K-pop burn book: September edition

LALISA was tragic. We would tell you to form your own opinions, but we know you will agree with us. 


Manasa Gudavalli

Welcome to Alex and Joey’s K-pop burn book. Feel free to disagree but we stand by our opinions. (Staff Illustration by Manasa Gudavalli)

Alexandra Chan and Joey Hung

Welcome to the first edition of the K-pop burn book! Joey and Alex are bona fide fans who want to take advantage of every opportunity to write about K-pop the way Billboard won’t. We are taking a look at the September comebacks and sharing our opinions, which should be considered as facts.

This is part of a working series of K-pop content. We’re writing for the fans who want to engage with K-pop culture without the belittling or simping over Jimin for clout, because we are those fans too. We know there’s a whole world of interesting topics out there and we can’t wait to explore. Please, feel free to start some discourse in the comments or suggest some topics we should address. In the meantime, enjoy! 


Sept. 1

fromis_9 — “Talk & Talk”

Alex: I’m in awe of the top-quality editing in this music video, which is consistent with their last comeback “We Go.” The styling is cute as hell. If you want reliable bubblegum K-pop girlies, fromis_9 is the way to go. 


Sept. 2

A.C.E — “Changer”

Alex: This is a gentler, more chill bop in comparison to their intense comebacks and is a redemption from “Down ft. Grey.” A.C.E still somehow maintains the cardio-from-hell choreography that they pull off so well. My thighs hurt from watching the stage. From their humble beginnings busking in Hongdae until now, we can count on A.C.E to deliver on performance quality. 

Joey: A.C.E. eats up the boy crush concept. There are a lot of groups out there who also try the concept, but I haven’t seen anyone do it as well as them. 

Kaachi — “Extra Special”

Alex: Dead facials. Sloppy choreography. No point, no impact. Kaachi could try to make the lip-syncing less obvious, but I know they’re not trying. Big talent show energy. And I did high school talent shows, so I promise I know what I’m talking about. The stage ate them up and it was empty. Coco, please cut loose. I know you want to. 

Joey: Go girls, give us nothing! This looked like a low budget Shein fashion show. I definitely wasted those 3.5 minutes of my life. Also, did you notice how the arena was dead silent? Yeah. 


Sept. 4


Alex: Between his first solo release “God Damn” and this, someone hurt this man. This man is in pain. The SoundCloud beat serves as a backing track to Im Changkyun’s journey to the next stage of grief. The lyrics indicate he is hovering somewhere between bargaining and depression. I want to see him perform his solo work even though I can’t envision any choreography. 


Sept. 6

STAYC — “Stereotype”

Alex: Enjoyable, but “ASAP” got stuck in my head more. 

Joey: “So Bad” was so strong of a debut that the following comebacks were underwhelming in comparison, including this one. Their concept is fun, but not sustainable in the long run — at least for me.

YoungK [DAY6]  — “끝까지 안아 줄게”

Alex: I always say Day6 never misses, but I’m lost. I don’t know if it’s an instrumentation, arrangement or mixing decision that I take issue with, but I wish the song was more intense — especially considering the music video’s visuals and emotional lyrics. Maybe this is YoungK’s vision for his solo work. 


Sept. 8

CL — “SPICY” (Remix ver.) (ft. Omega Sapien, sokodomo, Lil Cherry)

Joey: The line “You lookin’ at the most fly Asians” makes me cringe. The remix is a bop though, and it’s lowkey better than the original.


Sept. 9


Alex: I have been getting tired of the noise music trend, but this grew on me. The song makes sense in HyunA and DAWN’s musical evolution, and I love seeing them live their best lives with no shame. This music video looks like a clown threw up on it, and the entire comeback is so chaotic.

Joey: YES? YES. HyunA and DAWN’s couple-that-looks-like-they’d-smell-bad-but-makes-great-clubbing-music concept fits them so well. Each comeback stage is so unique, different and fun. They’re out here killing it.

Lee Hi — “Red Lipstick” (ft. Yoon Mirae)

Alex: A retro concept plus Lee Hi equals excellence. She is thriving out of the YG dungeon and I adore this sound for her.


