Since the start of The Bias List in January 2016, I’ve always looked back at my three favorite title tracks by K-pop artists each month. Now, it’s time to look even further into the past, one month at a time. And, yes, the top three rankings count toward The Bias List’s personal artist scorecard!
May 2009 Overall Thoughts
There weren’t a ton of great tracks released in May of 2009, but my top three is stacked.
SM and YG Entertainment did the heavy lifting here, eclipsing the month’s lesser-known songs with megahits. Super Junior had a tall order when following up the iconic Sorry Sorry, but the stupendous repackage track It’s You was more than up for the challenge. This is one of the best songs that K-pop has to offer.
SHINee continued to bound from strength to strength with Juliette. It’s such a funky track, boasting one of their many signature choruses.
Meanwhile, YG’s 2NE1 finally got off the ground with their official debut. They’d go on to quickly eclipse Fire, but the song unveils many of the aspects that make their discography so great. There are actually two versions of its music video. I prefer the colorful “space” version.
Several other songs exist in the shadow of these classics. After School continued their solid run with the catchy Dream Girl, the sultry Chae Yeon delivered a fun dancefloor bop and V.O.S offered a shot of vocal firepower.
After School – Dream Girl (video)
Again – 603 Factory (ft. Sori & Seoyeon) (video)
Chae Yeon – Shake (video)
Taegoon – Superstar (video)
V.O.S – In Trouble (video)
TOP THREE SONGS
3. 2NE1 – Fire
2. SHINee – Juliette (full review)
1. Super Junior – It’s You
Ah julliete my first k pop song.
You all probably know this, but the After School song is actually a remake of a Morning Musume song.
Same top 3 for me in the month in the same order. But damn, Juliette would top like every 2021 month for me this year. I love it. And It’s You is one of the best songs of the Millenium.
Also, I personally prefer the Street MV for Fire. I know I am in the minority though.
Off Topic: I found this Indie song today. I don’t know the artist, and thus can’t review it. Does anyone know anything about the song, I found it on YouTube’s Various Artists-Topic page.
It looks like it’s just session musicians. According to their soundcloud page, the company provides music for trailers, advertising, etc. So, there’s not really an “artist,” per se.
Thanks, Nick, one of these days I am going to have to start checking Soundcloud. Damn, then how is this better than like 90% of modern western pop. I am still going to add it to my YouTube playlist, no matter how un-musical the origins are, the song is good. Or maybe I just like guitar-driven indie-pop.
It sounds a little shoegazey to me. Have you ever listened to Delays? A good portion of Faded Seaside Glamour sounds a bit like this, though I prefer the utter perfection that is 2006’s You See Colours album.
I’ve only heard Valentine, which is pretty great. I guess I need to dive into their discography sooner than later!
I’d suggest starting with “Lost in a Melody.” That was my entry point, and it’s a damn revelation.
Will check it out!
I wouldn’t dismiss session musicians and ad music writers so quickly.
The ad writers have to produce something that is instantly catchy in seconds, instantly identifiable as being part of ____ branding.
And session musicians usually know a hell of a lot more about music than anyone else in the recording studio, and have to adapt quickly to play something more this less that more in the style of ____ ad lib liberally or sight read music and with only 2 practices record it for realz.
Anyway, what struck me about 108’s found song is how much contemporary music owes to the New Wave music of the early 80’s coming out of the north of England. Hubby came home this Saturday from the thrift store with an OMD best of CD. OK, I already bought this one on itunes, and have all the goodies on vinyl too, but he was so proud of himself that it found it for me and he only paid 75 cents for it so we played it more than a few times.
Here is OMD’s debut single from 1979, so its a 42 year old song, and yet so many of the stylings, the structure, the soundscaping resonate in 108’s selection above.
Ooh, I like this OMD song. As someone who grew up with international music (read: listening to the essentials of each scene, and nothing much else), I have recently been diving into a lot of western song history (already pretty good with Eastern music and Western classical). I am going to have to check out more of these guys. Thanks, Myma!
May I suggest a few more key New Wave groups:
New Order – Blue Monday, Bizarre Love Triangle, True Faith, Shell Shock
Depeche Mode – just run through their greatest hits album
The entire “Pretty in Pink” soundtrack
There are more – just ask.
So the interesting thing is that I feel like history is repeating itself. These groups were big in the UK and notsomuch in the US, but within certain circles they were important. Its like kpop, these groups that we all follow here. They aren’t big in the US at all, but within certain circles they are important.
