WJSN’s “Dreams Come True” Music Video & Song Review

WJSN/Cosmic Girls had a pretty disappointing 2017. After releasing the best song of their short careers “Secret” along with an otherworldly concept to match their name, they turned to something more simple; “I Wish” had elements of the girl group’s concept in the music video but none in the music, and “Happy” was a complete 180 turn. Sticking to concepts isn’t something that groups should always do, and it is in fact often discouraged. But WJSN’s was perfectly pitched with “Secret.” So it’s no surprise then that they see a return to that style with their new single “Dreams Come True,” a strong return to form.


Even though it comes months later, “Dreams Come True” feels like a direct sequel to “Secret.” This time helmed by producers Full8loom, WJSN bring their unique vocal flavour to a mix of europop synths and orchestral pop. Full8loom do a good job of replicating e.one’s style on “Secret,” combining electronics and an orchestra to create WJSN’s cosmic sound. The synths give it the classic sci-fi feeling while the orchestral elements sends it into the stratosphere.

It is clearly not a rehash though. “Secret” was decisive, an almost complete song right from the beginning. “Dreams Come True” takes more time to reveal itself. “Secret” would swap between its synths and strings within a section whereas “Dreams Come True” devotes whole sections to a particular sound, slowly adding elements to prepare for the climax. “Secret” was a song about hidden feelings, the anxiety of simultaneously falling for someone and barely knowing who they are while “Dreams Come True” is about bridging that gap, a song about gradually building the courage to give yourself to someone.

As the music begins its ascent, it is ambiguous. The girls are tasked with being the major deviations at the front of the song. WJSN have a lot of vocalists that have similar sounding voices but with noticeably different timbres when lined up. In the first verse it moves from Seola’s divinely clean voice, to then a quartet of Eunseo, Mei Qi, Bona, and Xuan Yi. Eunseo goes against the grain type by pitching high, accentuating her slightly nasally voice which meshes well with Mei Qi’s sensual whisper. Bona is more conventional and sets up the true alien of WJSN, Xuan Yi and her tiny and distinct, almost vacant voice. The sense of nervousness is clear with each one’s delivery: Eunseo complains that, “When we pass by we seem like strangers,” and Mei Qi replies, “And I hate thinking about it.”


Dawon takes advantage of the diminutive Xuan Yi to bring the power and lift the song as only she can. She represents the bubbling confidence of WJSN as she bellows, “It’ll become a miracle, It’ll pull us together, It’ll make our dreams come true so…” This line has its own weird internal rhythm. Dawon is fitting as much as she can into the bar, ignoring usual resting spots. Whether or not she is ready to believe what she’s saying, she knows she doesn’t have a choice but to trust it.

From there the chorus hits,at first with a thud and then grows as it goes on. It’s given time to breathe and slowly differentiate itself from the verse, andit finally ends with the opening signature synth which even Cheng Xiao can ride with ease into outer space.

Exy’s rap represents the biggest vocal shift of the song and the music follows her. Holding on to the electro tone of the chorus, it shifts into dubstep as Exy slows things down and opens with the ominous line, “I am in the dark.” Her rapping is nicely crisp but gets slightly more emotional as it goes on, increasing in tempo as she starts to move out of the dark. Finding courage, the beat intensifies and continually adds drum fills that changes the second verse.

The bridge’s stunning quiet moment is the highlight. It has time for four of the girls to sing variations of the same scale, while the track reduces itself to just strings, a few keys, and some beautiful harmonies. It’s a stunning moment of clarity and tension, as if the whole song was leading to this point rather than the actual climax. It contextualizes the cosmic dramas of their lives in terms of their lover’s dreams. “You and me to be drawn as a dream, it will be done as you dream,” they repeat, finding the hope of their love in the short moment of peaceful stillness among the shifting scales of the track.


Music Video

“Dreams Come True” continues one of the better visual collaborations in K-pop as Kim Zi Yong and Fantazy Lab return to direct the music video. It is definitely a sequel to “Secret” as we see some references from it including the book with the iconic phrase, “Have you ever felt cosmo inside of you?” In “Dreams Come True” the girls are separated by space and time and are faced with the threat of a giant wormhole opening up over Seoul. There seems to be human versions of themselves that inhabit Seoul and the cosmic versions who are in a heaven type area who stay connected via phones. They work together to call down Bona from her flying space bed, and she flies straight into the wormhole, destroying it.

This is all communicated much more elegantly in the video by Kim. No one is better at connecting the real and imaginary worlds with special effects than he is. He uses a large amount of smaller moments to build his world. Each image has very simple fantasy elements executed perfectly, but this formula is slightly tired at this stage. Compared to “Secret” it’s not much better or worse but doesn’t have the same surprise factor. It also has an unnecessary and ugly bluish colour grade. If they had gone for something closer to the wizarding world of the teasers, there could have been a lot of room to try new things. Kim Zi Yong’s aesthetic has worked well in a number of concepts and would have been unique enough to separate itself from obvious potential Harry Potter comparisons.


WJSN’s return to the cosmos has turned out to be as appropriately dramatic as can be though “Dreams Come True” lacks the dense, unique production of “Secret” that lends it its immediate qualities. Structurally though, “Dreams Come True” betters “Secret.” It produces an epic scale from disparate parts coming together and finally disappearing so the girls can dream clearly.

What do you think of WJSN’s single “Dreams Come True”? Share your thoughts in the comment section below and be sure to subscribe to the site and follow us on FacebookTwitterInstagram, and Tumblr to keep up with all of our posts.

Stray Kids: JYP’s new direction

Ever since the conclusion of JYP Entertainment’s survival reality program Stray Kids, where the nine members of the group took part in various challenges set by the company to prove that they were able to debut as a whole group, the victorious (and complete!) group was busy with promotions for their pre-debut EP, Mixtape, which featured the group’s tracks that were mostly performed during the program.

Following its release, Mixtape proved to be a fan favorite and topped charts in the States, and also proved to encompass the essence of what is unique about this group and, by extension, showcased the new direction that JYP Entertainment is taking in debuting this group. All the seven tracks on the EP were composed in some way by the members of Stray Kids, be it in lyric-writing, songwriting or arranging. In particular, the members of “3RACHA,” a previously established trio within Stray Kids consisting of leader Bang Chan and rappers Han Jisung and Seo Changbin, wrote the lyrics for all the songs and took part in the music composition for six of them. The ownership and individuality shown here is rare in the K-pop industry, considering this is a group who has yet to officially debut.

Also on Kultscene: Artist Spotlight: Samuel 

It is even more surprising considering JYP’s usual management of their groups. With the exception of rock band DAY6, whose debut EP was also composed of songs created by the members, JYP’s boy groups mostly started out with EPs and title tracks composed by Park Jinyoung himself (i.e GOT7’s “Girls Girls Girls” and 2PM’s “10 Out of 10”). The members of these groups eventually went on to create their own music for their later albums and title tracks (i.e Jun K’s “Go Crazy,” JB’s “You Are”) after a few years, which is a common practice in the industry. Stray Kids releasing Mixtape could thus be an indication of a shift in JYP Entertainment’s priorities for their new groups: no longer are they optimizing safe and polished debut performances but instead highlighting releases that showcase more musicality and creative freedom. Perhaps this is to align with the current trend of self-composed music in the industry but whatever it is, it is definitely paying off for Stray Kids.

The exceptional composing skills of the members, especially the members of 3RACHA, were constantly displayed throughout the program, an instance being their rap face-off with YG Entertainment trainees, where Changbin and Jisung wowed with their original track “Matryoshka” (from their third mixtape, Horizon).

Since last January, the trio have been releasing their original tracks through SoundCloud and YouTube, with a total of three mixtapes out at the moment. The exposure they received as trainees does explain their prowess now especially for long-time trainee Bang Chan, who has so-far single-handedly done the producing and mixing for most of 3RACHA’s tracks, with Changbin and Jisung contributing to the lyrics.

The trio’s experience shows in their works, and really helped the entire boy group establish a very unique musical identity right off the bat. With the music video of “Hellevator,” the title track of “Mixtape,” racking up millions of views on YouTube before the reality show even premiered, anticipation was high for Stray Kids thanks to this intense song which highlighted the various strengths of the members, in particular their synchronized dancing. The group continued to impress with their music through the missions on the show, where they took on challenges such as performing at a live broadcast and busking on the streets.

While the group as a whole is definitely still a rookie one, especially with regard to the vocal areas, Stray Kids has proven that they can (and do) distinguish themselves from other rookie boy bands, not just musically but with their fresh personalities as well. Often displaying tough and charismatic images on stage, they played up their youthful charms on the show once off stage and even now on the occasional V-live broadcasts that they do. With an average age of 20 (youngest member Jeongin is a 2001-er), the members are cute and playful especially when they interact with each other.

Also on Kultscene: Weki Meki’s “Lucky” Album Review

Speaking of which, the unity of this group is remarkable, despite only being formed a few months before the show. Perhaps this is where Stray Kids differs most from Sixteen, the survival show from which TWICE was created in 2015. In Sixteen, the 16 members competed against each other to get into the seven member group (it was later changed to nine members), which naturally created a lot of rivalry among the members. Stray Kids, on the other hand, was promoted and run as a show where the group “fought” with JYP to debut together. Their adorable friendship and dynamic were on display from the start, and got viewers passionately rooting for the group to stay together. The most unique part of this survival show was the lack of competition between the members and the cooperation they displayed. There was very little “fighting for the main part” that often goes on in such shows, and instead, there were so many moments where the more experienced members sacrificed their own practice time to help those who were lagging behind or in danger of elimination. The hard work and effort that the whole group put in to help each other improve led to heart-wrenching and tear-jerking moments for members and fans alike when a few members ended up being eliminated through the course of the show (they were eventually brought back in the final mission), further endearing the group to the viewers.

With all the hype and popularity Stray Kids has already gotten so far, their debut is definitely a highly-anticipated one. It still has to be proven if the “free-reign” direction JYP is taking with this group will last in the future, but for now, it’s producing results and I cannot wait to see how far this group will fly from here.

Have you been keeping up with Stray Kids? What do you think of the new direction JYP is taking with them? Share your thoughts in the comment section below and be sure to subscribe to the site and follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Tumblr to keep up with all of our posts.