Sept. 10

Lisa [Blackpink] — “LALISA”

Alex: I’m going to fight Teddy in a dark alleyway for the crime of producing this. Kiel Tutin is also catching these hands for that choreography. The decision to treat her like a Barbie by having no footwork or formation changes reduces the dynamism that Lisa is clearly familiar with. Recalling the excellence of LiliFilm projects, this was a disappointment. Solo stans are having a field day driving this up the charts. The Polisa pun in the music video made me hit my head on my desk. The Thai concept in the bridge is a thinly veiled scramble for a sexy aesthetic which ties in so many problems with the misogyny and fetishization of Southeast Asia. 

Addendum for “Money”: I know they were trying to write a Jessi song.

Joey: Lisa fulfills the roles of rapper, dancer and cool girl in Blackpink. Within the group, she definitely stands out as a performer. However, her solo debut is honestly underwhelming. She has so much potential versatility that YG did not utilize, but that decision was of no loss to him because the fandom supports her regardless. Teddy and YG also depended too much on Lisa as a brand to literally carry the song through the debut. As a result, it felt thoughtless and cheap. Also, this entire video was just straight up queer bait. 

Hwang Chi Yeul — “Too Late (끝이라고 말할 것 같았어)”

Alex: Hwang Chi Yeul’s ability to punch me in the throat with emotions I didn’t know I even had? Impeccable. I don’t even have an ex to pine after but I’m feeling things anyway.


Sept. 13

ATEEZ — “Deja Vu”

Alex: Wooyoung’s thot era continues — I just know San is tired of being the designated hoe. ATEEZ looks exhausted, especially Mingi and Hongjoong when you see them behind the scenes. “Deja Vu” is so horny — fourth generation boy groups are clearly eager to leave their baby images behind. KQ Ent. needs to invest more in music videos, but the outfits are good.  

Joey: Doesn’t it look like all K-pop music videos are filmed on the same sets, just with different color schemes? That being said, the music video was boring, the visuals were average, but the song itself was pretty good. Their comebacks are always slightly better than average. That’s part of the reason why they’re in the game, but not on top of it. 


Sept. 14

Wonho — “BLUE”

Alex: I do not like football at all, but I would try to pay attention to football for Wonho. I love love love his solo music development. I really vibe with the bridge, and the choreography looks like so much fun. Wonho, I know you do not visibly age, but your music video love interest looks 17 years old. There’s a deliberate decision made there.    

Joey: Wonho, you are five foot eight. You have no business on the football field ?. Everyone else is running on the agility ladder, and you’re singing and dancing. Get off!!! Anyway, the song itself is okay, but Wonho is yet to find his sound and brand beyond thirst trapping his 17-year-old stans.


Sept. 15

MAMAMOO — “Mumumumuch”

Alex: I don’t know what Mamamoo is trying to do with their sound trajectory, but they look like they are having fun and Hwasa looks so good. Those braids on Moonbyul are tragic, but no other group has as much sapphic energy as Mamamoo, so I am vibing.

Joey: Wheein went off, Moonbyul went off, Hwasa went off and Solar went off. Their music video and song looked and sounded like those low-budget comebacks SM gives their solo artists. Mamamoo looks so happy in this music video and I’m here for it.

JAMIE — “No Numbers” (ft.JMIN) (‘Numbers’ English ver.)

Joey: UNDERRATED VOCAL! I SAID, UNDERRATED VOCAL! I’ve said it more than once and I’ll say it again: FUCK JYP for wasting this talent. Get her video to a million views.


Sept. 17

NCT 127 — “Sticker”

Alex: Yeehaw. SM took extra care with Jungwoo this time; he looks SO fine. The vocals and performance won me over. The choreography is so dynamic and fun and matches so well. I may enjoy “Lemonade” a little more but I don’t hate “Sticker,” which is an unpopular opinion. 

Joey: Is it just me or is every other K-pop group on the retro-futuristic-EDM trend? I know SM is struggling to create new and unique concepts with a musical composition formula that remains catchy enough to make into a bop, but can we please hop off this train? That being said, I could get high to this song. Also Jungwoo’s visuals in this comeback? They’re beautiful, wonderful, some would even say out of this world. That is all.


