Donghun took to his Instagram account back on November 30 and it was to give a shout out to a fellow Mixnine contestant. The one thing I have learned about the K-pop industry is that regardless of how fandoms want to believe there is animosities between groups and idols, current and former, the fact of the matter is, these kids often come up through the ranks together, coalesce and create lifelong bonds and friendships. I personally love it when my Korean music realms intertwine within themselves. Such is the case with Donghun’s IG Story promotion of Løgin’s upcoming digital release, Nanibami.
So yeah, I have kind of been on a hiatus of sorts I guess. Taking care of family medical situations, navigating the slow return to an upcoming ‘office centric work environment’ and of course, the ever-annoying (mental and spiritual) journey through what seems to be an endless pandemic. Also, been struggling to find my writing mojo. It happens. Amid and in spite of all of that, I have managed to vacation a bit in the after hours vortex of OnlyOneOf. Mind you, this is not an illicit place. No, not at all. It is more of a mature place for mature tastes. And while I can easily choose any one of the incredible tracks that has a corresponding MV from OnlyOneOf’s fantastic discography to share, promote, and essentially gush over, I am opting to go for one that is not even their own. But, that does not mean they don’t own it. Come check out the group’s erogenous cover of Oh My Girl’s Dolphin and have a taste of OnlyOneOf’s special flavor.
For someone who has never watched a single episode of any of the The Unit, Under Nineteen, or Produce 101 K-pop group survival programs, I certainly have a wealth of the shows’ alumni populating the Strictly Korean playlist. Late night Apple Music excavations are becoming a ritual fueled by findings such as this week’s Playlist Roulette pull, H&D’s Empty-Handed ~ yep, it’s a B-side from the duo’s first mini album, Soulmate. I think more people should be talking about these two. I’m ready to weigh in.
I have to be honest, I am rather enjoying the buried deep in the Strictly Korean playlist pulls these days. Older releases from groups that have not debuted yesterday seems to be somewhat of a perfect fit for an awkward K-pop fan like myself. I may be awkward, but I like to think I have pretty good taste, especially when it deviates from the mainstream. This week, the Playlist Roulette pull decided on Snuper’s upbeat R&B groove, You In My Eyes, the title track from their October 2018 EP release, You In My Eyes (Snuper Special Edition).
If you like Korean R&B as much as I do then it stands to reason you should (and maybe you already do) have Ravi and his gang over at Groovl1n on your radar. I know I am preaching to the Vixx choir, but for a newb like me who stumbled upon Ravi’s Groovl1n label by way of Xydo, I honestly was not too familiar with Ravi the artist. Of course, once Xydo landed in my realm it was only a matter of time Ravi and other Groovl1n family members found their way onto the Strictly Korean playlist and shuffled out a track to be spotlighted. I love that the Playlist Roulette pull this week is Bandi & Luni’s from Groovl1n trio, Ravi, Cold Bay and Xydo because it weds two of my favorite things: Korean R&B and books. Stay with me, I will explain.
There are some days when I really consider hanging up my fangirl hat and becoming a food blogger or something completely removed from anything K-pop. But then when Sunday night rolls around I begin to feel an excited anticipation of what the Strictly Korean playlist will shuffle out and challenge me with in the new week. It is then that I realize I am not quite ready to quit K-pop, especially when it navigates me to a group, a song (or both) that I am unfamiliar with but ready to meet. Such is the case with this week’s pull, Golden Child’s EDM-infused Without You.
Journeys. Some feel that life in and of itself is one and sure, I can get on board with that. But break it down even further. Within this all-encompassing journey are probably some sub-journeys like education, career, love, and perhaps a more important one, the inner journey we take in discovering who we are and what our place is in the world. To me, all comprise the long flight we call life. This is what crossed my mind when musing on this week’s Playlist Roulette pull, NCT leader Taeyong’s digital single, Long Flight.
I am going to need a moment. Maybe even several. I do not believe in coincidences; therefore, I am not going to say that it is coincidental that over the past week I have been musing over the fact that in addition to exploring newer groups as of late, many of those newer groups have been in fact older generation groups/artists that were new to me. Examples would include SHINee, Highlight (Beast), and B.A.P, to name a few. However, one of the older gen groups that has been a mainstay and significant part of my own personal K-pop journey has been MBLAQ. So as I mused, MBLAQ also crossed my mind and in true serendipitous fashion, Boom . . . the Strictly Korean playlist shuffled out as this week’s Playlist Roulette offering which is perhaps one of MBLAQ’s most iconic songs ever, Cry. I am somewhat overwhelmed and equally thrilled.
I love it when the Strictly Korean playlist pushes a newer group to the forefront to get some exposure. OnlyOneOf arrived on the K-pop scene in May 2019 and are probably at the point now of shedding their rookie skin, finding their color and sound, and of course gaining momentum. The B-side track PicassO from their debut album, dot point jump, really jumped out at me and hit me point blank in the core of my R&B heart.
Well it seems like the Strictly Korean playlist has its algorithmic mind set on solo artists for the time being shuffling out a B-side from singer Wheesung’s fifth studio album, eternal essence of music. 안녕히 계시죠 is a rhythmic, soulful groove that reminds me of those R&B ballads of the 60’s, and is a nice and gentle way to ease into a new week.