Weekly Playlist: The girls are back!

There was (yet another) mountain of new releases to comb through this week. While there were male acts among the EPs and LPs I went through this week like SHINee's new Japanese LP and TROY's new single, there were a lot more female releases -- so that's what I'm going to be focusing on this week!

Ailee - "Don't Touch Me"
I said my piece on "Don't Touch Me" as part of "Magazine" and Ailee's repertoire as a whole and while I think it greatly underestimates the depth of Ailee's abilities in favor of showing off the breadth, it's actually pretty catchy. I wouldn't go out of my way to listen to this, but I don't mind seeing it performed for the next few months. And I guess that's the point -- its easier to show an act's range than it is to show depth especially when you only have one song to do it, and at the same time "Don't Touch Me" is the easiest and most flexible song to stage. That doesn't stop me from wanting better from Ailee though!
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SNSD - "Divine"
I gotta hand it to SNSD, years into their career and they're still churning out material left and right which, ideally, is how an act stays relevant. (This kind of reminds me of a question I answered on my ask.fm recently about the industry milking artists, but that's only marginally related.) With TTS' comeback in Korea I didn't think there would be anything else, but now "Divine" is out. Granted, it's just one song and it's still part of their Japanese "Best Of" release this year, but it's still a new track. Like "Indestructible," "Divine" has an R&B slant to it, but it's more sombre and serious. "Indestructible" is optimistic and bittersweet, while "Divine" is an epic kind of melancholic. It's a bit dry at parts because of the atmosphere, I thought the start was a bit unstable, but once it gets into the groove -- especially during the chorus -- the song starts making sense. It's very Japanese, and reminds me a lot of an even more slick version of BRIGHT's "I'll Be There." But the elements are there -- a sombre atmosphere, the flat melody that's given character by harmonies, very clean production.
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Song Ji Eun - "Don't Look At Me Like That"
I really, really, REALLY liked Ji Eun's EP last year -- I thought the material was solid, the production strong and Ji Eun's performance competent. The lead single wasn't as good as "Vintage" and "Date Mate," but it was competent nevertheless. So when this comeback was announced obviously I was excited. But I'm a bit disappointed, half because I wanted more of what she did last year and half because "Don't Look At Me Like That" is a very slow burn and takes some time to warm up to. I like it more now than I first heard it, but I'm still not completely sold. The verses are hauntingly stunning and well-executed in terms of arrangement, instrumentation and vocals but the chorus makes Ji Eun sound whinier than she should, and so it comes off a lot less rich and epic than the verses when it's actually supposed to explode with sorrow. Maybe it'll grow on me, but for now it's not a song I'll actively seek out.
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SoYou and Urban Zakapa - "The Space Between"
I haven't heard much of Urban Zakapa (except on a "Seasons Of Love" cover they did with Younha which was a total train wreck), but SoYou seems to be doing a lot of these mellow, "chill" collaborations. I liked the one she did with Junggigo, I find this one very, very flat though. It's too soft, too many harmonies, too much vocal processing and not enough body. The arrangement banks too much on the vocals which, frankly, are either not interesting enough or totally destroyed by the processing. There's grace, and then there's flimsiness -- I think this song is the latter. It's easy to listen to in the sense that it's very easy to just push this song aside and let it disappear into the air.
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