As July comes around, the Korean music industry welcomes an influx of hot summer tracks year after year — and this year is no exception. In the last few years, the K-pop scene welcomes batches of new emerging rookies, as well as returning veteran singers and senior idol groups. And in July 2011, it is the month of comebacks as singers turn up the beat and bring to you quality releases to shake off the sizzling summer heat.
Watch Out, ZE:A is back
Child Of Empire (ZE:A) is a nine-member male idol group from Star Empire Entertainment. Their latest promotional track ‘Watch Out’ is a must-listen for this summer. Donned in simple clothes, with the music video set on board a ship, these nine boys gave a refreshing performance with their latest single.
With interesting, dorky choreography, the boys portrayed a fun-filled concept with the light-hearted tune of Watch Out. The song reveals a boy’s shy confession, asking a girl to watch out, because they are out to steal her heart. From the tune to the lyrics to the setting of the music video, there is just one word to describe it: adorable. Listeners will get an earful of the boys’ real personality as well as hear pure,talented voices.
Which brings me to reveaI why they are on this list: out of the entire song, the only time auto-tuning is heard, is the one-liner ‘Friday, Saturday, Sunday’ — a reference to their debut song. Auto-tuning is often used in today’s K-pop industry, especially during this release season where many idol groups come out with dance tracks. However, Star Empire went back to basics and decided to go with the traditional, raw voice production and made this piece a refreshing song for the summer.
Their single release also boost an upbeat, badass track titled ‘Heart for 2’ written by member Jung Heechul.
Rating: 7.6 / 10
Give the Ladies of CSJH(The Grace) One More Chance After Their 4-Year Hiatus
If you are new to K-pop, you may not have heard of these amazing ladies. The Grace are recognized as the female version of TVXQ, and well known for their strong vocal abilities. After a long four year hiatus, The Grace are finally back with two of the four members, Dana and Sunday (the remaining two, Lina and Stephanie are busy with their musicals and ballet performances respectively). The comeback definitely did not disappoint.
SM-Pop (SMP, the very own genre of promotional dance tracks from S.M. Entertainment) is back in full force, this time with an addictive beat and electronic tune. Unlike most idol groups out there in the J-Pop world,, acapella group The Grace does not have a main vocalist; in a sense, each and every member is a vocalist in their respective tone-range. In this song, Dana gave it an added depth while Sunday made it up for the higher notes.
The lyrics for this track are incredibly interesting. Dana begins the song with stating how a woman wants to lose weight, be slimmer and try to look more attractive to the man she adores. Sunday went on to poke fun of these female stereotypes: having to choose between ‘elegance’ and ‘beauty’. It then leads to the chorus, as the ladies then question why are “the queen(s) of this generation of the Amazons” meaning women today, have to have “men [..] feed us for our survival?” The song is about a woman taking back control of her life. The girls advise that she should be confident of who she is because one day, she will meet the man perfect for her.
The only quirk I have is the excessive auto-tune being used. The overly, heavy vocal modifiers somehow hid their raw voices till the first minute. This gesture makes their live performances of it slightly awkward to listen at times. There is a limit to using auto-tunes as an emphasis, and here I think it would be better if it toned down a little. Then again, as a comeback choice, this song is quite a good fit.
Rating: 8.5 / 10
Girl’s Day Are Asking You To ‘Hug Me Once’
The five-member idol group are back with another track ‘Hug Me Once’, and released a dating simulator-inspired, first interactive music video through their official Youtube channel. These lovely ladies are out to get your heart with this adorable, easy-going song.
This track is a follow-up from their previous promotion single ‘Twinkle Twinkle’, with the cute and innocent concept — this time without the school-setting and throw-in-a-vacation scenario. Hug Me Once tells a story of a girl that is in love, with her crush oblivious to her feelings. However, she continues to hope that one day her feelings will be returned, though she will be contented if he hugs her once, “smile only once, feel it only once.”
The music video is the first of its kind. While it is a very basic model using videos and hyperlinks, the idea is fresh. The best part of it all is that all the dialogues are in English, and catered to the global audience in general. When you first visit the page, you will see three options: game, MV, dance and no. In this case, ‘MV’ and ‘Dance’ are self-explanatory, and the one that we are most interested is the first ‘game’ option. In the game option, you play as the boy who meets all the five girls in various settings as the title track plays in the background: Yura on the cruise, Hyeri on the beach, Minah in an art gallery, Jihae in the dining room and Sojin at the swimming pool. Then, finally, you will choose one girl for a unique ending.
The song itself is catchy, with moderate auto-tuning and featured Minah’s famous high note at the climax. It is a pretty average song from the girls, and with the creative MV as a bonus — although, they should have been given a better song to stand out from the rest.
Ratings: 6.9 / 10
Sizzling K-releases is a new column by Korean-pop enthusiast Madel Tham, who will bring you featured K-pop releases each month.