Friday K-Pop Fiesta - January 5th, 2024

Let's start 2024 off with some K-Pop bangers and bops!

Friday K-Pop Fiesta - January 5th, 2024
Dreamcatcher's Siyeon sings her remake of Gaho's "Start Over", from the K-Drama Itaewon Class. Source: Dreamcatcher official

Happy New Year, K-Pop fans! One of the best things about being into K-Pop is the sheer amount of content that is out pretty much every week during the year. If you're into multiple groups, there's no shortage of new things to listen to, and 2024 seems to be more of the same. Here's some of the stuff I've been checking out to start the year.

Dreamcatcher Siyeon - "Start Over" remake (orig. Gaho)

Usually, I save the headliner for last, but all of you regular readers know that I have a pretty big Dreamcatcher bias, so of course a song by them will lead things off.

Main vocalist Siyeon has assembled a bevy of covers over the years, from a rock version of Bruno Mars' "Treasure" to a studio version of the modern Aladdin movie's "Speechless" and more, but she seems right at home with originals or OST work. "Start Over", a remake of the hugely popular original of the same name by Gaho for the Itaewon Class OST, showcases both Siyeon's vocal range and unique style, and is her 2nd digital single, following 2020's original song "Paradise".

It's not like Siyeon is any stranger to OSTs - she's sung for 3 shows over the years - but this one is most like "Good Sera", in terms of mood and action. Featuring actor Nam Dareum, the MV seems to tell a story of determination, hard work, and beginnings leading to aspired goals. It's probably the perfect song for a New Year where you might be turning over a new leaf or trying something new (like I am with The Low Key Geek), so it's worth a listen, just to get inspired.

Geenius - "Voyage"

I'm inevitably drawn to groups that aren't as big or well-known, or have been known to have been through some level of adversity, which is why Geenius caught my eye. Formerly known as BEBEZ, the group took refuge in ironically-named label "Safe Place" after contracts with much-maligned ex-LOONA label Blockberry Creative ended, with management formerly from that same company.

Aside from the label issues, the group has been training together for quite some time (6 years!) and consists of at least some members who participated in survival show Girls Planet 999, the competition which eventually birthed girl group Kep1er. So given how brutal the industry can be sometimes, that they've gotten to at least debut has been great.

As such, "Voyage" is a comfort K-Pop song, and by that I mean it's not super-experimental. It's a standard, chill vibe catchy song with the "girls on vacation/travel" MV vibe that seems to be popular lately with groups. But that doesn't mean it's a bad song, either. The vocals float over the melody nicely, the chorus is head-bopping mood, and each member gets to show off their talent. We'll see where the group goes, but to me, this is a nice, solid start.

ITZY - "Mr. Vampire"

Going from lesser-known rookies to veteran big company groups, ITZY's pre-release single "Mr. Vampire" continues their build to their next full album release, due out on January 8th. As a spoiler preview, "Untouchable", the title track, likely will end up on next week's Fiesta, but that's not stopping me from checking out what they've been teasing with the other music.

Like other ITZY fans, I was caught just a bit off-guard with this single. After such high-energy work like "Ringo", or "Cheshire" or yes, even the oddly-polarizing "Sneakers", something calm and soothing like "Mr. Vampire" seems out-of-character. But if there's anything to like about ITZY, it's that they've never been afraid to do some experimental stuff while still being comfortably in the realm of normally-structured pop music. It's part of why I continue to like them despite an odd trend on my part of not vibing with every other title track in their discography.

Obviously, the group is missing main vocal Lia, who's taking a well-deserved break at the moment, but the remaining members do quite well covering for her, and the song itself is a calm take on the "I like you and I'm drawn to you"-themed song we've been seeing from the younger generation of K-Pop groups. No complaints here.

Purple Kiss - "Biscuit"

I have a soft spot for self-made MV stuff. Not only does it divorce production of music from the big-budget presentations that, while needed, sometimes overshadow the music, but they have this mood of somewhat-improv'd extended skits that create a more low-key, fun result.

This is basically what "Biscuit", a Purple Kiss B-side from their "FESTA" release from 4 or so months ago, feels like. Oftentimes I get to experience a song all over again when it gets a visual presentation like this one. When a group gets to do a candid project like this one, and present a cool song with some funny moments (like literally miming eating giant biscuits for the chorus), it reminds me that not all the songs a group put out have to be huge deals.

In this case, the song's original lyrics kind of make it out to be a forlorn and a bit of a sad song of emotional expression, but the special clip makes it seem more whimsical and free-wheeling. Maybe my initial interpretation of the song is wrong - but again, that's why self-made MVs tend to make things fresh, and in this case, add the song back into my playlist.

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