SINGAPORE - It has been a good month for fans of boy bands, as popular K- and J-pop groups such as BTS, Oneus and King & Prince have dropped new releases. Meanwhile, K-pop group Shinee's Taemin bids a temporary farewell with a solo album before his mandatory military service.
Check out the releases on streaming platforms such as Spotify, Apple Music and YouTube.
Following the successful Dynamite comes K-pop juggernaut BTS' second all-English single, Butter. The funky track is immediately catchy, with youngest member Jungkook suavely singing the opening lyrics: "Smooth like butter/Like a criminal undercover."
The band members look colourful and stylish in the music video, with V's bright orange suit and Jungkook's violet hair giving fans plenty to talk about.
Boy band Shinee's Taemin released a mini-album before his recent military enlistment. The title track is a moody dance song that begins with a piano introduction and is par for the course for Taemin, who tends to gravitate towards a darker vibe in his solo music. Dance has always been his strong suit and the sensual choreography for Advice's music video is worth a look.
Fans looking for something different can check out Light, which is less influenced by hip-hop and has a groovier sound.
This remake of a song from the movie Fast & Furious: Hobbs & Shaw (2019) is a bold comeback from girl group Aespa. The track is heavy on slower raps, but then it takes a turn into R&B about three-quarters in. It may not be to everyone's taste, but it is certainly an interesting outing.
Sleepless In Seoul
10cm featuring Lee Su-hyun
South Korean singer-songwriter Kwon Jung-yeol, who goes by the stage name 10cm, has a new song, Sleepless In Seoul. It features Lee Su-hyun, the female vocalist of musical duo Akmu. The singers' soothing vocals complement each other's well in this song largely driven by a dreamy electric guitar.
Six-member boy band Oneus' Binary Code EP leads with Black Mirror, a bright and energetic song with disco influences and a catchy, whistling riff. With military-inspired costumes and hip-thrusting dance moves, its music video takes its visual cues from King of Pop Michael Jackson.
The former leader of K-pop boy band iKON left his long-time group after a drug-related controversy, but has now bounced back as a solo artist. His album is a reflection of that journey and it plays to his strengths as a singer, songwriter and rapper.
The title track reflects on his past troubles: "If I wash away all of the shameful past/I pray to the sky that it will be washed away."
Chinese singer Yuqi of South Korean girl group (G)I-DLE has released A Page, which comprises two English-language tracks: Giant and Bonnie & Clyde. Trance track Bonnie & Clyde, referencing the American criminal couple active in the 1930s, is the stronger of the two as it is a better showcase for her low, slightly husky voice.
King & Prince
Japanese boy band King & Prince are from the same management agency as megabands Arashi and Smap. Their music may not be on streaming services yet, but it is available on YouTube. Their latest release, Beating Hearts, is unabashedly funky, with an effusive chorus that has an infectious energy.
Japanese band Ikimonogakari are known for songs such as Bluebird, which was an opening theme song for the popular anime Naruto: Shippuden (2007 to 2017). Kyoukara Kokokara - which means From Today, From Here - is a folksy pop-rock number about moving forward with optimism amid changing circumstances. It hits especially hard after recent news that guitarist Hotaka Yamashita will be leaving the group.
J-pop's long-reigning queen Hikaru Utada's Pink Blood is her first anime theme song for To Your Eternity (2021). The bittersweet track reflects on the importance of relying on oneself, instead of others, for happiness. She sings soulfully: "I won't be afraid of losing the thing which filled the hole in my heart/Because I realised: The only one who can heal me is myself."