The K-Pop 100: Idol Group Songs – #10~#1

[The K-Pop 100: Idol Group Songs]

Introduction
#100 – #91
#90 – #81
#80 – #71
#70 – #61
#60 – #51
#50 – #41
#40 – #31
#30 – #21
#20 – #11
#10 – #1

10. Fly to the Sky – Sea of Love

Fly to the Sky - Sea of Love

From Sea of Love (2002)
Label: SM Entertainment
Composition/Writing/Arrangement: Yoo Young-jin
Links: music video, audio, live

“Sea of Love” is what a lot of dance tunes, even many in this list, are not: evocative. A longing nostalgia pervades the song; the lyrics do part of that work, but “Sea of Love” works more effectively through its sounds. From the opening wave effects to breathtaking chorus, there is scale and wonder built into the medium-tempo composition that sets the song apart. Hwanhee and Brian also enjoy the best-balanced vocal rapport of their FTTS careers in this album, and it shows in their complementary harmony and weights that feel just right.

Continue reading

The K-Pop 100: Idol Group Songs – #20~#11

[The K-Pop 100: Idol Group Songs]

Introduction
#100 – #91
#90 – #81
#80 – #71
#70 – #61
#60 – #51
#50 – #41
#40 – #31
#30 – #21
#20 – #11
#10 – #1

20. 2NE1 – Ugly

2ne1 - 2ne1

From 2NE1 2nd Mini Album (2011)
Label: YG Entertainment
Composition/Writing/Arrangement: Teddy; additional composition by Lydia Paek
Links: music video, live

Catharsis, validation, freedom. “Ugly” is an anthem for all of these things. Starring a narrator (presumably) with body image and self-esteem issues, 2NE1’s best song to date attempts to give voice to an underrepresented group of people and poke at an unhealthy culture. The cynic might say “marketing ploy”, but the end result is pretty effective. The effort is helped along by an explosive full-band arrangement and racing refrain with a satisfying payoff. It’d be the best dance song of 2011 (and I actually picked it as such at the time), if it weren’t for one upcoming track.

Continue reading

The K-Pop 100: Idol Group Songs – #40~#31

[The K-Pop 100: Idol Group Songs]

Introduction
#100 – #91
#90 – #81
#80 – #71
#70 – #61
#60 – #51
#50 – #41
#40 – #31
#30 – #21
#20 – #11
#10 – #1

40. F(x) – 피노키오 (Pinocchio – Danger)

F(x) - Pinocchio

From Pinocchio (2011)
Label: SM Entertainment
Composition: Alex Cantrall, Jeff Hoeppner, Dwight Watson
Writing: Kenzie, Misfit
Arrangement: Hitchhiker
Links: music video, audio, live

We knew F(x) was weird, but “Pinocchio” showed us their weirdness could be coherent. The group’s utter disregard for narrative structure and sense continued here, but in a package that was more accessible than “NU ABO” and against much stronger musical backdrop. The lyrics could be interpreted to be unassuming, chilling or preferably both. Individual performances, like Luna‘s childish delight, brought the unlikely theme to life. This song was the first true glimpse at F(x)’s immense potential, and we haven’t been disappointed since.

Continue reading

The K-Pop 100: Idol Group Songs – #50~#41

[The K-Pop 100: Idol Group Songs]

Introduction
#100 – #91
#90 – #81
#80 – #71
#70 – #61
#60 – #51
#50 – #41
#40 – #31
#30 – #21
#20 – #11
#10 – #1

50. GD & TOP – 뻑이가요 (Knock Out)

GD TOP - GD TOP

From GD&TOP (2010)
Label: YG Entertainment
Composition/Writing/Arrangement: G-Dragon, TOP; additional composition by Diplo
Links: music video, audio, live

Critical opinion of G-Dragon really did an about-face between the days of Heartbreaker and One of a Kind, and a big turning point was this album out of left field. “Knock Out” is remembered for its chewy series of hooks (both sonically and lyrically), and for good reason – the kind of careless swagger exhibited here is not made overnight. TOP is entirely in his element here as a charismatic rapper as opposed to a technical one. “Knock Out” has a solid claim to the title of best idol hip-hop song.

Continue reading

The K-Pop 100: Idol Group Songs – #60~#51

[The K-Pop 100: Idol Group Songs]

Introduction
#100 – #91
#90 – #81
#80 – #71
#70 – #61
#60 – #51
#50 – #41
#40 – #31
#30 – #21
#20 – #11
#10 – #1

60. 2NE1 – Fire

2NE1 - Fire

From Fire (digital single) (2009)
Label: YG Entertainment
Composition/Writing/Arrangement: Teddy
Links: music video, audio, live

Our first meeting with 2NE1 was heavy in hip-hop, to the point where essentially all the verses were more rapped than sung. And that looked like a good, label-appropriate niche for this group to live in. Minimalist beat and repeated syllables ruled the day, and these women were fiercer and more aggressive than anyone else in 2009.

