Following a tradition first established in 2020, I’m celebrating the holidays today with the opening of gifts. These packages come in the form of seasonal K-pop tracks not yet reviewed on the blog.
This year, the rules are simple. I’m either keeping the gifts or planning to return them. There’s a pretty fine line between the two outcomes, and many songs barely eked into the “keep” category. But, I only have so much space for presents. Now is not the time to be wishy-washy!
Brand New Music – Hugs
Brand New Music artists delivered two holiday presents this year, but only one comes with its own music video. Unfortunately, Hug is a tedious, trap-driven midtempo I’ll be returning right away.
Cielogroove – Everyday Christmas (ft. TAN)
Cielogroove is a production team, and they’ve paired with boy group TAN for this little ditty. The song is inoffensive and bright, leveraging classic holiday sounds. It doesn’t really go anywhere, but it’s pleasant enough.
C9 Artists – Merry Merry Christmas
I know we’re in safe hands when a Christmas song kicks off with sleigh bells! I love how dramatic the introduction is. This is a fun, upbeat carol – among the stronger holiday tracks released this year. The occasional blasts of choral vocals are my favorite touch.
Chuu & George – Dear My Winter
This is one of those songs you play in the evening next to a fire as snow blankets the world outside. It’s very cozy and smooth and just kind of lulls you to sleep. George and Chuu’s vocals compliment each other well.
Dreamcatcher – White
White is covered by many of girl groups, but its bright, fluffy nature isn’t something I associate with Dreamcatcher. The girls pull off the concept, even if it’s a bit toothless for them.
Ha Hyunsang – When Winter Comes
This is really pretty. I’m a sucker for rock ballads and Hyunsang has a very evocative voice. It’s not the strongest melody I’ve heard in my life, but I find this pretty satisfying as long as I’m in the right mood.
Jaurim – Mr. Klauss + If It Snows On Christmas Day
Well, this is a strange turn. These two songs are quite different from each other. One’s sort of a rocky/jazzy cabaret number and the other is more punk influenced. Neither is really for me, but I don’t begrudge anyone who loves this because it’s straight-up strange and that’s a great thing.
Verdict: Re-gift (because I think someone else is going to love it)
Jin (Lovelyz) – Our Christmas
I’ll always enjoy Jin’s voice and this song has the same hushed appeal as George & Chuu’s track. But, it lacks a memorable factor. It’s more snoozy than cozy, which is a slight but important distinction.
Jung Seung Hwan – My Favorite Winter
Jung Seung Hwan has become one of Korea’s go-to singers of wintery fare. This time the song is a bit more upbeat, which is definitely appealing. It’s very middle-of-the-road background music, but it has my toe tapping.
Katie – Christmas Last Awhile (ft. paulkyte)
This has a kind of cool lo-fi quality and Katie’s vocals sound great. It’s very atmospheric, but I kept waiting for the song to kick into gear. I’m not sure if the production (particularly the percussion) always matches the melody. I like the instrumental solo in the middle, though.
Kim Chaewon – My Little Christmas
Oh my gosh these sleepy tracks really become a drag when you hear one after the other. I can’t tell if Chuu and George’s duet is actually superior or if I simply like it best because it was the first one I listened to! This one is quite dull, unfortunately.
Lee Boram, Punch & Yebin – White Christmas
This song has a bit more energy, but only a bit. It’s a great trio of vocalists, and that goes a long way. I’m not thrilled about anything here, but I’ll hang onto it just in case it improves with time.
Lee Sujeong & Lee Woo – The Miracle of Christmas
I’m still waiting for that Woollim Family holiday track that only exists in my imagination, but at least we have one of their artists here. I was about to pass on this one until the beat came in and the music suddenly turned into a party. Not a fan of the verses, but the chorus works.
Mirae – Snow Prince
Mirae cover a classic single from their agency seniors SS501. The original Snow Prince is great and this is too, but it doesn’t make any choices that would set it apart. Like NCT Dream’s recording of Candy, it feels superfluous. But, at least it’s upbeat.
Verdict: Keep (but I’ll probably just play the original)
Stella Jang – Winter Dream
Okay, I really like this. The quirky piano pop sound is refreshing and Stella’s vocal is light and filled with character. It’s not the kind of song I would put on any other playlist, but it’s charming and nostalgic.
VERIVERY – Christmas Day
This was a late Christmas arrival, hiding in the bottom of the stocking. But, I’m keeping it! Sure, it’s a little rough around the edges, but its energy is infectious.
Weeekly – Happy Christmas
This is also nice, though it definitely feels like holiday album filler. The melodies are a little uninspired, but it’s nice to hear something with more pep in its step. Weeekly make the perfect delivery method for Christmas cheer.
WEi – Gift For You
The verses here are very boring but the chorus injects some life into the track. A second verse breakdown (seriously, we’re even doing this in Christmas songs?!?) feels like coal in the stocking, and from that point on the song struggles to recover its energy.
woo!ah! – Merry Christmas In Advance
There’s something refreshingly “old-school K-pop” about this. Like most songs in this feature, it’s not particularly “good.” But, it’s buoyant and bright and enhances the holiday season well enough.
Yoon Jisung – December 24
We’re back to Sleepytime Express. Jisung has a lovely voice that compliments this hushed sound, but this is super boring and pretty cheesy.
im so glad chuu’s doing so much better even after the attempted slander by BBC, and i hope she knows the world is on her side
anyway nick, i was trying to find all of kisumai’s tenth anniversary solos (especially 灰になる前に), but for some reason, none of them are in any albums or singles. they’re only included in the 2021 tour dvd (which isnt available on mp3 download websites)
so may i pretty please have the solos as mp3s? 🥺🥺🥺🥺🥺🥺🥺🥺🥺
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Merry Christmas, Nick; and Happy New Year! I hope the end of this year finds you safe, warm, and happy. 🎄🎉🎊
And to all of the people that post here, I wish you all the exact same thing; a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! 😁
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This is a nice list! I’m especially intrigued that SS501 are Mirae’s seniors!! I did not know that at all!!
I haven’t listened to all these yet but I really liked the C9 Merry Merry Christmas one! We haven’t seen Cignature this year at all so seeing them as a part of the team was really nice – I really liked their parts! Overall I thought they did it really well – great bursts of Christmas energy, both male and female voices blended right and a cute little video too!
Merry Christmas, Nick! 😄
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that’s a LOT of Christmas songs, just as I thought it was done it just kept going LOL. on the other hand, SM’s Winter album is releasing tomorrow and judging from the highlight medley I think it’s going to be a decent album 🤔
just when* I thought smh
Didn’t expected Gahyeon’s White featured here since it’s a cover special clip and not a single release, but it’s a pleasant surprise 🙂 The song fits Gahyeon’s vocal so much, really glad to hear.
I find the ubiquitous kpop Christmas “stuff” so tedious. Leave it at Christmas greetings. I don’t need to listen to you sing about snow. Exception for Stray Kids, who actually did something fresh last Christmas. Yes to Christmas Evel.