Saturday, May 29, 2010

Kpop conquers the World Cup

In lieu of an Inkigayo recap today, since Dream Concert is airing instead, is a post I've been thinking about since last week but never got the time to write because I've just been so busy with a gazillion things and summer is coming to an end. UGH. Anyway.

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I'm in no way a soccer/football fan, and I don't think I will ever be in this lifetime, but for some reason I'm attracted to music from countries who are CRAZY about the sport. First it was Britain and now it's Korea, it's more than a coincidence - it's almost like fate.

Of course since Korea is just crazy over soccer and talent companies need to earn as much money as they think they can in the quickest time, why not make songs for the world cup? Fantastic. But this isn't the first time the World Cup was influenced kpop in some way, shape or form. At least the kpop I'm aware of.

In 2002 Rain debuted under JYPE - the singer/dancer combination, backing from JYP and strong material mixed with heart-wrenching sob story would've been more than enough to launch anyone into super stardom any other time. However according to that Hip Korea docu on Rain, the reason why he didn't succeed on his first try was because of the World Cup. Korea rejected (kinda) one of the best performers of the 2000's on his first try because of the World Cup. THANK GOD he tried again though, 'coz I would've never gotten into kpop had he not succeeded, but that's a completely different story that has nothing to do with my point.

This didn't shape kpop that much, but personally the title of the best Korean World Cup song ever will have to go to none other than DBSK. Their now-anthemic (at least for me!) 동방의 투혼 was released in 2006 and is probably one of their best Korean ballads ever. It was epic, their vocals were in top form, and it gave me goosebumps all throughout when I first heard it. I mean it when I say no one can do kpop World Cup offerings like DBSK.

There are however a few songs that have come in close this time around, but some I just don't like whatsoever. I give you 7 songs from 7 top idol groups - all in support of Korea for the World Cup.

World Cup songs generally fall into 2 categories - they're either ballad-y and inspirational or noisy, happy and spirited ones that could easily be cheers. These songs posses strong percussion lines sometimes left unprocessed, catchy melodies, easy-to-remember hooks and "Dae Han Min Guk" being chanted and/or sung every few seconds - what more is there to a pop song?

Sponsored by Coke, 2PM released What's Your Celebration? and it just screams advertisement. People have pointed out that it sounds like a Coke song but since I stopped watching TV a long time ago and I've never listened to the radio, I don't actually know what that sounds like. Either that or I just can't remember - this song sounds very familiar though. Their vocals are OK, but I find the chorus a little sloppily sung - they're slurring the notes when they're supposed to be nice and snappy. I do like the percussion line that's obvious on parts of the song, especially at the beginning and the end - very big.

This is my first time writing about T-ara on the blog, and I've gotten some attacks on formspring because I've never mentioned them before but to be completely honest with you, I've never had anything ground-breaking to say about them - until now that I'm writing this World Cup post and they did a song. One of the earliest songs to be released by idols, We Are The One has probably the cheesiest hook ever and the girls are drowned out by the chorus - you have to turn the volume up to hear them because if you listen in passing, you'll hear random voices. The chorus is so cheesy that it sticks so bad - I won't be able to get this out of my head for hours. UGH. However the verses are pretty OK - the melody's pretty and their vocals sound decent. Small and mouse-like, but decent. It's one of those songs that are borderline ballad but borderline uptempo too - there are parts of the song that are one thing then the next part is completely different. It's cohesive though, and here we go again with the percussion - I like.

If my memory serves me right, HAM's video for 우리는 하나 was the very first World Cup release by an idol group, it also happens to be one of my favorite of the group. I didn't like HAM when they first debuted, and I didn't like their second single either (I was still with OMGKPOP then so yeah) but this one song made me interested in these girls again - their vocals are very, very strong. I LOVE the real drums, and I LOVE the treatment of the vocals on the chorus but the chorus after the middle 8 just gives me goosebumps every time. It's not as good as the DBSK ballad, but it's pretty damn close - good try girls, REALLY good try. There's something that I still don't know yet though - who's the guy singing with them? UGH I know, shoot me now, but answer my question first!

2AM were the latest idol group to release a World Cup single - I first heard Number One the other day and the video followed last week. It's like that T-Ara song in the sense that it's borderline ballad AND uptempo - it has this uplifting feel to it. The melody is pretty, and there's just the right amount of autotune throughout the song - plus the vocals are really nice and smooth. The talking gets to me a bit and the chanting of the random colors is rather, uh, random, but it's very sweet to listen to and it doesn't piss you off or anything. It doesn't have the intensity that some of the others have so it's rather refreshing after all the heavy ballads and uptempos. WAHAH.

After School's Dreams Again! reminds me a lot of a female version of 2AM's Number One - the bits out autotuning here and there, the cool and calm nature of the song and the smooth vocals. It's a little more intense in a different way though, and it sounds very Euro/trance-y - would have no problem fitting into a Robyn or Agnes album with a few tweaks here and there. I love the piano loop mixed with all these electronic elements and their relaxed vocals - one of my personal favorites.

Kara released We're With You on the same day as T-Ara, if I remember correctly. Out of the two I preferred the Kara one, although it's not without it's flaws. It's a Kara song, and that instantly makes the vocals not my type. I've never liked their vocals and I remember saying that had someone else with better vocals recorded Lupin, I would've worshiped it like hell. The melody is pretty, the guitars add a good contrast to the nature of the song and the the yeah yeah's towards the end are nice a floaty but everything else is far too cutesy for my taste. It sounds very Kara though, so I gotta hand it to them.

Ah yes, Super Junior - or at least part of the band. SME released a video teaser for Victory Korea one day, and when I heard it I was all over it. The full song was released a few days later and the video followed, but I was rather disappointed. I mean yeah part of the instrumental is like a direct copy of Sorry Sorry raised by a few octaves but that isn't my main concern - I don't know why but after an hour of listening I got sick of it. When I listen to it now I don't wanna throw up or anything, it just doesn't hit as hard as the other songs anymore. Leeteuk singing is good and Yesung's voice was brilliant on this but where's Shindong? SME's starting to treat him like a backup dancer now and not as a member of an idol group that you know, sings? UGH. It's really upbeat and catchy and the chorus plus the verses are brilliant but for the most part, it goes right through me now. It's a very good World Cup song though - does the trick.

Thanks to Bing for pointing it out on the comments section that I didn't include Big Bang on this post. UGH. I remember writing about the song, but I honestly (and I'm not trying to cover up any mistakes here) have no idea why it didn't get on the post. UGH anyway.

Ah yes, Big Bang, Trans Fixion and Kim Yuna's rather highly-publicized duet, 승리의 함성. It's a very catchy song, and for the most part it literally sounds like Big Bang singing a World Cup song, which is good, but my main problem with the song is that they're not actually the ones singing the hook - or at least it doesn't sound like them. Nice try at singing Yuna, but I wouldn't advise you to give up figure skating. I like that little bit with Trans Fixion - it sounds different from the song and yet it doesn't seem detached from everything. I like.

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