Review

2015 in Review: Day 6 – Pop and Ballad

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[The 2015 in Review Series]

1. Prelude (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. Other Recognition
17. Concluding Remarks

Yes, I am aware of the length of the Honorable Mention songs section. Do not be alarmed! This category is always the longest year after year, due in equal part to the breadth of the genres covered and the concentration of releases in those genres. This year, the lists are longer due to fewer rounds of cuts, but hopefully this sustains balance between inclusiveness and quality.

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

Albums

Best Pop and Ballad Album 2015

Fromm - Moonbow

Fromm – Moonbow

I was a hair away from placing Fromm’s debut album atop this category in 2013; she gets the nod this time. Moonbow was not quite as ambitious instrumentally as Arrival, mostly focusing on piano, guitar and some strings. What returned intact, indeed better than ever, was Fromm’s penchant for unpredictable yet viscerally satisfying melodies. Every single track contains moments of breathtaking melodic beauty, with “A Song Only You Don’t Know” and “The Aftermath” leading charge. Combined with the warm fidelity, nuanced singing, and grounded yet incisive writing, it’s almost too good to be true.

Runner-up Pop and Ballad Album 2015

Lucia - Light & Shade, Chapter 2

Lucia – Light & Shade, Chapter 2

A lot of what makes Moonbow great is also found in Light & Shade Chapter 2: in fact, “warm fidelity, nuanced singing, and grounded yet incisive writing” are exactly the words I’d like to use to describe this album as well. But Lucia’s unexpectedly full-length sequel stood out in particular due to its rich and emotive, sometimes jazzy instrumentation as well as its focus on empathetic storytelling. The first half of the album is transcendent in composition and sound quality, and while the second half is not as memorable musically, Lucia was able to spend that time working more fully on the themes of healing and understanding that we’ve glimpsed before.

The First Ten Out

Songs

Best Pop and Ballad Song 2015

Ravie Nuage – 바람부는 날 (Windy Day)*

The above live version is great, but it doesn’t fully do the song justice. It’s the perfect snapshot of what Ravie Nuage has done best: efficient instrumentation that evokes huge scale from just a piano, guitar, bass and violin, a deep and clear vocal performance from Pomme, and a memorable melody. From gorgeous piano intro to meticulously layered, moving climax, “Windy Day” is a treat through and through.

Runner-up Pop and Ballad Song 2015

Autumn Break – 사하 (Caxa)

I don’t officially do a lyrics category, but the words of Chung Bobby in “Caxa” would surely be in contention at the top if I did. Described as a depiction of “lovers who have passed the point where feelings were enough and arrived at the coldest point” (hence the title, name of the coldest inhabited province on Earth), the song uses evocative imagery and unflinching language to tell its difficult story. The faint glimmer of hope found within is amplified by the paradoxically warm instrumentation and bright melody, and Gyepi chooses to focus her voice on that hope rather than the coldness. This one is worth mulling over.

The First Ten Out

Fromm - Moonbow

Fromm – 달밤댄싱 (Moonlight Dancing)

HelloGayoung - Moment of a Moment

Hello Gayoung – 순간의 순간 (Moment of a Moment)

Jang Gyu-chul - Just You

Jang Gyu-chul – 그저, 널 (Just, You)

Kyo - November 31

Kyo – 11월 31일 (November 31)

Ladybird - Time of Stars

Ladybird – 비의 노래 (Rain Song)*

Lucia - Light & Shade, Chapter 2

Lucia – 달과 6펜스 (The Moon and Sixpence)

No Reply - Natural

No Reply – Natural

Robbin - Winterspring 12

Robbin – 숲이 되어 (Forest) (Featuring Sieun)

Sentimental Scenery - Now Here In This Place

Sentimental Scenery – 지금 여기, 이곳에서 (Now, Here, In This Place) (Duet with Lucia)

Taeyeon - I

Taeyeon – I (Featuring Verbal Jint)

Honorable Mentions

Albums

Ahn Chi-hwan – 50
Bitnara Yang – 나날들 (The Days)
Cho Aram – 연애의 기록 (Record of Romance)
Choi Mun-suk – 그대여 (Dear)
Echae En Route – Madeleine
Giriboy – 외롬적인 4곡 (Lonely Four Songs)
Hello Gayoung – 순간의 순간 (Moment of a Moment)
Heunjeok – Save
IU – Chat-Shire
Joa Band – 저기 우리가 있을까 (Would We Be There)
Jonghyun – 이야기 (Story) Op.1
Kyuhyun – 다시, 가을이 오면 (Fall, Once Again)
Lee Han-chul – 봄날 (Spring Day)
Lim Chang-jung – 또 다시 사랑 (Love Again)
Manju Pocket – 밤마실(Night Visit)
Milktea – Return
Oh Eun-young – 살아있는 거리 (Living Street)
Raspberry Field – 꿈, 틀 (Dream, Frame)
Seenroot – Shin Hyeon-hee and Kim Root
Shim Hyun-bo – 따뜻 (Warm)
Shin Yu-na – Radio
Singing Ants – 우주의 먼지, 그러나 사랑 받았네 (Dust In Space, But Loved)
Solati – Moho
Taeyeon – I
Uppin – 체감온도 (Apparent Temperature)
White Brain Gallery – 아래의 시간 (Time Below)

