Girls’ Generation – THE BEST

February 20, 2015 at 12:23 PM | Posted in Girls' Generation | 10 Comments


ALBUM REVIEW
Girls’ Generation – THE BEST

~Disc 1: THE BEST~
1. GENIE
2. Gee
3. Run Devil Run
4. MR. TAXI
5. BAD GIRL
6. HOOT
7. THE BOYS
8. Time Machine
9. PAPARAZZI
10. Oh!
11.ALL MY LOVE IS FOR YOU
12. FLOWER POWER
13. BEEP BEEP
14. LOVE&GIRLS
15. GALAXY SUPERNOVA
16. My Oh My
17. Mr.Mr. (Japanese Version)
18. Indestructible

♦ ♦ ♦

THE BEST is the first Japanese best album by South Korean girl group Girls’ Generation, released on July 23, 2014. The album came in a bucketload of different versions, peaking at #1 on the charts and selling over 146,000 copies.

Okay, breathe Jade, you got a lot of ground to cover here. This is finally my chance to discover some of the older and popular songs SNSD made and GENIE is the first on the list. After a while this tune actually becomes really catchy despite that “I’m genie for your weeesh” line, it’s nice and uptempo and a decent debute for the group.

Sooo… basically Gee is their most popular song ever and it’s so different from where they are now. Like, this is CUTENESS with capital letters, super fast paced with high pitched vocals and very poppy. I can see why many people like it, but usually I’m not too much into the overly cute vocals.

And to think Ke$ha made a demo of Run Devil Run herself. This song is a bit more of a forerunner of their current musical style and much more mature than the previous two songs. I think that’s why I like it a bit more, it has a nice amount of attitude and edge, and the use of synths and brass instruments is very good.

When it comes to the vocals, MR. TAXI is just the way I like it. This was one of their original Japanese songs (no Korean cover) and it’s another one that shows a more mature side. The lyrics in the chorus make sure this song stays in your head, like, all day long for sure. Very catchy, this actually works for me!

I was surprised that now a lot of more edgy songs are featured in a row, since BAD GIRL is the next one that has great use of beats and synths in an amazingly catchy way. This wasn’t even a single, but if you ask me, it should have been since I really like it.

Now HOOT brings a whole different vibe to the string of songs here with more of a surfer feel, which I really like. The chorus here is, again, extremely catchy and not in a typical K-pop way for a change. It has some cute moments ofcourse, but the song as a whole sounds very playful.

One of my absolute favorites has to be THE BOYS, in all its versions. It’s one of their sexier songs with a lot of attitude and edge and I can’t get enough of that amazing intro. The great use of beats is an amazing plus as well.

Time Machine is a slower song with quite an emotional touch to it but it has some amazing melodies too. I think this one has grown on me a lot in the past couple of months and it’s now one of my favorite SNSD songs. The MV for it is also a must see, so be sure to check it out. Recommended song alert!

The next song is quite different from the rest in a couple of ways. PAPARAZZI has a more darker K-pop feel and it doesn’t have the repetitive choruses (by repeating the title word) this time. It’s nice for a change but the other side of the coin is that it makes the song less memorable for me (and with 27 songs to review, it’s a good thing to be memorable).

And then SNSD decided to go waaay back to release a Japanese self-cover of Oh!, which kind of surprised me after all the original songs they released in Japan. By now I can definitely hear the difference between their older and newer work and this has the repetitive hooks and cutesy vocals more than the previous songs did. It’s nice, but very typical in a way. Still, I like the line “Oppa, oppa, I’ll be down“, don’t know why, kinda catchy.

ALL MY LOVE IS FOR YOU is like a breath of fresh air for me with its different sound. It sounds more like a R&B power ballad and the melodies in the chorus are amazing. Now this is what I call a solid song really displaying their talent for good music and not just for releasing earworms if you know what I mean. This is why I love the girls.

Apparently SNSD saw the light after a while and they just decided to pop out songs like FLOWER POWER as their new signature style. It’s another great example of their synthpop/dance flavoured songs (despite the awful lyrics if you ask me) and it’s quite infectuous. It’s hard to stay original by now, but they manage.

When I reviewed BEEP BEEP a little over a year ago (on the LOVE&PEACE album) I compared it to the Ke$ha singsong style, and although I still think this is true this is also a throwback for SNSD to their early days. Cute as can be with a lot of repetitive lines (“Hello hello, moshi moshi, ciao ciao, busy busy“) so this is probably gonna stay in my head all day (and as I’m writing this I will have to go to Uni later so… comes in handy. NOT).

LOVE&GIRLS, this is right about where I come in on the timeline with my SNSD reviews. I remember loving this so much in 2013 over the summer because of its carefree summer feel, experimental sound and overall happiness. It’s empty as heck, but it’s just so much fun and I can’t help myself, I love it!

