Monthly K-Pop Music Roundup: October

Welcome to our second month of music favorites! This month, we had a nice combination of releases, as well as some fun English tracks. We also found ourselves on the edge of autumn, which means that the general vibe, instrumental choices, and summertime brightness are being toned down a little bit, in favor of a deeper, richer sound. These are my top 10 releases of October!

TWICE – “The Feels”

Released October 1

JYP teased this English release for what felt like forever, but let me tell you…it was worth the wait. One might even say that this release gives us “the feels.” I’m always a little hesitant when groups release full English tracks, because I don’t always love them. But this one is so much fun! It’s catchy and “never let[s] go.” The single album also included a couple of remixes and an instrumental version of the song. TWICE is one of those groups that always surprises me with their versatility; they can belt high notes, harmonize for adys, and draw us in with catchy raps. The music video, full of references that remind us of the movie Mean Girls, brought out the girls’ fun and youthful side. The end of the MV also teased an upcoming full album, which was a fun surprise! We can look forward to that album on November 12!

Youngjae – “Eternal”

Released October 5

GOT7’s Youngjae released his solo album “COLORS from Ars” this month with the title track, “Vibin”, which is a lot of fun. But when I listened to the album all the way through, it was the b side “Eternal” that took my breath away. Youngjae has always stood out for his pure vocals and control over his voice. This song is a perfect example of what I’m talking about. It’s so, so beautiful. The instrumentals are minimal, which really allows Youngjae’s voice to shine. I’ve seen it mentioned in a few places that Youngjae wrote this song really quickly. To me, that’s a sign that he had something to say and knew just how to do it. When I listen to this song, it feels heartfelt and honest, which makes me enjoy it even more. He uses the word “forever” quite a bit, which makes my Ahgase heart happy. 

WOODZ – ONLY LOVERS LEFT

Released October 5

If you’re unfamiliar with solo artist WOODZ, you’re really missing out. Cho Seungyoun was also a member of the group UNIQ, participated in season 5 of Show Me the Money, and made it into the group X1 while competing on Produce X 101. This new solo album is why we’re really here, though. “WAITING” is the title track, but it’s positioned as the final song of the album. This means that the 5 songs leading up to the finale take us on a full journey. “Multiply” is an English track, full of sweetness and longing. “Thinkin bout you” continues the English-focused trip and has us missing that special someone. “Sour Candy” is a little more fun and upbeat before we get to “Kiss of fire” and some distinct intensity. “Chaser” ups the desperation before we get to “WAITING” and he truly starts “goin crazy.” Like with his 2020 album, EQUAL, each individual song has a distinct style, but the tracks all come together to tell a complex story.

PIXY – “Addicted”

Released October 6

I’d heard a couple of songs from PIXY before and associated them with this darker sound. I listened to this song on a playlist full of October releases and was like, “Ok..this is interesting.” Then that beat dropped in the chorus and I literally said, “Wait…WHAT?!” Out loud. In my car. Then I started it over and listened to it on repeat a few times. Ha! Those high notes in the pre-chorus followed by the super low notes really set the stage for the powerhouse chorus. This song should be on everyone’s fall playlists; it’s thriving in the dark, up tempo wheelhouse. Also, if you’re looking for girl groups with strong rap lines, add PIXY to your list of groups to learn more about. The choreo is top notch, as well; they do a backbend that I think will become iconic. Or at least, it SHOULD.

N.Flying – “Video Therapy”

Released October 6

N.Flying’s repackaged album dropped this month with a new title track, “Sober.” I enjoyed this new song just fine, but a hidden gem on the new album really is the b side, “Video Therapy.” Talk about kicking their rock n’ roll into high gear! This song has so many interesting instrumental moments to focus on, as well. Not to mention Seunghyub’s rap sections. This is a super fun track and in my opinion, it should’ve been the new title track. It has that autum vibe and puts a little bit of a spell on me. Ha! I start listening and suddenly I’ve put the track on repeat. I know I’m super biased towards N.Flying, but this really was one of my top releases of the month! Those bass slides, the electronic sounds, the transitions…there’s so much good happening here. 

