Five Years After the Separation: Jay Park and 2PM

<<Five Years After the Separation: Jay Park and 2PM>>

by Mandy Day

Photos by Hien Le

The informed K-Pop fan knows of the acrimonious split between Jay Park and 2PM. Five years after his contract was terminated by Korean record label JYP, American fans had an opportunity to see how the hip-hop rebel has evolved as an artist since he left the regimented world of idol group life. On November 14th, the Park founded record label, AOMG, held a concert at Los Angeles’ historic Belasco Theater.

 

Featuring AOMG artists, the concert was anything but the flashy spectacle that one sees at the standard idol concert. There were no costume changes or elaborate staging. Backup dancers barely made an appearance. The newly established record label was almost completely music centric from Park’s bubblegum pop numbers like ‘So Good’ to more edgy songs like ‘Dangerous’. LA-based Korean American rapper Dumbfoundead made an appearance. The perfect opportunity to compare the two artists arose a week later when 2PM performed their first solo concert in the United States since 2010.

 

Deviating greatly from Jay Park’s bare-bones production, 2PM’s extravaganza comprised of elaborate dance choreography, sparkly costumes, and staging spanning multiple levels of the Shrine Auditorium stage. One major bright spot was the complete absence of lip-synching which is all too common among pop performances. LA born Nichkhun talked about his love of the LA food scene, while Taecyeon and Chansung made fans go gaga for abs easily visible from the press balcony toward the back of the auditorium.

 

Park and 2PM have dramatically changed since they parted ways. 2PM being one of the world’s most popular K-Pop groups have continued to grow in popularity as their music continues to be pop gold, like their new single ‘Go Crazy’, complete with bizarre dance moves and goofball-like music video. Park’s tattoos, devil may care attitude, and unapologetic party lifestyle, represent a new generation of Koreans. Whether it’s manufactured pop or uninhibited hip-hop, the Korean music scene will continue to gain new American fans.

 

Eng-2015-01-Concert Photo-1Eng-2015-01-Concert Photo-2Eng-2015-01-Concert Photo-3

Members of 2PM and Jay Park riling up the crowd

 

Mandy Day is a lifelong San Diego resident and made her way back home after finishing a Bachelor’s Degree in Public Policy at Mills College in Oakland, California. She has traveled extensively in Australia and lived in Cairns for a year while studying Journalism. Along with travels in Europe, Mandy is passionate about adventuring to far flung lands and hopes to make a move to South Korea in the near future to teach. An avid fan of K-Pop and Korean dramas since 2010, Mandy has studied East Asian History since high school and currently organizes the San Diego Korean Language Exchange.

Team Sejong-Mandy

[KKONNECT FIELD TRIP] U-KISS: The First US Tour @ Club Nokia, Los Angeles (01/14/14)

Over the span of five years, K-Pop group U-KISS has become one of the top acts to come out of the Hallyu scene. Despite various changes in line-up, the boys have enjoyed success both within and outside of Korea, with sub-units, solo efforts, and songs recorded in Korean, Japanese, and English. Members have appeared in various Korean movies and dramas, and more recently, even sported silly suits in their cameo for popular balladeer Lim Chang-jung’s comedic “Open The Door” music video. Needless to say, when K-Konnect found out U-Kiss was coming to Los Angeles on the final night of their first US tour, we weren’t exactly “Standing Still”. (Sorry, that was hard to resist.)

The evening began with a solid stream of popular U-KISS songs – ranging from the R&B-inspired “Stop Girl” to latest single “She’s Mine”. The high energy of attending ‘KissMe’ fans was clearly reflected in the group’s opening performance, the six members quickly moving through some of their most popular choreography as the audience clapped and – not-so-surprisingly – screamed along. Just by looking around the venue, it was evident there were quite a number of diehard fans in attendance, having seemingly waited for the group’s US arrival for some time. Several of which brought along large posters written out in Hangul in support of their favorite U-KISS member. Some fans sitting on the second level even hung streamers over the balcony far before the show started, adding to the welcoming spirit of the crowd.

After a brief introduction by all, Eli and AJ took the stage as sub-unit uBEAT, accompanied by group vocalist Kevin. Their single “Should Have Treated You Better” was the title track on a sub-unit mini album released last year and showcased the lyrical strength of the two rappers. Following uBeat was an impressive duet by two of the group’s main vocalists, Soohyun and Hoon. The live singing was both powerful and controlled as they moved through the song “More Painful Than Pain”, making the news revealed later in the show of an eventual ballad sub-unit worth the anticipation. Wrapping up the segment was “Obsession”, an electro-dance track performed by AJ and Kiseop. Bringing the audience back up to their feet after the previous song, the two even made their way through the crowd to dance along with audience members standing closer to the stage.

