The Persistent Problem of K-Pop’s Boy Group Angst

If one thing has been lacking from K-pop’s 2020 boy group landscape, it’s a sense of fun. Now don’t get me wrong, we’re not exactly in “fun” times right now, so to expect anybody to be in a particularly good mood at the moment is asking a lot. But when things are dark, don’t we need upbeat entertainment the most?

This lengthy rant will be a sequel to a similar post I published in the summer of 2018, and I regret to say that – despite a promising 2019 – things have only gotten worse on this front. This year, every single boy group is either sulking, emoting hard or simply trying to prove how badass they can be. Even when we hear a bit of lighthearted funk, it’s usually undercut by a “hard” trap breakdown or angsty aside. Nobody seems to be allowed to just let their guard down and have a good time.

For clarification, let’s define what I’d consider a “bright” boy group song. These examples may seem almost old-fashioned to us now, since the style seems to be such an endangered species:

Astro – from Hide & Seek to Crazy Sexy Cool
Golden Child – from DamDaDi to Genie
Seventeen – Adore U to Boom Boom
VERIVERY – from Ring Ring Ring to Tag Tag Tag
NCT Dream – Chewing Gum to We Young
TXT – Crown

Or, if you’d prefer some older examples:

Infinite – Man In Love
B1A4 – What’s Happening
Boyfriend – Love Style
SHINee – Dream Girl
GOT7 – A
EXO – Love Me Right

In short, I’m talking about songs and concepts that utilize bright colors, big melodies and upbeat rhythms that sustain (or even build!) though the entire track. It seems like a simple approach, right? Yet, our current generation of boy groups seems to be allergic to it. Every one of those groups I mentioned in the first set of examples has since gone down a darker route and shows no signs of returning to their upbeat roots. Not all of these transformations has been bad or unenjoyable, but their similar trajectories threaten to blend every group into one homogeneous entity.

With this in mind, I’m going to attempt to brainwash the K-pop industry and fandom as a whole by arguing against a few of the assumptions and reasons we’ve found ourselves stuck in this rut. Wish me luck!

1. “Dark” = “Mature”

I see this thrown around a lot – how a group’s new song is so “mature” just because they slowed the tempo and upped the moodiness. I want to push back on this hard, because as an older (at least, relatively) K-pop fan myself, I resent the fact that just because you’re at a certain stage of your career (or life) you can’t have fun anymore without coming across as juvenile.

Though they’re different markets, I’m thinking about Japan’s Johnny’s Entertainment, with a roster of groups who have stood the test of time. We’re talking about acts like V6 and Arashi who have been in the industry for decades, or even comparatively newer acts like News or Kis-My-Ft2, whose members are now in their thirties. You don’t see these groups arbitrarily “going dark” with no opportunity to return to a fresher concept. Their discographies are varied all the way through their career, yet even in their thirties or forties, the most rousing portion of their concerts tends to be those good old sing-along anthems.

Yet, as soon as a K-pop group’s maknae turns twenty, it seems like it’s time to get “serious” and be taken “seriously.” This brings me to…

2. Bright groups aren’t taken seriously

I’m not sure I buy this. I think a lot of this argument is based on a Western viewpoint that’s been imposed upon K-pop as the industry has grown more international. Like it or not, boy and girl groups are rarely taken seriously in the West. Sometimes even by the groups themselves are eager to move onto more “meaningful” fare, which ironically tends to be the very moment their music falls out of commercial favor. Much of this has to do with a presumed lack of “authenticity,” given weight by the fact that many of these groups don’t write their own material.

Well, few idol acts write their own material either, and it doesn’t make a lick of difference to me. When it comes to pop music, I’m not interested in authenticity if it means little else but moping around. I don’t need a dissertation on social or political issues to be satisfied with a song. I just need the music to be good. And if a song pierces through the language barrier and hits all the right dopamine centers, you better believe I’m taking it seriously.

