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. Today, we look at the finest releases from the month of April.
EXID – Lady
EXID is an incredible example of the ever-expanding, reliably adventurous mentality that we love so much about K-Pop acts. Above all, the group has been progressively improving their batting average when it comes to singles, a product of their relationship with the production greatness of Shinsadong Tiger. For their latest single “Lady,” they take a retro approach, going full throttle with elements of early ’90s new jack swing — just listen to those horns — but also winking at their own past. After all, they originally burst onto the scene with a bubbly, fun, funk-flavored sound.
The Boyz – Giddy Up
It’s exhilarating when you find a track that contains such savage session musician playing — the killer funk guitar, the basslines, the colorful synth arrangements — and the vocals match that intensity. Every member gets to shine, and the interplay feels natural, down to the rap-driven bridge and the punchy hooks. Their ability to glide between the minor and major modes of their chord progressions reminds us of the legendary SHINee, but the wide-eyed euphoria is completely their own.
Primary + Anda – Zeppelin
If there’s a producer in K-Pop, particularly in its hip-hop/R&B-oriented regions, which we can call a true genius, that’s PRIMARY. His extraordinary penchant for creating beats that can convey complex emotions, and his talent for extracting the best qualities out of his collaborators, make him one of the absolute leaders of the scene. For “Zeppelin” he recruits Anda, whose sincere tone and reverb-heavy vocal performance add to the nostalgic, elegant nature of the instrumental, in a way that’s never heavy-handed or melodramatic. The whole thing is just delightful.
The Rose – Baby
Idol band The Rose’s new single “Baby” is undeniably one of the breakthrough tracks of 2018. Opting for a more alternative/indie production procedure, the song’s remarkable melodic punch is gradually adorned by ethereal electronics, establishing a fascinating dynamic with the anchoring piano, the heavy percussions and the impassioned voices of Woosung and Dojoon. And there’s still a lot of space for some gorgeous guitar sounds and an epic climax. It’s the year’s first pop-rock masterpiece.
Lovelyz – That Day
In the words of Italian actor Roberto Benigni, “Exuberance is beauty”, and that’s exactly the way the new Lovelyz single should be summed up. Look, I’m already a big fan of producers Sweetune. Some of their most iconic tracks — especially for my personal favorite boy band, INFINITE — are achievements in compositional complexity that also manage to contain pretty magnificent pop hooks. For “That Day,” Woolim Entertainment recruits them to create the ideal early summer jam, a song with such lush combinations of synth and string arrangement, a solid-yet-vibrant melodic foundation, and some of the most lavishly multi-layered vocal production I’ve heard in a while. And man, what a beautiful, wistful, soaring chorus.
Yoonmirae – Kawi Bawi Bo
As Tamar Herman of Billboard has recently pointed out, April was a triumphant month for solo female Korean artists, both by current and former members of established girl groups and veteran solo acts. Yoonmirae, perhaps Korean rap’s greatest exponent ever, has just released a remarkable anthem of female empowerment, with a strong focus on the values of solidarity, harmony, and peace. Her combination of energetic singing hooks and that fierce, unmatched flow make the themes in her lyrics all the more powerful.
Hyolyn feat. Gray – Dally
Hyolyn was, by far, my favorite member of recently-disbanded girl group SISTAR. Since her early days in the band, she showcased her impressive talents as both a singer and a dancer, which is why it feels so right to have her return with a track and a concept that focuses entirely on her. Yes, there’s a verse by Gray, whose low-toned voice fits the dark, trendy hip-hop instrumental like a glove, but don’t get it twisted. This is Hyolyn’s show. Her airy tone and her strong sense of melodicism are the stars in “Dally,” and those high notes at the end round up the track perfectly. And of course, her sensual dance moves in the music video have just left us breathless.