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 November 2019.
GOT7 – You Calling My Name
It’s no secret that Swedish popstar Benjamin Ingrosso is one of the slickest, most elegant performers and songwriters in the global pop world, and his always is always a great reference for fun, pulsating and impeccably arranged track; in that sense, it was only natural that he would eventually team up with a group like GOT7 to create such a delightful tune. “You Calling My Name”, with its effective use of dynamics, its organic, percussive flow, and its haunting synths is a welcome return to form for a band that was struggling to find their place in a fast-changing musical panorama.
Mamamoo – Hip
The success of Queendom has produced the markings of a new golden era for Mamamoo. Known for being the most vocally advanced girl-group in the business, and some of the most charismatic performers in their country — especially Hwasa, who’s had an impressively fruitful 2019 —, they return with “Hip”, a tune that showcases their effortless coolness and their ability to sell a track on sheer playfulness. But the real anchor in the proceedings is Moonbyul, whose trademark flow keeps things interesting the entire runtime. “Hip” feels like a victory lap and a well-deserved one at that.
IU – Above The Time
If there’s someone in K-Pop we can easily can an auteur, that is IU; her idiosyncratic style and personality shine through her entire catalog, and even when she tries different musical colors and textures, it still sounds unequivocally hers. And most importantly, she really knows how to create interesting ballads. “Above The Time” is kind of a return to the lush arrangements and the theatricality of her classic, early ’10s era, and right when you get comfortable around the slow tempo, she subverts our expectations and gives us a wonderful, fiddle-led dance break, that amps up the histrionics to operatic levels, leading up to a climax of epic proportions.
AOA – Come See Me
Another act that hugely benefitted from the exposure in Queendom was AOA, a group known by its infectious sense of humor and the attitude express in their most iconic songs, especially those that walk on the sultry side. But the big surprise about their comeback single “Come See Me” is the incredibly detailed, rhythmically fascinating production. The Western-style guitar, combined with the multi-layered Eurodance beats are perfectly paired by their swirling verses and a welcome two-part hook instead of a beat drop. It’s just great to see them back at the peak of their powers.
Cosmic Girls (WJSN) – As You Wish
WJSN is a group remarkably committed to their trademark sound, but they somehow have found the way of creating a varied, intriguing, and consistent singles chronology. With “As You Wish”, they have now switched producers, and while there is now a bigger focus on more prominent percussions, EDM flourishes, and more direct melodies, they retain that “cosmic” aspect we all know and love. They have successfully worked every single variation to their advantage, and even when going of their way, the WJSN vibe still yields satisfying results.
TXT – Angel Or Devil
November is a month that desperately needs more bouncy, bopping, fun tracks; fortunately, young group TXT has the goofy charm and the contagious coolness to excel in creating that kind of song. “Angel Or Devil” takes a cheeky concept and the production underlines the boys’ boisterous delivery. It might sound overwhelming for some, but their intensity has the hooks to back it all up.
Kang Daniel – Touchin’
You can say that Kang Daniel is merely hopping on Western trends and that his entire appeal resides in the high-end production values at work in his tracks, but in “Touchin'”, he finally showcases more of his unique personality and gives us a strong projection for a bright future. The late-night funk stylings in the song have prompted critic to consider him some kind of Korea’s answer to Charlie Puth, but the real reference point should be Benjamin Ingrosso — You’ll read way more about him in the following years, mark my words — as the contrast between the punchy xylophone synths with the thick bass lines and the wrapping textures is clearly reminiscent of the Swede’s finest numbers.