Top 20 Kpop Songs of 2016!

Hello everyone,

Wow, it sure has been a while since I’ve posted anything but life has been a little crazy lately. Luckily, it has slowed down a little bit, and I’ve been able to think of new content to write on my blog. I’ve missed writing on this blog and as you all know, this blog went through a lot of changes. Content changes, name changes and so much more. Being blogger is not as easy as you might think, but inspiration is finally striking me.

It is no secret that I love Kpop, I listen to it daily, that’s why I decided to write my yearly “Top 20 Kpop Song” post for this year. There were many great group who debuted, and other groups that rose to fame. The picks for this list are based on my personal preference, but sales, chart ratings, awards and more will be taken into consideration.

Enjoy!

20. Jessica – Fly

Not many people will include Jessica Jung’s comeback as part of this list, but I will because she deserves the recognition. Jessica Jung is a former SNSD member, who stated she was forced out of the group and SM Entertainment. It’s been a hard road for Miss Jung, but she rose to the top, debuting with a mini solo album and joining Coridel Entertainment. Her song “Fly” is about her struggles, and triumphing above the adversity. She sure did that and she is soaring high.

19. Fei – Fantasy

MISS A’s member Feimade her solo debut this summer with the sultry song “Fantasy”. We are seeing a brand new image of the Kpop star, this song could’ve been more popular, however was some controversy about Korean-Chinese relations that got in the way of this being a more successful single.

18. K.A.R.D – Oh, Na, Na

K.A.R.D is new group that debuted this month under DSP Media, the group is composed of four members: two girls and two guys. It is rare to see a mix gendered group in the Kpop World, but it is also so refreshing to see something new. They plan to release three project singles with hidden members (musicians from the agency), before they hold their official debut. “Oh, Na, Na” has already gained recognition and success with reaching millions of view shortly after releasing their song. In addition, they debuted number three on the US Kpop iTunes Chart, this is a group we have to look out for in 2017. They are just getting started!

17. Block B – A Few Years Later

This is a surprising change from the typical hip hop, bad boy image of Block B, I love the sentimental feeling from this song. This song is included on this list because I give recognition to bands that are willing to step out of their typical edgy image.

16. Astro – Hide & Seek

Astro debuted earlier this year and I refer to them as the male version of Gfriend, their single “Hide & Seek” is full of energy that won’t fail to cheer you up. They performed well on the music charts, and the public response towards their debut has been very positive. I can’t wait to see more.

 

15.  EXID – Lie

The title track “L.I.E” from their album “Street” has influences R&B, dance and hip-hop, with their typical catchy chorus. Their song won them four awards!

14. GOT7 – Fly

After having success in 2015, GOT7 came with more for us this year! “Fly” was another hit and it received four awards. Keep it up boys!

13. Taemin – Drip Drop

We can’t froget about this gem that was released earlier this year, Teamin is a modern day Michael Jackson. His dance performance in the MV is jaw dropping, and Taemin’s vocals are pretty great too.

12. Taeyeon – Why

Taeyeon has delivered soulful tracks, so it was about time to hear something more upbeat from her. “Why” is the summer song of 2016, this EDM inspired track peaked at number one on the Gaon Digital Charts.

11. Ladies Code – Galaxy

Ladies Code made a brave comeback this year, after being absent from the music scene for a year and half. In September 2014, Ladies Code got into an accident that resulted in the deaths of  members EunB and Rise. That left the group with three surviving members. Their faith was uncertain because people didn’t know if they were ever going to come back. They showed their bravery by coming back with a brand new mini album and their song “Galaxy”. Throughout the music video there is constant symbolism becoming a  trio group. I have tremendous respect for these ladies, they are stronger and braver than ever. Watch out for them because they are a force to be reckoned with.

10. SHINee – Tell Me What To Do

SHINee is my favorite boy band and I love their evolution of style and music genre, this electro-pop track has an addictive melody and chill-inducing high notes.

