This week for our K-pop faves, we picked very diverse picks. From R&B, to soloists, to up and coming boy bands, here are the songs that stood out to us the most.
“Swimming Pool” by George (Released Mar. 3)
The last couple of years have seen a surge of R&B acts in Korea, and while not all of them are particularly good, there are a few that stand out. George is one of such artists I’ve been low key keeping tabs on. His latest release, “Swimming Pool,” is chill and depressing and is just such a #mood for colder days or when you’re PMS-ing. The singer produced the song all by himself, proving that he has the chops to join his contemporaries as a fave in the scene. It is, after all, barely his third single, so I can’t wait to see how his artistry and career play out.
“Idle Song” by Jeon Soyeon (Released Feb. 28)
Cube Entertainment’s plucky little secret weapon, Jeon Soyeon came back this week an interesting track called “Idle Song.” Written and produced by herself, along with “Flow Blow,” “Idle Song” is about a stagnant romance. After a long time, Soyeon and her lover have become too comfortable with each other. She’s reminiscing at times about how much she loved this person, but now it’s so far gone she can even criticize his Stussy hoodie (shock horror). The music follows her languidly. It’s basically just a continuous bluesy guitar riff, a beat, and a few scattered keys. Soyeon raps over with her irresistible charm. She switches between rapping and singing with such ease that they eventually seem to be the same thing. It’s a unique quality that even labelmate Hyuna can’t quite grasp. Everything combines to perfectly express the discontentment of her words. It’s not merely a sense of boredom that she’s conveying, the guitar gives it that feeling of love and the sense of a past. It’s a sad realization that even the best things must come to an end.
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“Mamma Mia” by SF9 (Released Feb. 26)
SF9 got on the radar of a lot of people (including myself) with their last comeback, “O Sole Mio.” At first, “Mamma Mia” could seem that it would go for the same style of its predecessor, due to the title in Italian language. But instead, the FNC Entertainment boy group went for an upbeat song with reminiscences of rockabilly music and other 1960’s sounds this time. It’s definitely their catchiest release so far. I love how the chorus stands out from the harmony of the verses and intro/post-choruses, and overall, I absolutely love the spectacle, musical, and theatrical vibes. For someone who doesn’t really stan a lot of boy groups, I’ve been getting impressed by SF9 way too much, and if they continue to release songs like “O Sole Mio” and “Mamma Mia,” I think might become a big fan.
“Stuck On” by Kim Sungkyu (Released Feb. 26)
INFINITE’s Kim Sungkyu has always had solid albums, and his first full album 10 stories is similarly so. An elongated, perhaps not as tightly produced, rehash of his electro and synth-pop 2015 27 EP, my personal standout track is the hypnotizing “Stuck On.” Blending electronic beats and a simple piano melody, the B-side packs a powerful emotional punch and one of his best performances on the album, not at all diminished, and perhaps even enhanced, by the heavy vocal distortions. He chose to perform it at several music shows alongside the single “True Love,” and it’s absolutely glorious to hear Sungkyu’s clear vocals interacting with the echoing backing track.
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“Please” by Kim Sungkyu (Performed Mar. 3)
I first heard this song on the variety program All the Butlers, when Jeon In Kwon (vocalist of Deulgukhwa) performed it for the members at the end of their stay with him. It brought the members to tears, and the strong emotions of the song were indeed very moving, even if I wasn’t privy to the socio-political context of the song. On his recent appearance on Yoo Hee Heol’s Sketchbook, INFINITE’s Kim Sungkyu performed a toned down but equally touching version of it, displaying his musical-trained impressive vocal abilities through the entirely live performance. With his clear, sweet voice, Sungkyu conveyed in his own way the desperate sentiments of the song, and brought a new meaning to it.
“Daydream” by J-hope (Released Mar. 1)
After countless mentions, teasers, and false alarms, BTS’s J-hope was able to finally drop his debut solo mixtape, Hope World, this past Thursday, becoming the third member to do so after RM and Suga (aka Agust D). Along with the “Hixtape,” the colloquial name fans ascribed to the album, the rapper also released a pop-art inspired music video for “Daydream,” an artistic direction that suits the modern funky song to a T. It addresses the deep, unattainable desires with profound psychedelic elements, using bouncy beats as a framework for whispery vocals. Like the references he makes to Lewis Caroll’s psychedelic novel Alice in Wonderland, we are able to get a better sense of these mirage-like dreams when we take everything in holistically.
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