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[Curated K-POP Playlist] SM Artists’ Songs that Showcase Their Individuality: ① H.O.T. to Super Junior

Edited by Yoon
Translated by Kim Hoyeun

From the first-generation singer “Hyun Jin Young” to the most recent “aespa,” SM Entertainment became one of the biggest powerhouses in the K-pop scene that produced numerous stars who are recognized and loved globally. SM has a clear “preference” in the music style and therefore applies a grand system and fixed production, but it also doesn’t miss out on the artists’ unique personality. This article will cover songs that boast SM and its artists’ unique colors. 

 

  1. H.O.T. – We Are The Future

The title track of the group’s 1997 full-album Wolf and Sheep is “Wolf and Sheep,” but the most popular track from the album is “We Are The Future.” There are two storytellings that SM has always preferred – “Another World” and “Future.” You can tell from the title that “We Are The Future” follows the concept of “future,” and of course, the song ends its chorus by shouting out “we are the future”! The song includes the music that was popular in the 90s and the grandeur pursued by Yoo Young Jin, and the bridge between 1st verse and 2nd verse was perfect for showing H.O.T.’s performance with a fancy dance break.

 

  1. S.E.S. – S. II. S. (Soul To Soul)
Credit: SM Entertainment

Although S.E.S. caught the attention with their girlish concept and dense recordings at the beginning of their career, the group’s fandom solidified after the release of “Show Me Your Love” and “Be Natural” in their 4th album A Letter From Green Land. These two songs are the root of Red Velvet’s “velvet concept” and “S.Ⅱ.S (Soul To Soul),” the title song of their 2022 full-album Friend, also falls into the same category. It emphasizes elegance and luxury, and the difference in lyrics is clear compared to the debut song. Main vocalist Bada’s lead is exceptional, but Eugene and Shoo also present solid performances, blending in well with the music. The three members complete one awesome harmony. 

 

  1. BoA – Garden In The Air

Since “ID; Peace B,” BoA did an excellent job in showing SM’s color. The somewhat refreshing song “Atlantis Princess” is also in touch with SM’s direction toward “another world,” so it can’t be seen as just a girlish pop. BoA has started to show maturity with her 4th album My name, and with her 5th album Girls On Top, released in 2005, she presented an advanced image of a woman. The 8th track “Garden In The Air” perfectly follows the album’s storytelling by portraying mature women’s love and active, honest, and enterprising characters. The J-pop vibe created by composer kenzie was also the best fit for BoA at the time. 

 

  1. TVXQ – One

TVXQ followed H.O.T.’s rebellious messages, such as “Tri-Angle,” “Rising Sun,” and “‘O’-Jung.Ban.Hap.,” and showed spectacle and grandeur performances on stage, but like the songs “Hug” and “Believe” from their debut album Tri-Angle, they are also a group capable of singing a cappella. Of course, this concept could have been accomplished thanks to members’ wide vocal range and solid singing prowess. “One” is a typical “SM ballad” track, but it strictly followed the formula “basic is the best” and became an easy-on-the-ear song with easily singalong melody and kenzei’s clean arrangement. It’s also quite fun to check our members’ youthful vocals. It’s not a pleasant thing to see idol groups obligatorily adding at least one ballad song in their full-album, but with this kind of quality song, we will gladly listen to the full tracks.

 

  1. Super Junior – Devil

After making a worldwide hit with “Sorry Sorry,” the group dropped similar songs under the name of “SJ Funk.” From “Bonamana” to “Mr. Simple,” their songs started to show the repeat of keywords, and they did make a hit, but listener’s fatigue cannot be avoided. Afterward, they began to include social messages in songs like “Sexy Free & Single” and “MAMACITA”, but it was not until “Devil” from the 10th-anniversary special album that Super Junior seems to have found their perfect clothes since “Sorry Sorry.” The group “Super Junior” or members’ individuality stood out more than SM, and the song clearly showed a clean and stable story that could not be heard in previous songs. Especially, members’ consonance in the bridge part lets you enjoy the relaxed and fun vibe exuded from a boy group stage that is usually about “group dance.” kenzie’s lyrics bring about a unique metaphor of SM, but the chorus is filled with catchy words, not forgetting a touch of public appeal. Rather than shifting into the shadow of previous hit songs or heavy genres, Super Junior won their second medal with a “joyful” song that both listeners and members can groove with. I hesitated to select this song as it was such a big hit, but considering that it is the song that raised expectations and opened the second heyday for the group, “Devil” is an indispensable song for Super Junior.

Edited Yoon: I love music, especially K-POP, and I dream of becoming an A&R person, lyricist, artist, etc. I will cover various articles, including song reviews, artist reviews, and K-pop market analysis. 

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