Category Archives: J-Pop

Review of SNSD’s “Twinkle” and “Paparazzi”

In order to take a break from my recent chain of personal posts and book reviews, I’ve decided to share my thoughts on two of SNSD’s latest releases: “Twinkle” and “Paparazzi”. I haven’t written a blog post about K-Pop/J-Pop since February, so hopefully this will make up for that, as well as provide juxtaposition with some of the other posts I’ve published!

Tiffany, Taeyeon, and Seohyun on stage in the music video of “Twinkle”. Notice the multiple ethnicities of the people performing behind them.

As you can probably tell, I have been out of the loop regarding K-Pop lately. Today, I went on a brief frenzy updating myself on my favorite groups’ activities for the past few months, and when I stumbled upon the fact that SNSD had experimented with a cleverly-titled subgroup, and that their debut single landed #126 on the Billboard 200, I was impressed. Continue reading

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U-Kiss and Pelvic Thrusts… I mean, “Forbidden Love”

So I’m starting to feel guilty whenever someone follows this blog because of my pop/K-Pop related posts – not only have I not been posting that much at all, but my music-related posts have been decreasing exorbitantly! So, I’m making amends for that today by writing some short stuff on Pop and K-Pop. This, obviously, is the K-Pop one.

I wanted to write about my favorite SM groups, but through Google I discovered that they had not released any new songs as of late. Therefore, it all fell upon U-Kiss, the only other group I’ve ever paid much attention to in my posts – and guess what, they did release a new music video recently! This one is called “Forbidden Love”, or as I like to call it, Pelvic Thrusts. You can watch the video here.

It took me five minutes to get this screenshot. Kevin's face is worth it though... I find it funny yet somewhat sexy at the same time. You're welcome, fangirls and fanboys.

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Review of SHINee’s “The First”

Time for my overdue thoughts on SHINee’s debut Japanese album, “The First”. I’ll give a brief overview of my opinions twice – once before listening to the album in its entirety, and once after listening to all of the songs. I’m still an average fanboy with no formal music training (aka, SM’s target audience) so if you’re looking for a review from an established and intellectual individual I highly recommend this one.

The K-Pop craze has cooled down lately due to a myriad of the successful groups debuting in Japan. Admittedly, some have been better than others. I’m concerned for SHINee because despite their album being titled “The First” I feel that they should be growing as a group even if they’re promoting in another country – instead, they’re stagnating. The re-released songs for the most part are sub-par compared to the originals, and the album as a whole lacks the maturity I would’ve expected from SHINee at this stage of their careers. Maybe my opinion will change after listening to all of the songs again, we’ll see.

I like the album cover, but can someone please explain the random clown and rainbow and rabbit at the bottom? Seems a little immature.

1. Lucifer: So my reaction to this song wasn’t as bad as the first time I listened to it, but I wasn’t impressed either. The Japanese still sounded awkward to me and the song itself doesn’t possess the punch that the original does. Also, Minho’s frog voice rap was unbearably uncomfortable – especially while watching the video, because you could hear the mutilated, auto-toned voice coming out of his not-so abnormal mouth.

2. AMIGO: “You’re the hottest ice cream ninja.” HA HA HA HA HA. Like I told my blogging friend in a comment on her review I literally laughed out loud for five minutes after hearing that, told my friends about it and then laughed some more. Not in a mean way, because I doubt SHINee even knows what they’re saying, but just at the sheer ridiculousness of the English.

Anyway, this is one of my favorite songs on the album. I’m biased because I loved the original version and overall I find the song very catchy. Perhaps not the most well-produced re-release, but passable to the point where I would listen to it while working out.

Remember when the original song came out a million years ago? I really want a video for this Japanese verison, mainly because it would be... well... sexy. I suppose.

3. Juliette: Eh, still disappointed about Taemin taking Jonghyun’s lines. Not enamored or embittered by the song, it’s okay.

4. Better: I feel like this song is one of the mandatory ballads that the album must have, aka, filler. I’m not a ballad guy myself when it comes to K-Pop, so I’m not sure whether the fact that this song doesn’t leave a lasting impression on me should be attributed to its averageness or my own inability to appreciate male ballads.

5. To Your Heart: A slightly better ballad than “Better”, but still not splendid. The chorus is moderately catchy and the song as a whole has an undeniable cuteness factor.

