What’s New in K-Pop: An Overview of 2023 Releases
March 21, 2023
2023 has been an eventful year for the Korean pop music industry: young girl groups strive to break streaming records, world stars pause group activities as they begin their mandatory military enlistment, and a corporate battle for control of a major entertainment company have all been gracing headlines beyond just their home country of South Korea. The fourth generation of K-pop is becoming the era of changemaking as these newer groups push the concept of K-pop beyond expected genres while honing their own personal sound. Roughly a quarter into the year, will we ever escape the curse of capitalizing artist name and song title? I’ll put up with it if we keep getting great releases like these. Without further ado, here are some of my favorite K-pop songs of 2023 so far:
An overwhelming success, OMG has continued on the NewJeans legacy of nostalgic sounds with new flavors. This song highlights each member’s vocal prowess, and it might get stuck in your head if you listen. It doesn’t hurt that it has a fun viral dance.
This pair represents two of the biggest boy bands in the world: Big Bang and BTS. Their star power brings energy to Taeyang’s first release since 2018, and Jimin’s verse is a great addition to the song.
The fourth generation group nicknamed TXT constantly releases b-side hits, and Tinnitus is no exception. Incorporating significant Afrobeat influences in both the vocals and instrumentals has introduced yet another genre into the K-pop industry.
The subunit trio BooSeokSoon from third generation veterans Seventeen comes back with another fun dance hit. It has a whimsical, motivating feeling supplemented by Youngji’s chill yet pulsing rap verse.
While this artist’s more recent collaboration with RM of BTS has taken the spotlight, the title track off of So!YoON!’s new album deserves just as much acclaim. With a smokey ambiance and wispy vocals, Bad sets up a new brooding era for the SE SO NEON lead singer who teeters along the edge of pop, rock, and indie.
J-hope has been vocal about his musical influences over the years, and J. Cole has consistently been on the list of inspiring figures for the BTS rapper. While this song isn’t making inventive waves, you can see just how far someone has come when their dream collaboration actually comes to life.
In their latest comeback, Twice seems to be refining their new mature sound. This latest track uses retro melodies perfectly suited to the silky smooth harmonies and raspy tones that make this group constant hitmakers.
Based on the song “Mr. Rover” by Dara, the EXO singer has made a name for himself as a solo artist over the years. However, this catchy reggaeton-inspired track is easily my favorite. Good luck getting it out of your head once you hear it.