SOLAR ranks among the Best of 2010!

Korean music critics have started announcing their lists of the best music of 2010, and there’s quite a bit of sunshine on them!

On, whose roster of critics include Kwon MinGi, Kim Bong Hyeon, Kim Yun Ha, Chang, Kim HakSeon, Dan Pyeon Seon, Moon Jeong Ho, Seo SeongDeok, Seo Jeongmin Gap, Lee, K., and Cho SH, Solar ranked #9 among the top 20 multi-genre album releases in Korea for December 2009 to November 2010.

“I’ve been listening to ‘Take it Slow’ a lot lately. It may be only natural that anticipation and faith go to an artist that can receive (pick) a song like this and deliver this kind of vocal. If HOT was an album of expectations and possibilities, Solar is evidence that trust and confidence was deserved.” (Kim Hak Seon)

“Hot was an excellent EP, but expectations for a full album were half-and half (mixed). From my 10year or so experience with idol albums, my expectation of saying that ‘since this much was done on this album the next album would be better’ became colorless.
YG Entertainment has put out several good EP’s but no good albums over the past 3 years. YG’s albums lacked effort and a typical example is Big Bang’s “Remember”. But this year it is different. An album with effort and thought into the genre has emerged. Even without saying it is a good accomplishment from an idol, it [Solar] is a good R&B album.” (Moon Jeong Ho)

On 100beat, ‘I Need A Girl’ came in at #2 for the top 5 Songs of the Year:

1. 영순위 (feat. 넋업샨 ‘Nuck’) (Garion, Garion 2)
2. I Need a Girl (Taeyang, Solar)
3. Sugar (Deez, Get Real)
4. Hoot (SNSD, Hoot)
5. Bad Girl Good Girl (Miss A)

100 beat’s full article is expected to come out soon – I’m really interested in how they came out with the list.

(Thanks to the uploaders and to piglet and HJ for help translating.)

Other year end lists that featured Taeyang :

#11 of Top 11 Domestic Albums
Choi MinWoo

#15 of Top 20 Domestic Albums
Kim Hak Seon

Included in Top 10 Domestic Albums and “I Need A Girl” among Top 10 Domestic Singles – unranked, focus on Hip-Hop/R&B/Soul
Kim Bong Hyeon

#10 among Top 12 Domestic Albums
Weiv : Kim Min, Kim Young Jin, Shin Hyun, Woo Hae Mi, Lee Soo Yeon, Jae Hoon Lee, Jeong Gu Won, Cha Woo Jin, Choi Min Woo, Choi, Choi Ji Seon

“I Need A Girl” #9 of Top 20 Domestic Singles
Dan Pyeon Seon

#4 among Top 10 Domestic Albums (listed by release date)
OhmyNews ( by Jeong Hee Woong)


I’m so happy that our boy is receiving so much recognition. To put all these lists into context, many of these lists are multi-genre and don’t only include R&B releases. Even more exciting is that these lists also consider the non-mainstream artists that are frequently left out of the usual music show and year-end awards since they do not make enough impact on the sales charts (which have been increasingly dominated by idols.) That Taeyang is even included in these lists next to such superior offerings from Garion, 9와 숫자들, Jinbo and Deez says volumes about his contribution to the music scene this year. He is being included in lists of artists who are known purely for the quality of their music by people who make it their job to listen to a broad spectrum of music in a critical and contextual way. And in a banner year for Korean R&B, that Solar is even included among the R&B lists is a huge compliment.

We’ve said it before –  Taeyang is interesting because he occupies a niche in the music scene where he performs in the manner of idols (song and dance, weekly music shows etc) and yet does music that is off mainstream enough so that it doesn’t really chart at huge levels in Korea. (He also doesn’t really act like either the typical idol or artist which makes him a bit harder to classify.) This is an important point to consider since he has one foot in both worlds – idol and artist – and is trying to build his career at a compromise to fans at different ends of the music industry scale with different expectations on each side. It’s a balancing act that could mean huge success in his future or huge disappointment for one or the other set of fans depending on which way he calibrates his future priorities.

