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.
May 2020 Overall Thoughts
Well… I’m officially worried.
We’re almost halfway through the year, and at this point it’s hard not to start imagining what an eventual end-of-year list might look like. By the end of May in 2019, we’d heard Miroh, Crown, Highway to Heaven, Dalla Dalla, Under Cover and Boy With Luv – with Wave and Side Effects waiting just around the corner. In 2018, we’d heard Good Evening, Lady, It’s U, Heroine, District 9, That Day, and Baby Don’t Stop – with Complete only days away. That’s eight out of my top ten songs each year. 80%! This year, I’ve got… maybe two?… songs that could threaten a top ten during a weak year.
2020’s been beyond weak. It’s been downright anemic. Disappointment after disappointment. Carbon copy after carbon copy. I’m beginning to wonder if everyone else is feeling the groove and I’m the odd one out, but I don’t think that’s the case. Overall, 2019 was very strong, and I came into this year optimistic. Just eight months ago I was handing out 9+ ratings like they were candy. I don’t think I’ve rated a K-pop title track above 8.75 since early March, with an endless surplus of “meh” 7’s and a worrying increase in 5’s and 6’s.
May should have been magnificent. We had so many comebacks from groups who’ve made my countdowns in the past. TXT, Astro, NCT, DAY6, Nu’est. Yet, none of these cracked my top three picks of the month. In fact, only one even made it to my honorable mentions! I’m honestly shocked.
Let’s talk about TXT for a moment. Going into May, they were by far my most anticipated comeback. They had two songs in my top five singles last year, and were an easy pick for my favorite 2019 rookie. Yet, Can’t You See Me has been the opposite of a grower for me. I didn’t love it on release day, but now there are parts I find so grating that I can hardly enjoy listening to it. Personally, I think this is the most egregious plummet in quality I’ve seen since starting this site, which is really sad. I’m hoping this can turn around later in the year, but for now their comeback has easily been my biggest disappointment of 2020.
My honorable mentions list looks pretty robust this month, but that’s only because there were so many songs released. However, I would like to point out a few growers. Moon Jongup’s Headache and Fanatics’ VAVI Girl ended up becoming real earworms for me. Ditto for my number three pick, which has very quickly proven to be more addictive than I first thought. It actually knocked KEEMBO’s Sweetune-produced Scandalous down to honorable mention status, though I still like that song quite a bit as well. It’ll be interesting to see how things play out as these songs age.
Because this was such an underwhelming month, I expect my top three to be pretty volatile as time goes on. I have no idea if my top song will continue to hold that spot in a few weeks because I just haven’t had enough time with it. My number two pick was a real surprise, and one of the few May releases that actually grew more addictive the more I heard it. Still, none of these tracks are likely to feature very high on my end-of-year list — unless 2020 continues to be such a letdown.
Looking forward to June, and the sheer onslaught of comebacks on the horizon, we have the potential for 2020 to finally take off. But, every time I’ve tried to be optimistic this year, the results have disappointed. So, in an attempt to thwart this jinx, I’m just gonna say that June will totally suck. Prove me wrong, K-pop!
Month Cumulative Rating: 7.3
(compiled by averaging the scores of every K-pop review from this month)
J-Pop Worth Your Time
Bullet Train – Stand Up (review)
Stray Kids – TOP (review)
Fanatics – V.A.V.I. Girl (review)
IU – Eight (ft. Suga) (review)
KEEMBO – Scandalous (review)
Moon Jongup – Headache (ft. Yunhway) (review)
Natty – NineTeen (review)
NCT 127 – Punch (review)
Park Jihoon – Wing (review)
Raiden x Chanyeol – Yours (ft. Lee Hi & Changmo) (review)
REDSQUARE – Color Full (review)
Ryu Sujeong – Tiger Eyes (review)
Secret Number – Who Dis? (review)
TOP THREE SONGS
3. ONEWE – End Of Spring (review)
2. OnlyOneOf – Angel (review)
1. With Woollim – Relay (review)