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 July 2019.
Ailee – Room Shaker
It’s been a while — exactly three long years — since Ailee delivered an album, and even longer since she graced us with a beat-heavy, dance-oriented single, which is why “Room Shaker” feels like such a breath of fresh air. We know Ailee is a vocal powerhouse akin to many western R&B divas — and she’s a Korean-American herself —, but she rarely takes the hip-hop route with such determination and gusto. The production feels a bit like YG’s rap-driven numbers, and it actually feels designed for a band, as it was made to be filled with sections featuring different voices, but this plays to Ailee’s strengths; she’s perfectly capable of wearing many hats at the same time, while keeping the song’s momentum.
Nature – I’m So Pretty
Sometimes all you need is a pure rush of bubblegum pop joy. Rookie-group Nature has consistently developed a style that suits their members’ skills while also giving us a consistent run of sugary, jump-inducing tracks. However, the single’s highlight is the production, particularly, the use of several instruments — pianos, horns, percussions — adorning the track with interesting flourishes that somehow never compromise the beat’s tremendous energy. With singles like this, Nature is surely carving a space of their own in the K-Pop landscape.
Day6 – Time Of Our Life
July 2019 brought us a lot of disappointing, middle-of-the-road comebacks by some of the big names in the industry, but this is definitely not the case with JYP’s leading pop-rock band Day6. What we got was, in fact, quite an impressive return to form from the group. “Time of our Life” is not only a blissfully dynamic, summer-perfect track, but it is also perhaps one of Day6’s crowning achievements in songwriting and production. From the drum-and-bass beat and the wonderful piano intro to the several twists and turns in the pre-chorus and bridge, and all the way to that fantastic hook, this is a well-rounded, impeccably performed lead single that should be undoubtedly considered among the group’s best.
HYO (Hyoyeon) – Badster
One of the features of SM Entertainment I personally enjoy the most is the way they always guarantee a space for new and exciting sounds within K-Pop. HYO‘s new single, “Badster” is a percussive and bustling electronic (or may I say future bass-indebted) comeback which, among the deluge of mediocre and already dated recent singles by leading solo artists and bands of late, we can welcome with open arms. And at the same time, there is also a familiarity that is well received, since HYO’s usual charms and skills rarely disappoint.
ITZY – ICY
The roaring comeback of the month. Rookie-group ITZY gave us an early year breakthrough with “Dalla Dalla”, which also became a blockbuster in Korea and abroad, and now with second lead single “ICY” they solidify their place in the top-tier. ITZY’s music is always busy and bustling, with different segments that, on their own, could make for several musical paths, but they have given their all-over-the-place sound a solid direction and a consistency that is very impressive for such a young project. And you just know this will be huge on the charts.
Dongkiz – BlockBuster
In many ways, sonically and conceptually, this is nothing but a tribute to the movie Ghostbusters — from the intro that lifts directly from the Ray Parker Jr. classic to the music video that shows them in a ghost-hunting mission — but it’s the incredible execution what puts Rookie-group Dongkiz on this list. The relentlessly funky track features just the right elements of the original tune to keep it familiar and exciting, and the new elements — particularly the session bass playing — give us amazing moments all throughout the track; but it’s the vocal energy of the group and their delivery on the hooks that take this to another level. They have earned their spot among the most creative retro-leaning K-Pop tracks of recent years.