Tags: Brown Eyed Girls, Gary, Girls' Generation, K-Pop, Kpop, LeeSsang, Miryo, Music, Narsha, Review, Rude Paper, SNSD, Sunny, THE KOXX
- Party Rock (feat. Gary Of LeeSsang & THE KOXX)
- I Love You, I Love You (feat. Sunny Of SNSD)
- Revenger (feat. Rude Paper)
- Leggo (feat. Narsha Of Brown Eyed Girls)
Brown Eyed Girls’ fierce rapper, Miryo, has finally released her first solo effort, MIRYO aka JOHONEY. I’m not going to lie and say I was ecstatic when she announced a solo mini-album because I certainly wasn’t. She’s not my favourite member of the group but I do enjoy her raps most of the time. I was interested to see what type of concept and sound she would come up with for her record. Narsha and Ga-In’s solo albums were amazing so there was a part of me hoping that Miryo would continue that trend and surprise me. When the teaser for her album was released, it had a dark tone to it that had me intrigued. I assumed the album would be on the dark side with some great, heavy raps from the singer but I couldn’t have been more wrong. She went into a very pop direction, a direction that I honestly thought she would not embrace.
Miryo doesn’t escape the trends that K-pop holds onto rigidly because Party Rock (feat. Gary Of LeeSsang & THE KOXX) has a club-ready synth and hip hop production. This is definitely not the type of sound I had assumed she would venture into so it was a huge surprise for me. She throws out some quick, sharp raps in the verses with a slight dose of vocoder on them. There are light spasms of synths that give it a hectic, dance feel. It’s quite catchy but the chorus amps it up and blows up into an infectious party anthem. THE KOXX’s ad-libs in the chorus are vocoded to perfection and his vocals are the highlight of the entire track. Miryo’s vocals are pretty hilarious due to the way she enunciates. They’re both incredibly fun and mixed with the arcade synth line, it makes for a great hook. Gary gets to shine in the second verse and his hard rap is reflected by the melody as it explodes into a bombardment of crazy beats. Things just get crazier during the bridge as the music kicks into high gear while Miryo and THE KOXX provide fast-paced raps. This song is a whole lot of fun and one of the most memorable on the album. A part of me was hoping DIRTY would be an amazing dark rap song but it turned out to be very lighthearted. Although it’s not what I wanted, I like it a lot. The light guitar, synths and percussion are all mellow and contrast against her tough, smooth voice. It’s a pop and rap hybrid, more on the pop side though. She does quicken up her rapping occasionally during the verse to add a bit more power to it. She throws in some rock for the chorus and it blends into the synths for a breezy and massively addicting melody. Despite having a sad lyrical theme, the song is quite poppy and playful. Her light vocals are wondrous and very infectious. I love the sweet acoustic guitar in the middle eight. It’s so melodic and vibrant but sadly, her upset speech doesn’t mesh with it. The part where she lashes out should have been paired with a heavier beat because it ends up not having any impact. Luckily, the second half of the bridge remedies this as the melody is much more fitting for her intense rap. The final chorus gets a face lift and is much better due to her ad-libs. I didn’t like this at first but it’s a grower.
What would a Korean mini-album be without a ballad and I Love You, I Love You (feat. Sunny Of SNSD) opens with a clicking clock and a soft piano. A lovely set of strings joins the mix once she starts rapping and the melody progressively becomes more involved and engaging as it blossoms. Her voice is vocoded and it’s so unnecessary because it would have been fine without it since this ballad focuses more on organic instruments. Sunny’s voice remains untouched so it’s odd that only Miryo’s voice is digitized. The chorus is the highlight due to Sunny’s lush voice and it’s touching, especially her fragile “goodbyes.” Miryo’s raps just don’t carry the same feel. They sound awkward with the ballad arrangement and the sentiment isn’t carried through. Sunny’s actual singing sounds so much better with the melody and her performance is more emotional. Overall, it’s enjoyable but it’s not outstanding. Revenger (feat. Rude Paper) also starts with a piano but Miryo’s performance is a lot more dramatic and aggressive. As the song progresses, the melody starts to develop into a darker and heavier sound. Hard and gritty synths burst into the composition during the chorus and Rude Paper offers a rap that is just as tough as the melody while Miryo does the backing vocals. This is the type of song that I imagined would dominate the album. I really like the anger that she conveys and it reflects the title of the song. My issue with the track is that in the most aggressive parts, she’s relegated as the backing singer. This would have been so good if she had a larger role in the chorus because the verses are toned down compared to the rest of the song. I had no idea Narsha was going to be featured on the album so Leggo (feat. Narsha Of Brown Eyed Girls) was a great surprise. Miryo raps to a bouncy synth beat and as it quickens so does her singing. The fast-paced sections are very catchy and it gets more addicting in the chorus where Narsha steals the spotlight. She makes the song incredible. Her sweet, digitized vocals are delightful and paired with delicious synths, “and baby you‘re the only one I need.” Miryo adds the attitude and power while Narsha adds the love and beauty. It’s a great combination and it’s my favourite song off the record. The breakdown is amazing and it dies down into an atmospheric melody with fresh backing vocals and great vocoded vocals from both singers.
