The Future of Kpop: Rookie Comebacks and Debuts

The summer is almost over, and the Kpop industry is moving fast! Lately, we’ve seen so many debuts from new artists, as well as comebacks from fresh groups looking to score their breakout hit. And yet, they face some fierce competition.  Not only do they have to compete with each other, but they’ve still got to worry about the industry’s heavy hitters who are also on the prowl.

Its a dog eat dog industry, and only the strong survive. In this playlist, I’ve lined up ten rookie acts that have just stepped onto the scene. Which ones have what it takes to make it in the big league? Which groups will fade into the background? Which ones are just a complete mess and never should have debuted in the first place? Here’s a quick review of of this year’s fresh blood…

MyName – Baby I’m Sorry

myname baby I'm sorry

Despite being on single number three, MyName has yet to have a truly defining hit. While this track wasn’t the breakout moment they needed so badly, it did prove that they have what it takes to eventually reach the top. The brutally violent music video was an attention grabber, but the song itself is actually pretty solid. It has a similar arrangement to Big Bang’s Lies and After School’s Because of You. A dramatic dance beat is interwoven with a tender piano melody, creating a dynamic sounding pop beat. The singing in this song is powerful, and the dramatic rapping fits perfectly. I’m kind of surprised that this song wasn’t a bigger hit for the group, because it was a strong release from a rising group.

Final Score: 3/5

Ladies Code – Hate You

Ladies Code Hate You

Ladies Code made a rather impressive debut with Bad Girls, and are following it up with the creepy and mysterious Hate You. They are quickly establishing their identity with a consistent sound and style. Classy, yet fierce. Sophisticated, yet entirely bad ass. Hate You features some beautiful acoustic guitars, wrapped up in a pulse driving beat. So Jung’s haunting vocals take the lead, echoed by Ashley’s powerful voice. It creates a unique effect that makes this song stand out. Ladies Code is definitely a group to watch, and they continue to blossom with this latest song.

Final Score: 4/5

Big Star – Run and Run

Big Star Run and Run

After their terrible debut, I honestly thought this group had disbanded. It seems I haven’t been paying enough attention, because this is actually the group’s third release! My bad. It seems that this group isn’t one to take themselves too seriously. Their song is fun and vibrant, quirky and even downright silly. Unfortunately, despite the funky beat and dance moves, the song isn’t a hit. For that, you can blame the watered down production by…who else? Brave Bothers. The song falls victim to Brave’s “pop music by numbers” arrangement, annoying sound effects, and a completely lame “chika chika bom bom” hook.

Final Score: 2/5

BESTie – Pit a Pat

BESTie Pitapat

Second chances are rare in Kpop, so this group should be counting their blessings. Remember back when Exid debuted with a solid line up, and then ditched half of them from out of nowhere? Well…Yu Zi, Hyurang, and Dami have regrouped with a new member, and found a new agency! I’m actually quite relived, because these girls were all crazy talented! Unfortunately, you wouldn’t know it based on the song they were given. Sure, its got a colorful pop beat, but I feel like the emphasis was on booty shaking rather than on….you know, making a good song. The chorus is “blah,” the rapping is weak, and despite having two power singers, the vocals are nothing special. This seems like a complete waste of a rare second chance….

Final Score: 1/5

M.Pire – We Can’t Be Friends

M.Pire We Can't Be Friends

Like BESTie, this group is made up of the members of a disbanded boy group. Two of these guys were in a group called BB Boys before they disbanded. Like the girls before them, M.Pire is a group that doesn’t bring a single shred of originality to the table. Here, we see six overstylized pretty boys, dancing around to a typical Kpop song about love. One of them has blue hair. One of them raps. One of them can’t sing. One of them is Chinese. See? We’ve seen it before. Even their dance routine contains every cliched move in the book. However, what saves them is the fact that they actually have a pretty decent song. The driving electro-pop beat is actually solid, and the the vocal arrangement fits perfectly. Its a song that definitely shows the group’s potential…if only they had done something more to stand out.

