[September 21-27, 2014] Gaon Chart Commentary

This week's Gaon digital top ten features new entries from ballad duo Vibe, Zion T, NS Yoonji and Giriboy, SISTAR's SoYou and Urban Zakapa, and Ailee. Superstar K 6's Kwak Jin Un, Kim Pil and Lim Do Hyuk are at #1 with their cover of "Only You."

#10 Adam Levine - "No One Else Like You" (-1)

#9 Vibe - "Because I Love You" (new)
Really though, writing these commentaries have made me realize how little I know about Korean music -- and I've been around for five years now. It just goes to show how much I still have to learn! Vibe have been around since the early 2000s as a pretty influential ballad duo/trio, but this is literally the first time I've ever heard of and heard them. I like what I'm hearing though, and I'm reminded of one of the earliest observations I made about kpop back when I was just starting out -- that Korea is obsessed with the sentimental, stripped-down ballad. "Because I Love You" is one of the better ones, thankfully. And considering how prolific Vibe are, it's no surprise.

#8 Zion T - "Yanghwa BRDG" (new)
I'm only realizing now how influential a part of Korean music hip-hop/R&B is -- apart from the fact that my focus is really on idols, I'm not really a hip-hop person to begin with so I only scrape the surface and don't really consciously look for it. I know of Zion T, but I've only heard him in collaborations with idols or pop acts. But the scene is definitely thriving, it's definitely being very productive and judging from the presence of tracks such as this on the Gaon chart, it's also selling well. "Yanghwa BRDG" is very slick and while it's also a bit too lazy, repetitive and spaced out, it's nice to have looping in the background when you want to wind down.

#7 TTS - "Holler" (-4)
I was optimistic about TTS last week but with everything that's happening to SNSD at the moment, it will only get worse I think. Considering also that this chart is from one week before everything happened, I won't be surprised if "Holler" drops out of the top ten next week.

#6 NS Yoonji and Giriboy - "설렘주의" (+13)
NS Yoonji is another act I hear about everywhere, and who seems to do a ton of collaborations, but I never really listened to any of the tracks where she receives main billing. Now that I hear her vocals it's easy to understand why she's a rapper collaboration favorite -- her vocals are very feminine, airy with a hint of style and they work well to contrast very boisterous, structured rap verses. I'd listen to this track more than the SoYou x Urban Zakapa collaboration because I think there's a lot more life to it, but I won't go out of my way to listen to this either. (Give me Ailee and Swings' "A Real Man" over this any day!)

#5 Adam Levine - "Lost Stars" (-3)
While other idol entries have come and gone, both of Adam Levine's tracks are still on the chart. A friend of mine just came from Korea a few days ago and she told me that these two songs, "Lost Stars" especially, was literally being played everywhere.

#4 Postmen - "신촌을 못가" (-3)

#3 SoYou and Urban Zakapa - "" (new)
"I Swear" may have dropped out of the top ten this week, but there has still never been a week since I started my commentaries that SISTAR, in any form, have not been in it. It's almost surreal how much chart power they have, and how productive they are -- they just keep churning out the singles, collaborations, the works. But then again that's really what you do when you're at the top -- you take advantage of it because it's not going to be around forever. This collaboration, and a lot of others actually, kill two birds with one stone -- SoYou brings in the idol/oppa/ajusshi fans, and Urban Zakapa bring in the cooler, twenty-something listeners. It may not be a great song in my opinion, but it's definitely a recipe for chart success.

#2 Ailee - "Don't Touch Me" (new)
Like a lot of artists that appear on the chart for the first time since I started these commentaries, I was pleasantly surprised to see Ailee enter this high and against such stiff competition. (She also won Inkigayo today, congratulations! We also get to see Amber in a skirt!!) While her album tracks are usually always better than her singles, it's good to know that the buying public is aware of just how talented and deserving of success Ailee is -- her voice has taken her places, and it will only continue to take her further. #2 is always a comfortable place to be in, and if she plays her cards right (hopefully!) this might just be #1 in the weeks to come.

#1 Kwak Jin Un, Kim Pil, Lim Do Hyuk (Superstar K6) - "Only You" (+11)
Last week I was iffy about Superstar K's industry pull, but this week's #1 obviously eliminates all doubt I have because there's no other way this particular cover could have topped the charts if it wasn't for Superstar K. The track itself combines everything the Korean music-listening public loves -- it's a ballad, it's acoustic, and the vocals, including the harmonies, are just oozing with emotion. I'm very particular with my ballads but this one was breath-taking, to say the least. Kim Pil in particular has a beautiful, rich timbre. That bridge at around the two-minute mark just before the big explosion was one of the very few instances this year when a performance gave me the chills. This week's Gaon number one isn't just appropriate or justifiable -- it's worthy. And I hope this stays on top for at least another week!


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