2013 in Review: Day 8 – Best Collaborative Work

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[The 2013 in Review Series]

0. Prelude – Best Album Art
1. Introduction
2. R&B and Soul
3. Rock and Alternative
4. Rap and Hip-hop
5. Dance and Electronic
6. Pop, Ballad and Folk
7. Jazz, Crossover and Other
8. Best Collaborative Work
9. Rookie of the Year
10. Song of the Year
11. Artist of the Year
12. Album of the Year
13. Staff Picks
14. Miscellanea and Loose Ends
15. Concluding Remarks

Like in any other scene, collaboration is a lifeblood of Kpop. While there were some big-time collabs that fell flat – I think we all expected something more from Swings, Verbal Jint, and San E all being on the same song – 2013 still featured works of great complementary synergy. It was all the better when the collaboration was unexpected, and there’s a few of those here.

This category warrants some additional explanations. The major criterion here is to recognize two types of works: the first being displays of exceptional synergy, something more than the mere sum of their parts, and the second being really good works that happen to have two or more artists showing complementary fit. So Sato and Aurage‘s Nervine is selected here on different kind of merit from that of G.Dragon‘s R.O.D.

Additionally, while I did consider producer-performer collaborations, these are a bit harder to classify as collaborations unless there was something dramatic that happened as a direct result of the union. (Kim Jaejoong and Kim Bada is one such example, as is everything Yoon Jong-shin did this year and the last.) However, works where the producer is the lead artist were readily included.

Note that honorable mention picks are sorted by alphabetical order of artist names.


Best Collaborative Album 2013

MFBTY - The Cure

MFBTY – 살자 (The Cure)

This wasn’t one of those unexpected collaborations, no. Bizzy and the husband-wife duo of Tiger JK and Yoon Mi-rae have worked together plenty in the past. But the thing about The Cure is that it does not draw heavily from any of the three artists’ individual styles. The middle of Drunken Tiger‘s discography has a little of this mellow and nostalgic tinge, but Tiger JK commits more fully to that here. The first half of the album is revelatory: acoustic and analog sounds create homely, earthy backdrops as the boasts and edginess disappear. At times, it seems like the three emcees’ frankness and reflection bounce off of each other; they are storytellers, and also just three human beings talking about and doing life. The tough swagger returns later, and while those make for some entertaining moments, the real collaborative achievement lies in those tender moments.

Runner-up Collaborative Album 2013

IU - Modern Times

IU – Modern Times
In collaboration with Choi Baek-ho, Ga-in of Brown Eyed Girls, Jonghyun of SHINee, Park Ju-won, Yang Hee-eun, Lee Min-soo, G. Gorilla, Jung Suk-won, and others

IU albums are becoming a showcase for Loen Entertainment‘s networking prowess. Modern Times doesn’t have the star-studded composer cast of Last Fantasy, but it fulfills the requisite number of double-takes with its list of contributing artists. The headliners are of course the two grizzled veterans, and both Choi and Yang deliver weighty performances that complement IU’s lithe tone. But given that the album is themed on swing, Latin and Broadway aesthetics, the contributions of Park Ju-won and Ga-in have to be considered more important to Modern Times. Park in particular adds unmistakable flavor with his guitar performances, putting an exclamation point on the team effort. There are certain albums that only come out of big-budget production and large staffs, and this is one such work.

Honorable Mentions

Born Kim - Future Shop

Born Kim – Future Shop [read our review]
In collaboration with Junggigo, Kang Sun-ah, Lee Hyun-song of The Koxx, Minos, Shaun of the Koxx, and The Solutions

Kim Ganji x Ha Heon-jin

Kim Ganji and Ha Heon-jin – 몸뚱이 블루스 (Body Blues)

Kim Jaejoong - I

Kim Jaejoong – I [read our review]
In collaboration with Kim Bada

Kimparkchella - Love, Peace, Revolution

Kimparkchella – Love, Peace, Revolution
In collaboration with Analog Sonyun, B-Free, Cho Aram, Fana, Huckleberry P, Leo Kekoa, Kream, Nam Joo-hee, Nuck, Paloalto, Pento, and Satbyeol

Mild Beats - Beautiful Struggle

Mild Beats – Beautiful Struggle
In collaboration with Chaboom, Dead’P, Deepflow, Dragon AT, Huckleberry P, Hwaji, Ignito, Jerry.K, MC Meta, RHYME-A-, Paloalto, and Rhythm Power

Rainbow99 and Yoon Jae-ho - Noise, Piano, Seoul

Rainbow99 and Yoon Jae-ho – Noise, Piano, Seoul

Smells - Up And Down

Smells – Up And Down
In collaboration with Neon Bunny and Son Seung-yeon

Soulciety - Diamonds

Soulciety – Diamonds
In collaboration with AMJ, Chae Young, Common Ground, Hong Joon-ho, J-Sin, Jung-In, Nam Joo-hee, Rangshow, Soulman, and Han So-hyun


