East Beat: Your Guide To Asia’s Best Pop Songs Feat. B.A.P, EXO, & Ai Shinozaki
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 of the best K-Pop and J-Pop (and beyond!) songs of the week.
The past week in K-pop was really dominated by two major boy band comebacks: EXO and B.A.P. The pair have history dating back to 2012, when they both made their respective debuts and were pitted against each other in one of K-Pop’s most memorable fandom wars. EXO ultimately won the battle if we’re going by commercial success, but as far as their new albums go, I’d say B.A.P have them beat this time around.
With it’s folky, Avicii-esque EDM sound, B.A.P’s new tune “Honeymoon” isn’t far off something you’d hear on American top forty radio today. It’s admittedly miles away from the edgier, darker stuff B.A.P’s known for, but it’s mainstream done right and feels like a fresh new direction for the group.
On the other hand, EXO have taken a step back with the childish “Power.” It lacks the innovation of most SM Entertainment releases, and is even more disappointing coming directly after a song as unique as the reggae electro-pop of “Ko Ko Bop.” However, EXO have seriously delivered with their new B-sides, namely the slow-grinding ballad “Sweet Lies.”
But the best boy band release of the week goes to rookies PENTAGON, who came back with their first great song, “Like This.” The sweeping synth-pop ballad has a BTS feel and was written and produced by PENTAGON’s own Hui.
Dream Ami, of E-Girls fame, has carved out a solid solo career for herself as a sugary Kana Nishino knock-off. Her latest single, “XOXO,” is a little less sweet than her usual output, and could almost pass as soulful R&B if sung by someone less treacly than Ami. Instead, with Ami’s distinctly girlish voice over the mid-tempo production, there’s a loveliness to the melancholy that really works.
Ai Shinozaki is a big breasted Japanese glamor model with a burgeoning music career. She started out doing typical J-Pop and idol rock, but her new single “Floatin’ Like The Moon” embraces a contemporary Western sound in tropical-house. Shinozaki’s take on the sound is dreamy and spacious, unlike the more radio-friendly trop-pop currently pouring out of Korea. Take a listen below.