Generation Avex: Hi Lee’s ‘It’s Over’

Well, well, well, look which light of my vocal life finds herself near the top of MNet charts again this week.

You may remember this soulful songstress from another review I did four months ago of her song ‘1, 2, 3, 4’ and I have to say, these months apart have been a good teacher to the young Hi Lee (and also the people that direct her videos). I love that in ‘It’s Over’ it’s more than clear that she’s been encouraged to keep her bluesy vocals and I still believe that they’re the major thing that will separate her from her female vocalist peers. So far, it seems like the Kpop music scene agrees with me. Continue reading

Generation Avex: Hi Lee’s ‘1, 2, 3, 4’

When I sit down to watch/listen to a K-pop song, there is a certain mental checklist that I go down, marking off all the tropes and basic expected items that I expect both the video and the song to have. Tropes are easy, they’re comfortable, and it makes comparing them to other songs much simpler since, let’s face it, there’s barely any diversity between artists anymore. Imagine my surprise to find that the song that fills the number one slot on the Mnet Charts (think Billboard) is something so startlingly different in such an obvious way.

From what I can gather, Hi Lee is a finalist of K-Pop Star, something I’m assuming to be like American Idol. So she’s like the equivalent of Kelly Clarkson or, at least, Clay Aiken. Needless to say, there’s a lot of pressure on her to stand out from her peers. However, with a voice like hers I don’t think there was any chance of her blending in. What I think was one of the most brilliant moves was rather than fitting her into the pop-techno thing every other girl band has going on, they allowed her naturally soulful voice to have a song that actually suits it. At this point, it would be presumptuous to say that Lee is the Korean Adele, but if she keeps working on her voice and giving songs like “1, 2, 3, 4” then there’s a very real possibility that she could adapt into that roll. Of course, that’s highly dependent on if that’s what the Korean music market wants to hear. I hope it is.

Many will agree that the song itself is catchy, but there’s unfortunately nothing to offer in the lyrics. As her first single, this may work to her benefit, but I’m still a little disappointed that it’s so simple. It’s a vindictive song, but neither in a way that makes me sympathize with the artist nor in a way that makes me think of her as anything more than a high schooler. …Granted, the girl is only sixteen, so lyrics like this are most likely well suited to her. For now, the fact that she leaves me wanting to hear more is impressive enough, but I hope YG gives her something with more depth to work with later on.

In addition to agreeing about the song, many of the K-pop fans watching Lee will also agree on one thing: she has the stage presence of limp spaghetti. There is nothing about her that makes her pop on the screen, which is especially sad since the backdrop is concrete blocks and other industrial looking scenery. I don’t think the fault is entirely hers in this situation, though. Her wardrobe is almost custom made to have her sink into the background, even more so than her backup dancers. A good example of this is at the 1:37 mark. In a dark blue night-scene, she’s given an off-kilter, almost neon green outfit that blends in while her dancers are given bright pinks and oranges. It’s a really dumb oversight. Like, really dumb. Other than that, Lee will have to learn how to actually get into her dance moves, look more “excited!” than “I just got out of bed and what am I doing here”, and not make strange faces into the camera. This all comes with experience, though.

In the end, I’ll give this song a three out of five: the song is great, and Lee has the workings of a real star, but she has a long way to go. I’ll definitely be keeping tabs on her to see how she progresses.

Generation Avex: ‘Lipstick’ by Orange Caramel

If you ever want to listen to cutesy K-pop, look no further than Orange Caramel. Their brazen cuteness is perhaps only challenged by the J-pop band, AKB48, but for their newest single, ‘Lipstick’, they seem to be following other female K-pop bands with a sexier look. …Relatively.

As you can see, the outfits are a little more skintight than a usual “cute” band in some parts, but it’s not overdone. I like that the moves are still a little less overtly sexual, especially compared with some artists in America and other Korean artists. In fact, I think they look adorable in most of their outfits—the gift bow-inspired black pantsuit ensemble is a little showgirl-y, but it’s in only about five seconds of the song, so I can forgive it. I think what I like about the fashion the best in ‘Lipstick’ is that the love interest looks like a complete dork. Also, I find that all of the sets for this video are nicely colored in that they are still colorful, but the artists/actors still pop. They also look like they’re having a ton of fun!

This song is insanely catchy. The chorus is done in a tempo akin to a nursery rhyme so even if you don’t know the words you’ll probably catch yourself humming the tune. The upbeat, pop sound, while some may not like it, I think is really refreshing. So often these days we have dark, deep beats or synth music. This is just simple, straight up in your face pop. It’s easy and I can appreciate it for that. Someday I’m sure I’ll be saying how I want Orange Caramel to step outside their comfort zone and try something new, but today is not that day.

Lyrics-wise, it almost seems to be a rebuttal to ‘Gangnam Style’ (I know, what a weird thing to compare it to). Whereas PSY’s song is all about finding that perfect girl that fits a certain criteria, ‘Lipstick’ starts out with, “How can you have such high standards?” Which may seem like they’re complaining, but damn it, why shouldn’t they? In an industry where all the audience hears is about so-and-so’s 6-pack or so-and-so’s fine ass, and every other perfection that most of us could never be bothered to have, it’s nice to hear someone say, “you need to calm down” in song form. They also seem to enjoy talking about the love interest’s imperfections as things they like about them. Or, rather they seem to be exaggerating the qualities this love interest has in a way that it sounds like their vision is clouded by love rather than true facts. Maybe it’s just how the love interest is portrayed in the video that’s making me think that, though.