Conclusion: Miryo’s mini-album is the weakest of the three solo albums that have been released but it’s still enjoyable. My biggest fear for her was that she wouldn’t be able to stand alone without the rest of the group and that’s exactly what happens. Her raps just aren’t strong enough to carry a whole song and the direction she took didn’t help at all. Her guest artists, especially Narsha and Sunny, outshone her. She should have stayed away from light pop because it just didn’t work out too well. Furthermore, her vocals are heavily vocoded on the majority of the album. In her group material, her voice never received this much vocoder and she’s proven that she has a strong voice so it’s shocking that she uses so much of it here. If she went into a darker and heavier rap direction similar to Brown Eyed Girls’ recent music, the album would have been great. It’s commendable that she took an unexpected route and risk but it didn’t blow me away.
Recommended Tracks: Leggo (feat. Narsha Of Brown Eyed Girls), DIRTY and Party Rock (feat. Gary Of LeeSsang & THE KOXX)
Tags: 2011, 2NE1, BEG, Best Of, Best Of 2011, Bom, Brown Eyed Girls, CL, Clazziquai, Clazziquai Project, Dara, Ga-In, Horan, Ibadi, IU, Jea, Ji Sun, Jisun, K-Pop, Kpop, Loveholic, Minzy, Miryo, Music, Music Video, Narsha, Park Bom, Review, Sandara, Video
I can’t say Korea had a ton of great release last year because it didn’t. There were far more mediocre releases than standout ones but as the year slowly went on some artists pulled through and put out fantastic albums. This isn’t to say that K-pop sucked, it’s just that it takes more than a catchy hit to win me over which only a few artists were able to do. On the bright side, K-pop gained a lot of international attention. More Korean artists are working with American producers and some are even plotting an American debut. This is not a surprise as K-pop is dominated by very catchy electropop music that would be right at home in America. Some Korean artists found success in Japan, despite the controversy surrounding it. Overall, K-pop didn’t have many albums that I would consider amazing but the ones that I loved were excellent and went beyond all expectations. These are the artists that put out something truly unique and enjoyable, artists that set trends rather than followed them.
Ji Sun was an artist that was recommended to me by 4lvy. I listened to her debut album, The Mermaid… Comes Back Home, before but I couldn’t remember anything about it. After my talk with him, I went and listened to the album again hoping that it would quench my thirst for new K-pop material. It certainly did and I’m so grateful for the recommendation because I have another K-pop artist to love. Her high, powerful voice is so refreshing. The blend of electropop with deep, heartfelt melodies results in beautiful material that is emotional and infectious. She does it all as she delivers fresh ballads, elegant mid-tempos and exciting up-tempos. The Mermaid… Comes Back Home, He Doesn’t Love You and Goodbye Heart are the album highlights. Her voice on these tracks is absolutely stunning. I ventured into her Loveholic material and I didn’t enjoy it as much as her solo material. Her debut is brighter, more animated and so much more fun than her Loveholic material.