Best Collaborative Song 2013

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La Ventana – 빨간풍선 (Red Balloon) (Featuring 10cm)

Kwon Jung-yeol‘s voice is a natural fit for tango, and it’s also a natural choice to sing Sanwoolim in general. Thus this remake of the 1978 hit is doubly successful for the 10cm vocalist – he weaves his way through the slow, deliberate arrangement, playing his role well in an environment that couldn’t fit him better. La Ventana does a visionary job of reinterpreting the original’s hard rock sound, and its elegant instrumentation melds with Yun Chul-jong‘s tasteful guitar in the passionate outro. In terms of matchup, La Ventana couldn’t have picked better partners.

Runner-up Collaborative Song 2013

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Jerry.K – 곡선 (Curves) (Featuring 40)

Jerry.K’s eloquence doesn’t have to show up in this song – Curves is not a story as much as it is a moment. But there is still a certain elegance to his ode, classy and tasteful, and his calm verse and hook set the stage for 40. The vocalist comes in swooping with a massive chorus, and that’s when you realize this one is special. Jerry.K’s dramatic synth-string arrangement works well with 40’s uniquely smooth tone, and both artists know when to punctuate the good times. It’s subtle, but make no mistake – no other collaboration in this scene could have produced this.

Honorable Mentions

Analozik – Silhouette (Featuring Kim Hyuna of Lalasweet and Minos)
Bulhandang – 불한당가 (Song of Hooligans)
Defconn – 노토리어스 걸 (Notorious Girl) (Featuring Boni)
Dew.y Orchestra – 바람이 운다 (The Wind Cries) (Featuring Soulman and San E)
Dynamic Duo – 날개뼈 (Hot Wings) (Featuring Hyolyn) [read our album review]
E.Sang – 내놔 (Give It To Me) (Featuring Defconn and Oh Yumi of Miss $)
Ga-in and Cho Hyung-woo – Brunch
G-Dragon – Niliria (Featuring Missy Elliott)
G-Dragon – R.O.D. (Featuring Lydia Paek)
GFF and Seo Seung-hee – 새벽 4시 (4 AM)
Han Soa – One More Love (Featuring G. Tiger)
Hyung-don and Dae-joon (Defconn) – 나 좀 만나줘 (Meet Me)
Kahi – It’s Me (Featuring Dumbfoundead)
Kim Jo-han – 별.달.다. (The Stars, the Moon, All For You) (Featuring Jo Hyuna)
Kim Won-joo and Ben – Baby Baby
Lee Ji-young and Hanhae – 불편한 진실 (Uncomfortable Truth)
Lee Juck – 비포 선라이즈 (Before Sunrise) (Featuring Jung-In)
Lee Soo-ryun – Rapunzel (Featuring Oh Ji-eun) [read our album review]
Lil Cham – Done (Featuring San E)
MUSHRU:MS – It’s Over (Featuring Katie Goes to Tokyo)
Nature – 헤어지던 날 (Day of Parting) (Featuring Zeni Kim and MAXo)
Ookoorookoo – 그렇게 시작해 (Start Like That)
Raspberry Field – Can You (English version) (Featuring Hosomi Takeshi) [read our album review]
P-Type – OST: Peace (Featuring Paloalto, B-Free and Huckleberry P)
P-Type – 다이하드 (Die Hard) (Featuring ALi and MC Meta)
PHILTRE – 잊혀지겠지 (Fade) (Featuring Younha)
Pinodyne – 손만 잡고 잘게 (I’ll Sleep Just Holding Your Hand) (Featuring Kuan and Satbyeol) [read our album review]
The RAMA – 전자 오락실 키드의 생애 (Life of the Arcade Kid) (Featuring Esco, Alpha, and Jimmy Pimp)
Sato and Aurage – Nervine (Featuring Masstige and Critic)
Smells – Up And Down (Featuring Son Seung-yeon)
Sunny Hill – 만인의 연인 (Darling of All Hearts) (Featuring Harim) [read our album review]
UV – 설마 아닐거야 (No Way) (Featuring Ha Dong-qn)
Various Artists (Skull, Haha, Geeks, Mad Clown, Double K, Zico, Swings, Soul Dive, Zizo, Jung-In, and Gil) – Brilliant Is
VIXX – 여자는 왜 (Why Do Women) (Featuring Oksangdalbit)
Yoon Jong-shin – Goodbye (Featuring Park Ji-yoon)

Sources: Photos – MFBTY and album art from Daum Music; Videos from YouTube

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