This month’s K-pop recap: September 2022

The members of K-pop girl group BLACKPINK come back with a new album after two years without new music. Fans are ecstatic for the new music, music video, and promotions that the group is engaging in after so long. // Photo courtesy of YG Entertainment

BLACKPINK – “Shut Down”(Sept. 16)

BLACKPINK is the it-girl group of the K-Pop world and has quickly become a global phenomenon since their debut in 2016. 

Their most recent album, “Born Pink,” comes after nearly two years of no new music.

Fans of the group, also known as “Blinks” are fairly used to this long hiatus between comebacks, but it is unclear if “Born Pink” was worth the wait. 

The B-side, “Pink Venom,” was released before the album, and seemed like a good contender for the title track with a catchy chorus, iconic and edgy BLACKPINK sound, and interesting choreography. The song switches up in rhythm a few times, going from traditional drum beats to then focusing on vocals and then switching back. 

The actual title track, “Shut Down,” went in a very different direction by sampling classical music with a heavy emphasis on a violin instrumental and adding a modern hip-hop beat. The majority of the lyrics are in English, which could represent the group trying to establish themselves more in the global market. 

While the lyrics are a bit weak, the song is a pretty good title track in BLACKPINK standards and does not get tiring after multiple listens. The near two-year-long wait may have overhyped expectations, but “Shut Down” is a good and catchy addition in BLACKPINK’s short discography. 

NMIXX – “Dice” (Sept. 19)

NMIXX is JYP’s newest breakout girl group that has become famous for their extremely powerful vocals, sound and choreography. Since their debut, their sound has been big and bombastic, and the same can be said for the group’s latest title track, “Dice,” from the EP “ENTWURF.” 

It is impossible to describe the song as a singular sound, rather it is a jumbled combination that seems like it was haphazardly mixed together in production. Most NMIXX songs  take a couple of listens to comprehend and be appreciated, and while “Dice” fits into that mold, it is definitely a confusing song. 

There is a jazzy introduction, carnival-inspired sound and a lot of noise. Overall, “Dice” seems like another attempt of K-Pop dabbling in noise music that did not quite hit the mark. Fortunately, the B-side on the EP, “COOL (Your rainbow)” perfectly showcases NMIXX’s vocals which their title tracks usually cannot.

CRAVITY – “Party Rock” (Sept. 27)

This song can easily be described as light and refreshing. The sound takes one back to the early days of boy groups like SEVENTEEN’s “Mansae’’ and Astro’s “Crazy Sexy Cool.”

Boy groups these days have embraced a darker sound and concept so “Party Rock’’ works to break that pattern. 

The group itself has only recently started to take on this lighter and bouncy sound and it works for them. When groups are able to branch out and try different styles, it can be a hit or a miss, but CRAVITY is a group that can easily adapt. That being said,  “Party Rock’’ is a very upbeat song that is catchy and easy to listen to, which is nice, but it does not do anything particularly new for K-Pop. 

EXID – “Fire” (Sept. 29)

EXID is a girl group that debuted in 2012 during the transition between second-gen and third-gen K-Pop. Since then, they gained immense popularity in 2013 for their song “Up&Down” and have been periodically releasing new music until 2019. Their most recent releases have been albums of Japanese versions of their older songs with a few new Japanese songs scattered in between. 

This month, the group released a new song after a long-awaited comeback called “Fire.” This is the title track in a 10-year anniversary album, which greatly excited fans who were patiently waiting for the group’s return. 

The song itself starts off with an  exciting introduction that has followed a similar trend in K-Pop by using Middle Eastern inspired rhythms such as Ayoub and Malfouf. The pre-chorus and chorus are full of rich vocals and dynamic melodies, but the song unfortunately loses steam as some of the verses are quite simple. It definitely feels like a return of the EXID sound, which is wonderful after such a long wait.