I had quite a few surprises between July and September in terms of K-pop and what I was enjoying from the new releases. Any repeat reader of my blog (thanks, if you are!) will know I’m a girl group stan and hardly listen to any boy groups. But not only did BTS land themselves in my favourite songs from quarter three, so did another boy group and a male soloist.
I said in my favourite K-pop songs of 2020 quarter 2 that the girls were really taking centre stage, but the boys were back in quarter 3.
BTS – Dynamite
Come on now, you can’t have thought Dynamite wouldn’t make it into this list, right? Dynamite is well and truly one of the best songs of the summer. This song never not puts me in a good mood if I need a boost. I wish I’d started listening to it from its day of release rather than being a bit late to it, because I really deprived myself of a few extra days of playing it.
The all-English track is a good gateway song for people unsure of BTS or wanting to try out K-pop. Obviously the lyrics are all in English so you can easily figure out what the song’s about. But it’s still very much BTS’ sound – although I admit I don’t listen to a lot of them. I feel I would definitely recognise this as BTS if I didn’t know beforehand.
And can we just talk about V? Jimin and RM usually stand out the most to me and while Jimin does still in Dynamite, V really stole the show for me.
Chung Ha – Play
Chung Ha is unstoppable. The second pre-release for her upcoming album, Play seems to be the older sister of Chica, a B-side from last year’s Flourishing, which gave the title track of Snapping. It has a tropical vibe and was released at the perfect time of the year, summer. The MV is full of colour and Chung Ha’s trademark flawless dancing.
The Spanish feel is visible throughout, especially with the ballroom-esque dancing in the break and, of course, the matador scene in which Chung Ha waves the red cloth as a sports car circle her.
Play and Stay Tonight were physically released as a maxi-single, however it has no spine cover so isn’t the usual level of beauty that Chung Ha’s physical releases usually are. So while the actual song is great, the physical release is not up to standard, sadly.
Dreamcatcher – Boca
Hopefully the last Dreamcatcher comeback without Handong, Boca is the second in the Dystopia trilogy. With a powerful message of the harm just words can cause and lyrics such as “where is the love” and “too many angels dying now”, Boca really fits well within the age of social media and the importance of mental health.
As usual with Dreamcatcher’s title tracks, Boca has a rock sound, though this time brings in somewhat of a Latin flair in places, as well as electronic elements. It’s easily recognisable as Dreamcatcher, which is why I enjoy it so much.
The MV gives the girls an ethereal makeover in places, as well as their powerful, edgier streetwear outfits. The choreo is just as complicated as fans have come to know and love from Dreamcatcher. And the new hairstyles really make the members shine. Pink hair Gahyeon? Blue hair Dami? Blue streak Siyeon? Obsessed.
Dreamcatcher is my ultimate group, so I can’t wait for Handong to be back. She’s back in South Korea now, so it’s only a matter of time before some OT7 content.
Everglow – La Di Da
I need help. I have had La Di Da on repeat since it was released – and I’m not exaggerating in the slightest. It was released on September 21 and it is already my most played song for the past four weeks on Spotify, and my third most played song from the past six months. This is Everglow‘s best comeback, hands down, so far.
Every single member gets a chance to shine in La Di Da, it’s not a case of Mia and her backing singers and dancers like Dun Dun kind of was. Onda has actual lines and time in the centra. Sihyeon has the killer parts of the song. Aisha’s voice is beautiful and the tone in her “don’t bring me down, down, don’t bring me down,” gave me shivers the first time I heard it. E:U’s rap is fire, as usual. Yiren is just breathtaking in the MV. And Mia, of course, is just a star. That will never change, even when the other members get a chance to shine.
La Di Da brings a disco, newtro vibe and throws in some mild Vogueing. Yes, I am trying to learn the hand choreo. It has the Everglow sound that we’ve heard since Adios, though with a touch of Bon Bon Chocolat too, which I think works beautifully. La Di Da is just a masterpiece.
