[Single] Joo – Young Girl

I remember when Joo first debuted and people were giving her a hard time because they thought she wasn’t that good. I was like WHAT?!, this girl has a great voice. I’m glad she has made a comeback though, it’s been too long since she returned. Young Girl is the debut single by Joo. Because of a Man was used as the first single and Like Yesterday was performed live a few times.

Released: January 17, 2008
1. Because of a Man (남자 때문에) [MV]
2. Like Yesterday (어제처럼)
3. Face (얼굴)
4. Premier (초연(怊緣))
5. Because of a Man (Inst.)
6. Like Yesterday (Inst.)

The single opens with Because of a Man, a pretty standard sounding K-Pop ballad if you’ve listened to enough of them. This was around the declining period of the ballad phase, but it still stood out. It easily shows off Joo’s stellar vocals, which are strong but have a sweetness about them. Granted there were artists who could pull this song off much better technically, but Joo has something in her voice, which helps echo emotion into the song. It’s sad, striking and really hits the heart. Stellar.

Like Yesterday is a cover of a J song. J was is an oldschool Korean R&B singer and her voice is insanely fluid, so it was interesting to hear Joo’s take on this song. It’s a great song anyway with it’s lounge feel. Vocally, Joo pulled it off decently as her tone is similar to that of J’s, but she’s still able to make it unique.

Face is another ballad that follows the style of the previous song. It’s a good follow-up, although not particularly different or catchy as the previous one just pulls everything off on a higher level. Joo’s vocals match this song much better though.

Premiere follows the style of the first track with it’s more traditional ballad approach with a touch of sadness. It’s a gorgeous song and one of the strongest on the single (granted there are only four tracks). It shows off Joo’s vocal power, especially at the end when the song takes a step up. A great ending that leaves a strong impression.

Overall: A striking single from a debutant. It still surprises me that Joo went back to train, although I think a lot of it had to do with the rumours of her past arising. Still, this single easily showed the potential that Joo had. Her voice is sweet, piercing and powerful and she flows through all these slower tracks well. While I found the darker ballads more to my liking, the light-hearted R&B tracks were a nice break even if they weren’t that exciting.


[Single] miss A – Bad But Good

I wasn’t really interested when I first heard about miss A, but when I heard their first single, it was quite a powerful track. While I’m not a die hard fan, I have certainly been following their releases and hope for some more strong tracks in the future. Bad But Good is the debut single by JYP girl group miss A.

Released: July 7, 2010
1. Bad Girl Good Girl [MV]
2. Just Fall Across (딱 마주쳐)
3. Love Again (다시 사랑) [MV]
4. Break It

miss A’s debut starts with the ever popular and powerful Bad Girl Good Girl. This dance/pop tune have a simpler sounding arrangement, which helps maximize the strength of the vocals. It’s catchy and makes quite an impact. All of the girls are also on equal level regarding their singing skills and while it doesn’t give us any amazing adlibs, it also allows each girl to shine without one outshining the other. It’s a strong opener and one of the strongest songs from 2010.

Just Fall Across is an awkward upbeat tune. It seems to mix pop with a slight trot style to it, which isn’t heard very often in Kpop. With that said, the song really annoys me. I’m not a fan of the chorus and everything just feels a bit too messy for me. I did enjoy the verses though as there was more attitude there and I could hear the vocals better.

Love Again provides another upbeat pop tune, but with a much stronger focus. While I personally prefer the Chinese version because it flowed better, this one is also good. It’s more of a filler, but the light chorus works well with the arrangement and Fei does a great job pulling off the vocals.

While Break It certainly has the attitude found in Bad Girl Good Girl, I just did not like this song at all. It’s too slow, too autotuned and just doesn’t go anywhere. It’s not really exciting and it seems to just live off of the whole “Break It” background vocals. Everything was pretty weak, except for Jia’s rap. That was sweet.