Weki Meki’s “Lucky” Album Review

Following the resignation of CEO Na Byung Joon under controversial circumstances, Fantagio Entertainment and all its artists’ short term futures were in doubt. Weki Meki were one of those groups and had apparently been preparing a comeback as the news broke. Thankfully things settled down enough for them to bring their follow up to debut mini WEME and divisive single “I Don’t Like Your Girlfriend.” They have done that in the form of Lucky, their second mini album which seems to be going as far from their debut as can be. “I Don’t Like Your Girlfriend” was a song of many contradictions and the album it came on was equally filled with ups and downs. As an album, Lucky is tonally much more coherent and an easier listen. Let’s find out if that’s a good or bad thing.

As is common in K-pop minis, Lucky opens with an intro track by the same name. I love K-pop intros. At their best they are abstract representations of the albums that follow it. They don’t have to follow pop rules so tend to be the most unconventional K-pop can be. They can also be like “Lucky,” acting as a slightly remixed and shorter version of the single it precedes. Alongside “La La La” producer Rodnae “Chik” Bell; Hyuk Shin, MRey, and Ashley Alisha (all members of the Joombas Music Group) are the composers here and don’t do much to alter “La La La.” It sounds like they put the harsh processed drums of “I Don’t Like Your Girlfriend” underneath and added heavier bass. As an intro it doesn’t differentiate itself enough from the follow to warrant inclusion.

The lead single “La La La” is, unfortunately, similarly derivative of much more interesting songs. In what seems like a response to criticism of their debut, “La La La” has the energy of “I Don’t Like Your Girlfriend” without any of the eccentricities. It replaces the electronics with a variety of guitars and brass in favour of a more traditional pop stomper style. Vocally, it stifles them. The members are restricted to trying more soulful singing and straightforward rapping. On “IDLYG” the girls could just about match the gleeful twists and turns of the track, pulling it into something that works. On “La La La” they do nothing to change the direction of the song.

This is best evidenced by the chorus’ lack of movement. Musically it has an almost imperceptible change which could have been fine if the vocals went somewhere. The “laaaaa la la las” and the cheeky rap one liners are nowhere near enough, though. Wherever you lie on the “IDLYG” scale, this is a major disappointment as the highly anticipated successor.


Luckily though, Weki Meki may soon become the queens of b-sides if their albums continue work like this. “Iron Boy,” produced by the Full8loom team, is the third track and a delectable slice of 80s style electro pop. Like all great retro tracks the key to success is a juicy bass line. On “Iron Boy” it gets things going alongside Doyeon’s slight but sultry voice. From there it blends more physical elements like a guitar with some wonderful synths. Like “La La La,” its structure doesn’t do anything new. But crucially it has musical progression. By the time the chorus comes along there is now spurts of brass and fluctuating synths. There are layers to its production and the members fit it well; Sei and Suyeon’s vocals in particular stand out, as they seem just about caught in the back of their throats in a childish but powerful way.

“Metronome” is much more modern. Producers Trippy and Le’mon weave a heavier house riff around the more indifferent vocals of the girls. A piano is used to create some sense of emotion in contrast to the bassy synths. It is in a sense monotonous like its title would suggest. The song transitions using the piano parts but does so with such nonchalance that it suggests that Weki Meki feel that thin line between dancing and emoting.

Full8loom return for the final two tracks “Colour Me” and Butterfly, both of which continue the retro theme. “Colour Me” is very much in the Bruno Mars mold of nostalgia. Disco synths and funk beats meet to create a super comfortable feeling. It gives the girls some room to stretch their vocals, even more than previous songs. In the pre-chorus there are some great harmonies, and the chorus has a variety of strong high pitches and whispers.

Also on KultScene: K-POP UNMUTED: 2017 AWARDS – PART 2

“Butterfly” is the epitome of a winter cash in. It’s plodding retro bass drum and chimes are cliched almost to the point of parody here. It is a cover, however, of “Butterfly” by Loveholic, and these parts are there to make it relevant to the Winter Olympics. The chorus remains utterly impressive. Bonus points for the adorable sign language choreography. Minus points for reminding me of “Do They Know It’s Christmas?”

Lucky is a settler for Weki Meki. Their rocky debut might have slowed their potential ascent thanks to Doyeon and Yoojung’s fame but it also made them distinct. Lucky doesn’t quite have the ballad lows or the “Fantastic” highs of WEME, and honestly suffers for it. Given a stronger single it could have been the perfectly solid mini they needed. Instead it falters right from the beginning and spends the rest of its run time trying to catch up. It is slick from there on in but not quite unique enough to match the Weki Meki we have come to love or hate.

Let us know what you think of Weki Meki’s “Lucky” in the comment section below and be sure to subscribe to the site and follow us on FacebookTwitterInstagram, and Tumblr to keep up with all of our posts.

25 best K-pop songs of 2017

best kpop songs 2017 17 top tracks k-pop k pop

There’s no denying that it’s a solemn time for the K-pop community. But it’s during sad times that it’s important to think about what puts a smile on our faces, and for a lot of people, that’s K-pop. Throughout 2017, artist gave us a lot of songs that made us feel happy and made us dance, which then gave us a lot of good times. And while it was hard to narrow down our absolute favorites of the year, here are our 25 best.

25. “Love” by DEAN feat. Syd

DEAN’s emotional sensitivity is always present on his music, but with “Love,” he takes on a very sexual topic in a very respectful yet sensual way. The song features American singer-songwriter Syd as the love interest in this song. Her voice fits perfectly with DEAN’s, creating the sensual mood of the track. The lyrics talk about a new relationship that seems to be full of sexual tension as they tell each other on the song, “I got intentions baby, But, I’m gettin’ restless babe, I need your blessin’, baby I’ll love you if you let me baby” which bring us to know that DEAN’s is very respectful and aware of consent in a relationship; whether it is about sex or taking the relationship slowly he can wait as long as the other person wants and until they are ready. “Love” starts with a little bossa nova and samba melody that transforms into a very minimal tropical record that seems very fresh and connects perfectly with the new relationship that the lyrics talk about. The beats keep a steady base that explodes at the climax, very similar to how a relationship starts and slowly builds up and gets filled with love as time passes by. DEAN’s solo at the end of the song represents how madly he is in love while the music changes drastically and gives of a feeling that you are in cloud nine. And, of course, nobody can forget the lyric when DEAN sings in a very sexy voice, “I’ll f*ck you if you let me baby.”


24. “You Are” by GOT7

For their second comeback of the year, GOT7 went ahead and switched it up again, further proving just how multifaceted these guys are. In a very unexpected move, J.Y. Park allowed the group to release a single co-written by one of the members, JB. “You Are” diverts from the hip-hop and trap sounds from their previous singles and presents a smoother, dreamier, synthier soundscape. The song is just as contrasting as JB is: velvety smooth vocals yet with an EDM, uplifting vibe. It’s impossible not to smile when listening to this song, for the members’ deliveries is probably their most tender and, dare I say it, sincere yet. “You Are” might not have done well in Korea, but it let audiences know that GOT7 is working towards producing and writing their own tracks in the near future. We can only expect bigger, experimental switch ups by them next year and we can’t wait.


23. “Plz Don’t Be Sad” by Highlight

After ditching their old company, the majority of Beast formed their own company Around Us Entertainment and returned as a new group, Highlight. Their first release as Highlight was the bright song “Plz Don’t Be Sad.” Written and produced by Junhyung’s production team Good Life, the song is about the boys doing anything in their power for you to smile. And with such a vibrant and upbeat song, it is very hard not to. With their first song, Highlight chose to break away from the typical sound their former group’s singles went for and instead offered up an extremely catchy chorus full of “woah ohhs” that are bound to get stuck in your head. The video is fun, and features colorful images of the group doing random things while the chorus has them dancing around in bathrobes. Everything combined makes absolutely no sense, but you ultimately can’t help but smile at the ridiculousness.


22. “Kokobop” by EXO

From the title alone, you would expect this song to be a super summer bop, and of course EXO did not deliver less than this. But what we couldn’t predict is that “Kokobop” would be a reggae-based instrumental song. More surprisingly, elements of trap and EDM were present as well. Does this combination work well? To be honest, I’m still not sure, and maybe that’s why this was one of my most listened to songs of the year. There’s something intriguing about “Kokobop” that makes it grow on you. I guess it’s one of those songs you just find noisy and a bit messed up when you listen for the first time, and then you get trapped listening to it again and again, trying to understand where does the chillin’ “awooo”’s, “down down baby”’s and “oh oh oh”’s connect with such aggressive trap beats and the loud breakdown. Those alone, however, are very fun moments, and that’s more than enough for “Kokobop” to have been one of the catchiest tunes of the year.


21. “Camo” by BoA

The long reigning queen of K-pop BoA returned and graced us with the presence of her new single “Camo” this year. The song starts off with a staccato base beat that crescendos slightly to the chorus, but the tempo of the song overall does not change much allowing the tune to flow seamlessly and without effort. The video also does a very good job complementing the elegant style with a bold red and black color scheme and the optically pleasing effects that occur throughout the video. The song, video, and dance all give off an edgy and sophisticated mood which is complemented even further by BoA’s sultry voice. “Camo” may not be as in your face as many songs are now a day, but it still was able to capture it’s audience with minimal effort; something only a 17-year industry veteran has no trouble achieving.


20. “Eclipse” by Kim Lip

Kim Lip began the ODD EYE CIRCLE era with an easy confidence on this smooth electro R&B track. “Eclipse” grows with impassioned ease building an eclectic electronic bed of sounds for which Lip can emote between. Even from just the music video she was by far the most natural performer, a girl the group could be built around. Produced by Daniel “Obi” Klein and Charli Taft, “Eclipse” was a new style for LOONA but nothing too progressive by itself. It more than makes up for that in its silky variety of synths. The bridge is a moment to savour as well, as fingersnaps and gorgeous vocals slow things down revealing the depth of what Kim Lip can do.


