Watching (and obsessing over) Avengers: Infinity War last week has got me thinking. If I wielded the Infinity Gauntlet and had the power to shape the universe, how would I control K-Pop?
Infinite comebacks every month! New Sweetune songs every week!
Just kidding. I’m not going to be that biased. Instead, I thought it would be fun to take a look at some of the industry’s leading acts and offer my thoughts of where I would like to see them head next. This kind of pie-in-the-sky speculation can be dangerous, since setting unrealistic expectations undoubtedly leads to disappointment. But what is life without a little danger, right?
Well… I really just want more music. I’ll take anything at this point. I know that some fans want them to branch out from their 2NE1-esque, Teddy-produced sound to show a more individual appeal, but I actually want them to stick with Teddy and continue down the road they’ve already started. If only that road didn’t have so many blocks and detours…
BTS’s recent material has been solid, but it’s at its worst when it tries to ape western trends. They’ve already charted a course towards global domination, so I hope that their next comeback will cement that status with music that feels uniquely them, rather than a hodgepodge of genres that are popular in the States. A callback to their 2014/2015 work would be much appreciated.
I may be in the minority, but my favorite EXO album is still their debut mini. After the success of Power, I’d love to see the group explore their sci-fi side again but blend it with the funk influences of their 2015 singles. Their work has always been strong. Now, it’s time for them to really throw down the gauntlet with something big and splashy to remind the world why they are SM’s flagship group.
GFriend’s concept has often been described as “powerful innocence,” but their last few comebacks have seemed to ignore the “powerful” half of that equation. After a trio of subdued title tracks, it’s time for Navillera (or Fingertip) part 2. Put Yuju front and center, and let her belt it out without holding back.
If I’m being honest, GOT7 is close to losing this particular fan. I haven’t completely enjoyed any of their singles since 2015, as I find that much of their music has become too self-serious and lacking in melodic hookiness. The members have shown promise when it comes to songwriting, but I think they need to be paired with more established producers to expand their sound and reignite the fun factor of tracks like Just Right and A.
Infinite are at the stage in their career where they’re unlikely to garner a swell of new fans, so they should be targeting their promotions toward their existing fan base. It’s been awhile since they’ve promoted a real “Infinite” sounding track, so I want the most Infinite-ish Infinite comeback imaginable. It would be awesome if this came via Sweetune, but it doesn’t have to. In-house producer Razer did a fine job channeling this style with January’s excellent b-side Wind.
I don’t care which unit it comes from, but I desperately want SM to give NCT a summer song as instantly classic as Red Velvet’s Red Flavor. They need that big breakout hit to offset and compliment all of their more experimental material. Something funky and melodic with a classic hook.
There’s honestly little I would change about Red Velvet’s career arc. They’ve been allowed to show versatility in sound while maintaining a very high-quality singles run. As a bigger fan of their pop-driven “red” side, I selfishly want more songs in the vein of Red Flavor. In fact, that entire mini album was pretty close to perfect. More of that, please.
As much as I’ve enjoyed Seventeen’s past few singles, I’d recommend an easing up on the EDM and a shift back to the funk influences of their first few years. This group is too good to simply conform to trends, and EDM doesn’t always allow for the kind of pop melody that composer Woozi excels at. I want a “Very Nice” part two, but with a fully fleshed out chorus.
If there was ever an act designed for the bombastic SMP style, it’s TVXQ. Now that they’ve given us a more refined sound with The Chance Of Love, I want something big and powerful and edgy. After all, we haven’t really heard this style from them in Korea since 2012. That’s way too long!
I’m usually a proponent of groups filling their discography with variations and extensions of a core sound, but with Twice I think it’s time to do something totally different. Their songs are beginning to feel a bit predictable, and their quirky-cute sound really only soars when working with Black Eyed Pilseung. If they’re on to new producers now, the foundations of their music should also branch out.
I love that VIXX continues to embrace unique concepts, but their past few singles have seemed to be stuck in the same style (and downbeat tempo). It’s time for something with a bit more energy. Instead of letting the concept drive the song choice, I’d like them to do the opposite. Start with the best track on their album and build a concept around that.
I wish that YMC would put as much effort into the group’s music as they do their other promotional opportunities. Their past two albums have been disappointing compared to last summer’s Energetic. Instead of bouncing around from one producer to the next with vastly different results, I’d recommend finding one that works and sticking with them. Might I suggest Flow Blow (Energetic) or Ryan Jhun (Pick Me)?
I know that former member Taehyun played a large part in the more rock-influenced side of Winner’s discography, but I would love them to explore this sound further. Seunghoon’s voice, in particular, is just perfect for this genre. My fear is that the group is simply latching onto whatever trend is popular at the time. This worked well last year with tropical house, but the autotuned trap of Everyday was definitely a step back. I’d rather the guys develop the styles they excel at rather than try to cover as many bases as possible.