So the year has come to an end and for a 2nd year in a row, my fiance Ben has posted his top 9 albums on Facebook. I’m always inspired to do these and I did in fact, do a list last year. 3 actually with the way the Japanese and Korean music markets work, I knew just one top 9 list would reflect my opinions accurately. This list here will reflect my top 9 full length albums of the year. I decided to that in order to qualify for this list the album had to have 8 or more tracks (ignoring remixes and intro/outro tracks). I’ve also have had to listen to every track on the album. If i liked the lead single and that’s all i listened to, chances are its under another list.
These are listed in a numbered order, but it does not mean one is better over another.
1.) Perfect Velvet by Red Velvet
I honestly didn’t think I would get another release this year from Red Velvet after The Red Summer dropped. That said, with The Red Summer making my top 9 mini-album of 2017 list, I didn’t think anything would be topping it. Perfect Velvet in itself is named beautifully as it perfectly captures their “velvet” side of the group: Mature, Feminine and Elegant. This album more than proves that their Velvet side doesn’t just entail slow ballad or solely R&B styled music. To me this album has an almost heavy electronic percussion feeling to it, it’s hard to describe but I feel I Just and Kingdom Come capture what I mean the most. Peek-A-Boo was just an instant hit for me and combined with the fun yet quirky sounds of Attaboy, Perfect Date and Look this entire album is just a huge bop. The album also finishes beautifully with another ballad track titled Moonlight Melody. This album is now easily in my top 10 kpop albums of all time.
2.) Happy Moment by Cosmic Girls (WJSN)
I really wasn’t expecting and album from WJSN this year! I wasn’t very happy with their songs Kiss Me or Happy so I didn’t know if I was going to like their debut album. However I decided to give it a chance based off of enjoying their past mini-albums and I’m glad I did. I could hear what I liked about them in this album. My favorite aspect to this album is the intros to their songs. Even just the variety of sounds from big band/jazzy to something you would hear from the 70s disco and dance era. I did note that Miracle sounds like a more dancier version of Secret and Babyface reminded me of clips I’ve heard of T-ARA’s Rolypoly. Overall This entire album is a feel good experience and I feel its a step in the right direction for them.
3.) Finally by Amuro Namie
Finally a Japanese release on these charts! I admit my love affair with Japanese music isn’t as strong as it used to be. Which is something I hope to dive into another time in a post. Normally I wouldn’t bother to list a compilation as sorts as an album of the year however I have my reasons. 1.) Namie announced in September 2018 she would be retiring for good. This woman has been putting her heart and soul into the music industry since 1992. This may be the only time she’ll be on a list like this. 2.) I never listened to most of her older stuff. I didn’t start listening to her until 2005 and even then it was mainly her singles. Her later albums are still some of my favorite though. 3.) She re-recorded the vocals for every song in this album up until her 2014 single TSUKI. She could have been lazy and just thrown stuff together but not. She re-recorded vocals for 38 tracks; that’s impressive. While some of my later favorites aren’t on here I still think its a nice mix and a good way to learn and get into her career/catalogue.
4.) Palette by IU
IU is just one of those artists that I always look forward to what they going to do next. Two years after her Chatshire mini-album, IU dropped Palette in April. It’s still easily on repeat for me to how easy to listen and digest it is. It doesn’t mean its simplistic but that its at times upbeat, solemn, and everything in between. It’s a gorgeous, fun and easy ride. Unlike other KPOP artists, IU very much seems to be able to put a very personable touch on this album. It’s not just a song lyric or composition here or there. Every song with the exception of Love Alone was penned by the lady herself. The album is aptly named as its really a palette shes made about herself and she gets to choose how its spread onto the canvas. dlwlrma, Jam Jam and Can’t Love You are easily my favorites. I hope she collaborates with OHHYUK more often as his voice is amazing.
