K-pop burn book: October edition

“Oh my gosh, don’t you know I’m a savage?” No, Winter, you probably can’t break anyone into pieces.


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 back to the K-pop burn book — by fans, for fans! The first K-pop song both Joey and Alex listened to was Wonder Girls’ “Nobody.” The choreography for “Fire” by BTS is what got Alex into K-pop in her sophomore year of high school. And Joey — Joey can’t dance.

In a way, we are our own audience. We could say we’re sorry if you disagree with our opinions, but we don’t care. Tough luck, it’s our column. Here are our thoughts on 22 of October’s 136 K-pop singles, just for you!

TWICE — “The Feels” 

Alex: I’m in love with nine women. I adore the big band sound and it’s so addictive. What an incredible way to start off the month. TWICE caught the tail end of the hi-teen wave and delivered the best version of it. 

Joey: Honestly, I wasn’t a big fan of the song at first, but it grew on me over time. As always, TWICE smashed the hook — couldn’t get this song out of my head for days. The concept was familiar, but different enough to be considered new and refreshing! Also, Mina looks SO good.

ATEEZ — “Eternal Sunshine” 

Alex: This doesn’t work for ATEEZ — they have one foot in and one foot out of the fresh, wholesome concept. We know they can commit to the concept with the excellence of “Wave” and “Illusion,” but they’re itching to continue being sexy. It’s weird seeing San styled normally and Jongho not as a demon; Wooyoung is barely holding back the “Bad” energy. “Deja Vu” and “Eternal Sunshine” don’t match as companion tracks and it shows.

aespa — “Savage” 

Alex: The chorus gave me an allergic reaction and KWANGYA is at the bottom of my list of travel destinations. The vocal tones had me considering cutting my ears off. The NCT 127 Cherry Bomb-inspired outfits look like something a cover group would wear to cover aespa. Naevis, I do not love you.

Joey: Not going to lie, I dig it. Maybe it’s because it sounds slightly different from the other hi-teen concepts we’ve seen from everyone this summer! Hear me out: This could be an NCT 127 song. Imagine Haechan and Taeil belting Winter and Ning Ning’s part; Taeyong rapping Giselle’s second verse. Also, can someone tell SM Giselle and Winter don’t need to belt every other chorus in every song?

Youngjae [GOT7] — “Vibin’” 

Joey: My attention kept going in and out of focus :\\\\. He still hasn’t found his sound yet — to be honest, none of GOT7’s members have. This vibey, casual California sound feels so out of place! Is he branding or just going through an experimental phase? 

Luna — “Madonna

Alex: Good for her breaking out of the SM dungeon and I think the ’80s vibe suits her. This comeback has American pop vibes — 90% of the lyrics are English, so the little that is Korean throws me off. More importantly, Madonna doesn’t own vogueing — she owes a lot of her success to Black and queer culture and she’s one of the most infamous offenders when it comes to cultural appropriation. When I grow up, I don’t want to be like Madonna — sorry, Luna.  

PIXY — “Addicted

Alex: A dark-concept girl group has never hit me this hard in my life. The editing, cinematography, set design, outfits, makeup, choreography, eye contact, vocal tone, mixing and rapping all cracked my jaw wide open. There is not a single part of this comeback that I don’t love. I’m a whore for women with low vocal registers. I’m never going to recover from this. My eyes, ears and existence have been blessed. 


Sunmi — “Go or Stop?

Alex: I love pink space buns Sunmi but I can’t help that her outfit reminds me of the time Keith Habersberger from the Try Guys tried drag as Ginger Vitis. This is a really extra car commercial. 

Enhypen — “Tamed-Dashed

Alex: Imagine having the audacity to make a summer bop in the middle of October because they know it will work. I know next to nothing about Enhypen, but I’ve streamed every title track like my life depended on it because the music consistently slaps. This is a lighter concept than they have done before but it’s a welcome change.  

Joey: Feel proud to have followed them since “I-Land” :’). They’ve grown up so much, especially Ni-ki! This song felt age-appropriate, like a bunch of 16- to 20-year-olds just screwing around on the beach. Super fucking cute.

TRI.BE — “우주로 (Would You Run)

Joey: This is one of those songs where the music video actually takes away from the song. The vocals and choreography were solid, but the GFriend-meets-Blackpink color scheme set design and their attempt at trendy outfits were headlights — I was the deer, of course — that distracted from the main point: the song.

LIGHTSUM — “Vivace

Joey: What was the point of that? If you’re going to recycle the same compositional sounds, beats and structure, just cover a song. This is their second comeback. If you’re gonna debut a new group, at least attempt sonic distinction — especially in K-pop’s market today — but their songs sound like they could have come from anyone.

