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 May 2019.
Oh My Girl – The Fifth Season (SSFWL)
Oh My Girl are the undisputed queens of fantasy concepts in K-Pop; since their 2015 debut, they’ve created masterful performances, intricate choreographies, and haunting tracks. “The Fifth Season” provides a window into their signature sound and feels like a mash-up of the different elements they tried in their 2018 work, but this time, they have focused more on dynamics than atmosphere. The somewhat subdued verses build up to a stellar chorus, in which they display the rhythmic qualities of their voices, but they keep building from that, culminating in a smashing, percussive post-chorus refrain. The group continues to evolve, and at the same time, is one of the few girl-groups that remain faithful to the sonic universe they inhabit.
ONEWE – Reminisce About All
There’s a stereotype in K-Pop that mid-tempo of slow songs based around organic instrumentation are more suited to become part of K-Drama soundtracks than proper singles, which makes ONEWE‘s debut “Reminisce About All” all the more daring. Band concepts in K-Pop abound, but rarely get the same level of attention as vocal groups; however, this song is absolutely wonderful. First, Yonghoon’s vocal delivery is captivating, oozing charisma in every note, and Dongmyeong also gets to shine bright in piano and as a second voice. The piano/voice duo is accented by cello arrangements, and the rest of the band makes a gradual appearance for a big, dramatic climax. It’s the year’s strongest ballad so far.
Ladies’ Code – Feedback
“Feedback” is a very nice mixture of old and new, not only because it’s a modern take on a certain disco-funk-pop sound we commonly associate with the late ’70s, but also because it represents a marriage of Ladies’ Code‘s pre-2016 and post-2016 sounds. This time, it’s all about the performance and their sassy, determined vocal delivery, which offer something exciting to the track’s vampy, jazzy beat. It’s been a while, but we’re really glad to have them back.
A.C.E – Under Cover
A while ago, there was a boy-group named B.A.P, considered one of the most accomplished and popular bands in Korea for a period of time where huge changes were happening. They left an indelible mark on K-Pop, but there was nothing that can come close to their signature sound, until now. A.C.E‘s “Under Cover” is a sort of 2019 update to the mix that made B.A.P great — hard-hitting hip-hop beats, fierce raps, a synth-bass/robot-sound dynamic, and crunchy guitars to enhance the hooks — for a single that is as consistent as it is satisfying.
Lovelyz – Beautiful Days
Come on, it’s a track by Lovelyz called “Beautiful Days”; you definitely know what to expect, but that is exactly of this girl-group greatest strengths. Lovelyz’ extraordinary commitment to their sound is reflected in this song, which actually feels like a callback to the time of their debut, with boisterous synths, lush string arrangements, and a dream-like quality all over the track. Something we’ve always found magnificent is their style of composition, in which they take the chorus to a different key than the verses, lifting the song to great heights; Lovelyz is one of the few groups that can execute this perfectly.
NCT 127 – Superhuman
The inarguable Single of the Month of May comes courtesy of one of those collaborations we didn’t know we needed: NCT 127, one of the most brilliant incarnations of the NCT extended universe, and producers 1Take & TAK, whose electro-heavy, future-funk-fueled sound gave Wanna One, Lovelyz, and Golden Child some of their strongest tracks. “Superhuman” is simply massive, with engaging verses, a robot-disco beast of a beat and a hook where the impressive layering of the boys’ voices provide the track with even more grandeur. It’s a K-Pop masterpiece, and hopefully, the start of a new, exciting trend.