K-Pop Round Up: EXO, BAMBAM, Highlight

Life is goooood (and I am baaaack with a K-Pop review which I haven’t done in forever!)! We’ve gotten quite a few interesting releases the past few months so I wanted to highlight some of my favorites in this post.

First off, we can’t talk about Summer 2021 without mentioning EXO who returned with a special album and a new MV titled ‘Don’t Fight the Feeling’ a week ago. It’s the best thing that has happened so far this summer for a variety of reasons. Of course, my main reason is the return of Kyungsoo (D.O.) and us being blessed with his looks and beautiful vocals after what was about a 2-year hiatus. I’m just so glad and happy to have him back and to see him once again with the group. He looks great (it must be that post-military glow) and healthy and he looks like he genuinely enjoys being back with the group so that’s always great. Surprisingly, I didn’t feel like the past two years was that long of a wait for him so time definitely passed by a lot faster than I thought. Before you know it, Kyungsoo (and Xiumin) are out of the military and back with EXO as well as the entertainment world. I can’t wait to see Kyungsoo grace my screen once again, but I’m also hoping for more music from the member. His vocals has to definitely be one of my top favorite vocals in all of K-Pop so I definitely need more of that. With that being said, my favorite song from the album definitely has to be ‘Runaway’ with ‘Paradise’ following closely behind. Even if I have favorites, the entire album was an enjoyable listen. EXO once again delivers with their music and it was nice to just see the group back together one more time before another round of members fulfill their military service. This is the inevitable phase in many boy groups where some will go and some will stay and the cycle continues. Although it would have been nice to hear Suho and Chen’s vocals in the album (especially Chen who is our other main vocalist), having Kyungsoo back made up for a whole lot so there’s many things to be thankful for with this EXO album 🙂

Recommendations: Runaway, Paradise

I’m not the biggest GOT7 fan and my fangirling phase with them sort of died out pretty early into their career as a group, but I still checked out their title tracks whenever they made a group comeback (which wasn’t always the wisest decision considering that GOT7’s b-sides usually tends to be a lot better than their title tracks). Although most of GOT7’s title tracks weren’t my taste, there have been some side tracks that have stood out to me over the years (such as ‘The End‘). GOT7’s time with JYP came to an end earlier this year and the members split up to go their own ways. Jackson returned to China, Mark went back home to L.A., Yugyeom signed with Jay Park’s AOMG while JB went on to join Jay Park’s other label H1GHR MUSIC (how ironic and funny that the two members signed with Jay Park who was also formerly from JYP haha), Youngjae is going to appear in a new drama, and Jinyoung is focused on his acting career. Then there was Bambam who recently returned with a new album that just came out not too long ago (as if in 19 hours ago by the time I’m writing this post lol). I first listened to the album medley highlight that he released a few days ago and was intrigued by the songs so I made sure to check the album once it was released.

Fast forward a few hours later aaaaaand I’m glad that I gave the album a listen. There aren’t any songs that I’m particularly blown away by or that I feel was unlike anything I’ve never heard of before, but I found that the album was a fun album to listen to. It’s one of those albums that I can play in the background as I clean or cook or do my laundry. Of course, the title track ‘riBBon’ stood out to me, but the more I listened to the album, the more I found myself repeating ‘Look So Fine’ so that track also quickly became another favorite of mine. BamBam’s career post-GOT7 was one that I was a bit more curious about as I found the other members and their post-GOT7 plans to be a little bit more obvious or clear (for example, I thought it was obvious Jackson was going to primarily stay active in China like how he had been doing or like how Jinyoung was going to focus on acting or how JB was going to focus on music). For some reason (and maybe it might just be because I’m not a GOT7 fan), I didn’t find that direction as clear with BamBam. Now that we have this Korean album as his first post-GOT7 move, I find it interesting that he chose this route. It shouldn’t really even be all that surprising given that BamBam is a K-Pop artist and was in GOT7, but for some reason, I assumed he would go back to his home country of Thailand and maybe do some things there. Regardless, I hope that BamBam (and the rest of the members) are happy that they can finally do what it is that they want to do now and I hope they achieve great things while they’re at it. Their time with JYP wasn’t the greatest and brightest and it’s such a shame to think about the levels and heights that GOT7 could have reached even more had JYP just maybe cared about them a little bit more. Despite it all, GOT7 accomplished many great things when they were active as a group and hopefully the same thing can be said with this next transition in their careers.

Recommendations: riBBon, Look So Fine

Where are all my B2UTY’s at?! Haha, I’m joking (but not really). About 4 years ago, BEAST was reborn to the ever so beautiful Highlight who has been reborn again with 4 members in their latest comeback ‘Not the End.’ So much has happened within the past few years starting from when BEAST came back as Highlight without Hyunseung to Junhyung’s departure from Highlight to what we have now which is Highlight with our 4 remaining members (Doojoon, Yoseob, Ki Kwang, and Dong-woon). So much has happened and it can be challenging at times to catch up on all that’s happening, but I knew I had to tune into my boys’ comeback earlier last month in May. With just how popular 3rd-generation groups have been the past few years, it’s been bittersweet watching 2nd-generation groups sort of phase out during this transition. The 2nd-generation fan in me misses the old times and just how much fun it was back then. That’s not to say that K-Pop still isn’t fun now, but it just was so different a decade ago and there were so many more fun performances, interactions between groups, collaborations, and all that sweet jazz. A lot has changed since then so I’m so grateful and happy that one of my ultimate bias groups is still active in the K-Pop industry to this day. A part of that is due to the huge and strong fandom they had in their career as BEAST/B2ST and how fans stood by their side as they transitioned into Highlight. Even with the break due to the members’s military service or even with Junhyung’s departure, Highlight never once gave up and they came back earlier in May of this year as a gift to their fans.

It’s definitely become a lot more rare to see 2nd-generation groups active to this day due to the popularity of 3rd-generation groups as well as the heavy competition present in the K-Pop industry. That’s why it’s always a blessing to see a 2nd-generation group like Highlight return with some new music because they’re living proof that they still got what it takes to make it. Anything is possible and like Highlight hints in their title track ‘Not the End’, it’s not the end for them as a group yet. Even though I might not religiously follow the group as much as I used to a decade ago, it amazes me that they’re still active to this day and it’s something that I am so grateful for. I love Highlight so so much and if you’ve followed my blog from the beginning, you would know just how much these boys mean to me. They were my first ultimate bias group that I seriously followed and supported and they still remain my bias group alongside BTS to this day. Despite all the bumps and challenges that they’ve faced in their career as a group, Highlight managed to survive and thrive through it all. I’m so so proud of them and I’m glad to see the 4 members back all healthy and happy.

Because Highlight is my bias group, I’m going to be that type of fan and recommend all the tracks in their latest album. They also went on Dingo Music to perform a medley of some of their hit tracks from the past and wow, let me just tell you, Highlight (or BEAST/B2ST as they were referred to back then) had HITS (and if you were around during that time, this was obvious)! I went down memory lane watching them sing their older tracks and it definitely made me sentimental and nostalgic. Things were much simpler back then and they were constantly releasing hit after hit. As seen in the Dingo Music video, Highlight was coming out with music that everyone recognized and enjoyed. Although things might have changed and they’re in a different situation now, a part of me does want to think the current members are happy with where they are and the fact that they can still remain active as a group even after all that they’ve gone through. I hope that we’ll be given many more comebacks from Highlight and that this most recent album truly isn’t the end for them. To my beloved Highlight, I love you.

Recommendations: (do yourself a favor and listen to the entire album *WINK WINK*)

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