I give this song four ping-pong balls out of five: I love the song but it’s missing that little je ne sais quoi to make it really impact me.

Web Crush Wednesdays: MyMusic

MyMusic is an interactive online source of entertainment brought to us by The Fine Bros. The primary location for this entertainment is YouTube, where four videos are uploaded weekly: Mondays- LIVE show, Wednesdays- Music News, Fridays- Q&A, and Sundays- Sitcom Webseries.

I found out about this project from my past Web Crush, Grace Helbig, who plays one of the characters in the webseries. It chronicles a budding music production company staffed by personified stereotypes of music fans. Every worker is identified only by the style of music they like and behaves as broadly-drawn caricatures of these personalities. For example, the company was founded by Indie, a hipster who can’t stand anything mainstream and prides himself on loving and understanding the obscure. Grace plays Idol, the head of social media outreach who loves anything popular on the radio. Other staffers include Metal, Hip Hop, Techno, Dubstep, Scene, and Intern 2 (Intern 2 likes a little bit of everything and infuriates Indie for not being able to be put in a box and defined by preconceived notions so he’s the group punching bag).

At first I only watched the weekly webseries on Sundays and enjoyed it, but once I subscribed to the channel I really got much more into the whole project. The weekday shows are just as entertaining as the Sunday webisodes and the inclusion of fans and special guests keeps the show fresh and interesting. I’m always at work during the live shows, unfortunately, but I watch them later and it’s pretty fun seeing the cast respond to people as they comment/tweet the show.

The weekly series is very fun and I especially love Techno and Dubstep who, though sometimes pushed into the background of the show, have a beautiful friendship and are always enjoyable. The show honestly got a bit drab for me after a while, though. I know it was all for comedy but a show populated entirely by shallow stereotypes can only be interesting for so long. Thankfully, one of the team members was revealed to actually be a poser, only pretending to be a walking stereotype in order to hold on to the job at the company and appease Indie, and this character’s storyline has instantly become more engaging and the show has picked up since.

I’m tuning in weekly, will you?


If you need further convincing, I’ll just mention that Felicia Day guest starred.

Generation Avex: 2NE1’s ‘I Love You’

Hey! 2NE1 just came out with a new song and it sucks! Let’s talk about it!

Okay, sucks may be too strong of a word, let’s go with “forgettable”. This track is a pop-techno dance song that sounds like every other dance song in existence right now. Right now, they’re preparing to break into the American market more so than they already have with their collaboration with Ke$ha (or there’s some song stealing there) and planned DLC for Dance Central 3, so it’s understandable that they want to blend in with the other hits that are toping the charts recently. It’s still boring.

The vocals in I Love You are the weakest I’ve ever heard the girls at and while the harmonies are pleasant, there’s nothing behind them. However, usual darlings, CL and Minzy, are outshined by Bom’s vocals, which is a nice surprise. I can’t help but feel this song would be just so much better if they just went for it vocally. They’re holding back, playing it safe, and it really hurts the song. I wouldn’t want to dance to this even though the beat sounds exactly the same as some techno song from the early 2000’s that I would get down to with no issue.

Also, something all artists need to stop doing is putting a staccato phrase like “bring it back” or “drop the beat” in the middle of their songs. It ruins the flow: you can go back to the previous tempo without announcing it. It’s okay. Really. Trust me. …Well, I guess at least it’s not dubstep.

Looking directly at the lyrics for this song, my mind instantly goes “this would have been much better as a ballad”. That or something more pop, less synth. There’s nothing really interesting going on here: basic “why haven’t you noticed me yet” kind of lyricism. I am slightly disappointed. Looking at the first four verses:

Only be good to me
Only always smile at me
I said oooh, don’t make me jealous
Oooh, don’t make me become obsessed

I’m still scared of love
So give make me trust you
I said oooh, don’t make me jealous
Oooh, don’t make me become obsessed

I really do think this song could have been a really cute, tsundere kind of song: tough girl coming to the, perhaps unwanted, realization that she’s in love kind of song. Unfortunately it’s not and not unlike the Big Bang song I reviewed last time, it comes off as a bit stalkerish.

Luckily, in this case the video itself benefits from having nothing to do with this vibe, but that’s not really saying much. Watching four minutes of 2NE1 groping their beds longingly/heartbroken-ly is so hideously unexciting that I can’t stand to watch the video. It’s a dance song, right? Why don’t you have them, I don’t know, going to a club and dancing? They all look amazing, so put it to use!  Oh, and having the small scenes of CL and Minzy gyrating alone in their room doesn’t count as a ‘dance scene’. I really do love the sets, but they just seem wasted on the lack of action happening in them.

Final verdict: this song gets a 2 out of 5 invisible telephones (no images this week, sorry): it’s nice in theory, but boring in practice. I love this group, so I hope their next song blows me out of the water.