Korean Indie: Top Band 2 Auditions: Rose Motel, Super Kidd, AshGray, Harry Big Button

Finishing off the first week of introducing the bands that made it through the first round of auditions for KBS band survival show Top Band 2 we now stand at batch seven. Sharing their opinions together with me today are Lightinthemind of Korean rock is real, Dahee of Dahee’s Plastic Castle, Ranya of K-Underground Sweden and for the first time Korean Indie’s reviews editor Chris has joined us. Give the bands a listen and feel free to share your opinion in the comments when you’re ready!


Rose Motel

The three men of Rose Motel were friends already when they lived home in Busan, but didn’t form the band until May last year after meeting each other in Seoul. Now playing around Hongdae the bossa nova influenced band released their first single in November 2011.

Rose Motel – “봉숙이”

Anna: When I hear about a Korean band singing on Busan dialect I can’t help but think about Sweden’s bob hund, an altogether brilliant band. I never considered the dialect thing about Rose Motel when I first heard them a few months ago and I can’t really hear it now that I’m aware of it either. I like the contrast in the audition song of a serious sound and lyrics that aren’t quite as serious, though I can’t understand much of them myself.

Lightinthemind: This band caught my attention with a very simple thing several months ago. It was the coverof their first single, at which I was staring for 10 minutes trying to get the point.  So with the laughing started an interest. Moreover I was surprised to catch an article introducing the band at allkpop,  which is far beyond my understanding. And I never thought that adding a portion of humor to the music is a bad thing.

Chris: It’s interesting because it sounds like jazz lounge music.  I think it’s something fun to listen to, but at the same time, there’s a certain amount of static tone to the music.  It’s enjoyable to listen with the polyrhythms, unfortunately, I don’t see the staying power with the type of music they’re playing.

Dahee: As someone who speaks a Korean dialect (Jeollado saturi FTW), I find the Seoul snobbery over different dialects and the general emphasis on having everything “official” be in the Seoul dialect to be vastly annoying, so this band’s decision to have all their lyrics be in saturi tickles me pink. That being said, their music sounds like something that I wouldn’t be able to listen to on a daily basis, and I wonder whether the audience will enjoy this kind of sound.

Ranya: Had to giggle a little at Anna’s Bob Hund reference, because it’s not the first time I’ve heard that Skånska (southern Swedish regional dialect) is the Swedish equivalent of the Busan dialect. Me personally would not have payed any attention to it. Other than that I don’t really find this kind of music very interesting, it was very “meh” for me.


Super Kidd

Rock band Super Kidd officially formed in 2005, but participated in MBC’s University Festival 2004 under the name Honey Checks. They released their first full-length album in 2006 and have since put out two full-length albums more alongside numerous singles and special albums. Super Kidd have also made appearances in dramas and movies, including a part in Like A Virgin early in their career where they performed a cover of Madonna’s song with the same name.

Super Kidd – “뮤직쇼”

Anna: Many years ago while shopping from mrkwang I picked up a self-released EP from this new band called Super Kidd. Whether from his recommendation or because something about it intrigued me I can’t recall, but I became very fond of “어쩌라고” and not knowing a thing about their image and very little Korean thought they’d be able to bring in a ton of swooning fangirls because of it once they released a real album. I even compared them to EVEin a review at the time. Now I know them better as a goofy band more concerned about entertaining than anything else. They’ve done quite well for themselves so far, but I wonder whether they’ll be able to stand up against bands with a higher musical focus.

Lightinthemind: I do love them! Here is just an example when humor plus imagination plus good team work give in the end great result. Do you want to have a party? Super Kidd can help. Do you want to take a break from work? Super Kidd could help you get the mood. Are you angry? Please, don’t be! Just listen to Super Kidd. Ok, not everybody could find their inner-child and confess to liking this sort of music. But I hope that fun and joy that this band is brining will save the world.

Chris: This reminds me a lot of old pop punk in the late 90s in the US.  While Super Kidd don’t exactly play the same genre, there is the same kind of audience participation model in the performance. I think the music in this particular song would sound a lot better without the annoying amount of synth though.

