Confettis of words

the bits and sketches in life


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28 2PM in 2013 Year End’s Music Festivals

I’m glad that finally 2PM was back performing in year end’s music festival on TV stations. It’s one way to prove that somehow they’re still relevant in Korean music industry. Having the chance to appear in three major TV stations, they didn’t start it smoothly during KBS Gayo Daejun. However, then things turned out well and they ended the year in a grand way. So here’s what I think about each performance. Do note that it’s my personal opinion, and you’re always welcome to share your own!

2PM’s stage in KBS is my least favourite because it seems to me it’s not prepared properly. Outfit-wise, the blue ombre shirt is gorgeous but to me being good-looking on stage isn’t enough for 2PM. I’ve never doubted their talent and hard-work; however, their performance this time disappoints me. I cringed when watching it for the first time. Didn’t bother to see it again but ended up doing it to confirm my first impression. Still didn’t like it, unfortunately.

The idea for the opening was actually promising, yet it’s not executed well. There were many so many dancers wearing the white suits on stage, blending with 2PM members. If Wooyoung’s hair hadn’t been dyed like that, I wouldn’t have recognized him. Just like I said previously, the concept was actually nice but with so many people there it looks messy to me. Furthermore, the timing in some parts were not right, like when they had to open or close the door.

But the main problem is the transition of the beat. It’s not smooth my friend even thought the song had stopped accidentally in the middle! There were some unnecessary seconds there, which shouldn’t have happened. The remixed R&B version was good though! The additional choreography for A.D.T.O.Y wasn’t bad yet not new. I spotted some movements from Missing You there, guys~ Then the performance ended just like that. No surprise, no wow at all. “Gitu doang?!” This expression in Indonesian is probably the most suitable to describe what I felt.

Small things also somehow annoy the hell out of me, such as Jun K was too busy folding up his sleeves he missed the choreography and Taecyeon was struggling with his tie during the first verse. I could go on and on complaining about this KBS performance. Let’s just move on with the SBS stage then.

There’s a soft spot in my heart for orchestra, so when I saw how they arranged A.D.T.O.Y in orchestra version, I immediately fell in love. Added with a choir, things were even more grand. Their choice to perform Heartbeat in SBS was doubtful at first since it’s from 2009. A website even commented that this song choice may signify the end of 2PM’s glory days. In the end I laughed silently at them because 2PM’s performance in SBS was mind-blowing to me!

I think Heartbeat was chosen so that the transition from one song to another would be smooth. Heartbeat and A.D.T.O.Y are similar in terms of atmosphere so it’s a correct choice to connect the two songs. On SBS stage, 2PM performed Heartbeat almost flawlessly due to the fact that they’ve done it so many times. What’s interesting to me is that no matter how many times they’ve performed it, Heartbeat performance always looks massive to me. The choreography is always sharp, intense and precise. It’s too bad Chansung had a microphone problem at the beginning.

The orchestra version of  A.D.T.O.Y was majestic and the song became even more powerful. I actually shed some tears when listening to it for the first time (partly because of the PMS). They also elevated the choreography to the new level by using a different kind of chair. They used the wheels of the office chairs to move and turn around, which would have been challenging if they hadn’t calculated the movement of the wheels. The office chair also seems to send the message like who’s the boss here hahaha. And I can’t comprehend why the part when their point finger slowly traced the chair could look so dang sexy! I guess that’s 2PM’s strength, either with or without any shirt on, they can make many fangirls swoon.

The outfit got an A from me. The colour was classy and mature, and it looks good on them (especially on Wooyoung since his hair colour matches the outfit in a peculiar way). The outfit also brought a certain visual effect when they turned their backs to the audience during A.D.T.O.Y’s reffrain.

The thing that bothers me a bit is that Wooyoung was too striking in this performance. Don’t get me wrong. If you know me you know how much I love him, but his presence was too strong it kinda covered the other members’ aura. The camera adored him too much it gave him too many shots. Also, his voice cracked everytime he began his parts. I can’t help but chuckling everytime I listen to it.