9. I.o.I – Very, Very Very

I.o.I is a Korean pop girl group formed by CJ E&M Entertainment, through the reality TV show Produce 101 on Mnet. The group consists of eleven members who were chosen from a pool of 101 trainees from various entertainment companies. Lim Na-young, Kim Chung-ha, Kim Se-jeong, Jung Chae-yeon, Zhou Jieqiong, Kim So-hye, Yu Yeon-jung, Choi Yoo-jung, Kang Mi-na, Kim Do-yeon and Jeon So-mi debuted on May 4, 2016 with their mini-album “Chrysalis”, who are expected to release new music until they return to their respectful agencies. Their last single will be released in January 2017 without any promotions on music shows.I refer to them as a trial group, during this time they have gained tremendous popularity and success. Their song “Very, Very, Very” produced by JYP, won their first music show trophy as whole group. I wish the members all the best in their future endeavors in the Kpop scene.

8. Twice – Cheer Up

Twice, or as I like to call them, South Korea’s sweethearts have captured the hearts of fans all over the world. The group debuted in 2015 and they’ve had huge success since then, their song “Cheer Up’ has gone viral with it’s catchy ‘shy, shy, shy’ hook by Sana. The song has become a mega-hit and just wait until the chorus of the song, it is so catchy you’ll replay it over and over again.

7. Wonder girls – Why so lonely

Wonder Girls made a comeback this July as a band and a new inspired reggae-pop song, that was playing in everyone’s heads over and over again. They showcase versatility and trying a new mix of genres along with playing music instruments. Talk about a talent!

6. MAMAMOO – You’re The Best

Mamamoo are a vocal powerhouse, it’s an easy going and cheerful song, and after sweeping the charts with, “You’re The Best”, their name became more popular to the masses. This is one of their most popular songs, until the next one of course.

5. Zico ft. Crush and DEAN – Bermuda Triangle

Zico from the group Block B has proven he is a hit maker, his single “Bermuda Triangle ” peaked at number two on the music charts. Zico brings more attention to hip-hop music in the Korean Music Industry.

4. EXO – Monster

EXO are known for their catchy pop tunes, but this time with “Monster” we are introduced to something different. Starting the song with a dark, hip hop tune and dark edgy visuals, but once the chorus hits we are brought back to that pop music magic EXO can create.

3. Blackpink – Whistle

Blackpink debuted on August 8, 2016 under YG Entertainment, YG is considered one of the top three agencies along with SM Entertainment and JYP. The group consists of four members: Jisoo, Lisa, Rose and Jennie. BlackPink had a successful debut with their debut singles “Boombayah” and “Whistle”. Their music videos reached millions within weeks, they rose to popularity instantly and they already won many awards for their singles. Their win at Inkigayo broke a record for winning an award within 14 days of their debut. BlackPink release catchy music with powerful choreography, their song “Whistle”  landed a number 1 spot on the Korean and US World Music charts. “Whistle” also won them a Song of the Year at the Gaon Chart Kpop Awards, along with the Melon Popularity Award, the Mnet Best Music Video Award. Their music translates well into the Western music scene with countless of Western fans. They have a bright future ahead of them and I can’t wait to listen to more of their music.

2. Gfriend – Rough

A new generation of Kpop groups are debuting and Gfriend has secured a spot as one of the top new girl groups. Their song “Rough” has a beautiful dramatic and violin sound with a heartfelt vocal performance. “Rough” won  Gaon Chart Kpop Awards for Best New Song and many more. We look forward to find out what this talented group will do next in 2017.

1. BTS – Blood, Sweat and Tears 

Blood, Sweat and Tears is an accurate representation to show how hard BTS have worked to ensure they have a successful music career. Their hard work payed this year, BTS is rising to the top as fast as a space rocket. “Blood, Sweat and Tears” is emotional song with a melancholic sound, powerful vocals and choreography, with impressive visuals. I think they slayed this year and they rightfully deserve a number one spot on this list.

I can’t wait to see what Kpop will bring us in 2017, let me know in the comments below which are your top three Kpop song of 2016 🙂

See you all soon!

 

 

 

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The Ugly Side of the Kpop Industry!

The world of Kpop is unlike anything you’ve ever seen, the colors, the fashion and the unique music concepts. Once you enter the world of Kpop, there is no going back because let face it, it is quite great to be part of the Kpop craze. However, there is much more to Kpop than fun and games! We tend to see Kpop stars always smiling and looking glamorous, but this wasn’t always the case for them. In fact, the journey to becoming a Kpop star is incredibly long and emotionally draining. So today, I wanted to take the time to sit down and write about the Kpop industry. I have learned all of this information from YouTube, from interviews with Kpop stars and online articles. If you were ever interested to see how someone can become a star in South Korea, this is the blog post for you.

