Thursday, January 1, 2015

Favorite K-Pop of the Year - Debuts 2014

There have been some good debuts this year. I think there were also less debuts than there were last year which is good because man there were a lot of debuts last year and a lot of them weren't that great. Just because you can pump out a group doesn't mean that you should! I was surprised with the amount of groups that I was curious about from their debut song this year. The songs on this list are all over the board as these lists I put together usually are. There is some boy band magic, a little jazz, and a little hip hop sprinkled in for good measure. There is something for everything.

Most of these groups have also had their comeback which I am thankful for. It always makes me sad when my interest is piqued by a group only for them to never see the light of day again. And as usual, whenever I say things about people disappearing forever, I am always brought back to my perpetual sadness brought on by Nevermind. It will be two years this month since their debut song and because nothing official was ever released, I have that crazy person in the back of my mind that says it could happen.

Comebacks                        Solos and Sub Units

Favorite Male Debuts

A very common trend in boy groups is the "bad boy" image which I am personally getting tired of. That is not to say that some groups don't come out strong with that image and capture my heart, but most of the time you can tell that is not a true representation of the group. That is the reason that I was so drawn to the debuts of LegendZPZG, and Halo. The best way to categorize these groups is to say that they are boy groups. They are not trying to be tough or cool or edgy, they are having fun and it is a good reminder of what K-pop was a few years ago. Halo does have a little bit of an edgier sound and music video than Legend and ZPZG, but as you get farther into the song and they start "doo doo dooing" you know they can't be too edgy.

We need to pause this here post because I have learned something after I finished writing this post. I looked up Halo's profile and I am now uncomfortable. Halo is an acronym. Any guesses? No? Well here it is: Hexagon of Absolute Light and Organization. That is all. Please continue reading.

Legend "Left Out" 
Since their debut, Legend has had two more music videos "Lost" and "I Wanna Know" and from the two songs, I must say that I like the later better. I think it's more fun than "Lost" and I have been on a "fun" kick lately. Another fun comeback has been achieved by Halo with their new song "Come on Now" which has a really cool 90's vibe to it. I hope that these groups keep with this easy and bright sound because I am loving it!

Even though I just said that I am having fun with these bright songs, that doesn't mean that I don't like any of the bad boy concepts when they are executed well. The group in question is Bigflo and their song is called "Delilah", but personally I like their song "Fly" a lot better. I think that people who like Block B would really like Bigflo. Not to say that the music sounds the same, but it does exists in the same musical genre.

Bigflo "Delilah"
Last month, Bigflo had their first comeback and I have mixed feelings about this song. I liked this song but the video was so cheesy that I didn't realize that I liked the song until I just listened to it. When I was watching it, it was a little painful so I couldn't really enjoy the song. It is amazing what a bad, or a good, music video will do to your perception of a song. 

Now we have the groups that while they are K-pop groups, they aren't really K-pop groups. The first group is TROY with their song "Green Light". With the exception of baby Kanto, these guys are all older and I think all of them had previous experience before debuting in this group and you can really see that. They looked confident and you could also see that they were very comfortable with their concept and themselves. The next group is Ugly Pumpkin's "From Yesterday" which will forever make me happy. I found this song during a week when I was still in Utah and my students were royally sucking. I listened to this song and the clouds parted and the sun shone and all was good in the world. It was one of those weeks where I basically listened to this song on repeat for the entire week.

Ugly Pumpkin "From Yesterday"

And last, but not least, the soloists! The guys who capture attention all on their own. There is no hiding what they can or can't do by letting other members take the lead. Both of these guys seem pretty solid though. The first debut goes to Kim Ji Sang, a.k.a XXXY. Why is that his name? Apparently he wanted to appeal to men and women with his music so his name is a mix of the male and femal chromosomes. That's not complicated or anything. Strange name aside, his debut song "Flower" is a lovely mix of rapping and singing. The video is also very artsy and it compliments the song really well.

And now we will end with Parc Jae Jung and his debut song "Ice Ice Baby". I don't own this song but I do find myself frequently playing it on Youtube as I work. It's just so catchy and smooth. It has a nice jazzy feel to it and Parc Jae Jung is also super cute. He is 19 though. Curses! The only thing I can say that he really needs to work on is not moving like a robot. Loosen up man! That will come with time though. Time will also only make his voice better. Yes!

