Majority of my attempts at making columns other than "formal" single and album reviews were all because I wanted somewhere I could sort out my thoughts and pretty much ramble. This is no different. It's just that this time, it won't be under the guise of "single of the week" or whatever else I came up with before.
This is literally just quick run-throughs of songs I like and have been listening to lately, so I'm also going to supply you with play counts. Note that these play counts will change, and have most likely already changed by the time you read this, because I'm listening to music 80% of the day and since these are the songs I like the most right now, they're also the songs I'll most likely be playing.
SPEED - "I Do I Do" (with The SeeYa) / Play Count: 30
Back when they were still the guys in Co-Ed School (which was a long time ago), and before they got a bunch of new members (which I was oblivious to until I Googled them this morning), I remember saying that the guys in the group that has now become SPEED were underrated and overshadowed by the girls, who not only overpowered them in Co-Ed, but debuted as a sub-unit much earlier. (And, coincidentally, sort of disappeared earlier as well.) I'm not sure if the particular members who made me say that are still in the current line-up, because as you may have noticed I'm horrid at new groups, but I wasn't so surprised when "Superior Speed" turned out quite nicely. I have several favorites on the album, but of those favorites, I've been listening more and more to "I Do I Do" lately. It's nice and light, and the kind of song I'd want to be listening to first thing in the morning when I'm grumpy and don't really want big shock factors or bass lines hitting me over the head, or late at night when I'm cramming schoolwork and need a slight nudge to wake me up but neither lul me to sleep nor make me palpitate. The song is something in between anthem-material and "thank you single" material -- it's like something they'd put on a concert setlist and sing towards the end while they run all over stage. The melody steps ever so slightly into the cheesy, fake smile territory, but it's pulled back by, for lack of a better term, the classy instrumental, with those pretty drums and that understated but audible piano line. Wrap everything together with their vocals and the decent production, and you have a genuinely pretty song.
Nine Muses - "Dolls" / Play Count: 28
Last year Nine Muses were responsible for a glorious moment in K-Pop girl group releases, and it's good to know that their production team (is it still Sweetune writing the songs?) haven't lost their touch. "Dolls" is a lot more understated than "News" which was very in-your-face, but it's that subtlety that brings out all the dynamics in the song. I love the clarity of the song, how you can really hear everything -- from the trumpets to the bass line -- and I love how the song isn't afraid of some silence. If anything, the pauses give the song a shock factor. BUT, if I may point out, no matter how laid-back and quiet this song may seem, it won't put you to sleep because everything was done with conviction. This is the epitome of a song that makes me take the time out to really appreciate what happens, as opposed to banging me over the head with an army of bells and whistles.
CN Blue - "I'm Sorry" / Play Count: 18
I've been obsessed with the hook (or the part after the chorus) of "I'm Sorry" for a good week now, and that obsession is showing no signs of disappearing any time soon. The rest of the song is moving to FT Island territory a little too quickly for me, but I really adore the conviction in the hook, and how everything transitions to and from it. I love the urgency that's kind of been simmering throughout and how it explodes once we get to the hook. Everything else is pleasant to listen to, but the entire package makes sense and all the different elements work together nicely with each other. I'm not swooning over it, but it's the kind of song I crave for every now and then.
Rainbow - "Golden Touch" / Play Count: 53
I love this song. I loved it the first time I heard it, and I love it now. K-Pop songs have always had this restrained quality to them. No matter how "cool", no matter how effortless or how much groove a song had, there was always 1% of the song that was holding back. And I really think it's an innate quality all the songs have, it's cultural, it boils down to the tastes of the industry and the people executing those songs. Which is why as majority of K-Pop's better offerings have proven, that restraint isn't always a bad thing. Recent K-Pop has found a way to either mask it with an array of bells a whistles, or even work around it, making it a focal point and not a liability. I've heard a lot of really good songs that took advantage of that innate upright restraint, but Rainbow's "Golden Touch", by far, is the best I've heard, at least in the last few months. It's a little more chaotic and intense than the Nine Muses song, but like "Dolls", it's not afraid of a little silence, and those glorious, glorious trumpets make me fall to my feet over and over and over again. It's effortless, but it's spunky and fearless -- all that coupled with good production make for a glorious song. What I like the most about "Golden Touch" though is that somehow, amidst this extremely well-done song, they managed to sneak in some cutesy vocals and, to my surprise, it actually worked. They have managed to prove that there is a way to make a good song out of canons that majority of us look down on. I just added this song to my library yesterday but I've played it almost fifty times -- it's such a joy to listen to. This is well-done K-Pop.