An Album a Day is my exploration into the Korean music scene. This podcast will cover mainstream, indie and some underground artists within the scene and provide both factual and opinionated commentary. The biggest benefit to sharing my thoughts this way is that it will hopefully expose you to more great music and exploration of your own.
When a group goes on informal hiatus or disbands, it can be a major disruption for fans. The Hallyu Wave is a vast ocean of artists having their moment in the sun, cresting, and quite possibly not rising to the same levels again. When today’s idol group had their contracts expire on March 31, 2019, had they made enough of an impact on the scene to potentially return as soloists? It’s almost been two years since then and it appears that they’ve moved on from idoldom. Let’s journey into the discography of former boy group A-Jax and hear their story, right after the drop.
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Hey y’all, on June 1, 2012, South Korean boy band A-Jax made their debut with the song “One 4 U,” a song that was anticipated from the fan following developed through their survival show, Making the Star. Before they were known as DSP Boys, taking the approach of many Korean labels when a group is close to debut but not quite out of the pre-debut process. The month of April was spent introducing the members and concluded with an April 24, 2012 announcement that DSP Boys were to be called A-Jax. I’m actually fine with this name, as they chose to be named after the Greek mythological hero -- they wanted to convey courage and power. This is a name that makes sense, SoKo!
When June 1 rolled around, then members Seo Jaehyung, Maeng Yunyoung, Moon Jihu (who previously went by Hyojun), Park Sungmin, Lee Seungyeop, Kim Dowoo (who previously went by Hyeongkon), and Ham Seungjin, released the single album plus “Never Let Go” but didn’t make major waves chart-wise. Their follow-up single, “Hot Game,” brought them to the peak position of number 59 on Korean charts, but both this single and their debut numerically remained lukewarm. They even took on the Japanese market immediately, re-releasing their singles in Japan. At least a buzz was starting to begin? It is hard to be on a label that housed disbanded seniors KARA and not be overshadowed by other boy bands like EXO and BIGBANG at the time when A-Jax started, but they didn’t back down.
On November 15, 2012, A-Jax released their first EP entitled “2MYX” (“to my ex”) and climbed up to the number 6 spot on Korean charts. In just over five months, they made an impact with three unreleased songs alongside their three previous releases and deliver a 26-minute EP that is unique. First, the production choices pulled from established samples and styles that have worked for other artists without being too obvious. For the title track, “2MYX” utilizes a drum kit that will immediately resonate with fans of New Jack Swing. The best comparison is Michael Jackson’s “Keep it in the Closet,” and it works well for the song. This influence can likely be chalked up to the works of Korean American producer Steven Lee, who has produced and pinned multiple hits over his 20-year career.
Second, the seven members of A-Jax maximized on choral singing, choosing to use as many of their vocals as possible in bridges, choruses, and refrains. Some groups make the distinction between vocal lines and rap lines very clear. By going with that “all-together-now” arrangement, it helped them stand out.
They honestly remind me of 2PM's “1:59 PM” album with “2MYX.” The songs jump from one style to another throughout the EP and it is more flash in the pan than strategically planned. Therefore, K-pop fans on a scale of 1 to 5 with 5 being essential listening and 1 not worth mentioning, the A3Day rating for this album is a 4. Since their discography isn’t extensive, I’m not sure if they’ll be able to rise above that rank, but we can only push forward and find out. Continue to check out the #A3Day Highlights Playlist on Spotify, as it features tracks from today’s albums and past episode’s artists, and I’ll catch you in the next episode, bye y’all.
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