Not saying it’s been bad, but generally this is pretty representative of how 2023 in Korean music has gone so far.
NewJeans‘ “OMG” and … not much else in terms of mainstream hits.
GOT The Beat – “Stamp On It”
Lots of complaints about this comeback existing, but if the stans didn’t reward that mid pick-me anthem “Step Back” with great digital performance, this release probably wouldn’t have happened. Anyway, I actually think this is better than their debut despite the “goo goo goo goo goo” shit, carried by a solid chorus and excellent bridge that unfortunately was immediately cancelled by the dance break and rap section.
YENA (Feat. BE’O) – “Love War”
She put out amazing-looking teasers, seemingly hinting at something dark and harder than her pop punk princess stuff, then put out this generic indie R&B nonsense. If you didn’t know who was involved with this you wouldn’t be able to distinguish it from songs you skip past 20 times while cycling through Korean indie publishing channels on YouTube.
Cignature – “AURORA”
Felt a bit like a trip back to 2017, which is oddly kinda nostalgic at this point. Wish the whole song had the energy of the chorus, but definitely enjoyable.
XG – “SHOOTING STAR”
Been seeing a lot of hype surrounding their rapping ability*, but it doesn’t seem like they were able to show a ton of it here, and the vocal effects were as annoying as ever. The melodies elsewhere are great but weren’t enough to compensate for the rest of it existing in the end. The fact that this is the lead and not the far superior “Left Right“ is insane.
*I usually grade idols on a curve where not embarrassing is solid enough, except when they’re supposed to be like “legit”.
BSS (SEVENTEEN) (Feat. Lee Young Ji) – “FIGHTING”
Speaking of legit talent for rapping, I don’t think granting Lee Young Ji a segment that sounds like it’s her own song is a great idea because all it makes me want is her fucking rap album already (Hyolyn and Soyeon have recently both made this mistake as well). It’s also weirdly placed with odd transitions in and out of it, so it sorta comes off as basically two distinct songs. Otherwise, it’s a happy-go-lucky, cheeky, harmless dance-pop song. Not a wildly impressive melody, but it’s fun other than the forced feature.
ONEWE – “GRAVITY”
Considering it’s a bit of a slow burn, I liked this more than I anticipated. The funky melody, guitar riffs (especially the wailing one at the end), and falsetto vocals were all appealing, though I could’ve done without the oddly-placed trap break with vocal effects.