#tbt: 2016 highlight

jaziimun’s picks

謝震廷 Eli Hsieh debuted on a singing competition in 2007 at the young age of 13 and placed in the Top Ten.

On the last day of 2015, he released his first full-length album【查理 Charlie】and was nominated in 2016 for New Artist of the Year, Album of the Year, and Single Track Producer of the Year.

He won the New Artist Award.

謝震廷 is an extremely talented singer-songwriter, and participates at all levels of his album production. His writing is understated but sophisticated, and he pays attention to the details.

With his competition background and long history of live gigs, performance is something he can deliver on: vocally, instrumentally and bodily.

說得自以為是 想抓住一點虛榮感
結果話才說到一半 我就搞得進退兩難
引來許多反彈 活該

但也沒什麼不好 我主張順其自然
反而要感謝這些人 愛你的討厭你的
要不是他們 你也不會找到這些答案

The lyrics to “You Found Me” are delivered to an unknown person, and it starts out a bit like a love song. However when you get to the rap, it turns out Hsieh is rapping about being a young music artist in the industry, navigating the complexities of seniority, pursuing goals, juggling inexperience with exploring talent, of fans and anti-fans, and everything else.

“It’s all because you found me”

Turns out, every time you listen to the track, he’s really just talking to you. A thank you delivered in the way he knows best how to deliver; through song.

Mayday needs no introduction. They anticipated their 20th anniversary as a band together by releasing their ninth album【自傳, History of Tomorrow】in July 2016, which was nominated for a whopping eight Golden Melody awards this past year and was KKBOX’s second most played album of the year.

Lead singer 阿信, also the lyricist of the band, is my favourite lyricist on the planet. He writes a wide range of genres and has an extensive vocabulary, but also understands how to balance the lyrical with a degree of accessibility.

This song, “後來的我們, Here, After Us” is my favourite song from the album and begins with “And then”.

用新的幸福 把遺憾包著
就這麽朝著 未來前進了
有再多的不捨 也要狠心割捨
別回頭看我 親愛的

miraelxx’s picks

First of all, I can’t start talking about 2016 without giving creds to Twice’s “Cheer Up”. It was everywhere. The girls were everywhere from commercials to entertainment shows. It’s no doubt that Twice was THE artist that received THE most love last year. And although I very much dislike the song after hearing it so many times last year (the annoying chorus rings in my ears as I write this), it’s also my guilty pleasure. However much I bash on Kpop, I genuinely also love it.

Following girl groups and OST hits on the charts is 어반 자카파 / Urban Zakapa. The name shouldn’t be an unfamiliar one. Since their debut in 2009, 조현아 Cho Hyun-Ah, 권순일 Kwon Soon-Il, and 박용인 Park Yong-In have very much made themselves the best R&B group. 널 사랑하지 않아 / I Don’t Love You is a beautiful song, one of my favourites from the trio. Not their typical R&B groove, the ballad genre truly highlights each of their incredible vocals.

널 사랑하지 않아 / I Don’t Love You is a heartbreaking farewell. A farewell so honest, it’s almost excruciating.

널 사랑하지 않아
다른 이유는 없어
미안하다는 말도
용서해 달란 말도
하고 싶지 않아

I don’t love you anymore
I have no other reasons
I don’t even want to say
I’m sorry
Forgive me

Pain and sorrow ring through their calm voice as they confess their honest true feelings. No filters or efforts of consolation, but rather just a selfish “I’m letting you go because I just don’t love you”. As the three carefully comes in one by one repeating “I don’t love you” over and over again, more and more instruments join in, accelerating the emotions to a painful cry. It’s beautiful melody with cruel lyrics.

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I accidentally ended up at 이랑 Lang Lee’s Twitter one day, which led me to an article about how she won the “Best Folk Song Award of 2016” for Korean Music Awards 2017 and auctioned off her trophy during her thank-you speech for ₩500,000 to an audience member.

She started her speech by revealing her monthly income and how she’s struggling to pay her rent. “My friend told me there would be no reason to go to the award ceremony if it doesn’t satisfy two of the three things: money, honour, and fun.” Although she greatly appreciates the honour, the ceremony doesn’t have either fun or cash. Thus, the only way to satisfy a second is to sell her trophy. After moments of quiet laughs in the crowd, a man got up to trade stacks of bills for her trophy. Lang ended her speech by saying how she got both honour and money, and the audience got the fun.

I don’t know about you, but after reading/watching this, I immediately became a fan of her before even listening to whatever the song is that this award was dedicated for. I became a fan of Lang Lee as a person, before I became a fan of her as an artist.

신의 놀이 / Playing God needs to be appreciated with the music video. Lang’s calm and composed voice relays an endless array of words in rhythmic manner, like a rap of sort, which perfectly accompanies the repetitive simple body movements. Apparently they’re supposed to be an interpretation of bodily gestures of various labour tasks. The aesthetic recalls the light-hearted serenity of some Japanese indie drama films, such as one of my favourite films, Megane (Glasses) by Naoko Ogigami (2007), and particularly this scene.

한국에서 태어나 산다는 데 어떤 의미를 두고 계시나요
때로는 사막에 내던져진 것 같은 그런 느낌이 드시나요
좋은 이야기가 있어도 만들어지지 않는다면 그 좋은 이야기에 대한
신념이 무너지는 순간이 찾아오기도 하나요

What meaning do you give to the fact that you were born in Korea
Do you ever sometimes feel like you’ve been thrown into the desert

I’d like to interpret her lyrics as a social critique on the current state of life in Korea – however way you want to interpret that. While Lang tells us how she’s making movies (yes, she’s also a filmmaker) to pretend to be God so she can entertain the public from all the mess of things.

여전히 사람들은 좋은 이야기가 나오기를 기다리고 있죠
좋은 이야기는 향기를 품고 사람들은 그 냄새를 맡죠
모든 이야기는 제물로 바쳐지기 위해 만들어지는 비극

People are still waiting for that good story to come out
A good story harbours a scent that everyone wants to smell
It’s a tragedy that every story is created to become a sacrificial offering

I also recently read Lang’s book, [대체 뭐하자는 인간이지 싶었다 / What kind of a person am I even], and have come to the conclusion that I just really want to be her friend.