Japanese, Reviews

K’s Traveling Song: Korean J-Pop That’s Not K-Pop! (Review)

October 10, 2009 | | 1 Comment Share thison Facebook K’s Traveling Song: Korean J-Pop That’s Not K-Pop! (Review)on Twitter

Okay, get ready for this. There’s a J-pop artist who I was recently turned on to who goes by the name “K.” I really enjoyed his latest album, Traveling Song, and when I was talking to a Japanese friend about him, I discovered that this man is in fact a Korean-born singer who has made a career out of recording J-pop albums in Japan. I guess the “K” makes a lot more sense now.

Japanese or Korean, it doesn’t matter, as Traveling Song is pretty awesome. Even more, this guy personally handles the keyboards and piano performances throughout the album, which is amazing in itself. The album title is pretty fitting given the variety of music featured on the album, but it’s all upbeat and a whole lot of fun. From pop rock, to ballads, to even hip-hop, there’s something here for everyone, and if you’re into the musical Rent, there is a cover here that you’ve got to hear.

Find out what K has up his sleeves after the jump.

The album opens with “Traveling Song,” an upbeat rock tune that is brimming with positive energy. So much, in fact, that this could totally fit in with contemporary Christian rock out of the United States. It’s terribly catchy, and there’s even a nice guitar solo about midway through to keep things interesting.

Next up, my favorite track. “This Song…?” features ET-KING’s harder rap vocals alongside K’s softer voice, which is a nice contrast. I love the way they switch off on the vocals, and it’s an all around fun track with some great synth work and reggae-esque guitar chords on the offbeats. Another highlight, “Y.E.S.,” gets mega bonus points with its opening descending Rhodes piano chords that sounds a lot like Jamiroquai’s “Virtual Insanity,” one of my favorite songs of all time. It’s a downright funky track with an octave-jumping bass and some high-pitched strings, and K asking you to “free your mind.” The synth work is awesome as well.

“Sand Paper World” is one of the most energetic tracks on the album with its jazzy vibe and lots of English. The chorus section is painfully catchy, and has been stuck in my head for months (yes, I’ve been listening to this CD for that long). “Love Freak,” on the other hand, is a playful tune with a nice swing. It features primarily piano until the chorus section explodes with rapid-fire lyrics and goofy claps for percussion. I don’t know what this one is all about, but he must love food as he says “hamburger” and “BLT” at different times in the song.

There are some traditional pop tracks here as well. “Birth of a Treasure” works in strings, piano, and pitch bending synth lines that remind me a whole lot of soundTeMP’s work on Ragnarok Online, making me think that it’s Korean in style. It’s pretty traditional ballad terms of vocals, but I love the music. “Play and Pray” also sports this Korean vibe with the synths, but it differentiates itself with these lovely orchestral hits that would normally cheesy, but work so well along with the playful synths and K’s amazing voice. “You’re My Home” features primarily piano and drawn out vocals from K. The chorus section works in these fun percussive triplets with the triangle, and K’s sections of “La, la, la” gives the track a playful tone.

For those who enjoyed the stage performance of Rent, K has also recorded a Japanese version of the popular track, “Seasons of Love,” titled “525600min. ~Seasons of Love~.” While he sings the verses in Japanese, he’s joined by the original gospel-like choir for the chorus section, which is a nice touch. This is the definitive version of the song in my opinion! There’s also a part where K sings, in English, “525,600 minutes… how do you measure, measure a year,” which is fun to hear. Maybe he can join the Japanese production of the show if it makes its way over there. Sony Music Entertainment Japan also put out a single for this track, which includes two additional songs, “LISTEN ~Seasons of Love~” and “A Year a Lifetime ~Seasons of Love~,” two piano ballads that work in the “525,600 minutes” line quite effectively, so if you’re a fan of Rent, I recommend checking out the single as well.

So, just when you thought the album was over, there’s a hidden track tucked away behind about 3 minutes of silence. It’s a quieter piano and vocal track that sounds more reserved that the rest of the music on the album, leaving you with some closure rather than beating you over the head with the happiness that dominates the rest of the CD.

I can’t convey enough just how impressed I am with K. The music is amazing, his performances are amazing, and his vocals are top notch. While I like to listen to a lot of music for mood, this album is simply fun to listen to every time. I’ve been playing it for months, and am just now getting around to writing about it, and I’m glad I waited to let the music sink in. If you’re up for something new and unique, I highly recommend picking this one up.  It’s available at Play-Asia.

Are you at all fascinated by K’s background? Do you find it interesting that he recorded “Seasons of Love” in Japanese?

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