Thanks for all the feedback on our first #MMMPlaylist post! It’s Monday again so its time for more songs! This whole series is about shouting out underrated artists and songs and some are SO slept-on, that their music isn’t available on Spotify or Apple Music. However, that won’t stop me for posting their stuff here via youtube or uploading it myself because thats what #MMMPlaylist is about!
Boni 보니-어제도 오늘도 내일도 (Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow) (In Planet)
Now it’s time for some real Korean R&B! Boni is definitely one of the most underrated vocalists in Korean music. PERIOD. She debuted in 2010 with this conceptual R&B tribute ‘1990’ which featured slow jam after slow jam and some great up tempo tracks like ‘Lovers’. Even the intro featured cuts of radio and tv interviews with clips of Keith Sweat talking, newscasters talking about Mariah Carey when she first debuted and there’s even a mention of JODECI!
I selected, Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow because I love the overall vibe of the song and the fact that it’s real R&B and paying homage to the 90s. Unfortunately, the song couldn’t be added to the #MMMPlaylist because the album isn’t on Spotify. But I’ve uploaded it to the site for you to stream and you can also stream the entire 1990 album here on Apple Music.
BoA-I Got You (SM ENT)
BoA has released music in every genre imaginable and I could on for days about how versatile she is as an artist. Let’s go back to 2004 when that Neptunes sound was really popular and had a massive influence on KPOP. BoA released the My Name album after a bit of a hiatus (touring in Japan and dealing with the death of her manager in 2003) and came back with a bang. For me this album is definitely one of her best as it helped solidify her position as the Princess of Kpop, (she is now the undisputed Queen of the genre). By that time she had only been in the industry for four years (right now it’s 18 years!) and she was 18 when this new era began. I picked I Got You, because like the Boni song I mentioned above, there’s a certain smooth R&B quality to it that makes this song easy to get into. This is also one of the first Korean songs I really sat down and made an effort to learn (up until then I found the language quite difficult to grasp) and I still remember it to this day. The song itself is about wanting to be in a relationship with someone and finally getting that moment. Check it out because it’s definitely on the playlist!
Se7en-Honey I Know (YG Entertainment)
I loved Se7en aka the starboy of YG Family back in 03/04. Back then Se7en could do no wrong and when he dropped his second album Must Listen in 2004, a full 15-track album (yes, this is when YG released ALBUMS instead of tired ass Mini albums) he helped changed the face of modern KPOP forever. This album was based entirely off the Atlanta sound that was big at the time, thanks to the popularity of Usher’s Confessions album. In fact, his song Passion sounds like a Korean version of Yeah! by Usher because that’s exactly who YG Family based a lot of his musical style off. Despite being compared to Usher and this new kid on the block called Rain at the time, Se7en did have a distinct style due to his voice. Honey I Know is one of his most sexy, slow jams (despite the sad lyrics) and his voice shines all over it. Guys, Se7en can SING, and despite what his latter day music sounds like, this guy has a lot of talent and it’s such a shame that his time has passed. Seeing artists like Se7en and Wheesung representing YG Family made me a huge fan of the label and I ate up pretty much anything they put out around that time.
Wheesung-Incurable Disease (YG Family)
Wheesung is the best male soloist to ever emerge from YG Family. Yeah I said it! His vocal style inspired Daesung from Big Bang and plenty others within the company. In 2004, Wheesung released his third album under YG called For The Moment, which featured the single Incurable Disease. This song went onto become very popular at the time and Wheesung and Se7en were always on Inki Gayo winning awards. There was a period of time from around 2003-2014 where YG Family dominated the charts and were seen in a very favourable light. It’s quite strange now to think about YG as the ‘true R&B’ label as they once marketed themselves. YG Family are great at finding talent but terrible at nurturing it…unless you’re in Big Bang. Wheesung still makes great music and if you’re into Korean R&B music then definitely get into him (check out the song Aroma from 2017).
SOULSTAR-머리 어깨 무릎 발까지 (Head, shoulders, knees, to feet) (LOEN)
So when I was talking about Se7en I mentioned that YG Family were putting out artist after artist and they all happened to be amazing. YG Family had a side label at the time called MBoat which was supposed to specialise in real R&B (without the hip hop element seen with Se7en, Jinusean and 1TYM) and they brought out two groups; Big Mama and Soulstar. Soulstar were closely related to Big Mama because one of the members is related to the husky voiced Lee Ji Young from the 4-piece vocal group. As soon as I read that one of the members Lee Seung Woo was related to Lee Ji Young, I bought their debut album from YesAsia.com and wasn’t disappointed! That album featured the single Only One For Me, which has been covered by everyone in KPOP from Tiffany & Jessica from SNSD to Taemin from SHINee. Only One For Me was the go-to song Idols would sing at the time to prove they had the range. No shade but most of them didn’t.
As I stated before, YG Family know how to find talent but they don’t know how to nurture it. A year later YG Family would produce a tv show looking for new talent. Soulstar were the Boys II Men of Korea and YG wanted something a bit more commercial…something a bit more like B2K, and Big Bang was born. As we all know, after Big Bang came out, the KPOP/Hallyu industry would change forever (a year later Wonder Girls, Tell me would go viral and KPOP gimmicky song/dance was born). Sadly, artists like Big Mama and Soulstar got lost in the fray of the label readjusting to the change in the industry and they eventually left/were dropped (which again is amazing, because no one gets to leave YG these days…) and years later re-emerged in 2011 under the LOEN label. These guys put out another great album (that I’m proud to own) and 머리 어깨 무릎 발까지 is a vocal masterpiece. Check it out and let us know what you think!
LADY-Attention (Logi Entertainment)
It’s hard to believe right now, but back in 2005 the world was edging towards serious progressiveness and Korea was fully involved in the new direction the world was going in. After the rise of openly Trans actress, model and singer Harisu, Logi Entertainment did a nationwide search for members for a trio but ended up making the group a quartet last minute. Lady were pretty radical at the time, being a group comprised of openly trans women, and they interacted with cis-gendered men in their steamy videos that became quite controversial. In 2005 they dropped their first album (8 tracks) but the fact that they were trans women in very Christian/Confucian South Korea was always a major factor. They were never taken seriously outside of people who fetishised them and eventually their music videos stopped getting played on tv. Their music is almost nowhere to be found on streaming networks so just like Boni, it isn’t part of the #MMMPlaylist, but Attention deserves an honorable mention for being the first of its kind back in 2005.
Check out the Attention video here
I actually remember this back when it aired and I remember cringing at how bad this performance was. It would come out later that they were extremely nervous because of all the controversy surrounding the group. Netizens were NOT impressed by this Music Camp (now Music Core) performance and dragged them all over the internet. The group went onto put out a nude photo album which turned the Korean public right off them and they disbanded in 2007. This song is by no means an R&B classic, as I said before, it deserved an honorable mention for being the first of its kind by a Trans group.
Catch us next week for another round of #MMMPlaylist!
Credits: SM/LOEN/IN PLANET/LOGI ENTERTAINMENT/YG FAMILY/POP GASA/YOUTUBE