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.
Today, we brush over 2013 and go into the sound-defining work AOA made in 2014 with their album “Miniskirt.” If 2013’s “Red Motion” was any indication of where these ladies were heading with their sound, then you’d have a partially wrong assumption. The commercial success in review, right after the drop.
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Hey y’all, at this point in AOA’s discography, they mostly put down the physical music instruments and picked up a greater commitment to R&B, pop, and vocal arrangements that suited them. In 2013, they released two single albums, AOA Black’s “Moya” and their fourth single album, “Red Motion.” Both were very different from each other, with “Moya” allowing the subunit to shine as a punk band of sorts, and “Red Motion” introducing audiences to a more mature, confident representation of the group.
Image-wise, the song “Confused” was a clue to the transition in style that AOA was about to experience. They were giving us high heels and fashion choices that almost every other girl group was delivering on, such as hot pants, peplum tops, and minimal distinction between outfits. However, with their sound, this is where more memorable melodies began. And so, FNC Entertainment had the women wait three months before revamping production, reorganizing vocal arrangements, and polishing each member’s role in the group, before their January 16, 2014 comeback with their single album, “Miniskirt.”
“Miniskirt” the album is noted for being dance-pop and R&B but I want to put more emphasis on R&B. Rhythm and Blues music is already a popular genre, so they created a one-two combo of releasing songs that would appeal to a wider audience. Though its predecessor had its charms, the composition and lyric choices were more befitting of younger listeners. To clarify further: the themes were the same, but the presentation of said themes shifted. “Miniskirt” the song is still talking about wanting the attention of a clueless guy, but the ladies are more confident and flirtatious in expressing this goal.
The single album features three unique tracks and one instrumental. The album’s intro “Gonna Get Your Heart,” was produced and arranged by Galactika. Title track, “Miniskirt” and “Under the Street Light” are the works of Brave Brothers, Cha Kun, and Elephant Kingdom. Some of these names are new to us and I hope to find more information about these behind-the-scenes professionals.
Suffice it to say that a major breakthrough for AOA came by way of incorporating the talents of Brave Brothers for production and lyrics. His work created greater musicality for the ladies and the Brave Sound overall sent AOA soaring to new heights. Through the title track, “Miniskirt,” they secured their first top 20 spot on the Gaon Digital Charts, pulling in at number 11. He brought an enhanced quality of music production that created more depth for the vocalists of the group. He knew when and where to place leader Jimin so that her vocal quality was an accent to the track. Likewise, his mixing and mastering skills brought a better sound sonically to listeners, whether or not they noticed it. The volume level and fullness of the 2013 albums played immediately before this one 2014 album is very noticeable.
Given that “Red Motion” and “Moya” were samples to the buffet of their first 2014 project, I will not rank them. I wanted to acknowledge them for historic purposes but focus the ranking on the more complete project. Additionally, having a change in production style from their debut season to that of Brave Sound, those two projects don’t have the legs to stand against what Brave Brothers did to revitalize the group.
K-pop fans on a scale of 1 to 5 with 5 being essential listening and 1 not worth mentioning, the A3Day rating for “Miniskirt” is a 5. It genuinely changed the sound the ladies came into the industry with and set a new bar for them to constantly surpass. Please give them a listen nonetheless, my taste is not the final say on anything in music and I look forward to hearing new opinions. Check out the #A3Day Highlights Playlist on Spotify this Friday, as it will feature 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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