5.) Holiday Night by Girls’ Generation
For their 10 year anniversary, the girls decided to release Holiday Night as their last album as an 8 member group for awhile. With Seohyun, Tiffany and Sooyoung leaving SM to focus on acting, this album gives you that one last time of hearing the girls harmonizing. Admittedly, i didn’t like this album upon first listen. I enjoyed Girls Are Back, All Night and Holiday but FAN kinda soured the feeling and had me worried, I just didnt like the arrangement. However once One Last Time kicked in I felt better. Upon further listens I grew to enjoy it. Its not inherently catchy like their other releases but I think it reflects their more mature nature and growth in the industry. I wouldnt mind hearing more like this from the girls in the future.
6.) The Cloud Dream of the Nine by Uhm Jung Hwa
For those unsure, I like to refer to Uhm Jung Hwa as the Korean Madonna. She has been around since 1992 like the before mentioned Amuro Namie. This release was an interesting one in that the first half was released in December 2016 and the second half this December 2017. The only other artist i saw do this was LEE HI last year. That also explains the crappy cover art as I the full release artwork has not been released yet. Uhm Jung Hwa has always been dance oriented and this album is no exception. Infact I feel as though this album has a sort of 80s feel to it. My thoughts on this were confirmed more so upon hearing the second half of the album. The second half was also the hardest for me to decide. Delusion and Photographer, both collaborations were hard for me to get into at first. They however grew on me after more listens. Dreamer and Ending credit are probably my favorites upon the released singles as they showcase each part of the album perfectly. Ending Credit just feels like a perfect song to end the year on. Overall, I look forward to hearing more from her in the future in at her ripe age of 48. 😉
7.) Daruma Ringo by Gesu no Kiwami Otome.
I’m honestly surprised this album even got released. With Enon screwing up in 2016 and this album getting shelved, I didn’t know when I would see it, if at all. This album seems to start with their usual sound with Shiawase Ringo but slowly changes into songs with strange vocal melodies (Bou Tokyo) and more electronic sounds incorporated into the mix (Gogo no Hi-Fi). It makes me wonder how much of this was the original release and if they reworked on stuff or changed things since they had time. The music videos they had released for the album prior to the shelving were Shiawase Ringo and Katte na Seishun Geki, the two most usual sounding songs on the album. I admit some of it put me off since I thought they were releasing “weird” stuff to try and garner hype around their group once more. Also despite Ikenai Dance Dance Dance being a crazy long song it somehow became my favorite song, it takes awhile to build but it just amazing. But overall its a nice mix of old sound with new and I’m glad they had to chance to release this. Despite Enon being stupid, the other members deserve to have a good career. In closing, thank god for the girls getting more vocal time and thank god for a shorter track length.
8.) DADASTATION by DADARAY
Shortly before and during Gesu’s album release, their bassist Kyujitsu Kacho formed his own trio called DADARAY. It took me awhile to find out about them and listen to them but boy am I glad I did. Featuring him, Etsuko (a backup/support member of Gesu) and NIKIIE (a solo artist), they feel like a Gesu no Kiwami Otome 2.0. It’s not a bad thing really. It feels like Gesu’s earlier works but more female vocals, which is something I had wanted more from Gesu. Its a nice mix of piano, drums, bassist and the occasional electronic component but not nearly as much as Gesu’s recent release.
9.) My Voice by Taeyeon
Last on this list is the first debut album from Girls’ Generation leader and lead vocalist Taeyeon. True to the name of this album, it seems to skip the previous commercial sound of Why and go back to the roots of her acoustic pop rock sound of her I mini-album that she perfers. Her voice lends her self to well to just about every type of music track laid down and is always the focus of the songs. Her voice is always front and center, crisp and strong. From acoustic to electro-pop there is a little bit of everything for everyone. I really like the moody I got Love and Lonely Night but upbeat tracks like Cover Up are a must listen. Fire and Eraser are some of my favorite ending tracks as well.
9.) Honorable Mentions
- Red Planet by Bolbbalgan4
- MADE by BIG BANG
- Violet Blaze by Kitade Nana
- Metaltic Nocturne by noodles
And thats it for my favorite albums of the year! Stay tune for my other posts~