Posts Tagged ‘song’

Best of 2017: Top 15 K-Pop Singles

NOTE: This list was already written when we received the news of the apparent suicide of SHINee’s Kim Jonghyun. At the time of publication this development is still less than a week old, but I cannot write it into the main article without sounding flippant about it, and so have left the list un-edited. Kim Jonghyun was literally the first male voice I heard after discovering that I liked K-Pop, and his voice also kicked off my first K-Pop Top 15 at the end of 2012. His loss has rocked the K-Pop community worldwide, and on a personal note has hit me just as hard as the Chester Bennington tragedy earlier this year. I can only imagine how his family must be feeling. He will be missed.

Ah, 2017. If you were a K-Pop fan around when I started being invested in the genre (is it even a genre anymore?) half a decade ago, and you’re still here, then congrats. Your ears have clearly been through a lot and your tastes must be resilient. Though 2016 saw many more big-name K-Pop groups bite the dust, the official dissolving of Sistar and the Wonder Girls in 2017 – alongside respective three-member exoduses from T-ara and Girls’ Generation – meant a 2017 K-Pop fan can hardly be accused of holding on to past glories.

There were quite a few fresh influences and trends worth getting excited about this year, even if they flooded the market so quickly it was hard to find quality at times. The most prevalent surely must be the KARD-and-Winner-led influx of tropical house, because at one point it felt like every group was trying on the sea-and-sand beats. Korea’s ongoing recent fascination with contemporary EDM beat drops also spread into the realm of American DJ collaborations this year – particularly so among the top-tier boy groups – and that helped solidify BTS in rarefied air on the Billboard Top 10 Artists chart in the USA. It seems K-Pop’s year-on-year growth in online popularity around the world has reached a point that no “niche” categorisation can hold back some fandoms. Let’s not forget that we now live in a world where the CinemaSins guy can riff on a Red Velvet video and get views for it. But fear not, because K-Pop was still pulling out plenty of offbeat gimmicks all its own in 2017, from the song-a-month themed schedule of Day6 to the slow revelations of new LOONA members one solo performance at a time. I found a decent amount of K-Pop to enjoy in 2017, and hopefully you did too.

As always, some rules I like to hold myself to: No more than one song from each act and no B-sides. A song needs to have its own official music video and be sung primarily in Korean to be on the list, even though this disqualifies some pretty good songs like Girl Next Door’s Deep Blue Eyes, EXO’s Electric Kiss and Dumbfoundead’s Water (although, to be fair, the latter comes from an actual American rapper). Here’s my sixth annual K-Pop Top 15 list.

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VR BEST OF 2017 DISCLAIMER

This list represents my opinion only. I am not asserting any kind of superiority or self-importance by presenting it as I have. My opinion is not fact. If you actually agree with me 100%, that’s strange. Intriguing, but strange. Respectful disagreement is most welcome.

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15. Don’t Wanna Cry – Seventeen

It felt like this song was around every corner when I was looking for K-Pop throughout the majority of 2017 – on YouTube, on curated streaming playlists, on podcasts – and for good reason. It may not have the most exciting backing track, bridge or rap section, but it sure has one catchy hook. Some nights I just can’t get that chorus line out of my head. I want to scream it out right now. Also, it’s Seventeen, so the choreography is amazing and executed with ridiculous accuracy to boot. Who actually wants to cry, though, Seventeen? Who?

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Album Review: Mandatory Fun – Weird Al Yankovic

Man, when was the last time I did an album review?

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Released:
July 2014
Label:
RCA Records
Genre: Comedy/Pop
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You’d better have some.

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TRACK LISTING

1. Handy
2. Lame Claim To Fame
3. Foil
4. Sports Song
5. Word Crimes
6. My Own Eyes
7. NOW That’s What I Call Polka!
8. Mission Statement
9. Inactive
10. First World Problems
11. Tacky
12. Jackson Park Express

Weird Al Yankovic is easily one of my favourite artists of all time, and his career has now lasted well over 30 years. The king of musical parody has always been most famous for his direct musical homages, which ape the exact melodies of relevant pop songs, but his astoundingly lengthy success can also be attributed to his underrated songwriting skills, both in his famous “style parodies” and his completely original tunes. This aspect was arguably in short supply on his last album, 2011’s Alpocalypsewhich was also criticised for falling behind the rapidly accelerating pace of pop culture trends. I’m happy to say that Weird Al’s fresh album release, Mandatory Fun, has no such problems. Al’s shrewd choice of song topics, not to mention his clever promotion method of releasing eight music videos in eight days, has proved he is as adaptable as anyone, and that makes me rather happy.

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VR Zelda Month: Top 10 Dungeon Music

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Whatever people might think of the games in general, the Legend of Zelda series is just about universally renowned for its excellent music. Famed Nintendo composer Koji Kondo and his cohorts are widely regarded as some of the best composers in the videogame business and it’s not hard to see why. In the first of two music-themed countdowns, I’ll be looking at the top ten pieces of Zelda dungeon music.

The Zelda dungeon track is somewhat of a unique beast. Dungeon music needs to function well on an endless loop and should ideally have elements of tension and danger evident within it. A coherent melody is therefore optional, while an audio tone that matches the unique visuals of any particular dungeon is preferable. These factors and more were what determined the order of this list.

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VR ZELDA MONTH DISCLAIMER
This list represents my opinion only. I am not asserting any kind of superiority or self-importance by presenting it as I have. My opinion is not fact. If you actually agree with me 100%, that’s scary. Respectful disagreement is welcome.
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10. Light World Dungeon – A Link to the Past


A Link to the Past ties up its dungeons in two neat sections: pre-Dark World and post-Dark World. It does this through the story and a difficulty curve built into its dungeon design, but also through music. The first three dungeons of the game, also known as the pre-Dark World ones, make excellent use of the SNES’ amazing sound chip to create a sombre track that starts maliciously and then opens up into a piece that applies tinges of hope to the ongoing oppression of the classic dungeon slog. I’m a huge fan of the almost regal-sounding result.
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