If you’re anything like me, you’re very upset that legendary production team Sweetune has been sidelined from the K-pop industry for the past year or so. I’d kill for some new Sweetune music in 2020, but for now we’ll have to settle for past glories.
I’ve combed my archive to bring you some Sweetune tracks you may not have heard before – namely, the team’s work for the J-pop market. They seem uniquely fitted to this industry, with the bulk of their sound heavily influenced by classic J-pop. But, their Japanese discography is relatively small.
Still, from 2010 on, Sweetune dabbled with a few J-pop artists to brilliant effect. Hopefully some of these will be surprises or new discoveries to add to your playlist during these trying times.
Choshinsei – Meki Love
This is right up there with the best of Sweetune’s Korean work. Choshinsei (Supernova) actually started out as a K-pop group, but has since released the vast majority of their work in the J-pop market. Meki Love was a 2011 single for the group, though it seems to have all-but disappeared from collective memory.
Tomohisa Yamashita – Candy
Formerly a member of boy group News, and currently a huge solo star in Japan, Tomohisa Yamashita’s 2012 single I, Texas featured Candy as its b-side. ITS. B-SIDE! Seriously, there’s no reason why this gem shouldn’t have been a single. Those synths alone!
bump.y – Kiss! / New Day
Even though it feels like a natural fit, as far as I can tell bump.y are the only J-pop girl group Sweetune has collaborated with. Kiss is an extension of Kara’s more sugary material and was actually a single back in 2011. B-side New Day is less compelling, but still features those trademark production hallmarks we’ve come to expect from Sweetune.
D-Date – Catch A Train!
I love the title of this song. It instantly gives you a feel for what you’re in for, and Catch A Train doesn’t disappoint – exclamation mark and all! D-Date were a blip on the J-pop radar, but Train is top shelf, 2012-era Sweetune.
SMAP – Feel It
Yes, Sweetune actually worked with Johnny’s Entertainment for a brief, shining moment. I don’t think Feel It is actually all that notable as a song, but I’m just amazed and befuddled by the fact that they actually paired up with J-pop legends SMAP. What a crazy, wonderful world.
Boyfriend – Be My Shine / My Lady / To Moon
Before moving onto other producers, Boyfriend’s first J-pop work stuck to their Sweetune guns. Neither Be My Shine nor My Lady are as good as their Korean singles, but the connective tissue is still there. To Moon is a decent Sweetune b-side, though not all that notable when stacked against their more iconic material.
Nicole – Something Special / Fantasy / Don’t Stop / Happy / Lunar
Even outside of her work with Kara, Nicole maintained a strong relationship with Sweetune when it came to her J-pop output. All of these tracks are great extensions of the classic Kara sound, though I’m partial to b-sides Lunar and Fantasy, which both feature gorgeous, cascading synth work.
Snuper – Like Star
Despite collaborating with Sweetune for almost all of their Korean title tracks, Snuper (unwisely) moved onto different producers for their J-pop career. The one exception is b-side Like Star, which really should have been a single.
Target – Hot Feeling
Before debuting in Korea with Sweetune-produced material, Target dropped this fun, frothy J-pop single, which would later be re-recorded in Korean for their first single album. I prefer this version, but that’s probably because it’s the one I heard first.
Goo Hara – Midnight Queen
I’ll close this retrospective with the late, great Goo Hara, who gifted us the triumphant Midnight Queen last year before tragically passing away. It’s further proof that she and Sweetune were a match made in heaven.