K-Pop Music Roundup: May 2022

May is a great music month; summertime is rolling in, school’s getting out, and it’s time to unwind! The music that tends to come out this time of year helps us to relax and encourages us to get out and enjoy our lives a little more. I’m always down for that!

These were my top 10 new releases of the month! If you don’t have time to read it all, scroll to the end to see what my top 3 recommendations are!

Released May 2

How do rookie groups keep showing up and knowing their debuts out of the proverbial park?! LE SSERAFIM is a new group from HYBE and the extra leg-up they have, I guess, is that they have a couple of former IZ*ONE members. So I guess they’re not a total rookie group, compared to others. For me, this was a dynamite debut song; the whole package really is memorable. The song is catchy (is anyone else hearing that opening “bum bum bum” section just by reading this paragraph?), the vocals are top tier, the choreo is engaging…all in all, this was an exciting debut. Some other occurrences have overshadowed the group’s overall debut, but I’m putting those on the backburner just to highlight the song, unencumbered by rumors and accusations. As for the group as a whole, this debut is one for the books.

Released May 3

This new EP from iKON brings fans 5 songs to add to their favorite playlists. The title track “BUT YOU” is one that I simply cannot stop listening to. It’s a really comfortable song; the melody is groovy and nostalgic. It’s a great song for easy listening, that’s for sure. The next song on the EP is “DRAGON”, written by Bobby. It carries a lot of the same energy we heard on his latest solo album; it’s the kind of track you might hear in the club. “FOR REAL?” is next, written by Bobby and DK. This is the song on the EP that most reminds me of some of iKON’s older songs, which I love. It’s like a little nod to the past. “GOLD” was written by WINNER’s Yoon and Bobby. It’s really playful and sounds like a solid YG track. The EP wraps up with “NAME” which brings us that token ballad with warm vocals. All in all, I enjoyed this album a lot. There’s some nice variety, which made it easy for me to come back to as the month went on. There are a few songs that I think will continue to get a lot of airtime from me during the summer!

Released May 4

I’m a WOODZ fan; I think he’s one of the most versatile artists in the K-scene right now, but I also think he’s grossly underappreciated. With all that bias aside, I still think that he’s latest EP is gold. He brings more of his latest rock and roll vibe, especially in songs like “Dirt on my leather” and “I hate you,” which is the title track. We also got some of his experimental tendencies on “HIJACK” and his vocal superiority shines on “Better and better.” For me personally, “Better and better” is a sweet spot for WOODZ. There’s something about his vocals, the lyrics, and the light instrumentals that stand out to me. It reminds me of some of his other songs from previous albums. The last song on the album is “Hope to be like you” and it opens with a whistle that immediately takes me back to his hit, “Love Me Harder.” WOODZ is an all-around kind of artist – he writes, he composes, he produces, he sings, he raps, he dances…it’s all there. And his music is better for it.

TXT – “Good Boy Gone Bad”
Released May 9

TXT never flops and they can take any concept and make it their own. Their bad boy concept comes straight off of their comebacks full of rock and roll and rebellion, so it’s a seamless transition for the fans. The beat of this song has buried itself deep into my brain and I really don’t think it plans on leaving me anytime soon. It’s a classic earworm; it’s just part of me now. Ha! It’s like they took that rock style and fused a hip hop beat on the bottom line, which adds some unexpected grit to the whole song. Even though I might argue that it’s somewhat too repetitive, it’s achieved its purpose in being stuck in my brain. I can’t stop clicking for the song to play! While this isn’t a summertime beach-ready song, it’s still got a little something going on. Vocally, TXT is a group of storytellers. Yeonjun’s raps are always insanely expressive and vocalists like Taehyun and Beomgyu add a lot of complexity to the narrative of the song. I’ll be listening to this one for a while!

Released May 12

This was one of those songs that snuck on me as the month went on. If you’re unfamiliar with YEZI, she was a member of the group Fiestar, then went on to Unpretty Rap Star in 2015 and ended the show as a semi-finalist. Her new single “ACACIA” has everything – an addictive melody, beautiful vocals, and gritty raps. Each section of the song has a standout quality, which means I never get bored when I’m listening. I’m always extra intrigued by artists who are multi-faceted, who can sing and rap both in equally highly skilled ways. And YEZI shows that she’s one of those artists in this song. This is one that I’ll probably keep coming back to and it’s got me anxious to hear more from YEZI in the future!