Personally, I’ve always maintained that artists have to be primarily true to themselves rather than to fan expectations. This is especially true for Taeyang, whose fans have rather extreme expectations for him because of both his solo work and his work with Big Bang. Fans, Critics and Industry insiders are obviously keeping a close watch on him and his next album–2-3 years away–is going to be hotly anticipated again. Let’s hope Taeyang uses his long break wisely and comes back refreshed, rejuvenated and better than ever.

31 thoughts on “SOLAR ranks among the Best of 2010!”

  1. I like what u wrote bluemaid. It’s true and deep. 🙂 For a person who doesn’t know much about r&b music, I know I like it enough because the genre Taeyang’s been doing is love to me. I like how they acknowledge the hardwork he’d put on the album and honestly, I’m just really happy he made into the list since you know, the people in the lists are among those who are not into mainstream kpop. The critics seem to take him seriously as an artists as well. Anyhow, congrats to our boy and I hope he can continue to grow positively and one day be a real idol who gives good inspiration to a lot of people to a lot more people.

  2. There’s a reason why YB refers to his fans as supporters of his music rather than supporters of him. What other idol is able to perform everything an idol is supposed to do yet at the same time command the respect of legit music critics who don’t care if you’re an idol or not. YB doesn’t use his idol status as a way to succeed, in fact, it probably hampers him more often than not considering the way he views his music.
    It’s amazing whenever critics rank YB as one of the top R&B artists because we all know how much effort he puts into his music. Also, there are so many amazing R&B artists that aren’t mainstream so seeing YB going against them and still being recognized by music critics is an incredible feat. Too rank #9 out of 20 MULTI-GENRE albums is even more amazing.

    With the problems YB had with this album, it’s a wonder than SOLAR ended up so well. I mean, in the middle of album preparations, the man decides to scrap half of the album and start new! (although YG and YB, I’m still hoping you release an album with the old songs!!!)

    SOLAR just goes to show that HOT wasn’t a fluke. YB really is an artist to look out for. We can surely expect his next album, which will appear in 2-3 years hopefully (after some amazing new life experiences) to continue in the same manner as HOT and SOLAR and show off YB’s true colors.

      1. Being an idol is a double edged sword. In the case of YB, maintaining his “image” as a BB member probably means he does have to make some compromises in his music and performance (more pop, kid-friendly title song, TV-ready performances etc) At the same time, YB probably outsells most of the artists on the above lists (even those who outrank him) and gets a lot of exposure he wouldn’t otherwise get and to a much wider audience.

    1. I agree with your comment about releasing the songs that were scraped from the final copy. Because the success of Wedding Dress came sooooo late, YB may have been swayed by the public or pressured to achieve success measured in sales that he dispose songs as great as WEdding Dress and Where U At. He only released those two songs and they were already YB classics. Only problem was that they didn’t achieve instant success, so i have a feeling the songs that were edited out were probably just as great as the two that were released.

    2. I always think its great for a musician to write and compose their own music. Otherwise your just a vocalist who sings songs which other people create. What makes Big Bang unique in that how GD and TOP also help produce. But even more so Taeyang is as well. When HOT came out pretty much all songs involved Teddy (still think Teddy is getting worked out like a machine)
      Anyway the point is i’m glad that YB is also getting involved as well, not only that but Take it Slow which he wrote/composed is like my favourite song ever. Even the snippet of the new Big Bang song which he wrote, even though the preview clip is like 15 seconds it already sounds amazing.
      I come to the conclusion that whatever music YB does I will just love it lool

  3. It still baffles me how Taeyang and his album managed to make an appearance on all these lists considering the reception he received from the general public. Perhaps I’m still using popularity as a measure of greatness. Yes, it’s incredible that he sits with such great musicians like Deez, Jinbo, and Garion whose music I’ve gotten a chance to listen to. They’re a huge contrast to what most fans would equate to “Kpop” or “Korean music” and from each other. I think if anything, Youngbae should be humbled and take this as encouragement to keep doing the music he truly loves (though I didn’t feel he did that 100% here..but whatever), define success beyond album sales, chart rankings, and etc, and move forward in the direction he wants to.