I’m a huge fan of Clazziquai Project and when I discovered that Horan, one of the lead singers, had a side project under the group Ibadi, I had to listen to them. This occurred last year but it wasn’t until this year that their music clicked with me. They’re an acoustic-based group that dabbles in folk music. It’s unlike anything that you usually hear in Korea and that was a really big part of why I started loving them. Horan’s voice is beautiful and soothing just like their somber music. There are so many layers and textures to her voice. Getting to hear her explore her vocal range is exciting and every song displays her voice in such a gorgeous way. Flowing Afternoon Forest and Nostalgia, from Story Of Us, are gorgeous songs. The latter is an atmospheric ballad with vocals that send chills down your spine. They released their second album near the end of 2011 and it’s just as amazing as their first. Their releases are fantastic and I highly recommend them if you want to listen to something other than electropop.
IU is an artist that I tried to get into before with her mini-album, Real, and while I enjoyed it, I wasn’t impressed by it. When she released her second album, Last Fantasy, she had a lot of people talking about how amazing it was. Turns out they were right and I’m thoroughly enjoying it. It gets much better with repeated listens and now I’m really interested in checking out her older releases. You And I is cute but it’s not overly sugary like most cute idol songs are. It’s mature and deep which is something that most cute songs lack. Secrets is a killer track, building up constantly until the very end where everything comes together. Check out the album if you haven’t already because it’s one of the best releases from last year.
Brown Eyed Girls – SIXTH SENSE
The cover for SIXTH SENSE is flawless. They’re clad in incredibly hot and fierce leather outfits that demonstrate how comfortable they are with their sexuality. They look absolutely beautiful. These aren’t little girls trying to be sexy, these are women who are confident and in control of their sexuality. They do it tastefully and classy which isn’t something you always see. It could have been better if there wasn’t so much empty space but other than that it’s an excellent cover. It gives off a sense of mystery and their aggressive look matches the music.
Runner-up: 2NE1 – 2NE1 2nd Mini Album
Brown Eyed Girls – Sixth Sense
There isn’t a song that came out in Korea that matches the audacity, power, and originality of Sixth Sense. Brown Eyed Girls didn’t try to recreate the success of Abracadabra, they sought to outdo it and they did. This song effortlessly blends jazz, soul, electropop and disco elements into a musical masterpiece. Each member puts their all into it and it’s the most impressive vocal performance of the year. There’s no other girl group that has the vocal power that this quartet has. Hitting crazy belts and a co-operative whistle notes is not easy to accomplish but they do it like it was a simple task. The rap is so perfect, so mature and its sophistication added depth to it. Sixth Sense is a musical experience like no other. It takes all of you senses and explodes them into a euphoric state. They combine the catchiness of K-pop with a truly different sound, a sound that no one else in Korea has explored. That, in itself, is what makes this song so remarkable
Runner-up: 2NE1 – I Am The Best
Brown Eyed Girls – Sixth Sense
Brown Eyed Girls slay once again, this time with their phenomenal music video. The theme of resistance and revolution is executed well, in a way that grabs your attention instantly. Each member represents a different aspect of resistance, each of them constrained and being watched. It’s very intense, wild and conveys the feeling of a massive rebellion. The visuals are breathtaking. The scenes where they’re tied down has a vulnerable beauty and it’s empowering watching them break free at the end. The scenes where they’re clad in army uniforms show their stronger side and their will to fight. The semi-splits that Narsha does is insane. I was left speechless when I first saw it and even had to replay it. The final scene where the fight takes place is epic. It represents the climax of the song and all the energy that explodes from the chorus is captured in that scene. This video is fierce beyond belief and there’s nothing else that comes close to it. This is, without a doubt, a piece of art.
Runner-up: 2NE1 – I Am The Best
2NE1 – 2NE1 2nd Mini Album
Of course, 2NE1 manages to finds their way onto another end of the year list and this time with their second mini album, 2NE1 2nd Mini Album. This album led them to accumulate a large number of new fans and gained the attention of many westerners. Their popularity expanded again and their reign over Korea doesn’t seem to be losing steam. I Am The Best brought their sound to the next level and it’s catchiness is impossible to resist. I’m sure many fans were ecstatic that they minimized their use of vocoder and their voices got to shine on tracks like Loneliness and UGLY. They can rap, sing and put on spectacular performances. They bring the energy like no other girl group and they always prove why they deserve to be on top. 2NE1 is planning on bringing their hot style over to America and have been in the studio with will.i.am. It’s going to be exciting to see if they can make it over here. Regardless of what happens, I’m positive that they’ll release great material.
