This Week in Kpop: January 25-31, 2015

Yonghwa Checkmate

This Week in Kpop saw an outpouring of releases that makes us say: We will fight for you. Yonghwa's "Checkmate" isn't the only song stuck in our heads from this week, but it may just be our favorite here at Critical Kpop. This week also saw a pre-release release (if that makes sense) from 4Minute, Infinite H's comeback, and saw us pick our MV of the month for January. What are we waiting for? Let's get started before it's too late!

Yonghwa's "Checkmate" (with JJ Lin)

What has 2015 been missing so far? An anthem! We've gotten a lot of ballads and melodramatic bawl-fests, but what about a song you can sing to on a Friday, right after a tough week at work? This song seem tailor-made to confront that corporate malaise, with a truly fist pumping collaboration between CNBLUE's Yonghwa and popular Singaporean singer-songwriter JJ Lin. This song unties countries, and languages (quite seamlessly) making the corporate lifestyle into something like a diaspora, choosing to beat against it with a resounding "Here I am, for you. I will fight with you," that is hard not to get behind, whatever the underlying message actually is (Hell, we'd follow Yonghwa and fight for him too, why not?). 

A note about Yonghwa: he is killing it with his debut album, winning music shows and landing at number one on World albums with One Fine Day. Despite boy groups coming in at a trickle, solo men are hitting it big this year and we're happy that Yonghwa is doing so well. We criminally neglected to mention his title track video last week (there are a lot of videos coming out, okay!?), but here it is. 

While the video is good and the song sufficiently dramatic, it pales in comparison to the power of "Checkmate," but, of course, our bias against most Kpop ballads might be clouding our judgment here. In the end, it doesn't matter. Yonghwa is doing very well for himself and his album is a smash hit that promises big things from Yonghwa, as a solo artist and as leader of CNBLUE.

Tey's "Dangerous"

Here's another solo debut that you should be paying attention to. Criticized initially for looking too much like Taemin's solo debut from last year (MR.MR's battle with SM continues!), Tey really impresses us with "Dangerous," a song that really sounds nothing Taemin's solo turn with a similar name. Sure, the video has visual cues and a color scheme that is similar to Taemin's "Danger," but did you forget that this is Kpop? Forget about it! If it bothers you so much, just listen to the song, it's smooth and sexy and just what this morose season called for! Good going, Tey!

Infinite H's "Pretty"

Infinite H came back to this week and made their fans swoon. We really love this video, it's a lot of fun, almost so fun that we haven't really payed much attention to the song, which is catchy, but mostly forgettable (sorry). Dongwoo and Hoya have an amazing chemistry together, making this subgroup standout with their lovestruck optimism. The court proceedings are an especially nice touch, as they make a mockery of the justice system, all in the name of love.

4Minute's "Cold Rain"

Just when you thought you've gotten enough ballads this year, here's 4Minute with "Cold Rain." And, it's fine, really. What you would expect from a 4Minute ballad (were any of us clamoring for this?). Fortunately, we're getting a more upbeat song from them in the coming weeks, at least we imagine we will. Has January always been this gloomy? It certainly feels that we're falling down a deep well of despair. We're not saying that it's terrible, or that "Cold Rain" is terrible in any way, but we want a song to dance to, you know? No more tears!

Sunny Hill's "Child in Time"

Speaking of crying, Sunny Hill will get those tear ducts working with "Child in Time," where a disheveled Jubee finds herself in the past, interacting with herself as a child. The song is actually very beautiful, and though we're getting sick of the melodrama, this video actually tows the line and doesn't go too far with initiating an emotional response. It's more bittersweet than anything, which make us cry. We're crying right now. 

MV of the Month: Lizzy, Not an Easy Girl

Lizzy is not an easy girl, but the choice to name her Music Video the MV of the Month? Pretty easy. We're excited for Lizzy to have a solo debut, and we're surprised but happy that she went with trot, delving straight into a historical drama. Read about our MV of the Month here!

G.Soul's Overdue Debut

How long has it taken G.Soul to debut? Ages, it feels, ages! But fear not, G.Soul is here, and 'L' has all the details of his important release, which you can check out here.

Life of Hyomin

Just the weekend before, Hyomin visited Tokyo with fellow T-ara member, Jiyeon. She documented the trip with nearly forty pictures on Instagram. We took a look at our favorites and analyzed Hyomin herself: her her idol status, her glamour, and her possible destiny. Check it out here!

The Passion of Goo Hara: A Look at the Third Episode of "Hara On & Off" 

This week we took a look at the third episode of "Hara On & Off," which found Goo Hara in Japan for a concert. We've been enjoying our close inspection of the series, looking at different facets of Hara as a person. This week we asked, what is Goo Hara's passion? Find out here!

King and Queen: Episode 4

In our fourth episode of King & Queen, Kpop High is in lockdown. JYP has been shot. Ailee and Rap Monster separated. And that's just the beginning of our idols' problems. Check out the fan fiction that everyone's talking about, the fourth episode is right here.

January 25-31, 2015

And that was This Week in Kpop! Certainly we've missed something here (but hopefully nothing as big as Yonghwa's first single! We had a lot of fun this week, but it's over, it's done now. Next week is just about to start and we'll see you then. Be safe!


  1. Jung Yong Hwa's ONE FINE DAY album is fantastic. I totally love it. Every song is good for a title song of an album. Looking forward to his next solo album.


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