Better known as EXO’s leader Suho, Kim Junmyeon first embarked on his solo journey back in 2017 with “Curtain” (though he had previously featured on Leeteuk’s “My Hero”). Composed as part of SM’s Station project, the restrained ballad - and collaboration with pianist Song Young Joo - was a solid if-not slightly restricting debut effort for an undeniably talented member of one of the world’s biggest outfits. It certainly had its charm; the heavily-forefronted vocals giving plenty of space for the singer to show off his talents, the intimate feeling of the breezy number and the unquestionable potential shown throughout, but ultimately it lacked that extra bit of gravitas that would have really allowed for the South-Korean to shine.
To call 2019 Sik-K’s breakout year would, on the surface at least, do the South-Korean a huge disservice. After all, before FL1P the artist had already released three profitable albums in addition to numerous show-stopping singles and a strong collaborative EP with BOYCOLD. Yet, with the triumph of the 26-year-old’s fourth full-length effort - which went hand-in-hand with his successful world tour - it felt like he had “broke out” and propelled himself to the apex of the hip-hop industry in South-Korea, at least from an international perspective. He was no longer just the future who had bucketloads of potential, but the present who was starting to hone his undeniable talent and appeal.
To call 2019 a rollercoaster year for iKON would feel like an understatement. After ushering in the new year with the successful “I’M OK” single and album repackage, subsequently marking end of the NEW KIDS series of releases, summertime would see controversy rear its ugly head. Ultimately leading to the departure of the charismatic and esteemed frontman of the group, B.I, it meant that, aside from a short tour in Japan, iKON would disappear from the public view.
HYUKOH have never been a band afraid to shake things up; after all, their non-conformist, gear-switching, honest sound has allowed them to gain millions upon millions of fans worldwide. But yet, on new EP through love, they seem to throw a rather unexpected curveball. Although it still has the occasional moment of manic sonic brilliance - namely the mid-point of “New born” - for the most part, this extended play is a calmer, more soothing endeavour. It is also the first release without the age of the members forming the centre-point of the title, and without dramatic, carefully crafted artwork (all we get here is an image of nature, one taken by Wolfgang Tillmans) dominating the cover-art, which could further indicate their change in style and feel.
This past week, Zico became the first artist of 2020 to have a song attain a “Perfect All-Kill” on the South-Korean charts. For those who don’t know what that is, it means that a song is number one on the daily and realtime charts of Melon, Genie, Bugs, and Soribada along with the realtime charts of Flo and iChart; criteria that makes a song a Certified All-Kill. A Perfect All-Kill is then achieved when the song also becomes number one on iChart’s weekly chart. Despite being an undeniably talented artist who has been a fixture in the Korean mainstream for almost a decade, this is the first Perfect All-Kill that Zico has been a part of.
For fans that veer away from the mainstream of Korean music, the name G.Soul will hardly be unfamiliar. The now 31-year-old burst onto the scene to much fanfare with his 2015 EP Coming Home (largely due to an infamous 15 year “training” period which involved considerable time stateside), with its title track proving to be the perfect supplement to the years of anticipation. “Coming Home” perfectly meshed the soulful vocals of Ki Ji-Hyun with an electronica backbeat and underlying finger snaps, making for a refreshing twist on modern R&B. The eventual climax, a higher-tempo, more energised delivery of the chorus, firmly marked G.Soul down as a star of the future, and ensured that critics wouldn’t take him lightly.