Brown Eyed Girls – SIXTH SENSE
SIXTH SENSE is not only the best Korean release but one of the best releases of 2011 period. The sheer force of this album is remarkable. They made it even better by repacking it with the melancholic Cleansing Cream which left many dazzled by its radiance. The album is a throwback to jazz and it’s a delicious journey. Their vocals harmonize in ways that they never managed to do with their previous albums. An Inconvenient Truth is goose bump-inducing and the way their voices melt into each other is like magic. I’ve already said enough about Sixth Sense and Hot Shot brings the jazz into a club atmosphere that will force you to groove along to it. The concept is on-point, visually and musically. They wanted fans to experience music in a new way and brought songs that teased every sense of the body. This isn’t just an auditory experience. It’s a sensual journey that should not be missed. They may have taken quite a long time to release this but it was worth it in the end. It’s not an inflated tracklist that gets lost with filler. It’s precise and to the point. Every song has a purpose and meaning.
Runner-up: Ibadi – Voyage
Brown Eyed Girls
Brown Eyed Girls dominated and slayed like no other girl group. They’re vocal powerhouses and they showed off every aspect of their voices with their new record. They hit notes I never knew they could, gave some of the best live performances ever and released the best videos of the year. This group is a force to be reckoned with. The members are older than most idols in Korea but it’s refreshing. There’s a maturity that other girl groups lack and a sexuality that others simply cannot emulate. Each member brings something to the table and they’re all equally talented. It’s rare to find a girl group where every member pulls their weight. There are countless girl groups where some members are overshadowed. That’s not the case for Brown Eyed Girls. Sure, Narsha and Ga-In are my favourite but Jea and Miryo are just as amazing. They’re confidence on stage demands attention and their music is nothing short of amazing.
There’s not much variety but these were the most memorable releases in Korea last year. 2NE1 and Brown Eyed Girls simply cannot be touched. IU and Ibadi released fantastic albums and they’re great alternatives to the electropop craze. I don’t really mind that there weren’t more albums that I loved because the ones I did more than make up for it. I’m excited to see what 2012 brings and there are already some comebacks that I cannot wait for. I really want to add more Korean reviews to my blog this year. I’ve been neglecting it for far too long. I’m hoping to resume reviewing Clazziquai Project and hopefully getting to popular acts like Girls’ Generation. I’ll definitely be reviewing Ivy’s discography and I’m really excited to get them done.
Tags: 2011, 2NE1, Adele, Ayumi Hamasaki, BEG, Best Of, Best Of 2011, Bom, Britney Spears, Brown Eyed Girls, CL, Dara, Ga-In, Goto Maki, J-pop, Jea, Jpop, K-Pop, Kanye West, Katy Perry, Kpop, Maki Goto, Minzy, Miryo, Music, Music Video, Narsha, Park Bom, Pop, Sandara, Video, Wonder Girls
Firstly, I’d like to thank everyone who participated. I suddenly felt like trying something different and thought it would be interesting to see what everyone else loved about 2011. I’m honestly not surprised by any of the results and all of the winners will show up, in some way, in my own lists. I’m not going to comment on any of the results here because, like I said, I’m going to talk about them anyways.
Brown Eyed Girls – Sixth Sense
Runner-up: 2NE1 – I Am The Best
Brown Eyed Girls – Sixth Sense
Runner-up: Katy Perry – E.T. (feat. Kanye West)
Best English Album
Adele – 21
Runner-up: Britney Spears – Femme Fatale
Best Japanese Album
Ayumi Hamasaki – FIVE
Runner-up: Maki Goto – Ai Kotoba (VOICE)
Best Korean Album
Brown Eyed Girls – SIXTH SENSE
Runner-up: Wonder Girls – Wonder World
Congratulations to all the winners and I hope everyone is happy with the results!
Tags: BEG, Brown Eyed Girls, Ga-In, Jazz, Jea, K-Pop, Kpop, Miryo, Music, Narsha, Review
- Swing It Shorty (Intro)
- Sixth Sense
- Hot Shot
- La Bohème
- An Inconvenient Truth
- Countdown (Interlude)
- Cleansing Cream
Brown Eyed Girls have been on my mind all year since they announced they would be making a comeback that would be equal to or better than Abracadabra. They were so determined to do so that they trashed three albums’ worth of recordings because they weren’t satisfied with any of the songs and this caused them to postpone their comeback a number of times. It’s been two years since they’ve released their last album which is a very long time in the K-pop market. They’ve finally accomplished their goal with SIXTH SENSE and a few weeks ago they revealed the concept photos which had the quartet clad in crazy leather outfits, bringing fierce to a whole new level. The group goes back to their roots without sacrificing all the great things they accomplished with Sound G.
