May-June 2008 Overall Thoughts
In addition to my monthly K-pop round-up, I’ve taken a look at my favorite three singles from each month since 2009 and factored them into my ultimate Bias List scorecard, which can be found here.
The problem is, prior to 2009 it becomes harder to find reliable sources for K-pop release dates. I’m going to do the best I can with the information I have, but occasionally I may place a song a month early or late (it becomes even more confusing when you factor in separate release dates for mv and album!). And because K-pop releases were far less prolific fifteen years ago than they are today, I’ve decided to feature two months each week. That gives me more music to choose from and ensures I’m not spotlighting songs I dislike simply because there’s nothing else that came out during that period!
With hindsight, this period’s biggest claim to fame is the debut of SHINee! Yes, it’s been fifteen years since Replay graced our lives. Who could have foreseen the group they would grow into? Replay may lack the ambition of some of their later work, but it’s still one of K-pop’s best debuts. It easily takes the top spot for me.
Just as iconic is Wonder Girls’ So Hot — a hit back then and an enduring classic now. In fact, it fits right into the retro-obsessed trends of today.
These two songs are the biggest pillars of May-June 2008, but if you look further there are other treasures to uncover. This was still an era of fun, upbeat hip-hop, contrasting with the relentlessly vibey stuff we often find now. Two established duos — Mighty Mouth and Baechigi — released standout singles. The latter gains my praise for its excellent chorus. No.3 harnesses that big Chaser-esque energy I always love despite being a completely different genre.
Other highlights of this period include the solo debut of Bigbang’s Taeyang, the prickly electropop of Seo In Young’s Cinderella and the Sechs Kies sub-unit J-Walk. Then there’s Super Junior-H’s Cooking? Cooking! — a song I can’t say I particularly *like*, but one that deserves a mention for its sheer absurdity. The “H” stands for “happy,” by the way. Maybe SM Entertainment should rethink this concept and give us an “NCT-Happy”?
J-Walk – My Love (video)
Mighty Mouth – Energy (ft. Sunye) (video)
Seo In Young – Cinderella (video)
Super Junior-H – Cooking? Cooking! (video)
Taeyang – Only Look At Me (video)
Notable J-Pop Releases from K-Pop Acts
BoA – Sparkling (video)
TOP THREE SONGS
3. Baechigi – No.3 (ft. Sol Flower)
2. Wonder Girls – So Hot
1. SHINee – Replay
I only know Replay & So Hot (two classic, iconic tunes that are still ubiquitous on my playlists); look forward to checking the rest out.
By the way, I’m always wondered, is So Hot the first “girl crush” song as it’s understood today within Kpop? I don’t know of any earlier tunes that fit the bill. (No wonder Blackpink covered it?)
I guess it would depend on how you define “girl crush,” which could be super specific or super vague!
True, maybe I have a misunderstanding of what ‘girl crush’ is exactly. I think of 2ne1’s I Am the Best as the uber-girl crush anthem, and Blackpink tunes like Ddu-ddu etc as a continuation of that – e.g. braggadocio, self-love, feminine empowerment, female gang, not needing men, etc. Now that I think about it, there’s probably much more to it, and this is a very narrow definition of it (?).
Replay has always struck me as such an impressive debut song. Which is even cooler considering the quality of work they’ve put out since. Shinee started out swinging!
In the spirit of embracing the ridiculousness that is Cooking? Cooking!, I’m just gonna leave this here:
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Live live singing while dressed in bean sprout costume =for the win=!!!! They actually promoted the song too, complete with a dance, thus proving that my oppas have always been bonkers.
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Kudos to JYP for his masterful introduction of Wonder Girls’ rapper, Yubin. After Hyuna left the group in the middle of creating Tell Me, Yubin came in last minute and JYP added an 8 bar rap for her to the already completed song. But starting from scratch with So Hot, Yubin gets to rap over 16 bars (!), plus the proceeding 8 measures to talk about people wanting/watching her. What a way to say, Yubin is in the wonder girls now, y’all better recognize.
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My Love – I was really digging this song. May need to add it to my playlist.
Energy – Sounds like a sports drink jingle.
Cooking, Cooking – this song may be absurd, but it’s so darn catchy.
Only Look at Me – Always admired Taeyang’s dancing skills. Nice to see his BG members in the video.
Replay – Very good song, very good start for Shinee.