Friday K-Pop Fiesta - October 27th, 2023

R&B, rock, and more touch down on my list this week.

Friday K-Pop Fiesta - October 27th, 2023
Hwang Sooyeon debuts with “WYDNN”. Source: Hwang Sooyeon (YouTube)

What’s really cool about K-Pop is despite how saturated it is, you can always find something different and interesting to meet your taste. The kind of fan that I am is one that isn’t super into the big and popular groups for the most part - instead, I find hidden gems and lesser-known folks who are doing something different in the industry. That doesn’t mean that I’m never into what the huge groups do - they just aren’t my first choice.

That said, the absolutely packed bunch of releases we’ve been seeing this past month continues this week, with a ton of music for all kinds of K-Pop fans. Here’s some of what I’ve been listening to this week!

Billlie - “DANG! (hocus pocus)”

Much of what Billlie has done music-wise has been pretty different than the K-Pop norm, which is normally interesting. For me, I think the issue has just been that those experiments haven’t been quite in my wheelhouse of music enjoyment (though “Ring Ma Bell” was great with its rock-style beat). “DANG!” is not quite like that, but then I tend to expect something to change for every Billlie title track. Even with two members down, this song has an earworm beat and imagery that builds on their ongoing story with appropriate flair.

ITZY - “Wannabe (Japanese ver.)” - THE FIRST TAKE

Wannabe”, in general, is a permanent fixture on my K-Pop playlist because not only is it peppy and catchy, it also just highlights ITZY’s vocal talent as well. One of the best places for that to be showcased is THE FIRST TAKE YouTube channel, which endeavors to pick up raw vocal for a song on the first filming attempt. Lia, who’s on hiatus for health reasons, isn’t present and her absence is felt, but the rest of ITZY nevertheless does their best picking up the slack with the Japanese version of “Wannabe”. It’s been years of seeing this live but there’s something different about the way THE FIRST TAKE does things that makes the group’s talent all the more apparent.

Hwang Sooyeon (S8YN) - “WDYNN”

Dreamcatcher’s Performance Director is a super-talented choreographer, and her skill is apparent in Dreamcatcher’s dance routines from “Deja Vu” era and beyond. But what people might not know was that back in the day, Sooyeon aspired to be an idol herself, showing flashes of skill on survival show Produce 101. Years later, it seems that it’s better late than never, as Sooyeon’s debut single “WDYNN” dropped just today. This is a slow jam R&B tune, and Sooyeon’s vocals float along above the mostly bass-heavy track with occasional vocal power in the chorus. The result is a visual-heavy video of Sooyeon just swaggering along, surprising viewers with both medium and high-toned singing and, of course, really cool dancing. Hoping all the best for her future musical prospects.

LE SSERAFIM - “Perfect Night”

Normally I wonder about collaborations that seem to come out of the blue, like this one between LE SSERAFIM and Blizzard’s Overatch 2. That hasn’t quite changed here, but I do have to give the folks who produced the video props for making it into a somewhat cohesive yet fun narrative, which essentially boils down to “the women of Overwatch go out to check out a LE SSERAFIM concert and shenanigans ensue”, all while LE SSERAFIM does what they do best in terms of stage presence and lowkey vocals. As for the song, it’s catchy and cool. Does it make the collaboration a logical fit more than two big companies deciding to do something random together? Not particularly, but for this stuff, the music should be just as important as the marketing presentation. LE SSERAFIM does just fine here with that, and the result is a song I don’t mind rotating a few times on my playlist.

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