Welcome back to WTKpop Throwback! love Jaurim. They’re my favorite Korean band of all time. Actually, they’re my favorite Korean musicians in general. So, I want to take the time and highlight the best of Jaurim throughout the years. Below is going to be my four favorite albums, plus my favorite song from each entry. I wish I could go in-depth about the band’s history, but I don’t know a whole lot.
What I do know is that the band came together in 1997. Jaurim is singer Kim Yoon-Ah, percussionist Goo Tae-Hoon, bassist Kim Jin-Man, and guitarist/vocalist Lee Sun-Kyu. They released their first song, “Hey, Hey, Hey” on the soundtrack for the K-drama, “The Man With a Flower.” “Hey, Hey, Hey” served as a great introduction to the mainstream audience, and later that year, Jaurim released their first album, Purple Heart. Since then, Jaurim would release a full length album every two years for 15 years (taking a break in the mid-2000s). In 2007, Yoon-Ah would do a collaboration with Drunken Tiger and go on to release several solo albums. Meanwhile, the boys released an album as the Chococreamrolls.
Jaurim tends to have two types of albums: happy, optimistic and life-loving and depressingly sad. The pendulum swings between the two emotions without much leeway. It’s either on or off. What’s funny is there’s a pattern between the two emotions. Odd-numbered albums tend to happy while the even-numbered albums are depressing. Personally, this list is going to consist of mostly the odd-numbered albums. So, let’s start off with the earliest entry: Lovers.
Lovers is my second favorite album of Jaurim, however, it might sound outdated to listeners. The album is a mixture of alt-rock and pop that dominated the airways at the time. Lovers was released in 1998 in the midst of bands like The Cranberries and Garbage. My favorite song is “戀人 3/3 (angel) (Lovers 3/3 Angel)”, and it’s a great way to end the album. The dreaminess of the rock leaves a lasting impression as it fades into silence. The album has other dreamy pop songs like “미안해 널 미워해 (I’m sorry, I hate you)”. It starts with an ethereal introduction and transitions into an alt-rock sound. The song switches between the two styles, and I love it. Then, we have the weird outlier track “이런데서 주무시면 얼어죽어요 (If you sleep here, you will freeze)”. Every Jaurim album has that weird outlier song (for the most part). It’s a surfer rock song that I think is about seeing a homeless guy sleeping outside and telling him to stop because he’ll freeze. I don’t know, but it’s a fun song to listen to. The song is mainly sung by Lee Sun-Kyu and backed up by Kim Yoon-Ah.” 戀人 2/3 (lover)” sounds a lot like “I Think I’m Paranoid” by Garbage. If 90s alt-rock is what you love to listen to, then Lovers will be your favorite album.
2- Ruby Sapphire Diamond
After the beautiful abyss of prog rock that was Ashes to Ashes, Jaurim does a 180 on their sound and releases Ruby Sapphire Diamond. This album is sort of like their version of Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. This album is where Jaurim essentially said “screw it” and experimented with some new sounds. Admittedly, this album could have been a lot more. While the band does take risks, Jaurim ultimately doesn’t experiment enough with their sound. Some of the songs still evoke the melancholy of Ashes to Ashes. This was the return of Jaurim after Kim Yoon-Ah took a break to focus on her marriage and new baby, and Jaurim came back with a blast. It’s a mish-mash of folk, electro-pop, and indie rock influences.
The lead single is “Carnival Amour” and what a weird song. “Carnival Amour” is the pinnacle of Jaurim theatrics. It’s a loud bombastic song that has high highs and high lows. A typically Jaurim song peaks at the chorus, but “Carnival Amour” does the opposite. It has a subdued chorus and the rest of the song peaks. Most of the song is at an 11 in terms of energy.
Other silly songs include the album opener, “Oh Honey!”, which I like on two levels: it’s both a new and old sound. If you listen to Purple Heart, Jaurim’s first album, it has songs similar to “Oh, Honey!” and is a quirky rock n’ roll song like the early days. Then we have the cutesy creepy “Drops”, a song with an electro-pop beat to it and Yoon-Ah’s high pitched vocals. It has a demented, haunted carnival sound to it.
