Cherry Filter (체리 필터) is a female-fronted South Korean alternative rock band from Seoul, formed in 1997. The members are Youjeen (born Cho Yoo Jin/조유진) on vocals, Jojinbo (born Cheung Woo Jin/정우진) on guitar, Yaenhead (born Yeon Yun Geun/연윤근) on bass, and Sonstar (born Son Sang Hyeok/손상혁) on drums. Cherry Filter plays alternative rock mixed with pop melodies and a dash of rapcore (courtesy of Sonstar). Cherry Filter, sans rapcore, is similar to other female-fronted Korean rock bands such as Rumble Fish and Jaurim, and the German band Die Happy. Cherry Filter has released five full albums, but their second album, Made in Korea? (2002), included the hit “Nangman Goyangi (낭만 고양이/Romantic Cat)” and they have since become one of the most popular Korean rock bands. However, after their first album, HEAD-UP, was released in 2000, lead vocalist Youjeen, who was born in South Korea but raised in Japan, went back to Japan to pursue a solo career. She released five singles and two full albums over two years, before returning to South Korea to continue with Cherry Filter.
Cherry Filter‘s debut, HEAD-UP (2000), is not the band’s best album, which leads me to understand Youjeen‘s need to go to Japan to start a solo career. Well, not really. The album is not bad at all, actually. Youjeen‘s solo work was harder rock, and that style certainly influenced the rest of Cherry Filter‘s albums, all for the better. “Five” is a catchy pop/rocker on the debut, while “Eondeoumeon (언더우먼)” and “just…ok!” are pretty awesome power ballads. Every Cherry Filter album, in fact, offers, at least, one or two cool power ballads. Also, “Smile Jack” is funky rapcore, and “Heavy Metal Kwongjwi (헤비메탈 콩쥐)” is a cool low-fi surfy punker. No official videos.
Made In Korea? (2002) is an excellent album, for sure, but the hit single, “Nangman Goyangi (낭만 고양이)” is my least favorite track. “Jump (점프)” or “Nareul Wae (나를 왜)” would have been my choice for a single, and neither is even the best track. “Cherry Filter”, on the other hand, is an awesome radio-friendly alternative rocker, despite suffering from a silly kid chorus. The pleasantly melodic “Naeanui Pyeheoe Daha (내안의 폐허에 닿아), which translates as “Touching the Ruins in My Heart”, is an excellent ballad, as are the insanely hooky “Lalala (랄랄라)”, the acoustic “Galmaegi Jonathan (갈매기 조나단)” and “Yesterday” (which was also recorded by Youjeen solo). “Independent You”, in English, is another cool track with Youjeen‘s soft girl-rap. “Naegero Wa (내게로 와)”, which recalls influential Japanese band Dragon Ash, is Cherry Filter‘s best rapcore track, while “Lucky Shadows”, featuring a rap duel between Youjeen and Sonstar, is a close second. This album was Cherry Filter‘s big breakthrough, and the momentum gained from it has not diminished ever since.
Watch the video for “Nangman Goyangi (낭만 고양이)” here:
The Third Eye (2003) is similar to Made in Korea? with the same balance of hooky alternative rock, pop/rock, ballads and rapcore. The opening track “DIVE” is a bouncy Go-Go’s-ish rocker, and “Orinalda (오리날다/The Duck Flies)” is a catchy pop/rocker (but is also included in an edgier rock version). The pop/rock version of the latter was also a hit. Flying ducks, romantic cats, whatever! “Pureun Kkot Huin Nabi (푸른 꽃 흰 나비)” and “SNOW MAN” are the always good power ballads, while “Kkumkkuneun Sailor (꿈꾸는 Sailor)” is an excellent straight up pop ballad. “Digital Shockwave” is a rapcore duet in which Youjeen sounds pretty angry, and “No Peace, Yes War?” is another groovy Dragon Ash-esque rapcore track.
On Peace N’ Rock N’ Roll (2006), Cherry Filter deliver an edgier rock sound overall. The first two tracks, “Revolution A.D.” and “Peace N’ Rock N’ Roll” are proof of this, while “Poison Apple” and “Extra Chuldonggi (엑스트라 출동기)” offer harder alternative rock. But, “Happy Day”, “Melody” and “Kkeutnaji Anhneun Iyagi (끝나지 않는 이야기)” are excellent pop/rockers, while “I stay here…”, “Yuri (유리)” and “Teum (틈[間])” are some of the best power ballads this band has ever recorded. Peace N’ Rock N’ Roll is my favorite of all of Cherry Filter‘s releases.
Watch the videos for “Orinalda (오리날다)” and “Happy Day” here:
Cherry Filter‘s fifth album, Rewind (2007), is a cover album. However, I’m not familiar with the original versions of most of the songs covered. But, the band self-covers “Neuggyeobwa (느껴봐/Feel It)”, which was originally recorded by Cherry Filter for a 2003 Coca Cola commercial, and covers “FAKE”, which was originally recorded by Youjeen in Japan. Two songs, “Seom Jim Agi (섬 집 아기)” and “Peulandaseui Kye (플란다스의 개)”, might be originals, but I’m not sure. The former is a cool U2-esque mid-tempo ballad, while the latter is an awesome Rage Against the Machine-ish rapcore rocker. Then, there’s a cover of Bette Midler‘s “The Wind Beneath My Wings”! Their version begins like a pop song, throws in a little rapcore, then kicks out a punky chorus. Kinda cool.
On Rocksteric (2009), Cherry Filter‘s most recent album, the band returns to the formula set by Made in Korea? with plenty of catchy pop/rockers like “Orange Road”, “Pianissimo (피아니시모)”, “Rockin’ Star” and “Ilyo-il Ohu 4Shi (일요일 오후 4시)”, and power ballads like “Right Here” and “From. Paradise”. However, the album is not without some edgier rockers, too, like “Imuljil (異物質 (이물질)”, “Kama-Mara” and “Nareul Samkimyeo (나를 삼키며)”.
Watch the videos for “Feel It (느껴봐)” and “Pianissimo (피아니시모)” here:
2000.04.14 – Volume 1: HEAD-UP [Album]
2002.08.13 – Volume 2: Made in Korea? [Album]
2003.09.03 – Volume 3: The Third Eye [Album]
2006.08.22 – Volume 4: Peace N’ Rock N’ Roll [Album]
2007.09.17 – Rewind (cover album) [Album]
2008.07.23 – “Rolling Heart” [Digital Single]
2008.08.04 – “Orange Road” [Single]
2009.08.27 – Volume 5: Rocksteric [Album]
2010.01.12 – “Mrs. Town OST Part.2 (미세스타운 – 남편이 죽었다)” [Digital Single]
2010.07.14 – “WM7” [Digital Single]