Review

2014 in Review: Day 5 – Dance and Electronic

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HATFELT

[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

With a weaker-than-usual showing of idol pop releases but a slew of indie breakouts to compensate, there was lots of parity in dance and electronic music this year – so much so that there’s probably several each of albums and songs with legitimate claim to the top spot. What you see below is just one way that this shook out; I had drafts of this article that looked entirely different from the final one. I consider about half of the honorable mention selections on each side to be sacrifices made for readability, since many are just as good as their more featured counterparts. So what I’m saying is this: read on for the picks, then dive right into the deep pool of excellent honorable mentions.

Important: same as the last two years, the Album of the Year and Song of the Year (and their runner-ups) are not included in the genre categories. This means that, for example, there could be a dance album that isn’t being recognized on this page because it’s the album of the year. Also, note that all “Next Ten Out” and “Honorable Mention” picks are sorted by artist name.

Albums

Best Dance and Electronic Album 2014

Sunwoo Shawn Kim - Uncolored

Sunwoo Shawn Kim – Uncolored

Uncolored isn’t the happiest album you’ll hear this year. It’s lyric-less, filled with minor chords and grim melodies, moves in ponderous trance and house rhythms, and sports a melancholy glow. The reason that the album doesn’t get old, and still able to hold us engaged for 14 tracks, is that it doesn’t indulge in its own melancholia. Sunwoo Shawn Kim’s work is more observant than narrative, and more positive than normative. The preclusion of lyrics helps to achieve that, as does the clinical and sharp nature of his sounds. Uncolored‘s rhythms always seem to be in transient motion, never loitering for too long in any one mood or topic before moving on. Its track layers blend together like the ambiance of a city. Always detached but with keen eye for detail, Kim left us great and inspired room for personal interpretation – for our color painted into this uncolored album.

Runner-up Dance and Electronic Album 2014

HATFELT - Me

HA:TFELT (Ye-eun) – Me?

If we’re talking about the most surprising album of the year, put this one near the top. We’ve known for a while that Ye-eun was the most musically ambitious member of the Wonder Girls, her creative input in Wonder World (2011) being Exhibit A, but even then her solo debut was of astonishing quality. In addition to highly attractive melody- and beat-writing throughout (she co-composed, wrote, and arranged every track), there’s top-notch JYP sound polish liberally applied to tracks like anthemic and bursting “Wherever Together” and slowly seductive “Bond”. Ye-eun pens and emotively performs some brutally honest moments in “Iron Girl” and “Ain’t Nobody”, and takes full ownership even of the tender sensibilities found near the end of the EP. In terms of both the personal thematic content and the unflinching sound direction that digs deep into the heart of modern EDM, Me? is the bravest idol-artist release in a very long time.

The Next Ten Out

Songs

Best Dance and Electronic Song 2014

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Neon Bunny – 너여야 (It’s You)

Im Yujin, better known as Neon Bunny, already cornered the market on heady synthpop with incisive lyrics through her two studio releases; she simply perfected that art with “It’s You”. The instrumental track, a collaboration between critters in Demicat and Neon Bunny, is powered by dense but malleable synths, dulled but bouncy bass, and a percussion track on overdrive. These ingredients give the song a very unique texture, and Im adds to the jarring environment with her trademarked vocals – equal parts airy, chic, and sweet. Thus armed, “It’s You” is a timeless snapshot, in sounds and words, of the fuzzy excitement of budding feelings and uncertain signals. “I don’t know why I’m like this, but it has to be you // Without reason, it’s you, it has to be you.”

Runner-up Dance and Electronic Song 2014

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Anna Lee – 우리 (We)

Cherish your first listen of “We”, as you should with all good music, but know that the experience only gets better. Anna Lee’s debut lead single contains sounds and devices that, with unpredictable timing or texture, catch you by surprise the first time. Familiarity breeds comfort in this case, and as you soak in the thick atmosphere and look for those jarring moments, “We” becomes more organic and whole. It’s a song that defies genre conventions, save for some trip-hop influences, and that’s the most immediately great thing about it. But here lies also an emotional tale that Lee wants to tell, and getting there will mean getting more familiar with “We” – so you get to cherish your second, third, fourth, fifth listens, and so on and so forth.

