(*art taken from “Air-raid Alerter” by Jang Eun Kyong, 2008)
I’m a little excited about this next part of my list because it includes several tracks from one of my Top 10 K-pop mini-albums of 2015, something from a much-anticipated Korean comeback of a top tier group, a couple from my top nugu boy group of the year and finally, another one from my babies!
“Cupid” Oh! My Girl
Oh My Girl gets my vote for Best Nugu Girl Group of 2015 on the strength of the two mini-albums they released this year. Opting to go the cute, pure, virginal route for a debut is standard for any new girl group, so there was nothing ground-breaking about Oh My Girl’s debut at all. However, their eponymous first mini-album was short and sweet (it only had four tracks) and left me wanting to hear more from them. “Cupid” was a promising start.
“I Need U” BTS
The Big Hit Entertainment logo that plays right before the actual music video is the best part of seeing a BTS MV for the first time. It is the K-pop equivalent of the MGM Lion roar before a film. You know the stuff that comes after is gonna be epic.
BTS have come up with not only one, but two of the strongest mini-albums of 2015. The first one, “The Most Beautiful Moment in Life, Part 1” came out in April with “I Need U” released as the group’s comeback single.
For an idol group, their parent company Big Hit Entertainment’s confidence in BTS’s individual members’ skills as songwriters and active creative contributors is laudable, especially on this mini-album. The seven members of BTS either wrote the lyrics of the songs and/or produced the tracks on “The Most Beautiful Moment In Life, Part 1”. (If only other entertainment companies honed their own talents this way!)
BTS does coming-of-age themes extremely well. The MV for “I Need U” is intense and very emotional (lazy fun suckers who don’t know what they are talking about might even call it “emo” or “depressing”), but it never becomes hammy or cliched.
As a performance, the choreography is powerful and sexy. The group’s starting formation resembles a flower, which only strengthens BTS’s vision for their 2015 releases when viewed together with their second comeback, but that’s for another time 😉
“Converse High” BTS
“Converse High” was performed as a special stage alongside BTS’s “I Need U” comeback performance. For the weekly music shows, the song was repurposed as “Lovers’ High” most likely to avoid any endorsement claims by the shoe brand referenced in the original track. It’s very light and definitely more playful than their main comeback song and the cute choreography was paired with knee-baring shorts. Perfect for a song about cuties in Chuck Taylor sneakers!
If the MV for “I Need U” was a study in narrative and cinematography, the MV for “Dope” had production design and choreography front and center. Thematically different from “I Need U”, “Dope” has BTS with all their feathers fluffed out. It’s BTS doing right by the Village People. BTS cosplay different occupations here: Jimin the salaryman, J-Hope the race car driver, Jungkook the police officer, Jin the surgeon, V as Detective Conan, Suga the captain of The Love Boat and Rap Monster the bellhop at the Grand Bangtan Hotel.
While SHINee have been actively releasing singles in Japan since their 2013 mini-album “Everybody”, a Korean comeback is always special. Frankly, Japanese singles don’t carry as much impact as the singles released in a group’s own country because for fans of a particular group, a Korean comeback means anticipation over the release of the mini-album or full-length album plus a nice, glossy music video, not to mention excitement over the comeback promotional stages on weekly music shows.
“View” has a pretty chill (but still glossy) music video that has the vibe of spring break to it. The members of SHINee are kidnapped by a bunch of girls and the group does the dance on the floor of some beach-side carinderia. It’s all very “Y Tu Mama Tambien”, I promise. A brawl at a random club breaks out and beer bottles are smashed. I’m not sure how taking off one’s shirt qualifies as first aid, but somehow Minho comes out of the fight uninjured when one of the girls shows her bra.
“Adore U” Seventeen
There are twelve members in Seventeen but I can only recognize two of its members – Vernon, the Caucasian-looking one who is like a young Leo Di Caprio and hails from New York, and Woozi, the pink haired gumdrop who looks a little bit like Chicken Little.
I voted for these guys as Best New Male Group in the 2015 Mnet Asian Music Awards. Similar to the aforementioned Oh! My Girl, I voted based on the strength of their two mini-albums released this year – “17 Carat” and “Boys Be”, in addition to the fact that they’re nice boys who don’t put out diss tracks or talk trash in public about what pretty boy posers their sunbaes are.
“Love Me Right” EXO
I’m ending Part 4 with my boys because it feels right. “Love Me Right” followed up “Call Me Baby” in the repackage album release for “EXODUS” and is a lot brighter and more free-wheeling than”Call Me Baby”. The concept for this comeback was Friday Night Lights-inspired so imagine a lot of American EXO-L’s confusion when the boys wore baseball caps with their football uniforms. I didn’t care whether which sport was being misrepresented because I was busy coming up with jock/nerd fic prompts in my head.
When EXO released「Love Me Right ～romantic universe～」the Japanese version of this track, the visual treatment of its music video was so different from the Korean and Chinese music videos that the song took on a brand new vibe and sounded new to my ears. Is that weird?