Discussion in 'K-pop' started by Wills, Oct 20, 2020.
Basically the top 10 should be all of 9 Muses, Rainbow’s A, KEEMBO’s Scandalous and KARA’s Step.
The 9 Muses songs can take up the top 3 and I’d be fucking delighted.
The ideal top 10 would be (in no particular order):
Yes there’s 12 songs there but I envision a couple of ties somewhere to make it happen.
They had a good run, but now it’s time to say goodbye.
LOVE TO HEAR IT: (10 x 11) @Slice of Life, @aux, @RUNAWAY, @thommyh, @camden_italian, @BeingNormal, @Monkey0, @codecat, @Remorque, @Crisp X, @vague (9.5) @junglefish (9) @junkos, @soratami
HATE TO SEE IT: (6.5) @ysev, @evilsin (7) @roblognick, @M24, @Empty Shoebox
AS FOR ME: it’s an 8.5
LUCKY UNNIES*: @Hurricane Drunk (8), @roblognick (7)
*meaning this was their lowest remaining score
Spica narrowly managed to duck inside the top 20, only to be swiftly escorted outside and BANG BANG BANG BANG BANG shot dead. Luckily two of their corpses got reanimated and continue to haunt the halls of the rate, but I’m afraid it’s curtains for the other three.
…yikes that was grim, let’s start over. After teasing their debut with ‘Doggedly’, Spica arrived guns (sorry) blazing with ‘Russian Roulette’, a gargantuan stomper of a track that – like all the best Spica songs – brought their powerful vocals to the fore. And make no mistake: despite this being their official debut, I don’t think they ever gave a more ferocious vocal performance. It’s the perfect marriage of song & performers, so it’s no wonder it’s gone on to become their signature song (among the 50-odd people who know them).
The instrumental is no slouch, either: Sweetune’s trademark electronics are largely relegated to minor touches (though they briefly dominate the mix during the second verse, making for one of my favourite moments of the track). Instead, the bulk of the song is given up to drums, electric guitar, and possibly the most dramatic strings Sweetune ever put on record. This combination manages to sound gritty and ornate at the same time, and – more than anything – absolutely massive.
‘Russian Roulette’ had been sitting pretty with a 9+ average until our final two voters sent a pair of sevens its way. Let’s hear from one of them! M24 says, “Pretty melody, and I quite dig that chorus. I could see myself enjoying this more if I just kept listening to it more times, but that would be unfair to the other songs in the rate that got the same amount of listens as this one.” Hmm I mean I’ve listened to e.g. ‘Step’ a trillion times more than e.g. ‘White Out’, and I don’t consider that especially unfair… but do you, boo!
BeingNormal swoons, “What a dramatique ballad” while RUNAWAY also finds himself clutching his chest: “WHEW. This song STILL takes my breath away. A true MOMENT in history that I will never forget.” Hmm now I’m wishing I’d gone full @aux and killed everyone off via Russian Roulette in the writeup. Now that’s the kind of send-off they deserve!
Anyways here’s the video, the styling’s abominable but those were simpler times, no one has the energy to make idols look this bad anymore. I’m also, like many, a bit sick of gunplay as an MV conceit, but the directness here is actually kinda jarring?? Like I flinch every time they pull a trigger ff, not sure if that’s good or not, but it’s effective. But then the costuming pulls me out of it anyway so… eh. Bye Spica!
(Sis that thumbnail, 1theK set them up)
1theK said this one's for the toe suckers
You don’t post often but when you do it’s certainly worth it!!
For years I dismissed Spica because the only song I’d heard at the time was You Don’t Love Me and oomf told me they were like Mamamoo.
Eventually I righted my wrongs and now I resent Mamamoo even more for those wasted years, and for having the career that Spica deserved instead.
LOVE TO HEAR IT: (10 x 10) @Slice of Life, @RUNAWAY, @thommyh, @BeingNormal, @Hurricane Drunk, @Monkey0, @Joli Chat, @codecat, @Ana Raquel, @soratami (9.5) @Crisp X (9) @camden_italian, @ysev, @evilsin, @M24
HATE TO SEE IT: (5) @Empty Shoebox (6) @junkos (7) @roblognick (8) @Wills, @Remorque
AS FOR ME: it’s an 8
LUCKY UNNIES*: @aux (8.5), @junglefish (8.5), @junkos (6), @roblognick (7), @vague (8.5), @Empty Shoebox (5)
*meaning this was their lowest remaining score
After a reprieve since #30 that saw nearly every other group drop out of the rate, KARA is now thrust back into the spotlight with the loss of ‘Wanna’. This also continues the trend, now four deep, of losing their songs in chronological order… which begs the question: is ‘Mr.’ next? Kii!