19. “Shine Forever” by Monsta X

After the initial release of their first studio album The Clan Pt. 2.5: The Final Chapter in the first quarter of the year, Monsta X did the K-pop thing to do and followed up with its repackage, Shine Forever. With this, we were also introduced to the eponymous “Shine Forever,” a natural future bass follow up to the electronic-heavy “Beautiful.” Staying true to its genre, the prominent bassline and synthesizer inform listeners of the song’s modernity, albeit at the expense of a more enthralling hook. Indeed, trends seem to trump over a classic refrain, but if we can ignore this minor musical faux pas for the pre-chorus and raps that’s always been the focal point within the group’s discography, the rest of “Shine Forever” is actually quite fetching. Life is too short to fuss over diction when I.M’s iconic “One and only like a holy” is the best introduction to a narrative since “Once upon a time.” The progression to the pre-choruses only gets better as more layers of claps and percussions are overlaid to amount to an exciting climax. The boys’ eternal preoccupation with beauty and light reaches new heights with “Shine Forever,” making the single yet another valuable contribution to their growth.


18. “Babe” by Hyuna

Hyuna had us used to expect fun, bold, sexy and irreverent songs everytime she makes a comeback. So, who would expect something like “Babe”? Although it still has some of Hyuna’s trademarks, like her rap and proper beats for an energetic choreography, “Babe” is different from everything she has done so far, and that change was very welcomed. In this cute, delicious synthpop jam smartly filled with some trap, hip-hop and tropical house elements, Hyuna sings about a lover that makes her feel like 25, 24, 21-years-old when she is actually 26. Youth has always been an implicit background for Hyuna’s works, due to the fact that her solo works revolved around concepts of partying, exploring sexuality, and others associated to teenagers/young adults’ yearning for living life to its fullest; but with “Babe,” the feeling of youth shows us a different side of her. Driven by a lighter production and a girly melody, “Babe” leaves the impression that, this time, Hyuna’s sassy and fun personality is flowing naturally, with no need of a concept that would push her to show it.


17. “Goodbye” by 2NE1

While this song passed over the radar of most K-pop fans this year, Blackjacks like me will never forget the emotional weight of this track’s dropping. Singing over a beautifully repeating guitar riff, CL, Dara, and Bom reflect on the unbearable pain of splitting up: “Don’t look at my tears that can’t hold onto you/Just don’t go.” CL’s vocal performance is especially evocative, questioning, “Does anyone know, does anyone know/how it makes me feel?” repeatedly throughout the choruses, and demonstrating through her vocals alone her attachment to the group even after its disbandment. The song is beautifully simple, demonstrating that even after break-up, 2NE1 is a name known for musical quality. And the lyrics of this song, many of which imply some future continuity for the group — “until the day we meet again,” “when winter passes, spring will come again,” and the self-explanatory Korean-to-English translation of “안녕 (Annyeong/Goodbye)” also signifying “Hello” — indicate that 2NE1 is a name that may (hopefully) return in the future as well.


Also on KultScene: 50 best K-pop songs of 2017: 50-26

16. “Energetic” by Wanna One

The highly anticipated debut of Wanna One, a group created from the top 11 winners of survival show Produce 101, definitely didn’t disappoint. Right from the piano intro, “Energetic” was a perfect match for the skills and image of the group, where their individual strengths were harnessed to create this catchy dance track and they could each be highlighted. The vocal thrills provided by members Jaehwan and Sungwoon further tightened the song, and when paired with their synchronised complex choreography this performance was such a joy to watch. It’s no wonder that their popularity, both domestically and internationally, continued to skyrocket after this debut track. While they’ll only be active till the end of 2018, I’m looking forward to the amazing music they’ll be releasing till then.


15. “Untitled, 2014” by G-Dragon

If you’ve ever wanted to see the unadorned side of Kwon Jiyong, better known as G-Dragon, look no further because “Untitled, 2014” is the open book he’s been waiting for you to see. When people hear the name “G-Dragon,” they think of his styling and swag; G-Dragon the rapper. But Kwon Jiyong, the artist, the musician and singer, is what made “Untitled, 2014” the treasure that it became. G-Dragon illustrated his sentimental and compassionate side with this ballad and he made all of us “soft.” With the accompaniment of just a piano, it allowed listeners to focus in his voice and his emotions without being caught up in anything else.


14. “Black Suit” by Super Junior

There’s something innately satisfying about seeing a K-pop group well into its second decade able to come up with something that feels very much in accordance with their biggest hits but that also improves musically. Serving both as a testament to the act’s malleability and capabilities, “Black Suit” does just that. Like all of Super Junior’s biggest hits, there’s an immensely danceable, repetitive hook of a chorus. But, as with their other more recent singles, there’s a sense of maturation in the swing-infused, brassy sounds of the retro-tinged song that may be a surprise to people who haven’t kept up with SuJu’s most recent releases. Though two of their main vocalists, Ryeowook and Kyuhyun, are serving in the military, there’s nothing remotely disappointing about this dynamic single as its energetic tune serves up both Super Junior’s typical sense of playfulness and their finely-honed vocals.


13. “All Night” by Girls’ Generation

Alternative title track “Holiday” is, from a lyrical standpoint, likely more direct in celebrating Girls’ Generation’s success and long-lasting togetherness. To me, however, “All Night” is the more powerful 10th anniversary release for the legendary girl group. Embracing EDM and vaporwave influences on this retro-oriented track, GG demonstrates how easily they devour new songs and make them entirely theirs, demonstrating the endless versatility characteristic of K-pop’s face-value girl group. Seamlessly moving between melody and pseudo-rap, the song shines most in its chorus, which is at first minimalist but grows in speed and power with each iteration. Along with dubstep brilliance in the bridge, “All Night” is indicative of the fact that Girls’ Generation is a musical and performative force in the international music industry that cannot be, and should have never been, ignored. 10 years in, they continue to innovate on the concept of dance pop in ways that reflect their maturity from girlhood into womanhood.


12. “Spring Day” by BTS

Expectations were high for BTS’s comeback in early 2017, due to the enormous success of their previous single, “Blood, Sweat and Tears.” Some got disappointed when the long-awaited song was the mellow “Spring Day.” But, honestly, at that point, BTS was already standing in such a high place (even though no one could imagine how immensely they’d still grow over 2017), that the only way to ruin everything would be by releasing something really really bad —and that’s not the case of “Spring Day” at all. The song is very touching and shows more emotional colours of the boys, something that was great to see after constant fierce and powerful comebacks. Of course, being a work from BTS, a group that is making their mark for their carefully planned concepts, “Spring Day” is not only a cute song about missing someone. The word “spring,” in this context, represents the flourishing of a new phase, perhaps a more mature one, after their previous concepts that focused on youth. Just like the season of flowers, “Spring Day” was, for them, a beautiful prelude to a series of bright moments, that would end up becoming their most memorable year so far.


11. “Limitless” by NCT 127

Hip-hop is not a genre we associate with SM Entertainment’s current generation of K-pop idols, so when NCT 127 first debuted last year, skepticism arose. However, any doubt went poof right at the start of 2017, when the group dropped “Limitless.” With the help of SM’s two best rappers (yes, I went there, don’t delude yourself otherwise), a slew of outstanding dancers, and vocalists with honey smooth tones, NCT 127 delivered one of the most powerful performances of the year. With a grime base, “Limitless” offers pulsating beats, tempo changes, and a climatic chorus sung by all the members — a rarity in K-pop. In probably one of the most competitive eras in K-pop, NCT 127 proved this year that they’re ready to take on the big boys, and it all started with “Limitless.” SM finally debuted their most well-rounded group, with members that both embody what everyone has always loved about K-pop so much and what the scene is becoming as of late. The NCT concept is still a confusing one, with its various units and rotating lineups. But we for one hope NCT 127 is a permanent one, for they have the potential to become a staple as early as next year.


10. “Peek-A-Boo” by Red Velvet

Red Velvet capped off the best year of their career so far with “Peek-A-Boo.” The girls encountered wicked attraction in “Rookie,” a comforting love in “Red Flavor,” and on “Peek-A-Boo,” all of those emotions get tied up into anxiety. Producers Moonshine, Cazzie Opiea, and Ellen Berg Tolbom build a minimal bass of bubbling synths and a drum beat as they slowly let those anxieties creep into the song. Horns blast in and out, a xylophone style synth is there (for the trademark childish sound of theirs) and the girls ad-lib at every moment they can (sometimes of fear “oh gosh!” sometimes of excitement “let’s go!”). These details reveal how they feel about falling in and out of love. They struggle to define it while trying to convince themselves that they are “fine fine fine.” There’s an unpredictability to the way Red Velvet realise a song. It’s a feeling totally unique to them, and it makes them the most exciting act in K-pop.


9. “Easy Love” by SF9

As the first male dance group to be formed by FNC Entertainment, which is more well known for bands such as FTIsland and CNBLUE, SF9 does showcase fancy choreography in “Easy Love,” but what stands out more is their vocals and the music production of the track. With four rappers in the group, it’d be hard for each one to stand out, but SF9 does precisely that with each having a distinct style in their parts. The build up to the chorus and the chorus itself are also done well, with traces of EDM present but with the interesting melodic lines constantly being highlighted, especially in the chorus where there is a lot of both upward and downward movement. It’s only been a little over a year since their debut but SF9 show a lot of promise and will definitely be able to release even better music as they grow as artists.


8. “Don’t Recall” by KARD

Scoring a top 10 position on this list is a feat for any artist, let alone a new one. Let alone a pre-debuted one. Let alone a pre-debuted co-ed one! KARD is completely unique in the K-pop world, from tropical house-inspired musical stylings to a refreshing co-ed member lineup. And “Don’t Recall” captures exactly what makes KARD an exciting addition to the world of K-pop, with innovative, gender-bending choreography (gender-bending by K-pop standards, that is), an enticing blend of male-female vocals, and stunning post-chorus dance break. While the group itself will need to keep innovating to find a variety of sounds and styles that suit them, KARD’s “Don’t Recall” is an amazing demonstration of what co-ed member structures could mean for musicality in the K-pop world.


7. “Red Flavor” by Red Velvet

One of the year’s iconic bops, Red Velvet came through guns blazing with “Red Flavor.” The title itself sounds so similar to their group’s name — seemingly fitting of a song most definitive of the group’s musical and performative character to date. Paired with its quirky and slightly overwhelming music video, RV succeeded in capturing the essence of a quintessential summer track in the context of their own quirky aesthetics and musical stylings. With building instrumentals and bouncy vocal harmonies in the chorus, Red Velvet establishes and carries their own trademark Red Velvet sound, a factor useful in maintaining popularity at this point in their very successful career as a girl group. “Red Flavor” is undoubtedly going to be one of the most-remembered 2017 K-pop songs, an iteration of K-pop girl group summer almost desperately needed in the power vacuum created by some untimely disbandments between this year and last.


