Discussion in 'K-pop' started by Wills, Oct 20, 2020.
Throwback to this very underrated post:
Farewell to TST
We lose our first flagship act – which, I know, is doing a bit much. But these guys were essentially the face of Sweetune’s work from 2017 until 2019, picking up the mantle Snuper had (foolishly) dropped. As far as their success in that role… honestly, I think they did pretty well: it’s hard to deny that Sweetune’s seen a dip in quality (and ambition) in recent years, but TST’s output was often very good, and occasionally great. I mean, I know you won’t take me up on this, but try listening to other comparably nugu bgs – I suspect you’d report back with a newfound appreciation for these guys.
I realize now that I’ve been speaking about them in the past tense nn; not deliberate, but I’m also not going back to edit, because things are looking… a bit bleak. When we last left TST, they’d already dropped Kyeongha, choosing to reinvent as a 6-piece of non-harassers. Additionally, member Wooyoung sat out their ‘Wake Up’ comeback due to health concerns.
While TST didn’t release anything for the balance of 2019, they did (temporarily) lose K to his military service. I have to wonder about KJ Music’s choice to have him debut at 26 (especially considering Ain wasn’t far behind at 23), but I suppose they weren’t betting on all the other hurdles they’d face.
Like literally everyone else, TST had a truly terrible 2020. Their first and only comeback, ‘Countdown’, was released in January as a 4-piece, with K in the military and Wooyoung still unwell. This was their first non-Sweetune track since debut, and… it’s a mess. Some interesting production elements, but overall it’s easily their weakest:
Then, leader Ain became their second member to enlist in April, followed by Yohan’s tragic passing in June. I addressed this in the ‘Paradise’ writeup, but I want to add that I’ve been reading what fans had to say prior to his death – it seems Yohan was always particularly popular, and watching their live stages, it’s easy to see why: he was an excellent and engaging performer. Wherever TST heads from here, there’s no question that Yohan’s presence will be greatly missed.
Sadly, this wasn’t the group’s final loss of the year – in October, Junghoon announced that he’d left the group and opened a YouTube account with his girlfriend (I’m unclear if these are related nn). Which brings us to today – over a year since their last comeback and down to five members, with one in the military, one who’s presumably been discharged (though I’ve seen no announcement made ff), and one who’s sat out their past two comebacks, with no further updates on his health. I mean, the duo approach worked for TVXQ, but there were a few other contextual factors in play ddddd.
So yup, basically no good news for the past two years. But still, I’m rooting for these guys. Yes, I’m a masochist, but I also think they’ve been through so much more than any young group should – if anyone deserves a break, it's them.
TST – Final Scoreboard
#48. Paradise (7.598)
#61. Love Story (7.250)
#67. Wake Up (7.141)
#70. Mind Control (7.033)
#74. She (6.978)
TST – Highest Scorers
#1. @junglefish (9.100)
#2. @BeingNormal (8.500)
#3. @vague (8.350)
#4. @Slice of Life (8.000)
#5. @Remorque (7.900)
TST – Lowest Scorers
#23. @Hurricane Drunk (4.900)
#22. @M24 (5.100)
#21. @Monkey0 (6.200)
#20. @evilsin (6.300)
#18. @junkos, @Empty Shoebox (6.400)
TST – Controversy Index
*based on standard deviation, higher index = more controversial
#1. Mind Control (2.128)
#2. She (1.834)
#3. Paradise (1.485)
#4. Love Story (1.236)
#5. Wake Up (1.100)
TST – Group Average: 7.200
LOVE TO HEAR IT: (10) @Wills, @aux, @RUNAWAY, @Monkey0 (9) @BeingNormal (8.75) @junkos (8.5) @junglefish
HATE TO SEE IT: (4) @Empty Shoebox (5.5) @Hurricane Drunk (6) @ysev, @roblognick, @M24 (6.75) @Remorque
AS FOR ME: it’s a 10
LUCKY UNNIES*: @Remorque (6.75)
*meaning this was their lowest remaining score
We continue our string of acts that haven’t shown up in awhile with IZ’s ‘Final Kiss’, their first loss since ‘Memento’ at #72. This means that once again KARA and IZ fall hand-in-hand, never mind the fact that I fucked up on the last one and forgot all about the sports song. ‘Final Kiss’ was IZ’s second Sweetune track, and it generally sounds a lot more like something I’d expect from this collaboration, i.e. it’s a complete triumph.
