July has probably been the strongest month of K-pop this year. There were several releases from my favorite groups, and for the most part, they did not disappoint. Some songs ended up growing on me as well, and their rating has slightly shifted as my opinion evolved over time.
Recent Girl Group debuts (or pre-debut material) from CSR and NewJeans have me hopeful about the direction that girl groups are heading towards in the near future. I do hope that the there would be more variety of sounds that girl groups tackle, and these two groups are perfect examples of why it would be a good thing to not stick to trends and find your own niche within the current market.
While BLACKPINK’s Ready for Love still feels like a wasted opportunity, the girls sell the song so much that I can’t help but returning to it. This happens with several BLACKPINK songs, and is arguably why BLACKPINK has remained to be such a prominent force in K-pop. I’m hoping that August’s pre-release and September’s upcoming album lives up to the incredible hype they have build up for the past 2-ish years.
Anyway, I’ll proceed with the actual list. I will divide the songs into 2 categories, SOTY contender (usually within the 9-10 rating) and Honorable mentions (those who almost made it). SOTY contenders will have their music videos embedded directly on this post. I will also make a few notes on every song if I feel it is necessary to explain myself.
Test Me by Xdinary Heroes – While I still do like the song, I think I slightly overrated it initially. With time, I realized that its Hooks are not as potent as I thought. original review
8.75 -> 8.5
Doom Du Doom by P1Harmony – Even though I did not end up making a review for this song, I ended up liking this one more than Test Me as time went on. I especially like the anti-drop chorus and its hooks are very strong. I come back to it frequently. MV
Sneakers by Itzy – Its chorus did end up aging as well as I expected it would. Its slightly underwhelming production still holds it back however, so it won’t be going to the next category. original review
8.5 -> 8.75
Ready for Love by BLACKPINK – BLACKPINK, as a group, elevates any of the material they get, to the point that despite my frustrations with the song, I returned to it anyway. I give up. original review
8 -> 8.5
Hurt by NewJeans – I really love the song, but it didn’t feel right for me to place it in the SOTY contender category, so I’m dropping its rating slightly. original review
9 -> 8.75
Guerilla by ATEEZ – I didn’t make a review of song (because of time management issues). However, I do quite like it. Its production is easily one of the year’s best, and it could end up aging well enough to be in my SOTY contenders in the future. MV
be free by KB (OnlyOneOf) – Strong enough to be in the SOTY contenders. I’m in love with its textured and dynamic production. I’m still not sure of its hooks, but I think it will continue to age well. original review
9 -> 9
Beautiful Monster by STACY – The emotive vocal delivery sets it apart from all the other K-pop songs, and its clear and polished production really does it wonders. original review
9.5 -> 9.5
Hypeboy by NewJeans – Its hooks are much more lethal than I initially thought. I’m afraid it will only continue to be addictive. I haven’t even played it in a while, and I still can hear the chorus ringing in my head. How wrong I was. original review
9 -> 10
Attention by NewJeans – NewJeans really dominated the month. I still feel as strongly for this song as I did when I first listened to it. That is an absolute win in their part. Amazing job to the girls and to the company. original review
10 -> 10 🙂
Future-Perfect (Pass the Mic) by Enhypen – I got curious to see how this song would sound with really good headphones, because I was wondering if the production was better than I initially thought but just gets covered up by lower-quality speakers. My thoughts were right. You can say that without good speakers, its a 9. However, with headphones, I become one with the song. original review
9 -> 10
_WORLD by Seventeen – Goes down as smooth as butter. original review
9 -> 9.5
Pop! Pop? by CSR – Last, but certainly not least, Pop! Pop? continues to be one of this year’s strongest debuts. A perfect tribute to the late Gfriend and Lovelyz. original review
10 -> 10
Album of the Month
Enhypen’s Manifesto: Day One, is my favorite album of the month. It has only grown better with time. Even Paradoxx Invasion, the only b-side I didn’t like initially, ended up wriggling its way into my head, especially after they started promoting it on music shows. I cannot wait to see what the boys will come up with in their next (hopefully) full album.
WALK THE LINE – 7/10 (they have had better intros)
Future-Perfect – 10/10
Shout Out – 10/10 (a strong contender for overall SOTY)
TFW (That Feeling When) – 10/10 (better than Polaroid Love)
ParadoXX Invasion – 9/10 (A fun summer song)
Foreshadow – 9/10 (it should have been a full song)
Overall rating- 9.2/10
There are going to be songs that have come out this month that I did not check out/review, and this may affect your views on the songs in comparison to mine. Additionally, people may be wondering why I did not mention WJSN’s Last Sequence, but that is because it wasn’t for me. I don’t think its hooks are memorable enough to match its outstanding production.
Anyway, I’m very satisfied with what K-pop has offered this month, and I’m looking forward August, packed with top girl groups! BLACKPINK, TWICE, SNSD and IVE are here to (hopefully) deliver 2022’s best comebacks. NewJeans‘ title track Cookie is also coming later today. I can’t wait!