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.
June 2020 Overall Thoughts
This may not seem like much within the context of 2020’s continual suck-a-thon, but June was by far the strongest month we’ve seen in some time. I say this with a sigh of relief, though we’re nowhere near out of the woods yet. My half-year countdown (which will be revealed soon) is still looking pretty slim compared to years past, but June’s top three picks helped flesh it out.
You’ll see a lot of honorable mentions in this month’s round-up. As has been the case with K-pop for years now, June delivered many solid tracks but few standouts. Luckily, the three songs that did stand out are among the very best that 2020 has given us. I haven’t been this satisfied with a top three since some time in 2019.
One factor that made June particularly strong were the albums. This month was flush with releases, and many of them were accompanied by full or mini albums. And even though certain groups didn’t pick the right song for promotion (looking at you, Stray Kids!), there were a ton of great buried treasures to be found. Lots to listen to this month, and that’s a refreshing change (but dangerous to my wallet!).
On the negative side, June continued a worrying 2020 trend. It seemed like the bigger a group’s popularity, the more disappointing their comeback was. New title tracks from Twice, IZ*ONE, Seventeen and BLACKPINK all misfired to some extent, though these acts’ popularity continues to grow. Big Hit also continued to make odd promotional choices by unleashing TXT’s Puma on us when Drama was sitting right there, ready to act as a great summer single.
This brings me to a point that’s becoming more and more crystallized in my mind: the more a K-pop act tries to cater to western tastes, the less enjoyable I find their music. My top three choices this month all have one thing in common: they’re composed by Korean producers. As time goes on, I’m becoming less and less interested in Western producers’ “take” on K-pop. Sure, foreign influence has resulted in amazing work in the past, but as K-pop becomes more global, I feel like many of its architects are Western creators who don’t have the sense of K-pop history that a Korean composer would have. So, we end up with American-sounding music that just happens to be sung by a K-pop act.
Anyway… that’s probably a topic for another long-winded rant.
Looking forward to July, I don’t want to put a whammy on things by being too optimistic. After all, my reverse psychology during May’s round-up seemed to pay off. However, I’m encouraged by some of the sounds I’m hearing break through in K-pop. Unfortunately, I think we have a lot more trap-rap to wade through first, but eventually we’ll move on to greener pastures. Every trend has its end, right?
Month Cumulative Rating: 7.8
(compiled by averaging the scores of every K-pop review from this month)
J-Pop (and C-Pop!) Worth Your Time
King & Prince – Mazy Night (review)
WayV – Turn Back Time (review)
3YE – YESSIR (review)
A.C.E – Stand By You (review)
AB6IX – The Answer (review)
AWEEK – 1.4.3 (review)
Bang Yedam (Treasure) – Wayo (review)
Chungha – Be Yourself (review)
Cosmic Girls (WJSN) – Butterfly (review)
Cravity – Cloud 9 (review)
E’Last- Swear (review)
Ha Sungwoon – Get Ready (review)
IU – Into The I-Land (review)
N.Flying – Oh Really (review)
Pentagon – Basquiat (review)
Seventeen – My My (review)
TXT – Eternally (review)
Weeekly – Tag Me (review)
WOODZ – Love Me Harder (review)
TOP THREE SONGS
3. Sunmi – Pporappippam (review)
2. ONF – New World (review)
1. Golden Child – One (Lucid Dream) (review)