As always, our End-of-Year panels come to an end with the best albums list. While this is typically one post about both minis and full length albums, this year proved to have to much for that to be an option. As such, Lo, Qian, and Abigail‘s discussion has been split into two parts, with mini-albums up first.
Lo Qian Abigail
1 G-Dragon– Kwon Ji-yong G-Dragon– Kwon Ji-yong G-Dragon– Kwon Ji-yong
2 Seohyun– Don’t Say No Zico– Television Seohyun– Don’t Say No
3 Brave Girls– Rollin’ Rad Museum– Scene Subin– Circle’s Dream
Qian– Why am I not surprised about who’s made the top of all our lists? G-Dragon has done it again, long hiatus be damned.
We don’t hear many concept albums in K-pop, so Kwon Ji-yong was a revelation. Exploring themes of self-identity, coming to terms with how fame has changed him, all done with his signature style, this album is G-Dragon at his most personal, and arguably at his best. I admire how he continues to develop this concept of having two identities on his world tour that followed: separated into 3 different parts– one for ‘G-Dragon’, one for ‘G-Dragon and Kwon Ji-yong’, and one for ‘Kwon Ji-yong’) , interspersed with imagery of the births of both personas, M.O.T.T.E. managed to elevate Kwon Ji-yong to a whole new level, and watching him perform live has been one of my biggest highlights of 2017.
Lo: Honestly, I feel like calling Kwon Ji-yong a concept album is a bit of an insult. A concept album is inherently false; a story or a guise that a band is taking for a spin. Kwon Ji-yong is a breakdown. It is a global superstar pulling down the image that he has spent 10 years embodying and examining the price paid for it all. Kwon Ji-yong, the person underneath the persona, has few friends, no one he can trust, and every person he meets wants to use him. And while the idea of being lonely at the top is not new, Kwon Ji-yong has none of the glamorizing undercurrents of “I’m so alone in my mansion with my luxury cars and harem of girls”.
It lays bare the realty of being one of the most successful artists in the worlds, and having no one but your cats to share it with. Yet, you never wonder if it’s worth it. The lyrics are laden with doubt and misery, but the production– the bombast of “Middle Fingers Up”, the sarcastic swing of “Super Star”, and the sparse, heartbreaking “Divina Commedia– is beyond reproach. It screams of the touch of a true artist, someone who needs to create and cannot put anything less than his best work into the world.
Abigail: Whether people decide to classify or accept Kwon Ji-yong as a concept album or not is totally subjective to their own listening experience. However, I think we can all agree that this year has been the pinnacle era for G-Dragon. Not only as the leader of one of the most famous boybands in the world, Big Bang, but as a solo artist who continues to ignore boundaries that society constantly places upon him which he gladly and enjoyably breaks for the sake of his art.
Qian: Zico’s Television has no shortage of “wow factor”, either. From the self-awareness he displays in his lyrics to the wide array of flows he adopts, Television is Zico firmly cementing his place in the Korean Hip-Hop scene — and this time he’s brought his crew, Fanxy Child, alongside him at the top. He’s hedonistic and carefree on “Artist”, off-kilter and obsessed on “Anti”, and indulgently braggadocious on “Fanxy Child”. If it weren’t for the sole hiccup that is “She’s a Baby” — a good single, thought it belongs nowhere near Television – I would have it tied along with Kwon Ji-yong, I enjoyed it that much.
Abigail: Unfortunately, both Zico and Taeyang failed to impress me with their releases for this year, which is a shame considering how in love I was with Zico’s debut work, Gallery and Taeyang’s last full album, Rise. However, this year was also filled with great female solo releases.