Previous Entry (#40~31):
30. 윤하 (Younha) – Someday
(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.
Previous Entry (#90~81)
80. 김태우 (Kim Tae-Woo) – 사랑비 (Love Rain)
It’s always an exciting prospect when an established artist can find a firm, new direction to take his or her music. After a decade as the lead vocal of boy band g.o.d., a moderately successful solo ballad album, and two years of military service, Kim Tae-Woo returned in 2009 with a winning formula. “기억과 추억” (“Memories and Reminiscence”), an upbeat electronic-pop piece featuring the entire old g.o.d. crew with the exception of Yun Gye-Sang, was released early that year, a total departure from the man’s former music. T-Virus and its lead single “Love Rain” then hit in autumn, and perfected the approach attempted in the previous outing. The song is, quite simply, refreshing. In addition to the continual imagery of cleansing rain and the torrent of instrumentation, the uplifting and bursting rhythm knows not where to stop, the hook and chorus are instantly addictive, and the lyrics are so optimistically beautiful that it verges on idealism. Kim’s vocal ability hasn’t gone anywhere, and the artist’s clean highs and impeccable groove make “Love Rain” one of the most memorable pop songs of the decade.
Previous entry (Intro):
(Before you get started: just for clarification, the first thing, coming before the dash in each entry title, is the artist name. The second thing, after the dash, is the title. If either the artist or the title is in Korean, I provided the translation and/or transliteration in parentheses.)
100. BoA – My Name
Album: My Name
Pop icon BoA was already Korea’s national sweetheart at the time of My Name‘s release in 2004. What changed after that release? She became Korea’s national all-grown-up sweetheart. The eighteen-year-old’s transition into a mature artist did happen overnight with the unapologetically seductive lead title “My Name”. All the elements are there–the sleek, urban background track letting on more than a little hint of techno, the kinetic euphony of string and electronica, the boldly provocative lyrics. It’s left up to BoA to make a song out of it, and she delivers with the effortlessness of a star worth every bit of her hype.