Parc Jae Jung "Ice Ice Baby"
Favorite Female Debuts

On to the girls! Our first lovely lady comes out of the company that might have some of the most talented perfomers EVAR, Mystic89, and that person is Puer Kim with "Manyo Maash". Mystic89 has a sound as a company too which is pretty awesome because some idol groups can't even figure out what their sound is let alone a whole company. This song is very haunting and the video was also very well done. Her comeback "Bank" was no different. It had an interesting video and it had the same kind of jazzy feel. She is a good addition to the Mystic89 family.

Puer Kim "Manyo Maash"

Our next soloist could also be placed in the music video most likely to make you cry video category. Or it would if that was actually a category, but it's not, it's Lee Michelle's "Without You". Don't pretend that this video didn't make you cry or at least make you feel all sorts of feels for that little girl and Lee Michelle herself! Even if you don't like the song (why?!) you can't deny that this has a powerful message that people do need to hear. Everyone is beautiful and no one can tell you otherwise. Other people shouldn't decide if we are beautiful or not, that is our job, thus everyone should be beautiful because everyone should see themselves as such.

These last two groups have unfortunately been MIA for a while, one maybe permanently. One of my favorite debuts of the year was by Kiss&Cry with their song "Domino Game". They came out with guns blazing and full of confidence ready to take over the world, and they they disappeared. The most recent news that I have heard is that if they haven't disbanded there will be a lineup change. That makes me so sad! They were so powerful together and we need more powerful women (in my opinion) in K-pop where the weak and docile are more commonly looked upon favorably.

Kiss&Cry "Domino Game" 

Now I'm going to contradict myself because the next group of girls are not powerful like Kiss&Cry were portrayed. They are cute and colorful and their video reminded me a lot of Rainbow's song "Sunshine" which I also really liked. The song in question is called "Up and Down" and is by a group called Ye-A. This is one of those cute songs that slip through my mostly anti cute defenses and there was nothing I could do to stop it. Unfortunately they have been MIA since July, hopefully they aren't one of those groups that just die out after they debut.

Now, to end us on a high note is one of what I think is one of the best female group debuts of the year: Mamamoo's "Mr. Ambiguous". These girls can sing! Their company also seems to know how to market too with the pre debut releases and all the songs and videos that they have done have been consistent. Not to say that they can't get recognition on their own, but they are also really smart about putting cameos in their videos which brings them more attention from other fandoms. I can't wait so see more of them in the future!

Mamamoo "Mr. Ambiguous"

Favorite Mix Gender Debuts

This is something that I wish would happen more in K-pop. Sure people sound good with members of their own gender, there is something amazing about a group of women harmonizing with each other, but I just wish it wasn't so rare to see a popular mixed gender group. Luckily this year we were given two mixed duos that have a lot of talent. They also have very different music styles which is great. Maybe it will show that there can be more groups in the future.

The first group is the lovely sibling pair that took the country by storm with "200%", the adorable Akdong Musician. They are so young and talented and they are the people that make you wonder what you are doing with your life when these two are so accomplished at such a young age.

Akdong Musician "200%"

I also recently stated this in my post about the Hi Suhyun sub unit, but I wish that YG would do more things like this as opposed to their "gangster" image. Not that they can't do that and that they don't have very talented artists in that area, but lately I feel like they are just trying so hard to be hard. It's becoming slightly tiresome and I glad that with Akdong Musician we are getting something different.

Our next duo were also music show contestants, but I don't know if they won or what became of them at all. I just happened to hear about their debut and was happily impressed with their song. I also was caught off guard when the song started because I assumed with a girl/guy hip hop duo the guy would rap and the girl would sing. Wrong! The song started with the girl rapping and the guy singing. Serves me right for gender basing their roles in the group.

Almeng "Phone in Love" 

Are you still here? Did you make it to the end? If so congratulations! This was a long post and I hope that maybe you found something new to listen to in the new year!

~ Alora 

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