Prior to the event, those who purchased select seats to the concert were given the opportunity to submit a question for U-KISS to read and answer on stage during the show. These questions, written out on Post-It notes, were rolled out on a large chalkboard to allow members a chance to review them all before deciding which one they would choose. Some Post-Its – namely “Eli, can you twerk for us?” and “Please give us your abs.” – were quickly disregarded, while others were happily responded to. Within the segment, fans were given a preview of AJ’s latest rap (tentatively titled “She’s Mine”), a brief dance performance of “DoraDora” from Kiseop, and Eli’s exaggerated impression of Kiseop’s choreography made popular during their Japanese tour. Lucky fans were even serenaded by their favorite members, with Soohyun and Kevin singing a capella versions of their solo songs “Snowman” and “My Reason”, respectively.

UKISSStage

Following the Q&A session, U-KISS then went into a performance of their Japanese singles, “Tick Tack” and “Forbidden Love”, before announcing another fan contest planned prior to the show. Fans were invited to submit essays to the group’s label about why they should be chosen as a ‘KissMe’ Super Fan. The winner, one for each stop of the tour, would be able to meet U-KISS on stage and be serenaded by them directly. Excerpts from the Los Angeles winner’s entry were read allowed before she was brought on stage. A self-declared ‘KissMe Mom’, Chauntelle was a 40-year-old writer and motivational speaker who suffered a debilitating stroke in 2008. While in convalescence several years later, during what was described as the lowest point of her life, she discovered U-KISS. Instantly becoming a fan of their music and varied personalities, she was given the motivation to continue toward recovery. Only needing slight assistance from her walker, Chauntelle spoke a few words to the group before they serenaded her with the love song “Mysterious Lady” from their most recent release ‘Moments’.

Later in the show, U-KISS took a moment to thank their American fans for supporting them. As two members were raised in the States (Eli in Washington D.C. and Kevin in Danville, Calif.) and another currently enrolled at Columbia University, having the opportunity to hold a successful tour in the United States was an incredible opportunity for them. As each member individually expressed their gratitude, a giant pull-apart cake purchased by local fans was rolled out for Kiseop as an early birthday present. The surprise was well-received, and while U-KISS led the audience in singing Happy Birthday, Kiseop took a big bite of cake for his fans.

UKISSBirthday

The group returned for a charismatic encore of singles “Without You” and “Man Man Ha Ni”, somehow maintaining that same high energy they began with two hours prior. As the crowd danced as wildly, it was evident that both U-KISS and their ‘KissMe’ fans got exactly what they wanted out of the group’s first solo stop to the United States.

“We can’t wait to come back and do this all over again,” Kevin shouted to the screaming crowd as the group took their final bow. “We’ll make you the proudest fan club in the world.” And as fans raved about the show as the crowd filed out, picking pieces of encore confetti off their clothes, it was apparent U-KISS was well on their way to keeping that promise.

[Jan/2014] Millie’s Top K-Pop Music Videos

Millie’s Top Ten January K-Pop Music Videos 

[2014]

2014 seemed to start off with a sexy wave as girl groups everywhere could be seen in tiny shorts, stockings and high heels. The males also strutted their feathers with confident songs about their looks. Both genders came to tease their fans this cold January, but despite the flash of skin, many of the songs that shined were the ones that focused on the vocals. And if they could combine a sexy song with powerful vocals, all the better. The ladies might have  won over this month, but 2014 has just begun.

Note: This chart is just my personal favorites and does not reflect any music video views or digital/album sales. 

10. Rainbow Blaxx – Cha Cha

Rainbow Blaxx - Cha Cha

I have never seen a K-pop music video with so many sexually suggestive food props – and macaroons at that! Vibrant colors, royal furniture, jewels, and desserts of all sorts make up Rainbow’s first sub-unit music video. Rainbow BLAXX is the four member sub-unit, that was one of the many groups to come back this year with the sexy theme (unusually for Rainbow since they usually do the cute concepts). “I wanna feel you, I wanna love you…” The girls act seducing in this video to match the lyrics, daring them to come closer before they get too impatient. I found the song really catchy and I liked it a lot, I just wish the side story in the music video wasn’t so weird…what is it with the random jewels popping out of their mouths, and the creepy ghost lady measuring them?

