Friday K-Pop Fiesta - November 10th, 2023

A comeback that was actually a comeback and literal driving imagery top my list this past week.

Friday K-Pop Fiesta - November 10th, 2023
Ex-(G)-IDLE member Soojin returns to K-Pop as a soloist with “AGASSY”. Source: SOOJIN (YouTube)

If I had to pick one word to describe what I’ve been listening to in the past week, it would be “new”, whether that is from groups that I occasionally check out trying something different or from brand new artists altogether. We’re still in the midst of one of K-pop’s busiest periods in 2023, something that I suspect is companies and artists fitting everything in before end-of-year stuff. Either wa y, K-Pop fans benefit, right? I know I’ve been pretty well fed as far as things to listen to. Here’s what I’ve been checking out this past week.

Kep1er - “Grand Prix”

While Japanese language releases by K-Pop groups tend to fly under my radar, this set of promotions by Kep1er towards release of their 3rd single “Fly High” still kind of snuck up on me. I’m glad YouTube came to my rescue here, as the song is fresh and has a nice beat that doesn’t let up. While I’m normally not a fan of earworm choruses that repeat the title track word over and over again, this one stays with you but throws in some variation in between making sure you’re singing “Like a Grand Priiiiiiiix” in the shower randomly.

It feels like Kep1er has settled in on their sound and identity this far in - an inbetween concept that you could describe as “cool and catchy” that does a decent job of differentiating itself from the other 4th gen groups (many of whom possess far larger resources and visibility than the Girls Planet-constructed Kep1er - and that’s saying something. This one’s definitely staying on my list, though.

Weeekly - “VROOM VROOM”

What’s with the racing theme title songs lately? DId girl groups feel like boy groups had the market cornered (and subsequently vacated) on the car-themed songs and decided to dip their toes in? I know I absolutely meme’d on the fact that over the past two years there’ve been songs like “My Turn” and “JIKJIN” filled with (literally) driving choruses and brightly-colored racing imagery, so to see girl groups head this way is just funny to me.

That being said I was pleasantly surprised with “VROOM VROOM” from Weeekly, because despite the name this isn’t an aggressive high energy song so much as it is a “drive through the country and just vibe” tune. The MV is big on the "road trip with friends imagery complete with “be loud and mess up a hotel room then hit the beach” scenes and it definitely made me miss the fact that at least where I’m living, it used to be summer-y just a few weeks ago.


If Kep1er were showing themselves off as professional race car drivers and Weeekly were a well-to-do group of friends on a vacation road trip, then watching VIVIZ have their car break down and have to hitchhike might seem like a big contrast, but that’s what we get for the MV of “MANIAC”, which seems to portray the group as struggling rock artists looking to make it to their next gig and payday.

Part of that is just simply having a soft spot for the ex-GFRIEND members, who’ve done their best to try to re-capture the magic that got their original group huge domestic attention but who may have been lost in the shuffle of monster rookies backed by bigger companies with deeper pockets. But the other part is that this is just a brutally honest song - underneath the song’s light and airy tune is an internal monologue about how some relationships/friendships can make you crazy with how much drama, arguments, and frustration there can be - but that there might be a part of you that likes that kind of stuff because it’s always exciting. When you watch the MV and listen back with those lyrics translated, it becomes a much more interesting song that I hope gets a bit more attention.

SOOJIN - “Agassy”

It’s obviously been a minute since we saw Soojin anywhere near the K-Pop industry, as 2021’s bullying scandal led to her eventual departure from (G)-IDLE and (at the time) uncertainty about the group’s sound without her. We’ve obviously since found out since then that IDLE has done just fine (perhaps even gotten even more popular, even), so occasional thoughts from some fans wondered how Soojin was doing, or if she’d ever make a comeback.

That wait appeared to have an end when Soojin opened her own Instagram account, then proceeded to let people know she was coming back as a soloist, with title track “Agassy” being her first effort. I don’t know about the rest of you, but it feels like this was Soojin picking right back up where she left off when she sang “HWAA” with IDLE. The vibe of “Agassy” was as slow and ponderous as that final 6-member IDLE title track and two years away has obviously not dulled Soojin’s vocal talent. I really liked this - it felt like the simple lyrics and title were a means to ease people back into familiarity with Soojin while the MV showcased that she never let go of the alluring image she seems to feel is her strength as IDLE’s former Main Dancer. Regardless of where you stand on the bullying controversy, it seems Soojin is receiving a decent amount of support for her “comeback comeback”, and I’ll be interested to see where she goes from here.

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