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: 2012
One of my earliest experiences with Korean variety came in the form of K-pop Star season two. I was instantly smitten with the series (and its winners, Akdong Musician), so of course I had to track down season one of the show. I didn’t know it at the time, but those initial episodes became a springboard for DAY6’s Jae, Winner’s Seunghoon and soloist Baek A Yeon. And then, of course, there was season one’s winning contestant, Park Jimin. But, perhaps no single participant became better known post-show as Lee Hi. She was quickly snatched up by YG Entertainment, and released her debut single later that year.
Though not my favorite Lee Hi track, 22.214.171.124 perfectly sets up the jazzy r&b style we’d come to know her for. Over a retro bass beat and doo-wop vocals, Hi does her best Amy Winehouse and lets her voice and charm do the talking. This is most evident during the compelling pre-chorus, where the instrumental drops completely for a shot of acapella attitude. This moment offers a great segue into the groovy chorus, which shines focus on her underutilized lower register. Throughout the track, Hi’s loose phrasing gives 126.96.36.199 an almost freeform appeal, as if she’d walked in the room, picked up a mic, and just started vibing with the instrumental.
This kind of musical confidence came as a surprise after watching K-pop Star, where her performances were often too sleepy to take full advantage of her talents. 188.8.131.52 injected a blast of hip-hop energy that made her an instant star. It’s Over (and especially Rose) would go on to cement that the following year, but this was an undeniably assured debut.