The last stage was in MBC and they did save the best for the last! They took a brave decision to leave out the chairs in A.D.T.O.Y and finally exposed their *ehm* abs again after a long time. Not saying that the abs was the most important element  but it did make the performance tastier, right? I dig the part when Junho first appeared on stage alone then one by one Taecyeon and Chansung came, followed by the three. I really appreciate their effort to design three different choreographies for the three music festivals. Unfortunately, this one in MBC lasted too short while I actually wanted to see more of the new choreography.

If they wore blue in KBS and red in SBS, they decided to go black in MBC. Black never goes wrong for 2PM, and it’s totally the best colour for A.D.T.O.Y performance. Although Jun K’s velvet sweater isn’t really my thing and it looks cheap on the camera, it’s still acceptable. You know what’s not acceptable in this performance? Wooyoung’s fake tan. The tan doesn’t go with his hair colour, only making him look like an LA surfer kinda guy.

If you listen to Grown, I’m sure that there were times when you asked why Game Over hasn’t been promoted. It’s a mighty song and very 2PM for its angst and toughness. Thankfully, they listened to our demand and finally performed Game Over on television. They brought the shields to the stage and just blew us away. It’s obvious how they all gave all their best in Game Over. Special mention should go to Jun K (for his amazing voice) and Taecyeon (for his powerful expression). The movement of the shields was smooth, and not only as a mere property, the shields help in making the overall performance strong and striking.

They didn’t do any new arrangement for Game Over, which is understandable since they rarely perform this, not like A.D.T.O.Y. The only thing that I object from this performance is the VCR at the background. It’s already crowded on stage and it only made things visually messy (especially when the camera took a long shot).

All in all, 2013 was an unforgettable year for Hottests. Their idols are finally back, ready to conquer the scene again. Although the result might not be as pleasing as expected, I’m convinced that the boys have learned so much. Arena Tour, Genesis of 2PM, one and even maybe two Korean albums: we have so many things to anticipate in 2014. This is gonna be an exciting year indeed!

The recap of my writings on 2PM in 2013:
Review on Grown
Review on Kimi no Koe
Review on Winter Games
2PM’s Hidden Gems
3 Favourite Videos
On Junho’s appearance in Cold Eyes
Review on 23, Male, Singles
2PM’s solo stages in Tokyo Dome

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24 Six Colours: solo stages in The Legend of 2PM in Tokyo Dome

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The concert in Tokyo Dome last April marks a big step for 2PM’s career in Japan. If you were there, you’re very lucky to have witnessed the legendary moment. If you were not (like me), at least we can watch it now because the DVD has been released *dances in joy*. Despite the small flaws (like Wooyoung lost his mask during Masquerade and Junho left some foundation on his white jacket …), the concert itself is a big feast for the ears and the eyes. Not to mention that it’s truly emotional. It would require a very long post to talk about the whole concert, so here I’m just gonna share my impression about the solo stages.

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The first solo stage is Wooyoung with Sexy Lady. After Don’t Stop, Can’t Stop, the camera follows Wooyoung to the back stage and shoots him while he’s changing his outfit. With a teasing smile. No, you can’t expect me to stay quiet and put a flat expression while watching this scene. A big thank you to whoever-had-this-brilliant-idea!

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Having performed this song for many times, Wooyoung looks confident with his solo stage. His dance is, like always, full of energy, flexibility and charisma. His expression is a bit awkward though when with the girls but I guess that’s how he is …

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However, in voice department it’s clear that Wooyoung’s still struggling. He doesn’t have any problem with the verses but in the reffrain he still depends on the playback. I think it’s not because of the tempo since he sounded good when performing Wall to Wall, which is a medium-tempo song too with a challenging choreography. I can’t help but blaming the song. I don’t know, I always think that Sexy Lady isn’t suitable for Wooyoung.

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For I Love You, You Love Me, Taecyeon brings a gang of Ok Cats on stage since one is not enough! Before that, a video is played, showing one Ok Cat greeting the fans outside Tokyo Dome. Not knowing that it’s Taecyeon inside the costume, the fans took photos and hugged him. When finally it’s revealed that it’s the master himself, the audience instantly screams hahaha.