9. Got7 – Girls Girls Girls

Got7 - Girls Girls Girls

JYP debuted a new seven member boy group, Got7. After seeing their debut music video “Girls, Girls, Girls” I got a mixed vibe of old school 2pm and JJ Project (very appropriate since both groups are from JYP Entertainment). The song sounded a lot like JJ Project’s single “Bounce”, which made sense since the duo JB and JR became members of this boy group, and the back-flips and other b-boy moves reminded me of 2pm’s debut song “10 out of 10”. When it came to the song, I preferred the verses and rap portions over the chorus which seemed boring for me and the lyrics where kind of a put off. But the music video did a good job in showing of the boys’ talent, especially with the split screen style that could show both the close up of the boy’s face and the rest of the group performing the choreography. “Girls, Girls, Girls” was alright for me – but it did make me extremely curious to see what this boy group has in store for the future.

 8. B1A4 – Lonely

B1A4 - Lonely

B1A4 made their comeback with “Lonely”,  a sad song about the after effects of a break-up. The music video was not that original, in fact  the lonely theme after a break-up has been done quite often, but what made the video different was B1A4’s little twist – the ex-girlfriend behaved like a balloon attached to the protagonist’s wrist (Jin-young, the leader, who starred in this music video). The magical element added B1A4’s style to it. Quite opposite from their last comeback that had the boys jumping up and down singing, “Lonely” was calm, yet beautiful, fully showing off the boys’ singing abilities. A perfect, sorrowful song for the ending of the winter season.

7. Spica – You Don’t Love Me

Spica - You Don't Love Me

Spica displayed their powerful vocals once again with “You Don’t Love Me”. The girls also came back with a sexy concept of their own; very retro with an over-the-top sexy act that left it more comedic than anything. From singing into toilet paper rolls, to throwing around cereal and streamers, to the exaggerated butt pads, Spica definitely stood out from the sexy singles this month. I always like Spica songs, but this one is not one of my favorites. If I didn’t hear the phrase “You Don’t Love Me” every other line, maybe I would have liked the song more. But none the less, I liked Spica’s creative music video – they always manage to make them sexy but have other interesting elements that balance them out.

6. TVXQ – Something

TVXQ - Something

TVXQ also went back in the past with the jazzy title track “Something”, a confident dance song about how hard it is when all the girls want you (how very modest of you boys). The dance is awesome in this video; with the dancers holding up string props to resemble bass strings that the boys strum too (Major props to all the back-up dancers who not only preformed but made seamless transitions through all the props). The song is upbeat and heavy on the vocals. The music video plays around with mirage special effects and upside down scene changes. It was quite a change from their last two hit songs that contained heavy audio effects and present day music styles, so this single was a nice, fresh new sound from the boys.

5. Sunny Hill – Don’t Say Anything

Sunny Hill - Don't Say Anything

“Don’t Say Anything” narrates the moment someone goes through a break-up; the sudden realization, the heartbreak and the tears that follow. This song is sorrowful, but has beautiful poetic lyrics and is very raw and easy to relate to. Filmed with white backgrounds and hazy focusing, and has the soft piano playing throughout the song, Sunny Hill’s “Don’t Say Anything” is a solid song.

4. Kiss&Cry – Domino Game

Kiss&Cry - Domino Game

Rookie girl group Kiss&Cry debuted with “Domino Game”, and wow did they make a debut! Defiantly one that is easily missed because of all the big named comebacks, but these girls made a great first impression. They weren’t  just sexy, but confident, and have vocals that amazed me during live performances. These girls don’t act like rookies, which makes me excited to see how they will grow in the future. The lyrics tell the story of a girl who wants to stop playing this “game” with the boy she loves, as it seems he doesn’t match the same loving sentiments towards her.

3. Girl’s Day – Something

Girl's Day - Something

Girl’s Day started off 2014 strong with their New Year Day release of “Something”. Following the sexy singles from the last year that gained them so much popularity with “Expectations” and “Female President”, the four girls appeared with “Something”, a sexy but sad song about a girl’s suspicions of her boyfriend’s other ‘something’ on the sideline. Vocally this was one of the Girl’s Day strongest song, but what gathered attention was their many new iconic dances; the “feather dance” where they tie feathers to their pinkies and sensually run them down their leg, the “cat dance” which mimics a cat’s movement on the floor, the teasing way they open up their skirts to give a peek of their legs and of course, the bouncing in the chorus.

