Friday K-Pop Fiesta - January 19th, 2024

Second generation idols return, 2000's era pop punk makes a comeback and more in this week's fiesta.

Friday K-Pop Fiesta - January 19th, 2024
SISTAR19 re-unites after over a decade with "No More (Ma Boy)". Source: KLAP ENTERTAINMENT (YouTube)

With the holidays well in the rear view the K-Pop industry machine is off and running in 2024. Quite a few of my favorite artists have made their comebacks so far in January, with more on the way, so that means I'll have plenty of K-Pop to jam to in the car while I'm driving out in winter weather. Here's what I checked out this week!

Choi Yena - "Good Morning"

I was never really into Produce48 group IZ*ONE when they were all together, but after seeing their various members find success in their own way in groups, acting, and as soloists, I've come to appreciate the fact that they had a ton of talent packed into that 12-member unit.

Choi Yena, one of those members who decided to strike out on her own, is back this week with "Good Morning", a high-energy, peppy pop-punk anthem that's reminiscent of the hits of the early 2000's, when artists like Avril Lavigne were in their heyday. Obviously as someone who really likes their rock (thanks Dreamcatcher), "Good Morning" hits a nice chord with me, and Yena nails that colorful yet rebellious vibe that inhabited many of my playlists back then. If you like something more "K-Pop traditional", I'd check out B-Side "Good Girls in the Dark", which is this song's polar opposite from a performance and mood standpoint, and is still a banger.

ITZY - "Untouchable"

The lead single from their long-awaited album "Born to Be", "Untouchable" completes the trifecta of MV releases that includes dark and aggressive EDM title track "Born to Be" and the more chill and vocally-focused "Mr. Vampire". I frankly feel that of the three, "Untouchable" is the most "classic" ITZY, a comfort piece that hails back to such bold, confident, and fresh-sounding tracks such as "Not Shy", "LOCO", and my personal favorite, "Wannabe".

Once again, I'm missing the solid vocal foundation from on-hiatus member Lia that serves as the bedrock to many ITZY songs, but this is still a great track. The repeated chorus portions don't overstay their welcome, the visual presentation of settings and choreography is compelling, and the musical progression keeps your head bopping. The sort of "devil may cry/us against the world" vibe in this music video's imagery and lyrics is great, and you wonder if ITZY is cognizant of the discourse out in K-Pop land that they might be losing a step compared to their more recent, higher-selling brethren. If they are, they don't seem to care and are content with saying that...well, they're untouchable. And that feels appropriate and cool at the same time.

tripleS Aria - "Door"

My fellow friends who are into K-Pop give me a hard time over the fact that I draw the line at seven members a group. Look, as someone who needs to evaluate the whole presentation - music, choreography, personality - if you get beyond a certain number of members with me, it's just hard to get to know the group and sustain that appreciation due to divided attention.

As such, tripleS, with its 20+ members, quickly disqualifies me from ever really getting to know all of them or follow the group closely. But that doesn't mean that I don't notice the music. Thankfully, the act divides itself into more easily identifiable subunits, and "Aria" submits their entry for consideration with ballad "Door". I know ballads are a "standard" in much of K-Pop, but I'm an appreciator for some of the differences you hear in how some of them carry themselves, and "Door" is a great example of this. The piano sets the soft mood, the heartfelt-yet-reflective environment accentuates the lyrics, and as such the vocals, along with a solid and rich set of background instrumentals, really hit the emotional beats. Plus, there's a baby turtle in it. That's hard to resist for me as someone who has grown to love pets in the house.


Years ago, 2nd generation group "SISTAR" were known as the "summer queens", and with good reason - it seemed every time the warmer months rolled around, we'd get another catchy and cool jam that you'd be humming all season. And Sistar19, the duo subunit containing my two favorite members Hyolyn and Bora, proved with only a single song, "MA BOY", that the summer bops could show up in smaller packages. Backed by unforgettable choreography and the kind of hope (yet mild warning about) to get past a bit of rocky relationship seas, it was a quintessential part of the 2nd gen mature concept that SISTAR helped keep up.

With "NO MORE", the subunit's first song together in over a decade, we find out that the relationship crashed against the rocks and that the only thing left are emotional knives and other hurts, but curiously, a realization that, as the chorus says, "nobody's perfect". That ideal image of a significant other whose occasional poor treatment that gets overlooked is shattered, an idea made apparent by the fact that the MV's action focuses pretty much on Hyolyn and Bora. Still, for a breakup song, this lacks any of the feeling sorry for oneself you might expect in it, and instead what you get is the idea that lessons were learned and more importantly, that moving on can happen, even with the heart scarred as it is. It's a great contrast to the last song SISTAR19 did, but what hasn't changed is how great Hyolyn and Bora are at exuding confidence in themselves. If you haven't seen the live stage of "NO MORE (MA BOY)" yet, I'd do so - it's great.

Affiliate Stuff

(For transparency: I receive a cut of all purchases through these links and partnerships I’m a part of - feel free to check them out!)

  • Notion still remains one of the best productivity tools I use to keep myself organized!
  • waterdrop continues to be the place I go to encourage more consumption of water through vitamin-filled, zero-sugar flavors