For a song called GALAXY SUPERNOVA is doesn’t have the energy I expected, it has a more toned down attitude and it’s actually more of a slick song. There are some very infectuous and strong adlibs in this song too. Don’t really know yet where I stand with this one, I really like it but it could’ve been better with a little more punch to it.

I like the way Taeyon and Tiffany opened the catchy My Oh My. I remember this song very well (even more than I did GALAXY SUPERNOVA), probably because it’s one of the few SNSD songs with a funkier K-pop approach. They brough it to Japan in the best of ways and I’d like to give some special credit to Taeyon for her amazing vocals.

Ooooh, a Japanese version of Mr.Mr., a song I have always liked. It was only released last year but it’s more stuck in my head than most of the other songs they released. I love how it’s a combination of dance music and funky K-pop mixed up very well. This one has a good grind, I can tell you.

Time for a new song! Indestructible slows down the album again since it’s a ballad (and my gosh we only had 3 out of 18). It has a very nice and smooth R&B feel to it which I really like and the vocals are amazing. Although their uptempo’s are very good, I think I prefer SNSD songs like this one over those any day. Amazing bonus track for the album.

IMPORTANT: If anyone knows where I can find the member’s recommend disc 2, please contact me. I would like to finish this post with all the solo songs on disc 2.
As for disc 1, I have enjoyed myself more than I initially thought catching up with SNSD’s most popular songs. I can say I’m more satisfied with where they are now compared to what they started with, I’m not that much into the cute and typical K-pop girl group music to be honest. They have progressed very well and this best album is the perfect timeline to discover that. I’m very pleased and I’m looking forward to their new Korean album they will be releasing this year!

Favorite tracks: Run Devil Run | MR. TAXI | HOOT | THE BOYS | Time Machine | ALL MY LOVE IS FOR YOU | LOVE&GIRLS | My Oh My | Indestructible

OVERALL RATING
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4 stars

 

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KOKIA – pieces

February 14, 2015 at 11:01 PM | Posted in KOKIA | 13 Comments

ALBUM REVIEW
KOKIA – pieces

1. KARMA
2. Insonnia
3. Transparent
4. Chinmoku
5. Fate
6. Omoi
7. Nageki no Oto
8. Koto no wa
9. Anata to Deatte
10. Road to glory~for Dragon Nest White Version
11. EXEC_REBIRTHIA=PROTOCOL/.
12. EXEC_COSMOFLIPS/.
13. Hikari no Naka ni

♦ ♦ ♦

pieces is an outwork collection album by Japanese singer KOKIA, released on August 24, 2011. Most of the tracks were originally on various soundtracks. The album reached #62 on the Oricon weekly charts where it charted for 2 weeks.

I was actually blown away by KARMA, it’s such an impressive song! I know some of KOKIA’s work, not everyhing, but I didn’t expect this epic and haunting song. Obviously it was the intro song for an anime (Phantom ~Requiem for the Phantom~ to be exact) and KOKIA paid a good tribute to the anime by adding a lot of ad-libbing and chants to the song. I’m totally into this.

Insonnia was the B-side for the previous track (first we’ll get all the A-sides and B-sides in their exact order of release, fyi). What I like about this is that it shows KOKIA’s talent for languages, since the entire song is sung in Italian! Very nicely done, still it’s a bit like a lullaby song and that’s always quite risky in the first part of an album (I always say so haha). Sooo… I nearly fell asleep but nonetheless it’s soothing and beautifully sung.

KOKIA made another song for Phantom ~Requiem for the Phantom~, and it’s called Transparent. For an anime song, it’s quite peaceful and it doesn’t have many highlights, at least during the first parts of the song. It has a sense of mystery surrounding it because of the arrangement, I think it’s very well done only the chorus could’ve been more inviting.

Chinmoku has quite a long intro with soft chants in the background and a piano playing to distant percussion. I find it hard to keep paying attention to the song to be honest, since it’s so soft and soothing. That doesn’t make it less pretty, it actually develops after a while, but it tends to drag by now and I’m still not too sure how I feel about it. It definitely has its moments, so I’ll give KOKIA credit for that.

Yes, finally something with a little more edge to it! Fate was used as the opening theme for the anime movie Break Blade and it has this kind of marching/battlefield style that I really like. KOKIA’s chanting in the song gives me goosebumps, her voice is at its best in this song. Close enough to epic perfection!

Despite being another ballad, Omoi is actually quite interesting because of the depressing ambience and low strings playing a beautiful melody for KOKIA to sing to. Her voice is like a whisper, subtle and pretty. The only problem here is the length of the song, it’s just a bit too long because after about three to four minutes I’ve had it.

Nageki no Oto features that lovely chanting in the background again, KOKIA just has the perfect voice for such vocal techniques and she sings in the perfect tone during the entire song. I’m so much more impressed by her vocals here in comparison to Omoi, while the music as quite a similar depressing approach as said song.