Overall: This wasn’t a bad single, but it wasn’t that great either. I found it was quite strong with two songs, but the other two were weak and dull. Bad Girl Good Girl gave the girls a strong image, but Just Fall Across was annoying with no focus. Love Again was a catchy pop tune, but Break it was too slow and depended too much on a repetitive phrase to really have any impact, which it still didn’t.


[Digital Single] T-ara & Supernova – TTL Listen 2

Due to the popularity of the TTL (Time To Love), another collab between the two groups T-ara and Supernova would take place. TTL Listen 2 is the second digital collaboration song between the two groups.

Released: October 9, 2009
1. TTL Listen 2 [MV]

TTL Listen 2 is essentially the dance version of TTL (Time To Love) with only slight variations in the verse melodies as well as changes in the lyrics. This version is supposed to include all the members of both groups, but really we only have the same 7 from the first one participating here because they recorded them at the same time. With its pounding beats and flashy synths, its a proven adversary to the original. With that said, I actually prefer the first version because it’s more emotional.

Overall: Another strong collaboration between the two groups even if it is the dance version of their last song. Both versions are similar, but share different characteristics that separate them and make them stand out on their own.


[Digital Single] T-ara & Supernova – TTL (Time To Love)

Collaboration songs between labelmates is usually one of my favourite things to hear as most of the time they end up pretty good. Seniors Supernova decided to pair up with rookies T-ara to release a collaboration single that not only gave a different edge to their music, but also gave them the edge on the charts. TTL (Time To Love) is the first digital collaboration single between T-ara and Supernova.

Released: September 15, 2009
1. TTL (Time To Love) [MV]

TTL (Time To Love) is similar in some aspects and different in others to T-ara’s debut single. Besides the obvious addition of male rappers, TTL is similar because we have a dramatic ballad with a pop touch to it, much like their debut. The difference is the sheer amount of maturity that is placed into this song as opposed to their debut which featured a tacky karaoke rhythm. With its haunting synths and deep atmosphere, the song easily shows off the talents of at least four of T-ara’s members (and the three rappers from Supernova). Being honest, this is really T-ara’s single and Supernova (which are a good group), just seem like an addition. Maybe it’s because of the domination of Soyeon (and somewhat Jiyeon) for the chorus, but the females definitely stand out far more. Regardless, it’s a stellar track and one of (if not the best) releases of 2009 and still my favourite T-ara track.

Overall: A strong secondary release from T-ara that strikes aclear contrast to the pop route they took with their debut. It also pushed Supernova back into the limelight after a year of little activity in Korea. Both groups work well together and the raps intertwine well with the flawless chorus led by Soyeon.


[Digital Single] T-ara – Lies

T-ara is one of my favourite groups and while I have an obvious bias towards them it’s moreso for their personalities than their songs (although they are pretty good). Maybe it’s because I’ve been a fan since pre-debut, but I’m happy to see them get the success they have nowadays. Lies is the debut digital single from T-ara. Lies (Part.1) was used as the promotional single along with Wanna Play?.

Released: July 27, 2009
1. Lies (Part.1) (거짓말) [MV]
2. Lies (Part.2)
3. Wanna Play? (놀아볼래?)
4. Lies (Ballad ver.) [MV]

The single opens with Lies (Part.1), a ballad/dance mix. It definitely set itself apart from most of the songs released by new girl groups in 2009 for being a bit more on the feminine side. With that said, while being catchy I’m not particularly amazed at the song. This version in particular has a very annoying karaoke beat in the background that sorta ruins the whole mature atmosphere of the song. Vocally, it was good and shows off the vocals of (most of) the member. Part.2 is really no different except it has a pop intro instead of a more ballad focused intro that the first part had.

Wanna Play? is a huge switch from the lighthearted pop feel of the previous song. Here, T-ara gives us a powerful dance/pop tune with aggressive rapping and powerful vocals. It’s unfortunate that only three members really participated in it though, but it makes sense since they (Eunjung, Soyeon and Hyomin) are the strongest vocally in the group. It’s a catchy song with attitude.

