East Beat: Your Guide To Asia’s Best Pop Songs Feat. HyunA & PIKOTARO
The world of pop music moves fast, especially for those who enjoy the sounds of the East and the West. Keeping up with the Hot 100 is hard enough, let alone knowing what’s going on in Japan and the blink-and-you’ll-miss-it K-Pop scene. To help you stay on top of Asia’s hottest pop music, I’ve put together East Beat — a handy guide to the best K-Pop and J-Pop (and beyond!) songs of the week.
This past week has been pretty slow for K-Pop, but we did get one major release in HyunA’s long-awaited comeback. The former 4minute diva, who is one of K-Pop’s biggest stars internationally, returned with the addictive “BABE.” Unlike her last few releases, which were much darker and dirtier, “BABE” is fun and flirty synth-pop with a little tropical flavor thrown in. It’s one of the best things she has ever done, and it’s also worth noting how great her new EP is too. As usual, HyunA is delivering pop music that is easily on par with America’s top pop girls.
Struggling club chanteuse Hwang In Sun, who shot to fame as the token oldie on the singing series Produce 101 last year, is back with a new track called “Rainbow.” Unlike her epic electro banger “Hwang Ya,” this one’s more on the soft and dreamy side of dance music. It’s nice, but it’s no “Hwang Ya.”
Kim Chungha has had one of the biggest hits of the Korean summer with her breezy debut single “Why Don’t You Know?” The rising star is now back as a guest feature on R&B singer Babylon’s new single, “LaLaLa.” Like most K-Pop songs right now, this one is tropical, summery, and could pass for an American radio hit if sung in English.
Happiness have been busy this year promoting as both their own group and as a part of the super-group E-Girls. Their new single, “Gold,” separates their sound from the wholesome peppiness of E-girls with sexy synths, tribal rhythms, and a steamy music video to match.
Perfume have long reigned as Japan’s most popular girl group globally, but their sound has started to wear a little thin in recent years. Every now and then they’ll do something a little different, like their latest single, “If U Wanna,” which sees the trio embrace jittery glitch-pop instead of their usual chirpy techno. Hopefully they’ll continue to experiment musically moving forward.
Japanese comedian PIKOTARO went viral last year with his 45-second novelty smash “PPAP (Pen-Pineapple-Apple-Pen).” His latest effort, “Love & Peace ONDO,” is bizarre, ridiculous, and kind of genius. It will be treated like a joke, but if you stripped PIKOTARO’s vocals off and told someone it was the experimental new single from Robyn or Daft Punk then people would probably be praising it. Check it out below.