The Revolution album, and ‘Wanna’ in particular, felt like… well, a revolution: the cheerful, upbeat element of their earlier work remained, but imbued with a harder edge that would inform much of their work after this point. They were already building on a solid foundation, but I think this provided their winning formula. The album also saw their sales suddenly skyrocket, clearing the 2M mark initially, and nearly 4M with the rerelease (I think… Wiki’s a little cryptic about all this ghjsakf). Of course, ‘Wanna’ wasn’t exactly the #1 contributing factor, but we’ll get to that in due course.
It’s always jarring when a Sweetune chorus fails to hit, given how much of their career was spent crafting masterful centrepieces to their tracks. Looking back, I’d argue it isn’t much of a surprise that this falls flat for me: setting ‘Mr.’ aside for a moment, they’d yet to have written a properly great chorus. Both ‘Honey’ and ‘Wanna’ are very successful as songs, but I wouldn’t say either have much to do with their choruses. In this case, I find the melody undercooked and a hair too close to cloying – letting down everything else surrounding it.
If that’s harsh, it’s only because this could've been perfect: the intro riff is a thing of beauty, by turns menacing and jubilant, thanks to the harmonic progression. The layered vocal hook is also one of the strongest in KARA’s arsenal, becoming especially potent in the track’s closing moments. If the rest of the track built on the tension introduced in this passage, my score would’ve crept much closer to the 10 mark.
So, yes, you’re hardest on the ones you love, and I don’t think this quite recovers from the opportunity cost – but it’s a damn good track, and the rightful starting point for KARA’s meteoric rise.
This one attracted plenty of commentary, all glowing, so we’ll start with… hmm… thommyh! “I loooove this KARA song. The vocals are also so good in that chorus, so clean and the song is just so fun in terms of production. This song is kind of like, a good Hatsune Miku song (don't drag me) in terms of production mixed with a girl group that had *the* star quality. Talent!” My Hatsune Miku exposure begins and ends with her guest “appearance” as the ArtRave opener, so if there are draggings to be had, I’ll leave them up to the jury!
Joli Chat is incredulous: “Was this really made by sweetune? It kinda doesn’t sound like them at all!” and BeingNormal might have a plausible explanation for why: “Sweetune is truly genius for sneaking that metal-lite synths riff in a frickin cutesy song.” Teebs I wanted to mention the metal influence here, but that’s all received wisdom and not my area of expertise, and I didn’t wanna risk saying something dumb and getting dragged by Crisp X! Speaking of, here are the good unnie’s thots: “Is it physically possible to not shake your entire body just from hearing that intro with those synths? Maybe they paved the way for the 80’s revival that’s going on right now.”
The stan conga line continues with M24, whose commentary was a living, breathing thing: “It's the moodiest of their productions I think, at least for Kara. Just wished the chorus soared a bit more (update: I think I like it after more listens).” And RUNAWAY loves this, natch: “yes, this may have been forgotten about because of the rise of Mister, but it’s still a fucking fantastic, AMAZING song. Such an incredible chorus, and it rightfully deserves its place in KARA’s hall of fame of incredible singles.”
Finally we have Ana Raquel, who goes full multimedia with her commentary: “I have a soft spot for this because it was the first song from them that I listened to. Thanks, PIU!”
Spoiler: a mess
Below is the video in all its 480p glory. The production still belies the all-out superstars they’d soon become, but it’s a marked improvement over their previous work. More than anything, it’s thrilling to see a moment like this where everything began clicking into place: as if everyone involved recognized they’d stumbled onto something brilliant, and could work at refining it in the years ahead – ultimately, landing on perfection sooner than they’d probably expected.
"Wanna" just hits so hard right of the bet. And that chorus is a true onslaught of catchiness.
I feel like it could have stayed a little bit longer, but it’s the worst KARA song left in the rate, so I get it. It’s still better than a couple songs by other acts though...
