East Beat: Your Guide To Asia’s Best Pop Songs Feat. ASTRO & Girls’ Generation’s Hyoyeon
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 songs of the week.
We’ve seen a lot of big names in K-pop return over the past month, but this week it’s the smaller stars delivering the bops. Rookie girl group APRIL underwent a quirky makeover for their single “Mayday.” There’s creepy vocals, malfunctioning synths and strange sound-effects in the verses, before the song explodes into a frenetic chorus. For something a little more conventional, B-side “Yes Sir” is a shimmering ’80s disco anthem with a cute euro-pop hook.
While we’re on the subject of the ’80s, ASTRO’s “Baby” is a brilliant throwback to the decade. There’s a few other gems on their new EP, including “Dreams Come True,” which is a mix of melodic ’90s house and wonderfully cheesy euro-pop.
Newcomers ELRIS debuted this week with a great album, We, First. The title track is typical bubbly Korean synth-pop, but I can’t get enough of this stuff so it’s a win for me. If you’re after something a little spicier, B-side “Miracle” takes that sound and throws some danceable funk on top. The latter is fantastic and probably should’ve been the official single.
24K are one of the lower-tier boy bands that I admittedly don’t pay much attention to, but their latest single “Only You” is a synthesized future-bass bop that’s hard to look past. I’m always happy to see Korean boy bands that avoid the standard hip-hop tracks for more sophisticated fare, so I’ll be keeping a closer eye on 24K in the future.
Female songstress Suran has been blowing up lately after riding PBR&B and future bass trends to the top of the charts. Her debut EP, Walkin’, is filled with the stuff; that is, except for the lead single “1+1=0.” The Dean-assisted duet is primarily built around a groovy guitar riff, allowing the vocals to really take center stage and shine.
Also doing her solo thing this week is Girls’ Generation’s rapper Hyoyeon. The 27-year-old made her solo debut last year with the messy “Mystery,” but her latest effort, “Wannabe,” is a HUGE improvement. The verses set the badass blonde up as an edgy hip-hop diva, but the catchy chorus brilliantly switches into retro ’60s pop. The surfy guitars on the outro are the cherry on top.
Wrapping up this week’s East Beat is Japan’s Sayonara Ponytail. I don’t know a lot about them, except that they started off as an animated “living manga” group. I guess like that Bratz ‘band,’ only Japanese? Anyway, they’re human beings now, as you can see in the music video for their breezy new single “After School Teleport.” It’s a perfect little slice of mellow indie-pop, but the fun is in the 360 music video, which is supposed to create the illusion of hanging out with the girls at school. I particularly enjoyed the flash mob in the science lab. Check out the East Beat playlist below.