May’21 K-Releases

New turns, rebirth of a vocal duo, a dance queen, and a wanderer.

Like flames, like winter rain

I was ecstatic to discover Kim Boa and Kim Bohyung, former members of SPICA, were still out there sharing their music. It was the powerful vocals of all five members that allured me when SPICA came out in 2012, and they have since remained one of my favourite groups even after they disbanded in 2017. I always thought that SPICA deserved far more attention and praise, so it’s exciting to see that two of them are continuing their musical journey.

Kim Boa’s voice strikes me every time with her unique husky, explosive vocal that carries so much strength. And I was reminded the versatility of Kim Bohyung’s voice, moving so delicately and so strongly when I listened to their recent pop track, “WHATEVER”. With simple instrumentation, the song tells a relationship that has gone through the hottest and the coldest, and now flowing through the way things are because that is also another kind of love.

Song: Apple Music / Spotify

마른 불꽃처럼 타오르다
겨울비처럼 얼어붙는 우리
이해할게 다 너였으니
믿을게 다 너였으니

이름 모를 어느 바다 우린 그 한 가운데
잔물결이 친대도 그저 흘러가면 돼

Whatever 그래, 나 이대로 괜찮은 것 같애
Whatever 뭐 그런대로 나쁘지는 않네

it burns like dry flame
we are frozen like winter rain
i’ll understand because it was you
i’ll believe because it was you

in the ocean with an unknown name, we just have to flow
at the center of it all even if ripples strike us

whatever, you’re right, i’m good the way i am
whatever, i’m okay the way everything is

Sugar free, gluten free
민수 Minsu “Healthy Food”

I’ve featured Minsu’s XXLove as a dedication to our itching desires to give big warm hugs to those we miss during these unprecedented times. Her songs hold a sense of vulnerability and playfulness with a diary narrative until we got this song. “Healthy Food” is an exciting new turn of dance beats, which feels slightly unfamiliar, maybe even a bit awkward after knowing her acoustic, mellow pop singles.

“Healthy Food” is a song for wiggling your butt with a mix of funk and disco sounds popping vibrantly, arranged by Park Joon-woo, who has worked with Zion.T, Chungha, and Giriboy. Minsu lists out a menu list of healthy food while you imagine carrots and avocados moving around, shaking their bodies. Every time I listen to this song, I get in the zone and expect more, yet the music dwindles down for a short 2 min 30 sec. I feel like the party could last longer, but hopefully, we can expect more from this new dance star Minsu.

Song: Apple Music / Spotify

Tofu carrots in my mind
Apple cabbage morning juice
Avocado with pepper
Pizza sometimes but zero coke!

Not too many
Sugar free
Not too salty
Gluten free

Acai bowl with coconut
Low fat milk
Boil my
Broccoli with egg
Chicken breast

Healthy food every day
Healthy food with me
Standing mirror time

Blinding whispers, shining laughs
김마리 Kim Marie [淸, 靑 Clear, Blue]

I first encountered Kim Marie through Tumblbug, a Korean crowdfunding site, where she was raising money for her next EP. I was caught by the clear pastel colours that decorated her images, reminding me of Japanese indie films like my favourite Megane (Glasses). Her album description added to that sensibility: she gathered “clear and blue things” (“淸, 靑” are hanja for 맑은 청, 푸른 청), following a girl who talks of love, believes in eternity, and wanders to find her dreams, yet eventually realizes complete purity doesn’t exist. One of her rewards was a one-on-one 90 min piano lesson of her previous song, which felt like the perfect reward to round up the feelings of openness, closeness, and brightness that I felt looking and reading about the album.

Kim Marie sings softly along the piano melodies and percussions, drawing scenes and weathers. At the start of “Your Name”, the first song in the album, it feels like an adventure is about to begin — a clear blue sky unfolding as birds fly through sunlight. This sense of wandering is present throughout the EP that we haven’t yet felt in her previous songs. I especially love the second song, “우산을 들어줄게 In the Rain“. The mash of piano, guitar, and drums running right from the beginning immediately brings feelings and memories that I may have experienced or seen through imaginations, then the ending lyrics hit me — “비가 내리는 날엔 네가 아프지 않게 이렇게 널 위한 우산을 들어줄게 / when it rains, i will hold the umbrella for you like this so you won’t get hurt“.

Album: Apple Music / Spotify

구름 새로 하얗게 내린
눈부신 너의 속삭임이
내 모든 걸 다 비춰준 거야

넌 나를 보며 웃고 있었고
널 비춘 햇빛까지 사랑했어
너와 있으면 길을 잃어도
그게 나의 길이었고
두렵지 않았어

가득 담았던 모든 게 사라져도
함께 했던 시간에 분명하게 살아있는 건
눈이 부시게 파란 하늘을 닮은
내가 사랑한 너의 이름은 맑음

your blinding whispers
that fell through the clouds
shine upon all of me

you laugh while you look at me
and i’ve loved even the sunlight that shined on you
when i get lost with you
that was the path for me
and i wasn’t afraid

when everything i gave disappears
what lives in the times we spent together
looks like the blue sky that blinds our eyes
your name