Review

Unwrapping 2021’s K-pop Holiday Tracks

2019 K-Pop Christmas SongsImagine a big bushy Christmas tree — or replace that with whatever decoration or tradition matches your wintertime festivities. Underneath are packages galore, each containing a winter-themed K-pop track. Some have been unwrapped early (Stray Kids’ Christmas EveL, Billlie’s Snowy Night, ONEUS/ONEWE’s Stay) but there are still plenty to go. 

After furiously opening each gift, some are bound to thrill while others feel more like a lump of coal. This is a frenzied process, so you’ll understand that these mini reviews will be very brief. But, let’s take a look at what the industry had to offer this year.


Kim Yong Jun x Kim Sung Kyu – When It Snows

Unsurprisingly, this is my pick for the 2021 holidays — mostly because it reminds me of Infinite’s 2011 classic Lately. Having Sungkyu on the track certainly helps, but the jaunty tempo and insistent sleigh bells are equally as important.

 Hooks 9
 Production 8
 Longevity 8
 Bias 9
 RATING 8.5


Purple Kiss – My My

This is probably the “biggest” 2021 holiday single I haven’t already reviewed, and it’s a pleasant toe-tapper. Purple Kiss have already revealed an admirable versatility, and My My shines spotlight on their vocals. The instrumental is suitably festive, but the hooks could be more memorable.

 Hooks 7
 Production 8
 Longevity 7
 Bias 8
 RATING 7.5


Hyolyn – A-Ha

I associate Hyolyn’s voice so closely with summer that it’s almost hard to parse it as part of a winter track. But, she brings a giddy sense of joy to A-Ha‘s throwback sound. This is quite a pleasant pastiche, making me long for more solo material.

 Hooks 8
 Production 8
 Longevity 9
 Bias 8
 RATING 8.25


A.C.E, Son Hoyoung & Forestella – Christmas Time

It’s Beat Interactive’s first carol! The song opens as a subdued ballad before bounding into its upbeat groove. The vocal firepower on this is definitely impressive. But, the melody could use more oomph. It’ll be fine on a playlist, but isn’t really a highlight on its own.

 Hooks 7
 Production 7
 Longevity 8
 Bias 8
 RATING 7.5


V (BTS) – Christmas Tree

This is technically an OST, but due to V’s involvement it’ll be sure to garner many more streams than any other song in this feature. I’ve always loved V’s unique tone, though the heavy effects on this track give it a muddled feeling. Even so, Christmas Tree is subdued and emotional and accomplishes its task. I love when the piano comes in during the second verse. I just wish the recording felt a little cleaner and more piercing.

 Hooks 7
 Production 7
 Longevity 8
 Bias 8
 RATING 7.5


Treasure – BFF

This isn’t really a Christmas song apart from its music video, but it’s been so long since I’ve written about Treasure that it feels necessary to include it. Regardless, I’m not a huge fan of the track. I appreciate the upbeat, youthful energy, but the production shifts too often to really get going. The central drop also seems a little uneventful as an anchor for the whole song. Cute video, I guess?

 Hooks 7
 Production 7
 Longevity 7
 Bias 7
 RATING 7


Brand New Music Artists – Happy Brand New Year

These full-agency tracks have become a tradition for Brand New Music, and last year’s offerings were a ton of fun. This time around, the energy has been turned down and the melodies muted. Happy Brand New Year has vague city pop influences, but the song never really kicks into gear. But, it’s still fun to hear all of these artists together.

 Hooks 7
 Production 7
 Longevity 7
 Bias 7
 RATING 7


Zion.T – A Gift!

It’s been ages since we’ve heard a new Zion.T track. He’s a great match for this soft style. A Gift feels suited to the holidays but could easily be played year-round when you’re in the mood for a head-nodding mid-tempo. There’s not a lot to its simple melody, but the track casts a comfortable vibe.

 Hooks 7
 Production 7
 Longevity 8
 Bias 7
 RATING 7.25


OnlyOneOf – melting snOwman

They’re not giving up on their cheesy “O” theme even during the holidays, are they? Before they make their long-awaited January comeback, OnlyOneOf have a gentle carol for fans. I adore this group, but unfortunately melting snOwman is quite hushed and boring. Sleigh bells are always a plus, and the guys’ vocals are a treat. But, this is a little drowsy for me.

 Hooks 7
 Production 7
 Longevity 8
 Bias 7
 RATING 7.25


Kang Hyewon – Winter Poem

Holiday music often feels like soothing lullabies, and if that was Hyewon’s intent with Winter Poem she definitely succeeded. Her vocals sound great, offering a jazzy style we never got to hear in IZ*ONE’s music. With that said, this style of song is neither here nor there for me. It’s quite pretty, but not something I’d seek out on its own.

 Hooks 7
 Production 8
 Longevity 8
 Bias 7
 RATING 7.5

4 thoughts on “Unwrapping 2021’s K-pop Holiday Tracks

  1. I haven’t listened to most of these – I don’t observe Christmas and the ones I have listened to for bias reasons (WEUS, Beat, billlie) have felt kind of like fan songs – overly sentimental and thin. “Christmas EveL” seems like it shouldn’t count since it’s such a different style, but I’ve actually fallen hard for “Winter Falls”. It hasn’t passed “Chronosaurus” for favorite SKZ ballad, but it’s number two for sure.

    Like

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