Friday K-Pop Fiesta - December 8th, 2023

From chill to cool and more, this week's playlist spans a bunch of moods.

Friday K-Pop Fiesta - December 8th, 2023
Belle and KISS OF LIFE let their audience know they don’t take things lying down in “Bad News”. Source: KISS OF LIFE

The holidays have me run the gamut of feelings and emotions as I gear up to do things with family and friends, which makes this week’s list pretty appropriate. Thankfully, the list of things to listen to or catch up on is pretty wide-ranging, meaning there’s no shortage of K-Pop tunes waiting out there for me. Here’s what’s on my list this week!

KISS OF LIFE - “Bad News”

I’ve seen this new group pop up on my feeds and in the Discord servers I frequent more than once, and their recent attention given at awards shows and other events just increased my curiosity. I had to check them out and I was pleasantly surprised. The imagery of “Bad News” gave off the usual girl crush vibes, but to reduce it to just that concept would be a disservice to the music video and the song style, which feels rebellious and unrepentant. The unexpected violence in part of the video is a surprise in K-Pop’s mostly “clean” imagery, but, as a certain Emperor might say, it’s a welcome one.

In singing about and addressing bullying, harassment, and other unsavory behaviors that the members of KISS OF LIFE simply aren’t going to take lying down, there’s a unique layer added to what the concept seems to be for this particular song - and it helps that it’s got a great chorus with small rock elements behind it.


The dominance of a certain 90’s Christmas song by a certain diva means that on the whole I’ve kinda given up on new Christmas songs in the West beyond some of the re-treads of old classics. That means I’ve turned elsewhere to get some new holiday sounds, and XG’s “WINTER WITHOUT YOU” helps with that decently well.

If “Bad News” is the energetic, “let’s fucking go” song I play when I’m trying to get through my holiday errands, then “WINTER WITHOUT YOU” is the chill song that I’d play as I’m sitting back at home with a hot cocoa in my hand. It’s relaxing and heartfelt, a simple ballad that longs for companionship that carries itself through a song structure that keeps you interested. And as a bonus, it’s all in English, so I can imagine that this came out and knocked Mariah Carey off of her usual #1 holiday throne here where I’m from.

Weeekly - “Backwards”

B-side performance videos have become a bit more common among groups with releases and it was nice to see one from Weeekly a couple days ago. These performance videos have the added bonus of adding another element to the song that I can use to sometimes re-evaluate how I feel about the music, as choreography is a part of that K-Pop style presentation.

Backwards” is super short, but what it doesn’t have in length it makes up for in interesting sound and sequences, such as in the beginning and the chorus, where it feels like the music and words are backwards-sounding like rewinding a tape. The song doing this is appropriate as it’s seemingly about being pulled back in to feelings you’re trying to deny, and after coming off of the more whimsical, free-wheeling “VROOM VROOM, is a nice change for the group on this particular album. I was apparently in the minority among listeners who follow Weeekly when I liked their more mature and darker sound in prior title track “Ven Para”, so to see them come back to it somewhat in this track is nice.

INFINITE Nam Woohyun - “Baby Baby”

Among the boy groups I listen to in K-Pop, INFINITE still remains king to me to this day, mostly because they combined fun and cool concepts with amazing vocal talent. When the group returned to release new music this year, I was ecstatic, but even though I really liked “New Emotions” I felt that vocal color and talent was not as apparent given the style of the song.

This is why when INFINITE’s Nam Woohyun returned with his first single, “Baby Baby”, I had to check it out, as solo efforts tend to be able to highlight the artist’s vocal skill just out of necessity. I wasn’t disappointed - the song plays to Woohyun’s strengths as a high-toned vocalist with a smooth singing style appropriate to this song. I’ve always felt Woohyun had a lot of charm to his presentation as a result, and the video showcases this in spades, with an unrequited head-in-the-clouds love story that is as funny as it is heartfelt. Of particular note is the recent revelation that Woohyun recently (and secretly) dealt with a rare form of cancer that required surgery to deal with - a scary prospect to have to deal with no matter how you slice it. As such, I’m more than happy to give “Baby Baby” and the rest of his debut album “Whitree” a listen, and you should too, especially if you’re in need of a mood lifter for your holiday season.

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