    Bluemaid, I found your analysis/comment quite wonderful and on point. Very well written. It’ll be interesting to see what Taeyang will put forth next. As much as I like to complain, I’m glad he consciously knows that he’ll take as much time as he needs to with the next album. I found that nothing worthwhile comes without time. Hopefully by that time I will learn how to drop my pretenses with Youngbae and just watch/listen to what he produces.

    Great post.

    1. The nice thing about positive critics’ reviews is that they are likely 99% about the music and less about how cute/hot/cool he is, so in the end its great to see validation for purely his musical efforts. The general public takes a lot of other factors into consideration when buying music and what really makes a hit is a mystery record labels are forever frantically trying to figure out.
      We all know YB is not the most popular guy out there (and we even have our theories why) but he did say that he’s trying hard to not consider popularity and the “hit potential” of his songs when he does his music because he recognizes how limiting going down that road is. Whether he can get away with doing that is something he’ll have to take up with his label…but its nice to imagine that he is battling to maintain some semblance of artistic integrity in the business.
      I don’t think YB has to worry about getting a swelled head. He is famously humble and he has a whole bunch of vocal fans who will make sure he keeps it real. 😉

    2. Haha. And just because I know a few of us follow certain writers as well…

      Popular Music writer Cha Woo Jin was on Choi Hyun Jung’s radio show early December and was asked which of the idols this year was most impressive to him. He mentioned Kara and their success in Japan and BB member Taeyang.

      He mentions that “TY’s solo album got a good response from the US and Canada. It got a better response in Canada and the US than in Asia or Japan. The international version was released in the summer and went up to #1 on [itunes] R&B charts in Canada and around #3-4 in the US.

      The funny thing was that the album wasn’t just an immediate hit after it’s release, but one year prior he released the “Wedding Dress” single. Wedding dress steadily got popular, because of youtube. If you type “Wedding Dress ” in English on youtube search a lot of videos come up – most of them are parodies, or videos of fans sitting in front of the computer with a guitar doing acoustic versions”. There are a lot of these videos on Youtube. Though, WD wasn’t that popular in korea…I read online that he was surprised by the international popularity of the song.”

      I am just inordinately tickled that Cha Woo Jin was YT’ing WD parodies.

      1. I’m quite tickled by the fact Cha Woo Jin was YT’ing WD specifically as well. I think we, as he was, were intrigued by WD’s quite rise to fame so to speak. I think I’ve said this more than once, but Wedding Dress’s and Taeyang’s popularity was unexpected and caught off guard despite the fact I was following YB closely during this time period. What’s jarring as CWJ has mentioned, was the song’s success abroad through mediums like youtube despite the dismal/disappointing run it had in Korea. That is in fact very impressive.

        I absolutely love how you follow these writers as well as YB…I occasionally look at Kim Bong Hyun’s blog and follow him on twitter because he’s a cool dude, but other than that…I don’t really follow any other writer. Way to go!

        1. LOL. I read KBH quite a bit nowadays (struggling with translation) since I like his reviews. I like his point of view and the way he writes about music and his sincere love for the genre (Hiphop/R&B/Soul) comes across clearly in all his posts. I only read the other writers very rarely and mostly when they have something to say about YB (since I need a LOT of motivation to struggle with the translation.) But I do like the personal way Cha Woo Jin writes – he’s very relatable.

  4. First of all, I’m very proud.

    SOLAR promotions was a giant headache for all those involved and I’m happy that the ending story turned out so well.

    This line sticks out to me the most:

    “Personally, I’ve always maintained that artists have to be primarily true to themselves rather than to fan expectations. ”

    Very well written BM and I agree 100%. I’ve talked to a lot of you guys and we all have plans and things we want YB to do and accomplish but at the end of the day I want him to do what he wants. To focus on the music he wants to do and just deliver that. I’m hoping it’s more like 2 years and not 3 years till the next album. However, we can already see that he’s growing as a person, which makes me 10 times more excited for the next album.