In South Korea, there are three major entertainment agencies: SM Entertainment, JYP and YG.

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There are other entertainment agencies of course, such as Pledis, CUBE, DSP, Starship and many more. However, the first agencies I listed rank the highest among the others. If someone wants to become a Kpop star, they have to go through an audition process. When auditions are held, the participants are graded on their vocal and dancing abilities, having charisma is considered an asset as well. When participants pass their auditions, this does not mean they are on their way to stardom. The next step is training, also known as the trainee life. Some trainees are as young as ten years old, and transitioning out of that trainee life is extremely challenging. Below you can watch audition from YouTube of famous Kpop stars i.e. SNSD, Park Bom from 2ne1 and Taemin from SHINEE.

The trainee life time span varies from a few months, to a few years. This all depends on the abilities of the artist, the more you lack, the longer you train. There are some trainees who train for years and eventually they don’t debut at all. This is the sad reality for some people who aspire to become a Kpop star. Trainees also have a very strict schedule, they have to train vocally and improve their dancing skills. They also take language classes, because being multilingual or bilingual in the Kpop industry is considered an asset. For example, the Queen of Kpop, BoA, knows Korean, English, Japanese and Chinese. Knowing more than one language is important because it helps the artist make break through into the foreign music market. That is usually the goal of the entertainment companies. There are a lot of stories about the life of a trainee, and some stories are not positive. Plastic surgery is very popular among some Kpop stars, some trainees are told they need to undergo plastic surgery before debuting. The purpose of this is for trainees to look more “appealing” to the public. There is an obsession with looking perfect and acting perfect. Kpop idol, Suhyun from the duo group, AKMU shared a story on a KBS2 variety program Happy Together. According to her, CEO of YG Entertainment asked her, “For you Suhyun, how about getting a little touch up on your nose?” Following this question, Suhyun responded respectfully and firmly, “Not going to do it. President, I am already very thankful that I have two nostrils that I can breathe out of.”

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Suhyun on the TV show, “Happy Together”.

Way to go, she certainly knows how to handle herself in the industry and she is not letting the pressure influence her decisions!

Another problem in the Kpop industry is overworking the artists with an intense work schedule. Former, SM and EXO member, Tao, expressed his frustrations about his former company in an exclusive interview. In his interview, Tao talked about his trainee life, the busy schedule they had to abide by, whether they were sick or injured. Tao shared that SM staff used to encourage them to push through, even if they were ill or injured. To watch more of what Tao had to say, watch the video below.

Former SM trainee, Stella Kim, talked about her experiences of being told she needs to lose weight and go on crazy diets. Based on many examples that are covered in this post, it looks like the Kpop industry is highly focused on looks, therefore coming across as very superficial. This kind of treatment may tend to lead to many disorders, including emotional issues. To hear more of what Stella Kim had to say, take a look at her video below.

Most agencies control everything from whether the artists can date, to the type  of music the Kpop stars can release. These agencies typically come up with the concepts, lyrics and composition of the artist’s work, giving them little power over production process. However, there are instances where there is an exception.  Aside from this, it is said that Kpop Stars have the so-called slave contract. The Stars sign a contract for a number of years, however if you try to leave earlier, the agency will file a lawsuit. That has happened quite a bit of times recently, especially when Tao, Luhan and Kris from EXO left SM Entertainment before their contract expired. SM Entertainment filed a lawsuit against the three members, with Tao losing the battle. The lawsuit results against Luhan and Kris have not been released yet because nothing has been finalized. However, SM Entertainment were successful with their lawsuit against Tao. Another example of Kpop idols engaging in a legal battle with their agencies are Dong Bang Shin Ki. They took their management to court over their 13 year contract, claiming their didn’t get enough of the profit. The group won the lawsuit, resulting in  the Fair Trade Commission to bring into play a “model contract” to attempt to improve the deals that idols got from their management companies (information about this particular matter was gathered from http://beyondhallyu.com/k-pop/k-pop-slave-contracts-a-closer-look/). The reality of the Kpop industry is rather than focusing more on fair treatment of their artists, most of the time Kpop idols are used as a way for the companies to make profit. Behind the scenes, the Kpop industry is big hot mess, where idols are exploited. There are always exceptions, but there is no denying that the Kpop world can be rough and if you want to audition, do a throughout research of the industry.

I would love to hear your thoughts about this matter, so feel free to leave me a brief comment.