6. Always Love: Another forgettable ballad. Its English leaves something to be desired… perhaps fixing the faulty phrase “thank you for your treating me.”

7. Replay: My opinion of this song is similar to that of “AMIGO” because I loved the original version of this song, and thus due to the minimal changes made to it I also like the Japanese version. “Replay” has such a beautiful sound to it – I’m not music-savvy enough to say why, but there’s something about the song that makes it stand out among all of SHINee’s other releases, even “Lucifer” and “Ring Ding Dong.” This is a song I would write to, regardless of the language it’s in.

“Replay” is also similar to “AMIGO” in that it has an awkward English phrase: “you don’t know what is love I will give it to you.” I wouldn’t mind Key carrying out this proposed action though… yeah…

8. START: A failed attempt at attracting fangirls – maybe some will find the whole “I want to start” line cute, yet the song itself is too forgettable and filler-like for me to consider it seriously.

9. Love Like Oxygen: Never got into the original version of this song, I think this version is okay. Once again not amazing but not abhorrent.

10. Hello: Woo for rehashed cuteness! My favorite part of this song is when Key says “baby girl” repeatedly at the end. I feel repetitive, but this song is also okay. Just okay.

11. The SHINee World: Did they say “I want to get you in this body” in the original version? Did they also say “make love right now?” That could be misinterpreted… anyway, I suppose this is their anthem song. It reminds me of f(x)’s My Style, except more developed. I actually like this song more than the majority of the album, it’s catchy, though not nearly as addictive as “AMIGO” or “Replay”.

12. Seesaw: My least favorite song of the album. I appreciate their attempt to incorporate metaphor into one of their songs, but a seesaw doesn’t really work and the song itself is unremarkable.

13. Stranger: A great song to end the album with. Its energetic and shows how auto-tune can be used to one’s advantage, and thankfully it’s not a remake of an original song either. Definitely one of the better songs of the album.

I like their pants. Image via allkpop.

So, as you can see from my gradually decreasing enthusiasm throughout this post, this album didn’t amaze me in any way. It’ll probably win over some (or a lot) of new fans from Japan, but as someone who’s been listening to SHINee for quite some time now I am not impressed. The decent re-releases and “Stranger” do not make up for the slog of boring ballads or the overall lack of growth in this album. I won’t denounce my liking or fanboy status of SHINee, but I hope they do better with their next album.

On a happier note, look at this adorable gif I found! Happy holidays to all you shawols out there!

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U-Kiss “Tick Tack”… I Am Impressed

I’m way behind on all things K-Pop and J-Pop, but I noticed that U-Kiss released their Japanese debut while scanning this person’s tumblr – U-Kiss has been on a roll of amazing songs lately, first with “Neverland”, and now with “Tick Tack” (music video here). I’m not going to go into an in-depth review because Simon and Martina beat me to it, however I’ll share some of my feelings after watching the video for the first time.

As you can see, Kevin is still pretty. So, so pretty.

I love this song. It’s catchy in the classic electronic/dance/pop style U-Kiss is known for and possesses a powerful sense of immanency. This is reflected in the intense atmosphere of the video, which is set partly in a dilapidated building and partly in a room with a clock in the background.

The theme of time was expressed effectively throughout the video. The clock in the background, how they’re holding pocket watches, and the clock-like dance moves all tie back together which makes this video more cohesive than most of its J-Pop counterparts. The dancing is wonderful, as they all display passion and unity while performing some of the most interesting moves I’ve seen thus far. I will learn that skateboard shuffle step move… one day…

I’m not exactly sure what’s being conveyed by the lyrics, though the English sounds nice despite the fact that it doesn’t make 100% sense… unless Kevin can turn on broken lights with his beautifully feminine face.

Sexy suits for the win?

Overall this song and its video has made me an official fan of U-Kiss. Before I had only admired Kevin’s gorgeousness them from afar, but with “Tick Tack” they’ve shown that they can be consistent even when debuting in another country. Other K-Pop groups debuting in Japan should take note, such as, um, SHINee, who’s Japanese album “The First” I will be writing about soon.

I enjoyed the equal usage of the seven members of U-Kiss in this video, the connection between the song and the video itself, Kevin’s face, and pretty much the entire video as a whole. What do you think of the song or the video?

A U-Kiss video wouldn't be complete without a seductive stare from Kevin. Now I want his gloves.

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SHINee’s Japanese “Lucifer” PV… Eh

Oh snap, splashing around in some ankle-length water. Getting pretty satanic there...

