While I was getting my metal fix listening to Dir En Grey, my hunger for good kpop, that mellow, that yin to my yang, never ceased. By early March 2007, I had replayed H.O.T, DBSK, and Big Bang songs as much as I could…but I needed something new.
Back then, I was part of a kpop forum where users had threads of their favorite groups and singers. I believe it was called z-degrees.net. And one particular thread had a massive collection of kpop discographies. We’re talking every album ever produced before 2006 was here for the stealing. Pretty much what it was. But at the time, in my 20-year-old mind, I didn’t see it as stealing. I saw it as sharing.
Anyways, I discovered that my legendary H.O.T., had produced more than just the five albums I originally found. They produced a soundtrack called Age of Peace, OPT. Of course this was a treat for me. Because it was rockin, reminiscent of their “Iyah” album. But I also found out that the lead singer, Kangta, wrote a song for a rival/contemporary group called NRG, titled “Sad Rain.”
The song struck a chord with me. I can’t say that it blew me away from the get-go, but it definitely lingers long after you hear it. So I sought out NRG to see what this band was about. And lol, it was the next video I saw that hooked me.
Hahaha! So let me explain. Because if you’ve read my memoirs up to this point, you’ll find a contradiction with me. I’m not keen on groups imitating one another. I don’t like the idea of everyone cashing in on a trend. I respect creativity, the pioneering of treading into uncharted territory.
However, I will say that I’m in favor of artists of all walks of life, whether you’re a writer, painter, sculptor, actor, or musician…if you admire another artist, imitate them and then go a step further in the pursuit of doing better than what they did…I can applaud that. Sort of like how Michael Jackson admired James Brown and Jackie Wilson, imitated them, and then went on to do something better. No lie, I had a huge debate in my class about this back then.
The problem with today’s music is that there are too many who are merely content on doing exactly the same of their contemporaries, following the same formula, comfortable with that niche without the courage of showing any individuality that might separate them from that which they set out to copy in the first place.
Goes without saying, H.O.T was the first of its kind when it comes to kpop music that blended rock, rap, and dance pop elements. Next to them came Sechskies of DSP Entertainment to give H.O.T. a run for their money. Then, it was NRG.
Despite how much I absolutely loved and played out “Messenger,” it was hard to look past the thought that NRG was still merely an imitation of H.O.T. Not a cheap imitation by any means, but an imitation nonetheless.
That was…until I heard their third album and the song, “Face”
The thing that separates NRG from H.O.T and the other bands is their rap and the intensity of their songs. Their third album in particular…my God. “Face” is from their third album, but there’s another song that’s 10x more significant.
You gotta understand, NRG was a boyband, a kpop group on paper. But their music, their lyrics, their rap and blended genres…Just listen to this song and you’ll see what I’m talking about:
NRG “Guwoh 003”
Unfortunately…tragedy struck this group just after the release of their third album.