IU – “strawberry moon”

Released October 18

Every time IU releases new music, I feel healed just a little bit. This newest single is no exception to that rule, either. I was a big fan of her last album, LILAC, and “strawberry moon” has a pretty similar vibe. With lyrics like “we won’t be afraid” and “how could life be more perfect”, IU is guaranteed to turn any frown upside down, if you know what I mean. Nicknamed “The Nation’s Little Sister,” IU brings comfort and messages of hope whenever she can. This song feels like sitting down with the singer to enjoy a scoop or two of (strawberry) ice cream, sharing stories and laughing together. The MV shows a sweet love story, as well, which is really nice to watch. IU is an acting queen, as we know, but the effects in the video add a touch of warm whimsy that we didn’t even know we needed. Overall, this is probably one of my top 3 favorite releases of the month. It’s the perfect time of year for a song like this, as well.

CNBLUE – WANTED

Released October 20

This year, we’ve had quite a few comebacks from more senior groups and I’m living for it. CNBLUE debuted in 2009 and they’re still holding on strong. I’m including their whole EP as a favorite release of the month because each song is repeat-worthy. The title track “Love Cut” starts with a western whistle that FNC is partial to, then takes us on a whole journey for the rest of the song. The hook will get stuck in your head for days, it’s so easy to sing along with, the vocals are so smooth, and the instrumentals have a ton of variety. As for the album’s b sides, my favorite might be “99%” with “Nothing” as a close second. Or maybe it’s the other way around. I’m a sucker for a rap in a rock song, which is one reason I like “Nothing” so much. Each track is packed with strong musicality and the songs all flow together so well. The whole album was put together well; it’s a great album to listen to all the way through! I wish that CNBLUE’s comeback was getting more attention because they’re so deserving!

EUNHYUK – “be”

Released October 20

I wasn’t really sure what to expect from this solo release from Eunhyuk. I check out new Super Junior tracks as they come, but when I think of Eunhyuk, I think of rapping. That is not at all what we experience on his new track. Eunhyuk is really showing off his vocalist side! He makes singing sound really simple as he seems to float from note to note, effortlessly taking us into the stratosphere. I had to include this release on my list for October because of the way it left my mouth hanging open. I love when songs and artists surprise me like this; you never know what to expect, especially from seasoned artists! This is also a great example of a song that helps us transition between the sounds of summer to the richness of autumn. Looking forward to D&E’s album on November 2!

Seventeen – “Rock with you”

Released October 22

I love this new rock inspired track from a group that literally never fails to impress. There’s something about this new title track that feels very Seventeen, but also manages to feel fresh. It adds a new flavor to their existing discography and gives us a new style to enjoy. One of my favorite sections of this song is S.Coups’ soft singing in the bridge. It was so unexpected the first time I heard it, but it adds a nice switch up near the end of the track. The emotions come across so beautifully in this song, as well, which is something we can always expect from Seventeen. These boys know how to use their vocal instruments and it makes it such an enjoyable experience for those of us who don’t speak Korean; we can easily catch on to the message of the track when the artists can clearly convey the emotions of the lyrics. This song also continues their more grown-up trajectory. Their cuter tracks were fitting when they were younger, but as they’ve gotten older, their music has matured as well. There’s nothing these guys can’t do!

DKB – “Rollercoaster”

Released October 28

I went through a slight obsession with DKB’s 2020 release “Work Hard,” so I had my fingers crossed when I saw they’d released this newest single. I really wanted to try and not compare it to “Work Hard.” Ha! What’s nice is that this new song has a lot of elements that I admired in their previous release. The vocals are so smooth and the raps are really solid; every member of the group has a distinct sound, but everything blends together in a way that’s set for easy-listening. DKB’s style really stands out among the charts; they don’t sound like any other group. The chorus is ear candy and gets stuck in my head, which really takes me back to my stuck-on-repeat experience with “Work Hard.” Haha. I wish this newest track was part of a longer album, rather than just a single, but I’ll take what I can get from DKB!

Special Mentions:

What were your favorite releases this month? We’d love to know; share in the comments!

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