See you soon!

 

SOURCES

[http://beyondhallyu.com/k-pop/k-pop-slave-contracts-a-closer-look/]

[https://www.dramafever.com/news/what-was-akdong-musician-suhyuns-response-after-yg-recommended-she-get-a-nose-job/]

 

 

 

Kpop Top 10 List!

This is the time of the year to look back and recap top moments in popular culture. However, in this case we will look back and list the top 10 Kpop songs of 2015.

Let’s get started!

  1. SNSD – Lion Heart.

Last year was rough for SNSD with the drama between Jessica Jung and SM Entertainment. Jessica left the group, claiming she was kicked out, that made fans worry about SNSD’s future. Not need to worry, they came back stronger than ever with three chart smashing hits. Second place goes SNSD’s Lion Heart, winning multiple awards and landing a number one spot on the Korean and U.S. Music charts. I guess the SNSD are unstoppable no matter what they go through.

 

2. Big Bang – Bang Bang Bang

We got showered with Big Bang music this year and not only that, but they also went on a worldwide tour too. Since they released so many songs, it was hard to pick one for this list. However, I decided to pick the one that stood out to me. That song was “Bang Bang Bang”, Big Bang have this way of introducing a new song and having listeners think to themselves “I’m not sure I like it so much”. After giving it another chance, it become one of those songs that you cannot stop replaying for days.  The song peaked at number one on the Gaon Digital Charts.

3. 4Minute – Crazy

I think I speak for all us Kpop fans when I say the 4 Minute’s song “Crazy” was on replay for weeks. That first beat drop sucks you in and there is no going back. We all knew Hyuna can be edgy, but the other members showed they go a spunk too. For me this is the best musical concept from 4Minute, the black and white graphics and edgy outfits put it all together. That’s why “Crazy” is at number three.

4. Taeyeon – I

Fans got excited when they found out Teayeon’s SNSD will be debuting her first official solo single. Her song “I” is very different from the typical Korean Pop music, it has a soulful and mature sound. Less of the cutesy image is about time because let’s face it, SNSD member are in their late 20s, time for a change. We all know Taeyeon has powerful vocals, but this song showcases them more. Her song “I” received countless of awards and the song also debuted to number one. I look forward to more solo songs from Taeyeon.

5. GOT7 – If You Do

Oh GOT7, they can pull of the baby face image, but with their recent single “If You Do” they present a new mature side of them. This song about a breakup, and it describes how frustrated and angry the boys feel. Their dancing, emotion is channeled out well in the video. For me personally, this is their best video of 2015, this single also ranked number one on the iTunes charts.

 

6. Wonder Girls – I Feel You.

I didn’t anticipate a Wonder Girls comeback anytime soon, but when I read they are making a comeback as a band, I got excited. The girls made their comeback as a four member group, with Sohee and Sunye leaving the group to pursue other en devours. Unlike SNSD, there are no hard feelings between the girls and they still keep in touch. The girls released their first single in three years, “I Feel You”, with a 80s inspired concept. Even thought the single didn’t debut number one on the music charts, it still debuted in the top 5 spot. I give these girls huge credit for dedicating their time to learn a brand new instrument and performing live. Wonder Girls also composed majority of the music on their album “REBOOT” and has written most of the lyrics on this album. Good job girls, you dedication and hard work shows!

7. EXO – Love Me Right

EXO had some controversy last year with their member Kris, leaving the group. Later on two more member left EXO, Luhan and Tao! When a member leaves from a Kpop band, especially if they are under the management of SM Entertainment, it could be quite controversial. However, the group continues to push forward and release new content to make their fans happy. Their song “Love Me Right” debuted at number one in Korea, and broke the record for the biggest sales week for a Kpop artist.

8. Seventeen – Adore U

Seventeen debuted earlier in the year and they are definitely worth the mention because they are might be the newest and biggest sensation in Kpop. This group consists of thirteen member, yes you read that right! The group is divided into three teams: performance, vocals and hip-hop unit. The logistics behind these Kpop groups can be complicated, but try to keep up. What makes this group special is the member are actively involved in the composition and production of their own music, as well as their choreography. Their debut album debuted number one and they were name one of the most promising newcomer group in the Kpop world. I couldn’t agree more, their debut song “Adore U” has a sweet, bubbly pop sound with great choreography. I can’t wait to see how they evolve in the near future!

