Friday K-Pop Fiesta - February 16th, 2024

This week's selections are filled with K-Pop acts doing something a bit different than the norm I'm used to

Friday K-Pop Fiesta - February 16th, 2024
BIBI is (literally) cooking in "Bam Yang Gang". Source: BIBI (YouTube)

I get asked a lot why I listen to and watch K-Pop and one of the reasons I always like to cite is just the sheer variety. Not just for the genres, mind you - you can get that in pretty much any pop from around the world, after all - but for the concepts. It's especially interesting when it's an artist/idol who is doing something different than what I'm expecting of them normally. And while sometimes I don't end up really vibing with these changes, much of the time they're pleasant surprises.

Here's a few of the songs that went off the beaten path for me this week!

(G)-IDLE - "Revenge"

You know, I thought about putting in a screenshot to show just how wild IDLE's "Revenge" B-side MV gets, but thought better of it. There's a reason why this MV is age-restricted to being played except on YouTube, and it's probably best experienced directly rather than being even the slightest bit spoiled by it.

Granted, after what happened in "I Want That" a few months ago, it might not be unexpected for IDLE's members to sing about vengeance, but as I've said many times, K-Pop for me is about the whole package. When listening to "Revenge" audio-only, the song was a neat rock-style banger that made IDLE sound badass, but adding in the MV and the visual? Let's just say that I had no idea that the song itself had a narrative that went pretty justifiably dark.

I will spoil just one little thing though - give us more of Yuqi rocking out on the guitar with flames all around her, please. Best image of the video.

BIBI - "Bam Yang Gang"

I'm a latecomer to the BIBI hype train, and part of why I started paying attention was the kind of concepts, videos, and mature themes tackled in her music. If I hadn't really expected terribly much for IDLE to go dark or violent, that's the complete opposite for my perception of BIBI. Cutting off the heads of the literal rich swine Kill Bill-style in "Animal Farm"? Kidnapping nefarious dudes while singing about being a "bad bitch" in "Vengeance"? Driving an audience (including at times her own fans) wild with the cool and sultry stylings of "Best Lover"? All expected, all cool, and all a part of BIBI's musical aura.

But whimsical and fairytale? That's a new one for me when it comes to BIBI, and exactly what "Bam Yang Gang" serves up. Fantastical and colorful, set against the background of a sad breakup, I kept waiting for BIBI former significant other to get their just desserts - when in the end, a dessert was really all she wanted. At only 2 and a half minutes or so, "Bam Yang Gang" is short, but it makes the time worth it with a fantastical journey filled with cartoons and (apparently) intelligent mice.

Dreamcatcher - "Lullaby"

Ok, I know what you're thinking - what a transparently blatant attempt to shoehorn in Frank's favorite K-Pop group. But really, I have a reason for dropping in "Lullaby", one of Dreamcatcher's earliest and best B-sides, and one I've been running through my playlist more than normal. That reason, in part, is that Dreamcatcher is typically known as the "dark rock" act, with even B-sides like "Poison Love", "The Curse of the Spider", and more, that image has been carefully maintained, with few exceptions.

You might think "Lullaby" is your standard ballad inclusion, and to a certain extent, you'd be right. But Dreamcatcher singing something that isn't an aggressive fast-paced rock song isn't the only different thing about this B-side. Watching the video and knowing the lyrics, there's a kind of forlorn sadness behind the song, a kind of clinging to something that feels ephemeral or perhaps already lost, remembered only as a fleeting memory. The group recently remixed this song with a more rock feel, but that doesn't mean it's lost the mood I just described. With the group starting their nine-city Europe tour, you can bet this song is going to come up in fancams real soon.

IU - "Holssi"

There's a reason that IU has been consistently beloved in South Korea, and it's not just for the fact that she sings some of the best ballads and emotional songs in the biz. It's also the fact hat she's an expansive artist, one that takes hold of and performs different musical styles just like the rest of us change out of different kinds of clothes.

After having to watch and get hit in the feels constantly by the tragic tale depicted in "Love Wins All", having something nice and light-hearted in "Holssi" is a good pallet-cleanser. Not only do we get IU with a groovy-style beat and airy vocals, we also get the bonus of her rapping, something that, at least for me, doesn't come to mind when talking about the artist known at times in South Korea as "The Nation's Little Sister". There's a kind of fun wanderlust that accompanies this song, something that makes you want to forget the world's problems, if for only a moment. But that, too, is part of IU's charm.

Hope you enjoyed this week's songs! If you have a suggestion for recent (or favorite) releases that could go into my K-Pop playlist, be sure to let me know in the comments!

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