With over 2,600 songs on my iPhone’s “K-Pop Singles” playlist, I thought it would be fun to add a bit of unpredictability to my song review posts. So as a result, we have the “Random Shuffle Review” feature.
The rules are simple. I fire up my playlist, press “shuffle,” and whatever song plays first gets the full Bias List treatment!
Year Released: 2009
2009 was such a simpler time for K-pop. Though the industry borrowed from disparate genres just like it does now, a straightforward pop/r&b track like Where U At was also common. By this time, boy group Bigbang had firmly established themselves, with hits like Lies and Haru Haru becoming instant classics. A brief hiatus allowed the guys to explore solo endeavors, and Taeyang’s Where U At arrived just as fellow member G-Dragon was wrapping up promotion for his own (highly successful) solo album.
Taeyang had released solo work before 2009, marking Bigbang’s first real foray into offshoot material. His 2008 hit Only Look At Me proved that he had the spark necessary for a solo career, but Where U At cemented his cachet. Over a downright ceremonial blend of synths and hip-hop beats, his inimitable vocals are given plenty of room to breathe. By today’s standards, the track’s uncluttered arrangement feels almost naïve in its simplicity. It’s got a very Chris Brown circa-2007 sound — a common influence for male-fronted K-pop tracks of this era. What makes it stand out is Taeyang’s performance, which balances emotion and power with undeniable polish. Where U At’s hook isn’t initially compelling, but has a way of sneaking up on you the more you hear it. And though Wedding Dress and I Need A Girl from the same album have held up slightly better over the years, this was definitely a highlight of 2009’s burgeoning idol renaissance.