K-pop definitely had us dancing in September! Before gearing up for the last quarter of the year, let’s take a look at some of Team EnVi’s favorite K-pop releases from the past month.
Jackson Wang’s Blue Without You
Jackson Wang’s anticipated sophomore album, Magic Man, was released last September 9, and “Blue” was the single that dropped on release day. The smooth ballad is a far cry from his smashing, rock-influenced pre-release singles “Blow” and “Cruel.” However, it’s a side of the artist worth exploring regardless.
“Blue” is a deep dive—literally due to Wang’s submergence in water in the music video—into vulnerability. This is seen in his emotive vocals and longing lyrics (When the water runs dry / I know that I can always come find you / You’re the only one who picks me up / Whеn I’m so blue / And you feel it, too). While the song was officially released this month, the solo artist debuted this emotional single during his K-pop Masterz set in Manila back in July.
Aside from “Blue,” casual listeners and fans alike can see various sides to Jackson Wang—from the all-consuming and yearning to the dark and carefree through Magic Man.
Feel the Rush (Hour) with Crush and j-hope
After nearly two years of mandatory social service, Crush is back with his first single since enlistment, “Rush Hour.” The ‘90s-themed jam is a collaboration between BTS’ rapper and dancer j-hope, where the duo dances with a crowd in a made-up city. “Rush Hour” is a cool and groovy song with heavy influences from old-school R&B and hip-hop.
With lyrics penned by Crush and j-hope themselves, it’s clear that they’re unashamed of oozing confidence and finesse. The duo name-drop various locations in Seoul such as celebrity-dominated neighborhood UN Village and renowned party district Itaewon. Crush and j-hope urge listeners to celebrate and cruise on a “red carpet feel.” Fans can’t seem to help but gather and follow the duo around like a massive traffic jam. All in all, “Rush Hour” makes one thing clear: Crush is back, and it’s Crush Hour for all.
BLACKPINK Shut It Down
BLACKPINK are back, or as JENNIE starts off their latest single, she, JISOO, ROSÉ, and LISA never actually left. Regardless, it’s safe to say that BLINKs have felt their absence, which makes this comeback worth the two-year wait. “Shut Down” is one of two singles from BLACKPINK’s second full album Born Pink. The scathing and unapologetic anthem samples Niccolo Paganini’s “La Campanella,” a famous piece of classical music. To make the song BLACKPINK’s own, classic YG hip-hop beats and elements are fused into the sample played ad infinitum. The result? A dark and powerful song that brings the classic and the modern together.
The music video of “Shut Down” pays homage to past BLACKPINK comebacks. It has easter eggs that reference music videos of “WHISTLE,” “DDU-DU DDU-DU,” and “Kill This Love,” among others. Further, as “Shut Down” is part of a larger body of work, the side tracks of Born Pink are also worth mentioning. “Yeah Yeah Yeah” has songwriting credits from vocalists JISOO and ROSÉ, while “Hard to Love” is a surprise solo song from the latter. Prior to the release of Born Pink, BLINKs had been able to hear “Pink Venom” and “Ready for Love” as well.
NCT 127 Drive Fans Crazy
Closing off Team EnVi’s favorite September releases is NCT 127’s much-awaited comeback after more than a year. Taeil, Johnny, Taeyong, Yuta, Doyoung, Jaehyun, Jungwoo, Mark, and Haechan are at full speed for their fourth full album. This is most evident in their lead single “2 Baddies.” As a fast and furious hip-hop dance song, “2 Baddies” drives fans to the edge of their seats. And this is meant half-literally, if the car-like whirring and zooming sounds are anything to go by. The single’s music video is equally neo and neon, giving NCTzens a fully immersive experience, from visuals to sounds.
“2 Baddies” is both the lead single and album’s name, so it’s only right to talk about the B-sides that are also representative of NCT 127’s versatile sound. R&B and hip-hop influences are scattered throughout the album, spanning from the enchanting “Gold Dust” to the lethal “Tasty.” Rappers Taeyong and Mark also have credits for side tracks “Time Lapse” and “Designer.” 2 Baddies the album has a fair share of familiar faces such as Kenzie and Dem Jointz working as producers. However, the involvement of occasional collaborators such as Swedish artists and producers Cazzi Opeia and Andreas Öberg, alongside Miley Cyrus’ “Wrecking Ball” songwriter Mozella, among others is a breath of fresh air for NCT 127’s growing discography.