6. “As If It’s Your Last” by Blackpink

Usually when a song is one of those three-fers kind of deal, the end result makes its listeners question who let it slide by production. But what happens when production is one of the most renown, one of the most prolific? Teddy, YG Entertainment’s veteran in-house producer, lets experience speak for itself and challenges just how many distinct compositions he can fit in approximately three and a half minutes with “As If It’s Your Last,” and for the first time in K-pop hot mess history, it doesn’t suck. The beginning is something of a red herring, where synths and a pounding bass digresses away from whatever subset of EDM it was supposed to be, and make way for a variety of upbeat drums. The gritty front that the girls assume rapidly dissolves as well when the song unexpectedly makes a turn for the bright and poppy. The displaced hook lends the song its ultimate “Pink” quality, which is truly refreshing in light of all the “Black” concepts the group have done up until then. Thanks to seasoned producers, Blackpink is able to enjoy elements of house, pop, moombahton, and more. Now if only they were able to come back with more than a single a year…


Also on KultScene: K-Pop Unmuted: Super Junior – ‘Play’

5. “Never” by Sons of the People from Produce 101

2017 was the year of trop-house in K-pop, and while it’s arguable whether we were done with the genre by the mid-year, seemingly out of nowhere we were bamboozled by a gem in the most unexpected of places: the competition show Produce 101. Produced by Hui, Wooseok, and E’dawn of the Cube Entertainment group Pentagon, they gave the show their song “Never” for the concept challenge and was performed by Sons of the People. While the beat is a bit repetitive, it is the overall performance and vocals what made the track impactful and impossible to resist. Consisting of a lineup of members of which almost all of them ultimately made it into Wanna One (#JusticeforJonghyun, never forget), “Never” seemed like the one that was ready to be a single. From Woojin’s sleek and assertive rap to Seongwu’s surprising vocals to Minhyun’s angelic visuals to Jaehwan’s iconic belt, how could this song not reach an all-kill on the charts? In a way, it was “Never” what sealed the deal for the members, for it showed just how much star power and talent they had and how cohesive as a group they could be. The managed to take your typical trop-house song and made it into a hit. And it is so popular and a great live performance track that Wanna One rearranged it to include the rest of the members and perform it at their shows.


4. “Move” by Taemin

It’s hard to explain the magnificence of “Move” as a song itself without alluding to its music video or to the very figure of Taemin. After all, musically speaking, it is possible that another vocalist could have done a decent or perhaps even a good job, but it wouldn’t be the same thing; it wouldn’t sound as if the song was straight tailored for someone who’d connect every move of their body to every note of this simplistic yet exquisite melody. The chords and the basslines of “Move” are almost like sonic representations of Taemin’s eyes in the music video, it’s not even funny. The single resembles the groove of pop legends such as Prince and Michael Jackson, whose work had influenced Taemin in previous occasions, and it’s indeed a performance-oriented song. But these aren’t the only reasons that make this song so perfect for him. Neither 80’s influence nor songs made for dancing are rare in K-pop. But when it comes to artists who can carry a song so full of sexual tension with that level of elegance and artistic maturity, especially in such a young age, Taemin is definitely one of a kind. There are many moments in which “Move” could have taken a different direction in order to sound more like a catchy mainstream hit, but I love the fact that it didn’t. There isn’t one distinctive, outstanding moment, as this is definitely not a song that guides you to one specific highlight. Instead, it keeps you holding your breath during the whole time, never allowing tension to be released, and almost forcing you to pay attention to every word Taemin’s singing. The SHINee member handled this song amazingly and presented us one of the most fascinating moments of the year.


3. Sunmi ‘Gashina’

Explosive in its dark synth-pop glory, Sunmi’s “Gashina” is the unapologetically vengeful breakup track that defined much of K-pop in the final months of 2017. With dancehall elements and dramatic, ‘80s-styled beats, the song is a sultry banger that’s filled with double entendres as the former Wonder Girl questions why her former love has turned their back on her pretty, and perhaps thorny or even bitchy, self. Confidently explosive, this is one of the fiercest songs K-pop has seen in years and Sunmi’s dominating, feminist-forward style captured the attention of all of Korea through the gun-shooting and gender-role-swapping choreography of “Gashina.” Hopefully we’ll be seeing more of this from Sunmi as she takes ownership of her return to her solo career.


2. “Not Today” by BTS

In stark contrast to the mellow “Spring Day” off of the same You Never Walk Alone reissue, “Not Today” is the badass sibling and solution for fans of BTS’s dynamic powerhouse sound. It attempts to replicate the underdog hubris of their “Dope” days and large scale, militaristic production of “Fire” while retaining its own identity so as to not get lost within the group’s body of similar works. The inflections in Jungkook’s “겨눠 총! 조준! 발사!” (“Point, aim, shoot!”) battle cry and RM’s monologue in the introduction among other details definitely makes this their most combative song to date. Beyond using their platform as a means of resistance and a call for action, the electronic inspired track feels cinematic too, with blaring, dramatic synths cueing imminent peril. Those synths, in addition to the purposeful lyrics, continue to resonate with us even as we cap off 2017.


1. “Really Really” by WINNER

After losing their lead vocalist, WINNER could have played it safe and returned with the sort of mellow music that they started their career with. But instead, they amped up their sound with the addictive rhythm of “Really Really.” Nothing was quite as trendy this year in K-pop as breezy trop, and this song was the epitome of that with its relaxed beats, dynamic drops, and full-bodied synths. Co-written by Kang Seungyoon and Mino, there’s an immense sense of what WINNER wants to be without Nam Taehyun. Split pretty evenly between rappers and vocalists, the single plays up the band member’s individual skills, with the finely-crafted house track emphasizing their soft blend of hip-pop to create a sound that’s both captivating and fun to dance to.

In a pretty crappy 2017, “Really Really” arrived not only to reinvigorate WINNER’s career but also give the K-pop world a work that was vibrantly uplifting. It’s a good look for the now-quartet and they continued it with their follow-up singles (“Island” and “Love Me Love Me”) and hopefully next year will see even more of that from them.



Make sure to also watch our video countdown of the best songs of 2017!

What was your favorite release of the year? Let us know in the comment section below and be sure to subscribe to the site and follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Tumblr to keep up with all of our posts.

50 best K-pop songs of 2017: 50-26

While the year may be closing in a very sad and unfortunate manner with the passing of a K-pop icon, artists consistently delivered memorable songs throughout 2017. This year saw a lot of great moments from some of Korea’s most popular new acts, while newer acts also proved their worth with addicting, sleekly-produced music. Trop was the king of this year’s K-pop trends, but far from the only genre of music that saw its moment in the limelight.

Check out the first half of KultScene’s 2017 best K-pop songs list below:

50. “Circle’s Dream” by Subin

Subin is trapped in an endlessly repeating contradictory cycle in her self-written and composed single “Circle’s Dream.” She is told that she is round and that’s good, but then that it’s not. She wants to be angular, to pierce her lover, to make him feel like how he made her feel. Yet she is also trapping herself within a recurring musical structure, as an acoustic guitar plucks an incisive riff throughout the song. It is the only angular part of Subin’s song yet has no variation. Her stark synths come in late but their slow rhythm only accentuates the repetitiveness. Each element is perfectly realised to tell her story. Her voice completes it. Its soft and sweet but particular pronunciations like denggeureureu are key. This word alone combines both the round and angular sides to her. It has repetitions but in order to say it properly she still has to roll her tongue. Subin has enwrapped her whole song with the confusing ideas in her head. No solo idol has ever produced something of such pointed precision.


49. “Wee Woo” by Pristin

If “Wee Woo” had been released at the 2012-ish heyday of Hallyu, Pristin’s debut song would be considered legendary right now. It’s barrage of shifting sounds and onomatopoeic vocals are absolutely classic. The Pledis Entertainment regular songwriter Bumzu brings a bright and breezy feel to the whole production with disco electric guitars taking the brunt of the work. This allows the girls room to deliver the most hooks in a single song EVER. Each part is so complete on its own you could take them individually and create five more songs around them. The fact that they all come together for something that doesn’t feel so monumental is the greatness of “Wee Woo.” It’s arrogant in its effortlessness all the way down to making the primary hook out of the most simple term of jowahae nol jowahae (“I like (you) I like you”).


48. “Beautiful” by Monsta X

Monsta X’s cultivated sound and signature unruly charms finally comes together for the consummate “Beautiful.” Perhaps because it is supposed to be representative of the group’s first studio album, the single feels particularly significant. For one, there’s really nothing quite like the opening out there. Scattered with a prominent distorted electronic beat that is quickly followed up by Jooheon’s explosive raps, the real hook is not in the chorus but here in the introduction, where the task for the listeners to not mimic the unique noises or the clever near-rhymes is near impossible. The vocalists dwindle down the excitement sometimes without sounding monotonous, almost acting like the Apollonian restraint to the Dionysian madness. The constant shower of peculiar oscillations, whirs, and horns all make up the perfectly organized chaos that Monsta X is known for, and though “Beautiful” did not grant the boys their first music show win like it should have, it will always remain a tour de force in our hearts.


47. “Where You At” by NU’EST W

With their revival in popularity following some of the members’ appearance in Produce 101 Season Two, this subunit of Nu’est (missing member Minhyun who debuted in Wanna One) released this flashy track which stayed true to their unique music style. Bursts of electronic instrumentals are mixed with a calm piano backing track and adds a lot of contrasts to the song. It also highlights the strengths of each member, with Baekho’s explosive high notes complementing Ren and Aron’s softer and sweeter voices. JR’s rapping is as stable as ever, and he definitely shines more back in his own group. It’s wonderful to see this talented group get more recognition for their talents, and I can’t wait to see the full group back together again soon.


46. “You Were Beautiful” by DAY6

The February release of the band’s “Every DAY6 Project” can be said to be their most successful, especially domestically, and it’s not difficult to see why. The raw emotions brought out by the members coupled with the sincere lyrics create a sentimental rock ballad which truly tugs on the heartstrings of listeners. The end of the bridge in particular, where Young K and Wonpil’s voices are layered, is such a beautiful and emotional climax of the song. Even though it appears simple to sing along to (and is apparently a favourite among other JYP singers for karaoking), the song is actually very vocally challenging due to the large range required, and the effortless way the DAY6 members sing it shows just how skilled and well-trained they are.