I remember hammering this when it first came out and… always weirdly expecting it to underwhelm me? It just seemed too bombastic, too cheesy to take seriously. Instead, it’s grown into my favourite idol rock song of all time, alongside DAY6’s ‘days gone by’. The obvious link is that both are anchored in the sounds of the ‘80s, with ‘Final Kiss’ drawing from the hair metal my uncles used to stan (and, let’s be honest, still do).
But even if that’s true on paper, this song stokes a different type of nostalgia for me: I’m transported back to middle school, when I exclusively listened to the Fueled by Ramen roster and fancied myself a biT of a rock stan, despite really only being there for the pop hooks at their core. And true to form, ‘Final Kiss’ has a gargantuan chorus, which singlehandedly elevates it above anything else they’ve done. It feels like Sweetune finally got the chance to marry their melodic songwriting style with the rockier production they’d often hinted at, but never fully embraced.
Even outside the chorus, everything here is lively and raucous and just so much fun. I won’t pretend to know much about guitarwork, but the riffs here are about as anthemic as anyone could ask for. I also love the goofy adlibs that pop up throughout – “so what you call it now!?”, “1! 2! 3! Go!”, and the like. Everything about this sounds like a good time; given how… sedate IZ’s recent output has been, I’d love to hear them tackle something like this again.
So that’s me. What about the rest of you? M24 will be pleased with the elimination order: “I prefer Eden to this. Wish I could score it higher, but it has an unremarkable chorus in spite of the verses.” The chorus?? Unremarka– actually no, I already had my say, time to let it go. Divisive icon Monkey0 stands firmly on the right side of history with this one: “The euphoric, summer bop. Guitars on this are amazing.” Yaaaaaaas.
Finally, Miss RUNAWAY is here for the whoooole package: “godddddd their drummer is so fucking cute. Also, I can’t tell if any of the other guys sing as well (because the backing vocals sound different) but I LOVE their style of music, and this song was AMAZING as well.” These idol rock guys are always so hot adjlhdjklashf, the guitarist in particular does it for me nn, my best to you girls from horny jail.
Below is the video, which – like their others – is much more aesthetically pleasing than I’d expect. The closeup of the drummer reading Mere Christianity at the pool (and then falling asleep with it on his face!) is a bizarre little scream, Protestant unnies know what I mean. Mostly this just makes me yearn for pool parties and summer, and I’m glad to see they were already sticking close to their quar pod back in 2019! Kings!
I'll quickly add a bit of news: my personal life's ramping up quite a bit starting this week, so I'm unlikely to post more than one elimination/farewell per day. That said, I'm adamant about not losing the momentum we've spun up thus far, so I will remain devoted to at least one post daily! (of course, none of you have given me the slightest bit of grief over the pacing - this is mostly just me holding myself accountable dd)
But! Before I disappear for the next 6 months and leave some poor unnie scrambling to collect everyone's ballots, I have a special gift:
That's right girls, a chance to revisit all the boygroup tracks you unceremoniously axed and hoped to never hear again! All you unnies better like and subscribe, Part 2 should be more to your liking!
LOVE TO HEAR IT: (10) @camden_italian, @BeingNormal, @Monkey0, @vague (9.5) @Joli Chat (9) @Wills, @junkos (8.75) @RUNAWAY, @thommyh
HATE TO SEE IT: (2) @roblognick (5) @evilsin (6) @ysev, @Ana Raquel (6.5) @aux, @junglefish, @codecat
AS FOR ME: it’s a 9
LUCKY UNNIES*: @aux (6.5), @RUNAWAY (8.75), @junglefish (6.5), @evilsin (5), @roblognick (2), @Ana Raquel (6)
*meaning this was their lowest remaining score
I’ll always love the First Invasion campaign, launching with a ⒻⓁⓄⓅ literally called ‘Come Back Again’ and then, from Infinite’s lips to God’s ears…
Also iconic: how this came on shuffle immediately as I walked through the office doors after a month of having mono. All I’m saying is: any moment can go down in herstory when accompanied by a song titled ‘She’s Back’. All you Lucky Unnies take note!
So yes, a bullet dodged: ‘She’s Back’ was pushed as a followup single off their debut, kicking off a string of releases that cemented their spot in the big(ish) leagues and saw Sweetune honing their sound. Commercial success wasn’t immediate – that would come later – but this provided the blueprint for many iconic moments to come.
