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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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Thoughts and Obsessions: Doctor Stranger & You’re All Surrounded Improve + Rookies Take Over My Life

First off, it’s been a particularly good week in Korean drama. I am extremely pleased with the new direction Doctor Stranger is going in. Hoon has finally gotten rid of his god-awful perm and is starting to see the faults in Jae Hee (his blind faith was really starting to irritate me). The brewing bromance between him and Jae Joon is also a very welcome addition, even if it’s already heading towards troubled waters. Jae Joon himself has lost much of his angst and instead is starting to show us his compassionate, caring side. I’m still rooting for Soo Hyun and Hoon, even though it’s looking like they won’t be endgame.

Overall it’s become a lot more character-based, with less of the confusing political agendas. Thankfully they seem to have learned from the viewer reactions. They have finally started revealing the Prime Minister’s grand plan, and the motivations behind the characters’ decisions are starting to make sense. I was about to give up on this drama, but the last few episodes have brought me back in. Unfortunately, they have restarted the highly unethical hospital competitions. Oh well, you can’t have everything.

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K-Pop Music Videos: The Best of the Dance Practice Versions

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One of the things I love about k-pop in general is the group choreography. For every new release, we get to see a different dance that’s been meticulously planned and practiced to perfection. It continues to amaze me that with each comeback, there is a unique, often complicated, routine that has to be learned. Those who love k-pop can attest to the power that good choreography can have on someone’s enjoyment of a performance or just the song itself.

As much as I love normal k-pop music videos, I look forward to dance practice videos even more. It’s the best way to see both the entire choreography and how difficult it is for our idols to pull off. It also allows us to see idols in a somewhat normal state, dancing in just sweats and tennis shoes. There’s no flashing lights or caked-on makeup to distract from their performance, and they get to show a bit of what they’re like when not on stage. I love to see them make small mistakes or goof off and just have fun. Here’s my list of some of the most amusing, entertaining, and impressive k-pop dance practice videos:

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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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Thoughts and Obsessions: Witch’s Romance, Jeon Ji Hyun, and VIXX

Somehow I got sucked into yet another currently airing drama, Witch’s Romance. But it only has two more episodes, and it’s been so much fun to watch. It is hard to even articulate the extension of my love for this drama. First of all the leads are both incredible actors and have sizzling chemistry. Ji Yeon is strong and vulnerable at the same time, and Dong Ha has to be the sweetest, most adorable character I’ve ever seen. Recently, there’s been a detour from the cute romantic comedy aspect, with more melodrama instead. Luckily, they know when to give it up and the last few episodes are returning to its original charm. I have a strong feeling that Park Seo Joon is going to end up on my bias list in the future.

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