To end the single, we have Lies (Ballad ver.) and what a great ending it is. This is definitely the best song on the single because it slows the original down, erases all those unnecessary synths and gives a clearer vocal presentation.

Overall: A good release from the group. While I was not particularly fond of the title track in its original state, it was still an ok listen. The second part didn’t provide much difference, but the ballad version certainly put the song on another level. Wanna Play also offered a little more fun although it only featured half the members.


[Digital Single] f(x) – LA chA TA

f(x) is a group that I am not a big fan of although have stayed up to date with their main releases. Maybe it’s because I’m not a really big fan of SM artists, but I’m not particularly into their music as much, although Victoria is gorgeous (and Chinese woot woot). LA chA TA is the debut digital single by f(x).

Released: September 1, 2009
1. LA chA TA (라차타) [MV]

While I’m not a big fan of the group, LA chA TA is definitely one of my favourite songs of 2009. It’s really well produced and well put together. The dance/pop tune has a pretty steady and powerful beat, but what makes the song is the melody that is  catchy and adds a lot of attitude to the song. The song doesn’t really have any unnecessary parts (even Amber’s rap isn’t bad) and serene atmosphere gives it an extra boost. I just wish that Luna had a larger presence in the song as I could see her belting it out at the end.

Overall: A strong release by the group when they debuted and still their best song imo. It gets things done maturely and without any of the awkward gimmicks that I find in their later promotional tracks.


[Mini-Album] 4minute – For Muzik

For Muzik is the first mini-album released by girl group 4minute. The first single was Hot Issue, which was released two months prior, while the second and third singles were MUZIK and What a Girl Wants.

Released: August 31, 2009
1. For Muzik
3. Hot Issue [MV]
4. What a Girl Wants [MV]
5. Funny (웃겨)
6. Won’t Give You (안줄래)
7. Hot Issue (Shinsadong Tiger Remix) (Hot Issue (신사동호랭이 Remix))

The mini-album opens with the powerful intro For Muzik. This is probably one of my favourite intros ever and part of me wishes it was actually made into a full song. The electronic style with the powerful vocal display. Really attention grabbing.

Right after we get launched into the main track, MUZIK. It’s a funky electronic/dance tune that is very catchy and quite well put together. My favourite part would definitely be when HyunA adds because she brings a lot of attitude to the song. There is also a stronger presence of Gayoon in the song as opposed to Hot Issue.

Speaking of Hot Issue, it is the next song on the mini and was released as a digital single two months prior. It’s powerful, catchy and rather messy. I think the difference between this and MUZIK is that the latter was much more polished in its delivery. Still a good song.

What a Girl Wants was the third single off the album and is a nice R&B/pop tune. It doesn’t stand out as strong as the last two songs, but it’s ok despite the excessive amount of unnecessary autotune. The chorus is quite catchy.

Funny is a powerful dance/pop tune, but is just not my cup of tea. The song just seems to be missing something and is too repetitive in a bad way. It ‘s pretty messy and sounds like something that T-ara decided to scrap.

Won’t Give You is like What a Girl Wants Part 2, although not as positive. This R&B/pop hybrid is a nice song, but just isn’t as catchy some of the other stronger songs.

To end the mini-album we have Hot Issue (Shinsadong Tiger Remix), which is the original with an extra powerful dance beat. I think the beat really works with the chorus, but I feel it overpowers the melody in the verses and the random dance break is so awkward. Not bad, but not a favourite.

Overall: For the first physical release, this is definitely a strong offering. I felt it started out quite strong and really worked with 4minute’s strengths. In the second half, it fell a little bit flat and the songs just sounded like cheaper replicas of songs from the first half. My huge problem was the excessive use of autotune, which seemed really unnecessary in some songs.