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Friday, April 24, 2015

Robin - Kipinän Hetki (ft. Elastinen)


Finnish popstar Robin Packalen is back with a new single from the deluxe version of his newest album, 16. I've been very happy with how well Robin has done in his homeland, though the fact that he sings solely in Finnish makes his international prospects pretty much nonexistent. That's okay, though. I'd rather have him conquer Finland and stay true to the sound that's made him so popular. Kipinän Hetki, featuring rapper Elastinen, is definitely more on the hip-hop side of Robin's music, but it still retains that huge hook that he's been known for. I could do without the hockey siren sound effect prior to the chorus, but from what I can tell from the just-released music video, the song is also part of some hockey-themed soundtrack (?). Either way, it's great to hear Robin back with new music. He hasn't disappointed yet.


Kipinän Hetki (Feat. Elastinen) - Robin by spanishrobiners

(Music posted for evaluation purposes only. Buy the album here. Follow me on twitter and facebook.

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Thursday, April 23, 2015

Wooyoung - R.O.S.E


We're starting to get peaks of summer weather here and there, and it's got me building playlists full of bright, upbeat tracks. I love that roller rink style pop... simple and carefree and easy to sing along with. I'm not a diehard fan of Korean group 2PM, but when I saw that one of their members was releasing a new music video, I thought I'd give it a chance. I'm incredibly happy that I did, because R.O.S.E is the exact kind of bouncy, addictive pop I'm craving. It's all about those "uh yeah" parts in the hook. There's just something so classically cool and happy about it, like a lost Michael Jackson track from the 70's. It's actually pretty darn close to disco, and that's alright with me!



(Music posted for evaluation purposes only. Buy the album here. Follow me on twitter and facebook.

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Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Miyavi - Horizon


So I was hanging out on itunes Japan (you know, as you do...) and I made an awesome discovery via their "new albums" spotlight. His name is Miyavi, and he is incredible. He's a slap guitarist, which means that his music is bursting with incredible, intricate rhythm. For the first decade or so of his career, he worked in a harder rock genre, but starting with 2013's self-titled album, the music shifted in a funkier, poppier, and ultimately glammier direction. His most recent single, The Others, is a straight-ahead, singalong rock song that wouldn't have sounded out of place in the 90's. It also sounds a little bit like my favorite rock band, The Ark. But, the track I'm posting today is the monumentally huge Horizon, released in 2013. It has a more tribal sound, with a sky-high chorus and incredible guitar breakdowns. You will not regret hearing this track. It's just that good. Oh, and for those that aren't comfortable with songs in other languages, the songs from Miyavi's more recent albums are almost exclusively performed in English. He's a unique talent, and I can't believe it's taken me so long to discover him.



(Music posted for evaluation purposes only. Buy the new album here. Follow me on twitter and facebook.

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Monday, April 20, 2015

David Hasselhoff - True Survivor


You may have seen this video over the weekend, and if not, you're in for a treat. Now, I certainly never imagined I'd be posting a track by David Hasselhoff on the blog, but this song has been recorded with tongue firmly in cheek, as a soundtrack cut from a kickstarter-funded 80's-inspired short film called Kung Fury. The video itself is impressively bonkers, with an endless stream of special effects and filters to give it a nostalgic feel. Nostalgia on acid, really. The accompanying song is pure 80's fist-pumping, power pop cheese, which of course means I absolutely adore it. Most will likely treat it as a joke and focus on the awesome visuals instead, but I may have already downloaded the mp3 (and will be jamming to it for the foreseeable future). Even if the song's not your thing, though, you can't deny that the opening scene of the music video is pretty epic.



(Music posted for evaluation purposes only. Buy the song here. Follow me on twitter and facebook.

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Friday, April 17, 2015

Cross Gene - Watch Out


Despite not receiving nearly as much attention as they should, Korea's Cross Gene just released a pretty awesome mini album. The new single, Play With Me, is great, but the 80's influenced Watch Out is the track I keep going back to. It's pure nostalgia for cheesy bands like New Kids On The Block and Wham. The "step by step" parts following by the grunts (?) are seriously getting me through the week. I love stuff like this, and I love bands that aren't afraid to embrace this fun side of pop music. Cross Gene has been around for a few years but are still waiting on their big breakout hit. This kind of song, released just in time for summer, would be my prescription for success. If you like this track, make sure to also check out their single from last year, I'm Not A Boy, Not Yet A Man (an ode to Britney?), which practically samples the Spice Girls' immortal Say You'll Be There.



(Music posted for evaluation purposes only. Buy the album here. Follow me on twitter and facebook.

