October was a jam-packed month of K-Pop. Unlike the September issue, there were a few tracks that I had to actually leave out of this issue due to size. While not many real gladiators of the industry had releases, there was an overwhelming amount of releases from soloists and smaller groups.
A Look Back At The Month of October For K-Pop
Since LOONA made their debut back in August, it’s been a three-way race for rookie group of the year. At least that’s how I see it. (G)I-DLE saw astronomical success with “LATATA” and then followed it up with “Hann,” a smaller song that also saw decent numbers. LOONA made their debut months ago after lots of anticipation, releasing two spectacular songs in “Hi High” and “favOriTe.” Along with those two groups is fromis_9.
Fromis_9 has the (slightly) unfair advantage of debuting all the way back in January with the song “To Heart.” The group came back in June with the mini album To. Day, which featured “DKDK” as the title track. Both of these songs reached fourth on the Gaon charts and had decent Youtube numbers (“To Heart” sits at 2.4 million views while “DKDK” is at 3.8 million). Only one month into its release, fromis_9’s song called “Love Bomb” has improved on those two records.
“Love Bomb” is hard to pin down to one category. The song has serious parts with glitch-hop beats but also spends most of its time dabbling with bubblegum pop, something the group isn’t new to. The chorus is very catchy, with the repeated phrase in it of course being “Love Bomb.” The most phenomenal part of the song is the buildup to the third and final chorus, and the chorus itself.
On the assortment of songs that came with the title track, the one that caught my eye was “Coloring.” Included with the title track were two songs that were recorded by two sub-units of the group. This song, in particular, was done by Hayoung, Jiwon, Seoyeon and Nagyung, with the rest of the group being on the other recording. The track was a chill change of pace from the title track.
The group doesn’t have the popularity or budget of other rookie groups but so far is my pick for rookie group of the year.
Last month it was GOT7 who tested the waters of crossing into other languages. This month it was NCT 127 who did this. While putting out the track “Regular” in Korean, they recorded an English version which got a music video as well. The English version spilled into American media when the group performed at Jimmy Kimmel Live Concert Series. Personally, I feel the Korean version has more of a ring, but there is no dislike for the English version.
I thought the music video that accompanied it was high budget and badass. It made it look like rich playboys who do what they want. There’s an intoxicating intensity that is heard in this song but really kicks in once the chorus hits. It’s hard to explain, but not hard to hear. The two other songs that caught my eye in this release were “City 127” and “Replay (PM 01:27)” (do you see a trend in these titles?).
In the month of October, I rate this song as the most underrated song of the month. I’ll be honest, I don’t know a lot about Babylon or VINXEN, but this song caught my eye. The vocals are amazing to hear. Similar to the song by Yuri from Girls’ Generation that gets mentioned later on, this song gives off an “at night” feel. The video follows the timeline of a couple on a date, with the video following the order of a four-course meal (appetizer, starter, entree, dessert). The song comes off Babylon’s album, CAELO, which has 13 tracks. Most of the other songs on the album had a more ballad or R&B style to them, with this song being the only one that comes close to pop.
This month SOYOU put out her second mini album 10 months after the first one, Re:Born. This time around, Re:Fresh was a project that had 6 tracks on it. The highlighted one today is the title track called “All Night,” featuring Sik-K. This song, along with the music video, had a classy look. While the December release was a similarly titled “The Night,” this release was quite the change for SOYOU. The other song had a more relaxed sound, and since it was in December, it sort of had a Christmas sound going. When the chorus hit with the lyrics “Baby love me like you do,” along with the instruments kicking it, it sounded magical.
YURI (Girls’ Generation) – C’est La Vie (That’s LIFE!)
Yuri from Girls’ Generation put out her first solo mini album after recording two singles in the past with other acts. The six-song release had a very short play time with the biggest track coming out of the project being “Into You.” Although that was the biggest song, what caught my eye from this release was “C’est La Vie (That’s Life).” This gave a chill, yet alive feel. Like what you feel when walking in a lively downtown. I hear nightlife in this song.
Famous soloist IU put out a single to celebrate a decade in the music industry. IU was absent from the music scene after her very successful 2017 album, Palette, which received 12 music show wins and reached the top of the Gaon charts. Her newest song “BBIBBI” broke a record not just for herself but for the whole Melon music streaming service in Korea. It was announced that the song was listened to on Melon 1.42 million times in under 24 hours, crowning IU the Queen of day-one streaming.
The song “BBIBBI” has lyrics that explain a story about IU. It’s about how the media treats her and how she is fed up with it. This video by DKDKTV explains it line by line in great detail. Paired with the song was a colourful music video.
APRIL is one of those groups that has everything to be one of the biggest groups, but isn’t. They make good music and don’t have poorly produced music videos. Their release back in March with the title track “The Blue Bird” was a personal favourite of mine. Their latest album, titled the Ruby, had an outside of the box title track called “Oh! My mistake.”
It was truly hard to explain because there isn’t much out there similar to it. The song gives off a retro vibe with the colours, wall telephones and diner scenes. While the vocals stayed hyped up, especially during the chorus, the beat stays very calm. While staying polar opposites, the beat and vocals mixed very well. Another song off of the mini-album that caught my eye was “Oh-e-Oh.” This tropical pop song (which seems to be a category that didn’t leave when summer did) was stuck in my head for many days this month.
Earlier in the week, I went into detail about IZ*ONE’s debut, and the show Produce 48 that formed the group. The song “La Vie En Rose” is a relaxing pop song that feels unconventional yet successful as a debut song. Neither a prototypical girl crush or bubblegum pop song was used to debut this group. Another song on the release that I found worth a listen was “O’ My!”. I found that the song sounded similar to Produce 48’s “Rollin’ Rollin’,” which was one of my favourite songs that came from the show.
In 2018, Dua Lipa and BLACKPINK both had absolutely mind blowing streaming numbers. In what was a surprising yet delightful announcement in September, BLINKS found their favourite group listed on the tracklist for Dua Lipa’s latest album. The song “Kiss and Make Up” was what came out of the collaboration. While a primarily English track spots of the song had Korean in it, Jenny and Jisoo performed the whole second verse in Korean. The song sounded like a more calmed version of “Forever Young.” I thought that Dua Lipa mixed well with BLACKPINK in this song. And, it should go without saying that this song did well. Despite having no music video, the song currently sits at 36 million views (with another 13 million on an unofficial channels’ video).
Monsta X was a late addition to this list since their album, Are You There?, came out on the 22nd. This song goes back to the rap mixed with a dirty beat that Monsta X is familiar to, but not in recent times. I was very delighted with this even though I enjoyed when they had different styles before. The music video was very satisfying with its colours and overall look. The transitions between many beats in the song seem drastic, but there is a good flow between them.
Here’s a playlist of all songs mentioned in the article:
Last Word on K-Pop in October
If you thought that October was a packed month then get ready. November has EXO, TWICE, WANNA ONE, BLACKPINK’s Jennie and Lovelyz just to name a few. The month has barely started, and I’m already stressing over who to leave space for in next month’s article! As we approach the battleground that is November, we will look back fondly at October as a less hectic, but still fun month.
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