Friday K-Pop Fiesta - September 29th, 2023

A fairytale action release, favorites still stuck in my playlist, and more grace this week's K-Pop listens.

Friday K-Pop Fiesta - September 29th, 2023
ITZY’s Yeji isn’t messing around in the music video for Japanese release “RINGO”. Source: ITZY JAPAN OFFICIAL YouTube Channel (YouTube)

October is nearly upon us which means thoughts for some turn to costumes and roles played. For K-Pop, though, the concepts and presentations go year-round, and the stories that tend to play out in music videos that accompany K-Pop songs are part of the genre’s appeal for me. Here’s what I’ve been checking out this week!


My friends who are K-Pop fans know that I have this weird thing with ITZY title tracks. Despite the group being perhaps my 3rd or 4th favorite K-Pop group, for some reason I tend to only vibe with every other title track release. “Dalla Dalla”, “Wannabe”, “Voltage”? Can’t get enough of them. “Icy”, “Mafia in the Morning”, “Blah Blah Blah”? Those tend to not sit on my playlist very long.

The pattern meant that I’d probably like “RINGO”, and that definitely holds true here. ITZY’s Japanese releases tend to be a bit peppier than what they release on their home turf in Korea, and this song is no exception. The swagger is apparent from the first couple of lines and never stops, the pre-chorus takes its time, and the main refrain of the song ends up ridiculously catchy. Visually I’ve always been biased towards fantasy settings for music videos, and this delivers with a blend of Snow White-inspired fairytale action with a dash of modern flair. This one’s been on loop for me for a while.

ATEEZ - “Cyberpunk”

Because my favorite K-Pop group Dreamcatcher and ATEEZ share the same production group between them in Edenary, I’ve always been predisposed to really love what ATEEZ tends to release, and their songs tend to stay pretty long in my rotation. B-side “Cyberpunk”, from 2022’s “The World EP 1: Movement” is definitely one of these.

The song possesses the synth vibes and the hard-charging beat that swept up K-Pop for a minute that year, coupled with a vocally-focused chorus and rap verse that keep your head nodding throughout. Even if I hadn’t been into playing dystopian cyberpunk games lately, this one would be a non-skip just for the fact that it transitions so well into its verses without losing the energy level. It’s this and “Halazia” lately that have been competing for my attention in the boy group portion of my K-Pop list, and “Cyberpunk” often comes out on top.

Kwon Eunbi - “Underwater”

IZ*ONE alumnus Kwon Eunbi has been at the soloist grind for a while now, and while I was pretty late to the IZ*ONE party Eunbi always seemed to stick out for me as a vocalist and as someone with that undeniable aura that lends itself to being a successful performance artist.

Even though it came out almost a year ago, Eunbi’s “Underwater” still remains for me my favorite song from her discography. The lyrics and the song flow much like the water in the title, and the siren concept fits Eunbi extremely well as someone who is trying to stand out in an increasingly competitive soloist field. The chorus’s choreography is haunting and compelling, and the song takes its time to highlight Eunbi’s vocal talent. Lately, it seems Eunbi is finally starting to break through a bit (as she recently picked up her first music show win as a soloist with “The Flash”, which I also enjoy a ton) so hopefully we’ll be seeing many more releases from her like this one.

IVE - “Either Way”

I’ve discovered that when it comes to the latest crop of 4th generation groups, most of what they put out tend to be “growers” for me - they don’t really seem to grab me and end up on my frequent listens right away, but over time, with repeated plays, I’ll end up appreciating them. IVE’s probably one of the busiest 4th generation groups in this set of artists that I know of when it comes to building up their releases, and their upcoming newest set of songs for their first EP in October has a triple-title-track attack that is highly likely to keep up the group’s massive popularity.

Yet it’s taken me a bit for me to warm up to their discography - I think I’m just now starting to feel good about early 2023’s “I AM” for example. “Either Way”, however, might make things a bit faster in that regard. The unexpectedly slow and emotionally charged song is compelling in a bunch of ways, not the least of which are the lyrics which seem to indirectly refer to the judgment they are frequently subjected to as idols, as well as their daily struggles. I like honest songs like this that are conveyed with such feeling, and I’m still picking out tidbits of the song that hit quite hard for those of us who are frequently out in front of an audience professionally.

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 comment access to all articles, 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!