My top-10 favorite K-pop releases of 2019 so far (1st half year edition)

Don’t you feel like 2019 is passing by way too fast? I think this goes to every single year when we’re not completely as productive as we wished us were, but oh well⁠—anyways, we’re already at the almost end of July, and I’m guilty of not only updating my platforms as often as I promised but also of how I haven’t given you my top-10 favorite releases from this year! So without further ado, let’s jump into my list.

Here, on the blog version, I’ll be giving out my list of 10 favorite releases that only feature title tracks⁠—however, I will soon post photos of a spread from my newly started k-pop journal containing 12 actual songs released in 2019 that I loved to the core (there’s not much of a difference, don’t worry!). Continue reading, because at the end I’m gonna have another major change announcement to my blog 😉

All songs are listed in no particular order.

NU’EST – Bet Bet

I can’t not to start from my ultimate bias boy group, NU’EST. It’s been almost 3 years since they had a full group comeback, and dear Lord, you could imagine the expectation from everyone regarding this grand return. Of course, the genius duo of Baekho and Bumzu did not disappoint and delivered only the bestest of music. Every single song in Happily Ever After is so good, it’s overwhelming! (Especially that one b-side track that I keep listening on a loop that you will know if you turn to my art account on Twitter—@neottaemune_art and look up the tweets.)

Sunmi – Noir

Queen Sunmi dropped another mind-blowing bomb before going on the US tour, and oh God, do we even need to talk about the message behind Noir. Somehow it’s so funny that I’m writing this blog post and editing my upcoming video—all for these likes, shares, and subscriptions she’s calling the noir of our days. Nonetheless, it’s an amazing song produced with similar vibes to her previous title tracks, and Sunmi’s approach to writing lyrics is always interesting to learn about.

Chungha – Gotta Go

Kim Chungha really came in to claim 2019 as her god damn year. She’s the powerful super rookie that probably found her significant sound the fastest out of all I’ve seen so far. I’m not the biggest fan of her more vibrant tropical house songs, except for Rollercoaster, but I feel like ever since she released Gotta Go, the way she presents herself started having a much deeper impact. Or maybe it’s because I’ve come to the point of hating tropical house as a genre way too much. Nonetheless, she slays and may become the next generation female solo legend.

ONEUS – Valkyrie

People don’t hype ONEUS enough!!! (As well as ONEWE >.<) So far this is one of the best debuts of 2019, and I’m slightly mad RBW doesn’t push them much on variety shows (I think I haven’t seen them anywhere aside from a shared episode of Weekly Idol, which happened on their first comeback promotions). Continuing the “powerful talent” legacy of RBW, ONEUS has distinctive visuals, swaying vocals, impressive rap line, and powerful dancers (if you don’t believe me, just watch this pre-debut video of their main dancer Hwanwoong SMASHING the dance floor). Consider stanning ONEUS, guys, they have a lovely discography under their belt!

ONEWE – Reminisce About All

It’s hard for me to talk about ONEUS without mentioning their band counterpart ONEWE. Especially when for their third re-debut (in case you don’t know, they used to be named MAS and MAS0094 before they got signed up under RBW) they released such a powerful ballad because DAAAAAMN vocals! Please, guys, I don’t even need to explain anything further, just… just give this MV a listen. You’ll be blown away. I rarely feel so mesmerized by ballads, so you gotta know I don’t exaggerate when I say I’m impressed by a slow song. You’re losing a lot by not stanning both ONEUS and ONEWE.

Taemin – Want

Gosh, this man seriously… What can he NOT do on the stage and with his music? I know I always associate Taemin with the term “an icon of improvement”, but Want comeback made me redefine my vision on SHINee’s maknae. Truly, an artist we’ve never seen in the k-pop market. Taemin is a legacy of his own, and I don’t think there will be anyone similar to him appearing anytime soon. The way he erases the border between masculine and feminine, the way his voice is so seductive, the way his body moves… Taemin is flawless as an artist. I’m an extremely proud Shawol right here.

Kim Donghan – Focus

Donghan’s releases have been either a hit or miss for me, and this time, Focus was definitely a hit. It sounds nothing like his previous releases but still has his unique flavor. I’ve read that he put efforts in both song and choreography making, and I can tell how it’s well reflected in the final product. I still haven’t gotten to check any of his b-sides, but I might need to do one soon, he’s a very promising kid among ex-Produce 101 season 2 contestants.

Taeyeon – Four Seasons

Taeyeon always had such amazing vocals, but not every release from her was up to my taste. Four Seasons happened to slide into my music library upon my first listen. I think I always liked her more rock-ish, mid-tempo ballads over the dance tracks (not that she had many though). The melody went quite ordinary and at some point, maybe, boring, but it’s the lyrics that eventually made me love the song.

Eric Nam – Runaway

I didn’t pay much attention to Eric Nam as a singer until Can’t Help Myself dropped back in 2016. It’s sad to see him still being underrated in the Korean music market as a singer (hate to break it, but he is barely present in major music charts), although it doesn’t mean he’s completely unknown, but his previous company did little to no promotions to push his singer image as far as his English host is, so… Nonetheless, I always adore Eric’s more upbeat releases, I think those beats suit his vocals more than slower jams (although I love Hold Me a lot). Overall, the song slaps, and B2M continues to suck at promoting his musician image. =/

AB6IX – Breathe

It’s a no secret that AB6IX debut was one of the most anticipated, and not a small part of that anticipation comes from Wanna One background (members Lee Daehwi and Park Woojin). I always felt bad that Daehwi didn’t get to shine in Wanna One as a producer because he had the talent and the potential to produce an amazing, mind-blowing repertoire for the project group.

(sadly, we got literal rubbish scattered among title tracks and b-sides—especially the nightmare for any sensitive ear that is I.P.U EP.)

But now that he’s a part of his own group, AB6IX, Daehwi for sure demonstrates his composing skills, as I found myself really hooked onto the synth bass in title track Breathe. It suits the group image, it doesn’t seem way too youthful or way too mature—pretty sure this song will withstand the test of time.

What are the releases from 2019 that impressed YOU? Let me know in the comments section below, so I can also check out releases I might have missed or underestimated!

The announcement

So now that we’re done with reviewing my top 10 releases from the first half of 2019, I have an announcement to make.

I will completely stop doing the weekly reviews for K-pop releases from this point. Reasons?

  • I found myself not always being in a correct state of mind to evaluate releases;
  • I physically can’t check out every single new song, unless it’s from artists that I’m interested in, and you definitely don’t want to read a biased review blog;
  • I end up delaying every single review or recap because of both reasons above since I keep pushing myself to produce some sort of valuable content that I find myself not enjoying much later.

Considering that my love for K-pop is still as big as it was 10 years ago when I first discovered it, and me being physically not healthy enough to write so much about it when I want to cover other aspects of my blog equally, I will be only doing a monthly or quarterly recap of my favorite tracks, depending on how many songs I get to add to my Spotify library. Besides that, I want to also work on making and sharing playlists as it was something I always wanted to share but had no time to do so because of the overwhelming pressure from current blog tasks.

So I hope you’ll get used to this—I hope!—final change to my K-pop review segment of the blog, as well as continue supporting my slow path in the blogging sphere. Thank you so much, and—until the next time.



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