I’m also taking seriously those songwriters and idols who know their way around a potent pop melody. I’m thinking specifically of B1A4’s Jinyoung, who composed some of the last decade’s most irresistible pop songs. They were lighthearted, upbeat and could even be criticized as innocuous, but the strength of their energy persists long past the shelf life of the latest tuneless trap dirge.

3. Once you go dark, you can’t go back

The most troubling aspect of this doom and gloom has been a pattern in which groups embrace their newfound musical “maturity” and get stuck in that same template for years. Reverting from a Blue Flame to a Hide & Seek, or a Wannabe to a DamDaDi seems almost like career suicide, as if a group suddenly isn’t taking their music seriously anymore. Why is this?

For an industry that relies so heavily on concepts, you’d think it would be easy for a group to slide naturally between lighter and darker sounds. Yet, it simply isn’t done that often. While the transition from bright to dark is lauded as “growth,” the opposite move is seen as risky or frivolous. When it comes to this phenomenon, I’m particularly concerned about Seventeen. At this point, they’re so established that they’d find easy success with another title track like Very Nice or Mansae, yet I fear that a misguided sense of “growth” is keeping them from revisiting their funk-pop roots.

We don’t really see this issue when it comes to girl groups, which makes me think that gender roles impose a strong influence. As much as K-pop likes to play androgynous with make-up and stage outfits, these brighter concepts seem to be deemed more childish and, therefore, weak. The male K-pop idol is an archetype unto its own, but as with most societies, a narrow definition of “masculine” seems to be prized above all else.

We can see this in competition shows, like the currently running Road to Kingdom. When a group wants to have impact, they never opt for a brighter, funkier concept. This is reinforced by voting and results. The darker, edgier performances on Produce 101 and other survival series always seem to get the most attention and votes. Is it because they’re truly of higher quality? Or, is it that audiences have been conditioned to seek out material that compliments existing gender roles?

4. The international market doesn’t want bright boy groups

I’m not sure we know what the international market wants, but we know what the industry thinks the international market wants. Speaking as an American consumer, the bulk of our successful boy bands have made their name on brighter, upbeat material, and given the right push by agencies, the same has been true of K-pop acts. BTS’s Boy With Luv was received very well internationally, as was TXT’s Crown.

I don’t buy the assumption that western ears don’t appreciate upbeat material. The problem is, all of the groups who have peddled brighter fare hail from agencies that don’t have much reach into the international market. Groups like VERIVERY, Golden Child and Astro arrived without the benefit of a heavily-watched survival series, making it more difficult for them to gain a global foothold. Yet, almost every act that’s come from a Produce-like juggernaut has opted to go dark and edgy right from the start. If these are the only acts an international fan is familiar with, their taste is going to be guided for them — at least to some degree.

5. You can’t showcase skill with bright material

Bright pop songs are too fluffy to showcase an idol act’s true potential, right? After all, these groups are groomed and trained to perfection, delivering complex choreography with the utmost precision.

That’s all well-and-good, but without personality, complex choreography loses much of its appeal. I may be in the minority, but I’d much prefer to experience a blast of joy or a tangible love for performing over some technically perfect routine. After all, we’re at the point where almost any established K-pop group can deliver a flawless piece of choreo. The industry does not lack for talent. After a while, these constant attempts to one-up each other begin to lose their potency. The acts that really catch my eye during weekly music shows are the ones who can cut through all their practiced perfection and offer a natural sense of showmanship. This feels like the spark of a true star, and this kind of charisma is a skill that often goes unappreciated.

I’d argue that brighter material actually helps draw this out in performers. If a song is fun, the artist is more likely to be having fun performing it. There’s no need to pose this way or that. You can be a little more unguarded – maybe even smile! And whether this smile is practiced or not (it most likely is), it’s a welcome sign that these idol groups are human beings with their own individual charms, not mechanized, moody robots trying to conform to someone else’s definition of what a K-pop star should be. You can still have complex choreography, goosebump-inducing power notes and intricate hip-hop flow within a brighter template.

