2014 in Review: Day 10 – Best Collaborative Work

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IU and Kim Chang-wan

[The 2014 in Review Series]

1. Introduction and Best Album Art
2. R&B and Soul
3. Rock and Alternative
4. Rap and Hip-hop
5. Dance and Electronic
6. Pop and Ballad
7. Folk and Country
8. Jazz and Blues
9. Crossover and Other
10. Best Collaborative Work
11. Rookie Artist of the Year
12. Artist of the Year
13. Song of the Year
14. Album of the Year
15. Staff Picks
16. Storylines and Other Recognition
17. Concluding Remarks

The second part of our series kicks off with a look at some of the best collaborative work in K-pop this year. I’ll be the first to admit that this category is far from being exhaustive, even compared to the other categories; collaborations can be a tricky thing to track, and it’s almost a given that great collaborative works were missed or not counted below. The criteria for selection is also a little different here than before. The winning selections are not necessarily what I think are the best songs and albums out of the list; instead, they feature excellence in the scope, quantity, unpredictability, or synergy of the collaboration. We are after the things that are only made possible through cooperative work and in no other way.

Note also that, unlike the genre categories, works picked here can appear in the general categories – for example, one of the albums featured below could also be the Album of the Year. For our purposes, only collaboration between performing artists is considered. (The exception being when the primary artist is a producer.)


Best Collaborative Album 2014

Toy - Da Capo

Toy – Da Capo
In collaboration with Beenzino, Crush, Dynamic Duo, Kim Dong-ryul, Kwon Jin-ah, Lee Juck, Lee Suhyun of Akdong Musician, Lim Kim, Sung Si-kyung, Sunwoo Jungah, and Zion.T

A triumph of scope, is Da Capo: Yoo Hee-yeol’s seventh album is filled with familiar, even expected, voices from Lee Juck, Kim Dong-ryul and Sung Si-kyung; perhaps Lim Kim and Kwon Jin-ah can be put in that group too, as natural generational steps forward. But Beenzino, Crush, Dynamic Duo, and Zion.T? Didn’t see that coming. The latter two’s participation is particularly impressive, as they appear in “인생은 아름다워” (“Life Is Beautiful”), a lush big-band pop track that is a far cry from the natural environs of either. How about Sunwoo Jungah’s compelling work in murky and bashfully experimental “언제나 타인” (“Always A Stranger”), or the retro sensibilities of AkMu-powered “Goodbye Sun, Goodbye Moon”? There is striking vision here in Da Capo, one that brings out the best from some artists and the unexpectedly good from others.

Runner-up Collaborative Album 2014

Humming Urban Stereo - Reform

Humming Urban Stereo – Reform
In collaboration with Ashley of Ladies Code, Brown Bunny, G.Na, Narsha of Brown Eyed Girls, and NS Yoon-G

Reform is a self-remake album, which takes some of Humming Urban Stereo’s best tracks and rebuilds them from the ground up. The EP is carried by two collaborations in particular: “Scully Doesn’t Know” and “지랄” (“Bullshit”). G.Na and Narsha replace Shina-E and the late Humming Girl in the vocal slots, and while the 2005 and 2007 originals were fine performances, the new ones take it up a notch. This “Scully Doesn’t Know” is richer and more energetic; while G.Na was apparently cast for her ability to convey the now-entirely-English lyrics well, her lithe and breathy tone also stands out and thrives in such a kinetic track. Meanwhile, “Bullshit” gains a new coat of paint or five in the form of industrial-grade, heavily distorted, reverberating synths. Narsha’s performance is appropriately curt, chic, furious, and just a little vulnerable – I don’t think it could have been done any better. The sweetly combination of Brown Bunny and Ashley in “Hawaiian Couple” and the tastefully subdued coordination with NS Yoon-G are icing on the cake.

The Next Ten Out


Best Collaborative Song 2014

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IU – 너의 의미 (Meaning Of You)
In collaboration with Kim Chang-wan

We keep rolling with the remakes, and it’s really tough to improve on this one, isn’t it? The beautiful pastel-tone language and unforgettable melody of the original Sanullim classic haven’t gone anywhere. On this road, IU and Sanullim vocalist Kim Chang-wan embark on a generational three-minute journey together. As they sing of old sorrows blooming into cosmos flowers and castles of affection above the clouds, the girlish innocence of IU’s performance blends into the nostalgia of Kim’s, and her wistful chorus into his conversational interjections. Their cadence is organic, reflecting the way in which the song was recorded. Their duet, starting two-thirds into the song, is the definition of harmony – not in the open-and-closed, theoretical sense, but of the most visceral kind. “Meaning Of You” is the best of IU’s several experiments in cross-era collaboration. It’s the kind of moment that spurs a generation to lean in and listen closer, to be curious and rediscover a piece of the past, to maybe even connect, in some small way, with the lives and sensibilities of a different time.