Continue reading

The K-Pop 100: Idol Group Songs – #90~#81

[The K-Pop 100: Idol Group Songs]

Introduction
#100 – #91
#90 – #81
#80 – #71
#70 – #61
#60 – #51
#50 – #41
#40 – #31
#30 – #21
#20 – #11
#10 – #1

90. FIN.K.L. – 영원 (Eternity)

FIN.K.L. - Eternity

From Eternity (2002)
Label: DSP Media
Composition/Arrangement: Yoo Jung-yeon
Writing: Lee Hyori (FIN.K.L.)
Links: music video, audio, live

FIN.K.L.’s final album (at least, to date) focused on maturation, and so a ballad was picked to be the lead single. With Ok Joo-hyun leading, the four members elegantly performed this easy-listening number that borrowed noticeably from Brown Eyes-style R&B pop. A soft melody and thoughtful arrangement later, we had the definitive FIN.K.L. ballad.

Continue reading

Spotlight: Masta Wu (Feat. Teddy) – Do Or Die

Before I say anything else, a couple things are in order…

1. I should totally be studying for midterms right now. If this gets posted after January 28, it means I put this off until afterwards. If not, I’m accepting donations just in case taking a break to write this makes me fail college.

2. I’ve managed to permanently explode my viewcount around twelvefold with those decade-review postings, and that was a lot of fun. (The writing, not the viewcount explosion. Although that was fun too.) This place is not turning into an exclusively music blog, if you were curious. I will be writing a lot more music stuff in the future, however–maybe a 50-50 split between music posts and other random crap.

3. Because I like features, I’m starting one right now on this blog. I’ll just call it “Spotlight” because it’s concise and classy. It’s a fancy name for a post where I just pick a song, album, or artist that I really like (it can be Korean or American, famous or obscure–though I will try to lean a little more on the lesser-known) and write briefly about it/him/her. Look, things not only sound better when they have cool names and things, but they also are better. Trust me.

4. This is actually my first Spotlight post, if you haven’t noticed from the title.

5. I should probably end this list now.

Anyway, my first (and very short) Spotlight features a song by NYC-bred Korean rapper Masta Wu. “Do Or Die” was released as the second track of Wu’s 2007 sophomore album Brand Wu Year. It was never promoted as a single, which is a shame: it was one of the standout tracks in what was otherwise a pretty pedestrian album. Wu recruited fellow YG Entertainment artist and 1TYM rapper/producer Teddy to lend his voice.

Both rappers are pretty good lyricists and have very nice flow, but it’s not extraordinary. This song is really carried by the music: the elec piano-brass melody gives dimension and grandeur to the track, and the swagger is infectious as it is addictive. The two rappers’ confidence exudes from their verses, and the hooks are ear-pleasing cherries on top. The track probably summarizes Masta Wu’s unique style better than anything else he’s put out, minus all the controversy.

Original lyrics:

[Masta Wu]
누군가를 기다리고 있는 내가 아닌
누군가를 기다릴 수 있는 내가 되어
난 다시 돌아 왔네 네 앞에
모든 것을 처음부터 다시 시작해
고달픈 삶들아 이제 안녕
행복한 날들아 나를 반겨
술에 취한 아이는 이미 작년 얘기
이제부터는 Mass Wu 와 Teddy

[ Teddy]
Listen up 코 흘리게 어릴 때부터 내
동네 한 가운덴 친구가 서 있었네
건들면 터질 것 같은 매서운 눈
두려움 이라곤 오직 God and 자기 자신 뿐
시간을 거쳐 나 왔지 (Y.G)
거릴 거닐다 어릴 적 그 친굴 봤지
What up my man it’s been like 10 years whatever
One day we gonna run this shit together

[Wu]
For sure we better than any other fools out here
난 그런 너에게 참 감사해
우린 단단해 we hard rock nigga
언제든 문제 있음 말만해
it wasn’t easy 여기까지 오는 길
you feel me 절대 알 수 없는 오늘일
인생이란 바뀌는 weather
but 우리는 우리기에 forever

[Hook ]
It’s do or die
우리 전부를 겁 없이 던져봐
구름위로 stay high high high (and you know we)
smoke that blow that kush in the sky
It’s do or die
우리의 운명에 끝없이 덤벼봐 (and as we)
나 쓰러지는 그 순간까지
멈출 수 없는 나의 의지

