Updated: May 20
The grand finale!
Again, thank you guys for keeping up with this project. After days of going through 100+ songs, we arrive at the final destination. Without further ado, let's dive into my top K-Pop single!
1. TVXQ!- Rising Sun (2005)
This is as dramatic as a K-Pop opening can get.
Following a "Rise up" battle cry, a mixture of strings, descending synth, chugging guitar, and jagged percussion deliver a tense build-up, allowing expectations to grow higher. Not long after that, Rising Sun turns into a warzone. The instrumental flares as if it's ready to sacrifice itself in a vicious battle.
Yoochun comes out with an intimidating "Now, I cry under my skin" before delivering one of the fiercest idol raps out there.
This next part between Changmin and Yunho is fantastic! Changmin displays four ferocious "No!" with Yunho rapping aggressively after each "No!" while the instrumental goes berserk.
Junsu's segment is magical! As the craziness vanishes, Junsu drops sweeping melodies in an open atmosphere with a distinct synth to offer.
It is with Jaejoong that the song starts picking up. Like most of the top five tracks, there's no pre-chorus. Instead, it's a second-half first verse operating as a pre-chorus.
While Jaejoong builds towards the chorus, there's a moment when the jagged percussion stops, making a path for Jaejoong to belt out "chatneunga," specifically "ga."
It's a chilling vocal moment heading into Rising Sun's peak.
K-Pop's monumental moment is here.
Every bit of this chorus is like witnessing an opera. The rhythmic tone is rip-roaring. Given the context of TVXQ's name, the guys portray themselves as gods.
The most hair-raising moment, though, happens at the chorus' conclusion. As the section nears its end, they decide to let out an astonishing "Rising Sun" that rises above the Earth.
I believe that's K-Pop's best vocal moment.
Yoochun returns to deliver another combating rap performance. His verse is in English, but it's hardly noticeable because his tone grabs your attention.
Thanks to the rock guitar, this verse has a roughness to it. Yunho's rapping and percussion add more to this assertive section. I also enjoy how Yunho pronounces "ggaedareume."
The next piece features a couple of motifs. The first is Changmin shouting "jeongmal" before finishing his verses. Second is the duet of Jaejoong and Junsu authoritatively spewing out "Somebody talks."
An occurring theme in Rising Sun is the vocals and instrumental playing the same rhythm simultaneously. Listen closely to the synth and rock guitar during Changmin's verses and "Somebody talks."
The verse isn't over.
A new melodic tone arrives in the hands of Junsu and Jaejoong. Their deliveries carry an intense build-up to the second choru-
"Not so fast!" Rising Sun shouted. It just so happens that this track provided K-Pop's best fake-out moment.
What you thought was going to be the second chorus is replaced by Changmin's vocal-climbing "Do you know why?" spanning for 10 seconds, followed by riveting strings.
Remember what I said about the chorus being K-Pop's best vocal moment? I might have to rethink that.
WHAT THE HECK IS THIS?!
After a sampling "slow down," we're thrown into a completely different song! The vibe I'm getting here is Bollywood.
Guaranteed chance first-time listeners were divisive - I was too. Production-wise, this breakdown didn't make sense.
But, the more I listened, the more I enjoyed this breakdown. It inspires me to perform this in front of a crowd, defying pop expectations.
Bhangra beats, aggressive synth loop, and vocal accents create this bouncy and surprisingly funky component. Ad-libs sprinkled throughout, with one standout being a Michael Jackson "hehe" sample. Is it Michael Jackson?
Yoochun, Changmin, and Yunho render their melodies to match the instrumental's rhythmic nature. Each showcases a distinct and fun tone.
At this point, you start to wonder how Rising Sun transitions from this. As a response, have Changmin deliver another sky-stretching vocal moment.
I went over the two best K-Pop vocal moments - make it three!
As iconic as this track is, it's impressive how it gained success while repeating the chorus once. It's understandable. The hook requires vocals that soar above the Earth. Talk about being ambitious!
As the chorus ends, deja vu happens. Since the second verse, Changmin's "jeongmal" lines and the Jaejoong-Junsu duet of "Somebody talks" reappear.
What happens after is a firm statement of Rising Sun's nature. While Yunho shouts "Rise up" a couple of times, forefront strings offer a haunting sound, going through peaks and valleys before the song finishes its driven production with a concluding thud.
Ladies and gentlemen, this is what I believe is the greatest K-Pop single of all time!