few touches. Great design, elegant presentation in a compact package.
2001 Baby V.O.X 5 | Boyish Story: It is hard to believe that this was made back in 2001. High class materials and design, no plastic holders or cases. Monotone and full color photos, combined with reflective ink giving the feel of Baby V.O.X’s Boyish Story.
2012 4minute | Volume Up: I was expecting a normal CD package, not a 10″ X 10″ gift box from Korea! Bulky as it is, the design is simplistic. The box slides out revealing a 6″ X 7″ set of photo cards within a clear case. Being a 4Minute fan, I admit as bulky as it is, I’m happy!
2011 2NE1 | Second Mini Album: I have to hand it to 2NE1 for having the most consistent design theme throughout their albums. A plastic box with 2NE1 embossed on it, simple and effective. In this album, it is sporting new artwork for its theme. Card stock photos with glittery effects make it a treat for anyone who owns it.
2009 Se7en | Se7olution: This is my first CD from Se7en and it didn’t disappoint, music wise. The design of this album was nice, and very fragile. The foldout photos were cool, as well as a separate booklet for the lyrics. I like the use of thick cardstock for the album itself, it is not something you see used on a music album. The only drawback was using really thin paper to connect the front cover with the main package. On a positive note, you get a cool presentation of the whole album.
2008 Wonder Girls | Nobody: Where do you start if you wanted to bring a song to the global stage? Well you start with a catchy music video, a song you can’t get out of your head, and picture book for an album. It takes you back in time and reminds you why the 70’s and 80’s were so great, a little nostalgia never hurt anyone. It’s the perfect package to start a global craze.
2010 BoA | Hurricane Venus: First reaction to BoA’s sixth album is “wow it is pretty!” The photobook is also pretty, with all beautiful photos for BoA’s theme. This album is a step up from all her previous albums throughout the years.
2011 Girls’ Generation | The Boys: There’s a side of me that wishes I bought this version instead of the Mr. TAXI version. Reason being is “The Boys” version comes in a tin box, complete with photocards and CD. I’m a bit jealous, as their third album is really good. It’s also a testament that they are the most popular girl group from Korea.
It used to be, music is the number one reason people will buy an artist’s CD. Korea was no different at first, until they started adding more to the mix. The evolution from small compact designs to bigger elaborate packages coincides with k-pop being at the forefront of the Hallyu. When you do buy music CD from Korea, you may get more than you expect.