Top 3 of 2020

jaziimun’s picks

First off, I have to give a special mention to 皆可 by 田馥甄 Hebe as it was my most played song of 2020, but I’ve already featured it here!

麋先生 Mixer – 廢廢

One of my favourite indie rock bands 麋先生 Mixer made a comeback this year with a full album after 4 years!! 廢廢 was one of their early release singles, and features Mixer’s signature drum and electric guitar sounds, and the usual quality lyricism of lead vocal and writer 吴圣皓.

It’s a good in-between track that isn’t too committed to rocking out, but definitely lifts itself above a chill existence — kind of a lazy head tap that leaves you with a bit of fresh air and then maybe a short rush to do a small thing before going back to your nap.



the strong want to become beasts
and the obedient chew on branches
while i am a slow and rare species

useless things are used and recycled
useless words in abundance will be ignored
the trash heap may have friends
useless people strolling in their beyond help

吳卓源 Julia Wu ft. 婁峻碩 SHOU – 七十億分之一加一

I don’t always listen to 吳卓源 Julia Wu, but when I do, it’s the kind of song I loop on repeat. I actually heard the live version of this on 樂人 Sessions first (see below for that live performance) and immediately loved it.

七十億分之一 means 1 in 7 billion, and its just a fun, flirty, tongue-in-cheek song that’s very characteristic of the new wave of up and coming singers in the mando scene at the moment. The MV is a perfect illustration of this kind of irreverent and stylized approach.

Julia has a really soulful voice that sounds like a really plush couch you could sink into and both 婁峻碩 Shou (who raps in the MV) and 鼓鼓呂思緯 (who raps and drums in the live) generally have a more relaxed approach to their lines that’s comfortable to listen to.

Mostly here though for the amount of thirst jokes in the visuals.

漂流在不屬於你我的空間 baby

lately i’ve been wearing your heart in my hands
intentionally avoiding what you are trying to say
i think and think
i look and look
cotton candy gaze melting into my heart
i try to skip to that ocean wave
i don’t need a script to act out this scene
i won’t play other songs
only sing the songs you write
float in this space that doesn’t belong to either of us baby

Bonus live version:

魚丁系 oaeen – 沙發裡有沙發Radio

The beloved 蘇打綠 Sodagreen disbanded indefinitely in 2017, and then returned to the scene as a newly formed band 魚丁系 oaeen in 2020. Notably, they all have new aliases and have stressed that this other band is not a continuation of Sodagreen. It’s been fun to watch this artistic exploration and creation of an alternative space to experiment, recalibrate, and also infuse a different kind of public life into their long-running relationship as a band (they’ve been together since 2001!). Most importantly, they’ve reconfigured the way they write music to including a more collaborative process that includes every member in different ways. This is a huge departure from the SodaGreen era when the main creative force for the band was lead singer 青峰 who penned almost every song. 青峰 is an industry-wide staple both as a featured vocalist, a writer and a concert guest, so this is not a surprising thing. What’s refreshing about 魚丁系 oaeen’s approach to deconstructing their creative process is that it gives them room to create entirely new sounds.

The process was overseen by superstar producer 陳珊妮 Sandee Chan who proposed an entirely digital process for putting the track together, forcing the band members to take completely new approaches to dialoguing about the track.

When 青峰, whose name in 魚丁系 oaeen is 日出, did the demo track recording, he sang placement notes “sa fa li yo sa fa le li yo” which then evolved into the sound transliterations for the title 沙發裡有沙發Radio. Other than this, the title basically has no other meaning, and ultimately the song is a celebration of this kind of creative play that 魚丁系 oaeen is committed to, in their new iteration as a band.

