LEDApple has been my recent obsession, though I’m not sure whether I truly like LEDApple when there has been so many member changes that have occurred. If you take the first LEDApple manifestation and compare it to the current LEDApple, you end up with a group that looks completely unlike the previous. So does this mean I like LEDApple, or does it mean I just like Kyumin and Hanbyul‘s singing? On the other side of the spectrum, if I like all of LEDApple, would that imply that I find the members to be irrelevant, and their brand of music independent of who sings it? What if it’s that I just like their guitarist, leader, and longest standing member, Young-jun?
Whatever that answer may be, LEDApple makes some decent music. It’s not necessarily the most innovative works, but I really like their sound. I wouldn’t really call it pop-rock, because its definitely more pop than rock (they would fit right in with CNBlue or FTIsland), but with more rapping and electronic sounds. Instead of calling it pop-rock, it’s more like trying to smash rock into pop and retro music. That may not make much sense in words, so its better to just listen to their songs to get what I mean.
If I am to be entirely honest, the current LEDApple has much better vocals than the first LEDApple. Here’s the original group’s first song, “Dash.”[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wa1xmos0MmM]
The song is pretty messy, and the production quality kind of meh. “Dash” isn’t necessarily a bad song, it’s just a bit directionless. It tries to take on an edgy rock foundation and then slap on a pop melody and rapping without trying to integrate everything together through a single theme. As a result of the haphazard composition, all the elements that sound fine individually become discordant together.
“Birthday Killer” on the other hand (from 니가뭔데 mini album) , is grounded in one style, but the singing sounds particularly terrible. If it’s supposed to take on some screamo elements, it definitely isn’t working for them. The reason? LEDApple lacks the powerful voices to pull it off. Rather than passionate, powerful, and sandpaper rough vocals, you get the over-processed and thin kind. The song has a nice message though, as it addresses the impact of anti-fans on idols’s lives.
(I actually think “밤밤밤(Bam Bam Bam)” is the better song out of this harder rock style, because they finally get a song that suits their voices and is cohesive. I wouldn’t call it the best song ever, but it’s decent.)
The group took a turn for the better with the title track “니가뭔데(How Dare You).” However, the song was plagued with plagiarism accusations for sounding too similar to CNBlue’s “Love,” which was apparently a result of having the same song writer for both songs. The two songs share some similar elements but I don’t think it’s enough to call foul. Though this gets me wondering: if people were freaking out over “How Dare You,” why doesn’t this happen to those Brave Brothers songs that sound exactly the same?[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zVCtog9rqH8]
The addition of Hanbyul and Keon U I firmly believe to be some sort of magic potion, because out of the blue, the quality of the group shot up tremendously. My theory is that Keon U had a huge hand in it as their “DJ,” but whatever it is, something obviously clicked. Their next single, CODA, was their best release yet.
“어쩌다 마주친”[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QsFaHAVERlE]
“Time is Up” is really the start of the funky-pop-rock sound that I associate with LEDApple, which becomes the distinguishing factor of LEDApple from the likes of other idol bands. It’s also when we find out that Hanbyul is becoming the face of the group. He went from having no real close up shots in the “어쩌다 마주친” MV, which was very Kyumin focused, to all of the close ups. Anyhow, “Time is Up” is my second favorite title song from the group, and it strikes a fantastic balance between youthful pop and harder rock that I actually think other idol bands lack.[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k6m4bVl_wxY]
Their next single, “Sadness” is one of my favorite singles from the group as well, if only because of the “REDapple” corny jokes I can make.
Don’t worry, the song is really good as well, and I will forever be in love with the dance. I liked it in “Sorry Sorry” and I like it here. (Actually, this is the dance that got me into K-pop as a whole, now that I think about it.)[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HNhKqbmQidA]
The Run To You mini album continues with the style that LEDApple started with “Time is Up.” The title song, also named “Run to You,” is likely the weakest of the last three singles. This song sounds more like CNBlue than I’d like to admit and lacks the conviction the others had. In fact, I think that the B-sides are far more interesting than the title. (Keep in mind though, I love retro styles.)
This playlist includes the entire mini.[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eS4akRqvqpM&list=PLBQL8B_atUGaz2s6GpixQttQU6ORiPT-P]
“Let The Wind Blow” is yet another great promotional track from LEDApple. It’s dark because the vocals come off a bit resigned, but the song itself has a relatively bright color to it due to the retro vibes. The overall effect is folk song meets pop-rock, with some dreary overtones.[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RAeTra88UAA]
The last song I’m going to feature is “You’re My First Love” from their most recent album, Bad Boys. This album is probably their best album overall and this song, their best ever. As for the rest of album, I’ve reviewed it here.[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v4849yR79fY]
As for the reason for the title of the post, “Music Note” is actually the name for their side project on YouTube, which you can see here. The group releases one cover a week, usually of a popular song in English or Korean. Since Hanbyul is Korean-Australian, he sings a lot of the English solo covers, and is pretty much the “MC” for the whole project. Many of the covers are really amazing, but my favorite has to be the cover for Muse’s “Uprising.” Even though the intro is awkward, the chorus totally makes up for it.[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GwJnSfneB3w]
Music Note is really the way that I got to know LEDApple, so I feel like this is a big component in what makes LEDApple what it is. For an idol group, they are extremely approachable; they make videos constantly for fans, and Hanbyul goes the extra mile in trying to get involved with the group’s international and English speaking audience. Hanbyul’s “Blah Blah Blah” reminds me a lot of Joe Inoue‘s “Japanese Lessons” especially since both are extremely casual, personal, and teaches some Korean/Japanese along the way.
The Music Note premise overall give personality to LEDApple in ways that their music alone couldn’t, and it’s also very much a means of getting “Variety” exposure that they normally can’t as a small group. If you end up liking nothing else here, I think you will enjoy at least one of the covers the twenty some covers the group has done so far, because it travesses a variety of musical styles. Trust me, you’ll like something.
That’s it for this Time Machine, let me know what other artists I should cover in here. I would prefer ones that are not covered all that often, but anything goes!