Music Scene

Feast on these new K-pop, J-pop tunes

INDIE THROUGH LOVE.
INDIE THROUGH LOVE.

January and February have been stacked with major K-pop acts and Japanese bands releasing new music, offering fans options across genres. From the massively popular boy band BTS to indie outfit Hyukoh, The Straits Times highlights 10 new J-pop and K-pop releases in the past month.

1. INDIE THROUGH LOVE

Hyukoh

Dooroodooroo Artist Company

Hear it on: Spotify, Apple Music and other music streaming platforms

Watch it on: YouTube South Korean indie four-man band Hyukoh are back with an album Through Love, on which frontman Oh Hyuk's transcendent, otherworldly vocals are appealing as always.

The six songs each draw from different influences - Help has a light bossa nova sound, while Silverhair Express features a blast of different instruments, with Oh Hyuk's voice taking a backseat.


2. HIP-HOP I DECIDE iKON

YG Entertainment

Hear it on: Spotify, Apple Music and other music streaming platforms

Watch it on: YouTube The K-pop boy band's first major release without its leader B.I, who was made to leave the group last year after it was exposed that he had approached a drug dealer, still has songs credited to him.

The now six-member group lead off with the single Dive, a sleek dance number featuring an excellent rap from Bobby, who is now the group's only rapper.


3. ORIGINAL SOUNDTRACK LIKE YOU

So Soo-bin and Sohee Stone Music Entertainment

Hear it on: Spotify, Apple Music and other music streaming platforms

Watch it on: YouTube Part of the original soundtrack for the ongoing Korean romance drama series Crash Landing On You, Like You is a sweet, mid-tempo love number from singers So Soo-bin and Sohee that embodies that magical feeling of falling in love.


4. HIP-HOP ANY SONG

Zico Koz Entertainment

Hear it on: Spotify, Apple Music and other music streaming platforms

Watch it on: YouTube Perhaps the first viral K-pop hit of the year, Zico's Any Song inspired a TikTok dance challenge, fuelled largely by the rapper and songwriter himself (above), who invited other K-pop artists to dance with him.

The track is an easy, playful listen, its lyrics a rumination of a quarter-life crisis.


5.  POP LABYRINTH

Gfriend Source Music

Hear it on: Spotify, Apple Music and other music streaming platforms

Watch it on: YouTube Labyrinth is the first comeback album for South Korean girl group Gfriend (above) since their label Source Music was acquired by Big Hit Entertainment - the kingmaker behind the world's biggest boy band BTS. From Me is a comforting track that fully embraces a soft-pop, melodic sound.


6. POP DEAR ME

Taeyeon SM Entertainment

Hear it on: Spotify, Apple Music and other music streaming platforms

Watch it on: YouTube For the repackage of her solo album Purpose, Taeyeon (above) - a member of K-pop girl group Girls Generation - included the deeply personal ballad Dear Me, singing: ''I want to tell myself the words/I love myself/I trust myself''.

This is particularly poignant as Taeyeon has previously revealed her mental health struggles


7. DANCE POP REMINISCENCE

Everglow Yuehua Entertainment Korea

Hear it on: Spotify, Apple Music and other music streaming platforms

Watch it on: YouTube Rookie six-member K-pop girl group Everglow (above) broke out last year with their debut song Bon Bon Chocolat, which enjoyed much success.

Their first mini-album Reminiscence leads with Dun Dun and keeps to their DNA as a hip-hop-oriented group with a harder sound and fierce dance moves


8. HIP-HOP OUTRO: EGO

J-Hope

Big Hit Entertainment

Watch it on: YouTube K-pop boy band BTS is set to return later this month with their new album Map Of The Soul: 7, but tracks are already being released gradually.

Rapper J-Hope (above) has always had a more distinct style than fellow rap line members RM and Suga, who tend to be grungy and darker with their raps. Outro: Ego is a colourful, infectious and bright tune.


9. POP I LOVE...

Official Hige Dandism Pony Canyon

Hear it on: Spotify, Apple Music and other music streaming platforms

Watch it on: YouTube The Japanese pop quartet's new track I Love... celebrates the different kinds of love that exist between families, friends and lovers. The uplifting song also speaks to the very Asian sensibility of finding it difficult to express your love in words.


10. INDIE YASASHII MAMA DE

Never Young Beach Victor Entertainment

Hear it on: Spotify, Apple Music and other music streaming platforms

Watch it on: YouTube Japanese indie group Never Young Beach's new single Yasashii Mama De, which translates to kind as ever, is a folksy, melodic song about the simple pleasures of being with the one you love. A perfect song for a Sunday afternoon laze.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 13, 2020, with the headline 'Feast on these new K-pop, J-pop tunes'. Print Edition | Subscribe