Jessi – Nunu Nana
I have followed Jessi on Instagram for months and months, however wasn’t a fan of her music. She’s another that I keep up to date with, but was rarely taken in by her releases. However Nunu Nana had me from the first listen.
The attitude and sass is palpable and I feel powerful when I listen to it, especially the opener to the chorus. The music to the chorus carries it through and makes it memorable. And Jessi, known for her rapping, would not sound out of place on Western radios. But her singing voice is soulful and beautiful too, and she transitions between the two effortlessly.
Nunu Nana seems to have brought her a lot of success which I’m very happy about, because it’s a great song and in every interview I’ve seen of Jessi, she seems to be a lovely person, so she deserves the success.
Nuna – the mini-album from which the song is taken – is at the top of my must-listen list, as I’m sure there will be other songs on there I like too. Especially as Kard’s BM makes an appearance.
Kard – Gunshot
Like Dreamcatcher’s Boca, Gunshot from Kard has an important message of being careful what you say to someone. There is strong imagery throughout the MV to match the words, as well as powerful choreography which the group pulls off easily. As usual, the styling is impeccable and I wish I could pull off half of the ensembles BM and J.Seph wear.
J.Seph is enlisting in the military, so I don’t know if this will be the last Kard release until he is back, but I’ll miss him for sure. Kard are a group I was late to as I didn’t immediately like their sound, but it’s really grown on me as I’ve moved away from Bubblegum K-pop a bit. They’re a group I struggle to choose a bias in, and I love the friendships they all have, so I’m sure they’ll be sad to see J.Seph go temporarily too.
Somi – What You Waiting For
It feels like What You Waiting For is the perfect choice for Somi‘s first comeback, as we seemed to be waiting and waiting for it to arrive. It features a similar sound to her solo debut Birthday, though more mature, which is welcomed. The music is just as catchy as Birthday though, and the chorus features lyrics, unlike the 2019 trend of just music and a dance break.
Somi looks beautiful in the MV and it’s clear her confidence has grown, as evident in her music show performances. She got her first music show win with the song too, which was well deserved.
After being a fan of Somi in I.O.I, it’s great to see her thriving solo, and it seems that was always her destiny. I just can’t imagine her in another group, though I’m sure I’d have been a fan of it regardless.
Treasure – Boy
Treasure really cemented their presence in K-pop with their debut, Boy. The group was made through YG’s survival show Treasure Box, which I didn’t keep up with or take much notice of. I’m not a big listener of boy groups, so wasn’t too interested, instead giving Boy a try when it was released. And wow.
It’s difficult to believe that Boy is Treasure’s debut. These guys feel like seasoned artists, not a rookie group of just a few months old. They have the popularity to match an established group too, with sales of their physical releases already past half a million.
After their debut with Boy in August, Treasure released the second chapter of their The First Step series, with the title track I Love You. Already they seem to have found their sound, however Boy was more enjoyable for me, which is why it finds itself on this list.
I have high expectations for Treasure, and I’m looking forward to seeing where they go and what they do next.
Wonho – Open Mind
Nobody is more surprised than me that I’m suddenly a big Wonho fan. I listened to a few Monsta X songs when he was a part of the group and I followed his story when he left them, but I wouldn’t have called myself much of a fan. But Open Mind – his entire solo debut, actually – is incredible.
It makes me wonder why he was never given a solo debut prior to leaving Monsta X, because while he shone in the group, he seems built to be a soloist. And I’m not talking his physical build, which is mind-blowing in itself.
Open Mind doesn’t leave you wanting more. You never think there’s something missing. Wonho keeps the listener, or viewer in terms of the MV, engaged throughout and having the spotlight on him alone seems completely natural.
The story surrounding his Monsta X exit is sad but admiral – the false allegations about him using marijuana, of which he was cleared, and him sacrificing his place in the group to stop any negativity being associated with them – but I can’t help but see it as a blessing in disguise. Wonho doesn’t need six other guys – he is a star.