At the end of each month, I look back at my three favorite title tracks by K-pop artists. I take my own ratings into account, but there’s a bit of wiggle room as certain songs tend to grow or fade.
March 2019 Overall Thoughts
After a slow start to 2019, March finally seemed to kick things into gear. This excitement came in spurts, with most of my favorite releases lumped together at the beginning and end of the month. March is long — and there were definitely low, boring stretches — but the past few weeks have been packed with releases.
My top three was incredibly competitive. Sunmi and Gikwang were firmly in there until this last week, and will still probably find a home in my year-end countdown. I also want to give a nod to DreamNote’s Hakuna Matata, which has grown on me a lot (despite my initial rating of “7” for longevity). I’m obsessed with its unabashed 80’s-ness and its absolutely ridiculous English-language lyrics. It also has one of the year’s best transitions from chorus 1 to verse 2. This specific structural point has become a real issue for me lately. It seems to be the go-to moment for an energy-killing trap breakdown, and I’m ready for this songwriting trend to die.
Though March was relatively strong when it came to title tracks, it lacked exciting pop albums. I rarely review them in full, but I’m a huge listener of full and mini albums. I’m also kind of OCD about itunes’ star ratings. Using this system, most K-pop albums have enough standout tracks to average a four star rating from me. This month, the vast majority only averaged three — even if they were led by a killer title track. TXT’s Dream Chapter: Star was the big exception. I loved it all the way through and have returned to it often.
On another note, I’m wondering what is going on over at SM Entertainment. We’re now a quarter of the way through 2019 and there hasn’t been a single Korean comeback from one of the agency’s groups. The SHINee solos have been nice, but other than that SM has mostly delivered ballads and mid-tempos from soloists. I’m not sure what they’re planning, but this kind of SM group drought hasn’t happened for over a decade. It feels like they’re wasting time and talent.
Fortunately, other agencies are picking up the slack. My top three this month is very strong, and my number one is also my favorite song of the year so far. With all the great rookie groups we’ve had debut already, I’m looking forward to a lot of good follow-ups throughout the spring and summer. Hopefully, this new generation will begin to solidify their identities and help steer K-pop trends in more interesting directions as their fore-bearers continue to enlist and/or disband.
Month Cumulative Rating: 7.8
(compiled by averaging the scores of every K-pop review from this month)
DIA – WOOWA (review)
DreamNote – Hakuna Matata (review)
Hong Jin Young – Love Tonight (review)
Hot Place – TMI (review)
Jang Dongwoo – Party Girl (review)
Jeong Sewoon – Feeling (ft. Penomeco) (review)
Jus2 – Focus On Me (review)
Key – I Wanna Be (ft. Soyeon) (review)
Lee Gikwang – Don’t Close Your Eyes (DCYE) (ft. Kid Milli) (review)
Park Bom – Spring (ft. Sandara Park) (review)
Park Jihoon – L.O.V.E (review)
R.Tee x Anda – What You Waiting For (review)
Sunmi – Noir (review)
Vav – Thrilla Killa (review)
TOP THREE SONGS
3. Pentagon – Sha La La (review)
2. Stray Kids – Miroh (review)
1. TXT – Crown (review)