South Korea has one of the fastest-growing and most sonically exciting Pop scenes in the world, so we have decided to bring you “The K-Pop Bulletin”, a column highlighting some of the hottest K-Pop singles of every month. This time we take a look at the best releases of February.
The K-Pop scene is so vast and so diverse these days that, even when a much bigger national event, such as the Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympics, was taking place during the entire month of February, both the major idol entertainment companies and the Indie artists were consistently releasing comeback singles, and we got to hear some really interesting full-length albums as well. Giants like SM Entertainment and JYP brought forward their most successful young projects, NCT and Twice respectively, and the latter is also embarking in a large-scale promotional effort for the Japanese market. Also, the hip-hop and R&B scenes are starting to shape the year’s vibe and sound, and after a very slow month of January, the hot beats are finally coming.
Here are our favorite singles of the month:
Seventeen – Thanks
Seventeen is one of those boy-bands that have found themselves right on the edge of top-tier status for a while now, but they just haven’t got quite there, despite having a very consistent track record. However, the numerous group has just released their strongest single to date; “Thanks” continues on the sonic path imposed by last year’s EDM-pop smash “Don’t Wanna Cry”, only this time, the hooks and drops are more impactful, the vocal performances contain a wider tonal and emotional range and the production feels more dynamic. Those synths are crazy.
Weki Meki – La La La
This is the kind of stomping, bratty, youthful track we wanted from a group like Weki Meki, an act that had been a sort of unfulfilled promise until now — and most specifically, an act whose singles pale in comparison to their b-sides and deep cuts. “La La La” brings nothing new, we’ve heard these siren sounds and brass attacks before, but it does an effective job at establishing the group’s strengths, especially their capacity for creating the catchiest rhythmic patterns. Besides, that funky guitar is inescapable.
Hash Swan – Wang Like Alexander (Feat. GRAY)
Show Me The Money alum Hash Swan is one of the most interesting rappers to recently come out of the Korean rap scene; his enormous flow, the adventurous nature of his productions and his distinct tone make him quite a force to be reckoned with. He’s back with a new EP, Alexandrite, and the new single “Wang Like Alexander”, a track that fuses organic instrumentation, smooth R&B beats, trap drums, and a sense of rhythm that feels almost like a reggaetón bounce. Artists like Hash Swan are proof that the hip-hop scene in South Korea is still doing quite well, and it will keep surprising us.
NCT U – Boss
NCT, with its rotating cast of sub-units and side projects, is the most impeccably produced group in SM Entertainment‘s new generation of talent. This pop mega-construction is as ambitious as it is unique, and NCT U — the unit that takes a more free-spirited, experimental role — has just released a rumbling powerhouse of a track. “Boss”, with its mind-shattering synth-bass lead, the BIGBANG-indebted bounce, and a well-executed balance of melody and flow (just hear those 90’s R&B vibes in the hook), is their strongest lead single to date. One of the year’s first proper highlights.
Kim Sung Kyu – True Love
While the lush choreographies, gritty rap bangers, and pumping EDM numbers take most of our attention, every once in a while there comes a ballad so well composed it’s impossible to resist. “True Love” is the new single by Infinite‘s Kim Sung Kyu, one of the most expressive voices in K-Pop, and it’s written by Nell‘s Kim Jongwan. This pairing is quite the match made in heaven, as the songwriting and production of this track fit absolutely every nuance, every inflection in Sung Kyu’s performance. The transitions from verse to chorus run smoothly, and they hit you with a certain warmth. “True Love” is the comfort of the familiar made into a song, and the better for that.