You can watch the video here.

SM: We need to make SHINee more appealing to Japan.

SHINee’s Manager: But Taemin’s already gets 79% of the screen time.

SM: No, I mean the other members too.

SHINee’s Manager: So we should share the screen time equally among the members? That’s reason-

SM: I was thinking more of, well, how do I say this… think Siwon on the “Mr. Simple” cover.

SHINee’s Manager: Ah! So why don’t we have them frolic, I mean, dance, while getting each other wet*?

SM: I knew I hired you for a reason! Now only if we had someone to write lyrics for f(x)…

I swear, Key goes from the loosest pants of all time to the tightest... tights of all time in this video. Just look where his hand is.

I literally laughed out loud when I heard the Japanese version of “Lucifer” for the first time…

… and then I laughed out loud again when I saw the Japanese PV of “Lucifer” for the first time.

Don’t get me wrong, I am a fan of SHINee. “Lucifer” in Japanese sounds awkward though. I’m not sure whether it’s its choppiness, or how alien-like it sounds, or maybe it’s simply the stress in my everyday life that made me react so strangely to it. It doesn’t possess that “bad—” factor that the Korean version holds, and without that aspect of the song, it kind of falls flat.

I wasn’t wowed by the video either. It felt really redone and the quality wasn’t astounding. I didn’t dislike it, but I am eagerly looking forward to SHINee’s comeback in Korea. Whenever that will be.

Cue Exhibit C, the only reason I even bothered watching this video. Just kidding! ... sort of.

I apologize for the lack of updates again! I have a lot of more serious (and less serious) things to write about, but, you know how it is… got some spiders to slay homework. Homework. Homework. This was a really spur of the moment post, so sorry if I come across as condescending – definitely not my intention!

What do you guys think of the Japanese version of “Lucifer”? I would appreciate your opinion, whether it be on the song or the video.

*the sad thing is, this didn’t occur. Key They didn’t even get wet! Disappointing.

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SNSD’s “Bad Girl” (HQ Audio + Mini Review)

Here’s the MV with HQ Audio:

I don’t know what happened here. This video is so… messy.

I almost decided not to write this post because everything has been pointed out by fellow SNSD fans, but I’ll share my two cents. It seems that SM produced this video just to make some quick cash as opposed to giving SONES quality material. The song itself isn’t that catchy but it isn’t bad, either, so the video could have given it that edge to make it more successful.

However, unlike Miss A’s “Bad Girl Good Girl”, “Bad Girl” lacks conviction. After the 1:00 minute mark the girls appear frazzled and uncomfortable. The obviously poor editing doesn’t help, nor does the even more sloppy arm-flailing dance (and SNSD has made arm-flailing look good before). Nothing really came together with “Bad Girl”, and as a result, the video just looked… bad.

The middle eight of "Bad Girl" was so awkward, it was almost painful to watch.

What do you think of “Bad Girl”? I liked “Mr. Taxi” more, but what I really miss is this.

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SHINee’s Japanese “Juliette” PV: Key Highlights and Screenshots

So I was actually disappointed with this video. I’m still a SHINee fan, but for some reason ever since their Japanese debut my dedication as a Shawol has slightly declined. Maybe it’s because they’re just re-releasing old songs or that their music video concept (five guys going after one girl) is getting overdone.

I’m not a Jonghyun bias or Taemin anti, but it seems unfair that Taemin has been receiving Jonghyun’s lines – it’s not like Taemin’s singing is bad, but the song just feels… off, without Jjong in his rightful position as lead vocalist. I understand that Taemin is popular in Japan and SM is trying to take advantage of that, but if you have one member that’s well-liked, why not make the other members favored as well? Besides, Taemin is already the central dancer during the chorus.

Well, now that that rant is done, I’ll move on to what I usually do when SHINee is concerned: Key fanboying! His voice was so hot like wow singing wasn’t that bad and he had his moments in the PV, like…

At 0:18 and 2:15 Key does this move I call the "Key Claw". It reminds me of Lady Gaga. One smart Youtube commenter said that what he does at 0:18 is what he'll do to Jonghyun if he gets another girlfriend. Win.

At 1:19 you are a given a glimpse of Key's sexy yellow boxers and his flat stomach. If only the entire video was like this...

And at 3:20 you can view a nice profile of Key, including an interesting ear piercing.

