Roundtable : When Bad Songs Happen To Those We Love
Since musical quality isn’t always the number one concern of many K-pop acts, what song(s) from your favorite artist(s) (and dare I say even from your bias/fiance(e)/spouse/soulmate) have you been disappointed in, embarrassed by, or straight up resentful of despite your long and bitter attempts at liking it?
Gaya: Minho‘s “Turn Up The Music” solo stage from the latest SHINee World Tour. I am willing to watch anything for this guy, but I cannot digest this performance. I loved his “OMG” solo but this one was just too try-hard, with the excessive body rolling and air-humping. It’s just too much for me, and not in a good way. Also, ”Man In Love”, on which my views have not changed since I reviewed the MV. Someone really needs to gather those ridiculous hats Sung-jong had to wear and burn them.
Mark: I get most disappointed from promotional releases because the expectations are just so high, especially when a group hasn’t been on the scene for a year or more. That’s why I was so horribly disappointed when After School returned with “Flashback” because the teasers and concept were so enticing, but the song was so…not. Until then, I had enjoyed every promotional release from After School and “Flashback” just totally knocked them off my top spot of artists to follow. A year later, it feels almost like deja vu. The teasers are again enticing me and I’m once again restored with new hope that they will regenerate the spirit and energy they lost with the departure of Kahi. And hopefully deliver them a chart topping hit? Is that too much to ask?
Amy: I’m long out of my Shinee phase, but I just hated “Lucifer” so much. I think that was kind of the song that put them firmly on most K-pop fans’ radars — whether they liked Shinee prior or not — because the song was so unique, but to me, the song was unique for being loud and annoying. I’ve tried to listen to it a countless number of times, but I just can’t do it, it’s so abrasive to my ears and on their vocals and I hate it with a fiery passion.
Shweta: I have to agree with Amy about “Lucifer.” I actually like “Replay” and “Love Like Oxygen” much more than the monotone fest that was “Lucifer.” I did warm up to to “Lucifer” eventually, but I hated it when I first heard it.
My pick (for now, anyway) would be the “I love Unnie, but I hate this song!” edition with Younha‘s “Unacceptable” (otherwise known as “It’s Not Like That”). Believe me, I tried so hard to enjoy the song, but my infinite love for Younha just could not save it for me. I even deleted “Unacceptable” from Just Listen on my music player because I wanted to forget it existed. I don’t think I could stay awake through the whole thing with all the caffeine in the world; it was that boring.
Leslie: I love “Lucifer” for choreography but definitely prefer “Love Like Oxygen” because, as a whole, the singing, dancing, styling, everything was fantastic.
Speaking of unnies, I have to say I’m not a fan of Secret‘s “Poison.” I love Secret. They are one of the few groups from which I can tolerate excessive aegyo, and they can do sexy pretty well (though they try a little too hard for my tastes sometimes). But I found “Poison” grating, and I tried so hard to brainwash myself into liking it by listening to it many times. Nothing worked.
As for me, I’m still reeling in pain from 2NE1‘s “I Love You.” It wasn’t a completely horrible song, but it’s definitely not what I was expecting from them after a long wait. If it had been packaged in a trio of promotions (like how “Hate You” was submerged under other superior promotional releases), then it probably would have been forgivable because I would have had other songs to hold me down. But to release it on its own, delay the rest of the album, and not hear much from them for another year…I just can’t help but lose excitement and interest. Moreover, that will.i.am collab and CL‘s solo definitely did not help!
Leslie: I’ll have to try that method. It just might work. I’m just glad that “Yoo Hoo” definitely redeemed them for me. I can’t stop dancing around like a hula dancer because of it.
Another song that I at first hated was TVXQ‘s “Catch Me.” I’ve brainwashed myself into liking it since I am a diehard Cassie, but I just hate how much their sound changed. “Keep Your Head Down” was a stray from the DB5K style, but it still had tinges of their typical sound, which is why I can’t accept that the change is because of them promoting as a duo.
“Catch Me” seemed like SM‘s attempt at wholly infecting a song with dubstep just like everyone else has been doing, and I hated it so much plus the choreography was not nearly as awesome as they played it up to be. It was awkward and lacking in the power that we all know Yunho and Changmin have, even as a duo. I was glad that with “Humanoids” they backed off with the dubstep, but again the heavy handed electronic music just isn’t them and seemed to me better suited for their Japanese releases.
I love electronic music, but I feel like much of k-pop is relying too heavily on all that comes with it — be it autotune, dubstep, house or whatever — which I think is why there are so many groups that have come out with songs that are what I find divisive and very different from their typical styles, such as Girls’ Generation with “The Boys,” Super Junior with “Sexy, Free & Single” or any of the aforementioned. You either love them or hate them.
Shweta: You have a valid point Leslie. Songs tend to fail most when groups are trying too hard to create a hit and you can hear them trying to do that in the song. Those songs also tend to diverge from the group’s traditional sound and turn out be a mess because they only think about how good individual elements sound rather the effect of the whole work. My food analogy would be this: you can’t dump every topping on a sundae and expect it to taste good. You have to think about how each flavor compliments and balances all the others.
I am still reeling from the atrocity that is Time from TVXQ. I love all five of the past and present TVXQ boys and a lot of what they have released in their various groups/solos since the TVXQ apocalypse, but nothing will get me to like Time. Nothing. I’ve always held their Japanese releases to an incredibly high standard, and I felt that this last album was made to spite. How dare you spite me, TVXQ!