3- Conspiracy Theory
Released in 2011, Conspiracy Theory is a happy-go-lucky sound following in the footsteps of Ruby Sapphire Diamond. It’s not as ecstatic as the previous album, but it’s still optimistic. Conspiracy Theory isn’t polarizing and the lead single “Idol” shows this. “Idol” shows the range and power of Yoon-Ah’s voice, because normally she is a grounded and jazzy singer. She doesn’t really go for the high notes, but “Idol” has Yoon-Ah singing in a higher register than normal. The song quickly finds its groove and listeners are on a fun ride. The band has fun with bouncy pianos and guitar riffs. “혼자가 아니야 (Not Alone)” on the album has this quirky melody and warm feeling. It feels at home on this album. Then you have the song “from:email@example.com:firstname.lastname@example.org” (Yes, that is the song title! I wish I was kidding), which is about a woman’s lover and her blunt message to him. The lyrics are wrapped up in a cute melody and sounds like it belongs in a romantic comedy.
And when Jaurim talks about social issues, they do it pretty bluntly. Jaurim is not known for subtlety. I mean just look at “the HA HA HA Song”. When they go one direction, they go 1000 mph that way. Subtlety is lost on Jaurim, but I digress. Conspiracy Theory has a song called “EV1”. Yoon-Ah sings about a car, the EV1, that was discontinued under weird circumstances, and the lyrics go on about society sacrificing good things to benefit itself now instead of in the long run. Typical quirky lyrics in a weird song that doesn’t really fit is normal for Jaurim.
4- goodbye grief
I’m going to end it with my favorite Jaurim album, goodbye grief. Wow, goodbye grief is a heavy, heavy album. I can’t describe the sheer sorrow behind goodbye grief. It’s an album about someone finally dealing with grief and moving on with their life. I guess the album serves as a metaphorical goodbye from Jaurim since it’s their last album. The band hasn’t released anything else, and Kim Yoon-Ah stuck to her solo career. It’s a beautiful way to go out.
The album starts off great with “Anna,” a beautiful song with a flowing melody and Yoon-Ah’s operatic singing. The beauty of the ebb and flow of the song is capped by powerful “An-nah’s”. This is a song Yoon-Ah’s believes in. It’s one thing to sing a song well, but another to sing a song and believe it. It leaves a great first impression. It’s followed by “Dear Mother,” another ballad song. This time, the song is a fusion song. It’s a weird song that some may not like due to its sudden transition. At first, it’s a sweet and powerful ballad, then it suddenly transforms into a theatrical rock opera. It ditches the somber mood to a full on gospel song.
With the exception of “Dancing Star,” the first half of the album soars with optimism while the second half is pure sorrow. There are breaks in the darkness with songs like “I Feel Good.” But, then we get to what I think is A) the best song of the album and B) the best song Jaurim has ever written: 25,21. This song is heartbreaking. I don’t speak Korean, but this 25, 21 makes me tear up almost every time I listen to it. 25, 21 is bone chilling to the point where it’s almost cathartic. I’m happy songs like 25,21 exist. Sometimes, you need to be washed over in grief to appreciate the happiness in life. Musically, the song is simple but powerful.
These have been my favorite Jaurim albums! Another one I recommend is Ashes to Ashes in all of its depressing glory. It can be kind of difficult to sit through because of that, but it’s a good one nonetheless. I think that’s why Ruby Sapphire Diamond came out the way it did. It was a palette cleanser. I have to say I’m really curious as to what happened to the band as a whole that Ashes to Ashes came out as it did. Ruby Sapphire Diamond felt like it was made as a response to it. Did something happen to Kim Yoon-Ah?
There’s also a great cover album released in 2005 entitled 청춘예찬 (Ode to Youth). Jaurim does a great cover of “Even Flow” by Pearl Jam in English too. Yoon-Ah does a good job singing in English. There’s also another song, I think it’s called “Anyone Like,” and it’s a great song. It’s slow, melodic, and takes its time.
I cannot put into words how much I love this band. If you guys have listened to Jaurim, what you guys think? I would adore your guys’ opinion on Jaurim. Let me know your thoughts!
KyeongJun is a writer for WTK, where he gushes about his love for Korean rock music (You guys need to listen to Jaurim). When not writing, he’s at the gym listening to the newest K-Rock bands. You can catch KyeongJun @ElCrazy_Diamond on Twitter (Don’t worry that it’s a bit barren—he’ll soon be posting regularly! You can also Tweet him if you know any cool new artists you would recommend!)
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