Dahee: For whatever reason I’ve never been able to get into Super Kidd, even after sitting down and listening to one of their albums in earnest a couple years back. I’ve come to the conclusion that I’m just not into their sound, probably because I tend to like my music to be emotional over jokey. I guess my biggest complaint is that they seem to just be into having fun, and not so much about finding depth in their music. I have to be in the mood to dance and go crazy to listen to them at all, but when I’m not, I just find them annoying. The audience will probably love them, though.

Ranya: I personally quite like Super Kidd,  although they’re not a very serious band, they’re fun and bring a nice energy. I agree with that the crowd will just really enjoy what they bring. I always find myself bobbing my head or doing a small dance whenever I listen to them. Their sound is very simple, fun and uncomplicated, and though I don’t think that it’s going to take them all the way, it’s going to make things fun at least.



An original member of idol group Click-B,  guitarist No Min Hyuk made a comeback in rock band AshGray, formed in 2009. Already the same year the trio managed to make something of a name for themselves, following up their debut single with collaborations with Kang San-eh and Yoon Do Hyun, two of Korea’s best known rockers, for their next couple of singles. After plenty singles more AshGray proceeded to release their first full-length album in 2011.

AshGray – “Anxious”

Anna: Out of all the bands on Jaurim’s Soundholic AshGray is the one I was the happiest to see join the label. For some reason I’ve never listened much to them, but I’ve appreciated their music  from the start and they’re improving constantly . Given some more exposure I think they could become one of the big names in the scene. Also this cover of “이별의 그늘” together with Baek Sae Eun is so beautiful not even Yoon Sang himself could do it better. More, please!

Lightinthemind: Oh, this voice… Its range, the vocalist’s passion, wisdom in creating such pieces of art bended me. I’m not listening to them frequently, but really appreciate how they are behaving themselves and in which projects they are participating. I think that is why they have noticeable amount of fans in Europe (and in Russia too).

Chris: I really wanted to like AshGray when I listened to one of their albums.  The music is great and I think live, the band shows off a lot more of their talent than on their album.  The album I heard sounded really stunted, but now hearing the band play live, I can appreciate the power they put into the music.

Dahee: Count me in as another person who has always really wanted to like them, but for whatever reason never really listens to them. I think songs like “12:30 a.m.” are lovely and emotional (and it’s on my iPod), and I also really like that cover with Baek Sae Eun (nice to see that she’s still around after MBC Star Auditionended). They clearly have talent, and I’m pretty sure they’re going to be really popular eventually. They’ll probably do well on this show, too. But I just…can’t seem to care? Maybe I need to go to one of their live shows…

Ranya: Hmm, didn’t know that much about them to actually want to like them, but they do have a lot of potential? I don’t know, I found this song a little awkward.


Harry Big Button

Hard’n’Loud rock band Harry Big Button formed in 2011. They’ve been playing frequently around Hongdae since, releasing their first digital single in August last year and putting out the same three songs on a self-released CD in December. For the audition they performed an unreleased song.

Harry Big Button – “Everything is Fine Except Money”

Anna: I tried to listen to Harry Big Button a while back after they did a joint show with Apollo 18, but couldn’t really get into them. I’m very particular with my rock’n’roll, and though the heavier the better seems to be the way for most of my music listening over the last few years Harry Big Button made it clear that it’s not always the case. Still I imagine they’re skilled enough to go very well over with the former rockers among the judges and should be able to find plenty supporters in the audience too.

Lightinthemind: In the 21st century to choose hard’n’heavy is a bit strange, on the other side risky to find an own fanbase. I can’t not appreciate the band’s decision just for this. But if I to try to imagine their audience I’m totally confused. Who is it? That strange guy in home short pants that came on the stage while performance (at audition video).

Chris:Harry Big Button sound like a revival of 70s and 80s rock.  It has elements of hair metal and heavy metal.  Even though the band has talent in the style of music they play, it sounds too repetitive.  I think the playing is great, but it’s nothing new in the genre.

Dahee: They’re good, but I agree that they bring nothing new or special to the table, and the repetitiveness mentioned above is pretty annoying. Next, please.

Ranya: Well they sure seem to have alot of fun on stage! I just couldn’t get into it, it was a repetitive and that was slightly headache inducing. With so many other interesting rock bands in the competition I’m not sure that they’ll make it particularly far.

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