It’s again time for the monthly K-pop highlights! How was your month? Did you enjoy new music and concerts? June has been quite busy for me: I’ve been working my day job and music, my hobby. I’m hoping I will finally get a song released in the autumn, so there’s a lot of work to be done before that this summer and early autumn. So, if you’re new to my blog, I produce music and do songwriting in my free time. Also, I’m a big fan of K-pop, so that is the reason I created this blog to combine these things I love 😊
Time flies! Six months have passed in 2022: and six posts of these monthly K-pop highlights. I want to thank anyone who reads these posts – it means a lot to me. Hopefully, you get inspiration for your creative things, whatever you enjoy: dancing, listening to music, making music, singing etc. I like writing these, even though sometimes time is short, and I acknowledge that I am not a professional in music. This is my creative channel, definitely. I learn a lot of new things when writing these posts. And if you find something to correct or want to give me feedback, please do so.
So, this month I struggled a bit choosing the highlights. Some things were clear highlights for me in June, but it was challenging to decide on some releases. What were your highlights? These picks are my subjective opinions: songs and releases that I discovered and enjoyed. I always try to listen to as many releases as possible every month, and these picks are my personal preferences at the moment. You can find my 2022 favourite songs from Spotify and a playlist of highlights on my Youtube channel. I will add songs I enjoy to the Spotify playlist – everything didn’t fit into this month’s highlights list.
So let’s move forward to this month’s highlights! 😊
This Month’s Top K-pop Highlight: Summer Bop by KARD “Ring the Alarm” (“Re:” EP, DSP Media)
KARD’s new release in June was my most awaited release this month: I was curious how their comeback will be. And I’m so glad that they are back finally! KARD released music in 2020, although member BM came out with solo singles in 2021 and 2022. KARD has four members: BM, Jiwoo, J.seph and Somin. They debuted in 2017 with their EP and title track “Hola Hola”.
Their new EP “Re:” is genre-wise and musically style that KARD has had: I didn’t recognize any significant changes in the musical style or genre. The EP includes darker colours in the song starting the EP, “Break Down”. Next are summery sounds such as Latin beats, reggaeton, and tropical house sounds in the title track, “Ring the Alarm“. “Ring the Alarm” is, in my opinion, a perfect summer song: optimistic, fresh, upbeat and danceable.
After the title track, summery feelings, they continue with “Good Love”, a catchy pop song. The last song from the EP is “Whip!” with hip hop beats: this is also a very catchy and cute pop song as “Good Love”. The EP is a nice collection of melodic pop songs for your summer playlist.
I’m thrilled that KARD is back again, and they are already touring this month in July, for example, in Brazil and Mexico. The dance choreography for “Ring the Alarm” is excellent; it’s all about being cool and having fun. 😊 KARD is having a dance cover challenge, so check out if you’re interested from 24th June to 10th July! I tried to practice a bit because I like this choreography a lot: but I’m still not there yet to film it – I’m shy in that sense 🙂
Light as a Butterfly, LOONA “Flip That” (“Summer Special [Flip That]” EP, BlockBerry Creative)
Girl group, LOONA’s new summer release, is called “Summer Special [Flip That]”, and their first release after the TV show Queendom2 ended. I still have the final show to be watched to the end! I think the LOONA’s performances were superb on the tv-show: especially I loved the “Paint The Town” performance. “Paint The Town” is from their EP “[&]” from 2021. LOONA, as a group, debuted in 2018, and they have 12 members.
“Flip That” is a summer-feeling, fresh, cute pop song with house music beats. I like the bright sounds, and this song’s vocal harmonies are plentiful. The song is about the flip world upside down, making things better. The chorus is catchy; the bass and rhythm contrast nicely with the light vocals throughout the track. “Flip That” is stylistically very different to their single release last year, which was “Paint The Town”.
LOONA’s whole EP “Summer Special [Flip That]” is enjoyable listening. It includes good pop songs such as “Need U”, “Pale Blue Dot”, and “Playback”. And on the EP, we also even hear UK garage beats in the track called “POSE”. I love LOONA’s experimental style in their older single releases, such as “Butterfly” and “Why Not?”. Stylistically the new EP is, in my opinion, continuing the pop style they had in the 2021 EP. “Flip That”, and the b-sides are an excellent addition to their discography.
A Convincing Collection, BTS “Proof” (Album, BigHit Music)
The big news for all the BTS fans and the music industry was announcing BTS’s pause from group activities in June. But we will enjoy solo releases from the seven members, which is fantastic. First, in July, J-Hope is coming with a solo release and is headlining the Lollapalooza festival in the United States. We already got in June a collaboration of Jung Kook and Charlie Puth “Left and Right”, and the song is a bright melodic pop song. A group or a band that has been there such a long time as BTS is a respectable time to have worked together: not many groups or bands last this long.
BTS announced and discussed many things and their pause in group activities in their FESTA 2022. I really loved the old dance practice videos, for example, “Tomorrow” (I’ve been listening to this a lot), “Butterfly“, and “Best Of Me” that were released during the FESTA. So in June was released their anthology album “Proof” and new songs “Yet To Come”, “Run BTS”, and “For Youth”.
