"DARK PANDA" by Hyolyn, Zico, & Paloalto
Being a long time Zico fan, I've been really enjoying everything he touched last year. He also introduced me to the talents of Paloalto through a little bit of Show Me the Money I saw and this song. I've also slowly fallen for Hyolyn's beautiful vocals last year. This smooth, subtle electro-hip-hop beat has just enough catchiness to make you want to rock your hips, especially around the chorus, and at the same time let's each vocal talent stand out on their own. I like the mysterious and sensual sound of this song and the abstract, dark visuals presented in the video. There's something charming and mature about this video that haven't seen in many Korean hip-hop videos and I like that. It features the usual hip-hop visuals of b-boying and gold, but intertwines it with artistic set pieces as well.
"Dumb Dumb" by Red Velvet
Say what you will about this group, but so far I'm enjoying the little bit of heard from them. This earworm of a song definitely stuck with me and solidified my intrigue with the group. Unfortunately, I still haven't listened to any of their album releases, but this single definitely made me excited to delve further into their budding catalog. I love the manufactured, vibrant, and creative visuals. It's definitely different than anything else SM Entertainment has put out since that point. The sound and style reminds me vaguely of f(x) and maybe a little bit of Orange Caramel, but it's different enough to peg this as a Red Velvet sound. Also, I love watching their 2x sped up version on Weekly Idol, which is a definite must see.
"Crazy For You" by G.Soul
The beginning of last year, I really wanted to make a post dedicated to JYP Entertainment winning 2015 among the Big 3. G.Soul was their ace in the hole as being an innovative and stand out performer for the label, at least for me. This soulful voice, quirky appearance, and deeply visual debut of a music video really stood out to me. The song is wonderfully delightful and I love rewatching and listening to every minute of this masterpiece. I almost want to say it's on caliber with Sunny Hill's production. I'm hoping that G.Soul's appearance isn't a brief one like San E's, but if his path leads to something bigger and better without JYPE's backing, then I'm all for it. I would love to see and hear more of this man's gorgeous vocals and seeing more unfiltered visuals stuffed with mesmerizing symbolism.
"So, Dangerous" by UP10TION
This group is one I really want to try to get into, but they really don't have anything that makes them stand out from the other rookies from the past couple years or so, which is quite unfortunate. Of course, I'll probably elaborate on this more in their own respective post of notable rookies for the fellas. The reason I'm putting his video on my list is for the killer choreography. Their moves are extremely mesmerizing and they know how to keep your gaze focused on every sharp and fluid movement they hit together and alone. The song is catchy in its own right and I enjoy the chorus quite a bit. It definitely fits with what's trending during these tie period, but it really doesn't stand out as anything special. Of course, that doesn't make them bad in the least, because the song is quite fun and I could see fans easily chanting/singing along to the chorus and swooning over those pretty faces.
"As Long As You're Not Crazy" by INFINITE H feat. Sanchez (Phantom)
This sub-unit was clearly a blessing for me as I feel like DongWoo needs more spotlight in my opinion. He's not my only bias in the group, but it just makes me happy to see more of him and hearing his vocal talents shine just a bit more, even though Infinite is very much a vocal group with ridiculously sharp choreography. But I digress. This song has easily became one of my favorite tracks from this mini-album. I love the melancholy R&B beat with just a hint of hip-hop/trap elements strategically placed throughout the song. I enjoy that the first verse is so effortlessly rapped and smoothly transitions to Sanchez's sweet voice. He was the perfect feature for this track, even though the video's title doesn't acknowledge him but I know those vocals from anywhere. As far as the video goes, it really matches the tone of the song and lyrics. It's black and white, full of melancholy, highlights each member in their own turmoil and tragic story of love and loss, and has some pretty fantastic and smooth choreography.
"Carousel" by Melanie Martinez
Sadly, I was late to the "pity party" and discovered Melanie's music last year. There's a very good chance that I'll delve into my discovery and full feelings about her in a promo post later, but for now I want to talk about one of my favorite music videos of hers. I had no idea that American Horror Story: Freakshow used this as part of their promotion, but it definitely fits the haunting mood with a hint of romance. I personally enjoy it for that very reason: the dark, melancholy, but morbid whimsy of the visuals and music. Melanie's soft, shy, and sorrowful vocals really match the tone of this missed opportunity of romance and youth. Out of her earlier videos, this one has easily become one of my favorites and definitely solidified my enjoyment of her as an artist and begging me to go down the rabbit hole of her music.
"Borders" by M.I.A.
Without getting too political, how appropriate is this song right now in America. Who would've thought that this would be so relevant globally right now. If I remember correctly, around this time Beyonce's "Lemonade" was being highly criticized for being "anti-police" and just all sorts of unnecessary controversy. Yet, this song and video does about the same thing, but with a different issue. Of course, M.I.A. is no stranger to taking world issues and causing controversy with how she expresses her opinion through her music videos. Keeping her sound consistent with mixing hip-hop and Middle Eastern elements, the song is easily a hit with me and I admit that I repeated this video a lot. I had to take in the catchy beat, then the lyrics, and finally the imagery. Once I got through all of that and combined all these great elements, I understood nearly every point she was trying to hit. So, I highly advise paying attention to those lyrics; it's more than just physical borders and walls separating people. Never change, M.I.A.!
"Enemiez" by Keke Palmer feat. Jeremih
As long as I've known of Keke's singing career during her True Jackson VP days, I never really checked it out until last year. The thumbnail to this video intrigued me, so I clicked it and I didn't regret it. The little bit I've heard of her voice, she has definitely matured and strengthened her range. I also never knew she was such a fierce dancer. If I knew that, I wouldn't have been as surprised about her being casted in that Lifetime TLC movie, which was actually not that bad considering. *coughs*Aaliyah*coughs* The song is an easily enjoyable pop/R&B fusion of sexual tension. Of course, visually it's not as obvious of an adult theme as the lyrics make it seem. I love watching Keke move along to the music, but I admit that her outfit is a little over the top for this story and her acting is...underwhelming. Fortunately, the music, vocal chemistry with Jeremih, and fierce choreography make up for that. Sidenote: I really love her hair!
"L.C.S." by FEMM
This duo of mannequins have been killing it with their catchy music and mesmerizing visuals, since their debut. This music video plays with the various options technology has to offer in the visual effects department. From deconstruction to manipulation, it really takes its liberties with the girls' bodies and choreography in this simplistic blank space. It's definitely a different way to utilize motion capture for sure. The beat and chorus is as catchy as ever and stays consistent with the duo's aesthetics by being playful, confident, and a bit assertive. I urge you not to skip out on this one and if you haven't done so already, check out more of FEMM because they're definitely a rising talent.
"Cry & Fight" by Daichi Miura
Daichi Miura never fails to excite and amaze me with each release he has, especially visually. I love seeing his sharp choreography and natural chemistry he has with his dancers. This time is a co-ed effort with some very smooth transitions between each set of dancers. Of course, the music never fails to put a smile on my face. Miura's voice remains alluring and powerful as it effortlessly echos during the bridge and pounds itself into your head during the chorus. This is definitely a video to be watched over and over for the amazing dance moves each performer displays and the infectious music.