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Actually, even though Taecyeon holds the rapper position in the group, he sings quite well like in Traición. Yet due to over-excitement, his voice is shaky in several parts.

taec-iloveu-3Overall, Taecyeon’s solo performance is cute. It’s hard for a big bulky guy to act naturally cute, but he manages in doing so. The performance is designed to be light and fun, so just expect it to be like that. It’s not Taecyeon’s best performance to be honest, but he got an A from me for his effort in building happy atmosphere for the crowd.

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Nichkhun cools down the atmosphere with Let It Rain. I have to say it is truly beautiful. I didn’t expect Nichkhun’s voice would be that stable but it was! He doesn’t sing in acrobatic notes or tries to show off his singing skill. He just wants to deliver his gratitude to Hottest who have been supporting him. That’s what makes his solo stage sound so sincere.

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There are so many close-up shots of Nichkhun’s performance, and I love how the camera exposes his natural face with all the zits. You can also see how serious he is when performing. (and look at those beautifully bushy eyebrows!)

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Supported by a great stage design and composition and proper lighting, Nichkhun’s Let It Rain is one of the prettiest performances from the whole concert.

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Meanwhile, Jun K offers a massive performance. A choir starts the performance in a thetrical way, and they sing the intro of Alive before he appears, ready for True Swag. Even from the way he stands, you know that Jun K’s gonna slay the stage.

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The outfit is a bit too much, I think. It would look classier if he took off that ‘handkerchief’. Other than that, everything else is great and suits the concept of the song. There is a part where he suddenly wears this big bad wolf mask. I don’t really see the relevance of the mask with the song but somehow it looks cool and adds the dramatic effect.

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It’s unfair how Jun K can both sing and rap so marvellously! His strong voice fills the whole Dome, so hypnotizing. The last rap part is uh-may-zing and it closes the performance in  a grand and victorious way.

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Another performance that got me anxious is Chansung’s Oh. The screen shows him driving a car, meeting a lady in red, getting bitten and turning into a vampire. A bit predictable actually, but Chansung looks gorgeous in it, so … it’s forgiven.

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Despite the tacky VCR, Chansung presents a satisfying performance. His voice is relatively steady and he doesn’t sound trembling even when he moves a lot. From all Chansung’s solo songs, Oh is my favourite so it’s a big relief to see him performing this song well. By the way, red and blue are the colours that dominate that solo stage. Combine those two colours and you have, voila, purple, Chansung’s color 🙂

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 When it comes to exploring emotion , Chansung is always the best. He shows proper chemistry wih the female dancer. There are passion, curiosity and mysteriousness, and our magnae brings them all to the stage in such a stylish way.

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My most favourite solo stage goes to Junho’s Say Yes. Showing his boyish charm, he has magnetized us starting from the VCR until the end of the performance. Junho’s voice is flexible in a way he could sing in various genres but I think he’s the most excellent when he sings rock songs.

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His solo stage is full of energy and confidence. No back-up dancers, no hi-tech stage design, no unnecessary choreography like in Just A Feeling. Only him alone on stage but how he looks and sounds amazing! He runs around the stage and jumps like an Energizer penguin to the beat of the song. He also teases the crowd when he cups his ear, trying to hear their voice. It’s a teaser of Kimi no Koe, very smart of you, Junho 😀

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Well, what can I say? Lee Junho knows what he wants and he knows how to do it amazingly.

What I like about 2PM is that even though as a team they’re rock solid, each member still manages to demonstrate his individual talent through solo performance. Six solo stages with six colours and they all shine in their own way.


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21 A Drop of Thought: Junho in Cold Eyes

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There were only five people in the auditorium: me, two old Korean ladies, and two male office workers spending their Friday afternoon break. I kinda wished that the auditorium would be more full. However, it’s Friday afternoon so I shouldn’t expect that people would flood the cinema. The bright side was it felt that the auditorium belonged to me alone. A personal cinema where I could enjoy Junho’s acting in Cold Eyes without too many disturbing voices. I was really excited and full of anticipation to see how he would act as a detective. Since it’s his debut as a professional actor, it’s interesting to see the differences and the similarities between Lee Junho and Squirrel.