2. Ailee – Singing Got Better

Ailee - Singing Got Better

I don’t think it’s possible for Ailee’s singing to get better since it’s already fantastic. “Singing Got Better” is her latest song’ a powerful vocal piece that tells how a break-up improved her singing. She understood the lyrics and emotions behind a song from her own pain of a broken heart and transformed that into her strength. I love the originality of the song, and the simplicity behind it. Lee Joon from MBLAQ starred in this music video as her cheating boyfriend. Seems like another amazing song from Ailee!

1. Ga In – Fxxk U

Ga In - Fxxk U

When I say Ga In like to push the boundaries, I never thought she would take it this far – and I’m glad she did! Ga In as a solo artist likes to center her music videos and songs on taboo topics in South Korea. Her last single “Bloom” was completely about sex and female sexuality. This time around she hit on a darker note; “Fxxk U” is an emotional song about a girl in an abusive relationship, revealing that even sexual abuse can occur in relationships, and traumatic repercussions of rape. “Fxxk U” features Bumkey who sings his lines from the point of view of her abuser trying to convince her that it’s okay and to return to him once again. This song will probably be banned from music stations, not only because of the topic but simply because of the “overuse” of the word fuck. However, I hope that doesn’t stop Ga In from making more music videos like this one.

[BIBIMBEATS] 2013 Round-Up: Looking back at the stories that defined the year in K-Pop

Wonder Girls Become Wonder Women

Wonder Girls' Sun posing with JYP labelmate JOO on her wedding day
Wonder Girls’ Sun posing with JYP labelmate JOO on her wedding day

This year, the Wonder Girls proved you don’t need to have a comeback to remain in headlines. These JYP darlings have enjoyed one busy year, both personally and professionally, beginning with leader Sunye’s storybook wedding. After meeting husband James Park in Haiti during a 2011 missionary trip, the two finally tied the knot in January. A long list of celebrities – including the rest of the Wonder Girls – attended, and 2AM’s Jo Kwon officiated the ceremony. In March, rapper Yubin made her series debut as genius hacker Lee Joo-young on medical thriller “The Virus”, while Yenny soon followed with a role in historical drama “Basketball”. Over two years after leaving the group, former member Sunmi finally made her solo debut over the summer. Her single “24 Hours” enjoyed #1 status on a majority of music sales charts. Later, on October 26, Sunye publicly announced the birth of her very own ‘wonder girl’ Hailey. While both the Wonder Girls and JYP Entertainment insist the group is still very much ‘on’, the only thing we know for sure is that newborn Hailey is about to be spoiled by some seriously cool Wonder Aunts.

The ‘Bar Bar Bar’ Heard Around The World

A popular YouTube video of policemen in Busan performing "Bar Bar Bar"
A popular YouTube video of policemen in Busan performing “Bar Bar Bar” and other Crayon Pop hits

By the end of 2013, if you haven’t heard about the criminally cute quintet Crayon Pop, you have successfully been hiding under a rock. With the unconventional outfits and addictively fun choreography of hit single “Bar Bar Bar”, the girls made waves as Korea’s latest viral sensation. To date, “Bar Bar Bar” has enjoyed over 9.3 million views and inspired 1.7 million covers on YouTube from fans all over the world, including Italy, Thailand, Australia, and the United States. Parodied by anyone from remote controlled robots to policemen in Gyeongbuk, the song even got “Thor 2” star Tom Hiddleston bouncing during his SNL Korea appearance. Social media popularity had “Bar Bar Bar” hitting #1 on major music charts several weeks after the song’s initial release, their win on Music Bank coming well over two months into promotions. What will be the big hit of 2014? It might be too soon to make predictions, but if Psy and Crayon Pop are any indication, it’s going to involve a whole lot of jumping.

Where’s The (Rap) Beef?

