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McRoth’s Best Mini-Album Of 2011

And the ‘Best Of’ lists continue!

Last week, we revealed our “Top Kpop Songs Of 2011“. After a three week voting period, we also revealed reader’s choice for “Best Album” and “Best Mini-Album” of 2011 (thanks for voting, by the way!) Now, it’s my turn to weigh in, starting with my favorite mini of the year.

Reaching a decision wasn’t easy. Many EPs had great singles with shit fillers, while others featured the exact opposite. Eventually though, I settled on the mini’s that truly won me over and were genuinely bad-ass.

Below you will find my choice for Best Mini-Album of 2011, prefaced of course by some very honorable mentions.

5. MBLAQ – Mona Lisa

It took two years, but MBLAQ finally realized that there’s way more to the music business than looking pretty for a camera, which, you know, has absolutely nothing to do with music. Oh yeah, they were that bad. However, if any year was the year for improvement it was 2011, and to everyone’s surprise not only did MBLAQ do exactly that, but they nearly redeemed themselves ten fold for their mistakes.

“Mona Lisa” stands as one of 2011’s best mini-albums for the sole fact that it is shockingly enjoyable from point A to point Z. “Mona Lisa” is a melodic, sometimes poetic collection of songs that lay out an array of colors never heard from MBLAQ til now. It’s almost a musical escape, and that’s pretty awesome shit.

In Short: “Mona Lisa” is a spicy, cohesive mini that explores fresh themes in Kpop

Listen: One | 알면서 그래

4. Seungri (of Big Bang) – VVIP

I admit it: I misjudged Seungri. I almost feel bad for mildly dissing this EP when it released because honestly it grew on me so much, that I actually considered rewriting my “VVIP” review just to eat my words. I guess my main gripe was that it was too Bieber and not enough “Strong Baby”. Thankfully, Later I realized what I actually wanted was the exact opposite. (er)

Basically, “VVIP” is mainstream electro-pop to a T and having spent years as an integrated member of Big Bang, it didn’t really don on me that this specific style of pop music was a perfect fit for Seungri’s voice and persona as a Korean idol. He’s the token pop-tart in Big Bang, and “VVIP” functions in a similar way.

In Short: “VVIP” is playful, young, and simple pop music that doesn’t take itself too seriously

Listen: VVIP | WHITE LOVE

3. 2NE1 – Second Mini Album

What can I say, 2NE1 were on top of their shizz this year. Listening to 2010’s “To Anyone” now is almost unbearable when you spin 2NE1’s second mini-album. In just a few words, “To Anyone” was overkill. It tried too hard to emulate the bull of Will.i.am, while consequently shoving the girls into a whirlpool of noise. Yeah, there were some good songs up in there, but 2NE1’s second mini proved that they didn’t necessarily need one thousand different synths blasting in the background to be themselves. 2NE1’s second mini-album was equally effective at a quarter of the price they had to pay for all the over-processing.

In fact, the best moments on “The Second Mini Album” are when 2NE1 pull away from the noise and let the natural melodies give their music it’s shape.

In Short: “The Second Mini Album” is a polished, enjoyable serving of electro-pop

Listen: UGLY | I AM THE BEST (내가제일잘나가)

2. Wheesung – 놈들이 온다

Wheesung missed out this season, as he was sick as fuck during promotions for his 3rd and final mini-album before enlistment, obviously preventing him from delivering flaw-free stages before his dueces went up. Either way, “놈들이 온다” was still a wonderful parting gift. One I found to be exponentially rewarding the more times I listened to it.

“놈들이 온다” is all heart and emotion, brought out in full by the richness of Wheesung’s vocal prowess. His voice works with almost every genre you can imagine. To prove it, he dabbles in all kinds of ponds in this mini. From hip-hop/pop, to light-reggae.

In Short: “놈들이 온다” is a feel-good mini-album with various flavors to savor

ListenMusic | Oh Lonely

1. W & Whale – CIRCUSSSS

The overall experience, style, and artistic value of W & Whale’s “CIRCUSSS” (and their entire body of work for that matter) is on a completely different level to that of most Korean pop artists. W & Whale’s latest may not have shaken the foundation of Kpop or rotated in every listener’s music library, but the fact that it resonated strongly with me could not go unnoticed.

“CIRCUSSSS” is as audibly exciting as you would think. The mini-album combines aggressive electronic details with front-woman Whale’s smooth, graceful vocals to produce unique gritty-yet-glossy pieces of music that somehow mesh beautifully together.

W & Whale are keeping their artistic integrity as an electronic band a priority, and if anything, “CIRCUSSSS” is a testament to what Korean pop artists are capable of beyond the stagnant electro-pop nonsense that has been plaguing the bigger pop music scene for years.

In Short: “CIRCUSSSS” is eccentric, edgy, and dangerously addicting

Listen: 소년 마법사 | 밤은 짧아, 걸어 아가씨야

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9 thoughts on “McRoth’s Best Mini-Album Of 2011

  1. I loved all the mini albums on this list especially the first three. I am not very fimilair with Wheesung or W&Whale but i did listen to their lead singles when they came out and loved them. Seugri’s vvip is seriously one of the best for me. I like it way more than bigbangs mini album that was released this year. Not that I didn’t like Bigbangs new songs this year since I play the songs all the time. I just felt vvip was better organized and had better transitions. Besides the songs you mentioned I also love his song open the windows and i know and in my world. Seungri really impressed me because he managed to produce or co-produce almost all the songs on there.And he could finally prove that he wasn’t a useless member in bigbang like most people think. 2ne1 held back on the autotune and that made me so very happy. I don’t ate their full album but compared to their first mini the album was really bad. Thank god this new one had focused more on their vocals like in lonely and ugly while still having a couple of fun loud songs like i am the best and hate you. Mblaq i am not a big fan of but I did listen the mini album during the summer when u had reviewed it and I loved all the songs on there. I love I don’t know and one. Overall this year really did not suck in kpop. Most albums and mini’s were really good. Even the rookies had good material like Dalmation and B1A4.

  2. I won’t lie, reading you paragraph about Seungri put a huge smile on my face as a dedicated Seungri stan :)

    Also, I am digging what I hear of W&Whale :o Will check them out.

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  5. I absolutely love W&Whale’s “Hardboiled” album from 2008, but somehow their new release this year slipped right past me. It’s at the top of my “To Listen” list now! I did manage to catch Wheesung’s “놈들이 온다” song but never dug deeper. He’s not far behind W&Whale on that list.

    Thanks for all the great recommendations!

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  7. Pingback: 2011 in Korean Indie music reviews | Korean Rock Is Real

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