It’s almost the new year, which means that we can put a cap on 2016 and start thinking about what 2017 will bring us. Here are ten suggestions from me, in no particular order. What are your k-pop resolutions?
1. The Re-emergence of Legendary Producers
New blood is always a good thing, but I miss the music of some of the producers who first got me interested in k-pop. Sweetune has had a nice resurgence in 2016, but I’m hoping they work with some bigger artists in 2017 (as well as maintaining their excellent track record with rookies). Yoo Young-Jin and Thomas Troelsen didn’t release much in 2016, but the songs they did create were pretty much flawless. I need more from them!
2. Breakouts for the New Generation
K-Pop feels like it is on the precipice of a new generation taking over. 2016 in particular felt like a transition year, with some groups (Twice, Seventeen, Gfriend, etc) having already cemented themselves as new gen powerhouses. In 2017, I would love to see groups like Astro, Snuper, NCT, Laboum, Oh My Girl and UP10TION join those ranks by winning some awards and continuing to increase sales.
3. YG Entertainment Releases that Actually Happen
There was a time when YG Entertainment released full or mini albums quite frequently, but as they’ve grown, their output has stalled. They’ve also become very dependent on digital singles. This has always been the case with them to some extent, but I hope in 2017 we get more b-sides and album tracks. And no more delays or cancellations, please!!
4. Convincing Comebacks for Veteran Idols
While 2016 was an excellent year for rookies, many of the veteran acts that made a comeback didn’t pack quite the punch that we’re used to. It seems like a lot of them are trying to branch out and work with different producers in order to capture a fresh sound. This is admirable, but I’d love some of these groups to head back to the collaborators that made them famous and remind us exactly why they’re awesome. Plus, veteran groups like f(x), Girls’ Generation, Girl’s Day, and Super Junior/TVXQ (once their military stuff is sorted out) need comebacks, pronto!
5. An Easing Up on the Tropical House and EDM
If one musical trend seemed particularly ubiquitous this year, it was the ever-present tropical house. It’s a fine embellishment to a pop song, but when everyone does it, it starts to feel a little uninspired. Ditto for EDM, which SM has completely overused. I like my k-pop weird and different. Time to start experimenting again, rather than just recycling western trends.
6. K-Pop Album Packaging that’s Fun and Exciting
I’m a big collector of physical k-pop albums, and a lot of them are still packaged in creative, impressive ways. But SM in particular has started to opt for boring jewel cases more often than not, and that’s no fun. I don’t know if it’s a cost-cutting deal, or if they’re trying to head down a nostalgic route, but I want another smartly packaged Pink Tape, or gorgeous over-sized Super Junior album to add to my collection.
7. KCON L.A. Getting its Act Together
I love KCON. I love that it exists and that I can look forward to it every year. But last summer’s event management was a mess. I’m gonna need them to book a bigger hall and sort out their lines so that it’s not such a frustrating weekend.
8. More Double Title Tracks
AOA is making a comeback soon with double title tracks, and I’d love more groups to follow suit. I know it’s more expensive, but the ability to showcase more than one style or image during a comeback is hugely exciting. I would love this to become a trend.
9. A Ton of Great Debuts
This goes without saying, but 2016 was such a great year for rookies that I’m only encouraged by what might come next.
10. Infinite Re-signing with Woollim — And if Not, Sticking Together with a New Agency
My bias group’s contract is up this year, and although I have no reason to believe they would disband, it’s an anxiety producing moment. I want Infinite to become like Shinhwa, lasting way longer than typical idol groups and continuing to make amazing music as a seven-member unit.