Cold Eyes is basically a film about surveillance that  focuses on the actions and the strategies. There are some characters’ emotional conflicts, but they’re all triggered by the major conflict, which is the mission to solve the crime. It began with two plots, a bank robbery and a test for a new police detective (code name Piglet, played by Han Hyo Joo). As the story rolled, the two plots collided into one. The team led by chief detective Hwang struggled to find the people involved in the robbery, with the leader given the code name The Shadow (Jung Woo Sung) as the main target.

Overall I think Cold Eyes is well-acted, well-cinematographed and thrilling. The film uses some close-ups and even extreme close-ups to intensify the plot tension. These two kinds of shot also support the characterization of Piglet who always raps her fingers when thinking and The Shadow’s inner conflict. And Junho? He acts well as Squirrel, the young detective! Despite his young age, Squirrel excels at what he does and seems to enjoy his job. Junho looks really young in this movie. He grinned boyishly most of the times, and I couldn’t help but giggling when his colleagues put him into a locker since he’s been annoying. His character didn’t get too many scenes actually. However, Junho did his job proportionally, and I’m sure many are impressed by his parts.

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Of course there were some traces of Junho in Squirrel, such as his cocky expression when giving a lecture to Piglet. But instead of ruining Squirrel’s characterization, I gotta say it strengthens it. So I guess kudos should also be given to the casting director for choosing a suitable actor for this role.

[SPOILER] I was shocked when Squirrel was killed by The Shadow in such a cruel way 😦 The cold-hearted gang leader sliced Squirrel’s neck and there’s so much blood scattered on the pavement I cringed. Squirrel’s death scene was unexpected and heartbreaking (credit goes to Junho and Han Hyo Joo’s acting). When he fell to the pavement, struggling for his life, I felt like jumping into the screen and consoling him.

The movie ended and I left the auditorium in pride. Junho is not my main bias in 2PM but I’m proud to see him taking part in such a world-class movie. Even prouder to see his great acting. What can I say? 2013 has been a terrific year for the singer/actor Lee Junho, hasn’t it?


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20 Tacky, Sensual and Warm: three favourite 2PM’s MVs

Music videos have become a significant promotional tool in contemporary Korean music industry. Although some companies still rely on videos that focus on choreography, some spend more money and effort to create artsy visualization of the songs. Truth be told, 2PM doesn’t have visually mind-blowing MVs. Most of their videos expose their choreography more, or if there’s any plot it’s not a surprising one (Tik Tok might be one exception). Nevertheless, they still have videos that you can watch again and again for its eye-catchiness. Here are three of my favourites, and I basically chose them because each manages to capture the essence of the song.

Hands Up

Hands Up is a tacky party anthem, and the MV does a great job in visualizing this spirit. Shot in a club in Singapore, the MV portrays everything that is shiny, entertaining and wild. This formula works well. Hands Up  sent 2PM to huge popularity.

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Besides the club setting, the MV builds the party atmosphere by its effective use of camera. For solo shots, a camera is strapped to the member’s hips and it sways (and sometimes rocks) everytime the member moves. This technique of camera positioning allows viewers to see the members’ ecstatic face, as you can see from Chansung’s shot here.

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The fast-cut editing depicts the craziness of the party, and to follow the beat of the songs, the MV uses this kind of ‘stuttering’ cuts in some scenes. The setting, the outfits and the cinematography: everything is just unified in Hands Up MV. No wonder it’s a massive success.

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A.D.T.O.Y

If in Come Back When You Heart This Song MV each member of 2PM represents one deadly sin, in A.D.T.O.Y  it seems that 2PM portrays only one, which is lust. It can’t be ignored that the MV sells sensuality, but like Nichkhun said A.D.T.O.Y is “sexy but not overly done”. That, I agree with.

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For A.D.T.O.Y, black and white tone is used. While it makes the MV look classic, at the same time it conveys the duality of the feeling. Is it love or lust? Or maybe both?

