Depending on when or where you’re reading this, it’s either the final day of 2022 or the first day of 2023. That means, it’s time to make my K-pop wishes for the new year. Many of these never end up coming true, but you’ve still got to put it into the universe, right??
1. More Long-Awaited Comebacks from the Legends
2022 was a good year for veteran girl groups, with both Girls’ Generation and Kara making long-awaited, successful returns. Now, it’s time for some veteran boy groups to follow suit. If 2023 doesn’t give us great comebacks from Infinite, TVXQ and SHINee I will riot! That last one is all-but confirmed and TVXQ is probably likely as well. But, will this finally be the year Infinite reunite for an album?
Whatever happens, these veteran groups are very dear to older fans like myself and I’d love to see more of them return with new music. Dare I hope for a Sistar or Girl’s Day album? What about a more left-field surprise, like ZE:A?
2. The Return of the Mega-Producer
Past K-pop eras have been defined by their hot music producers of the moment, with one or two names standing out as a talent everyone wanted to work with. Over time, it’s become far more common for companies to purchase material from a wide variety of producer teams — many of them not Korean at all. While it’s great to have a diversity of voices, it feels more like these outsourced productions are simply copying and pasting trends that have working in the past.
A certain amount of “copy and paste” goes along with having a trendy producer-of-the-moment, too. But in that case, it tends to feel like more of a unified vision — a musical era, to put it simply.
3. Better Utilization of Vocalists
I know K-pop’s charms involve much more than great singing. But if I had it my way, idol songs would shift back toward a focus on vocalists. There’s been a lot of sing-talk and a lot of shouting this year. I want to hear more melody in 2023. Give us those shining moments where we can really hear the skill of a group’s main vocalist. I want power notes galore, but ones that are properly woven into a melody and not simply added as ornamentation.
Along with those power notes, I need K-pop to fully embrace its bigness. Oftentimes, the visuals and concept are overwhelming but the songs themselves feel oddly subdued. I’m sick of anti-drops and threadbare grooves. I’d love producers to throw the kitchen sink at us. 2023 is a time for over-the-top anthems with production to match!
5. New-Gen Girl Groups Unveil Their Classics
2022 offered many great new girl groups and some have already released a song or two that feel like classics in the making. So far, so good.
In 2023, I’d like to see these groups throw down the gauntlet and deliver their signature hit — a track so great that it goes down in history and is still talked about a decade later. I know this is a lot to ask, but we have to dream big!
6. New-Gen Boy Groups, Where You At?
While new girl groups ruled 2022, the year wasn’t nearly as stuffed with notable boy group debuts. It’s only fair to turn the tables in 2023 and see the debut of a couple of big-name, popular-right-out-of-the-gate boy groups with fully-formed sounds and concepts that push the industry forward.
And while we’re at it, this better be the year JYP finally debuts his LOUD group. The wait is getting ridiculous.
7. Break the Template
This one is kind of sown into every resolution on the list, but I think it deserves its own mention.
For a blogger like me who writes about every major K-pop song released, it’s easy to notice certain songwriting templates and patterns. It’s becoming very rare (almost impossible, actually) for a K-pop song to genuinely surprise me. Compare this to J-pop’s continual reinventions and there’s a huge contrast. At this point, K-pop has become a well-oiled machine. But, I’d like to see a group or two play outside those established lines.
8. Justice for Spurned Idol Acts
There’s been a lot of drama this year, resulting in plenty of acts that deserve a leg up in 2023. Whether that’s long-neglected groups (iKON) or groups with legal stresses (LOONA) or simply groups who deserve a break after tons of hard work, let’s make 2023 the year of real comebacks (not just the typical K-pop definition of “comeback”).
9. More Recognition for Acts/Agencies who Consistently Release Excellence
As we head further down the list, these resolutions become more personal to me and my interests.
I don’t necessarily put much stock in “international recognition” and rarely follow outlets like Billboard and NME, but I often feel like I’m on an island of my own when I’m gushing about groups like Golden Child and DRIPPIN and OnlyOneOf. Sometimes it seems I’m the only international “critic” (if that’s what you want to call me) who’s enjoying these groups. Maybe my taste is just really specific, but it seems like so many year-end lists and coverage from major outlets focus on the same handful of acts while totally ignoring others, year after year.
I don’t even know what I want here, since omnipresent coverage and commentary is even more annoying than complete disregard. But, I’d like to see some of these consistently-great mid-tier groups get some recognition outside of their core fanbase.
10. K-Pop Tours, Please Come to the Pacific Northwest!
This is a very personal wish and I know it’s a bit silly because there are entire countries (even continents!) that never have K-pop tours pass through. But with so many acts coming to the States in 2022, I was irritated that hardly any stopped in Seattle or Vancouver.
I’m willing to travel for the acts I love most, but the Pacific Northwest is a big chunk of the country with a ton of fans eager to spend money. Come see us!