An Album a Day is my exploration into the Korean music scene. This podcast will cover mainstream, indie and some underground artists within the scene and provide both factual and opinionated commentary. The biggest benefit to sharing my thoughts this way is that it will hopefully expose you to more great music and exploration of your own.
Welcome back to the second Rookie Roundup for 2020 Korean idol groups. Today, we’re checking out the second subunit of an established boy band, BtoB 4U, redefined girl group Cignature; and boy groups Cravity, DKB, and Drippin, right after the drop.
You’re tuned into An Album a Day. Show start.
Hey y’all, the first group, BtoB 4U, comes from a boy band that’s almost ten years old. BtoB, a group we’ll be exploring soon enough since they begin with the letter B, has two subunits and this one made its debut on November 16, 2020. The “hyung line group,” also known as the four oldest members of BtoB, released an enjoyable EP called “Inside,” on their debut date. So the “4” in the subunit’s name is both for the amount of members as well as the intention of being for their fans. I never actively listen to BtoB songs despite their longevity, so if this subunit is any reflection of what can be expected from them, then I’m looking forward to their discography. The melodies are pleasing and the album is organized in a nice fashion. This is a true reflection of knowing what works within the K-pop world.
Coming up on their first anniversary, girl group Cignature made their debut on February 4, 2020, on C9 Entertainment sub-label J9 Entertainment. The seven-member group is new but five of the members were once members of Good Day, which was active from 2017 until 2019. Their sound reminds me of JYP Entertainment groups Twice and ITZY, but at their earlier stages. Lots of playful production choices and whimsy with very unified vocals. If you appeal to youthful sounds, they’re a fun consideration. And Cignature gained lots of positive attention last year. My introduction to them was by way of their three Mnet Asian Music Award nominations, so perhaps they’ll be around for a while?
Debuting from Starship Entertainment on April 14, 2020, nine-member boy group Cravity came to win, at least that’s what I heard. They have a sizable fanbase already! They popped up on a YouTube video shuffle months ago with their song “Break all the Rules,” and many of their fans have asked if I’ve checked them out yet. Hopefully, by the time we reach the C-named groups they’ll have a larger body of work to explore but I can say that they are able to surely compete with other fourth generation boy bands. They’ve not carved out their unique sound yet, not from what I gathered from their first two albums of their debut year, but they are playing the musical field and giving various styles a try. It’s the way of many groups before them and many thereafter. Their sound is catchy and there’s room for much to anticipate.
DKB -- let me just check and see what this stands for… Darkbe. For what? For what, Brave Brothers? The first group to debut on Brave Entertainment in the past seven years, the letters stand for “Dark Brown Eyes,” which I can only hope ties in with a Korean proverb I don’t know of yet because it was reported in TenAsia that, “those who have it will reach out to the world.” I asked y’all last episode to run me over but now I’m asking that you pick me up off the gravel and just toss me from a cliff. I just said I was going to accept these names as they are but I can’t! My eyes are dark brown, am I reaching oh… I guess an English-language podcast about Korean popular music developed and hosted by an African American female host is reaching out. Oh my.
Well, now that things have gotten a little meta out of nowhere, DKB has a loud sound. Brave Entertainment had the nine-member group release three EPs between February and October 2020 and the production is loud. Not disruptive, but in-your-face, which is Brave Brothers’ style anyway. If you have had the opportunity to experience the popular outdoor malls and shopping spaces of large Korean cities, then you’re aware that many shops blast music into the streets, hoping to attract a youthful audience. All of DKB’s albums should be blasting outside of a clothing store in college town Hongdae or along Haeundae in Busan. There’s an aesthetic to their sound that comes from Brave Brothers’ aesthetic and that honestly guarantees at least a couple of years on the scene.
And last but not least are the Woollim rookies, DRIPPIN. Woollim Entertainment’s new seven-member boy band made their debut on October 28, 2020, and reminded me immediately of senior boy band INFINITE. It’s the same label after all, and INFINITE are a force to reckon with, so if the formula isn’t broken it doesn’t have to be fixed. DRIPPIN’s debut mini-album, “Boyager” is a smooth ride. And the album’s name is particularly clever, as the English alphabet letter ‘V’ doesn’t exist in the Korean language so “voyager” would have been pronounced with a b-sound anyway. Boys on a voyage into the music industry. Nice! Though the album is only 18 minutes in length it feels like it ends too fast. These young men are in good hands, especially since Woollim is technically under the mighty SM Entertainment umbrella. Time will only tell if DRIPPIN has a long stand but of today’s groups, this album was most pleasing for me.
There you have it, a very general introduction to a few of the new kids on the scene. None are added to the respective playlists, keeping in fairness with providing them time to gain albums under their belts. Check-in tomorrow for more Rookie Roundup! I’ll catch you in the next episode, bye y’all.
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