It’s been quite a year for NU’EST. Though they started 2017 on the verge of disbandment, they’re ending it more popular than ever before. They saw joining Produce 101 as a last-ditch effort, but in reality the show brought them more love and attention than they could have ever expected. With Minhyun in Wanna One, many were anticipating what NU’EST W’s comeback would be like. I’ll admit that I’m highly biased, but I think everything about “Where You At” is excellent. In fact, it’s one of my favorite releases of this entire year – perhaps even the favorite. Continue reading
October has been all about the rise of NU’EST W, from topping charts to getting their first ever music show win after five long years. They even got nominated for Best Male Group at the MAMAs this year! (I don’t think they’ll win, but wouldn’t that be nice?) If 2017 in K-Pop has proven anything, it’s that NU’EST are reversal icons and dreams can come true. So of course this month’s choice is the man who brought me and so many others to this wonderful group: Kim Jonghyun, also known as JR.
BTS is the group to beat right now. After exploding in popularity last year, they’ve continued to achieve new heights both in their home country and the international K-Pop market. There’s been so much buzz around them lately, from their Billboard award to their associations with popular Western artists like The Chainsmokers. The problem with massive popularity, however, is how quickly it can appear over-hyped. This is especially true in K-Pop, where a fandom’s job is basically to support and promote the group in any way possible.
To be clear, I really like BTS. I even converted my boyfriend into an ARMY (though he’ll never admit it). But I must confess that sometimes I catch myself wondering, “Are they really as amazing as everyone says they are? Are they really on such a different level from other groups?” When you’re constantly exposed to superficial things like memes and fangirl/fanboy posts on Tumblr, it’s easy to forget the skills and savvy that got BTS to where they are today. Luckily, “DNA” is the perfect reminder.
EXO is going all in on their superpower idea, and my not-so-inner geek is absolutely loving it. Aside from “Mama,” most references to their debut concept have been pretty subtle. Music videos like “Lucky One” and “Ko Ko Bop” were more on the artsy side, hinting at their elemental abilities through cool visual techniques. So I was surprised – and thrilled – that this latest comeback brings their powers front and center. “Power” is a clear homage to geek culture: comic books, video games, and pretty much every sci-fi movie and show we grew up with. It’s flashy and borderline kitschy, but it’s also a lot of fun – especially for EXO-Ls.
It’s hard to believe there was a time people scoffed at the idea of a male Produce 101. But even for the less skeptical, Wanna One has had an astounding amount of success. They literally dominated August, from charts to music shows to even variety show viewership ratings. I did a profile on them, and my list of their variety show appearances literally doubled my site traffic. And my friend who visited Seoul confirmed they were everywhere. Basically, they’re so successful that they’re potentially damaging the way things work in K-pop. Not only was their debut wildly popular, but it was also really good – and it proved these young men are indeed super rookies to keep an eye on. Continue reading
Hi again! I want to apologize to frequent visitors for the lack of activity on this blog – this summer’s been a busy one! I have a lot of different posts in the works, but I still have to edit most of them. In the meantime, I’ve been working on building up my Group Profile page, and I just did one for Wanna One! I plan to follow their activities closely, so I hope that this will be a good resource for fans and people who want to check them out.
A little update on what’s coming: The next post I will do will definitely be about the Monsta X concert, because I’ve been slacking off on that for like a week now. After that, I will get back to reviews because it’s been a while! I will definitely do Wanna One, and I’ll also do SNSD even though their promotions ended abruptly and there’s all that contract renewal drama. I haven’t decided which other groups I will cover yet because there are so many, but I’m happy to take any requests!
Concepts are very big in K-pop, but they can also be very tricky. Rookie groups often struggle to find one that works, and veteran groups might consider them limiting. Vixx, however, has turned concepts into their greatest asset. Part of their popularity comes from their ability to bring their ideas to life. The concept is the foundation of their comeback, and because of that everything else falls perfectly into place. I always look forward to Vixx’s comebacks, and “Shangri-la” definitely doesn’t disappoint. It’s lush and gorgeous, showing off their stellar sense of aesthetics and penchant for visual storytelling.
I’ve mentioned before that my main focus with SF9 is (or was) their dancing, because they’ve been pushed as FNC’s first male dance group. As long as their choreography is great, I was satisfied – I didn’t mind if other elements weren’t as interesting. But SF9 is pushing themselves, and “Easy Love” shows that they’re capable of much more than snazzy synchronized moves. In fact, this comeback has convinced me that they’re probably a group to watch out for.
Teen Top was actually the first group from the second generation (or is it third?) that I checked out. They motivated me to venture outside of the currently trending groups and really check out all the artists K-pop had to offer. It sounds cheesy, but if it weren’t for them I might be a very different kind of fan. So it’s safe to say that I’m very fond of them. “Love Is” is slightly sad for me, because L.Joe was my bias. But at the same time, it’s a good reminder of what Teen Top is good at and what they’re capable of.
YG’s organization is a running joke with K-pop fans (the company, not Yang Hyung Suk). Creatively, they’re on fire – their artists are widely acknowledged for their talent and popularity, often dominating charts and music shows. But in terms of planning, they’re a hot mess. “In the YG dungeon” has become the term for the many artists who go on extremely long hiatuses. Many people have been waiting for Winner’s comeback for a very long time. “Really Really” and “Fool” are both really quality comebacks, so I think that it’s been worth the wait.