Thoughts on teaser tracks for Taeyang's new album, 'Solar'.

Alright, I feel compelled to write something about Taeyang's upcoming album, Solar (not to be confused with my favorite Hong Kong band Soler). Really though, it's not an easy thing as Taeyang and his music defy words. But it's 4 days remaining and we have been teased left and right - and I-just-can't-take-it-anymore!!

So, thoughts first on the track listing. There are 13 for the deluxe edition, I believe 11 for the regular one, and a total of 9 new tracks. Wedding Dress and Where U At appear on both albums, and Look Only At Me and Prayer are bonus tracks of the deluxe set. Excluding these, Taeyang contributed to 3 songs. YG standbys Teddy and Kush also contribute as does YB's bestie, G-Dragon. Additional writers, composers, and producers appear as well, so it'll be interesting to hear the diversity but also the unique Taeyang sound that pulls the album together.

On to the music...for some reason, YG thought it was a good idea to give the fangirls a mini-heart attack for the week leading up to Solar's release on July 1 by unleashing 1+ minute snippets everyday.

[Track 1] Intro - Taeyang's "just got a question for y'all. ARE YOU READY FOR SOLAR?" Honey, do you even need to ask? He strips it down in this intro (no, he does not strip down) and teases with only a drum line and a few scattered sound effects. The result is something completely fresh and deliberately evocative of a late spring or summer dawn. Just you, the birdies, and Taeyang.

[Track 2] Superstar - This song opens with an almost sporting arena drumbeat, like our boy Taeyang is getting ready to go a few rounds - which matches the lyrics, or the English parts that I understand. He's telling a girl to get with him and to give him her love because, after all, she's his superstar. It's not aggressive but supremely confident. Interesting because one wonders if this matches his approach to dating, though if his interviews are any indication, he's nowhere near this forward.

[Track 4] Just a Feeling - So how awesome are Taeyang's songwriting skills? VERY. This collaborative effort (with the ubiquitous Teddy) has a steady dance beat but is not overrun with electronica. Producer Teddy is starting to lay off on all that interference and delivers a controlled song that let's Taeyang's voice do the leading. "It's just a feeling..." but I think this album is going to kill. Yeah, all the k-pop kiddies better be scared.

[Track 5] You're My - "You're my chocolate, my sweetest chocolate. I really wanna have you.....You're my ice cream, my sweetest ice cream. I really wanna have you....." Right. Not the coolest lyrics, but maybe the Korean parts are awesome! But random food references aside, this is a super mellow track, perfect for displaying Taeyang's sweet, soulful voice. Just a few sparse piano strains and Mr. Dong to the Yongbae. It's not something you'll put on when making out with your other half, but it's perfect if he's lying next to you, caressing your face as you slowly drift to sleep...wishing he was Taeyang.


Super Junior + SNSD = 'Gee'.

Update: So it seems that I like every K-Pop cover of SNSD's Gee better than the original. Or at least there are 2 that I prefer. New boy band Infinite (check out their wicked dance skills in Come Back Again) is making quite an entrance and earn points by paying homage to 'classics', including Wonder Girls' Tell Me.

Loving Super Junior's cover of Gee. Yes, the original by SNSD is infectious - but wholly irritating. Slow down the beat, subtract the pastel shorts and obnoxious 'cutie' faces, and the song suddenly becomes quite enjoyable!


The final push.

So the long awaited oral defense for my masters thesis will be tomorrow. In less than 24 hours, the carnage will be complete. If I don't pass, I might just ship myself off to South Korea in a crate. At least then I can be a failure surrounded by awesome pop music. In the meantime, I'm trying to draw on some inspiration from a few hard working lads......Alas, my examination board does not look like this, in which case I'd be ecstatic about my oral.


Team Japan!

So a month or so ago, I noted a certain Hidetoshi Nakata's collaboration with Calvin Klein. It was a very, um, revealing statement on the upcoming World Cup. Well, now Nakata's gotten his fellow countrymen to join in, though this time the photoshoot isn't with a famous undies brand. But don't despair, it's posh Dunhill that has hooked up Team Japan with some sweet threads. Result below. Unfortunately I can't find a massive copy, but this assault of finely suited men should nevertheless get you - if you are a heterosexual woman - geared up for some World Cup action!


'Hands Up' for Big Bang!

Big Bang has been spoiling us recently with the sudden release of their Tell Me Goodbye MV and their appearance and sweep at the MTV Japan VMAs. They dropped their latest single release today. The Tell Me Goodbye CD features the title track, a remix, and third song, Hands Up. I wasn't too hot on it when they first sang it at the VMAs, but I'm giving it a fresh listen without the static of screaming girls - and I looooove it! It's bouncy and infectious, which means haters will hate. It has a club feel but isn't overpowered by electronica. There's still enough space for Daesung and Youngbae to lay down their smooth vocals with room enough for li'l Seungri and the big bad rappers, G-Dragon and T.O.P., to do their thing. Hands Up is just what we need to kick off the summer!