This lacks the polish of some of Infinite’s later work, so I’m not surprised it’s one of their earlier cuts… but goddamn, were they off to a solid start. Truly no shade to the 'Rock U' stans, but I’m a bit glad that Infinite didn’t show up until KARA were in the Lupin/Jumping phase of their career – by then, a lot of the kinks had been worked out, meaning Sweetune knew how to make this upbeat without coming across as... um, we'll go with youthful.
The instrumental is great – especially as it reaches its swirling climax in the middle-eight – but it’s the chorus that steals the show. This does the same thing as ‘View’ where my messy Anglo-Saxon ass will only ever hear it as “down, down, down,” but it’s an indelible hook regardless of language and the greatest early example of Infinite’s bulletproof vocal blend.
We’ll jump over to our panelists now, because Monkey0 identifies my other favourite chorus element: “Such underrated anthem. The progressions during chorus is breathtaking.” Yas! I haven’t worked it out at the piano, but the progression + harmony choices are amazing, music scholars will be studying this shit for years to come, I just know it! BeingNormal also stans: “A banger, my second favorite song from them tbh.”
Next, we move into the gentle shade corner, where M24… pretty accurately describes its place in Infinite’s oeuvre, tbh: “It's cute, maybe not an "Infinite" or Sweetune essential, but I like the chorus and the instrumental a lot.” Meanwhile, Joli Chat clarifies where his missing half-point went: “DongWoo’s “back back come back to me” part is probably the reason she left in the first place.” ashdjklsajkfahls SIS!!!
We’re gonna do something a little different and close with our lowest scorer, mostly bc I’m trying to figure out what roblognick is talking about nn: “There's this really annoying sound effect that repeats on loop throughout and it sounds like a GAP advert.” Ok well first of all, GAP advert is my favourite Kpop subgenre, and secondly… is it the little percussive rattle? Enlighten me unnie! Ruin it for me too!!!
Below is the video – between the resolution and “.wmv” appended to the title, someone needs to inform Woollim that 2010 was not that long ago! Cute that this falls alongside another poolside clip, although – like yesterday – I would literally end lives for a slice of that right about now. (sdjkhadkjlsah not me issuing death threats, maybe Inspirits were the true Little 7s all along!)
Spoiler: This is dumb
Spoiler: Really really dumb
Spoiler: Please don't get your hopes up
2010 as a Robyn stan:
A percussion rattle? Is that what you call it? All I can hear is this:
Hello and thanks to those who spared a pity like for my terrible joke. As for the rest of you… trust that your elevens will be dealt with accordingly!!
LOVE TO HEAR IT: (10) @RUNAWAY, @Monkey0, @junkos (9.5) @aux (9.25) @junglefish (9) @Joli Chat, @Ana Raquel
HATE TO SEE IT: (3) @Empty Shoebox (4) @roblognick (6) @Hurricane Drunk, @vague
AS FOR ME: it’s a 7.5
LUCKY UNNIES*: @Remorque (7), @roblognick (4), @vague (6), @Empty Shoebox (3)
*meaning this was their lowest remaining score
If you told me ten years ago that I’d be posted up on an internet forum, talking about the Fall of Eden……. I’d have had a very different direction (and audience demographic) in mind. But alas, here we are to witness IZ dropping out of the race. This makes them the biggest group to lose all their songs in reverse-chronological order; diminishing returns, not everyone has that!
Wig at how well this did – I would’ve guaranteed ‘Final Kiss’ would outlast this due to being a bit more melodic. But while I do prefer the latter, both performed better than I anticipated, so you won’t hear me complaining! ‘Eden’ is noticeably higher-octane than their other cuts, cranking both the BPM and the intensity of the instrumental. From a songwriting angle, I personally think it's to its detriment – there’s very little here that I’d qualify as a strong hook, but then I don’t think that’s really the point. Where ‘Final Kiss’ was all about the rousing chorus, this sets a tone early on and seldom lets up.
I’m totally ill-equipped to grade anything on the rock rubric, and I’m sure my reference points are equally uninspired, but this reminds me a lot of Paramore’s work in the mid-‘00s. The intro sounds exactly like something off All We Know is Falling, and I could hear Hayley, in her prime, growling the chorus. I… don’t know what else to say! It’s a banger, it bangs, banging is its field, and it injects a nice bit of variety into our top 50.
It turns out we have some rawk grrls in our midst, put your fists up ladies! Monkey0 praises the producers' range – “Who knew Sweetune had it in themselves? Great, melodic rock anthem.” – while M24 references the forum’s metal-plated faves: “Yes, rock bop!!!!!! I love this, it satisfies the Insomnia in me. Sweetune brought out the guitars for this group, didn't they?”
