Episode 14

AlphaBAT "Attention" (2014)

An Album a Day is my exploration into the Korean music scene. This podcast will cover mainstream, indie and some underground artists within the scene and provide both factual and opinionated commentary. The biggest benefit to sharing my thoughts this way is that it will hopefully expose you to more great music and exploration of your own.

It’s the middle of winter in North America and the covid-19 pandemic experience is almost a year old in the United States. Through your support of the show -- both through reviews, listenership, and in some cases, financial contributions -- the pandemic bumped A3Day around a bit but didn’t end. Thank you! Being the host of this podcast is a true joy for me and a true energy drainer while juggling responsibilities away from this microphone. Therefore, there will be a long break between this season and the next. 

During this time, I will be participating in guest spots on other shows, mentoring, supporting the development of a brand ambassadorship program within the podcast community, researching and developing episodes for Season 6, and preparing details for the potential return of the podcast festival my team hosted in 2020. Most importantly, I’ll be resting. It might not sound like it, based on what I just shared, but know that I’ll be basking in rest

We aren’t finished yet, k-pop fans. First, our final idol group of Season 5, the men of AlphaBat, right after the drop.

You’re tuned into An Album a Day. Show start.

Hey y’all, in 2012 two young men were set to debut as AlphaBAT under an agency called YUB Entertainment. By the time the group made its debut in 2013, one fully departed the scene while the other, Shin Selin, changed his stage name to Iota -- the ninth letter in the Greek alphabet -- and was joined by eight other young men, all named after letters in the Greek alphabet. You would think that he would be the leader since he was an original member, but that belonged to the member who went by Beta. “Alpha” was reserved for their fandom. 

Allow me to break down the name of AlphaBAT’s members, past and present:

  • Ji Ha Yong, aka Beta
  • Yoo Yeong Jin aka Epsilon, the older brother of Ricky of boy group Teen Top
  • Lee Yeon Woo aka Lambda
  • Lee Yong Hun aka Kappa
  • Kim Jun Su aka Gamma
  • Kim Sang Hun aka Code, whose name isn’t in the Greek alphabet and who almost made his debut with EXO
  • Choi Yeon Soo aka Delta, who almost made his debut with boy group BOYFRIEND
  • Lee San Ha aka Fie (Pi)
  • Seol Jun aka Heta, another almost-EXO-member
  • Shin Se Lin aka Iota
  • Kim Su Yeob aka Jeta (Zeta), and
  • Cho Gyu Min, who went by his first name and left the alphabet alone

This was during the time when double-digit groups were the way to play, trying to compete with the behemoth that is… was? … the original EXO lineup, numerically brought to us by the efforts of Super Junior. We’ll learn more about these groups later down the line.

After leaving YUB Entertainment, AlphaBAT made their home at Simtong Entertainment and technically made their debut on November 12, 2013, with a performance of “AB City” for Arirang: Simply K-pop. I say “technically” because their label at the time selected November 14, 2013, as their official debut date. This is also the day that they performed on M! Countdown for the first time and just what was the reason for rejecting the Arirang moment? Is it because that’s South Korea’s premier English-language television network? Who knows, but things went well, apparently. The positive reception sent them into the release of their first studio album, “Attention,” released February 25, 2014.

I remember the debut single’s video. I was tickled by the refrain of the English alphabet and overwhelmed by the size of the group. I found them somehow by way of another large boy group called Topp Dogg, but that’s a story for another time. What tickles me now is the fact that “Attention” is a studio album but has only four new songs and one instrumental on it. The rest of the album is made of adding their pre-album singles to round it out. If you look at this information solely from good ol’ Wikipedia, you’re bound to be confused. I had a moment before listening where I said to myself, “Every time I believe we’ve definitively sorted out the difference between an EP and a studio album, something like this comes along and destroys my understanding of it all.” 

Nevertheless, the album is a product of its time, staying true to the percussive choices and in-your-face audio aggressiveness that was popular during that time in K-pop. You were either R&B heavy or one 8-count away from potentially getting into a shoving match, reasons be damned. I particularly enjoyed their song “Always,” as it was a mellow transition from the energy of the other songs on the album. The production is smooth and the group members deliver on a relaxing audio experience. 

K-pop fans on a scale of 1 to 5 with 5 being essential listening and 1 not worth mentioning, the A3Day rating for this album is 4.5. Although good, it isn’t a solid standout. The music became background noise despite the way I describe it, and I had to replay some songs a few times to attempt to make them stick. That aside, I’m still interested in what more can come from their short discography. Continue to check out the #A3Day Highlights Playlist on Spotify, as it features tracks from today’s albums and past episode’s artists, and I’ll catch you in the next episode, bye y’all.

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About the Podcast

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An Album a Day
A Review of Every Album in K-pop

About your host

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Ashley Borjon

Ashley is a content creator, educator, and public speaker. As an authority on the Hallyu phenomenon, she has collaborated on projects and events with various domestic and international companies and brands as a music historian. As the host of An Album a Day, she leads an English-language podcast promoting commentary on South Korean pop music.