U-KISS, "Stop Girl"
I feel like, aside from hardcore KissMes, I'm the only one still on the U-KISS train. Usually by now my t-list would be bombarded with OMG U-KISS SO HOT tweets right now, but there isn't a peep. Which is a shame, because this song is smooth and sexy like you've never heard U-KISS before.
The beat goes hard. The song starts off as bump-in-your-car R&B straight from US urban radio, then a little drama is added in at the pre-chorus to remind us that no, we're still in k-pop, despite the mostly English chorus with gorgeous harmonizing from the guys. Kiseop steps up to the singing plate, with much less processing than before, and nails it. Kevin works his lower register. Dongho slays his rap as if to say, "Noona, I'm not a little boy anymore." I love it all. Except, of course, for the lack of AJ, which would have made it all that much sexier. That being said, less members means more room for the others to shine, and shine they do.
I think part* of the lackluster response to U-KISS these days is that they haven't yet done something as epic as "Neverland" was last year. Songs like "Stop Girl" and "Doradora", while solid, are less in-your-face and may not draw much attention coming from a group who made their name making cray-cray dance pop. Before U-KISS's transformation into a more well-rounded (music and talent-wise) boy band, all they had to make them stand out was loud, brash electro-pop. But I think they stand out in a different way now - experimenting with different sounds in a way that doesn't make you tilt your head in confusion, while still maintaining fantastic production quality and improving in their own way. It feels like they've gone indie, actually - like they've decided not to slavishly pursue the number one spot with gimmicks and trendy music, but rather try out new things and see what fits them in their new iteration. While they may not be showered with confetti anytime soon - particularly with a DBSK comeback right around the corner - they're definitely setting the bar high for the competition in terms of the quality of their music, and it can only get better from here. Whether they'll pull a dark horse and get into the winner's circle with this release is hard to tell, but you can be sure I'll be rooting for them all the way.
*The other part being their small fanbase in comparison to other boybands. Anyone know if they've gotten more fans over the course of the last two years?