Monday, 26 November 2012

Top 5 Korean → Japanese K-Pop Tracks

All opinions are my own, of course~ If you don't agree, then, well, meh, your problem. Don't make it mine ;D
And, here we have a lovely GIF of HyunJoong being a dork. Why? Because he's my favourite K-Pop artist ever yet he is in no way relevant to this article. He. Needs. To. Be. There.
So, any fan of K-Pop knows that it's customary for a Korean artist to test the Japanese waters by releasing a carbon-copy of one of their older songs, normally one of the more popular ones, only with, more often than not, shoddy Japanese. Some even go on to release more past their debut single, releasing about 3 or 4 carbon copy tracks before actually bringing out anything new and interesting. This process is the bane of many a K-Pop fan's life, too. However, from time to time, they come out with a remake that is actually listenable and, even more rarely, comes out better than the original! My god!
Okay, hugely sarcastic and critical tone aside, this post is dedicated to highlighting what I think is the very best of K-Pop's 'Japanese versions', basing it on pronunciation, how well the lyrics flow and how right it sounds.
Also, for simplicity's sake, I will be focussing only on A-Side tracks. And, also, only songs that were released separately from their Korean counterparts. Some are released together (all of BIGBANG's ALIVE songs, DBSK's Why? Keep Your Head Down and SHINee's Sherlock, for example).
So, let's get started~!

5. Shoujo Jidai - Genie

And Kanyon named this lot as S/mileage's leg rivals. Fat chance, Kanyon, their legs are in a different league.
Also, SooYoung is gorgeous. No arguments allowed.
Shoujo Jidai, Girls' Generation, SNSD, call them what you will, but I will be referring to them from her on out as SNSD (even though, in person, I normally call them Girls' Generation), for simplicity's sake. I'm too lazy for all those...ugh...words...
Anyway, I have to give kudos to the girls for finding their way into my heart with a remake of what is one of their biggest Korean tracks. Seriously, Tell Me Your Wish, more commonly known as 'Genie', was a huge hit back in Korean and became one of SNSD's most famous tracks, with a ton of dance moves that will go on in K-Pop dance history for evermore. Normally, when a group tries to tackle something like that, and for their debut Japanese single no less, it goes wrong. Terribly wrong. Okay, over-exaggeration there but it's difficult to make such an iconic song work when you completely change the worlds. To be honest, though, I always thought that, granted it was done right, Genie had the potential to work really well in Japanese. The lyrics flow perfectly and don't sound unnatural at all. It really does just sound like the original but in Japanese. Shame their second Japanese single didn't have the same success for me (Gee was a hot mess in Japanese, okay?)

4. KARA - Mister

Jumpin' jumpin' jumpin' now Jumpin' now - wait, wrong song.
Look at how cute Seungyeon is here, though!
Interestingly enough, Mister, despite not being a digital single or having a MV, was hugely popular in Korea, when it was performed alongside 'Wanna' as part of the promotions for the group's 2nd album, Revolution. The famed 'butt dance' played a pretty important role the track's popularity. Just over year later, the song was used as the girls' debut song in Japan with fantastic results. It seems the glorious 'butt dance' hit off with Japanese audiences just as well as it did on its home soil. The butt dance is loved by all, why deny it? And, honestly, this single landed, KARA have seen incredible success in Japan. Sure, they get #2 and #3s more often than they do #1s, but the #3 is still fanatastic. After all, MomoClo have yet to earn themselves a single #2 on the Oricon weekly, nevermind a #1 (and, seriously, based on sales numbers, MoMusu do better than MomoClo, generally), and there's absolutely no denying their popularity! As such, KARA's success cannot be ignored! Besides, not many Hallyu artists, aside from the obvious pair, BoA and Tohoshinki (or, DBSK, whatever works best for you), have managed to get #1s on the Oircon Weekly Chart.
Anyway, that aside, it's time to focus on the actual song. This version actually varies slightly from the Korean version in that the song's arrangement is slightly different and the verses are sung much higher - trying to pander to the Japanese audience, who are used to consuming singles by higher-pitched girlgroups, maybe? However, personally, I do prefer the Japanese version. It's cuter, I guess, and not just cause of the pitch. The lyrics are really cute and memorable, because of the simple syllables. The make-up of the Japanese language is nicely complimented by this song. Also, the fact they've included lyrics from the original version is really nice, too. The whole song's totally sweet but has a cool edge to it, as well. It's totally appealing. It's definitely one of the most memorable Korean → Japanese remakes, that's for sure.

