“favOriTe” by LOOΠΔ | Now, an update, because two days ago LOOΠΔ – the girl group that took its sweet time to debut – finally dropped its first single as a twelve-member entity. (It isn’t their official debut yet. This is a pre-release: everything officially happens on 19 August.) It only took them eighteen months. (Longer, right?) I know I said twelve last year, when I wrote about their second pre-debut release: they introduced all members via a solo single, and in between there were three sub-unit releases. (The last one, surprisingly, puzzlingly even, had a feature from Grimes.) And now, I am pretty sure almost two years later, we have “favOriTe”, and while the sticky caps bother me, it’s actually a good song. But it’s weird calling this a debut considering how long we waited. I mean, the fandom (judging from the tweets I’ve seen) is so developed they already have theories and ships and all the stuff you tend to not like from fandoms. But hey, how do you hype up your group before they actually are ready to debut? And also – a question those watching Produce 48 would understand – why was there no place for Ko Yu-jin in the group? Did she come in too late or something? Or is she a leap member or something, the way there are leap years? I am overthinking this, too. She was a good trainee, and she was eliminated at 31st place last week. Considering they only kept 30 trainees for the next round… [NB]
When I first wrote about IV of Spades last year, I was already a bit behind on the curve. But then bigger things were just coming for them: the release of “Mundo” catapulted the four-piece to crossover success, their song acceptably playing in both indie kids’ Spotify playlists and masa radio stations. But then, even bigger things happened: vocalist Unique Salonga suddenly left the band – well, not suddenly, because there were weeks of arguable drama, which saw the band’s three remaining members continue to perform before an official departure was announced in the middle of the night – and suddenly, we have two entities, creating music separately. Today, both the new IV of Spades and Unique released new singles, and because we love ourselves traction, we’re pitting the two up against each other.
“두근두근 (DKDK)” by fromis_9 | This group is called fromis_9 – say it like “promise nine” but with an F – and they were the winners of Idol School, which is essentially a nicer Produce 101 which we didn’t watch because the subs were terrible. Yes, I know there are only eight members on this music video, because the ninth is now taking part (and facing some sort of existential crisis) in Produce 48. But I digress. This group is not a fluke. Not a fluke, guys. I wasn’t sure if we were ready for another girl group whose members were plucked from obscurity, but if I’m being honest, their songs are really quite good: pop songs with a good degree of pep and bounce, which get stuck in your head, which you don’t regret at all. “Glass Shoes” set the template and, two singles later, they managed to not overdo the concept. “To Heart” sounds majestic, while “DKDK” is just the right amount of whimsical (they overdo it with the cats though). Well, all right, maybe their concept will dry out the way Twice has, but this being a survival show product, I am not sure they’re supposed to last long, so I am enjoying what I have. (Update: Jordan on Twitter tells me they’re a permanent group.) What an uncle thing to say. [NB]
「桜の花びらたち」 (Filipino Version) by MNL48 | While we were embarking on a bit of a sidebar adventure, the girls of MNL48 have quietly released their first song. I say “quietly” because, to be honest, I was expecting a bit more hype around this group. I mean, they’re the Filipino version of the iconic Japanese group AKB48; that should be easy to sell, right? (Yeah, some stan will tell me I should be paying more attention.) After months of billboards and auditions, they finalized their line-up on It’s Showtime, and are now doing almost-daily web shows while they prepare to, I guess, be sent off to Japan to train, and finally return here to properly debut. Maybe they’d amp it up with a proper television show, but I am pushing thirty, and what do I know about what kids these days prefer, other than how the Internet has both democratized and fragmented everything? On the other hand, there’s Produce 48, the third season of the gigantic Korean survival series Produce 101, which will launch in an expectedly grand fashion tomorrow. (Here’s their “Pick Me”.) All right. I shouldn’t complain. What right do I have? MNL48 should be interesting in the coming weeks and months, although hopefully they can spread the appeal beyond Japanophiles and/or weeaboos. Here’s my first take, then, on their version of AKB48’s very first single: it sounds warped, because I have grown accustomed to Japanese female idols sounding so high-pitched. [NB]
“Ride Against the Wind” by the Magic Numbers | This is the first time in this blog’s six years that I’ve written about the Magic Numbers. This, despite this blog being designed to occasionally feature the songs I’ve always loved; this, despite how often I played “Undecided” or “Love Me Like You” when I was in college, and after it. And then I fell out, and that meant despite the band releasing a bunch of albums (and taking breaks in between) I was stuck with the British group’s first two albums, popular when the isles were swept in guitars. They’ve just released a new album, Outsiders, and it feels like being reacquainted with long lost friends. “Why is the chorus not as driving as the verses?” And then, “well, this feels very familiar.” It sounds mature, but it still sounds like the Magic Numbers I’ve known. (Romeo Stodart, ladies and gents.) And then I spot Ren Harvieu on the music video – she’s also been out of my radar for a while, mostly because that brilliant debut of hers never got a follow-up… [NB]