We’re back for 2018 with our January music release roundup! We hope you had a good start to the year, and are enthusiastic about listening to more new music! Girl groups did particularly well during January. If you are interested in reading our interview with new girl group 1NB, click here to access the article. However, if you are ready to listen to some music, then read on for our picks this month!
This edition will feature music from: Sunmi, gugudan, MXM (Brand New Boys), Mamamoo, Ashmute, Momoland, Day Mood, HIZY, Skinnyjoe, Oh Hyuk and CIFIKA, Choi Jae Man feat. Kim EZ, Red Velvet, Lee Hi and Sunday Moon.
Sunmi – Heroine
We are always excited to hear more music from the ever charismatic Sunmi. ‘Heroine’ isn’t quite as spectacular as ‘Gashina’ was, and at times falls a little flat, but Sunmi does still shine particularly on the verses. The song builds with the timpani drumming and becomes something to dance to! Best enjoyed while watching the MV. It adds that special performance magic that Sunmi has.
Red Velvet – Bad Boy
It really feels like Red Velvet are cruising now, nearing a big peak in their popularity. They exude confidence, and everyone individually has their own style so that no member is overshadowed. With a repackaged album comes the song ‘Bad Boy’, which is toned down in terms of eclectic parts that usually pepper Red Velvet songs. The ‘ooh ooh’ sections are very Red Velvet though! ‘Bad Boy’ is more in line with the Velvet concept that the group go to from time-to-time. At the time of writing, the official video has been viewed by over 16 million people – what a feat!
Gugudan – The Boots
‘The Boots’ is one of the best songs that gugudan have released so far. The mature and stylish look used in the MV really suits them, and the song has that pop funk vibe to make it very catchy. We thought the black and white palette used in the video with the flicker of colour added to the iris of the eyes was very effective. The rhythms are interesting, there’s a dance break for them to show off that aspect of their skills, and raps are kept to a minimum, making it a very competent track from the girls.
MXM (Brand New Boys) – Diamond Girl
Our pick of best boy group song has to be ‘Diamond Girl’! It’s bright and melodic, with a great blend of different vocals and guitar instrumentals. This definitely stood out for us!
Mamamoo – Paint Me
Mamamoo surprised us by doing a ballad, and even Moonbyul has a go at singing! The song is the better for it, perhaps she will sing more in future. With so many strong vocalists, the ballad reaches higher heights.
Ashmute – Ghost
If you have been following our K-SPOTLIGHT series of music articles, you’ll know who Ashmute are! If not, you can read more about them in our interview here. After using the latter half of 2017 to write and record music, they’ve released their first EP with ‘Ghost’ as the title track. ‘Ghost’ doesn’t feel as musically interesting as ‘Heaven’ was (that song is still our favourite Ashmute track); we felt that it didn’t make full use of Rang’s very capable vocal abilities and kept her at middle ground. However, Nayeon Kim’s cinematography for the MV is a delight, and boosted our enjoyment of ‘Ghost.’ We recommend ‘Carry On’ from the album which you can find on Spotify or buy on iTunes.
Momoland – Bboom Bboom
The big surprise of the month was Momoland, who seemed to come out of nowhere to snatch a few music show wins. Congratulations to them! In actual fact, they became more known to the Korean public through member JooE’s appearance on some adverts, showcasing her bright personality even before the song scored 1st place. JooE is also variety gold because she is very funny. The funky house track ‘Bhoom Bhoom’ fills the void left by groups like Orange Caramel. It’s quirky and doesn’t take itself too seriously with simple point choreography that people can easily have a go at.
Day Mood – Venus
We didn’t know much about Day Mood, but took a chance to listen to this track in the hope that it would be good…and indeed it was! We believe that Day Mood is a duo, specializing in easy listening R&B. ‘Venus’ is smooth throughout, almost relaxing. It’s not a song that breaks new ground, but we enjoyed the piano and soft delivery of lyrics.
HIZY – Cliché
Keeping on the theme of discovering new music, we found this song by HIZY that we’d like to recommend to our readers! ‘Cliché’ was a pleasant surprise, with several different elements to the track keeping us listening intently. From the sultry sound of HIZY’s voice, the electronic blips passing through the whole song, to the eerie chords, it doesn’t just feel like a song. HIZY managed to create an atmosphere that resonates even more than the lyrics themselves. A really good take on expression here. Recommended!
Skinnyjoe – #18(egolog)
A few more random clicks later, we discovered this little song, the title track from full length album. Listening to this made us feel like an observer watching the world go by. Perfect to listen to while on a journey. Worth a listen!
Oh Hyuk and CIFIKA – Momom
Many people will have heard of Oh Hyuk and his band Hyukoh, but have you heard of CIFIKA? We’ve been listening to her music for some time now, and were intrigued about how this collaborative effort with Oh Hyuk would turn out. The resulting style is amazing, due to the distinct sound provided from each of them. They are able to bring the best of themselves to the track, and ‘Momom’ becomes this mix of rock, electronica and chanting that sounds almost tribal. If you are open-minded in trying something different, definitely check this out!
Choi Jae Man feat. Kim EZ – Glow
We’ve featured Kim EZ a few times on the music release roundup, so naturally we like to listen to her new releases. This one is great, sounding similar to London duo Oh Wonder with the male and female vocals working together. We liked the parts that pick up in tempo especially.
Lee Hi – Golden Slumbers
We’ve always been fans of Lee Hi, and loved her rendition of ‘Golden Slumbers’ for an OST. She is so expressive and controls her voice so well. The song sounds very emotive in her hands, and even though it is the same song, contrasts a lot with Kang Seungyoon’s version.
Sunday Moon – Million Miles
We’re coming to the end of the list now, and will finish with this song by Sarah Lee who seems to have adopted a new stage name. You might know her from her beginnings on YouTube, or from entering a certain singing competition in Korea! We were glad that ‘Million Miles’ was different from what Sarah had tried before; it is good to see her broaden her range of music and test the waters a bit!
That brings us to the end of our music release roundup for January 2018! Let us know if you liked our recommendations! Please join us again next time!
Featured image © MakeUs Entertainment. 04.01.2018. Sunmi Heroine cover image. Sunmi’s official Instagram.
AshmuteballadBoy GroupChoi Jae ManCIFIKADay Moodfunkgirl groupGugudanHeroineHIZYJanuary 2018K-drama OSTK-musicK-PopKim EZKOREAN MUSICLee HiMamamooMomolandmusic artist introductionmusic release roundupMusic VideoMVMXMOh HyukRed Velvetrock bandSkinnyjoesong recommendationsSunday MoonSunmitrack recommendations