We hope everyone has had a good start to 2017 so far! Inspire Me Korea’s Music Release Roundup is back with a varied selection of songs to recommend to our readers. We hope to help you discover lots of new music this year! This jam-packed January 2017 edition will feature some of the latest releases and also a few lesser known (but nonetheless amazing) tracks from a little further back in time. We will review releases from 2NE1, CLC, Kim Nayoung, Kim Sejeong, Puer Kim, Thornapple and Noday in this article, so keep reading to find out more!
We have to say a sad farewell to 2NE1, largely regarded as a groundbreaking group. 2NE1 led the way for edgy girl groups, breaking the conventional mould at the time of their debut. During the last few years, we unfortunately saw the departure of Minzy, hiatus of Park Bom and eventually the announcement of the disbanding of 2NE1. This last song is left for fans to remember them by.
Titled ‘Goodbye’ (안녕), this acoustic guitar led track was originally meant for CL’s solo debut in America, but was later thought to suit 2NE1 better as a final release. Unfortunately Minzy did not return to record with the other members for ‘Goodbye’, but CL, Dara and Bom get bigger sections to sing as a result and images of Minzy do feature in the MV. Surprisingly, we feel that the lyrics and melody for the verses and pre-chorus rather than the actual chorus itself gives the most emotional impact.
“Not everything lasts forever.
When Winter passes, Spring follows, you know that. Don’t go.
When today passes, it feels like tomorrow will be different.
Don’t trust the broken stories, don’t lose faith.”
“The promises we made together come to mind, tears are falling down,
Don’t forget even if things get rough it will be okay.”
The official music video features past clips of the group in their heyday projected onto walls, while the members stand in front. It does well to evoke the emotions of the song and the impact of the disbandment.
The majority of the song repeats the same phrase, ‘Goodbye until the day we meet again’. We will have to wait and see if that will indeed be the case for each of the individual members, but many fans will look back on 2NE1’s back catalogue of music with fondness, and remember their exciting performances on stage.
When CLC first teased their title song ‘Hobgoblin’, many thought that it was related to the Goblin K-drama! However, ‘Hobgoblin’ (도깨비) is actually the second track of a 6 track mini album titled ‘CRYSTYLE’.
CLC are signed with the same company as HyunA (Cube Entertainment) and it turns out that HyunA helped with the lyrics to this title song. ‘Hobgoblin’ seems to have HyunA’s influence stamped all over it, in the styling of the MV, in terms of the overall sound and even the rapping seems to mimic her delivery. We think that this release may signal CLC’s development into more mature concepts compared to their previous work. ‘Hobgoblin’ has elements that are catchy, and some hype built around the drop, however we feel that it would work more in their favour to avoid drawing too many comparisons with other labelmates.
We think that the first track of their new album ‘Liar’ is the one to look out for on the mini album. CLC aren’t promoting it, possibly because it is not thought to be a public-friendly song, but we think that the chorus is very interestingly put together with a seriously catchy hook. Have a listen here!
Kim Na Young-‘No Blame’
Solo artist Kim Na Young (김나영) started her singing career by busking on the streets. With the help of social media, this helped her on the road to recognition, as a video clip of her singing went viral. Kim Na Young has since contributed to several K-drama soundtracks, including last year’s Descendants of the Sun. This singer has a wonderful tone to her voice, and one that is lower in pitch in comparison to most female-led Kpop. There is a fullness to her vocals that lends itself well to big choruses. ‘No Blame’ (널 미워하지 않길) is a good example of an emotional ballad that allows her to do that.
The MV simply has Na Young singing in front of a small orchestra and supported by several backing singers. The song is beautifully performed, as she pours her emotions into the lyrics to bring them alive for all listeners.
The song is about a broken relationship, one which eventually brought out the worst in each person and then ended bitterly. It is taken from the post-breakup perspective. She asks the other person to remember the good memories and hopes that they won’t blame or hate each other despite the situation being painful for both parties. ‘No Blame’ definitely sounds like it is OST-worthy!
Listen to Na Young talking about the song in the video interview below, to get some more insight into the inspiration behind it, and to learn more about Ha Dong Qn, the producer.
Kim Sejeong-‘If Only’
Speaking of OSTs, Kim Sejeong (of I.O.I and Gugudan fame) lent her voice to one of the tracks for The Legend of The Blue Sea drama. We can already hear some progression in Sejeong’s vocal delivery compared to ‘Flower Road’ which we featured in our Music Release Roundup last November.
‘If Only’ is a love song which adopts a minor key for the verses but transitions to a major key for the chorus. It helps to maintain an overall ‘hopeful’ feeling for the song, and stops it being too emotionally heavy and draining. The buildup during each chorus and the points where Sejeong sings the phrase “all moments to you” whilst making small stepwise progressions in the notes, is absolutely perfect. If you are not already watching The Legend of The Blue Sea, take a look at the MV for ‘If Only’ to see some selected clips featuring the two protagonists, superbly acted by Lee Min Ho and Jun Ji Hyun.
Puer Kim-‘How are you, the love of my life’
K-indie singer-songwriter Puer Kim (her stage name) has a new release ‘How are you, the love of my life’. This artist has a sultry voice, and a quirky way of pronouncing lyrics when singing. Her eccentricities are reflected in her music; she is best known for her creative lyrics and melodies. Puer Kim has also dabbled in a variety of musical styles as well as flitting between releasing songs in Korean and English. She once said in an interview that her hobbies are taking long baths and doing a lot of sleeping!
Image source: © Puer Kim. 22.01.2017. Puer Kim’s official Facebook
‘How are you, the love of my life’ is sung entirely in English. It is slow and dreamy, a nice one to listen to on a cold evening. There is an MV available; rather artistically, it focuses on a bed of feathers and occasionally objects including padlocks are dropped onto them. There is something mesmerizing about watching them falling and slowly disappearing into the mound as the feathers dance in the air and settle on top once more.
Thornapple (쏜애플) are a 4 piece Korean indie rock band, who draw on elements of traditional folk music and produce some introspective music. Their song ‘Seoul’ is a masterful piece of songwriting. Each word is sung with delicate care, like a lullaby, and there is a wonderful little guitar solo section that draws you further into the poignant nature of the music. Towards the end, things kick up a gear, the drums and guitar reach their peak, and lead singer Yoon Sung Hyun displays a talent for reaching some epic high notes. ‘Seoul’ was released in 2016, but it is a one of those tracks that gets better with repeat listens. Check it out below!
Noday (featuring Andrew Choi)-‘Be Cool’
Last but not least, we recommend this track from Noday (노데이). An urban electronic songwriter and producer, Noday previously had a hand in co-writing songs for other Kpop artists. He later decided to become a solo artist and we are glad to have discovered some of his music! He released ‘Be Cool’, an infectious funk track, at the beginning of January. The production is top-notch, and the beat is one that gets you into the mood for the weekend! We think this is one of the best releases from the January 2017 crop!
Let us know what you think about our selection for January 2017, and if you’ve discovered a new artist or group from taking a look at our list!
Featured image source: © 2NE1 Goodbye. Yang Hyun Suk. 22.01.2017. Yang Hyun Suk’s official instagram)