A.C.E – Stand By You
After a year that saw them release both their best and worst singles, A.C.E have finally made their mark in 2020 with the powerful balladry of Stand By You. While I would usually discount tracks such as this, Stand By You is a ballad that manages to hold its own. From its rock tinged arrangement to the anthemic vocal layering at the climax, everything about the track feels necessary and vital. As the groups first promotional ballad it’s a success!
*Will update once MV gets re-released
AWEEK – 1.4.3
A great embodiment of the classic fun boyband sound, 1.4.3 is an enjoyable but rather throwaway summer anthem. It’s great to hear these sounds again but it’s one of those tracks that just fades from memory after one play. To the track credit it does sound an awful lot like B1A4 on a budget. And that can never be a bad thing! Bonus points for going for a bright upbeat sound.
Bang Yedam (Treasure) – Wayo
A release I went into with absolutely no expectations, Wayo was a slow burn success for me. Although it followed the standard YG ballad template, Yedam’s gorgeous vocals alongside the tracks comforting melody easily make it one of the years strongest mid-tempos. And while I would have preferred more of the track to be in the vein of its rousing final 30 seconds, It’s hard to really fault it any other way. Songs like this give me hope that YG groups can still bring out the tunes.
Ha Sungwoon – Get Ready
I’m convinced that something has been in the water of the former Wanna One members. Seriously, why have most of their solo work this year been so consistently enjoyable. None of them have been exceptional but none have really been bad. The same could be said for Sungwoon’s Get Ready which attaches a funky backbone to one of the years more enjoyable drops. It’s not revolutionary but I would be lying if I said I didn’t bop out to whenever it came around in shuffle.
IU – Into The Island
A sonic sequel to May’s Eight, IU’s latest collaboration with Bighit entertainment sees her tackle the soundtrack of the company’s newest survival show. And while Into The Island is nothing revolutionary, it’s large anthemic melody is completely timeless. Other than the somewhat grating ‘run for our lives’ line, the rest of the track is a wonderful mix of modern edm and classic pop-rock. It’s good stuff and serves as a strong opening soundtrack to what will likely be the produce substitute for many.
Momoland – Starry Night
The first Momoland release in ages that forgoes the template set by 2018’s smash hit Bboom Bboom, Starry Night utilises its excellent city pop inspired to instrumental to very mediocre results. While the backing track itself is wonderful, the vocals and hooks themselves fall flat. I appreciate the fact that the group finally chose to move onto different sounds, but this song just wasn’t it. Thank god they included the instrumental version on the album though. That stuff is what dreams are made of.
N.Flying – Oh really
Another fun, rambunctious track from N.Flying, Oh Really is a track that initially proved addictive but hasn’t really stood the test of time. The upbeat and goofy, energy is heavily appreciated but it just ends up as one of the groups more forgettable tracks. Especially compared to excellent Japanese singles like Kick-Ass and Amnesia.
Super Junior K.R.Y – When We Were Us
After years of anticipation, When We Were Us marked Super Junior K.R.Y’s official debut. And it was exactly what you would have expected. When We Were Us is your standard Korean ballad elevated by the groups incredible vocals. It’s predictable and in a way, kind of comforting. Pretty stock standard stuff from arguably the strongest vocal line in Kpop.
VICTON – Mayday
After surprising me with March’s great Howling, Victon’s Mayday seems like a rather underwhelming comeback. The militaristic instrumental and powerful climax are exhilarating in a very EXO-esque way, but the overtly repetitive hook prevents me from fully loving the track. It was pretty grating on first listen and it remains so almost a month later. Thankfully, the production and vocal performances are enough to somewhat compensate for the rather one-note hook at the track centre.