Sept. 23

WJSN — “Let Me In”

Alex: The fact that the full version of the music video only exists on the UNIVERSE app doesn’t sit right with me. Apparently, the line distribution in the song was reasonable, which is always an impressive feat for a 13-member group. The confusing storyline of 8-bit video game graphics, magazine editorial style font, generic white girl group outfits, and posing with motorcycles was not cohesive in the slightest. 


Sept. 24


Alex: “LOCO” did not need to grow on me at all unlike “Mafia in the Morning.” I was instantly hooked. Itzy took my breath away, their performance quality was 1000/10, and the choreography and styling are works of art. The only exception was Chaeryeong’s pink “Boohbah” outfit. I need stylists to stop taking inspiration from Red Velvet Wendy’s “Zimzalabim” green “Boohbah” outfit. Each one of the sets and concepts worked so well and Yeji, if you’re free anytime, please step on me. 

Joey: Ryujin is really hot, Yeji is really hot, Yuna is really hot and everyone is stunning in this comeback. The drops were well-timed, the song was upbeat, and their strong dance abilities made the song even more likeable. They really are the best fourth generation performance girl group.

Coldplay and BTS — “My Universe”

Alex: I understand how this collaboration happened. Bangtan’s “Fix You” cover pulled on my heartstrings, and Coldplay specifically gave them permission to cover it. But this release wasn’t as collaborative as I hoped. I didn’t hear Bangtan on the choruses, and Coldplay didn’t do anything in the verses. I’m thinking of Meg’s “Butter” collaboration remix in comparison. These lyrics are wholesome and sound like a follow-up to “DNA,” but either one less chorus or a key change would have helped this song.

Joey: The Korean verses were a lot more interesting than Coldplay’s repetitive “And you (You), you are (You are) my universe/And you make my world light up inside.” Jungkook and Taehyung’s voices fit the song so well. I appreciate the producers giving rap line performance time, but you don’t have to put rap in every song.


Sept. 25

Hanse [Victon] — “TAKE OVER”

Joey: HE HAD A VISION AND HE EXECUTED IT. Frankly, I can’t say this for a lot of K-pop, but I was thoroughly impressed by Hanse’s trippy music video and unique aesthetic. I can confidently say that if I heard another song or saw another music video by him, I would know it was Hanse’s. 


Sept. 27


Alex and Joey: “SWIPE” was made by TikTok for TikTok. The choreography is clearly intended for a challenge, and has no footwork that could possibly hinder vertical filming. The styling takes inspiration from every pocket of mainstream TikTok. Yuna looks gorgeous, possibly due to the fact that she is the most Gen Z of the group, and therefore would fit the concept the most. The song has a generic SoundCloud beat and it sounds like JYP wanted to make TikTok sounds. “SWIPE” did what it wanted to do, but at least it’s not the title track.  

Key [SHINee] — “BAD LOVE”

Alex: SHINee is so talented. I love that Key is showing off his clean and sustained vocals. I’m a huge fan of this mixing, styling, concept and choreography. Stylistically it is evident that this is a Kasper piece with dancers from Street Woman Fighter. Key is an incredible performer and this performance suits him very well. 

Joey: My initial thought was that this sounded like a watered down version of a song meant for The Weeknd. On second thought, if The Weeknd sang this song, he would have eaten it up! I just don’t think this song matches Key’s musical style or his voice. However, the concept, the aesthetic, the outfit, the make up — his dancing?! So good. He ate the camera up for dessert, and left zero crumbs. 


Sept. 28

Ciipher — “Blind(콩깍지)”

Joey: Everything was perfect, except for their lack of personality. A company can give a K-pop group all their resources and they still won’t be guaranteed success. They are still a really young group, and the song was cute and catchy, so hopefully they’ll bloom over time. Wishing Ciipher all the best!


Sept. 29

CL — “Lover Like Me”

Alex: All the outfits in this music video ate up CL’s Met Gala look. I’m sorry. But also since I already confuse Taylor Swift’s “Me!” lyric “you’ll never find another like me” with “you’ll never find another lover like me” on the regular, I thought I already heard this song. I still love her vocal tone and will happily bow down to the queen of K-pop. 


Did we manage to cover everything? We’ll see you next month, babes.