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.
April 2020 Overall Thoughts
With stay-at-home orders in effect all month, there was certainly time to listen to new music! Truthfully, most of my music consumption hailed from Japan this April, but I’m also noticing a small uptick in K-pop quality. It still feels like the industry is stuck in a rut, and there’s definitely been no Miroh or Crown yet this year, but as we enter into spring I’m feeling a little more optimistic about where things may be heading.
The first half of April was largely forgettable, despite some big-name releases. A few songs from these two weeks have grown on me a bit (MCND’s Spring, Cravity’s Break All The Rules), and one ((G)I-DLE’s Oh My God) has grated to the point that I never want to hear it again. So, there’s that…
For me, the month’s greatest tracks came during its second half. I’m not sure that there were any knockout, top-ten-of-the-year songs among these, but it’s nice to hear some musical diversity. I want to give a special shout-out to Chungha’s Stay Tonight, which ended up being a very, very close fourth place for me — possibly interchangeable with my third place pick depending on the mood. And as I continue to feature more work by J-pop artists on this site, I’d urge you to check out the two songs featured below. If I’m accounting for music from every country, they were my true top two of the month.
Still, I wouldn’t be surprised to see three or four (or maybe even five) of April’s K-pop tracks making an appearance on my year-end countdowns. It was a pretty lopsided, inconsistent month, but these April showers still managed to bear some fruit.
Month Cumulative Rating: 7.8
(compiled by averaging the scores of every K-pop review from this month)
J-Pop Worth Your Time
Genic – Sun Comes Up (review)
Miyavi – Bang! (review)
Apink – Dumhdurum (review)
Changmin – Chocolate (review)
Chungha – Stay Tonight (review)
Cravity – Break All The Rules (review)
DALsooobin – Dive (review)
GWSN – Bazooka! (review)
Solar – Spit It Out (review)
TOP THREE SONGS
3. NCT Dream – Ridin’ (review)
2. April – LALALILALA (review)
1. IMFACT – Lie (review)
Top Three K-Pop Songs Of March 2020
Top Three K-Pop Songs Of February 2020
Top Three K-Pop Songs Of January 2020
Top Three K-Pop Songs Of December 2019
Top Three K-Pop Songs Of November 2019
Top Three K-Pop Songs Of October 2019
What a strange, uneven month.
Choi Yegeun “Scarecrow”. I swear that in 20 or 30 years’ time everyone will be covering her songs. Listen to them now so that you can honestly say that you knew her songs =back when=. As with most singer-songwriters, she herself produces a sometimes shaggy product but the bones are really good. With “Scarecrow”, it is a little more polished than her usual, and resembles an indie Dua Lipa. Real instruments too, natch!
Keembo returned, aka Kim Boa and Kim BoHyung of SPICA. “Thank you Anyway”. The song is a bit fulsome, but the performance is genuine. Actual real low notes! I wish these women well, because they sing with palpable passion in their little basement studio, and yet the views are so so low. I hope it works out for them.
Honorable mention to Max Changmin with “Chocolate”. I have found through repeated listens that one must go full out theatrical to get the song right. Pick your favorite comedian to sing the song in the style of – Jack Black is my go-to right now. … I really don’t know what it means to shock me with chocolate. That is part of the charm. If this were in English, Weird Al Yankovich would be all over this song.
Kpopera of the month: Forestella “Nella Fantasia” aka Ennio Morricone’s “Gabriel’s Oboe” with cheesy Italian lyrics. A balm for the soul. Having a counter-tenor and a bass in their quartet alongside two tenors means that this group can do some 4-part harmony arrangements live so much better than most other groups – qv their live “Bohemian Rhapsody” “I see a little silhouetta ..” section. Who is doing their arrangements? Their harmony chord choices are =inspired=. Best of all, since the song only formally releases next month, I get to go on about it again in May!
Finally, where has Xeno been hiding?