床邊喝著冰啤酒 黃色 金黃色
泡沫 泡沫
我要乾脆做個夢 紅色 粉紅色 (睡吧 睡吧)

花邊新聞小動作 黑色 深黑色
幽默 幽默
一雙躲在鍵盤後 虹色 彩虹色
(手 手)

繞著房間檯燈跳 跟著 跟著我
shadow shadow
荒唐水逆請不要 纏著 纏著我
(oh no oh no)

旋 轉漫遊 不經意 地散播
復 古潮流 水藍色 的電波


by the bedside drinking iced beer, yellow, gold yellow, bubbles, bubbles
i want to have a clear dream, red, pink (sleep, sleep)

the tidbit column does its petty tricks, black, deep black, humour, humour
a pair hiding behind a keyboard, rainbow, rainbow
(hands, hands)

circling the room, lights dancing, follow me
shadow, shadow
absurd retrograde please don’t bother, bother me
(oh no, oh no)

spinning slowly, unwittingly scattering
vintage flow, deep blue radio waves

there is a sofa radio in the sofa

miraelxx’s picks

The Korean entertainment industry didn’t stop this year. New singing competitions arose while popular shows like Show Me the Money and You Hee-Yeol’s Sketchbook persisted, just without a physical audience to fill the space with energy. From legends to the hottest pop stars, major comebacks of faces we’ve missed to up and coming fresh voices, this year brought a lot of goodness, not just on the international stage (as you may all know very well). Here are three of the strongest and the most beautiful album and songs released this year.

이하이 Lee Hi — “홀로 Holo”

We waited three years for Lee Hi to come back with an EP last year, but it didn’t feel enough to satisfy her potential—the title song‘s fast-beat rhythm and rap featuring overstepped the strength of her voice. I would say “X” in Code Kunst’s [MUGGLES’ MANSION] album gave a better platform for her voice where the audience could truly focus on the vibrations, the grooves, and the delicacy behind her huskiness. It feels right, then, that Lee Hi signed with AOMG—where Code Kunst is at—to start another era of her career.

“HOLO” is her first single released since joining Jay Park’s hip hop label. A warm embrace whispering “one day it will stop”, this song fits poignantly with this year. Written and produced by Ahn Shin Ae from the retro, doo-wop trio of The Barbarettes, “HOLO” draws sentiments with my other favourite song, “한숨 Breathe” from her second album [SEOULITE]. It shares the same empathy and a healing synergy which are harmonized through Lee Hi’s soulful voice. “HOLO” means “alone” in Korean, and this song is an acknowledgment that you only have yourself to fight this world, and together doesn’t always fill the emptiness. It’s a reminder to pause and reflect on your internal self because you’re the most important person in the world to you. Being alone shouldn’t always be feared, and overcoming loneliness shouldn’t be the objective—in fact, there is no opposite of loneliness—rather it’s about accepting it as a necessary step to grow.

In the chorus of “Breathe,” she sings “even if i can’t understand the meaning of your sigh, it’s okay, i will give you a hug.” In “HOLO,” she sings “now i’m gonna stop cryin’, i’m going to come out, i’m going to take care of myself more, and i’m gonna stop.” The former is like a whisper into the latter, and the latter is what we all go through in our heads, and maybe that’s the empathy we needed this year—that we’re not alone in our loneliness.

홀로 있는 게 가만히 있는 게
어려운 일인가요
홀로 있어도 같이 있어도
외로운 건 같아요
one day it will stop

쟤보다 내가 나보다 쟤가
나은 게 중요한가요
수많은 날을 괴로워하다
이제 좀 알겠어요

가만히 앉아 걱정하기엔
난 너무 소중해요
들여다봐요 맘속의 민낯
그대로 괜찮아요
it’s gotta stop

being alone, staying still
is it that difficult to do
whether i’m alone or together
the loneliness feels the same
one day it will stop

is it even important to compare
if i’m better than them or if they’re better than me
after countless days of suffering
i finally get it now

i’m too precious
to just sit around and worry
take a look inside the truth within your heart
it’s okay to be yourself
it’s gotta stop

이적 Lee Juck, 김진표 Kim Jin Pyo — “돌팔매 Throwing stone”

