In a Bias List tradition, it’s time to look back at last year’s K-pop Resolutions and see how well my wishes fared. Tomorrow, I’ll kick off the new year with a list of ten new hopes for 2022. I have a notoriously bad track record when it comes to these wishes coming true, but it doesn’t hurt to ask, right?!?
Make sure to look back at 2021’s resolutions before continuing!
1. A return to live, in-person events
Did 2021 deliver? — We’re getting there… slowly….
Most of 2021 saw empty audiences and vacant stadiums, but things are slowly starting to turn around. It’s been wonderful to see fans attending K-pop’s year-end festivals and there are a number of real life concerts scheduled for the new year. But, I personally haven’t been to a concert since February 2020 and don’t plan to attend one anytime super soon. Hopefully by the summer we’ll be able to have KCON again!
2. A continuation of 2020’s “retro” trend
Did 2021 deliver? — definitely!
I still don’t think we’ve heard the peak of this K-pop trend yet, but there was certainly a lot of it. In fact, fans would be forgiven for getting a little sick of it. I just happen to have an insatiable appetite for retro.
3. A calming-down of K-pop “stans”
Did 2021 deliver? — Oh, definitely not
K-pop fandom is getting more and more exhausting by the year. I’m so tired of the competitive aspect that’s become so prevalent within the industry. It results in such toxic behavior and loses sight of the actual music.
4. An influx of interesting new voices in K-pop production
Did 2021 deliver? — Not really
Most of my favorite producers were already well-known before this year. Some came into their own during 2021, but I can’t think of any new voices that really struck me.
5. A rebound for 2019’s most-promising rookies
Did 2021 deliver? — Mostly!
This was a bit of a mixed bag, but a few 2019 debuts (TXT, ONEUS) had an absolutely amazing year. Even groups who I found more hit-and-miss (ITZY, ATEEZ, VERIVERY) released a ton of material. Almost all of 2019’s rookie slate secured their position as leaders in this K-pop generation.
6. Girl groups: stop trying to be ITZY
Did 2021 deliver? — NO
Shouty, attitude-infused “teen crush” concepts were everywhere this year, and it seriously dampened my enjoyment of girl group music. I’ll have more on this tomorrow, but this is a long-standing resolution that I’d love to see turned around next year.
7. Boy groups: ditch the dark colors and have some fun
Did 2021 deliver? — Yes… and no
The current retro trend offered an excuse for some groups to embrace their fun side, but dark/edgy concepts were still the most common approach this year. With groups like NCT leading the industry, I’m not sure this will change all that much in 2022.
8. Picking the best song as a title track (maybe a return to double title tracks?)
Did 2021 deliver? — This is still a problem.
I mean, just look at my top ten b-sides of the year! Almost every one of them is vastly superior to the title track it was paired with. And judging by a few recent highlight medleys for early-2022 releases, I think this is going to be an issue for the foreseeable future. Double title tracks were rare in 2021, and most still ignored the best songs on the album.
9. A more cohesive energy within K-pop title tracks
Did 2021 deliver? — We could be getting there
K-pop’s dreaded “second verse breakdown” seems to be slowly fading out of favor, but there are still too many tracks I’d describe as “fitful.” Their constant shifts in energy and momentum take me out of the groove. Unfortunately, I fear this style has become synonymous with K-pop.
10. Comebacks from Infinite, SHINee, Bigbang and TVXQ
Did 2021 deliver? — Well… one out of four ain’t bad, right?
Hey, at least SHINee’s comeback was awesome! Infinite, Bigbang and TVXQ were nowhere to be found, though we did get a few solo releases. Let’s make 2022 the year where legends return and show the young ones how it’s done!