About “Proof”: this anthology is extensive, and I will not go into every detail here. So this is a short introduction and my analysis of the collection. Proof includes three parts of a collection of songs. The first volume starts with an unreleased track called “Born Singer”. This song begins the anthology and is their unofficial release from 2013, so this is the first time the track is officially released remastered. Before, you could listen to it through Soundcloud.
After that, the first volume continues with BTS’s released songs during the years, from “No More Dream” to “Butter”, and ends with a new song, the title track of the anthology, “Yet To Come“. Volume one has a selection of singles, and it doesn’t have all the releases of BTS: it is more like an introduction to BTS’s work and hits. I can only say there are so many hits, and I love it!
The second volume is a selection of solo tracks and songs from their albums (non-title tracks). This starts with a new track, “Run BTS”, a hip-hop song, with catchy hooks, like the guitar riffs and vocals/raps. This is my favourite of the three new songs because it’s a mix of styles but still cohesive and fits the summertime playlists. The second part includes so many good songs, which I love, such as: “Intro: Persona“, “Stay”, “Moon”, “Trivia 轉: Seesaw”, “Outro: Ego“, etc. This volume shows the versatility of BTS in different styles and genres.
The third volume is only available as you buy the release: no streaming is available. This CD includes demo versions and unreleased songs. Listening to the demo version of “DNA” was interesting because it sounds like a different song from the final version. Songs in the making can go so many different directions, and it is interesting to hear how they progressed to what they became. Part three also ends this anthology with a new song, which you can stream, “For Youth”.
I’ve always loved hip hop, great melodies and pop music, so I was immediately a fan when I heard BTS’s songs. Also, their great dance choreographies and live performances (which I only saw online) are why I like them so much. So I think this anthology is a good collection and opens the doors to their music (pun intended!).
Bossanova Time, Cheeze “Pong Dang” (Single, Magic Strawberry Sound)
This song sneaked into my K-pop playlist because I check new songs every week a few times. And then I ended up playing this a lot in June. Cheeze was an unknown artist to me, so it was interesting to find out about her previous work. Cheeze is an artist that has worked on OSTs such as Hometown Cha-Cha-Cha and Start-Up, to mention a few. She also plans to release an EP, which will include “Pong Dang“.
This song is a simple but effective bossanova-pop-song: the chorus is so catchy, and you don’t even realize the music is over as it flows. Cheeze’s ethereal vocals go really well with the bossanova style, and the song’s theme fits well with the song’s melody and genre. So “Pong Dang” is a great summery song with a cute music video! A highlight for this month!
It Is a Hot Summer, HYOLYN “Waka Boom (My Way)” (feat. Lee Young Ji) (EP, “Queendom2 Final”, Stone Music Entertainment)
We’re continuing the summer theme because this song has some dance power, especially the chorus! It is warm in my country, so this song fits well for the moment: doing office work, dancing, singing etc. “Waka Boom (My Way)” was performed in the Queendom2 final show by Hyolyn featuring Lee Young Ji, and they gave an incredible performance in the show. This song technically released at the end of May when I checked (Queendom2 EP), but the “exclusive performance video” came at the end of June, so I count this one to June highlights. Also, a mini-album is on the way by Hyolyn this July. Hyolyn is a former member of the girl group Sistar, and she has founded her own label called Brid3.
“Waka Boom (My Way)” is a pop song with a melodic bridge, and then in the chorus, the song transforms into a reggaeton party. The song is a mixture of different kinds of sounds from various genres. Still, it works for me, you can even do a fun dance choreography to it. The song’s middle8 part and Lee Young Ji rapping is my favourite part of the song and the song goes to the last chorus ending nicely the song. The song is really catchy and this is definitely a summer party song.
Summing up June
This month’s K-pop highlights had a lot of light, and summery songs, including Latin beats, tropical house sounds and classic pop. This K-pop highlights list was a bit shorter this month as I struggled to choose the songs. Maybe it’s nice to listen to some chillin’ songs during the summer? It is good to relax and enjoy all kinds of music depending on the mood. For this month’s picture, I drew a tropical scene underwater. It came out a little a bit naive, but maybe it fits the K-pop theme 😊
Big news next: K-pop concerts are coming to my hometown, and I couldn’t be more happy and excited! I actually can’t believe it’s true, but it is! K-pop concerts in Helsinki, Finland? It’s happening because last week two shows were announced, yey! Solo artist Sunmi has a world tour coming, and she is coming to Kulttuuritalo (Engl. transl. House of Culture) in Helsinki on 28th August. Sunmi just released her new single, “Heart Burn“, which is a summery pop song – do check that out.
Another concert announced is a solo artist KISU coming to Valkoinen Sali (Engl. transl. White Hall) on 15th September. KISU also has a world tour in Europe, so check out the tour and his latest single, “Will be fine”.
I hope you enjoy your holidays if you have some and listen to a lot of K-pop. I will be posting something cool this week, so do check out my Instagram account if you’re curious to stay updated.
Until next time: I hope you have a great week: stay inspired, healthy and happy! 😊