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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 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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J-Pop Picks: “Weeeek” by NEWS

Fair warning: I have very little experience with the Japanese music world. Any knowledge I have comes from watching dramas, listening to a K-pop groups’ Japanese releases, or getting a recommendation from a friend. That being said, I have come across some songs that I really love. One of them is “Weeeek” by NEWS, who I know about because of their label Johnny’s Entertainment and the two drama actors within its ranks (Yamashita Tomohisa and Nishikido Ryo-who have since left the group). A friend of mine had me listen to it during lunch one day and I was immediately hooked. It’s one of those songs that is so damn catchy and happy that you can’t help but like it and sing it (loudly and with terrible pronunciation) whenever it comes on. The music video is colorful, crazy, and fun. Play this and it’ll be sure to brighten up your day!

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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 Music Videos: The Creepy, The Crazy, and The Weird

For a majority of k-pop artists, the music video is simply a chance to showcase some dancing and do close-ups of the idols’ pretty faces. However, there are also artists who come out with videos that are unconventional and entirely unique. There are a number of them that can only be described as creepy. Some are full of crazy antics that I don’t always understand, but I do always find highly entertaining. Then there are the ones that are so totally bizarre that I can’t even begin to come up with an explanation for them. Any way you slice it, it’s still nice to see k-pop videos that give you something new to look at, instead of just the group dancing in an empty room (I’m looking at you SM). So I thought I’d compile a list of the music videos that deviate from the k-pop norm and offer us a fresh, if slightly strange, look at an artists’ song. To make a long story short (too late), here’s my list of k-pop music videos that are creepy, crazy, and weird:

The Creepy (aka i am disturbed)

“She’s Gone” by G-Dragon

So we start with some poor woman tied to a chair and G-Dragon hovering in the doorway. Cue the start of the song and the woman escaping, only to find herself running around in what looks like a stone maze. An unfazed GD takes out a knife and drags it across the walls while he calmly stalks the girl. By the end, he’s covered in blood and the woman is lying dead on the floor. And in between shots of him shaking and holding his bloody hands in front of his face, there is one especially creepy shot of him actually smiling. I think this definitely fits the creepy category. And if you look up the lyrics, it makes it all the more disturbing.

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My Top 10 SHINee Songs

In honor of SHINee’s 6th anniversary, I thought I’d do a post on my all-time favorite songs from my all-time favorite group. SHINee was one of the first groups I ever got really into (*cough*obsessedwith*cough*) and as the years go by they continue to amaze me. Even in the K-pop world, you do not come across a group that has the singing skills, dancing abilities, and passion that SHINee does. So here’s a list of my Top 10 SHINee songs (in no particular order because that would be too hard):

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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.