2012 In Review: Part 9 – Best Collaborative Work

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[2012 In Review Series]

0. Prelude – Best Album Art
1. Introduction
2. Best R&B/Soul
3. Best Rock/Alternative
4. Best Rap/Hip-hop
5. Best Dance/Electronica
6. Best Pop/Ballad
7. Best Crossover/Miscellaneous
8. Best Original Soundtrack
9. Best Collaborative Work
10. Label of the Year
11. Rookie of the Year
12. Song of the Year
13. Artist of the Year
14. Album of the Year
15. Concluding Remarks

Welcome back to our 2012 In Review series! Today we go above the distinction of genres to recognize the best works of a collaborative nature. My rule of thumb for this category goes like this: not only must a selected album or song sound good, but it also needs to display a kind of synergy effect that makes the work equal more than the sum of its parts. It doesn’t always have to mean that the synergy was unexpected, but the act of collaboration has to bring more to the table than simply another voice or instrument to change things up. This tends to be a category dominated by hip-hop musicians, but this year’s picks are relatively well-distributed across genres.

I tend to discount producer-singer collaborations for this category – Sweetune worked with Kara and Infinite on some good tracks, for example, but that’s not really in the spirit of this. (Otherwise we’d be counting everything.) I will count these types of collaborations under two circumstances: either the composer is normally not a producer by trade, or he/she is actually the primary artist.

Many of the works below have been featured already in the genre categories, so we’re skipping the one-liner descriptions for honorable mentions today. And as always, honorable mention picks are sorted by alphabetical order of artist names.


Best Collaborative Album 2012

Poetree – 사랑해, 희망없이 (Love, Hopelessly)

Collaborators: Rooftop Moonlight, ALi, Hwayobi, Jung-yup, Park Ji-hye, Jooey, Chiyu

If I didn’t know any of the collaborating artists and you told me that they were all just different vocalists for one big group, I may have believed you. The Poetree duo has a well-defined style – mellow pop-ballad with traces of R&B and soul sprinkled in – and as such, the texture of their compositions is pretty consistent. The hard part is finding vocalists that can maximize the impact of each track. Credit them for that: selecting Hwayobi and her husky tone for the old-school groove of Sunday of My Life was brilliant, as was taking Park Ji-hye’s slightly burnt-out but amiable voice for 근.자.감 (Baseless Confidence). One good decision becomes eight, and the transitions between them are seamless. It’s a tall task to make a ballad collaboration this cohesive, and Love, Hopelessly was one of the very few that worked out.

Runner-up Collaborative Album 2012

Clazzi – Infant (also selected Honorable Mention Dance/Electronica Album) (read our review)

Collaborators: Whale of W&Whale, Yi Sung-yol, MYK, Jinsil of Mad Soul Child, Hyun-song & Su-ryun of The Koxx, Christina, Im Seulong of 2AM, Kim Wan-sun, Jang Woo-hyuk, Jo Hyuna of Urban Zakapa, Kota & Jubi of Sunny Hill

Even in my original review (the rating to which I’d add another star, now), I noted the strength of the collaborations. Most striking is the unexpectedness of some of these appearances; I would never have expected Yi Sung-yol to appear in a bubbly house track, let alone handle it that well. His reassuring voice is the anchor that holds the track down. And while Jinsil wouldn’t have been as much of a leap of imagination, the way in which her vocals are used – essentially lithe, washed-out chorus backing – took me by surprise. Further, DJ Clazzi isn’t afraid to adapt his style to fit his guests’. 40 Nights absorbs The Koxx’s electro-garage, while Can Only Feel appears to be written with Kim’s voice in mind. While the tracks don’t quite come together nearly as cohesively in this one, the depth and breadth of Clazzi’s experimentation gets this album high marks.

Honorable Mentions

Born Kim – Future Color (read our review)

Collaborators: Rang Show of Black Tea, The Solutions, Crucial Star, Jolly V, Dok2, Lee Won-suk of Daybreak, Nuck of Souldive, Pento

Eluphant – Apollo

Collaborators: Kim Phil, Bumkey, Jung-in, Simple J, Jooyoung, Ra.D

J-Tong – 모히칸과 맨발 (Mohawk and Bare Feet) (also selected Runner-up Rap/Hip-hop Album) (read our review)

Collaborators: No Brain, Lowdown 30, Simon Dominic of Supreme Team, Beenzino, Zion.T

Lee Seung-gi – 숲 (Forest) (read our review)

Collaborator: Epitone Project (Cha Se-jung)

Leessang – Unplugged (also selected Honorable Mention Rap/Hip-hop Album)

Collaborators: Yoon Do-hyun of YB, Jung-in, Jo Hyuna of Urban Zakapa, Simon Dominic of Supreme Team, Bobby Kim and Juvie Train of Buga Kingz

Primary – Primary and the Messengers LP (also selected Honorable Mention Rap/Hip-hop Album) (read our review)

Collaborators: Simon Dominic and E-Sens of Supreme Team, Yankie, Mellow, Jinsil of Mad Soul Child, Gary of Leessang, Garion, Zion.T, Beenzino, Bumkey, Paloalto, Gaeko and Choiza of Dynamic Duo, Jinbo, Dok2, Deez, Rhythm Power, Jay Park, Double K, G.O. of MBLAQ, Junggigo, Dead’P

Son Sue-kyung – I Am (also selected Honorable Mention Crossover/Miscellaneous Album) (read our review)

Collaborators: Dynamic Duo, K.ing, Jung Tae-chun, Yoon Do-hyun of YB, Phantom, Jang Hyo-suk, Son Seung-yeon, Yu Sung-eun, Woo Hye-mi, Ji Se-hi

Soriheda – Soriheda 2 (also selected Best Rap/Hip-hop Album) (read our review)