If only we’d see some of that this year!


48 thoughts on “The Persistent Problem of K-Pop’s Boy Group Angst

  1. I pretty much agree with you 100% so I don’t have tons to add, but I will say that it seems possible to pull yourself back from the brink. The Boyz released No Air, which was significantly moodier than their previous comebacks (though I really enjoy it and it’s still a more energetic song than the moodier, more lethargic type of music you’re focusing on here), but then were back with Bloom Bloom and DDD just a few months later. Sure, they’ve since taken a step back with Reveal, but this just shows that it can be done. I only wish it was.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Yep, The Boyz are a good counterexample that I considered mentioning. Though I haven’t loved all of their title tracks, I appreciate how they’ve been willing to move back and forth between concepts.

      Liked by 2 people

      • Astro is the greatest pity of all and I will forever believe the ‘Crazy Sexy Cool’ era was their last comeback. I was hoping they would do cute yet a bit mature concepts but they just kept going and going until I lost interest.

        As aegyo is a bit of a turn-off I dislike very cutesy concepts. I like WJSN’s current type of sound: Magical (As You Wish, Save Me Save You) where the sound is bright but not too saccharine.

        What do you think of the middle ground? Bright yet dark. I’ll give you two examples: ‘Russian Roulette’ Red Velvet, the aesthetics are neon and pastel but the lyrics and the plot of the music video are very disturbing (the entire time they’re trying to kill each other) or ‘Married To The Music’ by SHINee which is what a consider a dark comedy held at a party where everything is bizarre (the members are randomly losing body parts and apparently one can puke confetti) and everyone’s still having a good time and dancing away.

        Oh, I just realised both groups are from SM.

        Liked by 2 people

        • As you can see right now ASTRO is having their coneback and yes the title track (knock) is alil bit mature or something like that but you will be shocked when you see ‘when you call my name’ cuzz its soo cute and different from their title track…this show that astro still can be cute and refreshing even tho they did a mature concept..as if you r a real aroha you will love them no matter what and support them


          • I’m sorry but I have the huge issue with the mentality that as a fan, you are obligated to support every single release no matter what. I loved Astro when they were doing more “schoolboy” kind of concepts and I don’t think I’ll ever change my mind. To clarify, I’m not insisting they have to stick to one sound because I like it that way. I respect and accept that they have changed a lot since their debut, but their recent songs and future songs are unlikely to ever be my cup of tea.

            I hold nothing against the members themselves, they’re talented and I’m grateful that they’re always working so hard with each comeback. I just don’t feel connected to their type of music anymore.

            Liked by 1 person

        • 100% agree. When Astro released CSC I was delighted because they had found sort of a niche between concepts; cute yet mature and very clearly showcasing their skills. I would like to see that type of concept more TT


  2. 1) I am going to second that the western world does not rate any boy or girl band highly at all. Only perhaps after 20 or 30 years later, nostalgia will kick in with a schmidgeon of respect, mostly because the fans are 20 or 30 years older and they don’t give a fig anymore about what anyone else thinks.
    Many an artist has been doomed by trying to make more meaningful fare, or worse, trying to make “their own music”.

    2) Music is fun! It should be fun! It should bring the audience along on the fun! I don’t want to see deep meaningful gazes accompanied by panting and catching their breath. I watched Big Bang “Love Dust” live on stage again this morning. They are having a great time!
    I’ve been binge watching Forestella because they lift my spirits. They are so enjoyable to watch because at the end of their performances, they know they nailed it, they actually enjoy what they are doing, they enjoy being part of that team, they are smiling. “https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OZ6vlSEY6WE Kang Hyung Ho is singing notes I could only hit with helium support, and he is smiling through it all. Also, I am old enough to not give a fig about what anyone else thinks about my recent obsession with kpopera.

    Liked by 4 people

  3. I completely agree with you. I would actually prefer for the kpop scene to be a ratio of 70/30 of bright groups and moody groups.

