AleXa – Villian
Most of AleXa’s work has adhered to the staple girl crush sound with loud clatter trap backing tracks and even louder drops that sacrifice enjoyable melodic refrains for often underwhelming drops with incredibly cringeworthy hooks. Villian is the biggest offender of this sound adhering very heavily to most of what made Blackpink’s latest comeback so unbearable. It’s a sound of someone trying way to hard and the complete utter lack of melody really hurts it. This combined with the horribly cringey “sorry not sorry i’m a bad bit” just makes this one a hard listen.
Dongkiz I:KAN – Y.O.U
An enjoyable sub-unit release by Dongkiz I:KAN, Y.O.U harkens back to the 90’s with a great mix of new jack swing and retro synths. It’s a sound that fits right within my wheelhouse even if the final product doesn’t feel as vital as it theoretically should. Thankfully it has its fare share of hooks that have helped keep this enjoyable throwback firmly lodged within my playlist.
GreatGuys – RUN
I always have a little chuckle whenever GreatGuys gear up for a comeback. No hate to them but their name has got to be one of the most meta and basic names for any group ever. New single RUN incorporates some unique instrumental flourishes such as psytrance but for some reason it just fails to connect with me. The hook whilst strong feels rather forgettable and the entire thing just comes and goes without too much fuss. I applaud these guys for experimenting especially within the context of 2020 but this one just didn’t do it for.
HYO – Dessert
Hyoyeon has released some very strong solo material in the past but the ”jungle” inspired Dessert is another experiment that just connect with me. It’s loud attitude infused brew is something I wouldn’t usually gravitate to but the verses here are actually somewhat enjoyable. Soyeon doesn’t really do much Loopy does provide some unique texture. But once again its that irritating catchphrase heavy hook that really lets this song down.
Jeong Eunji – AWay
AWay is one of the years most classic sounding tracks and would have easily fit right in on western radio right next to the likes of Taylor Swift. This doesn’t make at all bad but it does make it quite generic. I personally like this kind of streamlined pop song but it honestly feels too soundalike to really stand alone. But Eunji’s soaring vocals are always a pleasure to listen to and that alone makes AWay an enjoyable listen.
Jeong Sewoon – Say Yes
Ever since last years Love In Fall I’ve been wanting Jeong Sewoon to tackle more upbeat and dance heavy material. With Say Yes he’s finally come around to a more joyous sound and it’s the kind of upbeat summer fun that I froth over. And while I don’t really vibe with the clattering instrumental during the chorus, that synth post chorus hook is pure catnip to my ears. It’s quite basic stuff in retrospect but I’d rather have a bunch of these kinds of upbeat summer songs than the edgy trap dirge we had in the first half of the year.
Pink Fantasy – Shadow Play
Pink Fantasy’s rock heavy Fantasy was one of my favourite songs last year so Shadow Play came with high expectations. Unfortunately expectations are a dangerous thing. The latin instrumental infused Shadow Play takes cues from much of the standard girl crush trend but fails to really differentiate itself from the crowd. Yes much of the instrumental incorporates additional percussion and bass but that repetitive hook just undercuts much of the track momentum. It’s one of the stronger examples of girl crush (especially that invigorating dance break) but it just ends up as an underwhelming follow up. This honestly could have been much stronger had it not adhered so strongly to this kind of start stop structure. (Might have to chalk that down to severe lack of rabbit)
Yukika – Soul Lady
I just raved about Yukika’s amazing Shade and title track Soul Lady is nearly as great. Whereas most of the album is centered around more reserved sounds, Soul Lady bursts forward with a combination of soaring 80’s synths and dynamic percussion. Honestly if it had a more melodically complex chorus, it would be right up there with some of my favourite songs of the year. But it’s still great pop music.