Fff I'm clocking out fuck everybody
LOVE TO HEAR IT: (10 x 8) @Slice of Life, @RUNAWAY, @thommyh, @camden_italian, @BeingNormal, @Monkey0, @ysev, @codecat (9.5) @Crisp X, @vague (9) @Wills, @aux, @junglefish, @Ana Raquel, @soratami
HATE TO SEE IT: (7) @roblognick, @M24, @Empty Shoebox
AS FOR ME: it’s a 9
LUCKY UNNIES*: @Hurricane Drunk (8.5), @junkos (8), @roblognick (7)
*meaning this was their lowest remaining score
More KARA! But we’re warping ahead to the tail end of their time with Sweetune as their most recent track gets cut. You know shit’s getting good when our low-scorers are just a trio of sevens.
I always wanna compare this to ‘Last Romeo’: both were their groups’ final Sweetune collaborations, coming two years after their respective peaks and showcasing a much heavier rock influence than their previous work. In ‘Damaged Lady’s case, this meant taking the metal-inspired riffs that dominated their work since ‘Wanna’ and making them explicit, resulting in one of KARA’s highest-octane cuts ever.
The moments where they embrace this influence the most are also the best bits: the galvanizing prechorus is is easily the highlight of the entire track, with its hard-edged guitar riff offset by sparse synth accents. The comes the chorus, which offers yet another example of vocal layering at its best; the melody isn’t their most adventurous or memorable, but it packs a wallop thanks to the sheer density of the arrangement.
I also want to highlight the tempo here: initial listens had me concerned with the half-speed intro, but when things get kicked into overdrive with that stunning guitar riff, it quickly becomes clear that nothing about this is half-assed. Stop-and-start songs can be a dicey proposition, but I think the contrast makes the full-throttle moments especially thrilling.
Lyrically, this deals with the bitter end of a relationship: fitting, as not only was this the final instalment in the KARA/Sweetune odyssey, but also the group’s final release to feature a couple members. RUNAWAY serves us the details: “the iconic last (Korean) single for Nicole and Jiyoung. It was really a moment in history, seeing them go out on such a high. And Jiyoung with another “first line of the first verse”? You know it’s gonna be good. Seeing them as queens in the video really cemented their legacy in K-Pop, and I’m proud to say I was stanning them at the height of their career. It was such a special time for me. I also still have the Full Bloom album poster hanging on my wall to this day. It’s so special to me, and I like to say my username on here was inspired by the pre-release track from that album (even though the real inspiration is quite different.)”
It’s okay babe, you can admit you’re a *checks notes* ……………member of Nam Nation!
M24 outs himself as a KARA 2.0 truther?? “The guitars sound amazing in the pre-chorus! The rest of the song, well, it's a decent goodbye single.” Umm ‘Mamma Mia’ did not invent waacking just to be disrespected like this! Next, let’s check in with thommyh: “The harmonizations, the rock music-flavoured production, THAT pre-chorus and chorus. Excellence.” Ok but “rock music-flavoured production” is taking me out safhjk, we cigs always wind up sounding so dainty describing anything with an electric guitar!
Speaking of, Crisp X references something I know nothing about: “Wait, I forgot about this! The guitars feel right out of a High And Mighty Color song, and the rock influence is balanced with the pop background perfectly!” Whereas BeingNormal references something I know WAY TOO MUCH about: “Their most underrated song, the lyrics are so bitter jesus. Yes queen let's hate other people for being happy & in love.” Fuck, honestly tho.
Below is the video, which is nothing short of opulent: I’m not sold on their lil Beatles serve midway through, but everything else is stun. The ring-off choreo is so fucking good! And trust that I’ll soon be plaguing the board with gifs of Nicole force-feeding baked goods.
Okay I guess this song could go now if we have to keep doing this.....
I knew this would happen someday, so for anyone interested, this is my (original) username's origin:
Yes, I'm a TRUE Popjustice veteran.
When I decided to shorten it, I was inspired by KARA to do so. So there, THAT is the truth.
"A thunderous, two-chorused chunk of desolate Swedish gloompop" sounding like the... refined pop journalism that made me sign up for the forum in the first place
Perfect description for "Damaged Lady." I somehow didn't wind up voting (I actually thought I had until this reveal) but this is easily a top five KARA track. I love Seungyeon's primal yeah as the song flies out of the speakers.... Brilliant KPop.
The way I'm getting tagged with EVERY elimination since we reached top 20.........