Serial Lucky Unnie roblognick also finds this a bit of a throwback, though less favourably than me: “I had to check this song didn't come out in like 2003 or something. It did not apparently.” And Joli Chat put the YouTube link to good use: “I’m over scoring it a little, the music video is really colorful!” nn if more rock vids looked like this… and less like hate crimes waiting to happen… I might have to reevaluate my stance!!
Finally, RUNAWAY throws praise, and maybe just a touch of shade: “holy fuck I love this. I needed an actual BAND to stan, and I found it. This song was fucking awesome.” gdsjflksdhf keep an eye out for the My Days, babe!
Below is the video, which, as noted, is a serve. Weirdly I’m running out of things to say about IZ’s videos – they’re all incredibly competent, and it’s a lot easier to address the shittier clips fff. The neon-lit greenhouse is fun!!!
I’m gonna be completely honest, I don’t remember this song at all. Relistening to it right now and I’m not mad at my score. I love the video as well!
I've listened to it dozens of times and never remember how it goes, but whenever it's on I wanna punch a wall. In a good way!
Yay, all my 5s are finally out! Guess it's going to get painful soon.
Farewell to IZ
I mentioned in my previous writeup how TST was more-or-less the face of Sweetune for a couple years between 2017 and 2019. It seems odd, given that they’re total outliers in the context of this rate, but IZ filled a similar role, being Sweetune’s sole output from the time ‘Eden’ was released in May of 2019 until ‘The Day’ in January 2020. It’s a hard left turn from anything else they’d done in the past – at least on the surface; having dug into more of their B-sides, I’ve found a number of signs that they hoped to move in this direction someday.
In terms of output, this feels a bit like a story in two halves. Their first two releases – ‘Eden’ and ‘Final Kiss’ – made perfect sense in a long line of bold, bombastic productions. Where ‘Eden’ mirrored the energy of many of Sweetune’s finest instrumentals, ‘Final Kiss’ leaned on their hook-writing ability, which they've honed over the course of more than a decade. Both are excellent examples of their work, and I’m glad to see them break into the upper half and fall side-by-side.
Then… there’s ‘Memento’ and ‘The Day’, which feel comparatively uninspired. I hate to say it, but this is Sweetune at their most generic: they stand out somewhat in the idol band context, but when considered against indie rock at large, they really don’t do anything outside the ordinary. If more collaborations are ahead of us, I hope to see Sweetune double down on the ambition of their earlier tracks.
IZ hasn’t released anything in about a year now – a worryingly common trend in this thread, I’m afraid. That said, there’s no news of disbandment, nor signs that they’re looking to work with different producers, so… another ‘Final Kiss’ isn’t outside the realm of possibility! I do hope they manage to keep going – the current crop of idol bands (Day6, ONEWE, LUCY) each fits their own little niche, and I think IZ (at their best) has their own lane to fill.
Finally, a quick nod to their work pre-Sweetune. Their 2017 debut, 'All You Want', has some interesting use of retro sounds and shifting time signatures, but overall I found it pretty unremarkable. Their 2018 followup, 'Angel', begins more promisingly – the electronic touches sound like it’s preparing to split the difference between idol pop and their typical rock sound. Unfortunately, this leads into a plodding chorus and never really takes flight, so… I think I’ll stick with the songs we covered here.
fff my head's in such a fog today... I know I'm gonna look back on this and hate it, so maybe I'll end up revising, but I want to get it out the way and move on!
