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.
This comment has to be taken with a boulder-sized grain of salt, so bear with me. I don’t usually listen to the XY side of K-Pop as I’m a GG fan. That said, I’ve been making an effort (since I first started commenting here) to read the reviews and completely watch the videos for male offerings.
That stated, this song was.. ..alright. I really like BIGBANG and I think a lot of the groups solo efforts are good, but this track seems a bit.. ..indulgent. I think Taeyang is talented, but this seemed like a forced effort to appear cool and “swag”. Granted, this was released when K-Pop was still heavily in its mimic phase and hadn’t started to develop a distinctive identity as a genre, but still…
The song, itself, is fine. I think I could’ve heard half a dozen other songs just like it at the time. I’m not trying to be insensitive to those that like it, but if my opinions are going to carry any weight, then I have to be honest when I offer them.
I’m still familiarizing my self with this side of K-Pop so maybe I’m not “getting it” with songs like this. Time will tell.
This song (and most songs from its era) carries a certain nostalgia for me. If I didn’t have that, I think I’d probably come away from it with a very similar reaction to yours. While it doesn’t have an original bone in its body, there’s something charming about its puffed up posturing.
This is very much mimicry, but very nicely polished and performed mimicry.
It was also the era when the styling was equally copycat – I mean, where did they think they were from? the Bronx? No, no they are not.
At least Taeyang had the vocals and bod to carry it all off well enough.
The styling for YG acts was horrendous for so many years…
So true haha. Whenever I see Blinks complaining about Lisa’s outfits, I’m tempted to yell “Did you see what 2ne1 had to wear back in the day?”
Wedding dress and I need a girl were still better by a mile. I feel like all Taeyang fans (me included) will come back to these songs purely cos of nostalgia (for the 2000s and Taeyang). Songs from “Rise” were so much more better. Especially 1am. I feel like that song is slept on.