[dropcap]I[/dropcap]t has been 3 years since Akdong Musician (known also as AKMU) won the K-Pop Star season 2, a global talent competition to find the next K-Pop star. The sibling has been living in Mongolia for some times and only came back to their birth country to audition for the show. While other contestant showed talents like rapping and dancing, Akdong Musician charmed the audiences by their innocent performances. Lee Chanhyuk, who is only 17 years old that time, has been composing music without even knowing guitar chord precisely and the 14 years old Lee Suhyun has been listening to her brother’s songs and remembered each song perfectly. The clear and tender voice of Suhyun adds depth to Chanhyuk’s witty lyrics. Despite their shyness and lack of confidences, the acoustic performance and the harmony of the two captured the audience’s heart by storm. The juries, which consists of the representatives of the three biggest entertainment companies in South Korea (SM Entertainment, JYP Entertainment & YG Entertainment), agreed that the siblings shined most when singing their original song instead of other singer’s songs (watch the juries stop their performances and asked them to sing their original song title Don’t Cross Your Legs during their first performance, minutes 3:44).
I only listen to their music earlier this year through my little sister’s recommendation. Turns out, I love their music so much. Akdong Musician signed with YG Entertainment after winning the competition and released their first album titled Play in Spring 2014. They kept their innocent image through their musical videos and the record company has been given freedom for the siblings to compose all music and writing all their lyrics despite their young age. The easy listening folk-pop expressed their view about youth and teenage love (check out 200% and Give Love).
Akdong Musician during the promotion of their debut album Play (2014)
After that, I started watching their performances in K-Pop Star. Akdong Musician performed several original songs, during the talent show which not only interesting in the ears but also in their lyrics and meaning. One time they performed a song titled Is It Ramyun?, which lyrically weird at first but actually has a deep view about wasting time and being lazy. Their song Crescendo (which also stands for musical dynamics to sound gradually louder) is a youth empowerment to gain confidence by talking louder.
Akdong Musician during the promotion of their second album Spring Vol. 1 (2016)
Earlier this month, Akdong Musician made their comeback with their second album, Spring Vol. 1, which also titled Adolescence or Puberty in Korean. The siblings are slightly mature this time, they are more comfortable on stage and their voice is getting stronger. Chanhyuk is preparing to enlist to military service soon and Suhyun colored her hair red for their newest music video. They are not the shy teenager anymore, but the music still sounds interesting. They explore more genres like jazz and funk, adding more layers to their playful songs. In this mini album, Chanhyuk personally made an ode to his sister, by writing songs about sensitive feelings she experienced while growing up. I love their title track called How People Move, which tells the curiosity of everyday people’s movement. I fell in love instantly when hearing the song but I was blown away when I read the lyrics.
It’s cool to see how people move.
How their arms and legs go back and forth.
How their rib bones show.
When they take a deep breath and when they exhale.
Korean entertainment industry is getting bigger each year, making fans around the globe. They are well-known by their flashy images and catchy songs. It is hard to separate K-Pop song with their visual performances, be it a live event or music video. Akdong Musician’s looks are far from the typical representative of K-Pop. During their K-Pop Star time, they even performed a song called Ugly, which tells the unconditional love that no matter what other people tell them about their looks, there will always people who loves them and thinks they are the prettiest. The mentor chose the song because it suits them the most. Akdong Musician is a total refreshment from the loud music K-Pop usually produces.
For me personally, this is the first time that I actually “listen” to K-Pop. Akdong Musician’s Play is the first K-Pop album that I owned and genuinely love. It is weird that the reason I love them the most is their youthfulness (back in 2014, Billboard listed them on 21 Musician under 21 List). I think youth is something that you cannot regain back, so it is best to create more things that you love during the prime period of your life. You are not getting younger anyway. By the age of 20 and 17, the duo has been making amazing music, so I’m excited to hear whatever things they will throw out in the future :3