45. “Tomorrow, Today” by JJ Project

After debuting ahead of GOT7’s debut with the exuberant “Bounce,” JB and Jinyoung returned as a more matured rendition of JJ Project this year and it was absolutely glorious. The two vocalists released this sweeping, introspective song about the very-millennial topic of making decisions and fearing regrets. The track provides the perfect forum for the pair to show off how well their vocals work together, with the duo harmonizing over guitar riffs, tapping percussion, and mellow synths. “Tomorrow, Today” is reflective in its warm approach to soft rock, and hopefully we’ll see more of this from JJ Project in 2018. It was a complete turnaround from their first iteration, and definitely more suited for the pair’s artistic style and capabilities.


44. “Don’t Know You” by Heize

Heize’s “Don’t Know You” is a very groovy song full of percussions with a slight mixture of disco, hip-hop, and R&B, which features the soloist using deeper vocals than what we’ve been used to hear from her. The overall appeal of this songs starts at the beginning of the track with the repetitive beats and the introduction of the synth drums that follow different tonalities on the record that give great texture to “Don’t Know You.” Her famous ad-libs are also present on this song as she goes from high to low tones, which are achieved by the reverbs added on the vocal track, that create great contrast between her sexy sweet voice and her solid rap parts. The harmony is very steady throughout and creates a great chill up-tempo track perfect to dance and groove to. Heize continues to show great promise with her experimental sound.


43. “Tequila (feat. Hoody)” by G.Soul

One can’t help but want to book an immediate flight to somewhere like Bali while listening to “Tequila,” especially with the brutal winter quickly approaching much of the States. Hoody’s bewitching voice alongside G.Soul’s multifaceted vocals make for the perfect combo in this dancehall track, ideal for both a cookout and the club. Lyrically wise, “Tequila” might not be appropriate for all age groups, as G.Soul sings about only wanting a one night stand. But if you’re someone who’s over the generic “let’s fall in love” type of style that is prevalent in K-pop the majority of the time, this song’s for you. The lyrics aren’t candy coated or sleazy, but come off rather… inviting. This wasn’t meant to be a flashy song, which is what made it even more enjoyable. Although G.Soul wasn’t hitting those high notes (that I love so much) like he usually does, it wasn’t a lack felt by this song.


42. “Wake Me Up” by Taeyang

It is no news that Taeyang can hold a ballad like no other, and in 2017, he gave us two great ones. “Wake Me Up” doesn’t have the same degree of emotional complexity of “Darling,” the other single from the album, but it’s its apparent simplicity what makes this song amazing and addictive. Objectively speaking, it’s a very linear song with no surprise factors when it comes to its structure. It might even seem like Taeyang doesn’t have much to say in “Wake Me Up,” but it’s definitely not because he’s lacking emotions. In reality, what we see is that he just doesn’t know what to do with them. Everything in “Wake Me Up” sounds gorgeously inconclusive and mysterious — from the airy sounds and atmospheric, echoed beats, to the lyrics that offer more questions than answers. No wonder the most touching moment of the song is when he’s constantly repeating “Is it love?” while delivering breathtaking high notes. Overall, Taeyang’s vocal performance amidst the ethereal instrumental creates just the right vibe for a song that is about love, but mostly about confusion and doubt. After so many years, you can still count on Taeyang to get you in your feels.


41. “Honeymoon” by B.A.P

Coming out during the fall when it should’ve been a summer jam, “Honeymoon” is a delightful EDM track from B.A.P’s seventh album Blue. The whistling at the beginning of the song left the remainder open for interpretation; this song could’ve been a sweet one, much like the title suggests, or a somber one. I’m glad it wasn’t the latter. “Honeymoon” puts listeners in a lighter mood, whereas previous songs were dark and heavy, all the while still executing a clear message. “With the overflowing stars from beneath the palm tree. A film on the shining freedom and bright youth,” they sing. Through this track, B.A.P wants to remind us to live life to its fullest, fulfill your heart’s desires to its grandest and emphasises that today’s youth will be the game changer in society going forward.


Also on KultScene: DAY6 explores love & friendship through recent ‘Every DAY6’ releases

40. “Chase Me” by Dreamcatcher

Taking the bubbly girl group image and tossing it out the window, MINX re-debuted early this year under the name Dreamcatcher. Not only did the group have a new name, but they also gained two new members and an interesting concept and sound. Taking the term re-“vamp” quite literal, the group came out with a dark and creepy concept straight out of a horror movie. The video for “Chase Me” takes references from classic horror movies like The Shining but also has cuts to choreography to showcase the girls dance moves. The song begins with pianos and then picks up at the chorus. Adding31 to the darker image, the song melded hard rock elements with a dance pop track to create something very dynamic. There’s something about the mixing of heavy rock instrumentals and feminine voices that is very appealing. Although the song sounds like it’s straight out of an anime, it is also an interesting new sound that’s refreshing to the K-pop world.


39. “Never Ever” by GOT7

Ever since debut, GOT7 have switched up their sound with every release, experimenting with different styles and concepts, and their first comeback of the year was no different. “Never Ever” follows in the same angsty direction as “If You Do,” yet this track mixes electronic and trap sounds while giving it their signature bubblegum spin. Vocally, JB and Youngjae can always be counted on to deliver outstanding choruses and ad-libs. But reveal of the year was that “Never Ever” is probably the song where the rap line is collectively most stable and the flows, while different, work together. GOT7 is building up a name as a dance group whose choreographies are insane, and “Never Ever,” with its glitches and heavy bass, is the perfect performance track in their building discography.


38. “Love Story feat. IU” by Epik High

One of the two title tracks off of Epik High’s new album, “Love Story” is a beautiful song about love lost. The steady drum beats coupled with the sometimes frantic sounding piano and, later on, the smooth orchestra creates a complex yet easy sounding melody that balances well with IU’s sweet voice and the rap verses of Tablo and Mithra Jin. Along with the concept video of a girl reminiscing about her past relationship through videos and photos on her phone, it sets the perfect setting for a song about heartbreak and loss. As expected with most of Epik High’s collaborations, the group and the featuring artist blend perfectly to portray the story being told.


37. “Wake Me Up” by B.A.P

A lot of the times, K-pop consists of clichéd lyrics and similar concepts. There are times when a number of artists will put out a string of songs, music talking about love, relationships and breakups. Again, the repetitiveness. Just when you feel like you’ve had enough of that sappy stuff, B.A.P appears with an eye opener like “Wake Me Up,” a track that touches on societal issues and mental health to stimulate one’s ear buds. The song has a compelling beat, a sound so strong, it’ll act as the pillar that will hold you up when one is fighting off their inner demons and struggles in life. “This is an endless tunnel, in darkness with no light. Wake me up, wake me up. I need to find myself,” they sing. B.A.P wanted to push awareness and wake up a society that looks away and pretends that issues like racism, judgement, and depression aren’t real issues because these things are very much on going and continue to be real life problems.


36. “Palette feat. G-Dragon” by IU

As one of Korea’s most prominent artists, IU on “Palette” seems to be comfortable with her fame and life, assuring both herself and her listeners that she’s changing in ways she embraces. Her lyricism uses cute examples, from changing color preferences to hair length, to demonstrate that she, “Knows a little bit about [herself] now.” The song’s instrumentals are a more alternative play on classic, theatrical IU releases. While the trademark ticking noises and sound effects are present, the song itself is slower and wispier, updated to match a more modern vibe that she seems to have grown into. The top female star of Korean music in the past decade, IU demonstrates that she remains focused on making hits, but now, on her own terms. With the help of a strongly performed and well-placed rap break from G-Dragon, IU on “Palette” lets us further into her excited, changing young adult world. Where she goes next from here, however, we’ll be watching.


35. “Dinosaur” by AKMU

AKMU is known for creating beautiful music, but with “Dinosaur,” the duo really surprised us: they finally added some EDM to their music while managing to make it their own. The electro beats and synths that appear through the track’s melody seem very stripped down and almost make it feel like an acoustic electronic song. The opening guitar in the beginning of the song especially feels like an homage to their earlier music. The synthetic kickdrums that blast before the beautiful notes from Suhyun during the chorus melody and are present through the whole track, giving it an unique mystery to the track. We also get more singing from Chanhyuk instead of his typical talk-like rap, which was surprisingly beautiful. Their voices blend and harmonize perfectly with the synthetic beats that made it an upbeat chill song for the summer. AKMU really had a lot of fun creating this track and used every tool that electronic instruments can give you as a producer. The song is simple but very detailed with a beautiful, heartwarmingly catchy harmony and a light beat that is very uplifting and instantly makes you feel good.


34. “Dream In a Dream” by Ten

SM Entertainment’s Station project has produced a bit of a mixed bag this year, delivering some truly great pieces of music amid a majority of lackluster ones. But “Dream In a Dream” was one of its glorious high notes. The ambient, east-meets-west styling of the song serves to relay the performance-heavy music video, which highlights Ten’s immense dance skills. Providing a soundtrack to the highly-stylized, contemporary dance video, it’s a song filled with drama and passion. But even as a stand alone track, “Dream In a Dream” delivers something truly special through its symphonic instrumentals relaying Ten’s echoing declaration of love. Lush synths and pulsating beats guide the track as it layers traditional Asian strings and into the atypically-structured melody. So far, Ten has participated in both this and NCT U’s “The 7th Sense,” two hauntingly beautiful, choreography-focused singles, and if this is the direction SM continues pushing him in, it may be the thing that could breathe new life into this era of all-too-similar K-pop male acts.


33. “Shall We Dance” by Block B

Ever since Zico cemented his status as a hip-hop icon in Korea, Block B has pretty much taken a backseat on the ride. And after a couple of quirky, even cutesy releases, it seemed the group had gone awry of the sounds and concept they made a name with. That’s why when they dropped “Shall We Dance” it was way more impactful. More in tune with the “trendy” sounds Zico is known to produce for his solos, the track explores different urban Latino sounds, which particularly stood out this year when artists are still releasing trop-house songs. “Shall We Dance” is groovy, smooth, and just as the title suggests, dance provoking. Being an older male group with a diverse lineup of talented members, it’s important for Block B to color outside the lines and continue to push the envelope as they have always done. And with this song, they did just that.


