Welcome back to the K-pop burn book! Neither Alex nor Joey went to see aespa at the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade — Joey was in California and Alex just didn’t feel like it. BTS returned to the stage in Los Angeles this past weekend, and that made us think about how Alex hasn’t attended a single concert in the last three years. Meanwhile, Joey and her mom watched the BTS concert through someone illegally livestreaming the concert on Twitter. (They tried to get tickets, but the bots fucked them over.) We’re not sure if that diminishes our credibility with our dear readers, but if it does — oops?
Thanks for coming back to hear our hot takes. It was our pleasure to round up November with you.
2AM — “Should’ve known”
Alex: Booooooring. They were NOT giving. For having so much experience, you’d think they’d do better, but they’re tired and it shows. The melody sounds like Hwang Chi Yeul circa 2015 immediately after his ICSYV appearance — pretty and emotional, but it’s time to evolve. 2AM is not a solo act.
THE BOYZ — “MAVERICK”
Alex: It reminded me of NCT 127’s “Punch” aesthetic plus “Sticker” vocal mixing plus “Make A Wish” choreography. This comeback has the extremely clean SM Entertainment vibes, and I would say that THE BOYZ is the definition of a fourth-generation boy group. I was surprised that I enjoyed this because of the noise-music sound, but I’m into the headbanging energy. Juyeon looks oddly normie though.
Joey: 10/10 would be a banger if I was off my rocker in the club. I didn’t really know what was going on, but the shit ton of queerbait distracted me from everything else tbh. I can picture the social media stans posting gifs for preteen stans to scream about.
Super Junior-D&E — “ZERO”
Joey: This is gonna sound so weird, but I saw their younger selves watching this music video LOL. Donghae wearing the “Squid Game” red hair. Are we still making 30-something-year-olds dance? I thought that was just a phase. The song is catchy and cute though. I like this side of them!
Leo [VIXX] — “I’m Still Here”
Alex: Leo, I know damn well you can give me more than that. WTF are you doing sitting in a chair the whole time? I know it’s your solo work, but bro, you don’t have to call it a comeback then! Make it a release — your vocals are smooth and warm, but it’s not captivating enough to keep me watching. I’m clicking away.
LABOUM — “Kiss Kiss”
Alex: Whoever created this music video — the director, cinematographer, storyboarder, editor, whatever — needs to go to a better company than the one that produced this song or approved this choreography. Laboum’s been in this industry so long and constantly complains about not getting big, but this is mediocri-TEA. The aesthetics were super disconnected — garden fairies, parking lot Girl Scouts, desert moon boots and disco balls do not flow with each other — but they look good individually. Their team needs a better company to work with.
MJ [ASTRO] — “Happy Virus”
Joey: They fully look like they filmed this in the Studio Choom lot in one day and brought props from Fantagio’s dusty storage room. This could be an OST for a cute drama like “Oh My Venus” or “Weightlifting Fairy Kim Bok-Joo,” but to call it a solo debut is lowkey laughable.
ADORA — “MAKE U DANCE (feat. Eunha of VIVIZ)”
Joey: ADORA!!! THE SOUND PRODUCTION WAS SO IMPRESSIVE AND DISTINCT FOR K-POP. I wish they’d let producers be more experimental with their work, because this was a bop.
ONEUS — “월하미인 (月下美人: LUNA)”
Alex: I’m a hoe for traditional visuals. I really fuck with the verses, and by the end of the song, I really liked the chorus. This choreography looks like it would be so fun and intuitive. I am also a gay that loves the moon, and I miss VIXX’s “Shangri-La” era. *Cough* Hey Leo, do you hear that?
Billlie — “RING X RING”
Joey: I saw someone on Instagram video capture this music video and caption it: BILLLIE — YOU WILL BE FAMOUS. Nothing about their concept, set, outfits or song were original, but the potential of their voices are marinating in icon juice. Also, there is no visual hole in this group! I stan these pretty queens.
Alex: WTF do I do with this “Love Scenario” redux?? Help. I’m soft. Dying. It’s so cute without any forced aegyo. I’m in pain. Suffering. The ex-leader of iKON went from angry to sad to now soft?? I don’t know him.