IZ – Final Scoreboard
#43. Eden (7.685)
#44. Final Kiss (7.652)
#72. Memento (7.022)
#84. The Day (6.598)
IZ – Highest Scorers
#1. @Monkey0 (9.750)
#2. @RUNAWAY (9.438)
#3. @aux (9.250)
#4. @junkos (9.125)
#5. @BeingNormal (8.375)
IZ – Lowest Scorers
#23. @Empty Shoebox (4.000)
#22. @Hurricane Drunk (4.875)
#21. @soratami (5.250)
#19. @roblognick, @M24 (5.500)
IZ – Controversy Index
*based on standard deviation, higher index = more controversial
#1. The Day (1.901)
#2. Eden (1.745)
#3. Memento (1.660)
#4. Final Kiss (1.541)
IZ – Group Average: 7.239
The way this immediately made me think of how we'll also be saying farewell to a certain other group whose name starts with IZ fairly soon
LOVE TO HEAR IT: (10 x 6) @Wills, @Slice of Life, @aux, @RUNAWAY, @Monkey0, @junkos (8.75) @vague
HATE TO SEE IT: (5.25) @thommyh (5.75) @Joli Chat (6) @soratami, @Empty Shoebox (6.5) @Hurricane Drunk, @M24
AS FOR ME: it’s a 10
LUCKY UNNIES*: @thommyh (5.25)
*meaning this was their lowest remaining score
The absolute mess of this receiving tens from the first four voters… and me thinking it had the potential to be a real dark horse. Then @thommyh came along and dragged me back down to reality! Moreover, I was sure this would end up as Boyfriend’s top-rated track. That honour now belongs to ‘I Yah’, so congrats to her!
‘Janus’ was Boyfriend’s second Korean title track in 2012 and marked a major shift towards a darker, harder-edged sound for the group. I consider both this and ‘Love Style’ an enormous leap in quality from their 2011 work, especially compared to their wheel-spinning Japanese releases from the same year. This also lead the group’s first full-length album, which is an excellent listen for those who haven’t quite gotten enough Boyfriend by now.
This is... a top 100 Kpop song for me. It’s the first thing I heard by Boyfriend, and I’m glad: I think it made me a bit more open to the rest of their music than others might be fff. This ticks every box I can think of – surging, dramatic instrumental; top-shelf melodic turns from start to finish; an impressive vocal delivery (those adlibs sending me into the stratosphere fhjkashdkjla you better fucking SING kings!!!).
Bold claim: to me, this is the closest Sweetune’s gotten to recapturing the spirit of ‘The Chaser’. I enjoy when it’s on in the background, but when I sit with it and allow myself to be swallowed up entirely… it’s magic, sistren.
A few key moments I especially love: they start the track off with one of its trump cards – the intro melody, which isn’t heard again until the very end, and strikes a balance between menace and triumph (quite frankly, fuck the lyrics, they’re threatening to derail the points I’m trying to make… unless I’m missing the point, in which case they’re great too!). The first verse is subdued, but when that drum fill crashes into the pre-chorus… they call that an ascension, ladies. We’re ascending!
I need to get this off my chest: I was driving a het co-worker (he’s one of the good ones, dw) and this came on shuffle, and when the chorus hit he asked:
“Is this like… Kpop Despacito?”
…………………..and you know what, he made some points, the chorus melody and progressions are very similar and I’ve had to carry that with me ever since. The fact that I never would’ve made this connection is a reminder that presentation is everything – plus also this predates Despacito by several years, so guess who paved the way? Mmm I know that’s right.
And finally I’ll draw attention once more to *checks notes* Hyunseong and Jeongmin’s adlibs, which are so ridiculously OTT and a perfect match for such a melodramatic track. Really, everyone sounds amazing… this song is seriously so good ugh I’m listening to it on loop and praying for strength not to abandon this rate immediately!!!
Further proof of impact: even the haters can’t help but sing along! Sub-vocalist Joli Chat gets 3% of the distribution with this opinion: “You’re not a bad girl Oh! But I’m about to give this song a score only a bad girl would!” Wait actually that sounds more like a rap line… ok wig! M24 almost misses his cue, but jumps in with some harmony: “This is much better than their first singles. I'm bopping… "you're not a bad girl"!” I’m feeling my children’s choir oats here, girls!
The baddest girls knew this deserved full marks, so we’ll let them take the floor. RUNAWAY calls this “the true moment of their career. Incredible song and video combination, and a song for the ages.” And junkos echoes what I’ve been preaching and praying and saying: “I was a huge stan when they released this song, the album is incredible as well.”
Below is the video, which is maybe a bit self-serious for its own good but still a serve. Honestly I don’t know what it is about these guys that made everything a bit cringe for me, possibly just the fact that they’re called BOYFRIEND and then told to look anguished while kneeling in front of a fire or something. Anyway this was robbed bye!
Good. I Yah next
Eden is great and the best male song along with SNUPER's Platonic Love this must be a mistake!!!!!!!!!!
Me rating a boygroup song lower than @Empty Shoebox? maybe I was in the wrong..
It all adds up now
fjahdjahdj I think there were others too but this one really rattled me!
Ever since the beginning of the rate I've been reading this song title as BOYFRIEND - Anus
Separate names with a comma.