Supreme Team's Simon D (left) and E-Sens (right)
Supreme Team’s Simon D (left) and E-Sens (right)

In July, Korean hip-hop fans were shocked when it was announced that rap duo Supreme Team was disbanding shortly after the release of their EP ‘Thanx 4 The Wait’. According to official press, hip-hop label Amoeba Culture ended their contract with Supreme Team’s E-Sens due to creative differences. Well wishes were exchanged, both E-Sens and fellow rapper Simon D provided encouraging words for fans, and everything went back to normal – or so we thought. One month later, E-Sens self-released the song “You Can’t Control Me”, attacking Amoeba Culture founder Gaeko, one-half of Dynamic Duo. The song, a twist to New York rapper Kendrick Lamar’s controversial verse on Big Sean’s “Control”, accused Gaeko of industry corruption and extorting E-Sens, someone who had been a younger brother figure to him. A day later, Brand New Music’s Swings brought in “King Swings, Part 2”, a new diss track criticizing Simon D for loyalty to Dynamic Duo and Amoeba Culture over E-Sens. Soon Gaeko and Simon D both recorded their own responses, the former (“I Can Control You”) attacking E-Sens for his ungrateful behavior and drug history. The latter (“Control”) seemed apologetic in content, both rebuking Swings’ attack and expressing conflict over the duo’s disbandment. The series of disses sent the rap world buzzing, enticing more songs to be released from every corner of the genre. In fact, while the battle seemingly ‘ended’ not too soon after, it still remains in constant mention within the Korean hip-hop scene.

Solos, subgroups, and more solos!

 A scene from CL's solo debut "Baddest Female"
A scene from CL’s solo debut “Baddest Female”

2013 was definitely another year for amazing breakout solo and subgroup efforts from members of well-established K-Pop groups. The beginning of the year saw the return of SISTAR19 with the seductive “Gone Not Around Any Longer (있다 없으니까)” and the debut of INFINITE’s hip-hop subgroup, INFINITE-H. 2NE1 fans were treated to CL’s hard-hitting “Baddest Female”, and SM Entertainment made a big reveal when they reintroduced a member of SuperJunior-M as their newest solo artist Henry. As far as solo activities go, however, BIGBANG takes a pretty serious lead with all five members having promoted their own tracks by the end of 2013. Lastly, the year wrapped up with the long-awaited solo debut of SISTAR’s power vocalist Hyorin with the seductive “One Way Love” and lyrical ballad “Lonely”.

2012 and ‘Gangnam Style’ fever was a hard act to follow, but overall, 2013 carried its weight by far. As the year wraps up, more news about what to expect in the beginning of 2014 is emerging. Good news for some – a new boy group for JYP and a new girl group for YG – and bad news for others, as breaking news continues on Cube’s contract with KARA’s Nicole and JYJ’s eventual enlistment. Needless to say, there is a whole lot more music news to come, and BIBIMBEATS will be here to report it. See you next year!

The First Annual 2013 Soju DramaQueen Awards

sojuaward

The First Annual

2013 Soju DramaQueen Awards

 

I did not realize what a busy, amazing year 2013 has been until I consulted the all-knowing Excel Spreadsheet and compiled the Contender’s List. Of the 35 dramas that I viewed, am viewing, or in very few cases, abandoned mid-series, just this year, the list was finally narrowed down to the following Top Ten Must-See Dramas for 2013. (A difficult choice, but my editor insisted…)

 

 

Cheongdam-dong Alice

Dating Agency Cyrano

Good Doctor

Gu Family Book (Kang Chi: The Beginning)

I Hear Your Voice

Jang Ok Jung, Live in Love

Jung Yi: Goddess of Fire

Monstar

Sword and Flower

The Master’s Sun

 

The choices were difficult, but listed are the nominees in each category, with the winners highlighted:

 

park shi hooBest Actor (tie)

It was tough narrowing down this category to just 5 nominees, but the winners were pretty clear. Scandals aside, Park Shi-hoo was positively brilliant in Cheongdam-dong Alice. I sincerely hope he make a comeback soon! Park Shi-hoo화이팅!  Joo Won also put in an amazing performance as the autistic Doctor Park Shi-on (Good Doctor). It was a difficult role played with empathy and credibility.

 

 

Nominees:

good doc joo wonPark Shi-hoo “Cheongdam-dong Alice”

Joo Won “Good Doctor”

Lee Jong-Suk “I Hear Your Voice”

Park Yoochun “I Miss You”

Jo In-sung “That Winter, the Wind Blows”

 

 

jae hee

Best Supporting Actor

This is another category with more nominees in the original list than I could include. The choice was more difficult here, but I settled on Lee Jae-hee. His character in When a Man Loves was very well-developed and complex.