    I think the main problem people have with bright concepts is the same that you have with aegyo vocals. It’s usually very childish looking (sounding for the aegyo case). I personally don’t have a problem with the childishness or the aegyo but I can see how sometimes it is too much or why people don’t like it. I think for boy groups it comes more to the video concept rather than the music.
    It’s a shame that there are so few groups going for fun and bright without being somewhat childish as this type of sound is more common in debuts (at least for title tracks).

    Liked by 2 people

    • A good point! Music can be bright and fun without being overly “cute.” Unfortunately, a lot of K-pop agencies don’t have a lot of imagination when it comes to these sorts of concepts.

      Liked by 4 people

  4. Personally, for me, I’d like to sit on the fence when it comes to concepts such as “bright” or “dark”. Either concept, if done well can produce thrilling results. If I think about “dark” I think about EXO’s Mama, VIXX’s Error, etc. “bright” means songs like INFINITE’s Last Romeo, SNSD’s Into The New World.

    On the other hand, either concept can also be undermined by groaning and moaning dark songs or high pitched nasally bright songs. I’m not going to name any, I’ll just leave that up to you.

    The thing is I don’t think we necessarily need more bright songs. Sure, it would be nice. But I think what we need more is just some actual proper singing. You know belting notes, harmonies, percolating melodies the whole package. And some heart attacking quickfire rapping. I mean I’d be pretty satisfied if the current groups replaced some of their songs with songs like Mama and Error.

    I do agree that the majority of the songs being released recently are dark and I think it would be good if there was a balance between bright and dark songs. I think what we need is balance. A healthy mixture of bright and dark.

    Thinking back to a few years back if I were to see groups claiming they were going to change up their concept, become more “mature” then I would be good. Cos it would usually result in songs like the ones I’ve listed above. Nowadays, it’s a different story.

    On a side note, I’m looking forward to TXT on the 18th. I saw your tweet the other day being worried when you saw the teaser. I wouldn’t be too worried. You know how mysterious Big Hit teasers can be.

    Liked by 6 people

  5. I Agree! I need old Golden Child and Astro and Seventeen back! ONF, why did you leave us also!! Oh! hey look TXT your’e also going. Seriously , what is wrong with being more pop or more bright. We do have some exceptions at least ( ATEEZ and Stray Kids ) but it’s incredibly sparse. Dark concepts also don’t even carry their own bombast or melody with them anymore. The beats are always lethargic and I don’t like it. I just want a group like B1A4 so that there will be hope!!

    Liked by 3 people

    • Literally all my favourite groups went ‘ dark’ and there’ s not much left to keep me in the kpop fandom now haha- I liked these groups for their brighter concepts!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Yep, the bright boy groups not being taken seriously part is probably a major issue. These days kpop fans like deep meaning in everything, be it concepts, lyrics, music videos, whatever, which doesn’t go easily with bright stuff. Don’t get me wrong, that stuff’s probably interesting for people who’re into that but I miss when everything in kpop was just for fun.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I just don’t like how half-assed “moody” concept is. I like it more when a group go to the extreme ends of the spectrum.

    You want to sound serious? Look at Infinite “Back”. The song have slow build-up that pays-off in the chorus where the synth drops indicates the danger that are approaching are finally here.

    You want to look serious? BAP have 10 minutes videos with plot full of blood, betrayal, and assassination.

    It does helps no matter what concept you have, to have someone who can write good melody for you. Big bang made their career from mid-tempo emo songs, and almost all of them still stood the tests of time.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. The point is: everything you state is clearly an evidence, but it doesn’t deal with KPop. It’s the western attitude towards Pop (in general) that’s been spreading around for years and years both in USA and Europe. One case above all: do you remember *Good Girl Gone Bad* by Rihanna (which was actually quite explicit from the title about what you wrote)? Did she ever turn back to her previous *Music Of The Sun*?
    I think that KPop is now facing the big chance to conquer the western market, and that’s the reason why it’s heavily going to adopt the western cliches of your list.
    Once again, I have to say it’s working, and as soon as agencies and producers check all the points they can easily hope for a harder-better-faster success.
    Just compare the sales of We Are Superhuman to those of Neo Zone or We Go Up to The Dream and I guess you’ll get all the answers by the numbers.

