Kpop Comebacks: the second week of November

Kpop+Comebacks%3A+the+second+week+of+November

Jess Oakley, Reporter

The second week of November brings with it 27 new K-pop releases accompanied with music videos to enjoy and watch. This article will only highlight four comebacks that really interested me, but so much of the music released this month has been good, it’s hard to narrow down who I discuss in these articles.

On Nov. 9, Gfriend released their third studio album, “回:Walpurgis Night,” which included 11 songs, including the title tracks of their last two mini albums, “Apple” and “Labyrinth”, as well as the b-ide “crossroads” in addition to 8 new tracks. “MAGO,” the title track of this new full album, peaked at #1 on BUGS for 16 hours, as well as breaking the previous record for fastest Gfriend music video to reach 1M views, taking only three hours and 10 minutes to reach the goal. The music video did very well, surpassing 9M views in the first 24 hours.

I asked a fan on twitter their opinion of the comeback, and here is what user @kmhist had to say, “In my opinion Gfriend have always been a very popular girl group within the industry since debut and their songs have always had a recognizable ‘Gfriend sound.’ ‘MAGO’ took the retro concept which is rising in popularity within the K-pop industry now and made something new out of it while still managing to sound distinctly Gfriend. I think the ability of theirs to produce something ‘trendy’ yet still instantly recognizable as theirs is one that will help them retain their current prominence as a group within the K-pop industry.”

“MAGO” has a distinct disco sound that’s somehow both soothing and exciting to listen to. The visuals of the music video call back to the sparkly over indulgence of the 1970s, and when I first heard the song, I could have sworn I’d heard it somewhere before. I think the song is a great addition to the retro theme that’s been popping up within K-pop as of late.

Lee Taemin, often known as the mononym Taemin, debuted in group Shinee in 2008, made his solo debut in 2014, and debuted once again in SuperM in 2019. Taemin is considered one of the best dancers in K-pop, as well as being well-known internationally even outside of K-pop circles.

On Nov 9, Taemin released “Never Gonna Dance Again Act 2” with the title track “IDEA.” Along with beautiful styling and aesthetics within the music video, artful choreography and touching lyrics, Taemin has once again proved that he is the king of K-pop soloists. The concept teasers for this album heavily drew from concepts of Roman Catholicism, which Taemin himself is a member of.

I talked to two fans of Taemin about what makes Taemin unique within the K-pop industry and how he has developed his own style within the genre. Luzy from Twitter said “I think what’s cool about Taemin is how he involves himself in everything he puts out, in every way that’s available to him. So it’s not just performance talent, but someone’s input and point of view weaved into every aspect of their artistry, a voice within their voice. I think that’s the most special thing about him. I think that’s how he’s made it his own — by presenting something so carefully crafted with other creatives that support him — but he’s the one ultimately steering the proverbial ship, he’s certain of the journey he wants to take people on with every release. The attention to detail and dedication is hard to miss. So his concepts and musicality constantly reflect that, and therefore makes them even more interesting to dwell in. Doesn’t hurt that you know you’ll get a performance like no other attached to it… As he says himself he’s always trying to show his own Taemin-like color and he’s always extremely successful at it.”

The other fan I talked to, Lieve also from Twitter, said this about Taemin, “I think his growth as a solo artist is absolutely insane. Like, even from the beginning he was challenging the norm and bringing something new to the scene, but with every album he amps it up. Everything he comes out with is so different and every concept is so detailed and thought through. I think he kind of takes elements from older K-pop and adds a twist to it, especially with ‘Press It’ and ‘Move.’ I think the most recent album(s) like Act 1 and Act 2 are super interesting as well because like you can tell that he was inspired by a lot of the mainstream sounds, but he still managed to twist them in a way that makes the music distinctly ‘Taemin.’”

JO1, a Japanese boy group that was formed from the competition based survival show Produce 101 Japan, released their first full length album “The Star” on Nov. 9 as well. Most of the groups formed by competition survival shows in the past have been temporary, only promoting together for on average a year. JO1 is slated to be a permanent group, and this season of Produce 101 Japan was different from other shows like it or the fact that all the trainees were not affiliated with entertainment companies.

I asked a friend of mine that really likes the group some questions. I asked Rin if she thought since the group was formed through a survival show, it created a more well-rounded or better group. To that, Rin had this to say “In a sense, I think that it did create a better group. The survival show that they participated in awarded points not only for talent and success in singing, dancing, and raping challenges, but also awarded points based on the number of votes of support each member received from the fans. To make a successful group, you not only need talent that will catch the attention of the general public and sell music, but you also need a dedicated fanbase who genuinely love the group and want to support them. However, all 101 trainees on their survival show were selected out of a pool of 6,000 applicants. Each trainee on the program had talent worthy of being selected. Everyone chosen for the show was already capable of being an idol, and we can see that with how 62 out of the 101 trainees have debuted in their own groups. However, I think that the survival show narrowed it down to the most successful out of the already promising 101.” I also asked how she felt about the title track, “Shine a Light,” which highlights the talents of all eleven members. The chorus and bridge are catchy and easy to sing along to, and the choreography is fun while still being challenging.

Rin had this to say about “Shine a Light,” “To me, ‘Shine a Light’ is a love song. If you consider the lyrics being said from JO1 to JAMs, JAMs to JO1, or even JO1 members to each other, it tells the same story and relays the same emotions of unconditional love and support. I, as well as man JAMs, found the song and music video so impactful that it made us cry when it first dropped. Personally, it also feels like the climax of JO1s rookie and star-themed era; the song makes me feel as though JO1 as a group is feeling more confident and supported by JAMs, something that they may have doubted in the past. The song is one that invokes the image of a bright and happy future for JO1.”

The fourth song I want to talk about is “EMPTY TRASH” by new solo artist LØREN. He is the son of the founder of Naver, a search engine popular in South Korea. He is signed under THEBLACKLABEL, which is a subsidiary of YG entertainment. He starred in the music video for Blackpink’s latest music video, “Lovesick Girls” as the love interest to all of the girls. The music video is very based in the DIY scene and the music itself is edged with grunge and punk sounds. He wrote, arranged, produced, sang and played all the instruments on the single himself. The song and music video are currently only available on Youtube and not on any streaming services like Spotify or Apple Music. I really enjoyed the song and aesthetics, and I’m looking forward to more things from him as a solo artist.

These were just four of the many songs that came out in the second week of this month. I really enjoyed listening to these songs and many others this week, so if you want I can recommend some songs that I didn’t include in this article.

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