How are we feeling, K-poppers?! November brought calamity in the form of comebacks; one after the other so relentlessly that most of us barely had time to recover before being hit with the Hallyu wave.

From solo artists, to our favourite K-pop groups to fresh new indie finds; November proved that 2018 is not quite done with us yet. Catch your breath folks, we at Hype got you covered with a list to keep you in check with the times! Here’s a curated list of our favourites out of the new releases in K-pop for the month of November 2018.

1. EXO – “Don’t Mess Up My Tempo” (3rd November)

EXO-Ls, rise from the depths of the interwebs! After an entire year of leaving us with the reggae-alien-EDM experimental cocktail that was “Ko Ko Bop”, the legends of SM Entertainment are finally back with a full length album. “Tempo” brought something entirely new to their game—while not particularly outstanding—it was a complete refreshing taste to the palate.

A new concept and genre for the boys to try out, “Tempo” was exactly what EXO needed after the bright glitz and glam of “Ko Ko Bop”. The acapellas that shone through in the track was also an absolute treat for the ears (albeit the reused squeaky bed noise brings down the pleasantness of the song by a couple of notches).

2. TWICE – “YES OR YES” (5th November)

The sweethearts of the nation are back again with another track that will no doubt have us addicted for days. “Yes or Yes” sounds like your average Twice track—bright, uplifting, and of course, tooth achingly cute. It seems that Twice won’t be breaking free of their concept or style anytime soon, staying safe within a formula that arguably works wonders for them. Despite not being anything out of the box, Twice’s success speaks for themselves. In terms of costumes though, it could be said to be a step in the direction of change. Maybe a more mature concept will be a possibility in the far future?

3. BTOB – “Hour Moment” (12th November)

It’s been a while since we heard from our boys from CUBE Entertainment. BTOB surprised fans everywhere with a sudden release, but no one’s complaining. “Beautiful Pain” is a heart wrenching ballad, tugging at emotional strings and all. With leader Eunkwang leaving to serve in the military soon, this one has a particular sting to it. As always, BTOB never fails to deliver when it comes to powerful vocals. Perhaps they have been forgotten in the ever developing world of Kpop, but “Beautiful Pain” is no contest when it comes to brilliance.

4. Jennie – “Solo” (12th November)

Being the first member of BLACKPINK to have a solo, high expectations were set for Jennie when the news was announced. “Solo” delivers in a visual sense; the music video clearly being very high budget (in a typical YG fashion) however that’s as far as it gets.

As a track alone, “Solo” does not stand out in any particular way—it’s just your regular pop song. Perhaps painfully mediocre, but not a bad song either. It just is. That being said, the track is very suited for the mainstream Western world of music—perhaps YG has bigger plans for the most popular member of BLACKPINK? After all, the foursome did recently collab with Dua Lipa and topped several charts worldwide.

We can only speculate for now…

5. Wanna One – “1¹¹=1 (POWER OF DESTINY)” (19th November)

Being the final comeback from Wanna One, this album was both a win and a loss for Wannables. The nation’s boy group who won everyone’s hearts with Produce 101 Season 2, are finally seeing the end of their days as a temporary group. In terms of delivery however, they do not disappoint. “Spring Breeze” is a bittersweet track laced with nostalgia, and is the perfect farewell gift to their fans. With all eleven members singing their hearts out for the last time, this album may rival their previous releases as one of their best.

6. EXID – “I Love You” (21st November)

The queens are back as 5! The coquettish quintet is finally reunited with leader Solji after a long wait. It’s hard for EXID in general to disappoint, infamous for delivering solid tracks comeback after comeback. “I Love You” is no different,  showcasing EXID’s strong vocals in the chorus but leaving room for a catchy sing-a-long phrase as they demonstrate a new signature sexy move. The track by itself sounds like three different songs pasted together, but the 5 of them make it work by blending all of it into nothing less than the typical fresh, adventurous (of course, sexy) EXID trademark sound.

7. NCT 127 – “Regulate” (23rd November)

It’s been a good year for NCT. With the Seoul unit, 127, coming back with an album repackage from the previously released “Regular” only a month ago—“Simon Says” is exactly what we deserve. “Simon Says” is what one would think of when NCT127 comes to mind; gritty, raw and experimental. Chaotic from start to finish, NCT 127’s sound finally came through with this release. While “Regular” was good, it was too safe and (one dares to say) boring? “Simon Says” hit spots that “Regular” failed to, showing us that NCT 127 have not quite loss their sense of colour and will always be up for trying aggressively strange tracks.

8. MINO – “XX” (26th November)

Yes, believe your eyes, INCLEs. It finally happened. After rumours for years, Mino from WINNER has finally debuted with his solo album. “Fiancé” is perhaps one of the most memorable releases this year, completely catching everyone off-guard with the choice of genre. Blending classic Korean instruments and trot music with hip hop and heavy bass, Mino took a well calculated risk and proved himself with this highly addictive track. Touching on topics of sensual nature (as expected from his past solos of “Body” and “Turn Off The Light”), Mino seems to have found his style and will most probably be sticking to it. Hey, we’re not complaining!

9. Mamamoo – “BLUE;S” (29th November)

We haven’t heard from the powerhouse vocalists of K-pop for quite a while now. Being the first release since “Egoistic”, fans were ecstatic for the return of Mamamoo. It seems that the quartet is in a transitional period of their sound, testing the waters with various genres. “Wind Flower” seems to be exactly that, though fortunately it isn’t another tropical house number. Playing with indie sounds of feel good keyboard and guitar, “Wind Flower” comes as a lovely song to listen to during evening drives. While Mamamoo’s trademark belting may not be present in the track, they prove to have other cards to play with “Wind Flower”.

10. Red Velvet – “RBB” (30th November)

Perhaps the most anticipated release out of SM Entertainment’s back-to-back comebacks; Red Velvet is a curious one. Fans were practically ravenous for a more sultry side after the taste they gave us with “Bad Boy” earlier this year, and the saccharine cuteness of “Power Up” was not enough to sate them. Instrumentally, “RBB” is fantastic. The brass in the song makes it an instant likeable track, the vocal layering of the girls making it heavenly—but it ends up rather questionable. Notorious for their repetitive choruses (then again, so is most of K-pop), “RBB” tries to deliver a chorus that is not present. While it still is an absolute banger of a track, it is obviously trying to overcompensate for the success of “Bad Boy”. Unfortunately, it fell flat in comparison.

Honourable mentions:

11. Sam Kim – “Sun and Moon” (22nd November)

A soloist in K-indie that caught the attention of many with his release in 2016 and OSTs, Sam Kim has at last given us a full length album. “Sun and Moon” is tender touch of a feather to our senses, with Kim’s soulful crooning just slipping us under a spell. A gorgeous blend of neo-soul and R&B, this is a go-to album if milder music is more of your preference.

12. Nuest W – “Wake, N” (26th November)

Yet another temporary group that will be seeing the end of their days soon, Nuest W came through with the emotional yet upbeat “Help Me”. It seems that theatrics suits the group best, as the drama and angst in the track works wonderfully in their favour. Determined to go out with a bang, this seems to be a wise decision for the quartet.

13. Key – “Face” (26th November)

Key from SHINee has finally broken through, being the 3rd member from the group to have a solo album. Continuing the tradition set by members Taemin and the late Jonghyun, “Face” shares a similar name and style to the previous solo albums. However in terms of genres, Key knocks it out of the park. Dripping with the style of the 80s, “Face” surprises many with its refreshing yet incredibly stylish new sound.

Article by Leyasheena Panicker.

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