With the burgeoning growth of K-pop in its current state, many newer fans are unaware of many of the genres past classics. That’s why every week I will be taking a look back at some of K-pop’s most exciting and iconic tracks that were released before the conception of this blog to shed some light on this now bygone time.
Year Released: 2009
Ah the late 2000’s and early 2010’s, a time when groups like Wonder Girls, SNSD, Super Junior, 2NE1 and Bigbang were at the absolute top of their game (and YG entertainment wasn’t the dumpster fire it is now). Not only did this period give rise to some of the genres most iconic group tracks, it also gave birth to the one and only king of K-pop. The man himself, Kwon Ji-yong better known as G-Dragon. Though primarily known as the leader of Bigbang, his landmark debut album changed everything and cemented his name in K-pop history. At the time of its release ‘Heartbreaker’ was an absolute sensation, becoming the bestselling album of the year and winning Album of the Year at the 2009 MAMA awards.
Though GD would go onto release more groundbreaking material later in his career (most notably Crooked), HEARTBREAKER still remains a definitive standout within his discography. Though the heavy use of vocoder remains a relic of its time, the best thing about HEARTBREAKER is just how fresh it feels even more than a decade on from its release. From its propulsive verses to its jagged production, it’s a track that never falters. The ever-present synth loop and techno beat are a perfect backdrop for GD’s charismatic and absolutely effortless vocals to carry the verses. The absolute simplicity, yet ever shifting nature of the verses are a rarity in the current k-pop landscape, with many producers favouring halftime trap-break downs over a decent melody.
However, HEARTBREAKER truely comes into its own during the singalong chorus that anchors most of the track. It’s an incredibly catchy piece of melody and some of the best use of vocoder in any track (K-pop or not). The chorus is chock a-block full of addicting hooks and once again proves the power of a dynamite chorus. Though G-dragons voice isn’t the most refined or technically perfect, he has an extremely character rich vocal colour that can elevate almost any track. This makes it extremely difficult to cover any of G-dragons tracks, with HEARTBREAKER probably being one of the trickiest. There’s just something about it that feels very unique to GD, although many of its elements were very common at the time of the songs release. I especially love the heavy Eurobeat influence most evident during the chorus, which elevates the track to more euphoric levels.
HEARTBREAKER‘s climax is also excellent, introducing an additional melodic line, along with GD spelling out the word H.E.A.R.T letter by letter.Yeah. Although this might sound odd (and extremely cringe) on paper, it honestly works out much better than you would expect and sends the track off on a high. Although many might dislike the track due to its more dated elements, pass it off as a guilty pleasure song, or even just find it flat out cringe, I wholeheartedly embrace its weirdness and off kilter vibes. It’s one of those tracks that you either absolutely love, or despise with a passion. After reading this, I don’t think its hard to figure out which bracket I fall into.
Final Rating: 9.5 / 10