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You know what’s so good about A.D.T.O.Y MV? The sex is there and is also not there. The MV uses fast-cut editing to follow the tempo of the song, but this editing also succeeds in building the emotion. The make-out scenes are mostly shown in quick, close-up shots. Before they kiss or move on to higher level of steaminess, the camera already moves to another scene. We hardly have time to identify the girl’s face. But that’s what makes this MV so tense and thrilling.

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Only You

2PM’s MVs like Without You and Masquerade highlight their muscular and manly figures, and fans go crazy over them. Funnily, it’s when they show less I fall in love with them even more. In Only You MV, the boys basically just hang around, enjoying the wine and the sunlight, and everything looks warm and peaceful. If I could live in one MV, it would be in Only You.

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The natural lighting and soft filter contribute warmth and serenity to the MV. Meanwhile, close-up shots are applied in capturing the member’s expression when, for example, reading fans’ letters. Long shots are also used to portray the six members in one frame, displaying their togetherness.

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More sweet moments are shown in a scene when the members are flipping their album photobooks, remembering what they’ve been through and achieved. Released as the single from 2PM Member’s Selection, Only You also reminds us that 2PM doesn’t depend on their muscles only. They could just sit down and still captivate our hearts.

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19 A Winter Tale: on 2PM’s Winter Games

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The phrase ‘winter games’ might remind you of people racing and skiing in the midst of snow, but for 2PM, Winter Games is about being broken-hearted but still looking gorgeous in a trench coat. For their seventh Japanese single, 2PM took the grief of the season and put it into a great combination of song, choreography and appearance. In their Yazoo fanmeeting in Japan, 2PM performed Winter Games for the first time, leaving Hottests in awe. But does the recorded version have the similar charm?

Written by Super Changdai, Winter Games  is an emotional, upbeat track about passionately longing for a lost lover. The orchestra and the banging drum in the chorus add thrill to the desperate love story, and the harp-like sound brings a winter fairy-tale effect. Overall, I like the construction of the song. The verses, the chorus and the rap parts are arranged well. If it’s a short story, I would say it’s a well-plotted one and rightly set in bleak winter. In vocal department, 2PM does a good job. It’s not their strongest performance, but their vocals contain enough feeling and power needed for the song. However, this is also where the problem lies. Winter Games is overly autotuned it ruins some parts of the song. I don’t mind additional effects to vocal to create a certain atmosphere, like in Hot or A.D.T.O.Y, but Winter Games doesn’t need that. The melody itself is already beautiful and deep, no autotune is necessary.

Thankfully, what hurts me from Winter Games is healed by the charming Stay Here. It might be only a b-side but it champions over Winter Games in several aspects. 2PM’s vocals are autotune free here, and we can hear how they’ve become more comfortable in singing Japanese songs. I also enjoy the flow of Stay Here. Wooyoung starts the song softly, continued by Chansung’s deep, comforting voice. Junho elevates the tension of the song in the chorus, and it gets even more touching when Jun K fervently begs the lover to ‘stay here’. I’m not a big fan of Taecyeon’s rap but even his rap tempo feels right here. And let’s not forget our Nichkhun who contributes his sweet vocal, completing the feeling of the track. Listening to the instrumental version makes me adore the song even more. There are some bass and guitar elements of New Order circa Regret there, and the piano reminds me of Keane. This comparison isn’t made to show that 2PM isn’t original, but it’s nice to hear that they’re not stuck in the same genre and always develop new sounds.

In version B, the Japanese version of Come Back  When You Hear The Song is added. It’s not much different from the original one although it misses the catchy ‘dorawa’ part. After Give Me Love and Winter Games, I expect that a new Japanese album will be released soon. If they’re consistent with the music offered by those two singles (and the two worth-listening b-sides), I believe their next album will beat their own amazing Legend of 2PM and help them soar to another level of musical appreciation and respect from pop music lovers, not just from Hottests. We’re anticipating, 2PM.