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Wow, you and I were really on different musical planes this month, weren’t we? I’m glad you can provide a counterpoint with a few more under-the-radar songs than my round-up.
A comedian singing “Chocolate” ? Oh no, no, no. Brandon Urie of Panic! at the Disco probably can sing this in English.
We can imagine that one next!. I was also thinking this morning how would Bruno Mars and his gang would style “Chocolate” – works well for the verses but I can’t picture the chorus yet.
Tom Jones would do a cracking version of “Chocolate”.
I can’t do Imfact “Lie” anymore. I wind up singing BTS Boy With Luv over it. IMFACT did something very clever there – copy a very popular song close enough but far enough away so hardly anyone notices, until they do.
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This month was the very best month of 2020. It’s been such a bad year for the music that I just can’t help calling these classics compared to the other months of this hideous year. luckily , May is where we spice things up so I can’t wait for the new k-pop songs and that new TXT comeback will be Bomb , might even be my favorite k-pop song of 2020.
So with that saying mine goes something like this:
3: Imfact – Lie
2: Apink – Lalalilala
1: NCT Dream – Ridin
while you are waiting for a Crown or Miroh , I would love if another Wonderland came alive during this year.
3. Dumhdurum – Apink (8’5/10)
Third great single in a row. Beautiful vocal performances and the catchiest instrumental of the year so far.
2. LALALILALA – APRIL (8’75/10)
You don’t need much more in a song when you got that stunner of a double chorus. They deserve the world.
1. Stay Tonight – Chung Ha (9’25/10)
Uhm Jung Hwa meets Dua Lipa. Not that she was unknown before, but this really feels like the arrival of a star. The best single+video package I’ve seen in a long time.
I really can’t get it why Changmin’s “Chocolate” is on the “honorable mentions” list and not in the TOP 3 itself – his song is a BOP, it definitely deserves to be one of the top.
Agreed, I’m addicted to Chocolate. The song and the food tbh.
I’m loving Imfact – Lie and I wouldn’t be surprised if this song becomes a hit in the next few weeks. They’re nowhere near BTS level though but they’re still good.
I’m surprised Lie made it to your top pick of the month, though I do like it quite a bit. However, I HAVE to know what you think of “LALIDA” from Imfact’s new EP. It’s like a long lost “hype” boy group track from 2013. I mean, I guess that’s all there is to it, but it’s still fun to hear in 2020 haha.
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My top three:
Changmin – Chocolate
Chungha – Stay Tonight
Stella Jang – Villain
Interesting you’re so big on the April comeback. that second verse erases so much of the buildup from the first chorus I am always annoyed when I hear it. Given your usual focus on second verse it seems strange, then again it isn’t a trap breakdown so I’m sure it made you happy haha.
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I can’t see exactly what that imfact track have over it’s peers of moody songs, but i guess it’s fine.
My top 3:
1. Apink – Dumhdurum
2. April – Lalalilala
3. Chungha – Stay Tonight
I love dumhdurum approach with it’s dreamy synth songs, Lalalilala have the best chorus this year, Stay tonight…..could have better transition to the chorus but makes a great catwalk-lite songs with addictive groove.
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I liked ‘Lie’ initially, and it’s only grown on me each day since, to the point where it’s rivalling ‘Wannabe’ and ‘Scream’ as my favourite release this year.
It also made me revisit SF9’s ‘Good Guy’ – they’re both very much cut from the same cloth, but ‘Lie’ has so much more… life to it. I think it mostly comes down to use of syncopation: ‘Good Guy’ exists almost entirely on the downbeats, which can work (see the chorus of ‘View’), but makes it sound a bit… stiff. On the other hand, ‘Lie’ plays around with a number of rhythmic elements that complement each other, which helps maintain some playfulness. Here’s hoping for another release this year!
I would agree with you on the rhythmic elements, and I’d extend that same thinking to the vocals as well. I love the dynamics of the performance in this song. That double-punch chorus works remarkably well, despite how over-used some of the elements have become.
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