Miyoko: It took me a while to think about the situation in which I am most disappointed in a song. I’d agree with Leslie and Shweta’s points, and also add in that I get really disappointed when the artist/group seems poised for something great… then it’s not. The most recent example for me is CL‘s “The Baddest Female”; I was really looking forward to CL doing something that reflected her personality, and instead it ended up being the norm from YG.
Also, they’re not my faves, but I was so disappointed with Teen Top‘s “No More Perfume On You.” I’d followed them since debut, defended the weird, teenage creepiness, and thought their third single would be the one to show off what they could do. But no. Besides the bad MV and message, the song also didn’t suit their range and as a result they didn’t perform it as well. I really like the stuff they did after, but no matter how much I listen to that song I cannot like it.
But if we’re talking about what has disappointed us, it’s literally every U-Kiss song that wasn’t “Stop Girl” or “Man Man Han Ni (Am I That Easy).” That’s right, I went there, come at me KissMes. I love the boys of U-Kiss — just none of their music.
Mark: Nabeela, I think you’ve just opened up a can of worms there by admitting that you don’t enjoy any of U-Kiss’ music but still consider them one of your faves. Would you prefer that they dance on mute?
Ree: Basically every single release by T-ara following “Why Are You Being Like This.” I know no one ever thinks of good music when they think of T-ara, and you know, fair enough, but just one listen of their Absolute First Album and you’d know it’s not that they were depraved of good songs from the start. T-ara had this really unique electropop sound going on, and I loved “Like the First Time”, “I’m Really Hurt,” “One and One” and a large bulk of songs from their debut album. Sure, T-ara still has some really catchy earworms out, and some legitimately good songs somewhere, but every time they announce a comeback, I’m always hoping they’d go back to their electropop roots, and every time I’m just disappointed.
Also, I thought “Lucifer” was the bomb. I get why everyone thought the song was annoying (the chorus is actually one note) and abrasive, but I totally dug how loud and dynamic it was. I basically loved the entire package; the album, the title song, Key‘s hair. I kind of wish they’d go back to that, I’m so done with the D Girls and show tunes.
Ambika: I like “Lucifer” sometimes, when I’m in need of a high energy push. I don’t think it’s the greatest or the worst, but I do like the album very much.
But for other groups, I really wanted AOA‘s band-dance group concept to work, just to have a decent girl band on site. But “Elvis” was a bizarre mess, and “Get Out” was no better. I really wanted to like both, but they were just jarring and only made the band-dance concept’s lack of cohesion more obvious. I hope FNC can get that group together and somehow make it work.
Another song that turned embarrassingly funny for me was T.O.P‘s “Turn It Up.” That song was my jam for the longest time, as in all the time I went without looking at the lyrics. But when I learned he actually says “monkey magic,” I couldn’t help but laugh. The song still had its good beat and flow, but every time that phrase came on, or every chorus, I couldn’t help but cringe. Needless to say, I haven’t listened to it much recently.
Nicholas: My friend saw AOA live and really liked it. He said they made for a great hybrid and all being able to play instruments to that electronic styled pop.
I’m not a fan of the early B1A4 material. I mean they are nice guys and earnest performers all but “Beautiful Target” and “OK Girl” make for guilty pleasures of the highest degree. I like my music to be enjoyable without making too many excuses and these songs which you laugh at while enjoying are just…no. And I have to mention Rainbow‘s “Gossip Girl” (that one was so bad the CD shop near my house is still sitting on the surplus copies) and “Tell Me” (pretty listenable but why ditch a good thing for the concept everyone has covered before?!)
Johnelle: Like Nabeela I have one group that I totally enjoy and adore except for their music–MBLAQ. The boys are super funny in variety, although MIR needs to be verbally filtered sometimes, but I just have never liked any of their music. I truly believe if they had better songs they’d be even more popular than they are now. I’m super excited to hear their new stuff especially because they have been working with the Amoeba Culture crew.
But the worst song from an idol I like, the absolute worst… is Daesung‘s “Cotton Candy.” I love Daesung, LOVE him. But I HATE that song. I feel bad too since Daesung wrote the lyrics to the song himself, but I just can not stand that song. It might be because I totally hated the styling they did for Daesung for the song’s release with the ahjumma perm and I don’t like the overall cutesy-ness or it could be I’ve been waiting forever for Daesung’s solo album and “Cotton Candy” is not what I was waiting for. I’ve been waiting forever to hear Daesung singing some neo-soul goodness like he’s always been saying that he wants to do.
Ambika: Johnelle, you should definitely give MBLAQ’s new stuff a listen. I think it’s some of their best yet and definitely well-polished.
Fannie: I’m a total diehard BoA fangirl, but I wasn’t too happy with her “Hurricane Venus” comeback a few years back. She did her best to perform the heck out of it, but honestly I couldn’t help feeling like she had been forcefully dipped into a vat of SM’s electronic supersonic bionic energy and it lacked her signature feel. I’m forever thankful that SM seems to have gone the route of letting her (and her brother) take more creative control over her work lately, so that she can better showcase her true colors as an artist.
(YouTube. Images via: SM Entertainment, Woollim Entertainment, Wealive, YG Entertainment, TOP Media, NH Media, FNC Entertainment)