Swing It Shorty (Intro) is an amazing start and it takes the group to a different era, early 1900s swing music. Incorporating drums, brass instruments and superb vocals the group has already brought the freshest music in K-pop this year. The old jazz mood is delicious and their vocals are on fire. There’s an emphasis on their vocals on this album and you only just get a taste of what they’re going to do. Jea opens with vintage vocals that are followed by Narsha and Ga-In whose voices harmonize together so beautifully. This is truly a spectacular intro because it brings something new to the table and it has the vocals to back it up. Sixth Sense can only be described with one word, epic. It is a bombardment on the senses and this is exactly what the group wanted to accomplish. They believe that the experience of music is limited when you listen to it with the five senses so people must feel the music with their sixth sense. This song has a little bit of everything. It starts with a dark marching beat that leads to the inclusion of orchestral strings and a slight disco underpinning. Throw in jaw-dropping vocals and you’ve got the K-pop song of the year. The verses begin with Ga-In’s strong, fierce vocals and Narsha follows with rapid, high vocals which leads to Jea belting “hit that high” before heading into the chorus. It’s magnificent, aggressive and demands your attention. Their vocals in the hook are out of this world, filled with emotion and power. There’s even some wicked “meows” from Narsha that pop up. Things only get better when Miryo begins her rap and it’s one of the best I’ve heard in K-pop. It’s sophisticated, catchy and makes me like her a whole lot more. Jea comes back belting an insane note and what comes next is the biggest surprise in K-pop history. Ga-In and Narsha co-operatively hit a whistle note. I always knew Jea was a strong singer but I never knew the other two could sing like this. No other group in Korea is pushing their voices like this. I have to give it to the Brown Eyed girls for taking such a risk and actually making music with substance.
Hot Shot is another song that brings the heat and it contains a marvelous Latin flavour that’s similar to Ga-In’s solo material. I love the retro jazz vibe and the girls’ voices are to die for. Narsha’s deep voice, Ga-In’s sexy performance and Jea’s powerhouse vocals create delicious verses while Miryo delivers another great rap in the bridge. The chorus is fierce and Jea takes the lead with her fantastic vocals. Their backing vocals are layered perfectly with their leading vocals and it’s gorgeous to listen to. Catchy English lyrics are riddled throughout and the last line, “keep the change,” sounds so cool. In short, this is a fun-filled tune and one of the album’s best offerings. The quartet tones the album down with the calming mid-tempo La Bohème. The impact from the previous songs is missing and I was a bit disappointed when I first listened to this track because I was expecting a more tropical feel. However, the sweetness of this track has grown on me tremendously. The girls sing in a soft manner that compliments the breezy production. Ga-In and Narsha do a great job with the verses and Jea hits some strong notes in the chorus The highlight is the ad-lib/backing vocals section, “ttara ttara ra ra ra-boem (get all)/ttara ttara ra ra ra-boem(the thing that I want~~).” It’s playful, cute and super addicting. It took a while for it to sink in but the girls won me over again.
An Inconvenient Truth is a tragic and stunning ballad. The saddening piano chords and the fluttering strings fill the song with a sense of yearning and beauty. The airy and emotional delivery from the members leaves me speechless because of how amazing they sound. Jea aces the chorus with her angelic voice and I’ve never heard her sound so beautiful before. Her passion and intonation is perfect. This stands out amongst their other ballads and it’s their most breathtaking. Miryo’s rap, surprisingly, fits in very well and she does an excellent job of maintaining the tragic feel. I haven’t liked many K-pop ballads this year and this one fills that gap for me quite nicely. The rich vocals, magnificent production, amazing backing vocals and the overall sense of heartache make this a must-hear song. The intro to Lovemotion had me thinking it was going to be a cute song but then the vocals came in and they had a very soft, mellow vibe to them. Their voices suit the arrangement which is made up of quirky beats and it has a nice smooth feel. I really enjoy Narsha’s section because she brings a brighter feel into the melody with her vocals, “we feel the love, oh/we feel the same, oh.” The climax comes in the form of “na na nas” and the instrumental becomes more infectious as synthesizers are added into the equation. The melody is spiced up in the bridge and the new beat works extremely well with Miryo’s aggressive rap. It’s repetitive but it’s fun and the more I listen to it, the better it gets.
