KARA (카라)
“둘 중에 하나 (Runaway)”

Korean pop confectionery KARA just dropped their brand new Japanese album Fantastic Girls, but the real gem of their career’s past week is mother-tongue hit “둘 중에 하나 (Runaway).” Formed by DSP Media in 2007, the girl-group quintet reflect the wisdom of their years with this sophisticated R&B ballad. When it comes to the Gaon charts, only the Brown Eyed Girls — a clear influence here — have such a deft grip on pop this mature and self-assured.

“둘 중에 하나 (Runaway)” is a breezy delight, perfect for those late-summer nights. The single boasts K-Pop rarities aplenty: an expert live band smoothed by delicate studio glaze, lithe melodies and harmonies in no hurry to convince you of their salability, a gratuitous rap so apt it fails to register as gratuitous rap, and — perhaps rarest in Korea (or pop anywhere) — a climactic modulation capable of affecting the desired frisson. Above is the superior full-length version, but you can watch the video’s hugely popular two-minute reduction if you’d like to get your K-drama on.

Also, KARA girls are about to make it ¥en across the Asia-Pacific. Visit their website for more info.

• KARA: http://kara.dspmedia.co.kr
• Universal Music, LLC: http://www.universal-music.co.jp

Chocolate Grinder

CHOCOLATE GRINDER is our audio/visual section, with an emphasis on the lesser heard and lesser known. We aim to dig deep, but we’ll post any song or video we find interesting, big or small.