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Thursday, April 16, 2015

Exid - Ah Yeah


This song has been stuck in my head for the past few days. Exid had a major breakthrough hit around the turn of the year with their amazing Up and Down, even though that song had been released all the way back in September. This kind of late popularity climb hardly ever happens for songs in the world of K-Pop. It's a great story. Greater still, the girls have followed Up and Down with another corker of a tune. It's not *quite* as good, but Ah Yeah is still an addictive slice of powerhouse pop. I love the shifting verses and the wonky bridge before the sax-assisted chorus kicks in. The video's impressive too, poking fun at the still-conservative South Korean media. These girls are on a roll, and I hope it continues for the rest of the year.



(Music posted for evaluation purposes only. Buy the album here. Follow me on twitter and facebook.

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Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Zedd - Addicted To A Memory (ft. Bahari)


This track is such a good representation of how even the things you dislike about current music trends can sometimes be quite amazing. Zedd has been a big name in the EDM scene for the past few years. I know his hit singles, and I guess they're fine, but he's not an artist I would have ever sought out. On top of that, one of my least favorite things about the current dance trend is how it focuses on repetitive instrumental hooks rather than good old fashioned songwriting. I particularly dislike that popular sound which I can only describe as an overworked computer malfunctioning--all glitchy and harsh electronic noise. Imagine my surprise, then, when this exact sound became my favorite thing about the song I'm featuring today. I think the proper name for it is "complextro," and in this track at least, it's actually amazing. That glitchy, brash sound that overtakes the second half of Addicted to a Memory is so relentless and dense that it somehow works. I'm not sure it's something that I'd listen to everyday, but I can definitely appreciate it.



(Music posted for evaluation purposes only. Preorder the album here. Follow me on twitter and facebook.

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Monday, April 13, 2015

Jason Derulo - Want To Want Me


So where did this come from? I mean, I hardly ever post tracks by mainstream U.S. artists anymore, mostly because I think most of them kind of suck. But then I hear this song from Jason Derulo of all people, and every last second of it screams Summer Anthem. It's actually pretty impressive that Derulo has been able to maintain his star power for a pretty long while, even if it is with crap like Talk Dirty. It's more impressive still that he decided to release something so unabashedly old-school pop when he could have just rehashed what's made him successful over the past few years. Want To Want Me is a propulsive, singalong dance song that borrows from Prince and Michael Jackson and every other great funk/dance artist of seventies onward. In that way, it's nearly a pastiche. But pastiche or not, it's that damn catchy chorus that kills each time. I'm surprised at how much I love it.



(Music posted for evaluation purposes only. Buy the single here. Follow me on twitter and facebook.

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Tuesday, April 07, 2015

Beast - Hands Up


For whatever reason, I hadn't been particularly drawn to Beast in the past. In fact, up until a few months ago I think they were probably the last major Korean boy group that I hadn't gotten into yet. Since the beginning of the year, though, I've been immersing myself in their back catalog (particularly their last few albums, which are nearly flawless). They're doing something pretty cool and releasing a new Japanese song each month for the rest of 2015. It's a great way to keep the music coming and it's really exciting for fans. Hands Up is the second of these tracks, and sounds almost like it could have been a summer single for One Direction. It has that same stomping, anthemic chorus and rock vibe. It's certainly not the strongest song in their discography, but it still could have easily functioned as an actual single instead of being part of this 10-month promotion. Most people highlight the chorus when talking about this track, but I actually love the verses with their acoustic guitar accents. For more of what Beast's typical music sounds like, though, be sure to check out the excellent Shadow and Good Luck. I can't imagine you'd be disappointed.



(Music posted for evaluation purposes only. Buy the single here. Follow me on twitter and facebook.

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Monday, April 06, 2015

Scarlet Pleasure - The Strip (Bomfunk MCs Remix)


I've had my eyes on Scarlet Pleasure (terrible band name, btw) for awhile now, checking in briefly as each of their singles climbed up the charts in their native Denmark. I really enjoy their soulful, almost Michael Jackson-esque vocal delivery but also crave to hear uptempo tracks from them. They have a very laid back sound, even in their more dancey songs. But, when I came upon this remix of their excellent single The Strip, it was finally the one to click with me. The remix doesn't necessarily increase the tempo all that much, but instead beefs up the track's general presence. If you're a fan of 80's funk-pop, they're definitely a group to check out... almost like a more subdued version of Thomas Troelsen's band Private.



(Music posted for evaluation purposes only. Buy the album here. Follow me on twitter and facebook.

