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 2021 Overall Thoughts
2021 continues to be a strong year for K-pop. When it comes to consistency, I think April dipped a bit — particularly during its saggy middle. But, the month delivered a few incredible tracks and ended up with my highest cumulative rating since November. My top two picks are nothing short of excellent, and the third place is no slouch either. The fact that we’re getting this kind of adventurous variety from K-pop is quite exciting.
Two repackages loomed large over April, bookending the month with knockout singles and strong album tracks. SHINee’s Atlantis and ONF’s City Of ONF will surely rank among 2021’s best albums when all is said and done. Nu’est’s Romanticize was also very strong, and the quality of its b-sides helped me appreciate the title track more. Inside Out proved to be a big grower.
Another big grower this month was Lunarsolar’s DaDaDa. The song’s silly, exuberant live performance (seriously… the punch-spanking??) quickly won me over during music shows.
Speaking of “winning me over,” OnlyOneOf’s libidO is the kind of “entry point” song that had me reconsidering their entire discography. Despite loving last year’s Angel, I had never really invested in the group prior to this month. That has definitely changed.
On the other hand, vocal arrangements and vocal mixing marred a few otherwise great title tracks. BAE173’s standout Loved You could have been even better with a gutsier vocal performance, while ENHYPEN’s Drunk-Dazed suffered from HYBE’s obsession with tinny mixing. Both songs were still highlights, but they also feel like missed opportunities.
As we approach the summer months, funk-pop and disco seem to be emerging trends. Call it the “BTS Dynamite effect.” Great Guys, Dongkiz, CIX, Hoshi and SuperM all opted for funky sounds, but J-pop group Fantastics ended up delivering the best example of this upbeat energy.
Speaking of J-pop, April felt like a slow month for Japanese releases. Luckily, Stop For Nothing appeared right in time to claim an easy victory, even if we haven’t seen its “real” music video yet.
It’s crazy to think about where we were this time last year. I was pretty pessimistic about K-pop, and 2020 didn’t really start to turn around until June. We don’t have that problem in 2021. I just hope the year continues to offer highlights. I would love nothing more than a super-competitive year-end list when December rolls around.
Month Cumulative Rating: 7.9
(compiled by averaging the scores of every K-pop review from this month)
CIX – All For You (review)
Exile – Paradox (review)
Generations – Liberation (review)
Seventeen – Not Alone (review)
TOP J-POP SONG OF THE MONTH
Fantastics – Stop For Nothing (review)
AB6IX – Close (review)
Astro – One (review)
BAE173 – Loved You (review)
D-CRUNCH – My Name (review)
Dongkiz – Universe (review)
ENHYPEN – Drunk-Dazed (review)
Great Guys – Touch By Touch (review)
Hoshi – Spider (review)
Kim Jaehwan – I Wouldn’t Look For You (review)
Lunarsolar – DaDaDa (review)
Nu’est – Inside Out (review)
P1Harmony – Scared (review)
STAYC – ASAP (review)
SuperM – We Do (review)
Wendy – Like Water (review)
3YE – Stalker (review)
TOP THREE SONGS
3. ONF – Ugly Dance (review)
2. OnlyOneOf – libidO (review)
1. SHINee – Atlantis (review)