  5. You know… as well-received as HOT was, one of the things that irked me a bit about a number of reviews at the time was that they often credited it to YG’s production values. Teddy did indeed do an amazing job, but I felt YB’s own efforts and input were somewhat undervalued – reviews praising the production and saying that YB acquitted himself well with the material given; that it’s a good album, but YB doesn’t feel like the star of it; that they’re not yet sure how talented YB is, but the music itself is very good. Even Yoo HeeYeol’s praise, which is so often cited, was largely about the production values. There was this sense of YG >>> YB, that it was more YG’s triumph and YB happened to be the vehicle for it.

    Having said that, what I loved so much about reading the Solar reviews is that the scale appears to have shifted more towards YB now, and I think that’s one of the greatest measures of the growing critical regard for YB and [i]his[/i] music. And I think that’s where some of the expectations-becoming-belief talk comes from. He had great success with HOT, but there was some uncertainty as to how much of that was YB’s doing. But with Solar, he’s taken greater ownership of his work. He’s increasingly being judged on his own merit, and that makes me really proud as a “supporter of his music.” ^^

    1. And I certainly hope that, by now, Kim Hak Seon’s been inundated with mail informing him that Take It Slow was written/composed by YB! ^.~

      1. I love your comment so much I just saved it to my HD. Agree 100% – and I know that a number of Kfans feel the same way. YB didn’t get enough of the credit for HOT (and LOAM) that I think he should have and its nice that Solar is getting him a bit more acknowledgement.

    2. Ohh Silly….I haven’t consciously noticed this difference until you mentioned it. It is true – this time around many people complimented Youngbae’s singing and technique more than the songs. Jang Woo Chul from GQ did make a note in his interview saying something like “you sang like heck.” And the in the first quote provided in this article “It may be only natural that anticipation and faith go to an artist that can receive (pick) a song like this and deliver this kind of vocal.” Wonderful no?

      And Silly…we should also make note that the songs YB composed have been great…(ie: WHERE U AT, Wedding Dress, and Take It Slow which seems to be a favorite among fans and critics alike)

      But we must also give credit to the production of SOLAR as well. I appreciated and I am satisfied with the diversity of people that worked on it. One thing about YGE is the company is very exclusive. Though it’s a testament to their artist’s talent, it makes for very repetitive and un-inventive music. I hope YB works with other artists/producers/composers to keep in creativity running fresh.

  6. I’m proud of YB, the efforts he put into this album is given the acknowledgment of music critics, looking only at the work, and not the image or package of an idol.

    Considering that some charts are not just solely for R&B, that makes me even more proud.

    As for bluemaid’s quote, that an artist should be true to him/herself and not of the fans – I absolutely agree. Compared to HOT, SOLAR had more of YB’s involvement and effort involved. I’m really really glad critics are taking him seriously.

    I take these as encouragements for YB to improve and do better, because with his humility he will most definitely try harder rather than let himself overflow with too much confidence.

    Like you said BM, he’s stuck himself in two boats… The artist and the idol…. It will be interesting to see what he will bring for us in the next 2 or 3 years. With SOLAR we finally saw what might be his direction.

    Similar to ILOVEMYBAE, I don’t really understand much of R&B, only it’s what YB produces and which I happen to like listening to. I don’t expect much from YB other than to choose what is best for himself and him only, to experience more of what life is all about, to allow that passion and determination for his job to continue bringing good music to more people. 🙂

    (Like most of us here, I tend to write an essay when I’m on ATY too, maybe we should get a name for it….? LOL :P)

  7. こんにちは。



  8. aww^_^our bebe deserves it!oppa fightingg!!i didnt knew that yb scrapped half of the album songs,,i wish papa yg would post the scrapped songs:))–so that we can spazz and appreciae our bae’s work;))

  9. I have a question….
    how come Taeyang didn’t perform at any of the year end awards??
    Even Se7en did, and Taeyang typically had 3 title tracks in 2010 Wedding Dress, INAG, and IBT yet I don’t think he was even at any of the awards? (apart from MAMA) ???

