Weekly Playlist: Fresh picks and (more) catching up

It was a busy week for K-Pop, but it was also a really busy week for me! I wanted to write something during the week (about WINNER!), but things have been pretty hectic. T_T School just started but I'm still adjusting to my full plate for senior year and being back in school after the long break. My body clock is still in summer mode and I'm a bit overwhelmed with all the work! But all the new releases this week also gave me much-needed relaxation away from school stress, so I really made time to look through, listen to, them and whip up this playlist post. I also caught up on some relatively recent releases that I haven't had the chance to hear yet, like the recent B1A4 release!

WINNER - "Color Ring"
I'm working on a First Impressions piece on WINNER at the moment, so here I'll talk more about the song than what I think about WINNER's debut in general. Between their two singles, "Color Ring" is the one that stands out more, in my opinion. It fits into the more "laid-back cool" side of YG's sound, the verses are reminiscent of something for Big Bang and the chorus is a pleasant listen. All-in-all though I think "Color Ring" works better as a package, with the music video and possibly also the performance, than it does alone as a song. The first time I heard the song I was a bit underwhelemed because it didn't grab me -- but once I saw the video everything fell into place. This "package-centric" nature is very characteristic of YG's musical direction, so there's no surprise there. The production on "Color Ring" and "2014 S/S" as a whole sort of put me off though -- it's not that slick, polished YG standard and while I think they were trying to achieve a more "nonchalant," "raw" sound, they sacrificed quality. I have a lot more to say about WINNER so I'll try my best to get a piece on them out over the weekend, but I can't promise anything!

Secret - "I'm In Love"
I admit that I kind of lost interest in Secret -- their more recent singles before this comeback were more on the boring side, and they had already driven the "Madonna"/"Magic" sound to the ground. As a Secret release though I like "I'm In Love" -- it sounds a lot fresher, but it's also like a combination of what they've been doing in the past. There's that "retro" vibe with the brass section, there's the dance-y element, there's the girl group sexy vibe, and there's the gutsy hooks they're known for. It's about time they refresh their sound, and this was definitely a successful one! I'm not sure if I'd actively listen to this again after this week, but "I'm In Love" is definitely one of the Secret singles I'll remember.

Tasty - "Addiction" (Dance Break Version)
Like Secret, my interest in Tasty kind of waned recently -- I wasn't all over them when they debuted, but I was curious to see how their career and musical direction would unfold. (I also think the music video for "You Know Me" has great visuals!) "Addiction" was included in last year's "Spectacular" and while it was one of the better tracks it wasn't especially memorable. They've released two new versions though, one of which includes a new dance break. Apart from the dance break though there's nothing different with the arrangement or the vocals. "Addiction" itself is a nice "slow jam," but it also has character without being aggressive -- in a sense it gives off a stylish vibe, but it won't put you to sleep out of boredom. I actually listened to this quite a few times this past week! (While studying!)

SNSD - "Chain Reaction"
For some reason, SNSD keep showing up on my weekly playlists! "Chain Reaction" is a new Japanese track of theirs, still from the greatest hits package they released recently. It's very SNSD in the "powerful-sexy" Japanese material sense, but considering that it's next to songs like "Great Escape" or "Bad Girl" or "Animal," and maybe even "Flower Power," it sorts of falls flat. The melody is okay, but "Chain Reaction" is mostly just build-up and no really jaw-dropping explosions -- the choruses simmer, but they lead to a very monotonous chorus and an instrumental arrangement that gets drowned out and doesn't really go anywhere.

B1A4 - "Solo Day"
I genuinely enjoyed B1A4's earlier release this year (and a few of their older stuff like "Baby I'm Sorry"), so when Kay of Radio Palava, a blogger friend and Kpop Writers' Workshop "teammate" of mine, reminded me that they released "Solo Day," I listened to it right away! It's very much in line with the material they had earlier this year -- that "chill" sound that's surprisingly achieved by a lot of electronic elements, the slightly mischievous melodies executed by rich, "naughty"-sounding vocals. While the melody didn't grip me as much as most of "Who Am I," the song grew on me -- it's an interesting listen when you're concentrating on the song, and if it's just in the background it's not distracting but it's not bland either. There's enough cheesy "na na na"'s and a strong enough hook for me to remember it! "Solo Day" is something I'd listen to if I need to stay awake when I pull all-nighters, which I'll definitely be doing a lot of very soon.


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