[Wu]
어차피 인생은 도 아니면 모
1 2 3 고 아님 스톱
승리는 오 패배는 노
모든 건 다 하기 나름이죠
운명은 작가의 손이
아닌 모두 각자의 손에 달려있어
매대신 휘두른 Microphone 채찍
먹히는 그날까지 we gon check it

[Teddy]
yo 나 피하지 않을래 boy yo Wu let’s wreck it
절대 틀림이 없는 classic rap record
굳이 목에 핏대 세우지 않아도
검은 띠 못지 않게 I could kick that flow
먹이를 보면 사자 같이 달려가 bite
나비처럼 날아가 난 벌처럼 쏴
nobody can stop me 넌 길 잃은 까마귀
난 홀로 들판을 지키는 허수아비

It’s do or die
우리 전부를 겁 없이 던져봐
구름위로 stay high high high (and you know we)
smoke that blow that kush in the sky
It’s do or die
우리의 운명에 끝없이 덤벼봐 (and as we)
나 쓰러지는 그 순간까지
멈출 수 없는 나의 의지

[Bridge]
내 머리 위에 있는 저 높은 하늘이
오늘 따라 낮게 느껴지네 왠지
살아온 날보다 더 많은 날들이
우릴 기다리고 있기 때문이겠지
내 머리 위에 있는 저 높은 하늘이
오늘 따라 낮게 느껴지네 왠지
날 위해 기도하는 어머니의 마음이
내 안에 자리 잡았기 때문이겠지

어제 같은 오늘이 아니길 바래
오늘 같은 내일이 아니길 바래
어제 같은 오늘이길 나는 바래
오늘 같은 내일이길 나는 바래
우린 이렇게 더불어 세상을 사네
우리는 잘난 맛에 인생을 사네
나 쓰러지는 그 순간까지
멈출 수 없는 나의 의지

It’s do or die
우리 전부를 겁 없이 던져봐
구름위로 stay high high high (and you know we)
smoke that blow that kush in the sky
It’s do or die
우리의 운명에 끝없이 덤벼봐 (and as we)
나 쓰러지는 그 순간까지
멈출 수 없는 나의 의지

Translated lyrics:

[Masta Wu]
Not one who’s waiting for someone
But one who can wait for someone
I became that and returned
To you to start over again
Difficult lives, say goodbye
Happy days, say hi
The drunk boy is already last year
From now it’s Mass Wu and Teddy

[Teddy]
Listen up when I was little there was a kid in the center of my neighborhood
Fierce eyes, like they’ll blow up if you touch them
Fear found only in God and himself
Time passed, I came to YG
I was walking the streets, saw that friend from the days
What up my man it’s been like 10 years, whatever
One day we gonna run this shit together

[Wu]
For sure, we better than any other fools out here
I’m grateful to you for that
We firm, we hard rock nigga
When you got a problem just spit it out
It wasn’t easy, the path to here
You feel me, no way to tell what happens today
Life is a changing weather but
Cuz we’re us, we’re forever

[Hook]
It’s do or die
Throw in our all without fear
Above the clouds, stay high high high (and you know we)
Smoke that, blow that kush in the sky
It’s do or die
Endlessly challenge our destiny (and as we)
Until that moment I fall
Unstoppable is my will

[Wu]
Life is always do or mo*
1, 2, 3, go or stop
Victory’s oh, defeat’s no
It all just depends
Destiny isn’t up to an author’s hands
It’s on all your hands
Instead of a stick, we swung the microphone whip
Until it works, we gon’ check it

[Teddy]
Yo I won’t avoid, boy yo Wu let’s wreck it
No mistake on the classic rap record
Even if I don’t raise veins on my neck
Like a black belt I could kick that flow
When I see prey, I run like a lion and bite
Fly like a butterfly and sting like a bee
Nobody can stop me, you’re a lost crow
I’m guarding the meadows, lone scarecrow

It’s do or die
Throw in our all without fear
Above the clouds, stay high high high (and you know we)
Smoke that, blow that kush in the sky
It’s do or die
Endlessly challenge our destiny (and as we)
Until that moment I fall
Unstoppable is my will

[Bridge]
The lofty sky over my head
Feels low today somehow
Because more days than we’ve lived
Wait for us maybe
The lofty sky over my head
Feels low today somehow
Because the will of my mother praying for me
Took root inside me maybe

I wish today to be unlike yesterday
Tomorrow to be unlike today
I wish today to be like yesterday
Tomorrow to be like today
We live this world together like this
We live this life in our swagga
Until that moment I fall
Unstoppable is my will

It’s do or die
Throw in our all without fear
Above the clouds, stay high high high (and you know we)
Smoke that, blow that kush in the sky
It’s do or die
Endlessly challenge our destiny (and as we)
Until that moment I fall
Unstoppable is my will