The Next Ten Out

Broken Zero - Red Dust

Broken Zero – 홍진 (紅塵) (Red Dust) (Featuring Ohheejung)

Cheeze - Balloons

Cheeze – Balloons

HATFELT - Me

HA:TFELT (Ye-eun) – Ain’t Nobody

Image - Everything Is Falling Down

Image – 낙하하는 모든 것 (Everything Is Falling Down), Ash Remix

Lucite Tokki - Let Me Dance

Lucite Tokki – Let Me Dance

Philtre - Scene

Philtre – Last Scene (Featuring Choiza, Lim Kim)

Planet Shiver - Sin

Planet Shiver – Sin (Featuring Navi)

SellinSelliSelline & Sujin - Alice

SellinSelliSelline & Sujin – Alice

Taemin - Ace

Taemin – 괴도 (Danger)

Wym - After Moon

Wym – Moon River

Honorable Mentions

Albums

11 – 11
Anna Lee – Melancholy
Bankrupsy – Old Boy Slaughter
Beatburger – Electric Dream
Broken Zero – 홍진 (紅塵) (Red Dust)
Girls’ Generation – Mr. Mr.
House Rulez – Final Fantasy
Humming Urban Stereo – Reform
Image – 매혹들 (Things That Attract Us)
Infinite – Season 2
Jay Park – Evolution
Juuno – Shift
Oohyo – 소녀감성 (Girl Sensibility)
Sujin – EP
Taemin – Ace
Wym – After Moon

Songs

AOA – 사뿐사뿐 (Like A Cat)
Bankruptsy – Old Boy Slaughter (Featuring Chaboom)
BEAST – 12시 30분 (12:30)
Clazziquai Project – Madly
EXO-K – 중독 (Overdose)
Fine – 서울 (Seoul)
Floating Island – 상사화 (Magic Lily)
F(x) – Boom Bang Boom
Ga-In – Fxxk U (Featuring Bumkey)
Gil Hak Mi – 텅 빈 방 (Empty Room)
Girls’ Generation – Mr. Mr.
Heo – Luna
Haihm – 울지 않는 새 (Bird No Singing)
HA:TFELT (Ye-eun) – Wherever Together
High4 & Lim Kim – 해요 말고 해 (A Little Close)
History – Psycho
House Rulez – Melody-Day (Featuring Cho Hyun-ah)
Humming Urban Stereo – M.E.A.O.H.
Humming Urban Stereo – 지랄 (Bullshit) (Featuring Narsha)
Idiotape – Airdrome
IU – 삐에로는 우릴 보고 웃지 (The Pierrot Laughs At Us)
Juuno – 거절 (Rejection) (Featuring Azin)
Kara – 맘마미아 (Mamma Mia)
The Kokos – Falling
Laboum – 두근두근 (Pit-a-Pat)
Lady Cube – Just The Way You Are
Mamamoo – Piano Man
Neon Bunny – Lost In Love
Ohheejung – 하늘로 올라가는 비 (Rain Falling Up To The Sky)
Oohyo – Vineyard
Ookoorookoo – O
Park Ji-yoon – Beep
Rainbow99 – 홍대입구 (Hongdae Entrance)
Saebyeok – Save Me
Seo Taiji & IU – 소격동 (Sogyeokdong)
Sima Kim & Eadonmm – Isolated (Featuring Almeeva)
Sistar – I Swear
Spica – 고스트 (Ghost)
Sujin – Charlene
Taeyang – Love You To Death
TVXQ – 수리수리 (Spellbound)
W & JAS – Secret Marriage
Yoon Jong-shin – The Detail (Featuring Muzie, Puer Kim)

Sources: Photos – HA:TFELT from Mwave and album covers from Daum Music; Videos – YouTube

2 Comments

  1. BigBlue

    February 9, 2015 at 12:35 am

    I have to disagree with the top spot. “Me?” should have taken it. I think the fact that Ha:tfelt is an idol worked against her here, even after she went to a LOT of effort to distance herself from that just so her efforts WOULD be taken seriously.
    Yeeun really outdid herself with this album. I have no doubts that if she’d done it in English and released it here in the West, it would have charted BIG (adding that promotion is a part of that as well).
    Anyway, very happy to see Yeeun getting some very well deserved recognition and praise for her talents.

  2. Pauler

    January 1, 2015 at 12:16 pm

    I always look at this field as the “Idols Battle It Out for Jung Bae’s approval” lol

    – Neon Bunny’s “It’s You” is my song of the year so I’m very happy to see it reigning here. I don’t know if Yujin has realized it, but as far as a pop song goes, this is every bit of a classic. The charming “wooooh” leading into the chorus, the little breakbeat drums running all around her airy and romantic vocals, the way her Korean lyrics sounds like “woooh, know that you’re mine, know ya, know ya, know that you’re mineeeee”. Once again, it’s probably only me but I can’t help but wonder is that a coincidence that Yujin has positioned her chorus that way because even when you don’t understand a lick of Korean, you may still find it universal through one simple statement “you’re mine”. All of that, and then the absolutely gorgeous texture of the production, the video, the way that bridge just exudes so much longing, goshh

    – H.U.S collab work with Narsha is fire. That girl’s light tone can hold its own in such a heavy and eclectic production.

    -Wym’s “Moon River”, while undeniably beautiful, is a strange choice here. It sounds too much like a lesser band doing My Bloody Valentine.

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