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: #80~71

Previous Entry (#90~81)

80. 김태우 (Kim Tae-Woo) – 사랑비 (Love Rain)
Album: T-Virus
Release: 9-3-2009

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.

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Top 100 (Korean) Songs of the Decade: #90~81

Previous entry (#100~91):

90. 성시경 (Sung Si-Kyung) – 처음처럼 (Like At First)
Album: 처음처럼 (Like at First)
Release: April 2001. Believe it or not, I was not able to find the actual release date of this album. If anyone else can, please let me know! (This video is unembeddable, unfortunately.)

Sung Si-Kyung’s debut album is pretty much the only working cassette tape that still exists in my household right now. Remember what those were? Cassettes? But anyway, this soft-spoken ballad artist came onto the scene while still in college with this phenomenal album, and launched himself into stardom instantly with “Like At First”. Sung possesses an extremely tender voice, but true to his figure (6’3″ and 173, if you were wondering), he can put tons of breath behind it when needed as in this case. This expressive vocalist, when paired up with an expansive, soothing melody line and one of the most romantic set of lyrics in ballad history, can make things happen. Like a berth in this Top 100.

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