Countdown (Interlude) is amazing, crazy, brilliant and I can’t believe it’s not a full song. Only Brown Eyed Girls could pull something like this off and I love them so much for doing it. It’s Broadway inspired and Jea tears it up with her a capella singing, “and now/introducing, truly amazing, crazy show/all that you wanted, never never never seen there/true, true, true, truly stunning show/we are Brown Eyed Girls.” Dramatic beats barge in every so often to I’m not sure if it can be truly classified as a capella but it’s amazing regardless. The song suddenly becomes a jazz fest with the girls harmonizing together incredibly. The instrumentation is captivating, exciting and it will blow your mind. I can’t stress enough how much I wish this was a full song. This is one of the greatest interludes I’ve ever heard. Vendetta is another throwback and it’s equally delicious. Blaring horns are the dominating force and the energy is so intoxicating. The girls go for a powerful vocal approach and their backing vocals are sublime. It’s fast-paced, fun and filled with good vocals, “you make me mad, mad dadada.” The song isn’t without any surprises and halfway in it goes through a tempo change and the girls sing in a lush, high register. There’s another tempo change right after where they sing faster and it finally returns to its original tempo for a rap by Miryo. This closes the album on a high note and Miryo’s shout-out to all the members is a nice finish, “JA, Narsha, Baby G, Miryo.” The final song, Cleansing Cream, is a beautiful ballad that features Ga-In more than it does the other girls. I don’t mind because it’s a fantastic track and everyone gets some moments to showcase their talent. This is as fragile as the other ballad but it’s different because of the graceful layer of synthesizers that accompany the array of acoustics. The arrangement consists of gorgeous guitar, piano and string sequences that blend into a heavenly frailty. They perform with such vulnerability that it allows them to convey so much emotion, keeping their vocals clear and strong. It’s amazing how powerful they can sound with soft vocals. This is extremely depressing but its pure ear candy. The girls’ airy vocals drift through the touching instrumental and the harmonies that are created are incredible. Their luster voices bend and twist together to perfection. Miryo’s subdued rap sits alongside dramatic strings and it doesn’t ruin the flow or feel. The song wraps the final chorus with delicious layers of backing vocals and harmonies. Everything crescendos and the pain embodied in the melody is brought out even more while the quartet delivers their most tragic moment to date.
Conclusion: SIXTH SENSE is everything I wanted from the quartet and more. I’ve never been this excited for a comeback and they lived up to all the hype. To be honest, I was disappointed with a few of the songs but after taking the time to listen to the album and letting it sink in I’ve fallen in love with it. There are not many girl groups that can sing the way Brown Eyed Girls do and they push their vocals to the next level. I’ve never heard such amazing vocals from them and they bring it in each song. It’s great to see a group take risks and still manage to fill the songs with energy and excitement. The retro sound is a delicious treat and I’m glad they went for a more organic sound. While the repackage only contains one new song, it left me speechless and I would rather have quality than quantity. Despite its incredibly short tracklist, it’s the best K-pop album this year. Brown Eyed Girls have set the bar for comebacks high and they’ve now become my favourite girl group.
Recommended Tracks: Sixth Sense, Cleansing Cream, An Inconvenient Truth, Hot Shot, Countdown (Interlude) and Vendetta
Tags: J-pop, Jpop, K-Pop, Kpop, Music, Pop
When I first started getting into J-pop I thought it was the most amazing music I ever heard because it was different from what I normally listened to. I immersed myself in it and continuously searched for Asian artists to add to my music library. After about two years J-pop was the dominating force in my library while I only had a handful of western artists. At times I felt that J-pop was better but the main reason for that train of thought was due to the lack of western musicians I liked. In the last three years I’ve discovered so many new western artists and the majority of my favourite singers are now western ones. Thus, being a listener of both western and eastern music it’s shocking to see that the two are pitted against each other. I’ve come across many topics on the subject of “American versus Japanese music” and it’s interesting to see people’s opinion on it. I’ve also seen debates that focus specifically on just Asian languages such as “K-pop versus J-pop.” Eastern music is praised as being more superior whereas western music is considered bland and uninspired. For me, the answer to this never-ending debate is simple. They’re both great and all you have to do is look for the good music.