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18 More than Just Hands Up: 2PM’s Hidden Gems

2PM is one of the first Korean groups I came across to (the others are Super Junior and JYJ). I got in touch with their music through Heartbeat, and it didn’t engage me at first. I used to think it was a weird song, to be honest. Then I listened to Hands Up album, but it didn’t quite grab me as well. I started to pay more attention to 2PM since the release of Wooyoung’s solo album. After that, I looked for the group’s other releases, both Korean and Japanese, and I LOVE them. I kept asking myself, where have I been? How could I miss these precious songs? Oh yeah, I was too busy stanning another group which seems to be in a musical hiatus at the moment …

Grown has shown how in a span of five years 2PM’s music has developed quite significantly. Their involvement in the production of their music is also getting bigger.  Talking about this topic always gets me all excited, and my way to chanel this excitement is through writing. I’ve written about Grown here, yet I want to write more about their music. Actually I’m thinking to write a review on all their albums. However, since that’ll take much time and deeper listening to the albums, I’m gonna start with this simple one first: hidden gems from 2PM’s albums (I decided to include Wooyoung and Junho’s solo albums too).

We know how anthemic Hands Up is or how powerful Heartbeat is. Yet there are so many good songs in their albums and EPs that some people probably overlook or simply forget. The songs come in various genres and might not be for everyone, but they indeed highlight the boys’ potential that might be unnoticed in their singles.

From 01:59

1. All Night Long
All Night Long starts with Taecyeon’s monologue, which makes you soon realize where this song will take you. Sensuality seems to ooze out of every note, and you can’t help thinking that the performance of All Night Long would compete Back to You.

2 Maybe She’ll Come Back (Bossa Nova mix)
The original version is beautiful, but the contrast between the soft, soothing  Bossa Nova atmosphere and the sad lyrics adds more charm to the song. You can also hear their voices even more clearly in this version.

From Still 2PM

3. Dance Tonight
2PM goes unexpectedly groovy in this song. You won’t stop dancing to Dance Tonight because it’s too addictive. Maja and I Know are also enjoyable tracks but Dance Tonight stands out for it presents a fresh side of 2PM.

4. Even If You Leave Me
Just recently found Even If You Leave Me and instantly in love with it. I really love the space-y atmosphere in this song that somehow points out the sadness and the hollowness of the lyrics. This could be the melancholy, male version of fX’s Airplane.

From Hands Up

5. Hot
In my opinion, Hot is the best song from the album for its captivating, energetic beat (what 2PM excels at) . Although Hot is full of effects that distort the members’ voices, it’s forgiven because it intensifies the ambience of the song. Also, Hot sent this confirmation to me that Jun. K is a promising song-writer.

6. Electricity (220 v remix)
The original version of Electricity is too hip-hop for me and I don’t think that genre suits 2PM well. I prefer this version because it’s more, yeah, electrifying.

7. Just Like The Movies
What I really like about Just Like The Movies is how the music and the lyrics are unified to build this old-movie atmosphere. The sound of the film rolling makes the song even more perfect. Not to mention Taecyeon’s emotional rap.

From Republic of 2PM


8. Stay with Me
It’s one of my favourite songs from 2PM. Stay with Me is the warm sweetness in your mouth, the embracing sunlight during the day.

9. 100th Day Anniversary
Besides Stay with Me and Even When We’re Apart, 100th Day Anniversary is another track in Republic of 2PM that proves  these so-called beastly-dols can sound so gentle. 2PM is famous for its up-beat dance tracks but they actually also can handle ballad songs really well.

From 23, Male, Single


10. Falling Down
23, Male, Single
doesn’t fully represent Wooyoung’s talent. We all know he could do better. However, Falling Down is this charming song that exposes Wooyoung’s soft voice. When he desperately sings “Baby I’m so sorry, I’m going crazy,”, you just have to forgive him.

From Legend of 2PM


11. This is Love
Legend of 2PM has so many good songs which have the potential to be singles, and This is Love is one of them. It has this 80’s English pop vibe that has been revived by Hurts. 2PM’s version is much brighter, of course.