It’s been 25 years since the debut of one of Korea’s most influential alt rock, pop-ballad group, 패닉 Panic. Many will know Lee Juck from various entertainment shows or his solos, and many will know Kim Jin Pyo as the host of the popular hip-hop competition show, “Show Me The Money.” In 1995, they came to the world with the song “왼손잡이 Left-hander,” dedicated to those who are marginalized and not respected in society. According to various interviews, Lee Juck noted the inspiration came from meeting someone who identified as a sexual minority. “돌팔매,” the title song of Lee Juck’s sixth album is “Left-hander 25 years later,” and a reunion with his rapper companion.

The title “돌팔매” is promoted with the translation as “stoning,” but the meaning behind the word is not quite the same, and “throwing stone” may be a better option. 돌팔매 (dol-pal-mae) refers to throwing a rock at a specific aim, or the game of throwing a flat rock at an angle along the water so that it bounces on its edge. The former fits with the song’s intention. It’s calling for solidarity on diversity—that we need to stop throwing stones at one another but acknowledge our differences and even lend a hand of support.

우린 완전히 남이지
서로의 전부를 이해할 수는 없지
우린 때론 적이지
한곳을 향해 가며 겨룰 때도 있지

하지만 누군가 너를 단지 다르다는 이유로
지우려 한다면
그땐 우린 또 하나지
돌팔맬 그저 모른 척할 수는 없지

get up 같이 안고 일어나
흙을 털어 내 우린 서로들의 편이야
hands up 다시 손을 내밀어
단단하게 잡고서 한 걸음씩 내디뎌가

제발 넌 그들과 다르다고 말해줘
흙을 털어 내 우린 서로들의 편이야
상처로 뒤덮인 내 손 다시 잡아줘
단단하게 잡고서 한 걸음씩 내디뎌가

we are all strangers
we can’t fully understand each other
sometimes we are enemies
sometimes we move in the same direction and compete

but if someone ever tries to erase you
just because you’re different
in that moment, we are one
they throw stones, i can’t simply turn my head away

get up, let’s get up together
brush off the dirt, we’re on each other’s side
hands up, take your hands out again
hold them strong and move forward step by step

please tell me that you’re different than them
brush off the dirt, we’re on each other’s side
please hold my hand covered in scars
hold them strong and move forward step by step

We’ve witnessed, read, and experienced a lot this year, and this song feels like a much needed reminder that we need to be together. We need to stand by and hold each other.

임금비 Keumbee — “908”

Keumbee is a precious gem discovered this year. “908” is the title song of her first EP [I can’t believe it’s not butter!], which takes the name from the popular American margarine. The humorous quirkiness of the album’s title translates into the amalgamation of folk, electro, and various sounds carrying the simple anecdotal lyrics, all with a jazzy base—which is no surprise as she’s currently a student at The New School for Jazz and Contemporary Music in New York.

“908,” which kicks off the album, feels like a breath of fresh air, not just regarding what the year has been but also amongst the sounds and voices normally surfacing in the Korean music scene. The electronic keyboard sounds with Keumbee’s bright voice is a skip around a vast meadow under a clear blue sky. It’s an immediate happy pill, and watching her performance below always puts a smile on me.

i am allergic to dogs
but i’m living with two pups
and they certainly make me very happy
i am allergic to beer
especially when it’s flat
but i really like it

버스비 없으면
걸어서 가면 되고
손에 땀이 차도
절대 안 놓을 거야야야야
홍어에 양파에 마늘에 김치를 먹더라도
입 꼭 맞출 거야

좋으면 좋은 거지 좋아하면 하는 거지
하면 또 더 하고 싶지 그럼


if i don’t have bus fare
i can just walk
even if my hands get clammy
i won’t let go
even if i eat oysters, then onion, then garlic, then kimchi
i’m going to give you a kiss

if you like it, you like it, if you like it, you do it
if you do it, you’ll want to do it again, then