Weekly K-pop faves: Aug. 28- Sept. 3

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The last week of August and first few days of September saw a lot of good new music from South Korea, both from new and old acts alike. Former 4Minute member HyunA made her return, boy band of the moment Wanna One released a new music video, and Produce 101 finalist Jeong Sewoon made his debut. Check out what we liked about some of their releases.

“Just U” by Jeong Sewoon (Released Aug. 31)

It feels like every day there’s some new music from a Produce 101 Season 2 alum, and the last day of August brought about Jeong Sewoon’s debut with his first EP and the single “Just U.” While I would have expected generic acoustic pop from Sewoon after what he seemed to lean towards during Produce, his debut single is a guitar-driven smooth R&B pop hybrid that doesn’t sound so out of the wheelhouse of what someone like Lee Seunggi would attempt. There’s some funk and electronica elements thrown in, and Sik-K adds a melodic rap break, turning “Just U” into the epitome of K-pop’s freewheeling nature. Jeong showed a lot of promise during the reality series and though he didn’t make it into the final lineup for Wanna One, this is a promising debut and I can’t wait to see what he does next.


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“Babe” by HyunA (Released Aug. 29)

I had completely given up on the trend before these last two weeks. Thanks to the work of the new gen girl and boy groups (Victon, DIA, and Pristin in particular) there’s been a resurgence of interesting tracks within the genre. The queen of K-pop brought the best though as she returned with “Babe” a song that uses the sound as her base and roams around it trying different things. Teaming back up with Shinsadong Tiger was Hyuna’s best decision in a long time. Alongside steel drum synths he packs the chorus with sawtooth synths to contrast the softness of the verses. “Babe” also represents Hyuna’s fight back against the haters. In her own version of IU’s “Twenty Three” she teases those who simultaneously drool over her and shame her. In a great reflexive moment in the music video she literally steps off stage during her routine seemingly fed up with it and walks off to a transcendent plane where maybe she can find some peace.


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“Wanna Be” by Wanna One (Uploaded Aug. 30)

While the boy group of the moment, Wanna One, released a music video for their fan song “Wanna Be,” it was their performance of it on one of the music shows that grabbed my attention. It usually takes groups awhile before they release a song dedicated to their fans, but given their finite lifetime and the fact that they actually exist because of their fandom, it makes sense that they’d feature one on their first EP. “Wanna B” might be a gift for Wannables, their fandom, but this performance is a gem in itself. All of the members stepped up their aegyo game all the way up with this one, and for having such a hectic schedule, the members look like they’re having fun while performing. The song, for its part, is bubblegum pop gold and super infectious. I especially like the fact that all the main vocalists got their chance to shine at the chorus — especially Seungwoo. If you’re a Wannnable, it’s impossible not to fall deeper for these dorks with this rendition of “Wanna Be.”


What was your favorite K-pop release of the week? Let us know your picks and 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.

Weekly K-pop faves: August 20-27

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Things are starting to slow down in K-pop as they gear up for the big comebacks of the fall. This, however, doesn’t mean we didn’t like any new releases this week. Without a big K-pop group having a comeback this week, other artists who are a bit more low key or up and coming were able to shine. Here’s what we especially loved this week.

“We Like” by PRISTIN (Released Aug. 23)

As much as I’m easy to like girl group songs, I was honestly not excited about PRISTIN‘s “WE WOO.” “We Like,” however, really made up for the weaknesses and the excess of aegyos of their debut song, delivering something powerful and deliciously catchy this time. The chorus and post-chorus are the absolute foundation of the song. The combination of the rock’n’roll influenced instrumental, appealing chord progression, cheerleader-ish hook, and hectic post-chorus remind me of some girl power British pop songs of the 90’s. Another positive point for me is the insertion of the background vocals to the hook right in the start of the song, instead of saving them for later, like it’s usually done. The pre-chorus works perfectly; the verses are full of different variations, avoiding any possibility of boredom; the rap is on point; and the bridge is absolutely awesome. It’s everything a song like this should have, focusing on the vocals and creating tension to end the song with just the right energy. The writers and producers of “We Like” didn’t save intensity in any point of this track.