Okay, by now it’s probably clear that I’m not too keen on too many ballads in a row. Yet Koto no wa manages to surprise me while still being a ballad, how is that possible you may ask. Well, the fact that this is the first song to actually have a wintery kind of feel to it and the arrangement sounds pretty interesting with the piano and strings with some soft percussion. KOKIA’s higher pitched voice is is very soothing too. A bit lenghty again though.

Anata to Deatte is like Insonnia part II, a lullaby legato style. Just like Insonnia it’s pretty and that shouldn’t be forgotten, but I nearly fall asleep to songs like this one because it’s so sloooow. I miss the Italian too.

Ooh, time for something more interesting with the mysterious and one of a kind song Road to Glory~for Dragon Nest White Version. It’s like a mix of Middle Eastern and Asian influences with the chanting, drums and erhu, a very edgy and impacting soun that I adore right from the start. There is no doubt that this is probably one of my favorite songs on the entire album!

What weird names for the next two tracks. EXEC_REBIRTHIA=PROTOCOL/. is the first (both were used for Ar tornelico games) and it gives ‘epic’ a completely different meaning. I love how she opens the song with some extended high adlibbing (a bit opera-like actually) and sings in a deeper voice that suits her very well. This song is exactly what I needed, especially with Road to Glory surprising me the way it did. Love the bagpipes as well, very original!

Okay, I express my deepest love for the ‘EXEC songs’ now. EXEC_COSMOFLIPS/. is bound to be played on repeat for the next couple of days. It has that same marching style that Fate had but even more appealing an it gives me so many goosebumps. Very suited for media, for sure. The layered vocals are the best I’ve heard on the entire album and I love how she apparently sings in Hymnnos, the fictional language in the games this was used for. Hands down, the absolute best.

Hikari no Naka ni sounds like the perfect closing song for the album. Not completely a ballad, but it has some aspects of it. It has some punch because it has a little more tempo and the music swells as the song develops. I think this is another masterpiece on this album with a lot of attractive melodies and ofcourse, KOKIA herself is performing with top notch vocals again, very controlled.

At first I thought this would be a little disaster, with all the ballad tracks in a row. I like some variation, as you probably know if you’ve read more of my reviews. Surprisingly enough, the second half of the album was almost completely made of masterpieces and, as it later turned out, absolute favorites of mine. I have loved KOKIA’s voice for as long as I can remember and I reviewed her Irish inspired album and ‘songbird’ a couple of years ago, but I never actually listened to more of her works. Now, thanks to this request (a succesful one I can tell you) I’m inspired to give it another go. One of my ‘discoveries’ of 2015: my newfound love for KOKIA!

Favorite tracks: KARMA | Fate | Nageki no Oto | Koto no wa | Road to Glory~for Dragon Nest White Version | EXEC_REBIRTHIA=PROTOCOL/. | EXEC_COSMOFLIPS/. | Hikari no Naka ni

OVERALL RATING
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4 stars

Dana Hong – Asura

February 8, 2015 at 3:45 PM | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

MINI-ALBUM REVIEW
Dana Hong – ASURA

1. 탓탓탓 (feat. Swings)
2. 취해도 추해지진 않아
3. 웃기지마
4. Asura

♦ ♦ ♦

Asura is a mini-album by South-Korean singer Dana Hong, released on February 2, 2015 (and that’s really all the information I could find on this…).

So please clarify one thing for me: is she or isn’t she Dana the (former?) member of CJSH The Grace? I can’t find anything on this girl or this album for that matter. I don’t recognize her voice anyway, though in 탓탓탓 (feat. Swings) she sounds very interesting. Dana has a soulful voice and soulful R&B music to go with it and Swings’ raps are nice too. Catchy stuff.

취해도 추해지진 않아  shows another side of Dana while still sticking to the soul sound I think the entire album has. She opens by singing to piano music only, while later percussion and strings come in as well. It’s an interesting musical style and although other K-pop artists have explored this genre, they haven’t done it as traditionally as Dana. It’s almost like jazz music, which I’m not too fond of but she makes it interesting with her scatting.

Next, 웃기지마 is a little more uptempo and more poppy as well, which makes for some nice variation on this already short album. Dana’s voice sounds so much better as well, less nasal and annoyingly high pitched (sorry). It’s catchy with some nice guitar riffs in the background, very groovy and different from the previous two songs, but kind of generic in my opinion though.

And then we already have the final song, the title song Asura. It reminds me a little of Alicia Keys’ early days with its R&B/soul sound, but Dana clearly has her fingerprints all over this. I think this song has the most ‘oomph’ out of the four of them and the best attitude. It’s smooth, edgy and sassy, and I enjoyed this the most.

So I can’t really form a clear opinion of Dana and her album since four songs isn’t sufficient to get to know her at all. What I do know is that she has a clear style of her own and she knows how to handle it, she knows how to stand out. The jazzy side of her music is something I need to get used to, but her R&B/soul side is nice to listen to. I think I will give this ‘album’ (if you can call it that) another chance in the future, just to get out of this gray zone here.

Favorite track: Asura

OVERALL RATING
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3 stars

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