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 look at the finest releases from the month of October
iKON – Goodbye Road
The career of young group iKON has been defined by their incredible talent and promising performances, but also by the constant feeling of unfulfilled potential. Since 2015’s “Rhythm Ta”, their songs contain ingredients that hint at more interesting directions, but they’ve rarely got quite there when it comes to the end result. Nevertheless, their prolific 2018 run has their efforts more focused onto the singing, rather than the rapping aspect, and it definitely pays off; this month’s “Goodbye Road” revolves entirely around their melodies and the laidback but solid beat anchors the dynamic between the string arrangements and their contrasting voices wonderfully. It’s a hip-hop power ballad done right.
fromis_9 – Love Bomb
One common, yet very effective template in K-Pop today is that of “cutesy aegyo girl-group cooing on top of boisterous, super complex track with exuberant strings and lots more going on at the same time”. We see some of those every month, but that precisely makes it so hard for any of them to stand out. Fortunately, groups like fromis_9 manage to create some control amidst all that chaos, offering a tune that is frenetic and bright, but without coming off as overcooked, overpowering, or simply annoying.
April – Oh! My Mistake
April is one of those groups that, no matter what approach they take on every new single, their consistency makes them very reliable. They’ve taken on a wide array of themes and elements, but they’re best at their weirdest, as exemplified by the rhythmic deviations and structural eccentricities of singles like “Oh! My Mistake”. The production is laced with 80’s nostalgia, but this is no retro act; whether it’s in the shifts in the tonal intention of the pre-chorus, the quirky second verse or the totally bonkers bridge, April are following their muse and reaping the rewards in the process.
SOYA – Artist
SOYA‘s “Artist” is such a standout track not only on the strength of their mammoth hook, or the incredible session musician playing throughout, or even the stomping disco beat but on how steadily and gradually it grows. Starting with a muted acoustic guitar, the track swiftly moves into funk territory, then to a magnificent, diva-belting chorus, and then into a blistering solo, without losing its cool or its edge. Few songs this year contain such a revealing structure (and even fewer songs can claim to be a banger from start to finish), and no matter where you are, this jam will eventually catch you.
Golden Child – Genie
Pure, blissful, technicolor synth-driven pop is a formula that we rarely associate with boy groups these days — those often take a darker, more hip-hop oriented sound, or cover trends like tropical house or straight up trap — so it’s incredibly refreshing when an up-and-coming group fully embraces this bright and shiny sonic route. Naturally, as part of Woollim Entertainment, the Infinite comparisons are obvious, but Golden Child are slowly-but-surely starting to come into their own, carving their space in the label’s — and K-Pop’s — universe. The potential is huge.