There are other groups which get grouped into New Wave which were huge in the US in the 80’s, Duran Duran, Tears for Fears, Eurythmics, Peter Gabriel, the entire Stock-Aitken-Waterman releases, but you can find those yourselves. (Wikipedia is not a help though – they tend to list more than I would classify as New Wave proper.)
I know almost all the ones you said were huge in the US, and I listen to the Eurhythmics on Eurepeat.
(silence ensues, everyone stares awkwardly at 108 Ent, who fails to notice).
Your comment on local music scenes is so true. I personally never really bought into the American worldview of music, and I think that is due to a long and lengthy love of various cultures.
I recently read Rolling Stone magazine’s top 500 songs of all time. And, correct me if I am wrong, but La Bamba (a fantastic song) was the only one not in English. At the same time, if you asked someone from an Eastern country, there might be a few songs only from the West. When I dove into music history, I realized that each region seems to have its own musical history and each with legendary songs. Many of those we don’t acknowledge if we look only locally.
Finally, each region has its own underrated artists. For example, BTS are arguably more influential for Korean music than Infinite, Super Junior, or TVXQ? Some, including most of us, would say no. But that is due to our personal likes and dislikes. Many times, these artists are missed by American music reporters, as they simply don’t know them.
That was a long rant, sorry.
There are not a lot of songs not in English to hit it big in the US.
Off the top of my head:
Volare’ – old Rat Pack-era song (Frank Sinatra and friends)
99 Luftballons – Nena
Rock Me Amadeus – Falco
La Bamba – Ritchie Valens, and later Los Lobos
Enya, and to a lesser extent Clannad – Irish Gaelic, as one does. Fun fact – Enya is the sister/niece of the members of Clannad.
The Gipsy Kings best of album was big for a long long while.(Apparently, it has sold 3 million copies in the US alone.)
Enigma aka the Gregorian chant in Latin set to a beat music sold a whole pile – I distinctly remember which exams for what classes I had the CD on repeat for hours. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/MCMXC_a.D.
Selena, Shakira, Linda Ronstadt, Julio Inglesias, etc – various Spanish releases. There are many more I could list for Spanish.
For the older crowd, there are a handful of classic South American musicians like Sergio Mendes, Gilberto Gil, Milton Nascimento, Antonio Carlos Jobim, who had big popular songs in the US in the 60’s and 70’s, but it tended to be the English versions. Girl from Ipamena-type songs Mas Que Nada is probably the exception – well known in only the original Portuguese. Samba and Bossa Nova as cocktail party music was big back then. You can find all of these easily on vinyl in second hand record shops in the US.
The album list are the kind of people who are awarded the World Music grammys today, for essentially being good musicians for decades and who happen to have a new album out. They really are being awarded for music from back when, when there was no such grammy category.
I think this comment made me realize one thing: I am pretty middling at contemporary non-classical European music history. I am way too young to see many of those artists in their prime, but I know all of them. I think I took two or so music history classes about early western and American music, that might be why I know them and listen to them so well.
I want to take a minute to sing praise about Ritchie Valens. He only lived to be a recording artist for 8 months, but in that much time he released more legendary songs than many can in their whole career. His first self-titled LP has so many great songs that it is just amazing that this is a debut album. La Bamba, Come On Let’s Go, Donna, and We Belong Together to name a few. Many people sing praise to the Los Lobos covers, and kudos to them, they did great, but I will always be biased to the originals. RIP Ritchie Valens.
Yes, rest in peace Ritchie Valens, Buddy Holly, and the Big Bopper. The Day the Music Died.
The sad fact, none of them crossed the age of thirty. Talented beyond belief. Truly the day music died.
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It’s you is in my “best of” playlist since… forever.
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I have the same three in the same order.
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Let us take a moment to praise Jonghyun popping off a high riff at 2:27 like it was nothing at all. Rest in peace, Jonghyun, you did well.
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Suju’s ‘It’s You’ is a masterpiece.
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Fire is synonymous with 2NE1’s most convincing performance of a song. They performed it with grit, confidence, charisma, and magical rookie energy.
Just having discovered this feature (which is awesome and super helpful), I had to comment on this one in particular, because it’s nigh impossible for me to rank my favorite Super Junior songs. But I’m pretty darn sure “It’s You” is number one.