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Friday, April 03, 2015

FTIsland - To The Light


I'm enamored by K-Pop mostly for its pop/dance/hip-hop scene, but I have an incredibly strong and deep love for rock music as well. I'm just a little pickier when it comes to this genre. Rock isn't nearly as prevalent in Korea as dance and hip-hop, and what little there is in the idol scene hasn't fully clicked with me yet. That's the case with FTIsland's latest album as well, with the exception of this song. I feel like most of their music is of the more typical American style (which is probably why I don't like it), but To The Light has a far more anthemic, power ballad feel to it. It actually reminds me a lot of 30 Seconds To Mars' excellent Closer To The Edge. The song was originally released as a Japanese single before being rerecorded in Korean. I haven't heard the original version and probably won't seek it out, but I hope the band has more material with this sound. The vocals are incredibly powerful and that chorus just soars.



(Music posted for evaluation purposes only. Buy the album here. Follow me on twitter and facebook.

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Thursday, April 02, 2015

Shannon Williams - Why Why


K-Pop has the unique quality of making "cute" completely tolerable. If I think of cute western music, I kind of roll my eyes. But the adorable, almost saccharine genre of "aegyo" infused Korean pop somehow just seems right. This song isn't too far into the cute spectrum, but the music video is certainly charming, and gets everything right for this particular style. Shannon Williams is active in Korea via the UK. so she brings a nice mixture of East and West. Her debut song was a bit of a snoozefest, but the follow up Why Why has unexpectedly become one of my favorite songs of the year so far. For one, her voice is outstanding, especially for an artist still in her teens. Also, the song itself is pure fun. Despite being a different genre, it has the aura of Taylor Swift if Taylor didn't seem so contrived and... well... annoying. This feels like exactly the type of song Shannon should be releasing from now on. Catchy, fun and super youthful.



(Music posted for evaluation purposes only. Buy the album here. Follow me on twitter and facebook.

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Tuesday, March 31, 2015

EXO - Call Me Baby


Expectations can be so irritating. Being a pop music fanatic has its drawbacks, and one of them is that I always place unrealistic expectations on soon-to-be-released songs or albums by artists I like. So many times, these expectations are impossible to meet and I wind up being initially disappointed in a release only to backtrack a day or two later and realize that the song or album is actually quite good… just different than I had set it up in my mind. Such is the case with EXO. Now, EXO is not my favorite K-Pop group, but they were my first. And they’re also (arguably) the most globally successful Korean group of the moment. So, when they release something new, I sit up and pay attention. While the new album as a whole is solid, if a little slow/boring, the single (Call Me Baby) is fantastic. But it did take me a couple of days to get used to. It has a lighter, less experimental feel than most of the band’s singles, and was initially jarring because of this. I dig the Michael Jackson influence as usual, but I'm also (strangely) feeling a bit of an 'Nsync Pop-era influence. This seemed like a step back for the group at first, but now I'm kind of loving it. Call Me Baby won’t end up being my favorite single of theirs, and I bet the inevitable repackage track will be even better, but at least one of the big dogs of K-Pop has finally released something new this year. I hope it opens the floodgates for all of the other A-Level acts to come back.



(Music posted for evaluation purposes only. Buy the album here. Follow me on twitter and facebook.

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Monday, March 30, 2015

Nightwish - Weak Fantasy


Last week, Finnish symphonic rockers Nightwish released their new album, and first with vocalist Floor Jansen. As usual with Nightwish albums, it takes some time to fully ingratiate with the dense, often long songs. Honestly, the twenty-four minute track that closes the album probably won't even find its way onto my ipod. I'm not a hardcore enough fan to have time for that. Upon listening to the album, there was one song that stuck out immediately as being incredibly awesome and exactly what I love about the band. Weak Fantasy is the second track, and it's classic, bombastic Nightwish. Both the hard rock and symphonic elements are operating at full tilt, and the song as a whole has a theatrical, aggressively insistent feel to it. It kind of sounds like it could have come from a heavier version of The Phantom of the Opera or something! The hook is especially indelible, with its snarling delivery and crushing production. Though I'm not sure how often I'll be revisiting the album as a whole, I can't stop listening to this song.


Nightwish 2015 - Weak Fantasy by MusicHits1

(Music posted for evaluation purposes only. Buy the album here. Follow me on twitter and facebook.

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Friday, March 27, 2015

Crayon Pop - FM


Yes! Yes! Yes! It's been awhile since Crayon Pop have graced us with their uniquely quirky brand of addictive pop, but now they've returned with a track that's almost impossibly catchy. Better yet, it's paired with a music video that awakens the nostalgic 90's child in me. Though it's not specifically what's being parodied here, most western viewers are going to see a whole lot of Power Rangers and Sailor Moon in the colorful video. It's pure, giddy eye candy. But even if we take the visuals away, there's absolutely no denying the candy-coated assault going on in the music itself. The beat is big and bright and propulsive. The melody of the chorus reminds me a bit of AOA's similarly catchy Elvis, but even better. It simply doesn't let up. The girls are well and truly back.



