WHERE DO I BEGIN? 2012 was the year 韋禮安，蔡依林，S.H.E, 林宥嘉，嚴爵，A-Lin，楊丞琳，徐佳瑩 released albums, amongst countless others. Maybe they were all trying to get their last albums in before the world ended.
第二人生 – 五月天 // Second Round – Mayday [Album Feature]
The year of the supposed apocalypse was seminal, however, in the Mandopop industry, as it introduced 五月天 Mayday’s 【第二人生 Second Round】 album into the world (okay technically the album released in 2011 December, but what a way to enter the new year!), and the rest was history. Themed around the apocalypse, and acting under an extended metaphor of music as a Noah’s Ark, the album contained 13 songs, and was released in two versions: the No Where (末日) and Now Here (明日) editions (The genius in both the English and Chinese edition names continues to blow my mind).
It won Song of the Year, Album of the Year, Composer of the Year, Arrangement of the Year, Album Production of the Year, Band of the Year (SEVEN WHOPPING AWARDS) and was also nominated for Lyricist of the Year.
It’s futile to pick just one track from the album, as the tracks add to a seamless whole of thoughtful commentary on the human experience: urgent and reflective through imagined annihilation, wistful and nostalgic in the face of inevitable endings.
The tracks were also released with some of the most famous and iconic MVs in recent years, from the dramatic mini movie styles of 我不願讓你一個人, the song-with-an-easter-egg 洗衣機, to the tearjerking 乾杯 and the fantastic OST to Jimmy Liao’s 星空, Mayday’s eighth album is a work of art that keeps on giving.
累 – 韋禮安 // Tired – William Wei
William Wei (once known (amazingly) as Weiwei Bird) debuted strong in the acoustic line of singer-songwriters, and this second album of his, 【有人在等 Someone Is Waiting】didn’t deviate too far from that original sound.
Although the lyrics to this song are simple and straightforward, Wei delivers them in his lovely effortless way; a slight melancholy set to acoustic chill. We all need those light-hearted heartbreak tunes once in a while, to remind us of those wonderfully naive feelings we’ve all felt toward the ones we weren’t able to hold on to in life.
Welcome to the year of Gangnam Style when the entire world discovered Korea, thanks to Psy, and horse danced throughout the year.
버스커버스커 – 벚꽃 엔딩 // Busker Busker – Cherry Blossom Ending
2012 was also the year the then-new folk rock band Busker Busker threw cherry blossoms at everyone.
Released at the peak of season transition, 벚꽃 엔딩 has become THE spring anthem in Korea, creeping onto music charts every spring as green leaves slowly take over the bare dry landscape and birds chirp a wake-up call. People find themselves searching for the song or already playing it in their earphones as if listening to 벚꽃엔딩 has become a habit when the calendar reads March – as if we can’t imagine a spring without hearing the accordion rings and 장범준 Jang Beom Jun‘s calming voice calling out “그대여 그대여.”
Making their name through SuperStar K (finishing as a semi-finalist of the third season), Busker Busker epitomizes the spirit of indie folk music while riding on the bandwagon of the popular audition program and reaching mainstream audience.
Drawing on personal experiences, 장범준 (vocal/guitar & composer/producer) fills the band’s first album with various emotions and colours of love. 벚꽃엔딩 shares the butterflies of the first hand holding and innocence of youth through sweet acoustics. The repetition of its simple melody and chorus makes the song easy to sing along – one of the reasons why it became so popular, but also the reason why it could have easily gotten us sick of it and yet we have held onto it for the last five years.
Let us see if the nation rejoices in cherry blossoms again this year, or if a new sweet acoustic love song will outshine it (although will anything ever beat the happy cuteness overload of the music video?) I’ll definitely keep a close eye on the charts in the next couple of weeks.
3호선 버터플라이 – 헤어지는 날 바로 오늘 // 3rd Line Butterfly – Today, the Day We Part
A new album release by the then-13 year-old band after 8 years of quiet.
Awarded: Best Modern Rock Album of the Year. Best Modern Rock Song of the Year.
But awards and nominations shouldn’t matter for a band like them (as well as many I’ve featured in previous #tbt). This album would have nonetheless made a striking impact and remain one of the best indie rock albums to remember years and years later.
가지말라고 제발 가지말라고 Don’t go, please don’t go
매달려봐도 소용이 없네 Even if I hold onto you, it’s all useless
진눈깨비 흩어지는 거리에 The streets scattered with sleet
도망치듯 멀어지는 니 뒷모습 You are so far away, as if you’re running away
깊어질수 없다는 그 거짓말 Your lie that it will never get deeper
너에게 침을 뱉고 싶어지는 이 기분 That feeling of wanting to spit at you
This song exemplifies the 매력적인 (combine: attractive + captivating + enchanting) energy of the band, from the powerful vocal of 남상아 Nam Sang Ah to the strong amalgamation of instruments – 성기완 Sung Ki Wan (guitar), 김남윤 Kim Nam Yoon (bass), and 서현정 Seo Hyun Jung (drum). Each instrument clashes at each other yet in harmony, as if telling their own stories while slowly being drenched in Sang Ah’s emotions.
(If you don’t want to watch the entire performance, I promise you that it’ll be worthwhile to skip to 2:40 and continue from there on.)