[NEW RELEASES]Producers Cash in on Old-Time Favorites

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[NEW RELEASES]Producers Cash in on Old-Time Favorites

Nobody expected the compilation album "Yeon-ga" ("Love Songs") to be a great success. But the four-CD package of 68 previously released Korean popular songs turned out to be a smash hit, selling 1.3 million sets nationwide to date.

The producers of this smash hit album avowed that Lee Mi-yeon, the hotshot actress who compiled the collection, spared no pains in finding her favorite tunes.

Its success has, predictably, seen other producers scrambling to get on the bandwagon. This week, two strangely similar compilation albums have been released: "Aesu" ("Pathos") and "Love."

The producers of "Aesu" claim the collection was chosen by Lee Young-ae, another popular Korean actress. "Love" bears the endorsement of yet more actor celebrities, Kim Seok-hoon and Jang Jin-young.

"Aesu" ("Pathos") by Various Artists

Released in 6 CDs, "Pathos" presents not only 41 Korean popular songs sung by various artists, but nine remixes of songs from overseas. The most attractive part of this compilation is its 17,900 won ($13) bargain basement price tag.

The problem is, a compilation is usually bound together by a theme, some kind of internal logic, and in this case, there is none.

The claim that Lee Young-ae picked the 51 songs herself does not guarantee their quality. It's unlikely that the busiest actress in town had the time to mull over so many songs anyway.

Don't write off the collection completely though. If you want to get to know some of Korea's top pops, give it a listen. "Wound That Is Deeper Than Love" by Yim Jae-beom and Park Jeong-hyun and "Into the Memory" by Lee Eun-mi are recommended.

"Love" by Various Artists

The producers of "Love" tried hard to differentiate their new release from their two competitor compilations. Theirs includes 75 Korean popular songs on five CDs, also at a reasonable price of 16,000 won.

They maintain that they have dusted off songs that were once smash hits but have now been forgotten. They also claim to be resurrecting some timeless contributions from musicians currently out of favor. The album also contains a few recent hits, such as "Lie" by Park Hwayobi. Again, the collection lacks coherence and one has to assume that the producers are trying to squeeze a few more pennies out of some well-worn melodies.

Producers like compilation albums. They can earn more money, more easily than taking a risk on a new album by an unknown. They justify their practice by arguing value for money - old classics at rock-bottom prices.

But with so little to differentiate these three collections, you may well find you end up choosing on the basis of which actress is on the cover or which offers the biggest bonus celebrity poster.

For those unfamiliar with Korean tunes, you may want to get a taste with one of these. Others may be seduced by the promise of 50 or even 70 songs for the price of a single CD.

But, as we all know, quality is better than quantity; why not pick up something new?

by Chun Su-jin

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