 

Nominees:

Choi Jin-hyuk “Gu Family Book”

Seo In-guk “Master’s Sun”

Jo Jae-Hyun “Scandal: A Shocking and Wrongful Incident”

Kim Bum “That Winter, the Wind Blows”

Lee Jae-hee “When A Man Loves”

 

Masters_Sun_taeBest Actress

There were many fine performances this year by Korea’s leading actresses, but Gong Hyo-jin stood out with her quirky performance in The Master’s Sun.

 

Nominees:

Lee Bo-young “I Hear Your Voice”

Kim Tae-Hee “Jang Ok Jung: Live in Love”

Moon Geun-young “Jung Yi: Goddess of Fire”

Gong Hyo-jin “Master’s Sun”

Jo Yoon-hee “Scandal: A Shocking and Wrongful Incident”

 

master funny face

Best Supporting Actress

Secondary actresses typically have pretty one-dimensional characters, but Kim Yu-ri was blessed with an extraordinary role that she made her own. The character was engaging in all it’s iterations and aspects. Bravo!

 

Nominees:

So Yi-hyun “Cheongdam-dong Alice”

Hong Soo-hyun “Jang Ok Jung: Live in Love”

Kim Yu-ri “Master’s Sun”

Park Ha-Sun “Two Weeks”

 

kang eui shikBest New Actor

It’s no surprise that Monstar garnered most of the new actor nominations as the drama sported a cast composed almost entirely of newcomers. The stand-out male was Kang Eui-shik who played “Radio”, an intriguing character. The performance was outstanding, especially the tear-filled solo sung in defiance of his bullies.

 

Nominees:

Kang Eui-shik “Monstar”

Park Kyu-sun “Monstar”

Yong Joon-hyun “Monstar”

Park Hyun-shik “Nine: Nine Time Travels”

 

Monstar-1

Best New Actress

There were fewer notables among the new actresses, but those on the list were stellar. Kim Min-young gave a stand-out performance in Monstar. With her incredible voice and acting talent, I’m sure we’ll be seeing more of this fine young woman.

 

Nominees:

Choi Soo-young “Dating Agency: Cyrano”

Ha Yun-soo “Monstar”

Kim Min-young “Monstar”

 

Monstar-Poster2Best Music

There were really nice OSTs this year and a few songs on my iPod that I admit to listening to repeatedly. While I had a difficult time not choosing I Hear Your Voice, in the end, Monstar had to win out with it’s outstanding mix of creative covers, fun mash-ups and and all-around great music.

 

Nominees:

“Cheongdam-dong Alice”

“Good Doctor”

“Gu Family Book”

“I Hear Your Voice”

“Monstar”

 

 

gu moon

Best Cinematography

Creativity seemed to be the order of the day this year. With a plethora of fantasy-type dramas, special effects were necessary and were, in general, very well done. Gu Family Book stood out, however, for its sheer beauty.

 

Nominees:

“Cheongdam-dong Alice”

“Flower Boy Next Door”

“Gu Family Book”

“I Hear Your Voice”

“Sword and Flower”

 

Cheongdamdong_Alice-p1Best Drama

Looking at the overall charisma of a drama, the acting, the script, the cinematography, the music and the ending (too many were really weak!), the list was slowly whittled down. The one drama that intrigued me from the start and held me to the end, keeping me entertained and captivated by brilliant performances and a great story was Cheongdam-dong Alice. I gave I Hear Your Voice a close second as it, too, was intriguing throughout and was a marvelous feel-good drama.

IHearYourVoice_Slider

 

Nominees:

“Cheongdam-dong Alice”

“Dating Agency Cyrano”

Close Second: “I Hear Your Voice”

“Gu Family Book”

“Jung Yi: Goddess of Fire”

 

2013 has been a good year for Korean dramas, and it’s not over yet. At the time awards were selected, the much-anticipated Heirs, with its all-star cast was still in progress, and Marry Him, If You Dare was shaping up well. Still others have just begun and will bleed into 2014.

Congratulations to this year’s Soju DramaQueen winners. I’m looking forward to another great year with these amazing actors and actresses!

 Happy Drama Watching!

Millie’s Top Ten November K-Pop Music Videos

Millie’s Top Ten November K-pop Music Videos

Many of the releases this month had very sad and sorrowful themes. As winter comes, so does the heart-wrenching ballads in the K-pop World. Ballad Kings 2am make a reappearance, Miss A comes back after a long hiatus, and Hyorin finally makes her solo debut. To top it off, a surprising boy group makes their way up to first place.