English music, out of Japanese and Korean, seems to be regarded as the most lackluster. I constantly see people saying how terrible it is and how they don’t like what plays on the radio. To judge western music based on what the radio plays is a ridiculous thing to do because it’s not indicative of how incredible the music can be. Radio stations play popular music which, in most cases, is the uninspired side of western music. Even then, the music radios play is still fun and enjoyable to a certain extent. That’s like judging Japanese or Korean music by what is played on their radio stations. Another complaint is that western music is too safe and that the artists follow trends to make hits. I can say the exact same thing about J-pop and K-pop. The majority of K-pop groups sound exactly the same and if you put them together I wouldn’t be able to hear a difference or tell them apart. I hardly see any popular K-pop acts stepping outside of the box. Mainstream music is meant to produce hits so it makes sense that most mainstream artists will follow trends to appeal to a wider audience. That doesn’t mean that there aren’t mainstream artists that push boundaries and are creative. I find it ignorant to think that all artists are the same when there are many who write and put a great amount of effort and passion into their music. To say that it’s nothing special is an insult to those artists.
The thing that gets me the most infuriated is when people say western music lyrics are bad and that almost every song deals with the same subject like sex. That’s completely false and makes me question where exactly they listen to western music because even the music played on the radio varies in subject matter. The complaints mostly come from japanophiles who believe that everything that’s not Asian sucks. It’s funny that these same people can’t understand the lyrics to the music they listen to and still have the audacity to say that’s its better. Western lyrics can be as deep and thought-provoking as eastern lyrics. You can’t judge a song that’s meant to be fun as a deep ballad or mid-tempo. J-pop has fun songs that do not have deep lyrics so I don’t see what the problem is. Just because a language sounds better does not mean that the lyrics are automatically better too. I’ve heard countless J-pop songs that deal with the exact same topics so that argument is invalid. Some Asian artists also use sex to sell just as some western artists do. I hate how western artists get lumped up into one category and people just assume that they’re all the same. What’s ironic is that J-pop and K-pop sometimes borrow heavily from western music. There’s a lot of Asian music that resembles mainstream western music and to say that Japan has superior music when some of it sounds like western music is unreasonable.
K-pop gets criticized as well because its mainstream acts resemble each other and most of the music sounds exactly the same. This isn’t exclusive to K-pop because Japan has girl and boy bands that do the same thing. The biggest issue that I have with K-pop is that it’s hard to put a name to all of the faces in the groups. Some groups have so many members that I can’t tell them apart by appearance or voice. That makes it hard for me to get into the singers because I don’t even know their names. I prefer solo artists to groups and because there are not that many solo artists in Korea my music library for K-pop is quite small. I do like a few K-pop groups and some of them make really good music. If I were to judge K-pop like some people judge western pop I would have missed out on some fantastic singers. Underneath all of the manufactured groups there are singers that move away from the typical electropop sounds and make deep, rich music. There are some who do delve into electropop but take it in a different, more unique direction. Like western pop and J-pop, there are artists that rely heavily on auto-tune/vocoder while others have powerhouse voices that leave you speechless.
These same people who trash western music listen to mainstream Japanese music which has the same problems they complain about. Japan has its fair share of generic and unoriginal music. There are so many J-pop acts that I have listened to that make generic music with similar themes as western music. The biggest problem with J-pop fans is that don’t broaden their horizons when listening to western music like they do with Japanese music. They don’t take time to filter through the popular music and search for great artists who actually have talent. Instead, they assume that western musicians are all alike and because they’re not singing in Japanese they aren’t worth their time. It’s one thing to enjoy a language more than another but when that becomes an obsession and you start bashing other languages it’s crossed the line. If I recall correctly many eastern music fans defend the music by saying something along the lines of “as long as the music is good it doesn’t matter if I understand it or not.” Too bad they’re not bringing that mentality to western music.