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.
February 2020 Overall Thoughts
What to say about February 2020? As the month went on, it became increasingly hard to feel invested in the K-pop industry when the bulk of South Korean news centered on the country’s Covid-19 outbreak. I predict a thin slate of releases in the coming weeks, as avenues for promotion are narrowing. Health and safety is far more important than pop music, but it’s impossible not to feel a sense of gloom hovering over K-pop as a whole. Hopefully, things will improve quickly and we’ll be back to normal soon.
Sadly, the actual music coming out of K-pop agencies this February felt uninspired. There were a few bright spots, and my top choice of the month was a very easy pick. But, too many of the comebacks felt like copies of each other. Specific trends (moody for boy groups, over-caffeinated chanting for girl groups), held the industry captive, making it difficult to distinguish one song from another. I’m not a fan of either of these trends, and that’s made the past month kind of demoralizing.
The tracks that salvaged February were almost all from girl groups, and they make up my entire top three this month. To be fair, female-fronted releases outnumbered their male counterparts this February, which is relatively rare in K-pop. And, most of the notable boy group comebacks (BTS, The Boyz, Pentagon, AB6IX solos) fizzled to some degree. If my monthly round-up accounted for b-sides, GFriend’s stellar Labyrinth would also find a spot in the top three. In fact, many of the month’s b-sides were stronger and more interesting than the title tracks they supported.
February 2020 also resulted in a new low on my ratings scale. For the first time in over four years, a song received a score within the 2’s. I think most of us can agree that it deserved this dubious honor.
So, where do we go from here? My current thoughts on K-pop strongly mirror the way I felt throughout most of last summer. That stretch of disappointment broke with an incredible October 2019. With so much uncertainty swirling around the industry and the world at this moment, I’m not entirely confident we’ll see that kind of redemption in the very near future. I remain optimistic because… I always do. But, a ho-hum month like this really strains that positive outlook.
Month Cumulative Rating: 7.4
(compiled by averaging the scores of every K-pop review from this month)
J-Pop (and C-Pop) Worth Your Time
Hey! Say! JUMP – I Am (review hopefully coming soon)
Sexy Zone – Far East Dance (review)
AB6IX – Rose, Scent, Kiss (Lee Daehwi solo) (review)
BTS – ON (review)
Everglow – Dun Dun (review)
GFriend – Crossroads (review)
iKON – Dive (review)
LOONA – So What (review)
Moonbyul – Eclipse (review)
Sunmi – Gotta Go (review)
TOP THREE SONGS
3. Rocket Punch – Bouncy (review)
2. 3YE – Queen (review)
1. Dreamcatcher – Scream (review)