The five firecrackers of MCND just wrapped up their first European tour and are getting prepared for part two: North and South America. Yes, finally, they are getting the opportunity to tour and perform live. I am so very excited for them! European Gem (fandom) got a special treat when the group performed their latest, Juice, BEFORE it was even released. The guys wrapped up their European tour in Toulon, France on April 17, and the song was released that very same day. With signature high octane and boisterous energy, MCND invites us to experience the power, influence, authority and desirability of their special brand of Juice.
As I sit and contemplate the reality of 2/5 of A.C.E heading off to the military this month (Wow went in on the 10th, and Donghun will go on the 23rd), I also find myself perplexed over how this talented lot is not more of a global sensation. Then I pause and realize that I must be part of an extremely exclusive club of impeccable taste and sensibility. Ha! I know there are many of you out there who feel similarly about your respective groups that fall on the lesser known and under appreciated spectrum. And it is perfectly okay. In fact, I don’t know about you, but I rather love being part of a small fandom. I feel as if I am in on a secret. And being a Choice, well that just feels like family. Especially when the guys repeatedly include songs that uplift and comfort. A.C.E has found this incredible balance in their title tracks over years: sometimes explosive, sometimes refreshing and light. In the title track, Changer, from their latest repackaged release, Changer : Dear Eris, we get refreshing, light AND comforting which is EXACTLY what we need as we send Wow and Donghun off to the military.
After what seems to have been an eternity (because basically, it was), Winner’s leader Kang Seung Yoon released his first full solo album, Page and with it the nostalgic and heartfelt title track, IYAH. I am reeling in the wonder of it all. Thrilled, proud and excited, I am also incredibly moved by the thoughtful and honest way in which Yoon sings about his journey as an artist not only through the title track, but with every song (all written by him) on this long-awaited opus. Both his solo release and my thoughts about it are long overdue.
The beauty of being part of Pentagon’s Universe is knowing that nothing (and I mean, NOTHING) gets in the way of them releasing consistently good music, especially in the wake of hiatuses. In fact, I am not sure Pentagon even allows the word hiatus into their vocabulary. I suppose therein lies the beauty of a group with many members as, even when one or two are away, the music keeps coming. And let me point out that neither quantity, and more importantly, quality, are ever sacrificed in the wake of it. On March 15th, Pentagon dropped their 11th (yes…11th) mini album, Love or Take, with the effervescent and cheeky title track, Do or Not. And let me tell you, effervescent and cheeky is exactly what I need right now.
Ugh. The last thing I wanted to happen was to find myself falling into smitten kitten land over yet another artist, but sometimes these situations are unavoidable. It seems someone made a lasting impression on me and it took me all of about a minute to discover that Golden Child main vocalist Hong Joochan had some solo work floating in the K-pop ether waiting for me to collide head and heart into. Fresh from my GolCha Playlist Roulette rant over Without You, I’m back to take an introspective trip with Joochan via his solo digital single, A Song For Me.
On November 15, 2020, SHINee’s tall, lean Marine machine, Minho, was discharged from the military. He was the third member of the group to complete his mandatory service that year; so, in my simple mind that equated to one very important thing: a potential SHINee comeback. Admittedly, as a baby Shawol, this is what I have been eagerly anticipating. The only question, when would it happen? Well, with Minho just barely out of requisite camouflage, the group pulled it off in a matter of three months. And not only that, they managed to release a full album, their seventh. On February 22nd, Don⁷t Call Me dropped with the explosive title track of the same name. Were any of us really ready?
Ok, this has to be one of the greatest bait and switch moments recorded in K-pop history. For the K-pop stans out there, can you name any group that fulfills their contractual duty, decides against re-signing with the agency that debuted them, leaves said agency retaining their name, trademarks and the like, begins pursuing individual career opportunities, even signing individual contracts with various agencies; BUT THEN in a month’s time, releases a single complete with MV? If you answered GOT7, you win! The prize? A beautifully Jinyoung-penned declaration to Ahgase worldwide that the next chapter is indeed the group’s Encore. That is, that they are not (nor will they be) leaving the stage, or each other.
Letting Victon marinate in all of their underrated talent and finesse was bound to result in an explosive comeback worth waiting for. Releasing their first full length album, Voice: The future is now a mere eleven days into the new year was, in my opinion, strategic and smart. Even though their adoring Alice (the fandom) were expecting a comeback this past December, I think it far better they ushered in a fresh new year with fresh new music, and lots of it. And forget about starting slow and easy. Nope, not with Victon. The title track, What I Said, is a powder keg of sound complete with silky vocals, rapid fire rap (is Hanse even human?), and a whole lot of swag.
With so much new music coming out at once, I admit that I have been unable to keep up. In anticipation of GOT7’s November 30th album release, Breath of Love: Last Piece, the group whet appetites with a pre-release track, Breath, on November 23rd. It was then that it truly sunk in how long they had been away, and how much I have missed them. On November 30th, along with the album release, they dropped a second title track, Last Piece, and with that, were officially back. Yes, they have been away, but I easily place this comeback in the worth the wait column.
Woah…woah…woah…WOAH! The new music just keeps coming. This time from EXO’s Kai. This is uncharted territory for me and let me be clear, this is more about Kai the soloist than it is about Kai the member of EXO. You may ask: how can she possibly separate one from the other? Yes, well I have to be 175% honest here. I have kept my distance from EXO for the most part because their fandom terrifies me. However, since warming to Kim Jongin’s best friend, Taemin, and exploring the wild and wonderful world of SuperM, I find myself slowly becoming familiar and more importantly, intrigued by the artist, Kai. As November 2020 came to an end, it was served up with the release of Kai’s first solo album, KAI (开), and with it, a new season began. The title track and introduction to this new release, Mmmh, is a pretty convincing invitation to experience not only the season of Kai but the reason why it is finally his time.