#20: KARA - Jumping

KARA really shaped up this year in terms of singles, to be honest - they got well-produced, worth-your-while songs, and Jumping is no exception. In case you're wondering, I'll be talking about the Japanese version. Remember, it's one song per artist, per territory, this year, so what I'm doing is "legal".

This is what I mean when I say that Korean artists should go to Japan and actually work on original Japanese material with actual Japanese musicians - the end result is almost always better-produced, better-executed, pop songs. I'm not saying that all Korean musicians are bad because there are good and bad musicians everywhere you go, I'm just saying that the Japanese industry is much more demanding, and much more experienced than the Korean one - it takes a lot more than a few dozen thousand albums to last.

Working with Japanese musicians who are experienced in both making music and surviving in a cut-throat industry may or may not make these idols better musicians, but will always broaden their perspectives. Idols need to know that there are other types of music in the world because it will ultimately help them decide which songs to really pursue. That and it teaches them a thing or two about artistic identity.

Jumping has become my prime example. Originally intended for the Japanese market but written by Koreans - I assume that because KARA had already spent some time in Japan, they, or their label, kind of learned how to pick songs. The production on this is spot-on - it's got enough of Japan's cheesecake-ness, the emphasis on little details, and Korea's cookie-ness, the crisp and sometimes thin sound. The hook is catchy in the Korean way, but the rest of the chorus is lay-low in the Japanese way.

Now all KARA really have to do is straighten out their vocals. For heaven's sake can someone please whip these girls' voices into shape? I love the songs, but I can't listen to them for more than a couple of times because the vocals annoy me beyond belief.


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