Beyond Hallyu’s A-Z of K-Music Part 2
Recently we shared the first of a three-part A-Z of my own personal essential music which gave you a mix of hip-hop, indie and K-pop. You can find the first part posted here. We were happy with the response we received from readers and enjoyed listening to their own lists of music that is meaningful to them. This time we share with you part 2 (I-Q) of the list which features a mix of genres from disco to indie and even some comedic relief. So let’s get started:
I) Instant Romantic Floor – Ma Ma Disco
New or old listener of Instant Romantic Floor it doesn’t matter, one thing is always clear, this is a group who knows how to mix their genres and make it work! Made up of three members, ‘Brown Bunny’ Lee Jee-reen, ‘YeSlow’ emcee Lee Yong-hee, and ‘Sugar Flow’ Song Hwa-young, the group mixes music with as much difficulty as it takes to tie a shoelace. However it hardly seems shocking when you release that Brown Bunny is none other than the mastermind behind Humming Urban Stereo!
The group released their first self-titled EP in 2005, followed by an album ‘First Class Love’ in 2007. Both works saw the group set an invisible barrier between this project (Lee Yong-hee and Song Hwa-young had both previously featured in HUS’s work) and the music released by HUS. Amazingly it is both the similarities and the differences between the two, along with the strength of the music that kept fans waiting for more, a wait that ended in late 2012 (after a 5 year wait!) with the superb album ‘Duet’.
The reason I picked this song out of all their others is very simple, it’s a mix between two things I adore… the 80’s and Disco!! Both these things always get me in the mood to get up and dance around and in all honestly that’s what this group does best, gets people up and dancing.
J) Sung Joon – Jaywalking
Sung Joon began his career as a successful model before turning his hand to acting beginning with bit parts in movies (such as 2005’s Love Is A Crazy Thing) and dramas (2010’s Personal Taste). But it was in 2011 when he starred in Lie to Me as Kang Ji-hwan brother that he would make an impact on the acting world. This role would see him cast in 2012 hit drama Shut Up Flower Boy Band as Kwon Ji-hyuk a role that would cement him as an actor to watch.
I am not a huge fan of Korean dramas but this one easily drew me in fairly quickly and this song became a particular favourite of mine. Be it the fact that Sung Joon is not a singer and that the song sounds as though it could be sung by almost anyone, there is something very comforting about it.
*This drama features some excellent music so it is definitely worth having a look at more of the music from Shut Up Flower Boy.
K) Kim Wan-Sun – Be Quiet
Now this is one lady I would not like to disrespect if I were an idol (just beginning or long time in the business). Starting her career in 1986 at the age of 17 Kim Wan-sun is known as the Korean Madonna and female Michael Jackson! Now they are some BIG shoes to fill. Since debuting she has released nine studio albums, with her most successful ‘삐에로는 우릴 보고 웃지 (A Clown Laughing at Us)‘ spawning three consecutive number one singles and selling over 1 million copies.
This paved the way for success not just with Korean listeners but also with Taiwanese ones leaving her open to begin a successful career which would see her release 3 albums under the name 金元萱 (Jin Yuan-xuan). Her final album was released in 2005 to medium success before she moved away from Korea to study abroad. However she could not stay away forever and 2011 saw her return to the limelight with a new EP ‘Super Love’ and a whole new outlook on how to concur the music scene!
When this song first came out I was actually a little put off by it, but after numerous listens I found myself singing along to it every time I heard it. A brilliant song featuring the rapping skills of Jun-hyung (Beast), it’s likely to be something you either take to right away or have to spend a little time with it on repeat to enjoy it.
L) KittiB – Leopard Gun
While I do not know a lot about KittiB I do know that she is one example of a talented rapper. Mainly underground (as unfortunately many of the best Korean rappers are) she released ‘I’m Her’ featuring the vocal talents of Zion T last year and I can’t say I was overly excited about it but it was a definite grower. However with this song I was hooked from the first listen by the beat and the way she was able to easily make each of her verses flow with it.
KittiB is proof that you don’t have to be ‘big in the game’ to be able to hit the beats that she does. Yes currently idols may receive more attention from international fans but with the fan outreach for music outside of pop deepening she is certainly an artist that should be watched in the near future. I certainly will be keeping my eye on her.
M) Milktea – Ramen King
Milk Tea is a Korean Indie /ballad co-ed duo consisting of Ji Wooyoung on guitar (he also produces the songs) and Remi on vocals. The duo released their first album ‘Delicious Time’ in 2010 and gained popularity and love amongst their indie fan base with the song ‘Mr. Chocolate Ms. Orange’.
