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 take a look at the finest releases of April 2019.
IZ*ONE – Violeta
April started with quite a pleasant surprise. You see, a problem we’re beginning to find with post-Produce 101 projects is that they rarely develop the sonic consistency or uniqueness to make for something truly special; however, IZ*ONE’s latest single “Violeta” does not only offer its own flavor to an already familiar but interesting sound, it also suggests a certain turn into a direction that really promises much. The aggresive-yet-luminous synth work is reminiscent of WJSN (Cosmic Girls) or even Lovelyz, especially on the big crescendo in the last third of the track, but the energy and the way everything leads up to the beat drop corresponds to the trend followed by tougher-sounding groups. “La Vie en Rose” was good, but “Violeta” shows a band that’s finally coming to its own.
BTS – Boy With Luv (ft. Halsey)
If we’re talking about surprises, maybe the nicest one this month was to find that BTS, the greatest and biggest pop act in the world, has done the unimaginable: A cross-cultural, cross-country collaboration with a Western superstar that not only does not suck, but brings a bit of new life to the catalogue of both artists. It’s always concerning when a K-Pop artist goes West, the risk of losing some of Korean Pop’s trademark approach is always there, but “Boy With Luv” finds BTS and Halsey feeling very comfortable, melding perfectly in a track that sort of goes in the same direction of the Bangtan Boys’ post-2017 work, but the sunny synths and the disco touches prevent it from sounding boring. They seem to have been taking cues from fellow BigHit group TXT. It serves them well.
Target – Beautiful
If there’s a K-Pop production team that we can safely say has created an entire universe from a specific aural identity that permeates their whole catalogue, that is Sweetune. You just know what a Sweetune track is by just hearing it. And yes, they’re not only the best at what they do, but you can also feel their absence from the scene, and the lack of Sweetune in 2019 was kind of disturbing. Fortunately, they’re back and stronger than ever, and “Beautiful” is exactly that. Target rides the production with ease and gracefully, as the producers’ crisp synths and captvating piano take the song to extraordinary heights. Sweetune are the kings of pretty. The kings of beautiful.
Twice – Fancy
“Fancy”, as the title and music video suggests, is Twice taking a turn for the sophisticate, yet retaining the sparkling energy and the conceptual clarity that have made them one of the biggest K-Pop acts around. As usual with production team Black Eyed Pilseung, responsible for this single, there’s a disco vibe punctuated by impressive session work, razor-sharp hooks and short bursts of bustling trap beats, and this sound makes things interesting for Twice, a group that at times risks repeating itself. “Fancy” heralds a more mature future for the massive girl-group; let’s just hope it secures a new phase of their Imperial run.
The Boyz – Bloom Bloom
At first listen, one can easily get astounded at the punchiness of this track, especially considering the volume and power of the production, but even after the initial shock, you still get an example of solid songwriting and a vocal performance that matches the instrumental’s intensity bit by bit, and despite the group’s hefty personnel, never feels overcharged with voices. “Bloom Bloom” contains another special feature: It’s an electro house track that completely ditches the trend set by other producers and does not rely on the 90’s elements, instead taking a completely modern approach. That in itself is noteworthy.