Collaborators: Rhyme-A-, DJ Wegun, R-Est, Kaedemelodii, Dead’P, Kang Sun-ah, B-Free, Marina Zettl, Paloalto, Okasian, Huckleberry P, Satbyeol, Hwaji, Born Kim, Soulman, Minos, Soulfish, Suda, Deepflow, Jolly V


Best Collaborative Song 2012

J-Tong – 개판 (Clusterf*ck) (also selected Honorable Mention Rap/Hip-hop Song)

Collaborators: No Brain

The above video is not the version I’m talking about. I refer to the shiny new 2012 album edition, which you can listen to from that link, but it’s actually useful to compare the two versions. As you can see, J-Tong’s original had plenty of energy with that electric riff and cadence, and especially with the rapper’s characteristically charismatic flow. And then you listen to the newer version… and “plenty of energy” nothing, this is a veritable explosion of energy. No Brain’s instrumentals put a thick coat of power on the original riff, and add an especially punchy device in the deliberate, cymbal-heavy drum play. No Brain vocalist Lee Sung-woo also brings a hook with him: his higher-tone shouting endows a further taste of punk to complement J-Tong’s growl-infused rapping. This is a zany song, crafted by some of Korea’s most indefatigable musicians and resulting in more kinetic vigor than either team could have achieved alone. It’s the very embodiment of what this category represents.

Runner-up Collaborative Song 2012

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Kim Jin-pyo (JP) – 아저씨 (Ahjusshi) (also selected Honorable Mention Rap/Hip-hop Song) (read our related review)

Collaborators: J Rabbit

This is one of those cases where I can just quote myself and have it work out. (Love it when that happens.) “It’s about a girl in her teens or maybe 20s falling in love with a much older guy, who adamantly resists the relationship. The presentation is not only tasteful, but positively irresistible. Entertaining lyricism… and the back-and-forth dynamic between narrators show what JP’s music can be when everything goes right. Additional credit is due to J Rabbit; Jung Hye-sun’s ungarnished, sweet performance is picture-perfect for the song. This is a magnificent piece of pop.” Even in hindsight, JP could hardly have picked better artists to portray the eagerness of a young girl in love. His own depiction of the flustered old guy is humorous but spot-on. They each complement what the other does not have, and Ahjusshi turns out as one of the year’s best love songs (so to say).

Honorable Mentions

Bae Sun-yong – The Lady of Seba (Featuring Park Ju-won) (also selected Honorable Mention Crossover/Miscellaneous Song)
Bulhandang – 한 길을 걸어가라 (Walk One Path) (Starring Keeproots, P-Type, Rhyme-A-, Wimpy, Minos, Daephal, Sean2Slow, Garion) (also selected Honorable Mention Rap/Hip-hop Song)
Choi Baek-ho – 뛰어 (Run) (Featuring Park Ju-won, Malo) (also selected Honorable Mention Pop/Ballad Song)
Double K & Loco – Home (Featuring Jinsil of Mad Soul Child) (also selected Honorable Mention Rap/Hip-hop Song)
D-Story – 부탁이야 (Please) (Featuring Hyun-joong of M.A.C., Xena)
Ga-in – 시선 (Gaze) (Featuring Yoon Jong-shin) (read our related review)
Goodmorning Heaven – Goodmorning Heaven (Starring Lee Sang-mi of Ex, Jung Yu-jong of Daybreak, Park Soon-chul of Oh Ji-eun and the Wolves, Jo Jun-yong, Lee Myung-joon; featuring Harim)
Grand Mint Band – So Nice (GMF 2012 Version) (Main sessions: Kim Sun-il, Kim Jang-wun, Jung Yu-jong of Daybreak, Yu Jung-kyun, Jang Dong-jin, Jung Su-wan of Serengeti, Lee Su-ryun of The Koxx, Kang Min-suk, Im Young-jo, Kim Dong-hyun, Kim Myung-gi, Jo Jung-hyun, Kim Sung-hwan, Kim Hye-bin, Lee Da-hye; featuring Ko Young-bae of Soran, Kwon Jung-yeol of 10cm, Kim Hyuna of Lalasweet, Oh Ji-eun, Sweet Sorrow, Thomas Cook, Lucia). As an aside, I’m fairly certain that 26 people credited in one song is a 2012 record.
Lena Park (Park Jung-hyun) – You Don’t Know Me (Featuring eAeon) (read our related review)
MC Sniper – 할 수 있어 (I Can Do It) Song Version (Featuring Yiruma, Kim Ji-soo) (read our related review)
Nam Soo-rim – Drive Me To The Moon (Featuring Park Ji-yoon) (read our related review)
Oh Soo-min & Rex.D Project – 어색한 인사 (Hello)
Park Ji-yoon – 소리 (Sound) (Featuring Park Asher)
Park Myung-soo & Jung-yup – 꿈이었을까 (Endless Dream)
Siberian Husky – Real Sound (Featuring Lee Sung-soo of HarryBigButton)
Skull & Haha – 부산 바캉스 (Busan Vacance)
Soran & Kwon Jung-yeol of 10cm – 미쳤나봐 (Maybe Crazy)
Soul Fish – What We Do (Featuring Okasian, GLV, Paloalto, B-Free, EVO) (also selected Honorable Mention Rap/Hip-hop Song)
Sunghoon – Ma Boo (Featuring San E)
Wanted – Like You (Featuring IU)

What do your picks look like for this category? Discuss with us in the comments, and join us tomorrow in Part 10 as we recognize labels that had the biggest years!

Note: The views and opinions expressed in this article are solely of the reviewer and not of hellokpop as a whole.

Sources: Photos – Covers from Bugs Music, Daum Music; featured image from Nate

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