However it would be a year later with their follow-up album ‘Love Traveller’ that the groups popularity would rise, allowing them to gain a number 1 spot for the best clip on popular news portal Nate with their cutesy video for song ‘Ramen King’.
In all possible ways this song is adorable and not just because of the cute MV but also because of the connection between the pair, which is clear to both see and hear. The way in which Wooyoung’s guitar compliments Remi’s soft vocals is not just pleasing to the ear but also leaves the listener with a warm feeling. In fact it leaves you with such a warm feeling that you could feel the urge to listen to more of their music and to explore the group in-depth, which is something I urge people to do.
N) Namolla Family Feat. Tae In – Love Is So Easy
When most people here that actors or comedians are attempting a music career thoughts of how they will do rush through their minds. Will they fail? Do they have what it takes? These were some of the many questions asked when Namolla Family, a trio of comedians (Kim Taehwan, Kim Jaewoo, Kim Kyungwook) debuted in 2006.
It was no wonder, the trio had ventured into the world of hip hop with comic skits originally and they seemingly had no place there. However all negative press were disproved when the group released music that was flawless and sincere with lyrics written entirely by the members. The popularity of their first album release ‘I Love You’ (which was downloaded 300,000 times from Cyworld) would be followed time and time again with future releases and albums proving that you don’t have to start out as a singer to be considered a musician.
This song has always been a stand out to me because it sounds how mature their music was. Despite the doubts on what they would release they never gave up and always worked how to prove themselves as serious musicians despite starting out as comedians. Each of their songs had a meaningful and deep message behind it and this showed a talent that even some longstanding artists cannot replicate.
O) MBLAQ – Oh Yeah!
Debuting in 2009 at Rain’s ‘Legend of Rainism’ concert it’s easy to say that MBLAQ may have had one of the best possible starts a k-pop group could ask for. Throw in the fact that they were created by Rain and you could say from the beginning they were on to a winner! Less than 2 months after their Korean debut the group enjoyed a successful Japanese debut. This would ensure that they would be able to launch a successful career, allowing them to produce a fan pleasing back catalogue of albums within a matter of years.
From guest appearances in dramas and popular variety shows (such as Running Man) to nearly a dozen of their own reality shows the MBLAQ star shines brighter with time. However I still go back to their debut song in times of need. All together now “Oh yeahhh, oh yeahhh, oh yeah yeah yeahhh!”
*Note: depending on what kind of person you are you may want to add in a couple of thrusts, body rolls and arm waves. Or if you are like me just watch the MV on repeat for a while. All in the name of research…
P) Park Myung-soo – Fyah!
Park Myung-soo is hands down one of the funniest comedians and co-hosts around. With a background that boasts popular shows from X-Man and Come to Play to the brilliant Muhan Dojeon, Korean varieties most straightforward man is a favourite of mine. However it’s not just because of his remarkable hosting skills and unique personality that I am a fan but also because of his hilarious music career. Myung-soo has released several singles, including the notable ‘Prince of the Sea’ (which was covered by girl group LPG in 2007) but his standout has to be Fyah!
Easily a song that could well have had the same success as Gangnam Style (in my opinion) the listener is left wondering if what they have listened to is supposed to be taken seriously or simply for comedic relief. I myself will be sticking with the second option but I have to say that although the MV shows the song in a comedic light if it is listened to without the video being watched it is actually a good song.
Q) Son Dam Bi – Queen
Possibly one of the most known names in Korea; a singer, dancer, actress and model Son Dam Bi has flown high in the celebrity stakes in a very short time. Since her debut in 2007 Dam Bi has released 5 studio albums, guested on popular variety shows such as Running Man and Family Outing –Season 1 and was even one half of We Got Marrieds ‘Killer Couple’ alongside actor Marco.
2009 was a notable year for her as it not only marked her debut as an actress in drama Dream alongside Joo Jin-mo and Kim Bum, but it also marked a musical achievement for her as she gained her first number 1 hit with the popular song ‘Saturday Night’. The song would top but online and offline charts such as M! Countdown, two wins on KBS’s Music Bank and a 3-week chart-topping run on SBS’s Inkigayo.
November of last year she made her first comeback in nearly two years on M! Countdown with Dripping Tears and I am sure fans await future returns eagerly. This song personally is a performance I enjoyed from Dam Bi as it allowed her to somewhat show off her dancing skills (with liver performances and the MV) and because it’s a catchy song.
Let us know what your I-Q playlist would be in the comments below and join us next time for the final part of our Alphabet of Korean Music. Enjoy!
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