Edited by Seo Hayne
Translated by Kim Hoyeun
On May 23rd, FIFTY FIFTY’s “Cupid” marked its 9th consecutive week on the Billboard Hot 100, setting a new record among K-pop girl groups and surpassing BLACKPINK’s eight-week run with their Selena Gomez collaboration “Ice Cream.” Recently, FIFTY FIFTY also made headlines by featuring in the soundtrack lineup for the movie Barbie. Their song “Cupid,” which adopts an easily accessible retro sound (synth-pop) and also has an English version, is considered one of the key factors in their success. In this article, we shine a spotlight on the power of “easy listening” music, which has become a defining characteristic of K-pop, as demonstrated by “Cupid.”
ENHYPEN – Polaroid Love (2022)
“Polaroid Love,” a track from ENHYPEN’s repackage album DIMENSION: ANSWER, is a soft Pop R&B song. It draws a parallel between love and the analog charm of a Polaroid camera of the olden days in contrast with the modern social media era with filters and edits. ENHYPEN’s youthful sentiment carries through other soft pop tracks like “Not For Sale” and “TFW (That Feeling When).”
TREASURE – DARARI (2022)
“DARARI,” a track from TREASURE’s mini-album THE SECOND STEP: CHAPTER ONE, is an uplifting R&B song. It playfully personifies a love interest as a muse and how lyrics and melodies come to mind when looking at them. The humming of “DARARI,” which one makes even without realizing, delightfully fills up the chorus, and simple phrases like “Boom chicky boom” and “Sol-la-mi-fa-sol” create a soothing repetition. The song’s trap rhythm is beautifully complemented by bossa nova-style guitar, percussion, and marimba.
tripleS – Generation (2022)
tripleS is a 14-member girl group that debuted in 2022. Their debut song, “Generation,” was initially presented by the four-member unit Acid angel from Asia. Setting themselves apart from the traditional concept of “units” within a group, Acid angel from Asia strives to maintain a more distinct group identity. Through “Generation,” they shed light on the hazy boundaries between the online and real world that define today’s generation. They have a vibrant energy but are reluctant to smile and are more “acidic” than “sweet.” The catchy and soothing chorus lyrics of “La la-la la la-la la la-la” sets a new example of easy-listening K-pop.
SEVENTEEN – Domino (2022)
“Domino,” a track from SEVENTEEN’s 4th full album Face the Sun, mixes alternative house and pop genres to create a vibrant atmosphere. When paired with “Darl+ing” from the repackage album, it’s clear that SEVENTEEN excels in easy-listening tracks as well as performance pieces. Woozi, the group’s leader and producer who knows the members’ strengths well, along with producer Bumzu, participated in the overall production of the album, including this song, while Mingyu contributed as a co-lyricist. The members’ vocals flowing on top of the synthesizer sounds sing of fluttering hearts leaning towards their significant other like falling dominos.
VIVIZ – Overdrive (2023)
“Overdrive,” a track from VIVIZ’s mini-album VarioUS, is a city pop-style song inviting listeners to escape from the mundane city life for a drive. Although city pop was rare during their time as GFRIEND, as VIVIZ, they continue to explore various styles of music. As the bass guitar in the song mingles with the brass, listeners will feel like they’re cruising in a speeding car, with the wind blowing refreshingly through their hair.
Editor Seo Hayne: I like actors as they faithfully lead through their long running-time. I also like idols who accomplish everything on stage within 3 minutes.