ASTRO – Drive to the Starry Road
Released May 16

A few of my go-to groups had comebacks this month and ASTRO is at the forefront of that list. If you want a group to show up and guide you into the summer months, ASTRO is the group for you. Their new title track “Candy Sugar Pop” is light, breezy, and fun. It’s definitely a dance track that feels like a 2022 version of a disco song. Ha! These kinds of songs from ASTRO always bring me happiness, especially when I see that JinJin, Moonbin, and Rocky all wrote the lyrics. This album also has a lot of great and diverse b sides on it, including a solo track from all of the members. *angels sing* “Story” is one of my favorites because it’s MJ’s solo track; this album was released at the start of his mandatory military enslistment, which makes his song a little extra special. JinJin’s “All Day” is super laid back and relatable; Cha Eun Woo’s “First Love” is straight out of one of his KDrama scripts, sweet and romantic; Moonbin’s solo song is “Let’s go ride,” which shows off his vocal range and warmth. I think this album has something that all listeners can like!

Released May 17

TNX is the latest group from PSY’s label P Nation and this group of rookies isn’t messing around. The group debuted with 5 songs on their album, but the title track “MOVE” is one I’ve played and replayed more than I initially thought I would. The beat drop, the addictive chorus, and the rap section in the second verse kept me curious about this new group. I love that the lyrics of the song have the group more or less setting their intentions for their debut. Ha! It’s all “get out of my way” and “our goal is clear: we all the way up”, calling on people to “turn the volume up.” They say there’s “no time to take a breather, our calendar’s full” and that they’re “unstoppable.” This is the kind of song you want on a workout playlist or one that you listen to on the way to a big meeting! With PSY behind them, I’m looking forward to more music from this group!

GOT7 – GOT7 Album
Released May 23

It’s been 2 years since GOT7 released music together and it was worth the wait! Their new album has 6 songs on it and each one was written by the group. Each song feels like GOT7, if you know what I mean. Their colors come through, their styles they’ve shown us in their solo careers, and their overall sound is mature, showing off their years of experience in music. “TRUTH” is a great opening track, with some bouncy pop elements that are inviting to the listener. The title track “NANANA” feels like freedom mixed with some familiar GOT7 elements. It’s nice to hear the group members break out of their previous boxes, as well; Jackson and BamBam do much more than just rap, like we’re used to hearing them do on GOT7 group tracks. The growth from their own solo careers has bled into the group work, which I can appreciate. “Don’t Leave Me Alone” is my favorite b side from this album. It reminds me of some of my favorite GOT7 songs and it feels like a call to continue supporting them in the future.

SEVENTEEN – Face the Sun
Released May 26

In my April round-up, SEVENTEEN’s English single “Darl+ing” was one of my top 10 favorites of the month. Here we are a month later, shining a spotlight on the rest of the album. What’s funny is that I was originally hopeful that the whole album would follow in the same vibe footsteps as “Darl+ing,” but I ended up being way off the mark. I ain’t mad about it, though! The title track for this release is “HOT” and it’s the anti-thesis to “Darl+ing”; it’s heat and fire and passion. As for the b sides, I’m a big fan of “DON QUIXOTE” because it somehow feels like the love child between the previous two tracks. We get to hear some of the group’s soaring vocals, while it also carries a grittier melody like “HOT”. As for the others, “‘bout you” is really playful, “ASH” feels like a nice follow-up to “HOT”, and “Shadow” is intriguing. The album as a whole tells a story, which is something I’m always happy to see. SEVENTEEN never disappoints!

VICTON – Chaos
Released May 31

I love when an album sneaks in at the very end of the month and establishes itself as a comeback to remember. This new album from VICTON brings 6 new songs to fans and new listeners alike. Their title track “Stupid O’clock” has an attitude that we’ve been getting from the group more and more with their last few albums. This song showcases something that this boy group always does well – dynamics. Rapper Hanse has such a unique sound and the vocalists of the group each have a different quality to their voices. With the b sides, we also get some variety in sounds. My favorites right now are “Stay” and “INK.” I think “Stay” will be a summer song for me; the melody of the chorus is really groovy and light. In terms of their discography as a whole, “INK” stands out to me. I’m looking forward to exploring the details of this track a little more in June!

Let’s wrap this up with what I want to make sure you didn’t miss this month! I hope that you take a few minutes to listen to WOODZ’s “Better and better,” SEVENTEEN’s “DON QUIXOTE”, and YEZI’s “ACACIA.” There was so much good music this month. Some honorable mentions include B.I’s “BTBT (feat DeVita)” and LIGHTSUM’s “ALIVE.” 

What were your favorite releases of the month? Share with us in the comments and we hope you’ll return next month to see what our next batch of favorites are! 

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