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K-Pop Picks: “Fantastic” by Henry

I was surprised and impressed by Henry’s debut mini-album “Trap” last year, and with his “Fantastic” comeback he has only improved. Though it felt a bit like being hit over the head with the reminder that he’s a serious violin player, I thoroughly enjoyed its inclusion and the entire classical feel of this song. I love that his title tracks don’t shy away from putting a focus on instruments rather than electronic beats, with the piano in “Trap” and the violin in “Fantastic.” As for the music video, let me first say that I’m getting pretty tired of this maze obsession that k-pop seems to have lately and I’m utterly confused as to why his girlfriend turns into a violin. Aside from that, I thought the video was visually beautiful, especially the use of the glowing chords that connected Henry to the violin. Henry is enticing to watch with a new show of confidence in his performance and some interesting choreography. Overall, I liked this comeback and I’m happy to see Henry continuing to grow as a solo artist.

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K-Pop Picks: “Mr. Ambiguous” by Mamamoo

Mamamoo debuts with the wonderfully classy single “Mr. Ambiguous.” This is such a refreshing sound for a k-pop song. It’s obvious that these girls are incredibly talented and their vocals are impressive. The track is catchy and jazzy with just the right amount of pop. The music video does an expert job of blending colorful and monochrome scenes. I enjoyed the many celebrity cameos which included Jung Joon Young, K.Will, Wheesung, Bumkey, and Lee Jong Hyun of CNBlue; the Baek Ji Young hidden camera trick was the only one that felt unnecessary. Each celebrity is actually part of the crew helping to make the music video, which is a nice touch. There’s no way I can deny that I absolutely love the mustache rings, too; it could have easily come off as weird and cheesy but they make it adorable and stylish. I would highly recommend watching one of their live performances; they absolutely own the stage, despite being rookies, and you can hear their killer vocals.

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K-Pop Picks: “Good Luck” by BEAST

BEAST is finally back with a music video for their new single, “Good Luck.” I am loving this new release; it is full of incredible vocals, choreography, and visuals. The song itself is more electronic, but with some really nice instrumental sounds. I especially liked the classical music elements in the beginning of the music video and in the song. The chorus part, “Good luck, baby, Good luck to you,” is catchy, and I love the peace-out dance move that accompanies it. It’s a visually appealing music video, with dark, underground sets contrasted with colorful stages full of neon signs and flashing lights. While their last release, “Shadow,” was good, it didn’t impress me. “Good Luck” is everything that I love about BEAST: powerful vocals, challenging choreography, and a stellar single.

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K-Pop Picks: “Catallena” by Orange Caramel

Orange Caramel never fails to impress and entertain with their cute, quirky sounds. Their newest single “Catallena” is no exception. Like all of their music videos, it’s got a fun charm to it, full of lots of bright colors and costumes. The three ladies play different kinds of fish being sold at the supermarket, but their prices are much lower than that of the nearby octopus. As the lyrics tell, the octopus represents a popular, chic girl who has a temperamental personality but she’s still the type of person that everyone wants to be around. The members of Orange Caramel blush and look on in envy at the high-priced octopus, who is absolutely hilarious in this video. The sushi plate, soy sauce dishes, and rice props all went perfectly with the colorful backgrounds and fish-inspired costumes. The more I listen to the song, the more I like it. It felt a little odd at first, but even after the second listen it started to become insanely catchy. Orange Caramel continues to be an adorable, fun, and unique group with the brilliant “Catallena.”

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K-Pop Picks: “Eyes, Nose, Lips” by Taeyang

I generally haven’t been a fan of Taeyang’s solo releases but his latest title track has me hooked. The song “Eyes, Nose, Lips” is a smooth R&B ballad that reminds me how great a voice Taeyang has. It’s a very beautiful, soothing song. The music video is another thing entirely. It’s a brave decision to shoot the whole video in one take, never wavering from the artist’s face. But Taeyang sings with great emotion and keeps the viewer invested. The darkness and slowly changing scenes behind him fit perfectly with the tone of the song. One of the reasons I haven’t liked most of his releases was he always seemed to try way too hard to be gangster. I mean, really, you’re going to be shirtless for the entire video? Is there any reason for that at all? Aside from that, I thought the music video was done very well and I’ll be listening to the song on repeat for at least the next week.

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K-Pop Picks: “200%” by AKMU (Akdong Musician)

My new obsession: the wonderful, fresh sounds of Akdong Musician. This brother-sister duo first caught my attention during their time on K-Pop Star 2. Not because I watched the show, but because I couldn’t ignore how much everyone was raving about them. When I finally did check out their performances, I was not disappointed. Their first album is a welcome respite from the electronic-heavy sounds of the K-pop world. It’s full of light, airy songs like their first single “200%.” The music video is incredibly cute and charming. Much like K.Will’s “Please Don’t…” it seems like your typical love story until the end, when the perspective suddenly shifts. Kudos to Soo Hyun for showing off some genuine acting skills, too (which is pretty rare in the K-pop world). Check out the rest of their album Play, and their other music videos, Give Love and Melted.