Note: This chart is just my personal favorites and does not reflect any music video views or digital/album sales. 

10. NC.A – Oh my God

N.CA - Oh my god

NC.A is the 17-year-old solo artist, but in this song she appeared as if she was 12. “Oh My God” is a cute song about winning back the boy who wants to leave her. With pigtails and a cute school background, the feel of the music video matches the song perfectly. However, my only issue is how young they make the girl look. In her last songs she appears much older than her age, but in this case they did the exact opposite. Also NC.A is singing so happily but when you notice the lyrics in the chorus you realize her tone no longer matches well – she is still singing happily even though her boyfriend has left her. Not the best NC.A song, but the none the less is still cute.

9. Mr.Mr – Do You Feel Me?

MrMr - Do You Feel Me

In “Do You Feel Me?” the boys are keeping it classy in suits with this very western sounding single. The lyrics talk about a girl who moves the guy’s heart and gives him life, displayed in the music video where a beautiful girl in white comes to the still boys and brings them to life so they began to dance and sing. It’s a very solid song for the underrated boy group.

8. Miss A – Hush

Miss A - Hush

Miss A has been gone from the K-pop scene for a while but made a surprising comeback with “Hush”. Sexy and sensual, “Hush” is a quick moving, fast-paced song, teasing the boys to “give it to me” in cropped dark turtlenecks, hair pinned up and red lipstick. Even though the song is quite repetitive, Miss A has brought along another new style of music, making sure each comeback really shows a diverse side to them. “Hush” might not be my favorite of their title tracks, but it’s still a great song.

7. Hyorin – Lonely

Hyorin - Lonely

Hyorin, the lead vocalist from Sistar, made her solo debut with “Lonely”. The song showcases her amazing vocals quite well but the music video seems to be the female version of G-Dragon’s “Crooked” with a more subtle attitude of angst. Hyorin is walking around, seeming to enjoy life and smile despite singing about being lonely and broken by love. It seems she is hopeful for the future, that she will be able to still love even though she has been thrown aside for now.

6. Tasty – Day N Night

Tasty - Day N' Night

Tasty’s music always stands out with their swing style hip hop, “Day N’ Night” came back with that theme adding some rock to the mix. Filmed in Hong Kong, the music video matches the lyrics telling the story of a guy (or in this case, a pair of twins) who keep letting the same girl come back to him even she has made it a habit of leaving at any whim. Actress and model, Esom played the female protagonist who toys with the boy’s hearts.

5. Davichi – The Letter

Davichi - The Letter

“The Letter” shows off the amazing vocals from this duo; however the music video lacks in comparison to the song. The song tells a story, taking the listener step by step of receiving this break-up letter. Yet the music video is quite boring in exchange with the drama version simply showing a lot of crying and that’s about it. Considering how active the song is, it’s quite a shame that Davichi’s music video was not as entertaining as their others which all contain story-lines that match perfectly to the lyrics.

4. 2am – Regret

2am - Regret

2am, the kings of ballads, came back with “Regret”, another sorrowful song for the end of the year. Cinematography pans between the members as they are all moving forward, intertwining with each other at the exact times they sing. To capture the feeling of regret, the boys are the only ones walking along an abandoned beach, and miles of sand surrounds them. Topped off with a grey tint and pitiful expressions of sadness, 2am clearly shows the feelings of remorse to an ended relationship.

3. FT Island – Madly

FT Island - Madly

FT Island made a quiet return with “Madly”; in fact I almost missed the release of this song as it was piled under all the new K-pop groups. But FT Island is keeping strong with another powerful single with the Music Video taking place in an abandoned field in the middle of nowhere. “Madly” is beautiful and powerful, telling the heartbreaking story of not being able to move because they are still in love with someone who has left them.

2. 2NE1 – Missing You

2NE1 - Missing You

2NE1 made their third and final comeback for 2013, and let me just say that I think it’s their best one. “Missing You” is a soft ballad that resonates with beauty and sorrow, quite different than their upbeat funky songs. All the girls look fashionable as usual in dark isolated places, and even tastefully displays a nude CL. The harmony in this song is wonderful, very pure and simple like the music video.

