2017 was a good year for Korean music, with a slew of acts releasing wonderful songs and getting the recognition that was accorded to them. However, there were those who did not receive any support from either the Korean general public or the international fandom. As the new year chugs on, I thought it proper to pay homage to releases from female artists that went completely under the radar.
HeyGirls – ‘NO (No One But You)’
I have never heard of a group called HeyGirls, nor am I entirely sure how I came across this video. Despite that, ‘NO (No One But You)’ is an enjoyable dance song. The track begins with some sweet vocal harmonies, reminiscent of the popular vocal girl group SPICA. These harmonies are present throughout the song, adding more flavor to the already catchy chorus. There is no member with a standout voice in this group, but they function well as a group. The music video is not all that exciting, neither is the choreography. However, one must listen to this purely because of the vocal performance! Fans of vocal based groups like the above mentioned SPICA and Mamamoo will find much to like with HeyGirls.
Amor – ‘Push Baby’
The low budget music video is a bit off-putting, but ‘Push Baby’ is nonetheless a jam. It is very K-pop, and sounds like something Brave Brothers would produce. The hook of the song “push, push oh baby” is not too overbearing, which is not always the same with hook songs. Vocally, this group does not stand out, but that does not matter. ‘Push Baby’ is still a song that I would listen to again and again.
Marmello – ‘Can’t Stop’
For those who want to see a bit more diversity with K-pop girl groups, Marmello is the way to go. ‘Can’t stop’ is a wonderful rock song that stays true to its roots. It sounds like a typical pop song, but it stops short of being basic as it perfectly utilizes rock elements to enhance the strong vocals of the group’s members. It is hard to tell who is singing at certain times, which becomes a problem when one wants to get to know the members. However, the vocal performance is good and the singers are skilled enough to carry a rock song without being drowned out by the heavy instrumental. Perhaps the best thing about this song’s music video is its simplicity, which has great replay value. Those who like Dreamcatcher, Day6, NFlying and other K-rock bands will appreciate Marmello’s effort.
Hash Tag – ‘o o’
“o o” is a great example of utilizing multiple different sounds within a song without creating an incomprehensible mess. The song has elements of pop, soft rock and even trap. The trap beat is littered throughout the song, even in unexpected places. The chorus is quite similar to Twice’s hit ‘Knock Knock’, and is just as catchy. The vocals may be a bit lacking, but that is the case with a majority of K-pop groups. Yes, “o o” might be another cute concept, but one must give this song a track for the brilliant instrumental, great choreography, and beautifully colorful music video. This is one of the best debut songs not just of 2017, but of the new generation girl groups as a whole.
Yong Yong – ‘Scribbling’
‘Scribbling’ is your typical hype song, but is not necessarily a bad thing. I included her in this list due to the sheer versatility in this track. It starts out with tropical house synth before, thankfully, switching to a mix between EDM and hip-hop. Yong Yong is a triple threat here, performing very well in vocals, rap and dance. ‘Scribbling’ is not exactly my cup of tea, but one who enjoys the K-hip hop scene and is looking for a new female rapper to support will be very pleased. I know that Yong Yong is not is not a girl group, but it seemed right to included her as we do not often get female soloists excelling in the rap genre.
Blah Blah – ‘Good Job’
Blah Blah’s ‘Good Job’ is a take on the sexy concept that does not rely on overly provocative dance moves to hard carry the song. The verses are bits of rap-talking which are a weird at first, but this is quickly corrected by the chorus which utilizes all the members’ voices to create a strong harmony. What’s even more impressive about this track is the use of Spanish at certain parts of the song. Overall, this is a good effort from Blah Blah. They are similar to Nine Muses, Rainbow, Hello Venus, and Dal Shabet. Thus, fans of those groups might like this song.
Koh Nayoung – ‘Cold Night, You Were Warm’
Koh Nayoung’s tyle is a mish-mash between the soft R&B sound that popular artists like Dean and Crush like to employ and a more hard-hitting EDM instrumental. Either way, it features a gorgeous vocal performance that enhances the well constructed backing track. There is not much to say about this track other than to assert that it is definitely a must listen! PS: she is also a soloist.
Yuseol – ‘Ocean View’
Tropical house is a trend that must be left in 2017. Nonetheless, Yuseol delivers with this EDM infused track. ‘Ocean View’ is not particularly groundbreaking, but it does what it does well. It is catchy, even with a blank chorus that relies heavily on an EDM backing track. The choreography is clear cut and enjoyable to watch, though it is not shown enough times. The music video is also well produced and matches the theme of both the instrumental and the message. ‘Ocean View’ is one of the few instances of a K-pop group excelling with an overused and tired genre.
Busters – ‘Lalala’
If one was to introduce a friend to Kpop, Busters’ ‘Lalala’ is the song to show. It is so perfectly K-pop. It is a bubblegum pop song that somehow manages to mix and match different genres into a cohesive track. The “la la la” hook is not overused and makes the chorus all the more enjoyable. The choreography is well done, similar to that of Gfriend, and suits the cutesy image of the song well. I did not expect a rap verse in this, but was pleasantly surprised with how well it flowed with the rest of the song. ‘Lalala’ pushes no boundaries, but it works just fine as is.
S.E.T – ‘Nalari’
Due to the nature of the industry, most K-pop groups mix individuals with different tastes. The outcome is that one person, or more, will have their own individual color to match that of the group. That is not the case with S.E.T. The three girls each have a distinct tone: one is a punk, another a school girl, and the last a classy and mature lady. The result is the fun and creative ‘Nalari’, which uses over the top gimmicks to make the track stand out. The choreography and music video are a wonderful watch and anyone looking to have a good time will certainly find it with this track.
Eyedi – ‘Best Mistake (K)’
Very few idols tend to stand out as soloists, and not everyone can replicate the distinct musicality of artists like IU and Ailee. However, Eyedi is not like most idols. She is one of the sexier female soloists out there and employs a sultry, soft vocal performance to this track. ‘Best Mistake’ is a great dance song, though it works out just fine as a single that one would listen to while driving or even working out. The music video is breathtaking and the experience is elevated by Eyedi’s gorgeous visuals and styling. For those who want choreography accompanying their music videos, this might not tickle their fancy. However, anyone wanting a well constructed dance song will find much to love in ‘Best Mistake’.
This is just the tip of the iceberg. There are many artists out there who go unnoticed and so my list is not extensive in any way. However, it does indicate that beyond the popular groups, K-pop had much to offer. Hopefully 2018 will be an even better year and the artists listed above will not only continue their good work, but will gain more fans. #