Friday K-Pop Fiesta - October 13th, 2023

Mid-October brings with it plenty of new K-Pop to grace fans' ears.

Friday K-Pop Fiesta - October 13th, 2023
Wheein returns with a new label and new track with “In The Mood”. Source: KBS WORLD TV

Fridays from now until probably December are going to be ridiculously packed with new K-Pop music, and while I’ve mentioned that before in other articles, it’s another thing to be actually in the mix with all the stuff the industry’s been tossing out lately. It can certainly get a little overwhelming - kind of like being at a buffet and not knowing what to eat first - but unlike trying to adhere to my diet, I can be capable of exercising a little selectiveness and restraint. Here’s some of the tracks that have made me feel pretty full this past week.

IVE - Payback

If the presence of IVE on my lists the last couple weeks is any indication, it’s that Starship has been doing well with promoting IVE’s first EP, which just dropped yesterday. A triple title-track release is a big investment, but it’s sure to pay off in a crowded and competitive field. While third title track “Baddie” didn’t quite seem to hit with me, last track and B-side “Payback” is a nice way to close out the album. If love is anything, it’s complex, and far from the standard “I like you/I think I’m in love with you” stuff that I’ve heard in other popular songs (hello, NewJeans) “Payback” shows it’s not always straightforward. Confusion, playing hard-to-get, trying to figure out if feelings are mutual - they all seem to be packed in this song, and I really like hearing that expressed here.

Lim Young Woong - Do or Die

The fanbase that K-Pop and trot artist Lim Young Woong possesses is made up significantly of older fans, which has resulted in some pretty wild achievements and sustained charting for him over the past couple of years. He’s got a bunch of crossover appeal as a result, which is why I’m not surprised he branched out a bit from his normal music genres with club-style dance song “Do or Die”.

I have a set of music I play when I want to give myself a bit of an energy boost and they are entirely made up of songs like this one, with its constant, fast beat and  catchy chorus. Like any song you’d probably hear in a late night DJ’s set, the drop is predictable, builds you up, then gives you what you want when it gets to you. Lim Young Woong was already going to be a juggernaut in music show competition this month in K-Popland, but releasing something with a wider net just makes that all the more prevalent.

MAMAMOO Wheein - In The Mood

Wheein is my favorite member of MAMAMOO for a lot of reasons - the vocalist has been pretty…well, vocal about her personal dilemmas, struggles, and need to express herself through her music. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed all of her releases because of this, as it really feels like she’s put so much of herself into what she writes and sings. “In The Mood” is no different here, as there’s a whimsical simplicity to singing about someone who makes you feel good. Curiously enough, though, the MV has a great deal of alone time in it, which I think plays to Wheein’s tendency to be a bit of a homebody who is perfectly fine spending time on her own. A total mood, if I’m being appropriate.

ITZY - Sugar-holic

I’ve really enjoyed a lot of ITZY’s recent Japanese album release, and I think part of that might be because I miss J-Pop just a little bit. I was into the genre before a couple of random YouTube recommendations put me on the K-Pop path, and while I’ve been a K-Pop fan for over a decade now, going back to a Japanese language song with the different style and concept they usually have is comfort food. With K-Pop groups that do Japanese releases, I get the best of both worlds, and ITZY’s “Sugar-holic” is the latest in that trend for me. The MV is fun and casual - just a group of friends having a good time, bonding, and traveling, and the song itself is in that same soft and airy vibe. To me, the variance, more than the relatively power, of ITZY’s vocalization has always been a part of the appeal, and in a slower, more airy song like this one, you can really see it on display. I need “wind-down” songs like this after a long day, and “Sugar-holic” is one that is an easy addition to that playlist.

Have a recommendation for me to check out? Leave a comment here or on any of my social media channels. Each recommendation commenter will automatically be entered into a monthly drawing to win a free paid subscription for a month to The Low Key Geek, which currently gets you one exclusive paid subscriber article a month (and access to all prior paid articles), and more benefits as I add them. The more recommendations you make, the more entries you get, so be sure to let me know what I should be checking out!