32. “Girl Front” by ODD EYE CIRCLE

“Girl Front” felt like a particularly important moment for LOONA. When LOONA ⅓ debuted as a unit they were still fairly unknown, a weird project group going about their own thing. By the time of ODD EYE CIRCLE, they had significantly grown with more people both at home and internationally taking notice. The fact that they absolutely nailed it came as no surprise to me, but how they did it was so impressive. By combining the songs of three girls (Choerry, Jinsoul, and Kim Lip) producers Ollipop and Hayley Aitken created something unprecedented in K-pop. “Girl Front” has the peppiness of “Love Cherry Motion,” the dense, propulsive beat of “Singing in the Rain,” and the electronic sheen of “Eclipse.” It’s a miracle that it all comes together to form something coherent let alone this good. The girls give it the last edge of excitement with non-stop vocals as they bounce off one another with glee, building a climax of unstoppable motion and further push forward the most exciting story of the year.


31. “I Wait” by Day6

“I Wait” was the first release of the group’s ambitious project, which set a high bar for their following monthly singles. The opening of the song draws the listener in with somber synthesized keyboard notes and dreamy vocals. The mellow beats gradually increase to the more aggressive instrumentals of the chorus, showcasing a much harder sound than what the band has been previously known for. The song continues to bounce back and forth between a softer sound and the heavy chorus, which creates and interesting medium. The video itself isn’t really anything special but somehow still complements the song with the changing graphics and effects. Overall, “I Wait” fulfilled its purpose of drawing in the audience with a new sound, showcasing the band’s versatility and ability to deliver quality songs throughout the year.


Also on KultScene: 7 K-pop music styles we’d love to hear more

30. “MIC Drop (Steve Aoki Remix feat. Desiigner)” by BTS

“MIC Drop” was already a good song before Steve Aoki’s remix, but with his production, the producer added the aggressiveness that the track needed to be fully solidified as an anti-haters anthem for BTS. He did this by converting the hip-hop track into a hip-hop, R&B, and EDM infused song that made us remember the old BTS from their debut era. The track is energetic and gets you pumped up as soon as you listen to it; V’s deep voice and RM’s raps are major highlights from this record. The lyrics take a very sarcastic tone that even if they seem cocky it makes us sympathize with them. With the new added English lyrics in the chorus, the song makes everyone want to stand up against haters and face them off. BTS creates yet another ode for outcasts and bullied kids all over the world by once again taking on topics that usually K-pop bands don’t talk about.

Also on KultScene: Astro ‘Dream Pt. 02’ Album Review


29. “Darling” by Taeyang

This ballad stands out with its somewhat unconventional structure and chord progression, but it’s truly beautiful and addictive when listened to in its entirety. The way that Taeyang’s smooth voice connects the various parts of the song elevates it and showcases his impressive range and ability. His raw emotions are showcased front and center here too, especially with the way the song “progresses” in intensity from verse to verse. It’s soothing and intimate all at once, and allows Taeyang to present a more honest side of himself, as compared to being a charismatic star glorified by the limelight.


28. “Hola Hola” by KARD

Over the course of three project singles, KARD was able to develop a musical formula that worked. The tropical house and dancehall that undergirded “Oh Nana,” “Don’t Recall,” and “Rumor” provided a strong foundation for when they finally did make their official debut with “Hola Hola,” a timely and bright synthy number perfect for the summertime. Being co-ed is more than just a gimmick for this group; the exchange between tender vocals and throaty raps is the contrast listeners need to keep engaged. The chorus, on the other hand, shifts its weight onto an island beat, and while it would be easy to dismiss this sudden move as overly simplistic, the hypnotic effect is undeniable. It sweeps the carpet from under our feet and displaces us in a chimerical paradise. It is a nice recess from Jiwoo’s spunky rap midway or from any other strained moments, providing us with a sensual and personable comfort. “Hola Hola” only marks the beginning, but already the internationally beloved group has been dealt a good hand, and are making all the right plays to keep momentum going.


27. “Cherry Bomb” by NCT 127

Without a doubt, “Cherry Bomb” definitely encapsulates the sound of NCT127. The different mixes of genres that create a very fresh and futuristic sound create a unique style for the band that has everyone falling in love. The track starts off with a heavy bass and the repetitive “Hurry, hurry, avoid it, right Cherry Bomb feel it yum,” then goes off to Mark’s and Taeyong’s rap, with the pair proving to be the real standouts for this track, while the bridge explodes with Taehyun’s, Doyoung’s and Taeil’s beautiful vocals that melt any listener’s hearts. The song is filled with background synth noises, singed hooks, and creepy sounds that create a very chaotic but interesting track that is reminiscent of the album cover and the title of the song. It’s a classic, sassy and rebellious track and shows great direction for the boy band.


26. “O Sole Mio” by SF9

Is it possible for someone who lacks rhythm AND coordination to find themselves swaying ones hips and body with precision to the entrancing latin sounds of “O Sole Mio”? This track comes from SF9’s third mini album, Knights of the Sun, only one year after their debut. Rather then SF9’s usual upbeat dance tracks, “O Sole Mio” is captivating in it’s own mellow way. The transitions between the vocal and rap lines were smooth and well-versed, building up to a tender climax without it ever being over the top. The fusion of latin pop to K-pop is still new, but, let’s be real: we all could’ve used a break from some of the generic sounds we’ve heard this year, and the fresh sound of “O Sole Mio” delivered just that.


Stay tuned for the second and final half of our Best K-pop Songs of 2017 list, which will contain the top 25.

What was your favorite release of the year? Let us know in the comment section below and be sure to subscribe to the site and follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Tumblr to keep up with all of our posts.

Astro ‘Dream Pt. 02’ Album Review

The boys of Astro have done it again. With the release of their fifth mini album Dream Pt. 02 at the beginning of November, they have proven that it’s possible to fall even more in love with them.

In many ways, this latest album marks a transition into a more mature concept for the group. A follow up to Dream Pt. 01, released earlier this year in May, Astro exhibited a more cutesy and boyish concept, as demonstrated by the album cover displaying a pastel sweet shop and the track list being released as a drink menu. But when the teaser images for Dream Pt. 02 were released, there was an obvious difference. In contrast, the new album cover showed six desks and six different colored books to represent each member, suggesting a studious concept. Additionally, the boys’ solo shots also exhibited maturity through their intense gazes and darker colored attire. The wardrobe shift used throughout the album imagery is largely a reflection of the change in weather, but it is also a representation of the change in concept. Whereas, the wardrobe for Dream Pt. 01 consisted of light-colored summertime button-ups, the wardrobe for Dream Pt. 02 consists of dark-colored suits and turtlenecks.

The maturity continues with the music, too. Right from the start, the listener’s attention is captured with the catchy opening notes of “With You.” Being the lead vocalist, it only makes sense that Moonbin’s smooth voice begins the song and entire album. The track begins relatively slow-paced, with Moonbin promising his undevoted attention to his love interest. An obvious transition begins when Sanha comes in, describing the girl’s beauty, and the song’s tempo quickens, building hype in typical Astro fashion. Right before the chorus, MJ comes in, his voice reaching ridiculously high notes, taking this song, as well as the boys’ skills, to new heights. Halfway through the chorus, there is a pause, strategically creating anticipation for what comes next, and the beat drops with all members coming in singing “with you.” Although the use of “with you” can be repetitive, this track does a good job creating an upbeat and fresh introduction to the album and their new concept. Whereas in Dream Pt. 01, the boys dreamed of the girl, “With You” demonstrates the bold move the boys take in already imagining themselves with the girl.

Also on KultScene: Red Velvet’s ‘Peek-A-Boo’ song & music video review

The next song on the album is the title track “Crazy Sexy Cool,” which really demonstrates the act’s matured sound. As opposed to the cheeky smiles and boyish energy Astro exhibited in their last single “Baby,” the boys exude a mature charisma in “Crazy Sexy Cool” with their new, smoother sound, making this a perfect choice for their latest comeback. As the title suggests, this song gives off a “cool” vibe with its slower, but still relatively upbeat, tempo and the boys’ falsetto voices. The smooth tempo of the song reflects the lyrics as they describe the irresistible charms of and chemistry they have with the dream girl. Eunwoo’s distinct and clear voice is especially showcased as he begins the chorus, hitting all the high notes and making listeners swoon.

The music video for “Crazy Sexy Cool” also demonstrates a stylistic change; it begins with a very peaceful scene of the boys sleeping and possibly dreaming, accompanied by a lullaby in the background. The calm is interrupted by a series of loud noises, startling the boys awake to a scene of themselves as the music starts. As always, Astro’s insanely exceptional but underrecognized dancing skills are showcased in the video, and it seems like their skills have only improved. With their crazy footwork and incredible ability to stay in sync, Astro leaves us in awe of the ways they are able to move their bodies. The overall vibe of the video is “cool” and more mature than “Baby,” as demonstrated by intense and piercing gazes that are unexpected yet seductive at the same time, catching us off guard in a good way. However, the boys still occasionally exhibit some of their classic cheeky smiles, reminding us that it is indeed, Astro.

Also on KultScene: 6 Highlights from BewhY’s ‘The Blind Star’ Los Angeles stop

Following the “cool” concept, the next track “Butterfly” carries with it a similar vibe. This song has a huge build-up, beginning as a muffled track with the audio slowly but surely clearing up. This time, Eunwoo begins the song with a “Hey girl” so smooth that it makes hearts melt while demonstrating how his voice has evolved to a more charismatic sound. Throughout the song, the boys compare the girl to a butterfly, cautious and afraid that at any moment, she will fly away. Their caution is reflected in the pre-chorus, as the tempo slows down to a steady beat before picking back up in the chorus. After the chorus, Rocky swoops in with his low husky voice, rapping about the effects this girl has on him and asking her to stay with him. Towards the end, we see a perfect pairing of JinJin and MJ, with JinJin rapping his feelings while MJ’s sings his signature high notes in the background to complement the rap. The caution that is shown through the lyrics and instrumentals exemplify how the boys have matured in the way they approach love. Instead of a carefree attitude, they recognize potential complexities and approach it accordingly.

