The year 2011 in K-pop was a very uncertain time for K-pop as far as I’m concerned. I didn’t truly get involved in the genre until the following year; however, in the earliest days of my discovery I’d become a student of this crazy world. My favorite class was the class of The Rising Gods of the East. If you, like me, followed the ups and downs of the former quintet, you’ll understand why 2011 was just … difficult.

By then the two factions were well established. The men of JYJ were establishing themselves both in and outside of their group activities. While the remaining members of DBSK (now more prominently using their Chinese alternative name, TVXQ!) were attempting to carry on. With the messiness and uncertainty of the split, both groups began to truly diverge from each other musically — JYJ leaning more toward adult contemporary and the international market, while TVXQ! was determined to keep the name and signature sound afloat. There were false starts, hits, misses. But ultimately both groups released some truly magical stuff.

Case in point, the grown ‘n’ sexy stripper anthem, “Before U Go.”

I’ll be honest, at first I was skeptical to even listen to the track. Even those staunchly DB5K fans forever (ride-or-die Cassiopeia like myself) had picked their preferred unit. Mine was JYJ, and there was a lot loaded into the reasons why. First and foremost among these, however, was the music. Music is what led me to them. Music is what made me stay. So hearing tracks like “Maximum,” which was very clearly originally meant for five voices, then clips from a unit whose vocal range had dropped significantly (60 percent of their core vocal makeup was gone) left me a bit hurt, to be perfectly honest. There was a time when I didn’t know if I was ever going to be able to accept TVXQ! as they are now. Then “Before U Go” happened, and everything that made me fall in love with the group when it was five crashed over me so hard it took my breath away.

Everything about this song just … screams! Screams sexy. Screams “grown up.” SCREAMS TO ME AT THE TOP OF ITS LUNGS! The harmonies are large. The music is sexy as all get out. The chemistry between Yunho and Changmin, who had been forced to rely on each other, just as heavily as Jaejoong, Yoochun and Junsu had, is impeccable. This … this is the TVXQ! that I’d given my entire soul to!

The video’s overdramatic and ridiculous, with a plot that’s more like IRIS than the bedroom jam the song proclaims itself to be. Over-the-top though it may be, at the time it was enough to keep me invested. It wasn’t until I actually watched the dance version and subsequent performances that the full weight of the song actually hit me. This was honestly and truthfully a banger from top to bottom. The Rising Gods were rising again, and in that moment I remembered who I was — Cassiopeia until the end. I bleed pearl red and will never lose my love for the group that put me on this crazy path!

And just because you need to see all that body doing all manner of illegal things, I give you the performance version. (Not to be mean, but you can disregard the background dancers. Your focus needs to be Yunho doing … things with his body. That is all.)

(YouTube [1][2].)

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