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 August 2019.
Seventeen – Hit
It is always a bit risky to just claim a Hit on reputation alone — yes, Seventeen are a big name in pop, but to claim a hit by birthright has been a mistake many bigger artists have made — but the song itself actually pulls it off. “Hit” is perhaps Seventeen’s most impressive comeback single in years, with a super busy production, taking elements from several trends in electronic music (there are even timbales in the pre–chorus), and the forceful performance by the group drive this tune to amazing heights. Feels good when such a major band shows why they’re in that place.
Pink Fantasy – Fantasy
It really took a while for us to catch up to how musically talented this young girl-group is, especially because, once we discovered it, some of us couldn’t look past the gimmick — one of their member’s faces in obscured by a creepy bunny mask and it will likely forever be that way. The “mystery performer” thing is interesting in its own right, however strange, but it’s the way they present their music that feels all the more refreshing. “Fantasy” can be both gloomy and dynamic, melodramatic and genuinely immediate, straightforward and still carrying an unsettling underlying vibe. The hooks are impeccably crisp, but its the verses in which you can see how nuanced and multi-dimensional their performance can be; a rare thing for a group this young.
The Rose – Red
One of the most brilliant pop-rock bands in Korea is back with a single that, for lack of better terms, aims at the sort of ultimate synth-laden show-stopping late-summer anthem that bands like Coldplay are quite known for (at least in recent years). Without a doubt, The Rose are notable for their engaging performance, and the wispy and impassioned voice of Woosung, but “Red” stands out mainly because of its implacable energy. Such a rush opens up a world of possibilities for The Rose to take the forefront of Korean stadium rock.
Weki Meki – Tiki-Taka (99%)
K-pop will never be short of fun, dynamic disco stompers with big hooks and vibrant arrangements — many girl-groups made a career entirely out of that — but it’s still surprising to find one that stands out. Weki Meki is still a young group, and they tried their hand at summer stardom with “Tiki-Taka (99%)”, a track that does not stray far from anything in this kind of format, but here, absolutely everything works. The execution and production are exquisite, taking complete advantage of the summer disco formula’s natural sweetness, and yes, it contains arguably one of the most clever (and memorable) hooks of the year. It doesn’t resort to gimmicks or catchphrases, it’s just a slice of wonderful pop.
Everglow – Adios
There’s something wonderfully weird about this — a shuffle groove-led song with pre-choruses in full 4/4, a catchy, hushed refrain right before the hook, and then a massive, stadium-filling chorus driven by one of the most memorable synth riffs of the year so far. Everglow surprised the entire K-pop universe earlier this year with “Bon Bon Chocolat” (a SOTY contender in my book), but a follow-up as solid as this one creates very exciting expectations for the future.
IZ – Final Kiss
It’s been an interesting year for the rock side of the K-pop spectrum; several acts have come up with both delightful power ballads and hard-hitting. high-octane rollers. What makes IZ and “Final Kiss” special is the musicianship, particularly by the lead guitar. The creative main riffs and arrangements, the way the playing enhances the energetic hook, and the staggering solo in the bridge make for a well-rounded single that demands your attention. It is also great from the song-writing standpoint — it sounds like an early 80’s arena rock anthem in many aspects, and how this style fuses with modern K-pop feels quite satisfying.