    1. Supposedly he wanted a vacation before the BB comeback (and really was in Japan over Christmas with friends) rather than performing at the year end shows. That’s the semi-official message anyway. There’s all sorts of other speculation that broadcast time was limited so they had to limit the number of artist etc. – but in the end no one really knows.

      Anyway, all the Gayo performances were really short and the shows were not as stellar as years past so YB probably made a good call to spend time recharging his batteries rather than freezing his cute little **** off in a badly miked performance hall. (IMO anyway) As to awards, YG artists only show up at awards if they win them so…..

  10. Why Bluemaid, I wanted to say “well written” and then read the comments page and saw that EVERY COMMENT complimented your analysis hahaha. But with that said, well-written Bluemaid! Following alwaystaeyang really open my eyes to extremely loyal fandom An admirable, mature, and insightful YB fandom it is!

    I have to admit, the lack luster support Taeyang receives in Korea really gets on my nerves and I want to open my dormitory window and blast the entire student center with Wedding Dress until the greatness of TY’s artistry is realized but of course that wouldn’t work. But I still leave wedding dress playing at the school’s computer station on purpose instead of shutting down the computer. haha, trivial and probably didn’t make a difference, but it still feels damn good.

    So glad Taeyang is receiving the credit he deserves. From his soulful voice to his musicianship to the difficulty of surviving in the cut-throat world of KPOP, he is very accomplished. I’m so proud to be his fan

  11. Firstly, well written post BM! You’re so eloquent.
    Like many of the commenters, I too am incredibly happy that Solar has made it onto the list of these critics. I hope YB is aware of his rankings, not so much for self-assurance, but hopefully as an encouragement, for him to continue pursuing his music, and delve more into composing and writing. Personally, I don’t think he gives himself enough credit, or maybe doesn’t feel as confident as he should to experiment, and take risks. The songs he co-composed are some of my favourites from the album, and in the future, I hope he can take more control in that aspect. Or maybe because it’s his nature to be a perfectionist, and pick at every detail, that he just takes too long to write and compose. LOL. I know i’m going off on a tangent, but when YB said he tends to record and re-record to make sure he sings the song perfectly…I hope he drops that habit. Although technically, the song may improve, I think you tend to lose the meaning or the feeling of the song over time.
    At the same time, I can sense he has a better understanding of his musical an interview YB said he had to agree to disagree w/ Teddy on some occassions, and lord knows I am sooo thankful for that. Don’t get me wrong, Teddy’s great, but I’m not sure if his vision is at par w/ YB’s at times.
    YB is def. in an unusual pocket in the Korean music industry..I think most that know me understand the direction that I would like YB to go in, but like you said, YB has to stay true to himself first and foremost. And I am perfectly fine with that (though I may complain..hehhe..)
    So to sum up…YAAY for YB! 😀

  12. First of all Bluemaid,Well said! I couldnt have put it in better words.

    I’m so happy and proud for YB,he’s finally getting more and more recognised for the great artist that he is: one that puts the quality of the music before all else.He’s unique and awesome for that reason,thats whats so intriguing about him.

    LOL I dont even know what to say,usually I have to cut down on the “essay” but I’m lost for words…maybe I’ll comeback when I’m a bit more level headed.

    1. That is quite a long way away… Personally, I don’t think YB is ready for the US market yet. Whether it’s a tour or a debut, I’d love to see him on that stage no doubt, and I’m sure all of us will jump at hearing the news.

      But (there’s always a but in there :P) with his 2011 schedule, performing in the US this year is out of question…. Though, ATYers will wait for that day to come, fo show! 😀

  13. i always like it when i read about critics praising YB and his work.
    he truly is an unusual gem in Korea.
    he’s an idol with a heart and talent of a true artist.
    i’m glad that his Solar album is receiving critical acclaim, seeing how it didn’t fare that well in South Korea.

    i love reading the post, very well-written.
    Congrats to YB and i’m anticipating better music to come!

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