Jessi — “Cold Blooded (with SWF)”

Alex: I’m going absolutely feral for this dancer-centric music video! There was such a variety of styles, but the attitude, face and skill were consistently powerful. There was no weak section. I’m absolutely obsessed with this project and I’ve been streaming it daily. “Street Woman Fighter” was controversial — its issues could be their own full article — but this music video has me raving.


Blackswan — “Close To Me

Joey: This is if a K-pop cover band went professional, but the only training they got was YouTube tutorials and high school dance club. From the clothes and makeup to their choreo and stage presence, Blackswan still smells amateur. Unfortunately, their lukewarm performance distracted my attention from the actual song. 

Eric Nam — “I Don’t Know You Anymore

Alex: There are camera angles in this music video that only pretty people can still look good in. Eric Nam’s vocal tone in this song expertly conveys the bittersweet feeling of knowing you have to move on during the moment right after a bad breakup. 

Meng Meiqi — “MUTE

Alex: That music video is way too expensive for the song I listened to. The intro card says that she wrote and produced it, and honestly it sounds like it. “Masked Dancing King” already showed us that there’s no lack of performance talent with Meiqi, but I want to see what she can do with a good song. 

IU — “strawberry moon”

Alex: IU is an ethereal angel with the discography to match, and “strawberry moon” fits right into it. The key change at the end was a good choice — the song would’ve fallen flat without it by then, and the world in the music video sparks joy. 

Joey: Took me a few tries, but I think the song will age beautifully for winter. She experimented a little in the chorus, so the song sounded a little more exciting than it would have without it. Love the IU-college trope.

Kingdom — “Black Crown

Alex: The song sounds like a high-adventure YA fantasy OST with the styling to match, and I love them for it. I really dig the staging of the dancers and the choreography, and I can’t believe they only debuted eight months ago. I’m so glad I checked this out and I’m going to be paying attention to where they go from here.

SEVENTEEN — “Rock with You

Alex: I expected something completely different from the teasers for “Attacca” — I thought it would be a dark concept like “Fear,” but this bright bop gave me whiplash. Despite my subverted expectations, SEVENTEEN’s vocal team never disappoints and Woozi is THE most reliable composer.  

Joey: Mingyu vocal king! To be honest, I thought it was going to be some dark, sexy concept. I did not anticipate something this upbeat and fast tempo. It’s partially my fault — I always misinterpret teasers. However, SEVENTEEN teasers versus their actual songs always sound so different. It sounds like they’re finding a more authentic sound though, and I’m really happy about that!

Epik High — “FaceID

Alex: I immediately started head bopping to the beat. I just can’t stand JUSTHIS’s verse — it was clunky and the lyrics gave me a new forehead wrinkle from frowning. 

NCT 127 — “Favorite

Alex: This is hot. The vocal layering in the chorus is tight, the choreography is impeccable and the early third-generation vibes are strong. The vampire concept has me sweating and Johnny got me like ?. That said, does anyone else see the inspiration from Ye’s “Famous” music video with the beginning and end bed shot??

Joey: This could have been an EXO comeback in the mid-2010s, same concept and everything. Imagine Taeil’s vocals in this for Baekhyun, Sehun doing Jungwoo and Jaehyun’s background vocals, and Kai in the dance break. Voila. Their concept is super relevant to Halloween, helped by the 2010s composition and EXO-esque concept.

BOL4 — “Butterfly Effect

Joey: It is warmth. It is light. It is love. This comeback is godly. As always, she delivered again. Thank you. Merci. Gracias!

Ailee — “Don’t Teach Me

Alex: The vocal queen is back and her looks have me choking. No, actually — I was eating Hello Panda cookies and her Greek goddess-esque look at 1:34 of the music video made me choke. 

Joey: The music video made it look like miss girl sang and shook ass for the “Squid Game” VIPs. She wins the vocals game. Kills it every time. 


Alex: Somi keeps improving with each comeback. She looks heart-stoppingly good in this styling, and something just clicks with her when she sings about young love. The choreography and staging looks much better than “Dumb Dumb,” and thematically it follows that up very well.  

Joey: I thought the teaser sound was going to be her chorus LOL. It caught me off guard, so I had to listen twice. The first time I listened to “XOXO”, I gave it a 5/10. The second time around, I gave it a 6.5/10. One thing’s for sure though: she has grown so much since she debuted in 2019. Bitch neoneun solo!

Contact Alexandra Chan at [email protected] and Joey Hung at [email protected].