Runner-up Collaborative Song 2014

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Jerry.K – 먼지 쌓인 기타 (Dusty Guitar)
In collaboration wtih Jung Cha-sik

Check the “unpredictable” box from the get-go. I’m not sure how this collaboration even came to happen, but I am thrilled that it did. “Dusty Guitar” tells a crystalline summary of the entire Jerry.K album, giving voice to musicians who were forced, by circumstance and harsh reality, to give up their passion. Jerry.K whispers earthy anecdotes of these men and women, as Jung Cha-sik brings his inimitable croon to bear on a dryly emotional refrain. As the song climbs into climax, guitars ripping into ponderous beat, Jung’s voice starts to crack just a little as the lyrics diverge in content. The singer sings a resigned sort of contentment, urging the musician to leave that old guitar be and avoid the anguish of dead passions; at the same time, the rapper says to brush off the dust and let those chords jump-start his dreams. It’s a devastating moment, made possible through Jung Cha-sik’s powerful portrayal of seasoned pragmatism and Jerry.K’s hard-hitting writing. That we can’t so readily dismiss the realist is testament to their achievement.

The Next Ten Out

Coreyah & Harim - Fell

Coreyah & Harim – 넘어갔네 (Fell)

Dal Hae-young & Soybean Paste - Change Of Pace

Dal Hye-young & Soybean Paste – 둘의 밤 (Night For Two) (Featuring Im Chae-woon)

Dynamic Duo & DJ Premier - A Giant Step

Dynamic Duo & DJ Premier – AEAO

G.Brown - Falling In Love

G.Brown – Falling In Love (Featuring Sohyang)

Lee Seung-hwan - Fall To Fly

Lee Seung-hwan – 비누 (Soap) (Featuring Lim Kim)

Lucia - Melody of Dreams Vol. 1

Lucia – 데미안 (Demian) (Sentimental Scenery Remix)


Seo Taiji & IU - Sogyeokdong

Seo Taiji & IU – Sogyeokdong

So Chan-hwee - So Chan-hwee Project With ROY

So Chan-hwee & Roy – 사랑해서 그런다 (Because I Love)

Soyou & Junggigo - Some

Soyou & Junggigo – 썸 (Some) (Featuring Lil Boi)

Yang Hee-eun - Yang Hee-eun 2014

Yang Hee-eun – 나영이네 냉장고 (Na-young’s Fridge) (Featuring Kim Na-young and the Barberettes)

Honorable Mentions


Crying Nut & No Brain – 96
Magic Strawberry Sound – 내가 너의 작곡가 (I’m Your Composer)
Neuron Music – Neuron Days
Park Ki-young & Acoustic Blanc – Acoustic Blanc Part. 1
Siwa & Peppermoon – Skyside Melodies
So Chan-hwee & Roy – So Chan-hwee Project With ROY
Toheart – 1st Mini Album


Achtung & Jung Yeop – 거울속의 너 (You In The Mirror)
Bily Acoustie – 고스란히 (Intact) (Featuring Cho Won-sun)
Boni & The Suite – 대답해줘 (Answer Me)
Choi Baek-ho & Russell Ferrante – Goin’ Home
Crucial Star – Pretty Girl (Featuring Lovey)
Crying Nut & No Brain – 96
god – 노래 불러줘요 (Sing Me A Song) (Featuring IU)
High4 & IU – 봄 사랑 벚꽃 말고 (Not Spring, Love Or Cherry Blossoms)
Jung Joon-young & Younha – 달리 함께 (Just The Way You Are)
Jung Min-ah & Twomyung – 해여, 지지말아요 (Dear Sun, Please Don’t Set) Remix
Kim Myung-joo – 남과 여 (Man And Woman) (Featuring Yang Yoseob)
Kim Na-young, Shin Jong-wook, Tricky – 미안해 (I’m Sorry)
Kim So-jung – 그대, 그때 그대 (You, You Then) Part 1 (Featuring J2M)
Kim Sung-kyun & Dohee – 운명 (Destiny)
Kim Wan-sun – Goodbye My Love (Featuring Bizzy, Tiger JK)
K.Will & Mamamoo – 썸남썸녀 (Peppermint Chocolate) (Featuring Wheesung)
Lee Kyung-hyun & Lee Ye-joon – 궁금해 (Curious About You)
Lim Jeong-hee & 40 – 영화처럼 (Like A Movie)
Linus’ Blanket – Love Me (Featuring Kim Tae-chun)
Mad Clown & Yozoh – 쇼콜라 체리밤 (Chocolate Cherry Bomb)
Park Ji-yoon, Jang Jae-in, Lim Kim, Puer Kim, Yoon Jong-shin, Kim Yeon-woo, Jo Jung-chi, Harim, Muzie, and Eddy Kim – 크리스마스 소원 (Christmas Wishes)
Park Sae-byeol – 노래할게요 (I Will Sing) (Featuring Christian Kim)
Pe2ny – 해, 너도 (Do It, You Too) (Featuring JJK, Olltii, YENA)
Philtre – Last Scene (Featuring Choiza, Lim Kim)
Rainstone – Rainstorm By Rainstone (Featuring Verbal Jint, San E, Brian McKnight)
SellinSelliSelline & Sujin – Alice
Seo Hyeon-jin – 정읍사 (Jungeupsa) (Featuring Kim Nani)
Shin Ji-soo & Crucial Star – Show Me Your Light
Swedish Laundromat & Letter Flow – 흩어진다 (Scatter)
Swings & Ailee – A Real Man
Swings, Giriboy, Chunjae Nochang – hongkiyoung #2
Toheart – Delicious
Whang Bo-ryung – 마법의 유리병 (Dreamer Of Myths) (Featuring Han Hee-jeong)

Sources: Photos – IU and Kim Chang-wan from JTBC and album covers from Daum Music; Videos – YouTube


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