Annyeong chinggus! We here at What’s A Geek have totally drowned in the hallyu wave. I mean, who wouldn’t with the amazing visuals and the catchy tunes? This year has been an amazing year for the fans because of the number of varied releases: some ballads, some rap and some electronica. Anyway, these are WAG’s Top Ten K-Pop albums for the year 2015. Mind you, these are totally-biased rankings based on my own feelings toward the album concept as a whole and how well these albums were received by the internet in general.
If you think I missed your bias group, please do send me their title track and I’ll take a listen! This was written before PSY, TTS and the other December releases so they have not been included.
The boys of EXO are taking the KPop world and stamping their own brand on the boy group scene. Amidst the many lawsuits and member changes, EXODUS still performed really well on the charts, holding the record for the highest ranked album by a Korean boyband. The title track Call Me Baby showcases the dance skills the boys have with a throwback feel to the early 00’s. The song also has a lot of the signature rap and hooks that we’ve come to associate with EXO; the iconic “E-X-O” is present and their amazing harmonies really bring this track to the top. Exodus, the track, is a sorta-dirty track with a great mix of classical sounds and synthpop; not one of the regular EXO songs but is pretty catchy!
Risso’s Tra La La is best described as electronica pop but still has a quiet R&B feel to it. The album features amazing vocals from Risso on top of many different instruments; pianos, basses and synths come together to generate a funky electronic feel. OMG is a cutesy song that has a dance-able beat and a bass line to die for; this is the opposite feel that Finger Magic has. Finger Magic is an R&B track that still features synth and percussion in a way that only Risso can. On the whole, Tra La La is an album best listened to in one sitting to get the whole experience down pat.
IU as been under fire for so many things with this album. There are plagiarism allegations, copyright problems and even a pedophilia scandal. These controversies, among others, are what made IU not attend any of the year-end awards and initiate a boycott of other award shows.
Even with what has been said, Chatsire is an amazing album. The melodies, style and lyrics have a throwback feel to the earlier IU albums and have themes that resonate with the youth of today.
Twenty-Three(스물셋) the prime example for the #quarterlifecrisis that we millenials have. The lyrics are all questions about our future and show the contradictions between what we feel inside and outside. The MV puts in images what the lyrics say in the song with some Alice in Wonderland feels. Zezé, the controversial song due to the reimagining of a children’s story, is poetic and IU’s vocals give the lyrics an extra dimension of depth. Chatsire is a great piece of work that encapsulates what IU is about.
Primary’s 2 is an album full of collaborations with many popular artists and idols in the industry: AOA’s ChoA and Beenzino to name a couple. Despite the number of collaborations, Primary still has his own signature style to the music he produces; a sorta chill funky hip-hop style with simple and really catchy hooks. See You is a soulfunk song that exhibits lyrics that touch on the anxiety a oerson feels when they like someone, the song has a rich ballad-y feel but still manages to be funky enough for the rap. Don’t Be Shy, the song that feature ChoA, is a reggaeton-ish songbthat highlights the singing capacity of ChoA; also has a really creepy video. Primary has really produced a great album with this comeback in 2, this is especially great for people who are looking for something new with their music.Go, take a listen!
Oh My Girl presents us with their newest mini album, Closer! This release features the girls’ vocals on top of synthesized melodies in many of the songs. Their title track, Closer, is a dance track that still gets to showcase the strong vocals the group has. The lyrics and trhe rap are all about getting close to a guy but with poetic symbols such as constellations and the like. On the other hand, Playground, is a horns heavy song about breakup and the inevitable fallout. Oh My Girl’s mini is like a audio diary with amazing melodies that perfectly encapsulate what a girl feels.
This is f(x)’s first album after the departure of Sulli and continues in the style of Pink Tape. The whole album has an indie-electronica feel to it which complements the unique voice stylings of the four girls. f(x) brings us more artpop sounds with lowkey melodies and harmonies. It might just be my bias, but Amber has totally stepped up in terms of song parts and Krystal’s singing has reached a different level of deliciousness. 4walls as a title track and MV showcase the image that the girls started with in Pink Tape; a surreal and hipster video complemented by the chic sounds that f(x) can make sum up the whole4walls experience.
Ice Cream Cake is Red Velvet’s first release with their newest member, Yeri! The addition of the new member allowed the girls more freedom to dance and be general pop princesses. Their title track, Ice Cream Cake, has the SMTown hit song formula: bubblegum pop catchy hooks with easy to sing lyrics. With the added bonus of having random Engrish words in the bridge and chorus. Seriously, ICC is a really fun song that I wouldn’t mind playing on repeat for hours. Another notable song from the album is Automatic, vocals smooth as velvet see what i did there? with a feel that would make it welcome in jazz bars. All in all, great album and is catchy af!
Now, Lim Kim’s Simple Mind is something that I had a hard time to describe but ultimately this album has a hip-hop style with voice loops; reminiscent of Japanese vocal pop. The lyrics of most of the songs revolve around the perrenial themes of courtship and love with a slightly modern twist in that gender roles are muddled up. AWOO, the title track, talks about the realities of the dating scene and how it is hard to express how you like someone this day and age. The eccentric images in the MV help bring home the point of the confusion and the weirdness of the song. Notable song from Simple Mind is Love Game, bouncy jazzy beats with lots of percussion and talks about more mature teams about relationship stuff.
“Are you playing with me? Am I playing with you?” Lim Kim asks. Simple Mind totally does.
We’ve talked about this before and Taeyeon is undoubtedly one of our favorite K-pop artists. A rookie soloist but a veteran in the K-pop field, Taeyeon’s powerful vocals and soulful ballads gets the listener hooked and the lyrics show us a side of Taeyeon other than what we see from her in Girls’ Generation and TTS. The lyrics were also written/co-written by Taeyeon so we have an more in-depth look at how she feels and thinks. It’s also a definite plus that Taengoo is one of the prettiest faces in K-pop!
The title track I is the perfect song to head the album; showcases all the good points of the album and gives us a preview on the feel of the whole thing. But the highlight track for the album is U R! This track is awesome. Like, my words are lost awesome. It’s the mix of great vocals, and feels-lyrics that make this song and subsequently the album part of the What’s A Geek list.
Netizens argue that BIGBANG doesn’t have a proper album release as MADE was released as four singles with four B-sides but no one can deny the quality of all the songs found in this album. It has been extremely difficult to pick a favorite track among the eight releases in this album especially since they are all great! 뱅뱅뱅(BANG BANG BANG) has quickly become a party favorite and is an auto-include in all club playlists. WE LIKE 2 PARTY, despite the name, is a chill track with a casette tape grain effect; the song’s lyrics show a relaxed side to BIGBANG and makes us remember that they’re people who need to chill too! ZUTTER(쩔어) is a GD and TOP duo song that features vulgar rap and a dirty vibe; great song with a really weird MV that fits the duo to a T. Taeyang and GD take turns in writing the songs and they definitely show their influences and feelings with their songs. All in all, MADE is an album that reflects where BIGBANG has come from and where they are now and is a gift for us VIPs!