Kpop artists released an incredible amount of music in 2019, with each month being full of exciting singles and powerful comebacks. Before we step into the next decade, I’d like to take a moment to highlight the songs that had the most impact on my year and topped my personal playlist.
10. Nostalgic Night – VICTON
2019 was a year of rebirth for VICTON, who went from wondering if their careers were over to achieving their first music show win. Like many others, I joined the fandom after seeing Seungwoo and Byungchan excel on Produce X 101, but quickly came to appreciate the talent and charm VICTON as a whole has to offer. Nostalgic Night brings a new maturity and sophistication to the group’s sound, showing how they have grown in their time of hiatus, and the B sides of the Nostalgia album are equally impressive.
9. WANT – Taemin
Although WANT fits perfectly into the classic Taemin style – smooth, sensual, and with a killer groove – it still managed to blow me away. Elegant and seemingly effortless, Taemin’s choreography is so addictive that other idols talked of catching “WANT disease” as they put out dance covers of the song. For me, the whole album quickly became one of my favorites, and showed up often on my “most-played” list for this year.
8. I’M OK – iKON
This hasn’t been an easy year for iKON, resulting in only one title track being released, but what a comeback it was. I’M OK is haunting and poignant right from the beginning, with lyrics that make you think and a perfect balance between soft vocals and clear-cut rapping. With this single, iKON chose not to shy away from life’s difficulties, and the sincerity of that choice makes I’M OK shine.
7. Twilight – ONEUS
With three awe-inspiring mini-albums this year, ONEUS is one of those groups that can easily fit the title of “monster rookies”. Their singles Valkyrie, Twilight, and Lit all feature creative and showy choreography and an unforgettable sound, and they deliver performances with the professional air of a senior group. Of their work this year, Twilight is my top pick, as I couldn’t stop singing this catchy melody everywhere I went.
6. COSMO – Pentagon
Just like last year, I’ve snuck a Japanese release onto this list because I couldn’t resist including it. I absolutely loved COSMO, from the Latin-inspired guitar riffs to the refrain (“You are~”) and the soaring vocals. Incorporated throughout the MV are cosmic and galaxy motifs that reinforce the group’s love for their fans, affectionately called Universe, and beautiful individual shots of each member.
5. RPM – SF9
As RPM was the first comeback I enjoyed after becoming a full-fledged SF9 fan, it holds a special place in my list. I couldn’t get enough of the futuristic concept and sleek choreography featured in the MV, and loved how they interpreted the story in two different ways for the Korean and Japanese versions. Above all, RPM showed SF9’s versatility as they perfectly molded themselves into this hard-hitting track without losing any of their characteristic style.
4. Regulus – ONEWE
Every once in a while, a song comes along that completely enchants me from the first listen through, and Regulus was one of those rare gems. ONEWE is a young band with a small reach, and yet they are brimming with infinite potential. Regulus is lyrical and dreamy, and could just as easily be an OST for a top drama, but I think the fact that ONEWE members participated in the creation of the song makes it even more remarkable.
3. HALA HALA – ATEEZ
Along with the explosive Say My Name, ATEEZ released a performance teaser – and later, a full MV – for HALA HALA (Hearts Awakened, Live Alive) for their Zero to One album. I originally fell in love with ATEEZ because of the unmatched quality of their performances, and in particular the facial expressions and animated movements that they use to bring choreography to life. HALA HALA is my favorite example of this, with crisp lines and exaggerated gestures that speak so loudly you can feel them, despite the members wearing hats and masks that obscure most of their faces.
2. Suffering for Love – EDEN
For those unfamiliar with EDEN, he is a successful producer who has worked on numerous songs for artists such as BTOB (I’ll Be Your Man) and label-mates ATEEZ (he has credits on almost every song from their discography). However, EDEN is also an expressive soloist whose recent EP is full of top-notch tracks. The ethereal single Suffering for Love showcases his ability to go from delicate verses to a powerful chorus and back again with ease, and proves that he deserves recognition for all of his artistry.
1. Under Cover – A.C.E
Perhaps it is no surprise that my list culminates with A.C.E, a group who I became completely obsessed with after I attended their extraordinary concert in July. These five members have it all – from vocals to visuals – and have sharpened their skills with endless covers, busking appearances, and time spent on survival shows. Although I love all of their title tracks, I felt that they had an exceptionally strong year in 2019, releasing the mesmerizing Under Cover and upbeat Savage. Of the two, I’ve crowned Under Cover as my number one song thanks to its fierce sound and impossible choreography, which I absolutely adored.
Categories: KOREA-CANADA BLOG 2018