East Beat: Your Guide To Asia’s Best Pop Songs Feat. Red Velvet & Utada Hikaru
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.
Red Velvet, who had our best K-Pop song of Q1 with “Rookie,” just made their triumphant return with “Red Flavor.” The girls try for the title of K-Pop’s new Queens of Summer with the bouncy bop, which looks and sounds like a Starburst commercial in all the best ways possible.
If “Red Flavor” doesn’t snatch your wig, then the girls have a tonne of other great stuff on their new EP, Red Summer. “You Better Know” is the perfect slice of made-for-radio Euro-Pop, while “Zoo” is a little weirder with a tropical dance beat filled with a noises straight of a menagerie.
Songstress Park Boram had a couple of cute hits a few years ago, but the 23-year-old steps into adulthood on her experimental new single, “Why, You?” It starts off as mellow, jazzy pop, but throws a curveball on the chorus with a jittery electronic break.
For something a little less sophisticated, there’s Jessi’s “Gucci.” To be honest, I’m not sure if I’d qualify this song as good, but there’s something fun about watching a greasy hip-hop vixen serve up some trash-tastic rap at a time when K-Pop has become so cute and innocent.
While we’re on the subject of hip-hop, Block B rapper Zico returned with the kooky “Artist.” This is the kind of thing I’d like to see from G-Dragon, whose sound is never quite as interesting as his fashion. With killer style and the music to match, it’s no surprise that Zico is one of Korea’s biggest male artists at the moment.
Over in Japan, the elusive Utada Hikaru dropped a new single as part of an endorsement deal with a bottled water brand. The J-Pop legend stuck to ballads on her last album, but on “Oozora De Dakishimete” she unleashes her playful side again. Still, despite the sunny production, her voice still carries an emotional weight that makes everything she sings feel a little melancholy.
Wrapping things up are J-Pop quartet Tokyo Girls’ Style. The girls have blossomed into EDM divas recently, and their latest single, “Water Lily,” sees them singing over some Jack Ü-style beats à la Justin Bieber. Check it out below.