12. SOS Man
If This is Love sounds English,  SOS Man is like a song from a New York-based punk funk band. No, The Rapture didnt make this song, it’s JYP.

From Grown


13. Today Marks The First Day
It’s hard to pick my favourite song from Grown besides the two title tracks. Each song has something to be liked, and the fact that they’re more involved in the production makes me love the album even more. In the end I chose Today Marks The First Day. I love the music (the piano and the brass-section sound soooo pleasant) and the boys sing really really well in it.

From Give Me Love


14. Falling in Love
It’s so catchy you just wanna move your body when listening to Falling in Love. Again, Jun K shows us his talent in writing excellent songs. Just abandon the metaphor “You are a scorpion” though.

From Kimi no Koe


15. Close Your Eyes
Overall, Kimi no Koe is an adorable album, perfect for summer days (read my review here). Where is the tease that Junho once offered in Be With You and Give It to Me? You can find it in Close Your Eyes. You know that kind of song is one of Junho’s specialties 😉


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15 Summer Love: on Junho’s Kimi no Koe

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Junho’s voice is currently one of my favourite voices in Korean music industry. I particularly love it because Junho has this rock feel, and with this in mind, I enthusiastically expected that he’d come with more rock songs in his solo album. But then it didn’t meet my expectation. No rock songs like Say Yes, Junho delivers sweet pop songs instead. Well, nothing’s wrong with that. He’s famous as a pop star anyway. But couldn’t this fan get something different from his solo album? That was my initial response to his Japanese solo debut, Kimi no Koe (Your Voice). However, after listening to it several times, I’ve grown loving this album. Not as much as I love 2PM’s Grown but Kimi no Koe is a record that I’ll listen to again and again.

The album starts with Kimi no Koe, the song Junho admitted he wrote for Hottests. It’s a charming pop song for the summer, and the music video highlights that idea. Junho doesn’t show his amazing singing skill for this song, but I guess it’s not really needed since the charm of the song lies on its simplicity. In Like A Star, Junho’s voice is accompanied by a full band. Most 2PM’s songs before Grown are heavy on synth and keyboards that sometimes distort the boys’ great voices, meanwhile singing with ‘organic’ music (borrowing Sam Endicott’s phrase)  reveals their true talent. This is what I found in Like A Star. Junho’s voice gets along perfectly with the musical instruments.

The next song Close Your Eyes reminds me of Be With You, which he composed for Wooyoung’s solo album. Like Be With You, Close Your Eyes is a slow, sensual R&B track. The difference is  while we could hear some innocence in Wooyoung’s voice in Be With You, in Close Your Eyes Junho sounds teasing with his falsetto. R&B isn’t my favourite genre but this song has won my heart. Goodbye tricked me  at first. I thought it would be a sad song only accompanied by a piano and a heartbreaking sound from the string section, but then it elevates into a dance track. Not a bad one, but I think this formula belongs more to Eru, not to Junho. After Goodbye as the climax of the album, the simple I Love You closes it modestly. The acoustic guitar gives the casual atmosphere to the song, and again Junho sings unpretentiously, highlighting the laid-back ambiance.

Version B of the album provides three bonus tracks, which are Heartbreaker, the Japanese version of I’m in Love and the live version of Say Yes. The Japanese version of I’m in Love isn’t really different from the original. From all songs composed by Junho, I’m in Love is on the top part of my list for its catchy beat . But actually the hidden gem here is Heartbreaker. The bass sound is brilliant and different from the other songs in this album, Heartbreaker sounds  darker with lyrics that state the persona is a, well, heartbreaker. I also ask you to listen to the live version of Say Yes. In general, Junho could sing in various genres, yet songs like Say Yes give room for Junho to expose the rock side of him which I adore so much. One thing to underline is that he always delivers this rock quality effortlessly.

Released in summer, Kimi no Koe is the right soundtrack for the season. I guess that’s why to match the summer feel, this album isn’t packaged as something ostentatious. With a sold-out Zepp tour and a well-received solo album, this summer truly belongs to Junho. And as a fan of his voice and talent, I couldn’t be any happier.