Swap week three, day three: Niko takes on Jessica Simpson

Swap Week“I Belong To Me” by Jessica Simpson | Now, a reminder of the things I don’t like about American pop. It can be this saccharine. It can be too much. But who am I to shit on a song that’s supposedly a response to Jessica Simpson’s divorce to Nick Lachey? Okay. Now, to be a nice boyfriend. I get why Shalla likes this: it’s that rumbly bass line thing we discussed yesterday. It’s forceful so as to deliver the admittedly simple message with more punch than expected. And yet I can’t help but think of those songs that pop idols have once in a while where they go emotional and slow to convey depth and it feels weird. Okay. Okay. Okaaaay. I ought to be a better boyfriend. [NB]

Swap week three, day two: Niko takes on Phoenix

Swap Week“1901” by Phoenix | Yes, I’m writing about Phoenix, which shouldn’t be a surprise considering I’ve written about them many times before. Yes, this is the aberration on the theme, a bit, but yes, this song was released when Shalla was just 16, which both slots into “favorite songs when I was a teenager” and “I am very old indeed”. (This makes the list also before Shalla’s always liked songs with… rumbly? Are those bass lines rumbly? We always had difficulty pinning that right word down.) At least we have a reminder that, while this song was ubiquitous, it wasn’t ubiquitous enough to be terribly tired now. It still sounds proper today, even if now I imagine a car commercial. This also reminds me that my first favorite Phoenix song, “Long Distance Call”, was released in 2006, when I was just getting deep into college, and when she was just 13. I really feel old now. [NB]

Swap week three, day one: Niko takes on Demi Lovato

Swap Week“Trainwreck” by Demi Lovato | Welcome again to Swap Week, where one takes on a week’s worth of songs from another, for when things get incredibly busy, which is the case this week. This year, I take on Shalla’s picks again, which really shouldn’t be the case because we did the exact same thing last year. But now she’s taking a breather from K-pop (and leaving me behind), so she’s returning to the Western pop of her teenage years for this one. We begin with a Demi Lovato song that I did not expect to be… jazzy, for lack of a better term. Well, it is rockier than what you’d expect from a Disney pop star – then again, she did have strong pop-rock roots, but then again, this was when I started eschewing pop for more obscure things, so in the weird scheme of things, this was a pleasant surprise. Or maybe I’m saying this because she’s sitting right beside me, singing the song over and over. [NB]

“내 맘이 꼭 널 원해.”

“Honey” by Kara | The first thing that caught my ear when I first heard this single six years ago was not their sweet singing or concept, no. Not the catchy riffs and Nicole’s “rap”. No. It was the way they said “honey” in the chorus. One second they say “honey”, one line later you hear them say “hani”, which was very interesting to me since it was the first time I heard a K-pop song playing with English. Listen to the chorus of Girl’s Day’s “Something”, or the part where the backing vocals sing “how about chu” in Sunny Hill’s “Monday Blues”. I didn’t find it wrong. I was just amused. Kara made its way further into my heart by releasing “Mr.” and their butt dance, followed by “Lupin” in 2010. My friend Carle and I would then discuss our biases (mine’s Gyuri) while crossing the overpass to SM Marikina, wishing some crazy organizer would mash “Mr.”‘s butt dance up with the hip dance from Brown Eyed Girls’ “Abracadabra” – which eventually happened, by the way. I could talk about Kara all day, but we don’t have time for that. Not when the members are rumored to be leaving. There’d always been a feud between the agency and the members anyway. Still, it would be a bit sad to see them go. [SY]

“네가 날 알아 내 기분을 알아?”

“Huk” by Unicorn | I had always thought that the “huk” thingy was just a romanization error made by the video uploaders, but I, uhh, saw the album art and I gave up defending the song title. Unicorn is a rookie girl group, as you might’ve noticed by now. The song, for me, is kinda all over the place. I kinda get what the song engineers were doing, because it’s been done a bajillion times already, but somehow, the vocals weren’t able to pull it off. It is, by the way, worth noting that they sampled Lil Mama’s “Lip Gloss”. Of course, YouTube commenters were quick to judge. That aside, I’m pretty sure that’s the saving grace part of the song. Their vocals are high-pitch whiny, which isn’t really a problem – I know it’s common, but some groups make it work – but I wish they tuned it down a little. But then again, what cha know bout them? [SY]