A few acts can say they dominated 2014…and 15& is not one of them. The early parts of summer saw the duo promoting, but with a national tragedy afoot, and basically nobody caring about their second project only a week or two later…it is kind of hard to see 2014 as a great year for 15&.
They did release their first album, Sugar in June.
And then basically went and sat in a corner for the rest of the year, staying something resembling busy.
If you would like to read more of this really long post (with pictures and videos!) continue on…
First a new digital single (which acted as a pre-release to their album) Can’t Hide It.
This was maybe a day or two prior to the Sewol Ferry Tragedy…and you can imagine what happened. The industry shut down, and when they did return, no one was really in the mood to do anything musically related. While Can’t Hide It saw some success, it ultimately was not a long lasting hit. A good song in my opinion…but my opinion ain’t worth shit.
Then they came back with another single: Sugar…which was to be off their first album…Sugar.
I remember my biggest beef with this song was the ending being slightly chaotic; the song sounded a little cluttered around the end, like too many things were trying to happen at once. Outside of that, I liked the song, and 15& remained consistent with their releases (yes I liked their first two singles). Once again…Sugar didn’t go anywhere…only this time it was less to do with a grieving nation (still a problem), and more to do with higher profile acts coming in.
Sugar was the promotional single to 15&’s very first album…Sugar. I loved Sugar. It was…easy. Nothing felt overly pretentious. You are meant to take them seriously as voices of course, but they gave you pop songs, lighthearted uptempos, a few ballads, big songs…they gave a balanced album that didn’t feel off in a sense. Maybe more songs, but that’s pretty standard for me to complain about. The album featured seven new songs, with the final three being their previous singles (I Dream, Somebody and Can’t Hide It). I don’t remember having many complaints overall, but looking back, I think it was one of the underrated gems of 2014. Sugar might have been one of JYPE’s best albums this year, but because the group’s name was not big enough…it’s not going to get the love I think it would deserve.
Eh…maybe next time.
*I wrote a review for it, but I can’t find it… =(*
Once the Sugar promotional era was done (which lasted about two weeks), the girls were basically rushed to find something to do to keep them busy and a check a flowing.
Enter After School Club (ASC) which is usually hosted by Eric Nam and Kevin from UKiss. These two got shuttled over here for a minute, replacing Kevin for a little bit. Kevin returned around August/September…and then Jimin was the one on the show most often.
This show helped me get a good glimpse at the two outside of music. Jimin is the variety go to girl of the group. The only problem is that this show is set in a much more lax/western environment. Jimin may feel at ease because she doesn’t feel like she has to be Korean Idol over there (see how Eric and Kevin act). Still she engages and makes jokes…which is always good. The show is pretty much geared toward international fanbases…so it has little to no effect on their Korean fanbase…sad.
They also frequent an English radio show, hosted by Aron from Nu’est. Around October they got to host said show while Aron was on some promo thing in another country (get that check you little sexist). Ultimately this was good for them. Yerin has become much more comfortable there, and Jimin is pretty much honing her skills.
There was a little drama for the two this year. Got7 fans started hating. Yerin got in some heat with her fanbase because they thought she was showing favoritism toward certain fans…eh.
Add in a couple of shows here and there, and a variety appearance for Jimin, and you are looking at their year.
Through all of that…a year starting off quiet, a small blip, then to be sat somewhere…15& did what they could do best…sing songs. Specifically covers.
So let’s appreciate them.
Stuttering (Jazmine Sullivan)
This was way back in February…and it is damn near perfect. She had that little bit of angst, and was into the song. I love what Yerin can do. I wish the ending was a little longer, or stronger. It was almost there. Almost.
Before You Walk Out My Life (Monica Brown)
One of my favorite songs. And covered beautifully by Yerin. She really didn’t do much to it as opposed to the last two songs (altering the vocal arrangement to avoid high notes and low notes), but I just live for her voice on this song. She’s not even doing a lot but she still just…ugh.
Yerin has a lot of good covers this year, and pretty much overshadowed Jimin in that aspect. I do wish she would update full covers instead of just turning to her instagram all the time: hearing her attempt Nobody Wants To Be Here by Deborah Cox and Emotions by Mariah Carey in full would have been interesting all things considered.
Paper Hearts (Tori Kelly)
Prior to this cover, I was not really a fan of Jimin’s covers this year. She is the powerhouse of the group, so without all of the theatrics and big voice diva moments, you are left with a singer who is still learning and getting comfortable. In comes Paper Hearts, which gives us a new side of Jimin. A more floaty girl. I love her performance, very floaty, very lovely. It doesn’t hurt that I love this song. She never turns too far up. Instead she goes to around a 6, but never once feels out of place.
JYPE handles 15& in a smart way musically. They are a vocal based group, who doesn’t just stick to ballads. Their first album only had maybe two ballads overall, and mainly had uptempo and midtempo songs, all having R&B, pop flavors.
I think they (Park Jimin and Baek Yerin) work nicely together. Yerin has been singing longer than Jimin has, but Jimin is catching on pretty quickly to what she likes stylistically. Also Yerin is a bit…dull on stage at times. If she doesn’t have choreography to follow, she will just sway around like she isn’t at a paid gig. Yerin truly shines when she sings. That’s her thing. Jimin has a bigger resume than Yerin, and has done impressive things as a singer, but I like the fact that she is the personality. She has become less awkward on ASC, which is good. I want to see her on other shows as well…but one step at a time.
15& has yet to get that major push from JYP, and honestly this is as good as it will get until then. There is no real indicator that JYP really is trying to see it for the group, despite the fact they have a rather solid foundation with Jimin being the very first winner of K Pop Star. Their only excuse is that they are young (despite Yugioh and BamBam being the same age and having done twice as much in their group…and they not even doing half of what Jackson does)…and that excuse is running thin and has an expiration date.
For 2015, I want more of them. Two mini albums (spring/summer and a fall/winter), a couple wins (because why not). Something on that Sketchbook show would be nice. For Yerin (and possibly Jimin) to hop on Immortal Song 2, which I think would do wonders for them in several ways. For them to be invested in and not pushed to the side as soon as their promotional period is over.
But that’s just me.
So I end this post with a performances they did with Yeeun earlier in the year.