    Liked by 3 people

  9. I pretty much agree with everything you have said. Girl groups have the same problem with the girl crush trend flooding k-pop nowdays with the difference that the conservatism in the industry allows female idols to go back to a brighter sound like Red Velvet can do for example.
    As for boy groups, I will only say this. Super Junior in their 30s came back with Super Clap, Big Bang on their last album had Fxxk It, IKON’s most successful song was Love Scenario. These are three examples among many others, so I don’t really get why everybody needs to be dark to aim for success or to be mature.

    And all of this doesn’t help the idols performing these songs. I think I wouldn’t be able to recognize any member of AB6IX, TOO or CIX if you asked me to because they are all singing the same kind of songs, with the same dark MV style, the same choreography that goes hard and the same black/red suit outfit… I’m exaggerating but I’m not far from reality.

    Now I only hope that summer will come with some bright new songs, but that’s not NCT’s “hip-hop soul urban song”, Baekhyun’s “Futuristic R&B title track” or TXT’s teaser (I’m more confident about the last one) that will make me stop worrying about the actual k-pop landscape.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, Girl Crush, lots of copy cats going on, also noted on Berry’s brief comment above.

      I often lament how I can’t tell these groups apart. Besides the theme, they all have the same damn haircut just in different colors. I don’t know how the general Korean public can tell them apart – maybe they can’t? Maybe we watch too many of these groups instead of a sampling or only the best. Like actually remembering the lesser known hair bands of the 80’s – there were loads! One would be in a real record store holding up the latest (vinyl) album cover marvelling at the latest rendition of pleather mascara aquanet style.

      Liked by 2 people

  10. Great article. I believe jpop groups last much longer because they arent tied to the idea of mature concepts. They make whatever type of song they feel and move on. Arashi is a band that to me will make a sexier song, do a simple song about love, and then something fun… and they are in their 30s. Kpop doesnt let their groups breathe like that, and if they do they seem to be forced into obscurity. As a super old kpop fan I just got tired of my faves being pigeonholed or made irrelevant.

    Liked by 2 people

  11. I definitely agree with this. I‘ve been trying to get into groups like CIX, ONEUS, AB6IX and the like, but they don’t really appeal to me like other groups do (Big Bang, EXO, NCT). Their concepts are all similar, and their title tracks (usually) have the same concept and style as the previous ones.
    Now I‘m not saying that their music isn’t good, because that isn‘t true, but I‘d like it if they had different concepts once in a while.
    I also don‘t think that every group should try out a more bright concept, since sometimes, it doesn’t fit with the group as well. Take NCT 127 for example. I know it‘s just a sub-unit, but I feel like it‘s a good example. Their concept isn‘t bright or cute at all, it‘s more experimental and “dark” than some other groups. Yet every single title track they release is different from the previous one and adds spice to their discography. If you compare “Cherry Bomb” to “Superhuman”, the sound is completely different and unique in its own way.
    Other groups like EXO have this as well, with songs like “Ko Ko Bop” and “Growl”.
    And it‘s not just boy groups that struggle with this, it‘s girl groups as well. The Girl Crush trend is becoming so popular nowadays, that so many girl groups have comebacks with this sort of style. Sure, it‘s fun for a while, but it gets old. I wish girl groups would vary their concepts, like Red Velvet does. I mean, they released “Umpah Umpah” and “Psycho” in the same year. If that doesn’t scream duality, then I don’t know what does.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh my god, I am so stupid. I forgot about “Touch”. If there’s one song by NCT that‘s different and bright, it‘s “Touch.”