—Ana Clara

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“Don’t Kill My Vibe” by Cherry Coke (Released Aug. 23)

Clicking random videos earlier this week on YouTube, I found this gem called “Don’t Kill My Vibe.” I was instantly drawn in by the lo-fi, chill R&B sound of the song. While the soft vocals are a given when it comes to female R&B singers in Korea, Cherry Coke’s works well with the song’s overall production, which is a lot more free. I don’t know a lot about the singer, but I’m definitely keeping an eye out for her after this song.


What was your favorite K-pop release of the week? Tell us what you think 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.

Weekly K-pop faves: July 31 – Aug. 6

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The first week of August was filled with a lot of truly great releases from the K-pop industry, raising expectations for the month. In this week’s playlist, KultScene’s team liked new music by the rock boy band The Rose, girl group CLC, and GOT7’s JB from his solo on JJ Project’s new EP.

“Sorry” by The Rose (Released Aug. 2)

The song starts strong right off the bat with power vocals from guitarist Woosung, who sets the tone for the rest of this beautiful, moody song. His voice balances out very nicely with the other vocalist of the band, Dojoon, who plays the keyboard, and though they have unique and vastly different tones, the pair blend together to create great harmonies which really intensified the emotions of this rock ballad. The song feels like a cross between DAY6 and Jung Joon Young’s music style, but as a fan of both these artists, it’s pitch perfect to me. The music video featured gorgeous cinematography and visually striking sets as well, giving the band a very classy yet diverse image. This was a very promising debut for the band and if they keep churning out such tunes, they definitely have the potential to go far and make it big in the industry.


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“Where Are You?” by CLC (Released Aug. 3)

Of the new generation of girl groups, very few people (nobody?) would consider CLC to be a contender. I wouldn’t have either until their most recent comeback with “Where Are You?” I have always liked them, but they remained firmly below a number of groups. What makes them stand out though, is their total disregard of an identity. Many use it to criticize them, but in an environment where groups like Blackpink and GFriend are totally redundant, it’s so refreshing. Especially so with a song like “Where Are You?” which brings the recent Japanese city pop revival trend to Korea for the first time. Produced by Armadillo, “Where Are You?” is a shimmering laid back track perfect for a relaxed summer evening. Its retro synths and saxophone are deployed to perfection alongside their best vocal performance to date. Sorn gets a special shoutout for her part in the chorus. It’s the chorus in general where the girls sing together is the detail that really makes this song work.


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“Fade Away” by JJ Project (Released July 31)

Being an IGOT7, the thing that made me stan JB was his buttery smooth vocals and my faith in his ability to pull off an R&B song, if JYP ever gave him the opportunity. My belief was validated when the singer uploaded a few tracks to his SoundCloud account earlier in the year, displaying the smooth crooning that he doesn’t get to properly show off with his group. A JB solo is far fetched at the moment, so when the JJ Project comeback was announced, I was ecstatic. Verse 2 is a solid album, but the track that won me over is hands down “Fade Away.” On his solo song, JB brought the emotional rawness of his SoundCloud songs into the album. R&B is pretty hard to pull off in K-pop, but I’d argue that, in terms of idols (and excluding Taeyang), JB is the only vocalist able to do the genre justice. I don’t know where this man is pulling all these emotions from (it’s only imagination, right? *sobs*), but it’s quite refreshing in a scene that dribbles with the robotic. I just wish they’d bring some of this into GOT7’s music — or at least give JB the damn solo he’s always deserved.


”One Last Time” by Girls’ Generation (Released Aug. 4)

While there are many nice listening experiences on <b>Girls’ Generation</b>’s anniversary album <em>Holiday Night</em>, it’s “One Last Time” that kept drawing me back in. While not as epic as Ariana Grande’s single of the same name, the Girls’ melodic b-side is sheer pop perfection. The melancholic song has a pretty basic, and honestly simplistic, melody, but it’s the soaring vocals and beautiful harmonies that keep me coming back for more. I’m a sucker for a heartbreaking love song, and with “One Last Time” Girls’ Generation’s definitely achieved that; even if you don’t understand the language, it’s obvious that the eight women are expressing pain and heartbreak through the wailing, soaring expressiveness of their verses. (Also make to check out “Fan” on the album, if you’re looking for another great b-side!) 


What was your favorite K-pop release of the week? Tell us what you think 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.