I came into this month with high expectations, and I am happy that I was not disappointed. Girl groups absolutely dominated, with Girl’s Generation, BLACK PINK, IVE, and TWICE making their comebacks, all of which are of incredible quality. I am almost positive that all (if not most) of these title tracks will end up in my end of year list. Girl’s Generation’s FOREVER 1 in particular grew on me in a way I did not expect, which will elaborated later in this post. Admittedly, besides Golden Child, not too many boy group tracks stood out enough for me to review initially, but upon further examination, there were still a few that would at least make the cut for the honorable mention. There were also a bunch of solo releases which surprised me, most notably, NCT Jaehyun’s Forever Only, which I ended up playing more than any male K-pop release from this month. All in all, this month may have surpassed the last in terms of overall quality!
As I did last month, I will divide the songs into 2 categories, SOTY (stands for song of the year) 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. You can think of it as a form of extra promotion (haha). I will also make a few notes on every song, especially those of which I did not make a review of due to time constraints.
Cookie by NewJeans – Despite its questionable lyrics, the song finds itself standing out among most other K-pop songs in a really good way. Its hooks were more potent than I initially perceived, which gave it very good longevity. Among the biggest risers of the month. Original Review
7.5 -> 8.5
Undercover by Craxy – Even though I did not make a review of this, I remember being allured by the whispered chorus when I first heard it, bringing something slightly new to the existing palette of girl-crush songs. I did a refresh listen of it just now, and my opinion remains the same. The girls have incredible charisma to pull it off, and the fact Swan (their main vocalist), is one of the best belters of the current generation really give Crazy an edge over mainstream girl groups who usually don’t have such developed vocalist. MV
Time Out by Stray Kids – It grew on me slightly, and over time, I can mostly ignore the vocal delivery and enjoy the best parts of the song. Original Review
8.25 -> 8.5
458 by CIX – Again, I did not make a review of this song, but it has been one of the best boy group releases of the month, most notably because of its high-quality and polished production (with piano acting as its base, quite rare among K-pop songs these days) and the beautiful vocal delivery of the members. It didn’t make it to the SOTY category for the reason that I think the song could have stronger hooks, and that the first verse remains the standout of the whole song without really building to the heights that I knew it could build. However, it is still a very deserving honorable mention. MV
Can’t Stop Shining by Tempest – Again, did not make a review but it is easily one of the best bright boy group tracks of the year so far. It has potential to grow into SOTY category in the future. The main thing that holds it back is the strength of its chorus, but I’m loving the production. MV
PINK VENOM by Black Pink – Stupid Chorus. It won’t leave my head for the rest of the year. Original Review
8.75 -> 9
Talk that Talk by TWICE – Due to other commitments, I was unable to make a review for this song even though I was fully intending to. Although I am still not completely sold on parts of the verses, the chorus has won me over. TWICE has released another hit!
Rating: 9 -> 9.75
Update: I’ve grown to really like the song, so I’m just adjusting the score slightly to reflect my current opinion on it.
Forever Only by Jaehyun – Jaehyun’s RnB solo release is easily one of the most replayable and easy-to-listen-to K-pop songs this year. It goes down as smoothly as last month’s _WORLD by Seventeen did. I am slightly hesitant in giving it a perfect score because of my doubts regarding how it will age, but nevertheless, great solo release. Original Review
9 -> 9.75
After Like by IVE – Sporting one of the catchiest choruses of the year and solid production to support the excellent ‘I will survive’ sample, I find it difficult to not return to this song frequently. It is one of my most played songs of the month despite being a fairly new release, which speaks volumes on how I feel about this song. Original Review
9.5 -> 10
Another Life by Key – Acting as the pre-release for his latest album, Another Life is a superb dance track with one of the best pieces of K-pop production all year. Paired with Key’s incredible charisma and solid hooks, Another Life is among this year’s best. I feel sad that I was unable to make a review for this release despite me loving it so much, but school must come first.
FOREVER 1 by Girls Generation – I did not expect this to grow on me so much, but for some reason, despite me adamantly stating in my original review that I could not remember the verses for the life of me, a couple of weeks later, I can essentially recite the whole song while songs which I more easily remembered in the past have faded in comparison. It is strange. This month’s biggest riser! I am a real sucker for the vocal performance of the group as well as the chorus melody. Original Review
8.75 -> 10
Replay by Golden Child – The sole boy group track to make it to my SOTY contenders for the month, Replay maintains incredible momentum and a sense of adrenaline that most K-pop songs can only dream to have. Better yet, the members feel very self-assured in both their vocal and rap delivery, making it an arguably perfect song. Original Review
Thanks for reading! 🙂