Songs

Aurora Sting & Met – 너와 함께 쓰던 우산 (Umbrella Shared With You)
Bakedal – I’m Fallin’
Bear Planet – 길 (Road) (Featuring Way and Choa of Crayon Pop)
Bily Acoustie – 미세매력주의보 (Her Micro Aggressions Warning)
BMK – 바람의 노래 (Song of the Wind)
Cheeze – 모두의 순간 (Everyone’s Moment)
Cho Aram – 그러니 놓지마 (So Don’t Let Go)
Daily Range – 날씨참춥다 (Cold Weather) (Featuring Kim Kkot)
Danu – 여행 (Travel)
Dia – Paradise
Dress & Lydia Paek – Emotion
Echae En Route – 달데이트 (Moon Date) (Featuring Park Ju-won)
Fellas & Song Young-keun – Bon Voyage (Featuring Ye-eun)
Forest of Breath – 나의 우주 (My Universe)
Fromm – 찌잉 (Love Buzz)
Fromm – 후유증 (The Aftermath) (Featuring Minhyun of Nuest)
Giriboy – 우결 (We Got Married) (Featuring Fromm)
Guhara – 초코칩쿠키 (Choco Chip Cookies) (Featuring Giriboy)
Haeyo – You And I (Featuring Jayoung)
Han Hee-jeong – Slow Dance
Heunjeok – 하루의 끝 (End of a Day)
Hi Temperature – 사랑의 한가운데 (Center of Love) (Featuring Sunwoo Jung-a)
Hugh Keice X Park Soyu – 밀크티 (Milk Tea)
IU – 스물셋 (Twenty-three)
Jang Hee-won – 붉은 달 (Red Moon)
Jang Jane – Love Me Do
Jang Pil-soon – 애월낙조  (Aewol’s Sunset)
Jiwon – 남겨진것들 (Things Left Behind)
Jonghyun – 엘리베이터 (Elevator)
Joo Hyo & HA:TFELT – There Must Be
Joo Mi-rae – 빨간다이어리 (Red Diary)
Kang A-sol – 하도리 가는 길 (The Road to Hado-ri)
Kang A-sol & Im Bora – 매일의 나의 너 (You of Mine of Every Day)
Kim Han-gil – 두고 오는 길 (The Way Back)
Kwak Pureun Haneul & SellinSelliSelline – 그들의 밤 (Their Night)
Lalasweet – 불꽃놀이 (Fireworks)
Lee Han-chul – 넌 나의 넘버원 (You’re My Number One)
Lee Ji-young – Good Bye Tomorrow
Lee Jung & Ha Dong-qn – Beautiful Day
Lee Moonsae – 봄바람 (Spring Breeze) (Featuring Naul)
Le Merymos – 매일 우리 둘이 (Two Of Us Every Day)
Lim Chang-jung – 또 다시 사랑 (Love Again)
Lucia – 그대가 웃는데 (You Smile)
Lucia – 아플래 (I’ll Hurt)
Lucia – 잿빛의 노래 (Ashen Song)
Milktea – Like Children
Miwoo – 못난이 인형 (Ugly Doll)
Moha – I’m Fine (Featuring Lee Juuno)
Oksangdalbit (Okdal) – 희한한 시대 (Strange Age)
Pae Su-jung & Nah Youn-kwon – Tell Me Why
Park Hyo-shin – Shine Your Light
Park Ji-min – Hopeless Love
Park Shi-hwan – 디저트 (Dessert)
Park Young-mi – 가슴에 차오른 말 (Words Welling Up)
Pygmalion – 자장가 (Lullaby) (Featuring Geurida)
Ravie Nuage – 273
Ravie Nuage – 두통 (Headache)
Retro Funkee – 스무살 (Twenty Years Old) (Featuring Yankie)
Rino – 그대에게서 멀어지는 여행 (Trip Getting Further From You)
Ruamin – 언제라도 (Whenever)
Seenroot – 날개 (Wings)
Shin Seol-hee – The Weak
Shin Seung-hun – 이게 나에요 (This Is Me)
Shin Yu-na – 바람에게 부탁해 (I Wish…)
Singing Ants – 우주의 먼지 (Dust In Space)
Song Si-young – 다시 그때로 (Back Again)
Soran – 넌 행복해 (You’re Happy)
Stay88 – Love On Saturday
Sugar Bowl – 오늘 더 좋아 (Better Today)
Swedish Laundromat – 이슬 (Dew)
Sweet Sorrow – 서울은 비 (Rain In Seoul)
Tapi – 봄의 노래 (Song of Spring)
A Trialogue – 그에게 쓴 왈츠 (Waltz For Him)
Urban Zakapa – Get (Featuring Beenzino)
U Sung-eun – Nothing (Featuring Moonbyul)
Vasco, Shannon, Giriboy – 숨 (Breath)
Well Done Potato & Solji – 잘해주지 말걸 그랬어 (Shouldn’t Have Been Good)
YOOERS – 움직여요 (Moves) (Featuring Kim Eun-tae, Oh Eun-bi, Bear of Spring Day)
Yoo Sa-rang – My Way
Yoonsang – Waltz (Duet with Davink)
Yoon Seul – 꽃을 이루다 (Holding Onto Love)
Yozoh – 푸른 자켓 (Blue Jacket)
Yozoh & Jung Jae-il – 가을을 남기고 간 사랑 (Love That Left Autumn)
Yun Soll – Fade Away

*Studio version not available on YouTube.

Sources: header image and album art from Bugs Music.

(Editing by Adrian Cheng)

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