May 23, 2016

K-pop April Recap

Welcome back to another recap post; this one revolving around the releases in the month of April. There weren't actually as many comebacks as I thought it was so this post isn't going to be as long, or at least I hope so since I do have a problem of writing a bit too much at times. I will say though that this month, and the last one too really, have been dominated by newer groups. I guess with a lot of older groups either splitting up or having long breaks between comebacks the newer groups are really getting the chance to shine and snag awards on music shows.

It certainly feels like a new generation of K-pop groups is taking over, and it's a very interesting transitional period we're in right now. Earlier we saw the first wins by both Mamamoo, Seventeen and Twice, as well as Got7 getting their first public broadcast music show award. It does make me genuinely happy though as I really like these groups and since I've been there since their debut it makes it more special to follow their respective journeys.

Got7 followed up their successful comeback last year with "Fly" and mini album "Flight Log: Departure", and this comeback left me a bit uncertain. I really liked the musical direction that they were going with "If You Do" last year so this release felt like a bit of a step back as they kind of went back to an older sound that is very familiar for this group. I do think though that they've kind of finally decided which kind of group they want to be, both stylistically and musically, and you can definitely hear that in the mini album as well, which was a real pleasant surprise. Being someone who doesn't generally love Got7's B-sides this mini was truly impressive, as the title track was by far the weakest song on the album.

The video for "Fly" was however very strange, as it was mostly a dance performance video with some kind of hint at a plot (at least at the end) but you couldn't really understand what they MV was supposed to be like. My guess is that there will be some kind of follow-up with their next comeback as I believe this is the first part of some kind of series (especially with the trailer video that also didn't make a whole lot of sense), but it's nonetheless exciting that Got7 has some kind of bigger project going on.

Two other boy groups who made impressive comebacks were Seventeen and Vixx, both of whom managed to capture my attention in different ways. Seventeen decided to stick to their sweet boy-next-door image and sound with "Pretty U", and I have to say that the song definitely has been a grower. Of course the boys' energetic live performances and awesome choreography does have something to do with me liking the song more and more because the video (although pretty) was very random and not really in sync with the song itself. The accompanying album "Love Letter", which by the way is their first full album, was also filled with great jams that at some point allowed every member a chance in the spotlight. Vixx' comeback was more surprising though, as they tried out a completely new style and sound separate both from the dark and light concepts they've done before. "Dynamite" is, in many ways, their debut song "Super Hero" elevated. It's like they went back to their roots and took that concept and sound and made a refined, sexier and more mature version of it. Although it sounds quite much like a SHINee song it's still a very catchy tune with a good MV.

As for the girl groups the two ones that I have been following are Twice and Lovelyz. I know I've said this before but I really do like this new generation of girl groups and although these two are quite different both of them manage to bring something new and fresh to the table with their April comebacks. Twice's "Cheer Up" is a great follow-up to their debut hit and it is a catchy and fresh pop song with a great hook (although severely mispronounced) and the video is really enjoyable as well. The accompanying mini album "Page Two" isn't as good as their last one but it's still a good listen and has a very clear musical direction, which I appreciate.

Same can be said for Lovelyz, whose mini album "A New Trilogy" was a coherent production from start to finish with some pretty unique sounding songs, and their title track "Destiny" does stand out from their other discography as well. I think this comeback has been great for them in terms of maturity, as they've managed to develop their sound and image although still sticking to their signature sound. "Destiny" is by far the most mature and serious comeback they've had yet it's still very feminine and elegant, and I'm impressed by how they pulled that off.

Last but not least we have the new SM kids on the block; NCT and more specifically NCT U. I know that when I wrote about them earlier when SM first announced this new boy group I wasn't having it at all, but now I have completely fallen in love with them. I admit that I'm still not sure how this new group is going to work practically, so I think it's just best not to worry to much and kind of take things as they come. I didn't know anything about the members of NCT U before and I didn't know what to expect (but I didn't expect much to be honest) but once I heard one of the title tracks "Without You" I was sold. I was astonished by the members' incredible vocals, the fantastic song and the music video, and later when I also listened to "The 7th Sense" I realized that this group were tremendously skilled. The choreography for that song has to be my favorite one so far this year. Since then I've just been secretly (and a bit embarrassingly) stanning these boys and I've been having to eat my own words. It's funny how things work out.

MV Scores:
Fly - 3/5
Pretty U - 3,3/5
Dynamite - 3,8/5
Cheer Up - 4,15/5
Destiny - 3,9/5
Without You - 4,5/5
The 7th Sense - 3,9/5

Album Scores:
Flight Log: Departure - 4,25/5
Love Letter - 3,8/5
Page Two - 3,7/5 (this is without counting "I'm Gonna Be A Star" on the physical album because that song...yikes)
A New Trilogy - 3,5/5

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