Thursday, December 30, 2010

Mellowyel's List of K-Pop Notables for 2010

Party like it's 1999!!!

We're at the end of the year! I don't know if I'm happy or sad it's over - I've got mixed feelings here. Anyway, I did have one reader request/suggest an end-year post (thanks McRoth!) so here are Mellowyel's Asian Pop Notable Awards!

Worst News of 2010: DBSK breaking up
I think of all the sad things I heard this year, this was one that I felt was the most upsetting. Not because it was the worst thing that happened, but because it didn't have to happen. SM may have vocal supporters within and without its walls, but the fact that it decided to demonize JYJ in the media as opposed to dealing with them civilly ruins my perspective of them in my eyes. And also the fact that they simply do not come across as a company that cares about their artists' well-being: they work them to the bone with barely a break, but fly them around in private jets to make them (and us) feel better. I'm just not buying it. Had they simply done better, this whole thing could have been avoided, and SM would have been able to keep their hallyu wave cash cow. DBSK was a cohesive, talented, charismatic group - there was no one like them. The separate units will never reach the level of success that they could have had they stuck together, unless SM somehow makes peace with JYJ. The way things are looking, that won't happen soon, and that's a damn shame.
Honorable Mentions: Jay Park leaves 2PM, Park Yongha Commits Suicide, Utada Hikaru Leaves the Music Scene

Best Comeback: 2NE1
I find it interesting that 2NE1 is still technically a rookie group, since they only debuted a year ago. Unlike most new groups, they have a clear concept that they stick to as opposed to picking different concepts left and right, and this concept happens to be completely different from that of any other girl group. This is one of their most valuable assets, aside from their own talent and the advantage of a great production team behind them. Their first full album solidified their status as my favorite girl group, and showed us that these girls are here to stay and will continue to blow our minds and pwn the other girl groups. I wish only good things for them in the new year (including that they lose the autotune).
Honorable mentions: BoA, Gummy, Seven, Rain

Male Rookie of the Year: One Way
Of all the groups that debuted this year, One Way is for me the best of the bunch. Not only do they have a very developed hip-hop/R&B sound, but they also have amazing songwriting skills. Junsu has never sounded this good in anything that JYP has written for 2PM. Ever. And they do their own skills justice too. One Way isn't getting the attention they deserve right now, but I sincerely hope that changes because the pop world would be so much better off if they gave these guys more chances to show us what they can do.
Honorable Mention: Code-V, Teen Top, Infinite CNBlue! Totally thought they debuted late last year as opposed to early this year. I'm still giving it to One Way though, cos they pwn CNBlue in songwriting (and they write all their own stuff)

Female Rookie (Group) of the Year: Sistar
Miss A may have won all the awards, but Sistar is the group that I will be watching in 2011. They have a gem in Hyorin, but besides that, all the girls exude confidence and personality on stage that I really admire. Not only that, but unlike most girl groups these days, it's not all about the sex appeal. I think that they have a lot more to offer than what they're currently showing us, and I think people realize this: their last two singles, "Shady Girl", and "How Dare You", both maintained top ten positions on Soribada's singles chart for at least two or three weeks, which is really unprecedented for a rookie group (and surprising because I don't particularly care for either song). Granted, this isn't representative of overall success, but it shows that the girls have something that people like. And if this performance of CSJH The Grace's "One More Time, OK" is anything to go by, we can only expect bigger and better things from them in the future.
Honorable Mention: Miss A

Female Rookie (Solo) of the Year: Gil Hak-mi
Because this woman is amazing. Winner of Superstar K Season One, she broke onto the music scene with a killer EP that remains one of my favorite releases of the year. Her stage presence, her vocal ability, the awesome songwriting and production on her EP - what's not to like? She kind of came and went from the scene, unfortunately, but man, she is something. I'm just waiting for her to come back with a full album and pwn the rest of k-pop. If you don't know about her, better get familiar.

Most Improved Group: Beast
Beast and I have had an interesting relationship. I heard "Mystery" first and didn't like it. I heard "Bad Girl" and loved it, then hated it (now it's a guilty pleasure). "Shock" came along early this year and I saw the potential, but the execution failed me. Their last two mini-albums, however, completely won me over. Cube has finally tapped into these boys' talents, and worked on improving them, and can I say, I love it. They sound amazing, they complement each other more - and all of this with minimal processing. It's amazing that they managed to make such huge strides within the space of about six months. Whatever Cube are doing with Beast, they need to do with 4minute stat - those girls need saving. Anyway, Beast is probably my favorite boy band right now, besides Big Bang and a 5-member DBSK. Good on them. If they keep improving, they could just be as big as those guys some day.
Honorable Mention: Girl's Day, U-Kiss

Pleasant Surprise: Secret
Secret has had something of a breakout hit with their latest track, "Madonna". Suddenly they're on variety shows and at the end-year awards, and generally getting noticed. It's well deserved, as these girls are classy and talented. I would never have guessed that I would come to like them after hearing Magic earlier this year, but they had a great single and pulled it off well. Hoping they continue to impress me next year.

Indie Music Award: Standing Egg
So I discovered this band through Dramabeans, and though they had only released one EP, I had already shortlisted them as possibly my favorite k-indie band. Not only were did they have a lovely jazzy indie pop sound that really appealed to me, they were also versatile and able to switch up genres with ease. Their first full album with then showcased another side of them that I hadn't discovered yet - an exceptional talent for songwriting. The album is mostly made up of collaborations (as the title suggests) with a number of equally talented artists - including the lovely J.ae, a favorite of mine. Each song hits just the right notes, and honestly, there are few albums that I love in their entirety as much as this one. Often collaborations are either forced or full of songwriting tropes, but here they are so organic that you believe that the guest artists are members of the band. Whatever you do, don't sleep on this band - they're really special, and I can only hope 2011 brings more success and exposure for them and all other indie bands.
Honorable mention: 10cm, One More Chance


That's about it, ladies and gents! I just want to say a big thank you to all of you who visit, link to and comment on the blog - I really, really appreciate it. Please continue to support it, and have a very happy New Year - I'll be back in 2011 with a list of blog resolutions and more awesome music! Stay tuned!

3 comments:

  1. Your views interest me as I never really listened to the newer KPOPpers but watched the variety shows more. I'm gonna try some I haven't really listened to :D

    I somehow feel like Miss A and SISTAR have been around like forever instead of them being rookies. I feel like they already established.

    I am interested on your views on the rookies G.NA and Dalmation?

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  2. @angeliqa

    yes! definitely try out groups you haven't listened to, especially the indie stuff - your mind will be blown, promise :)

    I think Miss A and Sistar seem that way because they found a general concept and stuck to it. most other girl groups debut with weaker songs and crappy concepts, and have to switch it up before they can really establish a fan base and a presence in the industry.

    I like G.Na - i think her music is kinda boring, but she's a good singer and dancer. Her duet with Rain is the only song I really rate. Dalmatian, on the other hand, is plagued by an awful, awful concept. The talent and stage presence is there, but dalmatians? really? they tried to blend gangsta boys with cute puppies - and it failed, as it should. if they got an image change, I'd probably be a fan... but they'd have to compete with Infinite and Teen Top in terms of my favorite new boyband, lol. why are there so many???

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