Top 100 (Korean) Songs of the Decade: #10~#1

Previous Entry (#20~11):

10. g.o.d. – 길 (The Road)
Album: Chapter 4: 길 (The Road)
Release: 11-12-2001

(Song starts about two minutes in.)

Formerly five-man boy band g.o.d. (stands for Groove Over Dose. Yeah, everyone ignores it.) had talent that remains questionable–a couple of the members were okay at rap, and the four members besides lead vocal Kim Tae-Woo had only so-so singing ability before some went solo. What isn’t questionable is the importance of the social messages that their songs contained, compared to the slightly less concerned idol groups today.

“The Road” was actually not as popular as their former “To Mother” or “Lie”, among others, but to me the song signifies the apex of g.o.d.’s musical achievement. The five members’ easy vocals float over four minutes of minimalist instrumentation, where strings (both soothing and haunting at once) punctuate acoustic guitar and appropriately light percussion; the two lead vocals, Kim and Son Ho-Young, cry out with characteristic emotion. What really makes this song is the lyrics: in a time of uncertainty for many teens and young adults, when a still-recovering-from-crippling-recession left little opportunities, g.o.d. sang of the struggle that they had with their future, of the role of destiny, and of dreams. Large numbers of people still testify to the powerful effect that this song had on them when they were young, and I feel that its message, summed up by the chorus, rings more true than ever today.

Why I am I standing on this road
Is this really the road for me
Will my dreams come true at the end of this road?
What do I dream about
Who is that dream really for
When I achieve that dream, will I be able to smile?


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Top 100 (Korean) Songs of the Decade:#20~11

Previous Entry (#30~21):

20. Nell – 마음을 잃다 (Losing the Mind)
Album: Healing Process
Release: 9-21-2006

Healing Process was a crucial album in Nell’s rise to a premier position in Korean rock. Almost universally acclaimed, the album served as the completion of Walk Through Me‘s emotional modern-rock style and a basis for the band’s next outing, the deviating Separation Anxiety. The most impressive component in Nell’s music is usually the lyrics; the music is always written excellently, the band performs flawlessly, and vocalist Kim Jong-Hwan has a very emotive, unique voice, but at the heart of Nell’s popularity and the quality of their albums has always been the poetry that this band weaves together.

“Losing the Mind” is a love song. Yet it manages to distinguish itself through the way it expresses emotion–the word choice, the diction, gives depth and dimension to the familiar topics of longing and loss. Nell doesn’t say “I still miss you” or “I still remember you”; rather, it asks,

“How long will you remain
Breathing inside me, alive inside me
When were you thinking of dying for me”

This kind of writing could easily turn melodramatic. But there’s no excess, nothing overdone in this song. Nell keeps “Losing the Mind” crisp and sharp, ripe with only solitude and pain. The instrumentation accompanying the soliloquy sounds almost like a traditional ballad, had it not been for the guitar plucking its way through the entire song. It creates a reverberating stage for Kim to cry his heart out. Both the music and lyrics leave a lasting aftertaste–something to remain in your head and make you think. And that’s exactly what Nell does best.

“As time flows, as my mind flows
So should you flow away
But it’s really easier said than done
Because of your memories, living inside of me
My mind, my time, all ceased
I’m unable to even make any memories
And remain in parting”


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Top 100 (Korean) Songs of the Decade: #30~21

Previous Entry (#40~31):

30. 윤하 (Younha) – Someday
Album: Someday
Release: 8-28-2008

(As with all fan subtitles, don’t trust it completely.)

Young talents are often responsible for some of the greatest innovations in the music scene–and Younha’s 2008 sophomore album, Someday, was one of the best outings Korea ever saw from a teen artist. This immensely gifted piano-rock artist took the excellence found in her debut album 고백하기 좋은 날 (A Good Day to Confess) to unforeseen heights, and the resulting second release combined exhilarating melodies with musical maturity to beget one of the most memorable soundscapes in recent years.

The album was full of standout tracks: bubbly lead single “Telepathy”, winter wonderland-ish followup “Gossip Boy”, and stormy orchestra rock number “Hero” were all well and good. However, one track just stood leaps and bounds over the others: the album-titular “Someday”. The song is a display of raw rock power that Younha hadn’t chosen to share at all until that point (certainly not in the debut album). The moment the intro drops, it’s apparent that this isn’t your typical Younha; neither the solidness of the hard-rock instrumentation nor the seriousness of the melody is something that would have been expected here. The track is explosive in its execution; the guitar and strings synchronize an anthemic accompaniment, while the drums throw down powerful thumps throughout.

Younha’s unparalleled deftness with her voice is always a breath of fresh air. Here she pulls off another laudable performance, mixing her trademark delicate sensitivity with enough power to carry the melody amidst the chaos of instrumentation. We’d heard this style before in tracks like “Delete” before, and it only reaffirms the conclusions drawn from that past: Younha is one of the few artists with a style that flows across genres. Even besides the fact that she doesn’t have to try particularly hard to hit her notes and convey what she wants to, it’s apparent that a change in genre poses absolutely zero challenge for her prowess. Which is plenty reason to be excited about where this still-young artist might go next.


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