Joey: Bruh was making me blush the whole time, doin’ his little dance-y dance, brushin’ his little teeth-y teeth. Man used to give us hard rap bops like “SINOSIJAK” and “BLING BLING”, and now he’s cosplaying the Little Prince. This isn’t B.I, this is Brian! ALSO DO Y’ALL KNOW WHAT I MEAN WHEN I SAY HE’S CUTE IN AN ASIAN AMERICAN WAY?? Anyways, if y’all happen to have his number, send it my way thank you xoxo.
lilli lilli — “BARCODE”
Alex: This is a banger of a debut. I’m not sure how the two will make their mark in this oversaturated market, but the visuals were cohesive, the logo was cute and applicable, and it felt appropriate. Grita looks like she would bully me in middle school.
NiziU — “Chopstick”
Alex: I screamed in horror at the “Chopsticks” melody intro like the traumatized band kid I am. If I can get past that, using a piano aesthetic is a fresh idea and the chorus’ choreography hits. I get the pair message, but girl, please don’t conduct with two batons.
TWICE — “SCIENTIST”
Alex: TWICE has the cute concept locked down!! “The Feels” and “Scientist” match each other so well and still feel so fresh and unique to TWICE. I will excuse Sana’s half-Boohbah outfit. I will even ignore the TikTok dance break move. My heart exploded into a million and one pieces. I’m in love. Thank you TWICE for promoting the smooth-brain agenda. No thoughts. Just TWICE!
Joey: “You got a crush on me?” Yes. “You’re gonna fall for me?” YES. My goal is to go to their concert in February, get on stage, kiss one of them and leave. It’s the way their discography has grown so much, especially since “I CAN’T STOP ME.” This new single, and their new album, are so much more mature — it feels like they’re really growing with their fans, which I really love.
Mark Tuan [GOT7] — “Last Breath”
Alex: Tragic. You should’ve known better than to go solo bro. GOT7’s strength is in its unity and teamwork. I want more GOT7. But you know damn well you weren’t here to be a rapper or a singer. “You’re the reason for my life / if you’re not here I’m not here” Bro is that line the best you got?? The SoCal Arcadia ABB ego is off the charts. This is the low-budget music video from a SoundCloud rapper looking to make it big. I know so many of you IRL that this makes Mark just seem like some guy.
Joey: Okay autotune SoundCloud rapper!!! But seriously — I love Mark, but if they had an award for worst song of the year, I’d give it to him. This sounded like a potential B-side track for Jackson’s album that he decided to give Mark because he was mad at Mark for leaving South Korea. Anyone else peep the Asian guy with cornrows in the back? Mark… baby…
T-ARA — “TIKI TAKA”
Alex: This reminds me of Apink’s “I’m so sick.” But damn, I forgot they don’t know how to dance. The choreography is stuck in the “Sugar Free” era because they can’t do anything else. It’s really jarring to have a chorus refrain that says “Tiki Taka” with the mature established woman concept. The contrast between the verses and chorus is odd. But I do want T-ARA to step on me.
Joey: Normalize MILF idols! The 17-year-old K-pop idol x “Penthouse” vibes make me uncomfortable. I’ll tell you what this music video has that no one else has right now: cleavage.
Weki Meki — “Siesta”
Alex: They got screwed. I think this song could grow on me, but to go from “COOL” to this is a travesty. I feel awkward seeing Doyeon in this concept. There’s such a dissonance between the song being named “naptime” while the lyrics and visuals show fireworks.
Joey: They’re going through a similar rebrand as Mamamoo had a couple years back — the natural look with liberating music. You know, it’s when the music video has a soft golden filter, and is filled with the idols doing mundane activities while the wind blows through their hair in an aesthetically pleasing way. It’s not an original concept, but it’s pretty, and a solid indicator of idols maturing as artists. However, I feel like Weki Meki’s creative direction team is always one year behind on relevant trends and concepts.
MONSTA X — “Rush Hour”
Alex: Vocalists got to shine more here, but “GAMBLER” was still better. This reminds me of their earlier sound like in “RUSH” or “Trespass,” and the mixing sounds clean somehow, like early EXO, SHINEE or even B.A.P. The stage looks kind of empty with five members, and I’m not used to seeing backup dancers with MONSTA X. Jooheon’s space buns and mullet took me out back, and Changkyun’s denim diaper shot me in the chest. I’m so baffled by the styling.