Final Score: 2/5

Wa$$up – Wa$$up

wassup wassup kpop

That’s not a typo. This group’s debut song is the same as their group name. They seem to be quite good a building a name…and nothing builds a name like a little controversy. These girls had netizens in an uproar when they became known as the “twerking idols,” and promised to spread twerking to Kpop. Their debut has arrived and its….quite frankly, a hot mess. The song itself has a spastic pop beat, a barrage of hook after relentless hook, processed vocals and some terrible rapping. And yet…here’s the scary thing. Wa$$up actually falls into “so bad its good” territory. There’s something about the energetic beat, and watching these girls have so much fun while being so freaking terrible that I almost want to join in the fun. Almost.

Final Score: 1/5

24k – U R So Cute

24k U R So Cute

Le sigh. Once again, we see the typical boy band dynamic. Six overstylized pretty boys, dancing around and singing about love over a generic pop beat. There’s really not much to say here. The song is just so….unspectacular. The vocals are mediocre, the rapping is terrible, the dance beat is lame, and the hook is both annoying and unrelenting. Plus, the overload of male ageyo is practically intolerable. Pass.

Final Score: 1/5

Stellar – Study

Stellar Study

Here’s a group that probably shouldn’t have made it this far! With two terrible songs behind them, a switch in members for the worse, and terrible management, it seemed like this group was destined for disbandment. And yet, here they are with a new song! I have to admit…I was kind of excited for Study. Why? Because it’s being produced by freaking Sweetune! If anyone can save a failing group, its this fucking guy! Just ask Nine Muses! Study is definitely Stellar’s best….and yet, its still far from, well…stellar. It’s cute and quirky with a colorful synth arrangement, but without any real talent to work with, the song falls flat pretty quickly. Perhaps if Eric stays away from the group, and they keep working with Sweetune, they might have a future after all? I’d also recommend begging JoA to rejoin the group.

Final Score: 2/5

Kang Seung Yoon – Wild and Young

Kang Seung Yoon Wild and Young

Finally! Something new! Not only is this the only solo artist on the list, but…is that rock music? Like…real rock? Not just pop music with instruments!? Well….not quite, but its the closest damn thing to rock that we’re going to find in Kpop! Seung Yoon’s gruff and brassy vocals come as a breath of fresh air, as dose the actual instrumental arrangement! This song is a free spirited ode to youth, with just enough of an edge to make it interesting! What I love most is that this guy isn’t trying too hard to come across as “a rocker,” and he isn’t trying to sell out to the typical pop market. He seems real, and in an industry that’s all about appearance…I respect that. Take care of this young artist, YG!

Final Score: 4/5 

Queen B’z – Bad

Queen B'z Bad

This group is looking to capitalize on the supernatural craze. For their debut, they’re bringing goth fashions, a vampire slaying music video, and an intense, primal sound. Sexy, mysterious, and ready to kick some ass, they definitely leave a strong impression. They’ve got some real talent, with three solid singers and a decent rapper (and one member we still need to hear more from.)

Bad has an awesome tribal beat, complete with chanting and driving drums. Unfortunately, I feel like the chorus is a bit of a let down. The vocals don’t hit as hard as they should, and the hook is a little too weak. Also, their English is downright terrible. Chants of “Play hard!” sound like “Flavor!” The chorus’s refrain of “Girls, Girls, break the rules” sounds more like “Gulls, gulls, bake the ruse!” This group came so close to a hit, but just barely missed the mark. Still…I see potential in the Queen B’z.

Final Score: 3/5

Bangtan Boys – No More Dream

Bangtan Boys No More Dream

There’s so many reasons to hate this group. Take for example that this group can’t decide on a single group name. Are they BTS, Bangtan Boys, or Bullet Proof Boy Scouts? All of them? Sure, that’s not confusing or anything….Add to the fact that their leader calls himself “Rap Monster,” and their debut album is called “2 Cool 4 Skool,” and…well…I hate them.

Unfortunately, I can’t hate them. Despite this group’s nonsense, their debut song is still leagues better than most other guy groups. With an intense hip-hop beat, several (several!) solid rappers, and some intricate hip-hop choreography, these guys can really put on a show! I still have doubts that these guys are as “hood” as they claim they are…but what can I say? They’ve got raw talent, and they sell it incredibly well.

Final Score: 4/5

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