K-Pop Round Up 2018 pt. 1: BTS J-hope, GOT7, iKON, NCT, Pentagon

daydream

It’s been a (very long) while since I’ve last posted on here and there’s been a lot that’s happened since. It’s already 4 months into April and there’s been quite a few notable (and not notable) releases. I’ve compiled all the more popular releases into this thread that I’ve checked out personally and will discuss and review them each here.

Note: This is just part one of the round-up meaning that there will be a part two where I will discuss other releases.

Starting off with NCT, NCT 2018 is the new project that SM Entertainment is experimenting with their latest boy group NCT who made its first appearance in 2016. Fast forward 2 years later and there are now 3 different sub-units all with varying concepts, rotational efforts, and new additional members: NCT 127 (fixed), NCT Dream (rotational), and NCT U (rotational).

Prior to NCT 2018, I had little interest in NCT at all. The only song of theirs I had ever checked out and listened to was ‘The 7th Sense’ (which is still by far the most superior song from NCT, my most favorite song from them, my favorite NCT sub-unit, and my favorite era from NCT. Basically, it was perfect to me in every single way possible). Their comeback ‘Cherry Bomb’ last year made some waves and gained the group some fans, but it wasn’t really my preference. However, with some grand plans that SM had for NCT this year, I decided to check them out again… and I don’t regret it.

NCT 2018 is SM’s new plan to incorporate and promote all the members from all the sub-units by combining them together into one group. Their title track ‘Black on Black’ wasn’t my favorite from their album so I haven’t really paid attention to it, but I do enjoy their 3 other tracks: Boss, Baby Don’t Stop, and Touch. ‘Boss’ was the first MV released by the group followed by ‘Baby Don’t Stop’ which I heavily enjoyed. NCT Dream’s ‘Go’ was a pass for me unfortunately as well as NCT U’s ‘Yestoday’, but I was satisfied with NCT 127’s ‘Touch’ even though I felt like NCT Dream would have been a better match for it.

It seems like SM is putting more effort into NCT this year (as they should) and are really trying to get the group out there. As with all their other groups, the first few years are usually the most difficult and challenging, but I have no doubt that within a few years NCT will get to the top eventually. It might be taking longer than usual to get them there, but they will. They managed to make me a casual listener and follower so I’m sure that with a few more comebacks (that SM actually spend time into planning and executing), NCT will come into fruition. It’s SM we’re talking about after all.

Oh, GOT7. GOT7’s title tracks and comebacks have always been a hit and miss for me. While most of them have been misses for me, I do think their earlier work around their debut were better as well as comebacks like ‘Never Ever.’ With ‘Look’, they return to their debut roots: fun, energetic, quirky, and playful. GOT7 has struggled with overproduction as seen and heard with some of their comebacks (Hard Carry & Fly anyone?) and while you hear some of that in ‘Look’, the song overall is decent, fun, and catchy. I’m not turned off at any point in the song and I actually find myself jamming along to the track.

As this could be the potentially last comeback that we get from the group as seven (Bam Bam’s military draw is coming up in which he might have to serve in the Thai military service for 2 years), I’m glad GOT7 achieved new records and success with this last comeback. Here’s to hoping that GOT7 will remain as seven so that they can continue to make music and continue promotions as a full group.

After almost two years, iKON finally returned with another comeback in Korea and it was a huge success. ‘Love Scenario’ is a simple R&B/hip-hop track notable for its easy-going and mellow vibes. To some, ‘Love Scenario’ might been viewed as a huge improvement from iKON’s past comebacks and I wholeheartedly agree. It’s soft, it’s simple, and it’s laid-back. I like this version of iKON a lot more than say their ‘Bling Bling’ concepts. Their follow-up track ‘Rubberband’ is like a ‘Love Scenario’ part 2 and although the similarities are there, the song manages to be fun and great to listen to. iKON has achieved great lengths and successes with this latest comeback; here’s to hoping that their future comebacks will be just as successful and consistent.

Oh Pentagon, how I wish you will gain 1 million more fans with this comeback. CUBE’s boy group Pentagon recently returned with another comeback, this time with ‘Shine.’ Prior to this song, I had never listened to any song from the group nor was I interested in them. However, I only decided to check them out after discovering that their ‘Shine’ MV had over a million views. Upon listening to the first minute of the song, I realized that this song was an absolute gem. ‘Shine’ might be one of the more note-worthy and great releases of 2018 so far. Simple but catchy and feel-good — that’s what ‘Shine’ is and the members execute the concept perfectly. The song never falls flat and maintains fun and quirky throughout the entire time. Even the choreography for the song – which contains lot of popular dances that generally doesn’t go well with K-pop songs – matches in ‘Shine.’ It’s a track that I’ve been listening to since I heard it yesterday and I don’t think I’m going to stop listening to it anytime soon. This one is definitely a hit for Pentagon and I really hope more people will pay attention to them with this comeback. #Justice4Pentagon

My lovely, lovely, and precious J-hope. The bright ball of sunshine finally released his mixtape last month after a year of teasers and hard work put into the mixtape. As someone who was busy with BTS’s world tour and all the busy schedules they had last year, J-hope didn’t have a lot of time to work on the mixtape but did the best that he could given the small time that he had. His mixtape ‘Hope World’ consists of 7 tracks with ‘Daydream’ as the title track. Upon listening to the song and watching the MV, I have to admit, I wasn’t really feeling the song. I actually kind of felt like it was bland; there wasn’t really anything about the track that stood out to me. It took me a few listens to finally warm up to the song and enjoy it. However, with that being said, it still isn’t my favorite track on the album. Upon first listen to the mixtape, the tracks that stood out to me the most and thus are my favorite tracks are: Hope World, Piece of Peace, and Hangsang (ft. Supreme Boi) (THE OUTRO IS ALSO REALLY GOOD). I would have actually preferred for ‘Hope World’ to be the title track if J-hope wanted his title track to be more upbeat, energy, and funky. While ‘Daydream’ is his title track, all the other tracks on the album are just as good to listen to. For someone who didn’t start off rapping but dancing instead and had to learn rapping since his trainee days, I think ‘Hope World’ just serves as proof of how far J-hope has come and how much he’s grown as both a BTS member and a rapper.

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