Starting with “Run,” the album shifts to a more affectionate tone. The song opens with some smooth vocals and a muffled beat that slowly transitions to an intimate guitar melody. Sanha opens by singing about a dark evening sky, matching the serenity created by the acoustics. In a style that’s becoming quite characteristic of this album, the music pauses again before the chorus, allowing the listener to reflect on the lyrics that were just sung, before diving right into a catchy chorus. Eunwoo leads the first chorus this time, his sweet voice so filled with an intensity that convinces the listener of his earnest pursuit of the girl. After one more repetition of the impassioned chorus, the song ends similar to how it began — with a fading vocal and closing with just the melody of a guitar. This track, in my opinion, is the highlight of the album. It demonstrates how the boys have grown to be more intentional and sincere- each conveying his love and determination in his own way, through his own vocal style. I’m going to be real honest and say that when I listen to this song, I almost want to cry because of how sweet and sincere it is.

The concluding track of this album begins with a piano solo, signifying a more ballad-y tune. It makes sense for the last song to have the slowest tempo as throughout the album, we have seen a gradual decrease in pace. Eunwoo begins this track by singing about a lost love, which explains the more reflective nature of the song. When MJ comes in after Eunwoo, the pain in his voice of being separated from his love is clearly heard. After the chorus, JinJin comes in with a rap but it is less energetic than his previous rap from “Butterfly,” mirroring the regret he feels for not treating his love well. However, his rap picks up speed and his voice gains more energy as he describes how he will change and pursue his love again. In fact, I feel as if the entire song gains more energy as the boys sing about the lessons they learned and the hope that their love will be rekindled. The song ends with the piano solo we heard in the beginning, however, after the increasing passion of the song, the listener now interprets the tune of the piano solo as hopeful instead of sorrowful. This song makes for a perfect conclusion to the album as it illustrates the hope that comes with maturity and growth. Because of the lessons and experiences the boys have gone through, they are able to approach love in a new, refined way as reflected by all the songs on the album.

This entire album sticks to the concept of Dream very well and is a perfect representation of how the band has grown since their last album: the boys of Astro go from dreaming of a relationship with their love interest to singing about their dream girl to reflecting on a former love that they dream of rekindling. Every member shows incredible vocal growth and the rich combination of their unique voice creates emotions that the listener can’t help but feel themselves. Even the lyrics and messages conveyed show a more matured way of thinking. The album begins with a high energy that gradually simmers down to a contemplative song of hope. For Astro, it may be a closing song hopeful of the future of their love life but for fans, it’s a song that teases them with what’s to come from the next album from these talented boys.

What do you think of Astro’s latest album? Let us know your thoughts in the comment selection below! Be sure to subscribe to the site and follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Tumblr to keep up with all the K-pop news.

Red Velvet’s ‘Peek-A-Boo’ song & music video review

red velvet peek-a-boo peekaboo mv music video song review

By Alexandra DiBenigno

Red Velvet returns to the K-pop music scene with the release of their spooky new song, “Peek-A-Boo,” off their second full album, Perfect Velvet. The group has been busy this year, releasing multiple singles like “Rookie” and the summery hit song “Red Flavor.” But, the girls throw away their cute image for a newer, darker one in their latest track, which will surely be on the top of everyone’s fall playlist.

red velvet peekaboo gir peek-a-boo review mv song

via kibaems @ Tumblr


The latest single by the five-member girl group demonstrates each member’s strength, while also showing off their strong harmonization skills. The song has a funky beat highlighted with a strong bass in the background and usual club house beats used commonly throughout their music. However, Red Velvet diverts from the usual by carrying the chorus with their heavenly harmonization and repetitive “peek-a-boo” line, bringing a singable chorus that many international ReVeluvs (their fandom name) to enjoy.

Yeri’s rap especially shines, with the maknae (youngest member) finally given multiple lines and showing if off with quick lyrics, seamless flow, and an overall strong delivery. Joy and Seulgi’s lower vocals bring a sexy addition to the already club boppin, mature song, while Irene delivers her usual strong rap with ease. Throughout the song, the main vocalist, Wendy, flaunts her impeccable vocals without actually overtaking the song, as was seen in “Red Flavor.” Instead, each member is given the opportunity to display their vocals or rap without any one individual hogging the spotlight. Overall, the song has fair line distribution, something ReVeluvs will surely appreciate.

red velvet peekaboo song gif mv peek-a-boo

via leaderirene @ Tumblr

“Peek-A-Boo” is a well-balanced song that includes obvious K-pop tropes, while keeping to the unique style that the girls have perfected after three years of successful comebacks. While this might not be everyone’s cup of tea, it’s a step in the right direction for the group as they continue to mature and leave their girly image behind.

Also on KultScene: Monsta X’s ‘Dramarama’ song & music video review

Music Video

red velvet peek-a-boo gif peekaboo mv

via the-overdose @ Tumblr

Overall, the music video is one of Red Velvet’s finest, showing off unique cinematography and filtering, plus sparkling outfits and eerie imagery. With obvious Halloween vibes, outfits, and settings, it’s a shame SM Entertainment didn’t make the decision to release the video prior to Oct. 31st because the music video screams “K-pop Halloween fun!” But, regardless of the release date, “Peek-A-Boo” is a fun homage to old-time scary movies and is the perfect transition video as the fall season winds down.

red velvet peek-a-boo gif review song mv peekaboo

via sowonis @ Tumblr

The music video is unusually violent for a girl group, with guns, knives, and razors being seen throughout. Not to mention that what seemingly appeared to be a storyline about a group of women who enjoy the thrill of new love, yet quick leave their men behind when it got boring, ended in a plot twist about them maybe disposing of the pizza delivery guy and a bunch of others.

The choreography is, as always, quick, difficult, and catchy. The girls never shy away from a challenge when it comes to their choreography, and this latest single is no different. Irene and Seulgi shine in the center during the chorus, both showing off the exceptional choreography that Red Velvet is always known for during their comebacks.

red velvet peekaboo peek-a-boo mv gif

via leaderirene @ Tumblr

With endless symbolism and imagery, their latest music video is surely to leave an everlasting impression on viewers and showcases the girls’ immense talent.

Also on KultScene: 6 Highlights from BewhY’s ‘The Blind Star’ Los Angeles stop


Red Velvet have grown as a group throughout the years and always bring a fresh, new style to each comeback that stands out amongst other K-pop girl groups. In comparison to their earlier singles this year, “Peek-A-Boo” showcases a maturer side to the group, both musically and physically. Previously, the group had showcased a sultrier sound through their “velvet” concept, mainly the R&B songs. But this track is the first where we see them actually drawing from both sides and make magic together. Released in February of this year, “Rookie” embodied the common imagery seen throughout K-pop girl groups, with frills and bright colors being displayed throughout the music video. Although slightly less evident, the summery hit “Red Flavor” still showed a younger, girlier side, too. But, with this latest single, the members have become women and aren’t afraid to show it off by incorporating sexier vocals and imagery, whether through their expressions or clothing. It’s a refreshing, and overall more appealing side to the already unique group.

While “Peek-A-Boo” can be seen as their sexiest comeback, Red Velvet still makes sure that their vocals, raps, and talents shine through whatever clothing or dance moves they might be displaying. It’s a song that appeals to both Koreans and international music fans alike, and enable them to continue to stand at the forefront as one of the strongest girl groups in K-pop.

What do you think of Red Velvet’s latest comeback single? Let us know your thoughts in the comment selection below! Be sure to subscribe to the site and follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Tumblr to keep up with all the K-pop news.

Monsta X’s ‘Dramarama’ song & music video review

monsta x dramarama review song music video mv kpop k-pop

Monsta X returned to the K-pop scene on Nov. 7th with “Dramarama” off of their fifth mini album titled The Code. This is the third comeback from Monsta X in 2017, after releasing “Beautiful,” “Shine Forever,” and “Newton” earlier this year. The title track intertwines distinctive guitar riffs to create groovy instrumentals and blends them with the group’s signature hip-hop sound.


On a regular basis, it takes a couple of listens for me to capture the vibe of a song. With “Dramarama,” I was able to enjoy it after listening to it for the first time. Compared to the group’s previous title tracks like “Beautiful” and “All In,” which have been strong and in-your-face, this track has a funky vibe, thanks to the prominent guitar instrumental.

“Dramarama” is a stepping stone for the septet, showing a new side to listeners. It’s steadier than their previous title tracks, which have been fast-paced. It starts off at a steady pace, playing along with the guitar riffs, added by vocals. The build-up from the pre-chorus, led by Hyungwon, is a great transition into the chorus. The chorus is catchy, and I enjoyed the rap section because of Jooheon’s grittiness and I.M’s deep tone.

What I enjoyed about this track is the way they were able to attempt a different sound that is usually hip-hop with a mixture of EDM, but keeps the aggressive style Monsta X is known for. It was surprising to hear this type of sound from the group, since it’s something that listeners are not used to hearing from them.

Also on KultScene: Taemin’s ‘MOVE’ song & music video review

Music Video

The video for “Dramarama” explores the theme of time traveling and the price that comes along with it. The plot revolves around Kihyun, Minhyuk, and Wonho discovering a watch that allows them to time travel. It centers primarily around Kihyun, who goes back in time to save Jooheon’s life after a car accident, while Minhyuk is taken back to an alley where both he and I.M are being chased by men in dark suits, and Wonho goes back in time to kendo fight with Shownu. As for Hyungwon, it seems he’s a time traveler who skips around time to help the others by giving them the watch to fix or do something in the past.

Along with “Beautiful,” this is one of the group’s best videos to date. The symbols that are included within the video like the watches, the clue on the newspaper suggesting that Hyungwon is a time traveler, the voice over stating the watches are not allowed in first few seconds in the video helps viewers understand the storyline. But there are more questions that I have. What is the story behind Minhyuk and I.M’s friendship? What is the connection between Wonho and Shownu’s characters? Why is Hyungwon’s character so important?

The song and video relate to each other because in the song, the members talk about trying to figure out their “drama” with someone. In the video, Kihyun, Minhyuk, and Wonho are attempting to figure out their dilemmas by using the watches to prevent tragedy, win battles, and reunite with a longtime friend.

Between the narrative, choreography is included, where the members are dancing inside a tunnel, decked out in a mixture of red and black ensembles. Even though the video focused more on the narrative, I enjoyed the dancing, especially the shoulder shimmy and the little milly rock that Jooheon, Kihyun and Minhyuk do in Jooheon’s rap section.