9. BTS – I Need U

BTS released three songs this year, but I decided to pick their first single of 2015, “I Need U”. This band debuted in 2013 and they are quickly became more well-known in the Korean Music scene. The music video for “I Need U” has a dramatic concept with strong dance perfromance skill from the members. This single is an important one in their career because it won first place on SBS MTV’s The Show for the first time since their debut. BTS is proving how great they can be, and they continue to deliver with each single. They have a bright future ahead of them!

10. SHINEE – Married To The Music

SHINEE celebrated their 7 year anniversary since their debut, they released a successful new album “Odd”. My favorite song from the album is “View”, but “Married To The Music” deserve a mention on our list. “Married To The Music” is a “Thriller” inspired track with a wacky music video that brought Halloween a little bit earlier. This top 10 track with its unique mix of genres marks the best kinds of Kpop tracks.

Thank you all for reading, if you are Kpop fan let me know which song is to your liking! Happy New Year and I look forward to another great year of music!

See you soon!

 

 

 

 

EXO’s Comeback! “Call Me Baby”.

Last year, was a good and a bad year for EXO. From releasing a worldwide hit, “Overdose”, to two members leaving the group. The sudden leave of EXO’s ex-member Kris, left the group shaken up. Fans were not happy, shortly after that Luhan left as well. There have been lawsuits files against SM Entertainment from these former EXO members. This left fans thinking whether or not the group will make a comeback. Will they release another hit single? Will sales drop because of the member lineup change? Most of all, will EXO be ok again?

The answer to this highly anticipated question is finally answered with their recent comeback. EXO released their new single “Call Me Baby” and proved yet again why they are so amazing and popular. Even thought they went through hardships, they came back stronger than ever. Way to go EXO!

There is confidence radiating from each member, especially from Kai who opened the music video. He has so much charisma! Xiumin also stood out for me, I definitely want to see him front and center more often. EXO is known for their great choreography skills and in their new music video, they showcase sharp and sexy dance moves. We also get up close shots of the members singing and dance shots of their choreography. This kind of videography is typical for an EXO music video. Also their sense of style in this video is edgier, you could say we are entering the new era of EXO. “Call Me Baby” was released on March 30th and it already has six million views. SM Entertainment released the Korean and Chinese versions. I will be sharing both of them today!

Now of you’ll excuse me, I have to go back and watch the music video again for the millionth time!

Enjoy and let me know what you guys think about their new single 🙂

See you soon with a Battle Royale movie review!

International Wonderland! EXO – Overdose.

Hello everyone,

Welcome back to International Wonderland, the segment that brings you foreign music weekly!

Guys I have a confession to make, I’ve been cheating on J-pop with K-pop…OMG. Ok, all jokes aside, K-pop has completely won me over and I literally can’t stop listening to it. To me K-pop is very unique and interesting, the music is great and the music videos are really well done. So today I want to share with you the music of my favorite K-pop boy-band, EXO. The song I’ll be sharing is “Overdose”, which is also the first song I heard by EXO.

EXO was formed in 2011 and it consists of eleven members: Suho, Baekhyun, Chanyeol, D.O., Kai, Sehun, Xiumin, Luhan, Kris, Lay, Chen and Tao. The group is divided into EXO M and EXO K, EXO M stands for ‘Mandarin’ and they go to promote and perform their new music in China. While EXO K focus on promoting and performing in Korea and occasionally all of the members together go to China to promote their music. Suho (leader), Baekhyun, Chanyeol, D.O., Kai and Sehun represent EXO K and Xiumin, Luhan, Kris (leader), Lay, Chen and Tao represent EXO M. However, recently there have been changes to the member lineup with Kris and Luhan leaving the group. Both of them sued S.M. Entertainment for not being treated fairly and being overworked to the point of physical and emotional exhaustion.  No one knows if the claims are true, but this isn’t the first time S.M. Entertainment is sued by one of the artists they represent.

Aside from this drama, EXO are considered one of the fastest selling K-pop artist in twelve years. I was immediately drawn to their amazing dancing skills, they manage to be in sync perfectly when they perform. In addition, their vocal work is on point, they sing passion and power. Their music video for “Overdose” is like a futuristic realm with cool special effects and an eye-catching set. I am officially hooked, now the question is…are you?

Let me know if you are K-pop fan and if you are, what are some of your favorite K-pop bands?

Enjoy 🙂

See you soon!