1. Vixx – VooDoo Doll

Vixx - VooDoo Doll

Creepy, dark and full of gore and blood is Vixx’s “VooDoo Doll”. Vixx has always been waiting on the sidelines, but I’ve finally noticed them, and wow – they came back with an awesome song! Not only that, but the dance matches the lyrics perfectly and brings forth new dance moves never done before in K-pop (Who stabs their other members with skull staffs?). The lyrics tell us about sacrificing their bodies and love for a girl just to make sure she stays happy, letting her treat him like a puppet pulling the strings. Defiantly need to check out this music video, but warning! Watch the clean version if you are as squeamish as I am.

[BIBIMBEATS] Track-By-Track: Block B, ‘Very Good’ – A Comeback We’re Thankful For

Block B started off the year with much uncertainty. Contract disputes resulted in a lengthy legal battle with their former agency, Stardom Entertainment, which put a halt on the group’s activities and a large question mark over their future. Despite only debuting two years ago, their impact has become increasingly tremendous. Their hard-hitting hip-hop style has since reflected greatly in later and similar acts like B.A.P and Bangtan Boys, both of which have cited Block B as major influences and mentors. Now resettling into self-made label Seven Seasons, Block B is finally making their return with a new mini album. ‘Very Good’ offers a brief but varied reassurance to fans that the boys aren’t leaving anytime soon. (In fact, if ‘Very Good’ is any indicator, they’re about to get even better.)

“VERY GOOD”: With the electro-infused and frantic “Very Good” as opening track, Block B makes a confident comeback. The energy makes the single sound almost as if they picked right up where the pirate-punks of “Nilili Mambo” left off. Block B leader Zico’s line of ‘How many fake MCs out there?’ directly challenges the current state of the K-Pop scene, the kitsch of ‘aegyo rapping’ keeping the merits of many in question. The music video concept continues to project this rebellious idea, the ‘bank heist’ setting of the song reminiscent of a strange mixing of Lil Wayne’s “Got Money” and scenes from “The Dark Knight”.

“BE THE LIGHT”: “Be The Light” offers a completely different perspective, contrasting its opener with a striking ballad. Lyrically, the song is from the perspective of a lonely boy wishing to be acknowledged and adored by the girl of his interest again, hoping that being in her ‘light’ will rid her from the ‘darkness’ he has been living in. Still, knowing of the struggles Block B went through, one cannot help but consider this something of a metaphor for how the year’s legal dramas stifled the members’ relationship with their fans. While Block B is not necessarily known for being a ballad group, it is nice to see how well they were able to pull a ballad song off, and I hope to see similar songs from them in future releases.

“WHEN, WHERE, WHAT, HOW” featuring Jo Hyuna of Urban Zakapa: Kyung’s solo song “When, Where, What, How” oozes in an understated cool. Collaborations in K-Pop so commonly misuse the featured artists – for example, SISTAR’s Hyorin on Dynamic Duo’s latest album, but the appearance of Urban Zakapa’s Jo Hyuna on this track is both flawless and complementing. One of our past issue’s ‘Indie Women to Watch’, Hyuna adds a new layer of ‘coffee shop’ credibility to the nature of the song, only augmented further by light piano and mellow bass. “When, Where, What, How” brings a new facet to Park Kyung’s image and role within Block B. His quick vacillations between rhyme and song prove his label as the group’s ‘lead rapper’ to be a bit of an injustice. Kyung’s got a lot more tricks up his sleeve, and he doesn’t seem to mind showing them off.

“NICE DAY”: The final song “Nice Day” rounds the album out with another rap-heavy track, opening up by encouraging listeners back onto their feet. The song starts off by making an energetic shout-out to ‘party people’ and is paired with some hollering from the group’s rappers. However, the track the song is laid over does not seem to match the song as much as it probably should have. With embellished horns, drums, and piano, the accompaniment seems to better fit a jazz lounge than the hip-hop stage the hook and verses seem to have been written for. While exploring new genres and styles is integral to the further evolution of a group’s sound, it would have been nice to see something of a ‘throwback’ effort closing the album out. Last album ‘Blockbuster’ somewhat mastered the use of primal beats and urban sound, making it difficult to adapt to this newer approach.

blockb3

Overall, Block B seems to be developing a new plan of attack with their sound, offering a pretty wide range of genres and styles over a short four-track span. Known as something of the resident ‘hip-hop group’ of K-Pop, ‘Very Good’ shows that there are still more sides to Block B begging to be discovered. It will be exciting to see resurgence in production from the group. Just recently enjoying their first music show win on last month’s Inkigayo, the absence of their talent has been evidentially and greatly missed from the K-Pop scene. It’s good to have you back, boys. Now go back in the studio, and record us a longer album!