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 September 2019.
CLC – Devil
CLC is one of those multi-faceted groups that are perfectly able to shine in all song forms and visual concept, but in the last couple years, they had opted for an attitude-laced, hip-hop-heavy approach, acting as the heirs to CUBE Entertainment legend 4Minute. Luckily, they have flipped the script once again, now exploring some retro sweetness, complete with discreet horn arrangements and some refreshing guitars. The trap beats and raps are still there, but they have shown some needed range. The talent is undeniable.
FTISLAND – Quit
Is there such a thing as a “return to the roots” for idol groups, especially for such a unique one like FTISLAND? Hard to decide, but their newest single, the grandiose power ballad “Quit” sees them recovering some of that early-career pop magic, after a 2015-16 in which they went full hard rock (with enormous success). This time, leader Jonghoon is gone, so it’s up to Hongki to bring some of those impressive pipes in a power-ballad with a true emphasis on power. The song is almost like a golden-era Jim Steinman belter, and the symphonic edge takes it all the way in that final hook key change. What a way to go big.
Dreamcatcher – Deja Vu
What I love about Dreamcatcher is their ability to keep finding variations on their trademark formula over and over again. They had really found a way to sound like good-old Dreamcatcher without ever coming off as boring. This time, “Deja Vu” takes the goth piano song templete, adds a few trip-hop beats, drags for two pre-choruses, and then it goes all Nightwish on us, operatic backing vocals included. The girls mastered the last-chorus-key-change trick as well, only now they even return to original key in the last half. All the systems are balanced, and all the experiments are working.
Twice – Feel Special
Look, we keep falling for mammoth mega stars TWICE simply because they deliver. “Feel Special” offers a great “goodbye to summer” vibe, and the upbeat, disco beats are put to great use with an interesting songwriting structure; I’m not sure if two-part pre-choruses are becoming kind of a trend in K-Pop right now, but the accumulated expectation only works if there’s a good hook lke this one in the other side, The song is comfortable, dynamic, and especially, satisfying.
AKMU (Akdong Musician) – How Can I Love The Heartbreak, You’re The One I Love
First of all: Wow, What a title. We all know and feel that September is a blue month, vacations and school breaks are gone, our bodies return to the grind and of course, the memories kick in. That mood is perfectly captured here: We know the impressive songwriting and production chops of this sibling duo, and this subdued piano-based ballad contains just enough sonic framework, just enough context, for their incredible vocal delivery to captivate us with feeling. It’s a major victory for restraint.