Episode 21

A.C.E. "Cactus" & "Callin'" (2017)

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.

On May 23, 2017, entertainment company Beat Interactive marked the debut of five young men as the members of Adventure Calling Emotion, better known as A.C.E. Taking this from one of this show’s favorite websites, Kprofiles.com, A.C.E.’s name means that the group wants to “cause emotions that urge people to go on adventures,” and make dreams come true. Well, buckle up and let’s ride out with the last group of Season 4, right after the drop.

You’re tuned into An Album a Day. Show start.

Hey y’all, A.C.E. has one heck of a name, and I’m laughing at it a little because duh, Korea and its pop scene. The name fits this group, however, when you take their personal histories. Leader Park Junhee (aka Jun) trained at Jellyfish Entertainment and CJ E&M. Main vocalist Lee Donghun was a strong competitor on live performance shows and came out as the winner of a season of I Can See Your Voice. He was even a member of the MIXNINE project. 

Member Wow -- yup, pause everything. His stage name is a highlight of this entire podcast for me, hands down. We’ve had a collection of ridiculous names but this isn’t even that. This is a bold move, naming a group member an exclamation! This is an SEO nightmare in the making, trying to simply type “wow” and not be directed towards World of Warcraft stuff! The cleverness! The audacity! The laziness but with a side of finesse! I want to be his fan, he better not let me down in this listening experience. Wow, your name is the adventure! And Kim Sehyoon’s adventure in music entertainment began briefly alongside Winner at YG Entertainment before moving on to CJ E&M with the previous two members mentioned. That’s his birth name, F.Y.I.

Finally, Kim Byeongkwan, who’s stage name was Jason but he said, “Naw, I’m using my name folks,” and maknae Kang Yuchan aka Chan, had JYP Entertainment trainee experience. And that’s their journey around the industry before becoming A.C.E. 

So, the music, eh? Their debut year consisted of approximately two original songs, “Cactus,” released on their debut day of May 23rd, and their October 18th release of the same year, “Callin’.” This is the first time on the podcast that a group has released single albums that are in fact single albums. First, “Cactus” and its EDM salute via kickdrum. 

To be more specific, their debut song falls within the genre of hardstyle and the simple explanation for that is there's a repeating drumbeat and electric sounds. A more detailed explanation is that the style of music was born amongst the techno, hardcore, and new beats influences within the Netherlands, creating a splashy-yet-sustained rhythmic experience. It makes you move up and down like you’re at a festival, even if just for a brief moment regardless of if you like this style of music or not. Honestly speaking, it was a very smart way to get a song out into the arena that didn’t sound like anyone else, didn’t put much emphasis on focusing on the group’s individual vocals, and presented one cohesive color -- Dutch EDM, techno festival and flailing arms. Whatever color that is in your mind, go with it. I genuinely cannot recall anything specific about the singing or rapping. Was there any rap? I listened to both of today’s songs at least six times each, and I’ve got nothing except that they don’t sound bad. 

This is particularly true for the second single, “Callin’” which continues with the dance-dance-dance boots-and-cats-and-boots-and-cats kick-kick-kick, you get where I’m going with this? A.C.E. wanted a Dance Dance Revolution feature in 2017, clearly. I’m not mad at it! But it isn’t radio-ready, not at all. It is venue specific and that is the limitation that cannot be ignored. That limitation likely impacted the combined performance of these singles, as only 1900 units were sold at the time of this podcast episode’s recording.

K-pop fans on a scale of 1 to 5 with 5 being essential listening and 1 not worth mentioning, the A3Day rating for these two singles is a 4. Due to its limitations for radio airwaves and most streaming playlists in Korea such as Melon’s, it was awesome to hear a very different approach to a debut but it didn’t put them in the pop contender arena. What should we expect from this group? At this point, it’s too early to determine if they’ll stick with dance music or move into other genres. Regardless, the #A3Day Highlights Playlist on Spotify features tracks from today’s albums and past featured artists, so please enjoy their music. Until the next episode, bye y’all.

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About the Podcast

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Multifacetedacg Presents: An Album a Day
A Review of Every Album in K-pop

About your host

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Ashley Griffin

Ashley "Multifacetedacg" Griffin is a diverse content creator. Since 2013, she's specialized in Hallyu Wave entertainment, with an emphasis on K-pop and music production commentary.