Joey: Can someone tell K-pop to stop using that font? They really threw everything stereotypically boy-ish into one video — motorcycle gear, muscle cars and red flags — and called it a day. The song goes hard, but what the fuck was it all supposed to mean?
SF9 — “Trauma”
Alex: I’m seeing Michael Jackson-inspired styling and grooves. Maybe it’s because I’m watching so many comebacks in quick succession, but I’m reminded of MONSTA X and THE BOYZ visually. It’s like the “Kingdom: Legendary War” groups are forming a Megazord. The choreography looks fun to cover, so, Kay, if you’re reading this…
Joey: Y’all we did it. We used the word “trauma” so much, K-pop caught on and made it the title of a comeback full of heartbreak, pelvis thrusting and ass shaking! Whoever reads this, please — FOR THE LOVE OF GOD — DM SF9 and write: Joey wants to be slapped, choked and kicked by Hwiyoung. And respected.
Gaho [PLT] — “Right Now”
Joey: I’ve been a fan since “Running,” his OST for “Start-Up” and have never left. Something about his voice is so comforting. I was pleasantly surprised to see him play piano, ’cuz you know how some idols say they can “play” the guitar or piano, and all they know are the first three notes of “Hot Cross Buns?” God and that shot of him in the rain…
B.I.G — “FLASHBACK”
Alex: The first 10 seconds of the music video played and I had to take a moment to collect myself, because wow, this made me sad. Heedo was great on “The Unit: Idol Rebooting Project” in the “Butterfly” stage, but Gunmin didn’t make it through the first round. The group debuted seven years ago, reshuffled their lineup, and now only has 700,000 views on an official comeback. I liked “1.2.3” and I wanted to see how they were doing when they showed up on the list. The lyrics definitely add to the bittersweet, nostalgic feeling of the whole situation, and if I didn’t know about the mess they faced, I would just say that the vocal layering is well-balanced.
Hwasa [MAMAMOO] — “I’m a 빛”
Alex: “Madagascar” (2005)-ass entrance. Take a shot every time a “Street Woman Fighter” team choreographed one of these comebacks. You’ll fall on your face faster than it takes the world to fall in love with NO:ZE. The traditional instrumentation at the dance break threw me off, and I’m not sure I want to know if it’s actually in the song. All the aesthetics suit her perfectly and her voice is always sultry and entrancing. Yes, I am Hwasa’s bitch, how did you know?
Joey: Ma’am slid outta that box at the beginning how I came out of the womb — naked, wet, confused and wrapped in a pink blanket ’cuz I’m a girl. DID Y’ALL SEE HER BBL FACE AT 1:43 I’M SCREAMING. I feel like her brand and music is kinda like CL’s, where it’s all about female empowerment and breaking Korean beauty standards. Writing and singing about these themes is no easy feat; it’s super easy for your music to be considered basic. Not only were the lyrics in this song super basic, but the random tangent of traditional Korean music was out of place.
Ed Sheeran — “Shivers (feat. Jessi and SUNMI)”
Alex: Sorry to inform you that this song is actually SUNMI’s now because she actually has vocal color. Sheeran’s voice is so bland in comparison and you know something’s wrong when SUNMI’s the best vocalist on a track. No shade, I love her, but I know we’re all thinking it. When will they let Jessi sing on a track? I miss her singing voice. Which record label executive made the dartboard of options and which one got drunk and stabbed it six times, missing the dartboard four times? Who were the other choices?? Did Sheeran’s many labels want the clout or were P NATION and ABYSS Company looking for something that needed flavor? Along with DJ Snake’s collab with Megan Thee Stallion, Ozuna and Lisa of BLACKPINK last month, something is in the air in record label offices and it’s fishy.
Joey: No one: Jessi: HUH? Congratulations, this song stripped every single singer in this song from their musical personality. In other words, it gave absolutely nothing, except a spoonful of autotune for SUNMI.
Urban Zakapa — “I’ll Never Know You (모르겠어)”
Joey: Urban Zakapa — royalty of heartbreak songs. Man, this song almost made me cry over someone too, and I have absolutely no one. (However, if you look at the requests under my SF9’s “Trauma” and B.I’s “COSMOS” reviews, I could have someone if we all work together!!!)