I always say a little prayer before I open the link. "Please god, please don't let The Chaser get eliminated" fffffffffffff I HATE IT HERE
LOVE TO HEAR IT: (10 x 12) @Slice of Life, @RUNAWAY, @thommyh, @camden_italian, @BeingNormal, @junglefish, @Hurricane Drunk, @Monkey0, @junkos, @codecat, @Ana Raquel, @vague (9.5) @M24 (9) @aux, @roblognick
HATE TO SEE IT: (6.5) @ysev (8) @Wills, @evilsin, @Joli Chat, @Crisp X, @soratami, @Empty Shoebox
SMACK IN THE MIDDLE, BUT I’VE LISTED LITERALLY EVERYONE ELSE SO WHY NOT: (8.5) @Remorque
AS FOR ME: it’s an 8
LUCKY UNNIES*: @Crisp X (8)
*meaning this was their lowest remaining score
If KARA weren’t damaged ladies before, they certainly are after losing three songs in a row. That said, this is still a milestone: we’ve finally crossed into the 9+ scores! I’m not kidding when I say the cuts are gonna hurt from now on: not only did this land a dozen tens, the worst thing dragging it down was a bunch of eights.
…oop, except for that 6.5! I’ll let y’all decide what to do with Miss @ysev.
So far, we’ve been plucking tracks from either end of the KARA/Sweetune run, but we now find ourselves smack in the middle – or, as I like to call it, the end of the pre-Step era. In this sense, I’ve always viewed ‘Jumping’ as a victory lap: it trades in many of the same strengths as their prior work while further refining their established sound. I think it suffers slightly for being a bit of a sidestep among numerous leaps forward, but when the formula’s as bulletproof as it was by this point, that’s a minor complaint.
Like every great KARA track, ‘Jumping’ features a frenetic synth riff at its core; I consider this one slightly less memorable than the likes of ‘Wanna’ or ‘Lupin’, but it’s still tremendously effective at setting and maintaining the energy. As is often the case, the highlight here is the chorus: the call-and-response refrain is incredibly addictive, and the chord progression provides a killer build and release of tension.
This was already the umpteenth incredible entry in their singles run, and they were only just starting to peak, which is… kinda wild to think about! Unsurprisingly (based on the scores), y’all agreed: Monkey0 commits, “When KARA say Jump, we say how high,” and BeingNormal calls this an “Icy no-nonsense club bop.” Even the world beyond our pink walls is stanning, as Ana Raquel shares: “This is my friend's favorite K-pop song ever and THE TASTE he has!!!”
thommyh points to the moments where things get gaggy: “One of my favourite choruses in all of k-pop, tbh. Also, the last 30-or-so seconds of this song is absolute pure concentrated british cigarettery.” And M24 scored with his heart, his head and his soul: “I like it, even if it's far from my favorite, the "you" shouts in the chorus stop me from giving this too high of a score. The middle-8 is pretty epic though. Also, after listening to all the Kara title tracks together… this chorus was the one that got stuck in my brain. So I give it extra points in behalf of my subconscious!”
As we so often do, we’ll end with RUNAWAY, who’s truly become my rock thanks to always having a lovely note to close with: “I stand behind the opinion that Jiyoung was the group’s secret weapon. She just had that natural charisma and charm that giving her the first line in their most iconic singles (Mister, Jumping, STEP) was intentional. She’s just has such a magnetic presence, that I found my eye drifting to her even when she wasn’t in the middle of a formation. She and dance machine/vocal powerhouse Hara were my favorite members, and such incredible additions to the group. The song…..oh bitch, A SONG. The Japanese version is (obviously) my preferred version, but holy fuck what a bop. NOTHING ONLY YOU! I still scream that chorus at the top of my lungs when it comes on in the car when I’m driving. So SO ICONIC. And Seungyeon’s iconically bad hair in the video kills me every time. An amazing era for music.”
Below is the video – although I’m most familiar with the Korean version, it only felt appropriate to go with the original Japanese. Eliminating this the same day as ‘Damaged Lady’… kinda shows just how far their styling progressed in three years nn, this is very of-its-time. I’m also a bit iffy on the choreo: the track obviously calls for exuberance, and they get partway there, but seem to hedge in the interest of keeping it dignified. Go all-in or bust, I say! But whatever, a serve’s a serve and these ladies were keeping us stuffed.
Oh y'all are going to jail jail. To be honest the only valid criticism of this song is that it's too short
17 songs having a 9+ average is iconic. Woo!
Oh wow, this goes in hard.
Both of these KARA songs got an 8 from me, so I'm kinda okay with them going now.
Jumping not being top 10 is CRAZY. Now we really need to lose a couple 9MUSES songs, because I fear for Lupin.
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