Top 3 of 2018

jaziimun’s picks

1. 安溥 [醜 Ugly Cover // Original by 草東沒有派對 No Party for Cao Dong]

The most exciting thing that happened this year is that 張懸 [zhang xuan] came back, this time bearing her birth name: 安溥 [an pu]. She did a series of live concerts featuring only covers of songs that she loves, and the album casts a glorious, brooding, angsty an pu flavour onto all genres of songs. This cover she did of No Party for Cao Dong’s 醜 is spectacular.

I’m so glad she’s back and so glad she continues to be an unapologetic presence in a music scene that can often feel too willing to shy away from the dark side of being an artist. I’m hoping that 安溥 will continue to walk her musical journey in the years to come and share the pieces she’s gleaned.

我试过握着她的手 却还是一样寂寞 I tried holding her hand, but I still felt alone
从没想过 原来自己那么丑陋 I never thought that I was really this ugly
原来自己那么丑陋 It turns out I was this ugly

我说得像切身之痛 却一直在退缩 I spoke as if it hurt me personally, but then I retreated 
从没想过 原来自己那么丑陋 I never thought that I was really this ugly
原来自己那么丑陋 It turns out I was this ugly

——
2. 宇宙人 Cosmospeople [你以為 Hello Princess]

You can always count on Cosmospeople for your bass fix. Always. And if you’re a fan of bands, you’ll know that live is better than everything else. So here’s a glorious live of 你以為.

你以為 我會等你很久 You thought I would wait for you forever
但是坦白說我已經受夠 But to tell you the truth, I’ve had enough
我問你 你愛不愛我 你說 So I ask you, Do you love me, And you say
現在 別鬧了 回去再說 Stop it. Don’t be ridiculous, we’ll talk about this when we go home. 

——
3. 白安 ANN【我們的時代 Our Time]

So confession: I either love or hate 白安. Some of her songs land so exquisitely for me, and others bore me. This song belongs in the former category for the way she chooses to tackle the burnout and dogged hope that many of us in the millennial generation hold within us.

Another point of intrigue for me in this song is that she repeats the line, “Our dreams will never die” a few times, and I couldn’t figure out for the longest time why I was so drawn to the line until it recently occurred to me that it’s a line from a song (Ballade of the Puppets) in one of my favourite anime movies to recommend “Ghost in the Shell: Innocence”.

The stanza from that song goes:

The blossoms beseech the gods
“Even though in this world we may know grief and suffering,
Our dreams shall never die,”
And they fall from the branch in anger. (Oshii, Innocence)

The stanza from 白安’s song goes:

我的不怕承認我愚昧 I am not afraid to admit to my foolishness
也不怕赤裸站在地你面前 I am also not afraid to stand naked before you
每道傷疤皆為我的驕傲徽章 Every scar, after all, is a badge I wear with pride
心碎就歌唱太陽升起也就忘啦 If my heart is broken, I will sing till the sun rises and then forget
歡迎我們來到最美好的時代 Welcome to this beautiful era
他們都說這是最的敗壞世代 They say it is the worst era 
我們擁有的不多所以不存在害怕失去的理由 We don’t possess much and so we have no fear of what there is to lose
大雨越滂沱我們的心越剔透 The stronger this rain pours, the brighter our hearts will be
Our dreams will never die 


——

miraelxx’s picks

1. ADOY [LOVE]

A dream-like adventure. A night of endless love.
They dream, sing, and draw out the love they want.
They hold gentleness in the playfulness.
Love, to signify youth; the transience decorated in a particular time of your life.

I adore this album. All six songs rejuvenate a fictionalized colourful love that keeps me smiling.

“If this time is the last drive out in the haze
Take me in for the last time into your eyes
Yes, I know we shouldn’t go that far
But I could wonder

Gimme a feeling
Slowly in a deja vu
Gimme a feeling
Do you wanna feel it too”

Each song is a dedication to feelings, no storytelling, just a pure exploration of feelings. Like the sparsely glistening city lights. Like the slow drive through those city lights. Like the blinking headlights towards your love you wish will never end.

This is their 2nd EP, following their first which was released in 2017. Receiving the Special Jury Prize at the 2019 Seoul Music Awards, I can only hope they’ll continue to create their music and never touch foot in commercial indie.

——

2. 소낙빌 Sonacvill [빌라에서 만든 음악 Songs Made in the Villa]

Sonacvill’s “Beauty” is one of those rare songs that I fell in love with immediately at first listen, and even after many months of listening, I still love so much.

And when I listened to the entire album, I wanted to treasure it. Within the anxious instability of the lyrics, 김낙원 Kim Nak Won‘s whispers echo against the medium tempo, calming the surrounding. Alongside 권소장 Kwon So Jang‘s composition, acoustic meshes with electronic, creating an endearing landscape with a rose thorn, a bucket of tears, and a window-full of sunshine.

“그대여 나를 봐줘요 hey, can you look at me
보잘 것 없이 하찮겠지만 i might be small and shabby
그대의 아름다움에 난 취했어요 but i am drunk on your beauty

나는 이토록 바닥 같은데 although i am so poor and pathetic
감히 사랑을 건네 받고파 i dare to be loved by you
그대는 좀처럼 오지를 않네 but you rarely come close to me
나의 욕심이 과분한 걸까 is my greed too excessive?”

Craving to love (“빈 칸 / Empty Space“). Craving for love (“Beauty“). Craving for colour to brush against the emptiness (“Paper“). Dwelling in a lethargic exhaustion (“무중력 / Zero Gravity“). Sneering at your shabby self (“날개 / Wings“). This album is notes vented against the blank pages on your phone; notes you’ve locked up to make sure nobody will ever see them. It lives in the jukebox of my twenties.

—–

3. 폴킴 Paul Kim – 너를 만나 Me After You

The two chilly seasons always bring a slew of ballads to recall the absence of loved ones. I think my mood is also designed to match the seasons and the musical trends of the Korean mainstream.

Paul Kim has been steadily sharing his melodies and warm vocals, slowly climbing up into the mainstream sphere since last year. I became a fan of his first full album [길 Road / 터널 Tunnel] and was in the midst of obsessing over his OST for the drama “Should We Kiss First?” when this song was released. I had expected another one of the beautiful sad love songs which I dreaded to fall into at that time, but rather found warmth in the melancholic melody.

“식탁 위에 마주 앉아 sitting at the table
너의 하루는 어땠는지 묻거나 i ask how your day was
나의 하루도 썩 괜찮았어 my day was fairly okay
웃으며 대답해 주고 싶어 i want to respond with a smile

별것 아닌 일에 맘이 통할 때면 when we find ourselves on the same wavelength for something so small
익숙해진 서로가 놀라웠어 we are surprised at our familiarity
널 사랑해 i love you
평온한 지금처럼만 i want this peacefulness
영원하고 싶다고 to remain forever
너를 바라보다 생각했어 i thought of this as i looked at you”

너를 만나” has the sorrowful piano and instrumental crescendos that squeezes your heart and calls for tears, yet with lyrics dedicated to the happiness of finding a love more perfect than you could have ever imagined – a story, you could say, that lives in an idealistic world of romance dramas or novels, which often I’ll ignore, but this time, maybe that’s exactly why I like this song. I find it quite beautiful how one song can convey contradicting emotions simultaneously – this can be a happy song for some, or a sad song for others.

—–

Special Acknowledgement to pH-1’s “Cupid”, my most played song (released in 2018) of the year (according to iTunes) by one of the most mainstream emerging hip hop artist of 2018 with one of my favourite music videos of 2018.