Fall is one of the best times for K-pop because pretty much everyone makes a comeback. Like September, October saw the rise of some of the most talked about boy groups – who all delivered quality music. And though there was little to no activity on the girl group front, TWICE swooped in at the very end to remind us all why they’re the princesses of K-pop. There was so much going on to like, but here’s a look at the comebacks (and one debut) that really impressed me.
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
August was hectic, and October and November are shaping up to be just as wild. So September provided a nice little breather! Things were on the lighter side, but there were still plenty of comebacks to enjoy. I’ll admit I spent most of my time fangirling over EXO and BTS, but some of my other favorite groups came back with some quality music.
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.
I feel like I’m always mentioning the large amounts of music released every month, but August was something else. There were so many artists that I had to make three different posts!!! Now you can see why I’ve decided to consolidate my reviews in the long run. I already covered a lot of rookies in the Produce 101 alumni post, but there are some others that I think are worth noting. Aside from NCT Dream, these are groups that either just debuted or rookies I haven’t really checked out. I usually don’t pick groups I’m unfamiliar with, so this will be a different perspective.
August was the magic month for Produce 101 reunions. Wanna One arrived on the scene, almost half of I.O.I. returned in their new groups, and alumni from both seasons either released new music or made their debut. Who would have thought that this show would help jump start the careers of so many young idols? Let’s look at all how all of these rookies are faring!
Frequent readers of my blog will know I started out mainly writing reviews of K-POP’s latest releases. I still really enjoy doing those, but they’re super time-consuming. On average, it takes me about two days to do all the research, make GIFs, and actually write the review…and that’s when I’m focused! If I did that for every group I liked or I was interested in, I’d be forever behind. And there also just times when I don’t feel I have enough material to fill up a whole post. So I’ve come up with a new solution!
Rapid(ish) Reviews will be a blanket post for multiple artists at once. I’ll still use the same scoring system, but I’m going to focus on what I feel is most pertinent rather than every single little thing. I’m still going to do the big reviews for artists that I really like and/or feel I have a lot to say about, but I think this is an easier way to share my opinions when I’m pressed for time. Because there were so many comebacks in August, I’ve split this into multiple posts. This one will cover the more well-known idols or ones who have been around for a while. I’ll make another one about all the rookies / Produce 101 alum.
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
These are turbulent times for K-pop’s second generation, especially for female idols. In the past year, we’ve seen so many iconic girl groups disband: Kara, 4minute, 2NE1, Wonder Girls, and my personal favorite Sistar (*sobs*). With all these unexpected goodbyes, it’s kind of a miracle Girls’ Generation made it to the ten year mark. The revelation that they’re negotiating their contracts ruined it a bit, and I think we’re all still better about that one week of promotions. Nonetheless, we still got to celebrate with their first album in two years. And though many agree this comeback wasn’t up to par for such a special anniversary, both songs are still fun.