While the landscape of Korean entertainment can be vast and wondrous, it’s often the little things that make us fall in love, inspire awe, evoke secondhand embarrassment, or sometimes…break our hearts. In this segment, we ask our writers: Among the many things vying for your attention this week, what made your heart beat?
[YouTube/Idols] Studio Choom, TXT’s Yeonjun
I think Studio Choom is one of the best things to come out of K-pop content’s move from broadcast stations to YouTube. The camera work is always solid, the stages are well colored and lit, and it gives a platform for (mainly) fourth gen groups to show off their performance skills without all the bells and whistles that generally accompany music show performances. It has basically become the HQ dance practice video studio for multiple groups. I keep up with their video releases even for groups I don’t follow because they’re always a pleasure to watch. Studio Choom also started the Artist of the Month series that selects one member (generally a main dancer) to perform a cover dance, allowing the artists like Wooyoung (Ateez), Yeji (Itzy), Soojin (G-Idle) and others to branch out a bit from their group concepts.
Since I missed the TXT hype train a couple weeks ago, my beat this week is Yeonjun‘s performance as the July artist of the month. For his performance he chose Harry Styles‘ “Watermelon Sugar” and Ed Sheeran‘s “Blow.” What sets him apart from his predecessors was that he took a bit more of a music theater approach and told the story of a young man who dreams of becoming a rock star. At first, I was a bit underwhelmed with the choreography, but after watching the behind the scenes footage and Unfiltered Cam released this week I realized the complexity of the moves and how much work went into a short three minute performance. None of the moves were as easy as he made them look, especially with props involved, and I admire Yeonjun’s dedication to mastering the choreo despite his busy group schedules. Now I’m looking forward to whoever is up next month!
With the news of SNSD having a reunion on Yoo Quiz on the Block, I’ve been deep diving back into SNSD’s discography: group, subunit, and solo. When it comes to SNSD, I have a select number of songs that I love — a lot. Going back to listen to SNSD after months was a refreshing feeling because the group has released some of my favourite songs in K-pop. I think tracks like “OSCAR”, “You Think”, and TTS’ “Oh My God” deserve much more attention. Taeyeon’s solo discography has also been keeping me entertained this weekend. I think “Love You Like Crazy” should be saved in everyone’s library.
While listening to “All Night”, I realized that this song would have been incredibly popular had it been released today. “All Night” was released at a time when retro hadn’t been in, but the song gives little to complain about. (I’ve noticed this is often the case with many SM’s releases, but that’s a whole article of its own.) With its retro synths and groovy guitar riffs, this retro-pop track was dripping with nostalgia — balanced with its modern-looking MV and styling. “All Night” was an elevation of SNSD’s image, and although it wasn’t as well-received when it was released, I hope that with their reunion, people take the time to discover that they have some precious hidden gems in their discography. Here’s also to hoping that we get some new songs from them soon, and that I don’t have to keep listening to “Lil’ Touch”.
[Dramas/Music] Nevertheless, SNSD
On this episode of “What about Nevertheless am I obsessed with this week?” I have fallen in love with the OST track “Love Me Like That” by Sam Kim. A gentle guitar ballad, but the simple melody, staccato plucks, and the raw, rough edge to his voice combine to form a potent, sensual song. It’s painfully intimate, a plea for a partner to love and cherish you in the ways you can’t seem to love yourself. It’s also stop-you-in-the-middle-of-traffic sexy, which fits, given which drama it’s from.
Meanwhile, Aastha’s trip down memory lane inspired my own! While SNSD has always killed the synth pop and retro sounds, I’ve always had a soft spot for their rock-oriented tracks. Usually confined to b-sides, they can handle rougher licks and more aggressive production with ease, the melodic sweetness of their voices serving as a point of contrast but not diminishing their ability to rock out. Examples include “Way To Go”, “XYZ”, “Express 999” and especially “Soul”.
Superband is back on its second season and the musical performances by far have been insane! A notable change from its first season is the inclusion of female participants, who I, of course, am rooting more for. Among my favorite participants are guitarists Jang Ha Eun and Jung Na Young and vocalist Kim Ye Ji.
Currently, the participants are being formed into teams and it’s amazing to hear their own renditions of familiar songs. The joint performance of Jung Na Young, classical guitarist Kim Jin San, and geomungo instrumentalist Park Da Wool of GD & Taeyang‘s “Good Boy” was exceptional, so it hurts my heart that my two faves had to go head-to-head. The Byun Jeong Ho team caught my attention because the comments section was filled with praise for Kim Han Gyeom‘s precise pronunciation of the song.
There are rumors that there will be an all-female performance soon, so I am looking forward to it!
(Google Arts & Culture, YouTube. Image via SM Entertainment)