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Wednesday, December 30, 2015

New Year, New Blog!

Hello everyone!

Big things are coming with the new year. After nearly a decade and almost 3,000 posts, I've decided to move on to a newly reconfigured blog.

I'm sure everyone's noticed how much kpop, and Asian music in general, has taken over this blog for the past couple of years. I mean, take a look at my top 50 singles list and it'll be hard to find more than a couple English-language tracks in the entire countdown! Well, after three and a half years listening to it, I can safely confirm that kpop is not just a phase for me. It has single-handedly reignited my passion for music.

I really didn't want to continue running a hodgepodge blog without a focus, so I decided earlier this month to start something new. That doesn't mean I'll completely abandon #1 Hits From Another Planet. The blog will still be kept up and I might even add posts now and then if the mood strikes me or if some new release really warrants it. But, for now, I am moving on to The Bias List.

The Bias List will strictly focus on Asian music... the vast majority being kpop. The layout is much cleaner and I think I've got a better rating system in place so that the posts will hopefully have a bit more meaning. If you're interested at all in this genre of music (and if you've been following me all this time, I assume you at least have a passing interest), please bookmark or link to The Bias List. It takes a lot to get readership going again for a new blog, and I'm fully committed to making sure that this becomes as successful and long-lasting as #1 Hits has been.

Finally, thanks everyone for following me for this past decade. I hope that you all continue to engage with the music I post and review. Here's to another ten years!


Top 50 Singles of 2015: 5-1

5. Seventeen - Mansae



If they wowed me with their debut, I was utterly floored with this follow-up. It's like a whole year's worth of pop energy wrapped up into three minutes.

4. Shinee - View



It's hard to imagine a better beat this year. Initially, I thought it sounded too European, but this song turned out to be the biggest earworm of the year. Every time it comes on in a playlist, it feels like it's summer again.

3. BTS - I Need U



A true turning point for this fast-rising group, and their highest entry ever on this countdown. It has so much more emotional heft than any of their previous singles, and that electro sledgehammer that rounds out the chorus drives it all home. Truly a timeless, genre-less pop song.

2. Super Junior - Devil 



From the emotional to the unstoppably fun, Super Junior managed to release the best, most effortless single of their long career. Some songs just lift your spirits when you hear them, and it's impossible to stay sad or upset when Devil comes on. Sometimes simplicity and a killer hook is all it takes to forge a masterpiece.

1. Kat-Tun - Dead Or Alive 



Never has a Japanese track hit the top spot on my countdown, and I'm so happy that Dead Or Alive is the one to do it. I'm a sucker for dramatic, orchestral production, and this track is damn near symphonic in nature. I first heard it about a month after it was released, and was intrigued but thought the lack of a strong backbeat was somewhat unfortunate. Then, a few months later, the song appeared in a random playlist and those opening fifteen or so seconds just blew away everything I had been listening to that day. So grand and majestic... so BIG. Since then, it's been the track to beat all year, and nothing's been able to fully match up. It really is a transcendent piece of pop music, with all the bells and whistles I go crazy for.

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Top Albums and Mini-Albums of 2015: Number 1

ALBUMS

1. Janet Jackson - Unbreakable



When I heard that Janet was coming back this year, I wondering if her album would make my countdown. Despite being my favorite artist of all time, her last few albums haven't exactly been stellar representations of what makes her so wonderful. Unbreakable, though, exceeded all expectations. What we have here is classic Janet, augmented just enough for today's age. It's a mature, thoughtful album that doesn't skimp on the beats or melody. it has that lush, impeccably produced sound that is hers and hers alone. Janet plus Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis is pure heaven. They could release music for the next fifty years and it would all sound so classic and timeless. I am so thrilled that Janet's back, and even more ecstatic that I can place this at the very top of my countdown.

MINI ALBUMS

1. Infinite - Reality



The kings of k-pop didn't release all that much this year, but anything they put out is bound to be gold. Balanced equally between ballads and dance tracks, Reality showed just a bit more maturity and progression than their past work, while still sounding undeniably Infinite. While I hope that they'll work with producers Sweetune again in the future, it's nice to know that the quality of their music holds up regardless of the producer. It's by far my most-listened to mini album of the year, and rightly so.

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Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Top 50 Singles of 2015: 10-6

10. Wonder Girls - I Feel You



By hearkening back to the 80's, Wonder Girls released one of the most surprising (and best) singles of their career. Just try to resist that synth riff.

9. Infinite - Bad



Working with producer Rphabet again, the guys went for a darker, more hip-hop inspired sound, but didn't forget the drama in the process.

8. GOT7 - Just Right



One of the most unique singles in k-pop this year, a bouncy summertime bop that grew more addictive each time I heard it. It's laidback, feel-good pop done right.

7. News - Kaguya 



Unabashedly cheesy, but unlike so many tracks that opted for a skeletal beat instead of a proper chorus, Kaguya erupted in a full-bodied, massive chorus.

6. EXO - Love Me Right 



Their highest entry since their year of debut, it's also their most propulsive, poppy release in years. MJ would be proud.

