February had some of my favorite releases this year. I still purposely look to play these songs even though it’s been a couple of months. February had a lot of girl group releases compared to boy groups but many were mediocre at best. I chose the ones that still give me the thrill of a first listen. Enjoy!
BTS - On
With such an ambitious multi-week roll-out for Map Of The Soul: 7, I hoped that the title track would match that ambition. On is very grand, especially with a music video titled “Kinetic Manifesto”. Opening with organ-like synths immediately gives a grandiose vibe that is mostly carried throughout the song. However, there is just a little too much vocal processing for my liking. The added brass and gospel choir do add to this grandiose vision that the song has. I just wanted more of both elements which would have elevated this song to a higher level. Upon repeated listen, I like it even more as the anthemic sound keeps me coming back for more.
Dreamcatcher - Scream
Scream is such a breath of fresh air as it is so different with its creativity. This is Dreamcatcher’s best song blending rock and Kpop elements. Scream begins like their other songs providing a familiar sound that listeners are used to. However, listeners are soon hit with a psytrance-like chorus of hard and heavy synth strings . Thrilling from the beginning, the instrumental is invigorating and just never stops with its frenzied energy. The ending just makes you want to listen to it all over again.
BTS - Outro: Ego (J-Hope solo)
Ego was the last pre-release song before BTS’s new album release. Opening with a mix of retro hip-hop samples before settling on a laidback and tribal beat. J-Hope jubilance is infectious and his personality shines through. There isn’t much of a melody as it’s more similar to chanting, but this song is really about the energy. The ending is the best part with new elements added to the instrumental overall giving the song an anthemic vibe reminiscent of many World Cup songs.
LOONA - So What
An overwhelming wall of anthemic sound, So What will definitely polarize listeners. Audacious from the beginning, LOONA’s performance is exhilarating. The attitude filled opening aggressively pulls you in along with a rousing bassline. The chorus comes in with no warning with the vocal layering giving the song clout. Some may say this is just a cacophony of noise, but this song just does it right. This is definitely the group’s best full group track to date.
ONF - Message
ONF’s company needs to put this on an album. Message is as nostalgic as it gets giving off the vibes from the early 2000s boy groups with 80’s synths. The song is like a warm hug with its soothing melody. The oscillating synths are beautifully done and gives the song a very satisfying listen. I could have done without the rap, but these boys are definitely underrated vocalists. ONF found a new fan for sure.
GFriend - Crossroads (교차로)
GFriend has moved on from their usual sound to a more light and melodic sound. Crossroads is a decent new title track, but isn’t as good as their previous releases. The song is too lightweight with its thin instrumentals and airy vocals. It is still classic GFriend with its orchestral arrangement. The verses are filler as we wait for the chorus. Thankfully, the pre-chorus is a great build for the cinematic sounding chorus.
iKON - Dive (뛰어들게)
I wondered what iKON would sound like without B.I.’s fingerprints. Dive brings the group back to their beginnings with an upbeat dance track. The song brings about an old western flair with touches of Spanish guitar and its harmonica like synths. Buoyant vocals are the most enjoyable moments, but I really wanted a killer ending. The song kind of fizzles toward the end, but it still leaves you feeling good.
Everglow - Dun Dun
Dun Dun keeps the Everglow sound chugging along with its edgy beat drops. The ever present percussive melodic rift comes in right from the start. Boldest of their title tracks so far, Dun Dun oozes attitude and charisma. Everglow changed it up from their usual routine with a delayed drop before the chorus. The whispered moments right before made the chorus more hard-hitting especially with the shouting. I like that the song didn’t have conventional trap breakdown that stalls the song, instead it is energetic throughout.
Sunmi - Gotta Go (가라고)
Warning, this isn’t the Sunmi you are used to. Opening with bombastic synths, Gotta Go starts off hard before going into the verse. The pulsing electro beat is one of my favorite parts of the instrumental. Sunmi vocals shine the brightest during the pre-chorus. However, the chorus throws all that build up for a beat-drop chorus. The arrangement is slightly unattractive, but the song’s saving grace is Sunmi’s charisma.
Rocket Punch - Bouncy
Bouncy has that generic bright pop sound female groups aim for. Rocket Punch’s latest comeback is more energetic and memorable than their debut song. The beat lives up to the song’s name with bouncy synths. The pop melody harkens back to the 2nd generation of girl groups fused with a boisterous instrumental. I can do without the cheerleader chants with its shouts and ad-libs. However, the song is still super catchy thanks to the chorus.
Moonbyul (Mamamoo) - Eclipse
If I didn’t know the singer beforehand, I would have guessed that Eclipse came from a boy group. Eclipse would fit right in with those brooding boy group songs, but it is refreshing to hear a female soloist tackle this sound. Moonbyul gets to show a different side of herself with this solo release beyond her rapping abilities. This may be classified as having too much noise, but I really like the death metal synth fusion in the instrumental. Without Moonbyul’s charisma, the song would be a distant memory with its lack of dynamics.
IZ*ONE - Fiesta
I eagerly awaited IZ*ONE’s comeback, but MNET’s Produce 101 scandal delayed their latest album. Fiesta is solid, but doesn’t really bring anything new. The songs building instrumental is reminiscent of Cosmic Girls, but with chirpy vocals. Fiesta’s chorus is catchy and lively and is definitely the strongest part of the song. The post-drop chorus is actually pleasant, but towards the end the listener is bombarded with a bunch of different sounds. Fiesta’s energetic instrumental is what brings me back every time.
3YE - Queen (퀸)
Immediately the song opens up with a throbbing, electronic beat that gets you immediately grooving. High energy, Queen constantly maintains its momentum even with the twist of tempo changes. The pre-chorus build is stimulating and then the instrumental drops out giving way to a psy-trance loop. I can do without the regularly scheduled trap-rap break, but the rest of the song has a nice addictive quality to it.