What do you think of “Juliette”? Hit or miss? Is it better or worse than the original? Let me hear your opinions!

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SHINee’s “Replay” PV is Out! Time for Key Screenshots… and Some Others

Not only was I dismissed from school two hours early today, but I got to come home to this:

I love this video a lot, but I don’t think I could write heaping paragraphs about it. Therefore, here are screenshots with random captions including my thoughts!

So within the first twenty seconds of the video I'm blinded... by Key's smile!

Key leading the group. His pants and shoes are pink, while his necklace is purple. Hm.

Key appearing intellectual, examining his artwork in unusually large glasses...

Key in glasses singing and tapping his head... *fanboy scream*

So Key is just taking pictures of her in a red dress while smiling because it's his job, right? Not because he has any emotion for her or anything, right? Right?

Key with a Macbook, how trendy.

Now for some non-Key photos.

Minho's face is like :O... HAHA

Jonghyun rocking out. That little section of the PV endeared him to me. (:

Does Yoona really read? If so, maybe I'll forgive her for stealing the hearts of SHINee in this video. Just maybe.

What are your thoughts on the PV? (: Have a good weekend, everyone!

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SHINee’s Jap “Replay” Teaser/ Key’s New Hair… *fanboy scream*

Image via allkpop.com

So my mundane Monday continued after coming home from school until I saw this. What does that hyperlink lead to, you ask? No, not a new video from Natalie Tran, but if you took the time to read the title of this post, you would know that it is nothing other than SHINee’s teaser for their Japanese re-release of “Replay”! That I happened to watch thirty times.

My thoughts on the teaser:
– They seem to be utilizing their cute boy image. Skinny jeans, bright clothes, you name it. I guess this is a good move because they can maintain the seriousness of the song through other sections of the video while attracting fangirls (who I’ll have to dispose of if they come after Key. Just kidding. Sort of).
– Yoona from SNSD is featured. I don’t actually have a thought regarding this, but since a lot of people are either going “omg i hate yoona so much she’s so over-rated ew” or “i love yoona! she’ll help shinee become popular in japan! yay!” I included it.
– This isn’t related to the teaser, but I think the Japanese version of “Replay” will get stuck in a lot of peoples’ heads, regardless of whether they’ve already heard the Korean version. Maybe it’s just me, but when I hear re-releases of songs in a different language I feel like I’m listening to an entirely different song. Even SNSD Japanese songs. Yeah…
– Key is hot. Speaking of Key…

His new hair! Here’s a photo he uploaded on his me2day account:

Image via me2day.net/shineeshinee

I can’t even describe how  happy I felt after seeing Key in action again, so I’ll just show it through a screenshot that I got of him from the teaser:

His smile... his hair... what have I been reduced to!? (answer: a crazy fanboy)

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SNSD Releases Full “Mr. Taxi” PV

Here’s the full PV for SNSD’s new single “Mr. Taxi”:

They also released the dance version a couple of days before the full one:

The song is about how the girls want some guy to chase them, hence the “Mr. Taxi” thing. It references Tokyo, Seoul, London, and New York, which implies that they’re all around the world (their fans are, at least). The music video depicts them dancing in front a changing background with slight variations to the actual setting.

There are a lot of English phrases in this song, and most of them are correctly utilized – “Mr. Taxi”, “I’m so fast”, “You take me”, “Shooting star”, “I don’t know why”, “I’m so sure”, “Anywhere”, and “I don’t want to say goodbye”. I smirked when I heard “Supersonic hypertonic” though…

hypertonic (adj.): 1. of or relating to hypertonia, 2. noting a solution of higher osmotic pressure than a solution which it is compared

I suppose it’s not as bad as the “fantastic, elastic” of “Ring Ding Dong”. It even makes sense if you think deeply, but I can’t help but wonder if they simply used the word for the purpose of rhyming.

Anyway, their outfits are attractive and mesh well with the theme of the song – so does the dance, which is slightly more intricate than “Oh!”, maybe more than “Run Devil Run”. My favorite part of the video is Hyoyeon’s dance solo followed by Yuri’s arm motion that just screams “get out of the way, the true princess has arrived”. The song itself is quite catchy and I’m sure it’ll hook Japanese listeners even if they don’t like SNSD as a group.

All of these new girl group songs from SM have me anticipating SHINee’s return… why, you ask?

Key and his girl group dances!

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