(Music posted for evaluation purposes only. Buy the mini album here. Follow me on twitter and facebook.

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Thursday, March 26, 2015

Ola Salo - Hamartia


Ola Salo's debut EP was released yesterday, worldwide, and I'm happy to report that it's actually pretty good. We've already heard the best two songs, Go On Go On and the fantastic How I Kill. Beyond that, we get the dark and glammy Calling On The Curious and the more bright sounding, string-infused Hamartia. Though I still maintain that Ola's higher register has become a bit shrill of late and his music needs vocal arrangement that accounts for that, I adore this song even so. I'm just overjoyed that Ola is releasing solo material that I actually like. The Ark was such a huge musical touchstone in my life, and it's fun to see what its frontman has evolved into. It turns out, thankfully, that it's not all that different from what I loved so much about the Ark. A full album is out in May, and I'm anxiously looking forward to it! And by "anxiously," I mean that I need it now.



(Music posted for evaluation purposes only. Buy the EP here. Follow me on twitter and facebook.

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Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Brandon Flowers - Can't Deny My Love


Despite loving the Killers' first few albums, I can't say I was overly excited at the prospect of another solo album by frontman Brandon Flowers. I think I assumed it would be mostly downtempo and serious. Well, it's not! The first single, at least, takes a welcome tilt back to the 80's pop direction that made me love the band in the first place. It actually sounds like something that would have been on Bleachers' excellent 2014 album. It's got an explosive, catchy hook and atmospheric synths that make it sound like a long-lost soundtrack cut to some 80's movie. Color me surprised. My interest is officially reignited (as long as the rest of the album follows suit...).



(Music posted for evaluation purposes only. Preorder the album here. Follow me on twitter and facebook.

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Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Magnus Carlsson - Nej Nej Nej


After participating in this year's Melodifestivalen final, Magnus Carlsson went ahead and released an awesome pop/schlager album. Now, for those of you unfamiliar with the schlager genre, think super catchy, singalong pop music. Like, SUPER catchy. It's a hallmark of Scandinavian music, and one of my favorite things about it is that it doesn't take itself seriously. Instead, it jettisons all pretenses and goes balls-to-the-wall hardcore to make the best, most urgently awesome melody that it can muster. It's also a genre that's not as prevalent in today's cynical music scene. Too often dismissed as a cheesy "guilty pleasure," schlager deserves to be spotlighted. Magnus has always done an amazing job doing just that. Take Nej Nej Nej as an example. If you can't get in to this, I feel sorry a little bit sorry for you. Take a cue from this awesome interpreter, who provided sign language for Magnus's MF entry. It'll brighten your day... maybe even your month!

No embeddable link, but you can stream the song here

(Music posted for evaluation purposes only. Buy the album here. Follow me on twitter and facebook.

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Friday, March 20, 2015

Boyfriend - Crooked


I'm beginning to think that every Kpop song called Crooked is awesome. Actually, it's more like every song produced by Sweetune is awesome. I haven't actually seen the production credits for Boyfriend's new mini album, but I'm 99% sure that this track is a Sweetune composition. For much of its length, it's an above average dance/club track. But it's the second part of the chorus, that anthemic, soaring section that's first heard at the 1:20 mark, that stands out most. This is pure Sweetune perfection (or at least a very impressive facsimile) and it's what has kept this album track in heavy rotation for me the past few weeks. Sometimes all it takes is a little slice of melody, even if its surrounding parts aren't all that memorable. I wish Boyfriend would go back to this sound more often. It's what made their earlier material so classic.



(Music posted for evaluation purposes only. Buy the album here. Follow me on twitter and facebook.

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Thursday, March 19, 2015

Red Velvet - Ice Cream Cake


During the past few years in the K-Pop realm, SM Entertainment has become well known for their unique brand of "franken-songs." Tracks like Girls' Generation's I Got A Boy and f(x)'s Red Light cobble together seemingly disparate sounds and melodies to create a herky-jerky type of pop song that some fans hate, but I find to be really dynamic and interesting. It's something I've come to look forward to when SM artists release new material. Red Velvet, one of the company's newest groups, show us yet again how awesome this style can be with their addictive Ice Cream Cake. It's the kind of track that pulls you in immediately with its incredible catchiness, but keeps you curious long after with its interesting sound and tempo changes. The aggressive beat during the chorus is the best, but the song's more saccharine moments actually work well too. The song could have easily grated on my nerves with its childish refrain, but there's something about it that just seems so cool. The surreal, stylish video certainly helps.



(Music posted for evaluation purposes only. Buy the album here. Follow me on twitter and facebook.

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