  12. For me personally, concept does not matter, because the best groups can turn the trendiest sounds into something fresh and amazing. Though nowadays it just feels like we’re getting the same song over and over. And gender roles do play a strong factor. For me personally, I’d much rather have swaggy boys than girls doing over the top aegyo for three minutes, but the boys can’t pull it off forever. I just wish groups could experiment a little more without the restraints of a fast-paced industry.

    Last year I remember listening to Run Away by TXT. That song was for sure darker than Crown, But it was a great song and a unique concept that made it one the best releases of the year. I remember listening to the “Bibbidi bobbidi” in the pre-chorus. That line instantly caught my attention, right then and there I knew that this song was something special. I knew that they were not going to do what other boy groupps were doing. They chose a Harry Potter concept and they were going all out. I just wish that every group had that energy and mindset. Groups like Ateez, and Stray Kids, are doing their share aswell. Every comeback they pick a concept and go all out and hold nothing back e.g. Wonderland, Side Effects.

    I just hope that in the future each group would just start doing whats best for them, not what the charts think is best for them. I don’t care if their image is dark, bright, or somewhere in the middle, JUST GIVE ME GOOD MUSIC. PLEASE. I’M BEGGING. I CAN’T WAIT FOR STRAY KIDS AND ATEEZ FOREVER, I NEED THE OTHER GROUPS TO STEP UP.
    Though I’ll give Day6, Nu’est, Gfriend, and NCT a pass, their albums were pretty great.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. I thought Super Junior did a good job of never taking themselves too seriously in terms of concepts, even if the songs weren’t “bright”. “Don’t Don” is their edgiest concept to date, but eleven years later we got “Black Suit”, which is arguably one of their best title tracks and doesn’t strictly fall into either bright or dark categories. The whole idea that maturity=being dead serious all the time is so laughable, as though adulthood involves no lighthearted and fun moments. Ironically, that’s more of a child/teenager’s idea of adulthood, not a mature understanding of life, no? Being an adult includes binge watching SpongeBob SquarePants until 3AM because you damn well feel like it or acting silly with your friends for a good laugh, it’s not all bills and taxes 24/7, come on, people!

    Liked by 2 people

      • Well, yes, they are goofballs. They are also still around and promoting and earning a living just fine. The last men standing.

        Black Suit was awesome, and very underrated. My personal favorite title track is Mamacita. (Ay yay yay!)


  14. The thing is, minor tracks are overwhelmingly easier to compose in edm genre especially true for d&b, trance, just simply because of the overall tones of the waves that are commonly used I guess. That will lead to a darker tone as more people participate. Major centered genres like Future bass however, is an overhyped genre stacked with terrible producers with terrible mixing and little thoughts into the music.
    Another problem for edm producing these days is the typical workflow really have little control over what the piece will look like eventually. This combined with the fact that people have “darkness” figured out can easily flush the entire system with dark stuff.


  15. I actually like the depth and variety emerging from K-pop, and I seem to have an aversion with some of the bright, sugary cuteness that’s come out in the past. GG didn’t do it for me, but I loved Wondergirls and 2NE1. When Twice first debuted, I think I’ve only heard bout 20 seconds of the song and quickly shut it out. I couldn’t name any of their singles if you asked. The female groups with cutesy concepts doesn’t bid well for my brain as someone who has trained as one before, it’s a hard concept to shake off once you become of age; especially if the concept evolves into the sexy badass female.

    I would have to say though, Pentagon does a good job with cute concepts without acting “dandy” or “lovely” and still exude their youthful boyish charm With “Humph!” and “Shine”. A.C.E. can also pull off bright and fun and still showcase their vocals (sans Chan due to cross promo) with “Take Me Higher”. ONEUS had a bright song as well with “Lit” which was also a great play on Korean culture.