Also on KultScene: The story of LOONA: ODD EYE CIRCLE


Monsta X has shown excellent growth this past year when it comes to music, and “Dramarama” is a good example of that progress. Compared to the other tracks released this year, which have been edgy and glitchy, “Dramarama” is slightly toned down. They are known for their powerful tracks and performances, so it’s refreshing to see a slight change in this song, while still fusing their original style into the track. Hopefully this will be the song that will encourage the group to experiment with different sounds in the future.

What did you think of “Dramarama?” Are you liking this new vibe Monsta X are going for? Let us know your thoughts in the comment section below. Be sure to subscribe to the site and follow us on FacebookTwitterInstagram, and Tumblr to keep up with al

Taemin’s ‘MOVE’ song & music video review

One year after releasing his first full length album Press It, SHINee’s Taemin made his comeback on October 16th with the title track “MOVE” off his second full length album of the same name. MOVE as a whole takes on a mixture of pop and R&B, exploring a variety of genres. But it’s in the single where the soloist truly lets his artistic colors show themselves.


“MOVE” is a sultry pop-R&B track that showcases Taemin’s breathy and soothing vocals. In the song, Taemin croons as he expresses the beauty of a person he has fallen for. The song itself gives me a sultry and sexy feeling, and it takes a couple of listens to finally get the true nature of the song.

Also on KultScene: David Anthony on songwriting & succeeding in the K-pop market [interview]

The production is reminiscent to what The Weeknd has been releasing over the past while, offering up a very groovy and pulse-pounding sound. Unlike “Press Your Number” and “Drip Drop” from Taemin’s first album, “MOVE” is a track that is slightly reminiscent of the ’80s thanks to its heavy bass sound.

Music Video:

There were three versions of the video released for “MOVE.” The main version contains shots of Taemin walking and dancing in the rain before shifting into another scene where he is wearing a bejeweled mask. The use of the rain and cinematography during the choreography scenes was terrific and brilliant.

The second video is the solo version, which showcases Taemin’s best quality: dancing. We get to see more of the choreography, which is perfectly synchronized and fluid with the beat of the song. The third video is a duo version, which features only Taemin and choreographer Koharu Sugawara.

Also on KultScene: DAY6 explores love & friendship through recent ‘Every DAY6’ releases

It was interesting that Taemin released three versions of the video instead of one because it seems like he wanted to showcase how each one would look in a different perspective, with the first one focused on theatrics while the other two focused on choreography. It was a unique attempt for K-pop, though perhaps differentiating each of the videos a bit more would have helped make the need for three videos more obvious. Even so, there was plenty of eye-candy choreography to make the appease the most ardent dance fans.


“MOVE” is a good comeback title track, and it’s different from what we have been hearing in K-pop this year. We’ve been getting releases that have been following the mainstream dance sounds for a while now, so it’s nice to see something for a change. Taemin has a style that makes him different from many other K-pop solo acts in that he is willing to experiment with sounds that the Korean audience isn’t used to hearing. It would be interesting to see if this style continues to make its way into the K-pop scene.

What did you like, or dislike, about Taemin’s “MOVE”? Let us know in the comment section below and be sure to subscribe to the site and follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Tumblr to keep up with all of our posts.

7 K-pop music styles we’d love to hear more

k-pop music styles kpop rhythms

The magic of K-pop lies in the fact that you can’t exactly separate the music from the visuals, or the dance and the personality of the artists. It’s a full entertainment package that’s not exclusive to music. Actually, as we’ve mentioned in a previous article, it’s hard to describe what kind of music K-pop is because it can presents itself in various genres and styles.

So far, in 2017, we’ve been hearing styles such as Caribbean–house hybrids, future bass, synthpop, new wave and disco in lots of K-pop hits. Still, many K-pop acts sometimes venture on different and not so usual genres too, and they all absolutely nail it. There are many examples of K-pop songs that flee from conventional. It’s a bold take to bring up something from a different style or culture, but K-pop adds its own touch to it, in a fun and non-appropriative way. Let’s check some examples of music styles that we’d love to hear more of.


Electronic music is by no means rare in K-pop. However, this subgenre is not so commonly explored —maybe because techno exhibits few musical elements over the beats and “few musical elements” is something hard to introduce in K-pop, more known for being loud and overloaded.

When it does happen, though, it’s awesome. The fast-paced and repetitive beat is perfect for storytelling lyrics full of tension, like in 2010’s E.via bop “Pure Love of a Maiden” (although there’s controversy about considering E.via as K-pop, since she was a rapper; her instrumentals and visuals were very pop-oriented, though) and Dreamcatcher’s “Sleep-Walking,” a great b-side of their 2017 mini album.


Jazz is the oldest music genre you’ll see on this list. Also, interestingly enough, among all of the genres listed, it’s the one with the biggest influence in K-pop. The smooth piano and the brass instruments are often heard here and there, like in B.A.P.’s “Coffee Shop” or Ladies Code’s “Bad Girl.”

However, it’s really fancy and unique when K-pop sounds like jazz in a full way, letting it dictate the whole direction of the song instead of only inspiring the production. Jazz has lots of subgenres and we’ve heard some of them in K-pop. Amber Liu’s “Shake That Brass” and Ailee’s “U & I” follow the style of big band jazz songs. On the other hand, Girl’s Day’s “Darling” is more like swing jazz, and Girls Generation’s most recent album brought the standard vertent in “Love is Bitter.”

Jazz also works fantastically to showcase the vocal skills of female vocalists, like in Spica’s “You Don’t Love Me” and the Ailee song previously mentioned. As you can see, in the fusion of K-pop and jazz, the possibilities are multiple.

Also on KultScene: 8 misheard K-pop lyrics pt. 7


Few years before Meghan Trainor and Charlie Puth revived doo-wop trend in mainstream America, K-pop girl group Secret explored the retro concept in 2011 with the cute and bright “Shy Boy.” (By the way, doo-wop is the genre that revealed the first girl groups ever in the world: The Chantels, The Ronettes, The Marvelettes etc.).

As for the boy groups in K-pop, the doo-wop sound is mostly executed in its softer and romantic version, which in turn gets a sexy touch in K-pop, as we heard on Winner’s “Baby Baby” and Highlight’s “Danger.” Retro concepts are very current in K-pop, so doo-wop might be a nice genre to be explored more.


We’ve heard touches of reggae in lots of recent K-pop hits due to the Afro-Caribbean-house trend that has been going on since 2016, like in BTS’ “Blood, Sweat and Tears” or any of K.A.R.D.’s singles. But reggae? Just reggae? Not so common.

Wonder Girls did it and were extremely successful, achieving an all-kill with the fantastic and jam-alongable “Why So Lonely” in 2016. Not so much in the K-pop spectrum, we had Primary’s collaboration with AOA’s Choa, “Don’t Be Shy,” and G. Soul’s delicious “Far, Far Away.” While it always had a light presence in their earlier songs, 2NE1 did it more directly on their last album with “Come Back Home.” The calm vibes of reggae go along pretty well with the sultry voices of many K-pop vocalists, so we’d love to see more reggae tunes in K-pop.

Airy Pop

With the right vocals and production, synthpop can sound like a very cosmic and relaxing experience. Some boy group members such as NCT U’s Ten and Topp Dogg’s I’m (아임) have shown their elegant songs “Dream in a Dream” and “Save Me,” respectively.

In “Dream in a Dream,” the adding of traditional Asian sounds makes the song even more fascinating, like a travel in space and/or time. And due to the beautiful heritage of Korean traditional music and instruments, I think K-pop could use elements of it more often. As for “Save Me,” the main structure of production of the song is no different than synthpop ballads commonly heard in K-pop, such as Taeyang’s “Wake Me Up.” “Save Me,” however, has a strategic choice of sonic elements, like reverb, that give the song an ethereal vibe. Soft jams are always so well executed by K-pop artists, why not have more of that with an airy feel?

Also on KultScene: 4 things we can learn from K.A.R.D’s racist incident in Brazil

Bossa Nova, Samba, & other Brazilian Rhythms

I’m Brazilian, and as such, I can’t help noticing whenever a rhythm of ours is used in K-pop, even if so far ibrief. Korean indie music has a love affair with bossa nova, one of our most acclaimed music genres. It suits perfectly to the coffee house vibe that Korea loves. In K-pop, we have lots of sweet examples too, such as Lovelyz’s “My Little Lover” and Mamamoo’s “Words Don’t Come Easy.”

Samba is also one of the biggest symbols of Brazilian culture, and can be heard in Elris’ “You and I” and in the bridge of f(x)’s “Rum Pum Pum Pum.” Less known overseas but just as effervescent, technobrega (a style arisen from the northern State of Pará) can be heard in the pre-chorus of Twice’s “Cheer Up.”

Like said in the introduction, K-pop is worth of compliments due to the fact that they incorporate those rhythms without signs of stereotyping or disrespecting the cultures they are channelling. Latino rhythms are used more than Brazilian ones (we even highlighted some latin inspired songs here), but as a Brazilian, I feel like I have the right to bring up the times our music had made itself present in K-pop and emphasize its autonomy from the music of other countries people often mistake us for.

Punk Rock

Already mentioned on this list, Dreamcatcher has been catching (no pun intended) the attention of K-pop fans due to their distinctive resistance to release synthpop, aegyo inspired music heard in most K-pop girl groups of the moment. Instead, they’ve been betting on the sound that is already familiar to fans of Japanese rock (J-rock), which is largely influenced by punk rock and heavy metal.

I was unsure of inserting this style in this list, since Dreamcatcher has been using it so consistently as a concept itself that suggesting other groups to do it as well might seem like a straight copy. However, when PRISTIN released “We Like,” I instantly fell in love, like described in our Weekly Pop Faves at the time. The punk-rock influences in the chorus and pre-chorus, combined with the chord progressions and the group vocals, reminded me of punk rock female bands such as Halo Friendlies and girl power british pop punk groups from the 90’s like Shampoo.

K-pop itself is a force to be reckoned with, so there’s no need to follow the same steps as Japanese rock bands, but it would be great to hear more punk rock influences like these, even if only in some parts of the songs.

Renders by: [KseniaKangsmrookiesentUsama162transparentkaepop, xCherry0nTop]

What other style would you like to hear more on K-pop? Let us know your picks and thoughts on the comment section below and be sure to subscribe to the site and follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Tumblr to keep up with all of our posts.