This Week in Kpop, we have to ask: what makes a surefire hit? Do artists have to go over-the-top to get attention? Does personality or charisma matter? Does it all boil down to having built a sizable fandom? Or just having that right hook in a song? We're not so sure on any of this, but we do know that some of the releases and debuts we've looked at this week will be big hits, and some will simply fade away when the week is over. We're sure there's a formula out there, but if we or any of the agencies knew it, the world of Kpop would be far less interesting, wouldn't it? But enough hypothesis, let's get started!
Nicole's Sophisticated and Frustrating "Mama"
Speaking of debuts, we love Nicole here at Critical Kpop, and we're all rooting for her to have not just a successful solo debut, but one that dominates the charts. That's what makes "Mama" all the more frustrating. Read our take on Nicole's frustrating solo turn here.
Pritz's WTF Debut
Which goes back to our original question: what makes a surefire hit? Nicole's solo turn, we feel, is ultimately underwhelming. With Pritz, we find a group that is throwing absolutely everything against the wall, including fascist imagery, and seeing what will stick. The result? One of the strangest rookie groups we've seen in years. Check out our take on the most WTF debut we've ever seen, right here.
G-Dragon and Taeyang's "Good Boy"
Here it is, the song that will wreck your life. You'll find yourself singing different parts of this song as you try and progress through your day. "Put your hands in the air. Lalalalala. I am a good boy. Hehehe..." We wonder if anyone from Big Bang can do any wrong (musically)? While some downright hate this song, which we wonder-How?!-we think it would be perfect for the dance floor, or for motivating yourself to finish writing a paper, or, say, an article (we're listening to it right now). Completely addicting, G-Dragon and Taeyang have released a hit closing in on 4 million views in just a few days. This will be the song everyone will still be talking about in the coming months. Sorry, Nicole, Pritz. A release like this is what promises to get attention.
Mamamoo's "Piano Man"
Class, glamour, those vocals! Mamamoo has it all and with "Piano Man" they prove that they're not just a flash in the Kpop world, their brightness is here to stay. Who knows if this will be a hit, but it should be, since this song blisters with the energy that we feel is missing from recent releases. Maybe Mamamoo stole it all? Or maybe they're the real deal. We'll be writing more about this video next week, but for now, enjoy and share with your friends. This is the type of video you show to your non-Kpop loving friends even. Show them this video and say, "Here. Tell me this isn't magic."
Hi Suhyun's "I'm Different"
We were pleasantly surprised with this collaboration between Suhyun and Lee Hi (featuring Bobby). We feel like we're about to get a stream of collabs from idols, most Christmas related (sorry: ugh), but this one charmed us completely - giving us a irresistible video that normally would have annoyed us completely. Two schoolgirls trying to win the affection of one guy? Stalking him? Pretending to not care whenever he's near? With two idols with far less personality, that could come off as creepy, but Suhyun and Lee Hi ooze charm. And the song? Put it on your Kpop playlist, and thank us later.
Hyolyn x Jooyoung's "Erase"
Another great collaboration here, this time with Hyolyn and Jooyoung, that delves into heartbreak and lost love perfectly. While we wish that Hyolyn would bust loose and give us that killer solo turn that we all want from her, much like Nicole (we were not wowed by Hyolyn's solo release, unfortunately). We still enjoyed this song, and Hyolyn and Jooyoung's voices harmonize masterfully. Will this be a hit? That remains to be seen!
Lovelyz' "Candy Jelly Love"
We've tried, but we just don't get the appeal of Lovelyz' "Candy Jelly Love." Mixing schoolgirls and legginess and candy wholesomeness makes us far more uncomfortable than any "sexy concept" ever could. And that feeling doesn't even concern the sex scandal that has erupted and seems to have slowly dissipated (Google it!). There's just something strange about this whole endeavor, and we can't quite put our finger on it. But we might be alone on this, as most Kpop fans seem to adore them. We'd love to read why in the comments section! Because we really want to know: How is this a hit?
November 16-22, 2014
And that was the week in Kpop! We don't think we've answered the question: what makes a surefire hit? But looking at the releases this week, maybe you, and you alone, can discover the winning Kpop formula. Let us know in the comments if you have any ideas! Otherwise, we'll see you next (Thanksgiving) week!