Friday K-Pop Fiesta - October 6th, 2023

From gods to late night conversations, this week's tracks carry a ton of variety and varying levels of subtlety in their messages.

Friday K-Pop Fiesta - October 6th, 2023
IVE has something to talk to you privately in “Off The Record”. Source: starshipTV (YouTube)

We’re into October in 2023 now, and perhaps one of the most stacked couple of months for the K-Pop Industry. A ton of groups both new and old (31 so far) are planning to make their comebacks, which can only really benefit fans who just like the comfort food that a good release from their favorites can provide.

So it was that this week I had plenty of current songs to listen to and take in. Here’s what’s been on my playlist.

GODS (feat. NewJeans)

Even though I barely play League of Legends anymore unless it’s with an all-friend group, I still have some appreciation for the game as it’s played at its highest level. Worlds, the annual League global championship tournament, is upon us, and because of its presence in South Korea, rookie sensations NewJeans were tapped to help sing this year’s Worlds anthem.

There’s been a lot of dialogue about this song, and some concern that the song is a little out of NewJeans’ wheelhouse. Those people wouldn’t be wrong in my opinion - we’re used to seeing the throwback 90s lo-fi vibes from this group, so a vocal anthem seems quite different. That said, NewJeans acquits themselves decently here, and the song, for all the criticism, is a catchy vibe. I do think you need to get what’s happening in the MV to truly appreciate it, but it’s otherwise a song that’s still been rotating through my playlist regularly.

IVE - “Off The Record”

A quick side note that I do appreciate the way that Starship has been handling releases with IVE, pre-releasing tracks and having multiple titles to get people excited. It’s working, since last week I had “Either Way” on my list and this week is the just-release “Off The Record”. I’ve discovered that IVE is more of a “grower” artist for me - I need a few listens and a bit of time to make a judgment call on their songs, and usually, they’re positive ones.

Off The Record” is on its surface a light and airy tune that talks a bit about the memory and thrill of something that’s just between you and your love interest. But it’s interesting that if you couple this with the music video, all the wholesome shots are interspersed with a few somewhat sinister images - eating an apple in a dark room, a crossbow being used to shoot targets, someone staring out from behind a partially drawn curtain. It’s not quite the ”wrongness” mood of, say, Red Velvet’s Russian Roulette, but I do feel like it’s present. I could be mistaken about the intent there, but that little dash of abnormality makes the song more charming to me.

(G)-IDLE - “I Want That”

So, I want to preface by saying that this song isn’t quite in my preferred genre of songs to listen to. Songs with a significantly spoken rather than sung set of lyrics aren’t ones that I can usually get into. But I feel like this entire album has a set of preconceived biases that you probably need to leave at the door - the release is in English, for one, and the production on it has none of the group’s signature touch attached to it due to the lack of credits.

That said, I just talked about a song with mildly sinister vibes and this one is just beyond that and into about outright revenge - and not like the object of IDLE’s ire didn’t have it coming, either. The pre-chorus and bridge, heavily melodic, are in my opinion the best parts of this song, and I think Yuqi in particular gets to show off how much value her deeper-toned voice lends to this track. Overall, this is catchy - enough for me to have it sit on my playlist for at least the short term.

Last note from this MV - remind me never to piss off (G)-IDLE.

Dreamcatcher Siyeon - “BETELGEUSE” Cover (orig. by Yuuri)

The main vocalist of Dreamcatcher celebrated her birthday this week, so it seemed appropriate for me to go walking through some of the stuff that she’s done to see what would end up being good listening material. I settled in on a recent cover - Yuuri’s “BETELGEUSE” from drama “Super Rich”.

One of the best parts of Siyeon is that she has a voice well-suited to the “rock” mood that Dreamcatcher exudes throughout most of their discography, but she’s more than capable of softening and adding nuance to her power vocal, which is what a song like this one demands. It’s not like Siyeon is any stranger to this - after all, her cover of the most recent Aladdin movie’s “Speechless” track showed that off - but it’s nice to see that it can be applied to more than one dramatic, wholesome song. Siyeon really makes it her own, and you can tell.

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