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Top Albums and Mini-Albums of 2015: Number 2

ALBUMS

2. Wonder Girls - Reboot



I wouldn't necessarily consider myself a Wonder Girls fan before this album was released, but I am a massive fan of the 80's and anything related to that sound. So, when the girls came back as a band, performing synthpop and 80's-style r+b, I was more than won over... I was obsessed! Reboot remains this year's strongest k-pop album, even after all of the competition. Each song is a brilliant encapsulation of their concept, and the songwriting itself is very strong. It's hookier than it has any right to be.

MINI ALBUMS

2. B1A4 - Sweet Girl



B1A4 are incredibly reliable albums artists, much of which is due to the fact that they write and produce their own material. Simply put, Jinyoung is a genius pop songwriter. All of his melodies here sound so classic, so perfectly realized. And although the title track wasn't their strongest, it's compensated by the triple whammy of perfection that follows it. Seriously, the combination of "I Am A Boy, You Are A Girl," "10 Years," and "Mine" is undeniable.

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Monday, December 28, 2015

Top 50 Singles of 2015: 15-11

15. BTOB - It's Okay



The year's most dramatic ballad, which at times feels more like vocal Olympics as the members continually one-up each other.

14. Donghae and Eunhyuk - Growing Pains



Criminally underrated, the soaring chorus on this anthem deserves major recognition alone.

13. Gfriend - Me Gustas Tu



K-pop's biggest breakout girl group of the year improved on their already brilliant debut track with this bubbly, ridiculously-catchy pop trifle.

12. Sungkyu - The Answer 



Infinite's leader proved his might yet again with this classy, orchestral ballad.

11. Nine Muses - Hurt Locker 



It's all about that bright, reach-for-the-stars chorus. An unending chorus of power pop vocals.

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Top Albums and Mini-Albums of 2015: Number 3

ALBUMS

3. Shinee - Odd/Married To The Music



A Shinee release is always something to get excited about, and then they went and repackaged an already brilliant album into an even more brilliant rerelease. Though not quite up their with the groups best 2013 releases, Odd showed us many new sides to the group that let them reconfigure their sound just a bit. It also resulted in two of the year's best singles, as well as some left-field gems that could have easily taken over airwaves as well.

MINI ALBUMS

3. BTS - The Most Beautiful Moment In Life (Part One)



BTS released two mini albums this year, though they kind of function as one multi-part concept. Their first, released back in April, is the stronger, with a non-stop barrage of flawless tracks. From the upbeat silliness of Boyz With Fun to the dark and touching I Need U, the album is balanced perfectly between moods and really ushers the group into a new status and sound. It's definitely one of the more unique and characteristic albums released this year in Korea.

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Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Top 50 Singles of 2015: 20-16

20. Infinite - Dilemma



For their first original Japanese release, the guys gifted us an aggressive, rock-infused pop track with a wicked guitar breakdown.

19. Teen Top - ah ah



At first it may seem underwhelming, but something about that summer sound works its way in your brain and sticks there.

18. Seventeen - Adore U



The year's best debut -- a giant candy-coated mixture of pop and hip-hop and big, boisterous production.

17. HIGH4 - D.O.A. (Dead Or Alive) 



Switching between genres for a year now, the guys finally settled on something that really does them justice -- a dark, dynamic dance track.

16. GOT7 - If You Do 



GOT7 had a big year, and this moody, melodic single was yet another breakthrough for them.

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Top Albums and Mini-Albums of 2015: Number 4

ALBUMS

4. BTOB - Complete



I never really gave BTOB much attention until this album. Although the title track was a (brilliant) ballad, the album as a whole does an expert job of seguing between balladry that's not boring, and new-jack-swing inspired uptempos. It's not an album that I expected to pay much attention to, but it was released at the perfect time of the year and I just found myself falling into it over and over again.

MINI ALBUMS

4. Sungkyu - 27



Sungkyu probably could have released anything and he still would have been on the countdown. That's how much I love his voice and performance style. It certainly helps that he created a mature, melodic album with enough experimentation and progression to make the music incredibly interesting and layered. He's certainly in his element here, and every song feels more like an artistic statement than a means to an end.

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Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Top 50 Singles of 2015: 25-21

25. BTS - Dope



Their ode to hard work and training, and this year's best example of how to do an instrumental breakdown the right way.

24. News - Four Musketeers



An odd pop song, that barrows more from classical orchestration than it does from current trends. Somehow, it all works brilliantly together.

23. Bigbang - Let's Not Fall In Love



Not the loudest or most in-your-face single the group released this year, but I feel like that earworm of a melody will give it the massive staying power that other songs lack.

22. Boys Republic - Hello 



A hazy summer track that borrows the best from melodic, late-90's boyband pop. It just sounds like a peaceful drive by the beach.

21. Red Velvet - Dumb Dumb 



A schizophrenic firework of a single, catapulting Red Velvet to the top tiers of k-pop. It's all about that beat.

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