3. BIGBANG - My Heaven

If you look can see people in TOP's glasses. Specular Reflection has failed you, Tabi!
My Heaven is the Japanese remake of an older BIGBANG song, from their 3rd mini-album, Stand Up. This track was actually called 'Heaven'. BIGBANG are probably the only K-Pop group I can think of, aside from KARA, of course, that decided to go with an album track as their debut, which I think was quite interesting. It was a way of showing what the group were actually like, without spending time on a new song which may or may not flop, and appealing to those who were already fans without churning out some remake of that one song everyone knows. I'm actually quite impressed that they didn't go ahead and just shove a remake of Lies in everyone's faces.
Now, I prefer this version to the Korean version but that's also probably because I heard this version first, and, as always, I prefer Japanese, but, the thing is, it's not any better than the Korean version. That is to say, they're really both as good as each other. But, thing is, it's such a good remake that it still has to be in here.
Everything about this remake just works. The lyrics are fantastic and still retain that soft yet catchy feel of the original. I love it when a remake captures the same feel as the original completely (though, I like it even better when the remake enhances it~).
This song is also very important to the VIPs, form what I gather. In their lives, this tends to be the song that's sung at encores, or just at the end of the concert, or whatever. The fans are invited to sing along and the performance really emphasises the bond BIGBANG have with their VIPs, which, I must say, is a particularly strong one.

2. RAINBOW - Mach

Surefire way to appeal to the Japanese market - dress up like Sexy Power Rangers (or Super Sentai, I suppose)?
Also, am I just biased or does JaeKyung look best in that outfit? Or is red just a more flattering colour? Who knows?
Mach never started out as a heavily promoted track with an MV - it was a Digital Single in its own right and it did get a few live performances on Korean music show though. When I first heard the Korean version of this song,  I really loved it. It sounded really slick and cool, I was immediately drawn to it. However, it didn't become one of my favourite RAINBOW songs. Okay, no, it was up there, but not quite high enough to get all that much attention from me. That being said, when I heard that their 2nd Japanese single was going to be Mach, I was ecstatic. It made me remember how much I had loved the song the first time I heard it. And, then, the PV landed and everything was perfect. Yes. The PV concept was seriously cool and the girls looked stunning! especially JaeKyung
However, an amazing PV and concept being given to a previously MV-less song is not enough for a song to become my 2nd favourite Korean → Japanese remake song. The Japanese lyrics really work with this song, more than I feel they did with the Korean. Like, in the Korean version, it still sounded really cool and, of course, it was still a fantastic song but the Japanese version just had that little bit extra. Just a little more oomph.
Actually, this was a seriously close 2nd place. But, since I'm a bigger fan of SHINee, I had to let bias win over this time round. It was the only option I had, promise!

Actually, this CD cover would make a seriously awesome poster!
Quite honestly, I'd take this version over the original any day. I seriously the Japanese language version of this song to the Korean one. In Korean, it's a nice song and I like it enough but I was never properly taken by it. However, when I first heard the Japanese version,  I instantly fell in love. Something about the Japanese version sounds slicker and cooler and, though I haven't got a clue what that something is, it makes all difference to me. I think it's really just down to the lyrics - the sharper sound of Japanese really works with this song. Like, seriously. It brought the song up. The flow of the Japanese language is more fitted to this song than the flow of the Korean language. The Korean version sounded, somehow, a little cheesier than the Japanese vesion which, in turn, sounded more powerful. Now, I do prefer the Japanese language, but I would like to stress that there is no bias on my part here as I think the Japanese version of Lucifer failed to do the original any justice whatsoever and that the lyrics in the remake were a mess, in terms of composition and flow. Furthermore, this version of JULIETTE has a much better line distribution than its Korean-language counterpart. The song started off as what seemed to be somewhat of a Jonghyun-fest, while this version is a lot fairer. Of course, there's still a lot of Jonghyun, regarding solo parts, but, here, a number of his parts were given to Taemin who had barely any lines at all in the original. Improvements all round~!

So, there ya have it. My Top 5 Korean → Japanese K-Pop Tracks. This was actually a pretty hard ranking to write up and, truthfully, the first 3 are all extremely close. Note that I didn't do it based on group-bias, though, since BIGBANG are actually my favourite group of the lot.
I'll just sum up what my Bottom 5 Korean → Japanese K-Pop Tracks would be, just because it's pretty easy to do so.
Secret's Madonna  and then all of T-ARA's Japanese singles thus far (i.e; excluding Sexy Love) -coughs-
Well, until next time~!


  1. Never impressed with direct K-Pop to Japanese K-Pop tracks really except DBSK and BoA because the change works well with their songs if you ask me.

    You should take a look at album songs more like SNSD's Let it Rain for example :)

  2. I actually plan on looking at more things like album and B-side songs~ I love that song, though, I only really know the Japanese version~