This week I join the team in recapping music shows. I must admit to being pleasantly surprised by the relatively high standards of performances, made up of a mix of smaller group comebacks, groups finishing with their promotional cycle and a mix of solo and group debuts.

Without further ado, let’s take a look at the good (and less so) performances of the week.

Improvements from comebacks past:

Boyfriend’s “Janus” KBS Music Bank, November 16 2012

While I have something about groups who change concepts like we change socks, Boyfriend’s latest image change is a step in the right direction. I particularly like how they finally wave goodbye to the pastel suits and floppy haired cuts, for tougher choreography and a more mature aesthetic. Despite running out of steam near they end, they held my attention for a good part of the song, and earn my recommendation.

B1A4’s “Tried To Walk” KBS Music Bank, November 16 2012

Another group that breaks away from my “guilty pleasure” category, would be B1A4. Gone are the blatant earworms and nonsensically catchy Kongrish raps, and in come a semblance of mid-tempo ballads, which go some way to show off the guys’ ability to do sensitive. My favourite part is how Sandeul effortlessly powers through the trickier parts of the song.

Girl’s Day’s “Don’t Forget Me” KBS Music Bank, November 16 2012

From the female side we have Girl’s Day, who also impress for once. While a standard dance pop tune might not sound like much, it is a huge step forward from the exercises in singing out of range that characterised songs of old. The girls finally do show evidence of singing, and slightly iffy chorus aside, they are worth giving a chance.

Son Dambi’s “Wanna Be With You” & “Tears Pouring Down” KBS Music Bank, November 16 2012

Maybe it’s the songs having less of the Brave Sound around them or maybe it’s the singing lessons (though it’s hard to change what’s by nature a thin, breathy singing voice), but I am finally getting why the Pledis dancing flagship is so appealing to watch, when combined with her traditional strengths in dancing and looking good. Apart from that body wave on the floor, which seemed odd for a melodramatic mid-tempo, the rest of the song (and performance) hits the right notes.

The “finally it all came together” award:

Miss A’s “I Don’t Need A Man” KBS Music Bank, November 16 2012

Oh JYP, why do you always only get it all right near the end? Let me count the improvements: Love the dark pin-striped suits, as well as how everybody finally has conservative hair colours for a change, making them look so good. Suzy has more stage presence too, and by zooming out on the odder dance moves, I am no longer laughing from second hand embarrassment.

The stuff I can never get bored of:

Kim Jong Kook’s “Men Are All Like That” KBS Music Bank, November 16 2012

After a few listens, I am already hooked on this song, especially after finding out the meaning of it and watching the music video. An experienced balladeer like Jong-kook certainly knows how not to put a foot wrong in any performance, and if the song continues to sell like hot cakes, Yoo Jae-suk would probably have more word puns to tease him in future Running Man episodes (who could forget the endless teasing that came from the best seller “Today More Than Yesterday?”)

Lee Hi’s “1,2,3,4” MNet M!Countdown, November 16 2012

And now for the other side of experience. Due to station rivalry, I had to turn to Mnet for my Lee Hi fix, and was very much satisfied. While I still cannot get with her expressions on stage, her vocals are also very hard to fault, and the song has a nice whiff of unique to it. The public also seem to love it, helping her to second place for this week’s Music Bank and another M!Countdown win, which she accepted with her trademark reserved mannerisms.

The mixed reaction videos:

Dal Shabet’s “Have, Don’t Have” KBS Music Bank, November 16 2012

Seemingly out-doing T-ara in the earworm/retro funk stakes, there is nothing much new about the song, even down to the competent (if heavily processed) vocal. But for those who enjoy a less cerebral approach to their music, or want a simple song to listen to while away time, it’s perfectly fine.

D-Unit’s “Luv Me” KBS Music Bank, November 16 2012

Nice concept and song, which evokes feels of a 2NE1 rival. Unfortunately the vocals seemingly undo the good work, from the whiny chorus to running out of energy near the end. Still, there is a good song waiting to escape, and the verses are bearable so I am giving this a chance.

The one to avoid:

Excite’s “Try Again” KBS Music Bank, November 16 2012

I was excited about this song, until I realised that it was a rather dull and generic song that almost every K-pop boy group had done at some point of their careers, and when they went out of tune and out of breath at the chorus, my patience with them also ran out.

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And that was my week in music shows, with a nice pick of the good to borderline unwatchable.

(Youtube 123456)