  16. I pretty much agree with you. As I read this article, I got reminded of Beast/Highlight works. I think they are one of the groups that have successfully switched from dark to lighter tones and still managed to secure the general public reception. I think what I miss most from K-Pop is its colorful sounds and imagination that I find charming and refreshing. I want more lighthearted, carefree sounds coming for boy groups.


  17. I don’t mind darker/sexier/more mature songs if done right.The same goes the other way round, lighter/cuter/ more innocent(???) concepts are fine with me to.
    What matters the most is whether the song is good. Whether there is any melody. Whether the hook is something that stays with me. Whether I can sing along or not.

    But what I miss the most from k-pop is the variety. Groups used to have their ‘sounds’ that worked for them, but they were mostly different. Of course, there were major trends, but still, everyone did it in their own way. Unfortunately now we have two major trends – dark boys, girl crush – and almost everything seems to blend into one song.

    Liked by 1 person

  18. Seventeen’s “Snap Shoot” is cute. And before that “Oh My” has a fresh feel to it. Not to mention they still preform “Aju Nice” all the time. When they were asked to describe themselves, they said flesh and sexy. My point is I don’t think they’re losing their cuter side anytime soon.


  19. I completely agree with what you said. Who are the acts that catch your eye the most during weekly music shows? Or should I ask, who are the best natural performers in your opinion? I’m curious.


  20. Got nothing to add, once again you put my thoughts into words. Strangely I haven’ t found any of my kpop friends thinking the same thing!


  21. I do like my edgy boy groups with badass tracks but lately, ive been sjocke dby the lack of vsriety… Usually when you had groups like Big Bang, 2PM, BAP, etc. but you also had your B1A4, Teen Top, Boyfriend, etc. There was a time I was smitten by both B1A4 and Block B even tho they were polar opposites, both had fun with their music which is very much needed right now


    • Yeah, I think the lack of variety is the true crux of the problem here. I just rag a lot on dark concepts because they happen to make up 99% of boy group K-pop at the moment. Variety is the spice of life! After awhile, all of these songs blend into one another.


  22. “BTS’s Boy With Luv was received very well internationally, as was TXT’s Crown.”

    I feel this is kinda cheating cause BTS are pretty much the international stars and TXT, while talented, are certainly getting a boost from being “the BTS followup”.

    but I will agree about the girl crush concepts. I’ll fight anyone about Elris We First or Gugudan’s Wonderland but everyone was pissed because they’d rather have more girl crush, more “lit” songs.


  23. i agree with your writing. almost everyone getting darker every year 😥

    anyway i’m happy in the last album (Heng:garae) Seventeen show us some retro-funk-fun concept which was very fun to hear and watch. that album easily makes my day brighter without sounds childish whatsoever, just fun. it fills my need of bright concepts, yet still showing us their growth.


  24. After having binged a full week of your reviews and your leanings toward Kpop, I could say as having grown up with Kpop (as a fan since 2009) that we already have that sense of what made the older generation groups outstanding (even and especially in their time) and wish that this kind of variety is something we still get to see at present in the industry. And I heavily agree with a lot of what you covered in this post. Makes me feel like most concepts have been exhausted and that we’ve consumed too much of Kpop to know which songs and concepts stand the test of time.
    With that thought out of the way, I’m pleased that you acknowledged B1A4’s Jinyoung for his creation of quintessential pop tracks because I was precisely just reminiscing (and comparing) that when I was getting into newer groups these days. I also saw your reply in another comment and have found that The Boyz, MCND, and Ateez are in your roster of groups that have that balanced mix of performance and personality and I am completely fond of these 3 groups right now because of that.


  25. Ooo Nick, I’d love an update of this situation in 2021. What you’re saying rings true on a multitude of levels, but I actually have the most faith in groups with more influence on their music like SEVENTEEN and ATEEZ.

    In the latter half of last year, we where gifted with both Left and Right and Thanxx. Maybe not quite the bright you’re looking for, but certainly more than anyone else. Except for maybe TXT this year… Blue Hour was a springtime song if I’ve ever seen one!


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