Rundown: NewJeans, IVE, SEVENTEEN, ZB1, YUQI, FANTASY BOYS, Xdinary Heroes, more

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Don’t look at me that way, this is only two weeks and change late. Surely I’ve done worse before … maybe.

Anyway, I trimmed the fat a bit, but there’s still a decent amount of stuff. Thankfully, at least IMO, I didn’t miss anything at the top end of things.

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UNICODE – “Let Me Love”

A debut from XX Entertainment, the CEO stated the goal was to make J-pop from the K-pop system, as all the members of the group are Japanese. It’s a nice little debut, with the verses reminding me of Lovelyz at points, but it also lacks the standout melodies and punch in the chorus. Still a solid debut out of seemingly nowhere.

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TIOT – “ROCK THANG”

Getting me excited with the title and then doing anything but rock until the very end was a dastardly move. The shouty chorus is actually pretty catchy, but other than the boy group tropes littered all over this, the energy just drops down way too far in the verses and it unfocuses the whole thing.

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YUQI ((G)I-DLE) – “FREAK”

The music video was easily the most interesting part of this with all the horror references, but the song itself felt like a less punchy YENA-inspired b-side.

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ZEROBASEONE – “SWEAT”

Perfectly cromulent dance-pop song that unfortunately doesn’t have a knockout hook. Doesn’t matter, they have a fanbase, it just needs to not be terrible.

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NewJeans – “Bubble Gum”

Seen a lot of people linking this to like city pop, but thought it had a lot of 90s r&b influence as well. Hazy stuff is always a polarizing choice for K-pop fans who got into it for dance pop, but I do enjoy myself some easy listening when executed properly. NewJeans seems like they should fit this mode like a glove, and they mostly do, but I feel like the way the chorus is pitched high runs counter to the whole point of the soundscape, and it got grating more than alluring on repeats.

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82MAJOR – “Choke”

The bassline makes this worthwhile and all it needed was something half-decent to latch onto in the chorus and I’d convince myself to like it. Then they just monotonously repeat “chalk” “choke” and what not over and over again.

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SEVENTEEN – “MAESTRO”

Loved that creepy piano intro and I thought we were gonna get some kind of “Growl” realness based on the first verse, but it peaks at the pre-chorus. That bass in the chorus sucks and seems off (?), I have no nicer way of putting it. A waste.

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IVE – “HEYA”

That “heya” in the background made me think of Blackstreet (I assume intentional?), but it’s done in an even less intriguing way than “I Will Survive” on “After Like”, as the chanty “heya heya heya” seems cynically crafted for a concert setting but is one of their weaker hooks. The dynamic version of the chorus at the end with instrumental backing was how it should’ve been from the get-go, but too little too late for me.

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The KingDom – “Flip That Coin”

Abandoning the concept that made them unique to be like every other boy group is a choice, but if the former wasn’t getting results then I get it, I guess. Just sucks.

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Xdinary Heroes – “Little Things”

Thankful for the actual pop-punk rock energy and a sustained tempo, honestly. Decent little run at the moment.

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FANTASY BOYS – “Pitter-Patter-Love”

I feel like elite top-line shit is what K-pop’s popularity was built on, butnow even when we get these songs with solid foundations that are good, they just don’t have that chorus/hook to pound it home. I hope they haven’t forgot or some shit.

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Maybe the ARTMS stuff later.