2019 was another year filled with amazing K-Pop releases. Out of the countless new music albums that came our way this year, here are the favorites that the allkpop staff loved the most!
sl278's pick: GWSN - 'The Park In The Night'
Not to mention that their title track "Red Sun" is amazingly produced and an incredible banger, the entire album in itself keeps up to the standard of the title track. The tropical sounding synths and subtle nuances in the overall production truly make the album musically stand out compared to many albums that seem to lack a cohesive sound. This album managed to sound cohesive but also presented new sounds and perspectives of the group's artistry as a whole.
germainej's Pick: Seventeen - 'You Made My Dawn'
Seventeen's sixth mini-album 'You Made My Dawn' is like fresh R&B infused with K-pop. "Home" was one of my favorite songs of 2019, and the rest of the album lived up to what I expected. If K-pop this year was a chili cook-off, I feel like Seventeen added something different to their "chilli sauce" without changing the original recipe so much that it's unrecognizable.
Hannah's Pick: Zico - 'Thinking'
Zico showed a different aspect to himself in this album. In contrast with his more well-known, punchy hip hop style, Zico opted for some softer ballad tracks. What really stood out to me in this album was (not surprisingly) Zico’s powerful lyrics, especially in “Human” and “Balloon.” Zico shows off his more vulnerable side with emotional verses:
I keep lowering my head these days
When did I last look up to the sky?
The blurred world is filled with dust
Because people like me struggled, yeah
We always say, later, for the later
Without my skipped birthdays I’m still in my teens
As I grow old, I'm afraid of imagination
A slide starts to look like a hill
Coupled with his equally as impactful music videos, the songs in “Thinking” carried true meaning. It is albums like Zico’s newest album that make me hopeful for the future of K-Pop.
Eric's Pick: BVNDIT - 'Be!'
Coinciding with their release of the single "Dumb," this is mostly a compilation of their other singles plus a couple of new tracks. But it puts them all in one place, like the exotic "Dramatic," the low-key dance tune "Hocus Pocus," and the slow and easy "My Error." Does it have a concept? No, but it does feature some of the best vocals I've heard from a girl group.
Julie's Pick: Seventeen - 'You Made My Dawn'
As a continuation of their previous EP, 'You Made My Dawn' shares a warmer version of their prequel. Carats may know Seventeen as a group with bright cute concepts like "Adore U" or "Mansae" but this album really brings in different genres of contemporary, EDM, and pop culture. However, despite the slight differences in their music, this album is full of strong catchy songs with beautiful melodies and easy to follow along choruses. Whether it be for a study date or a road trip, this album packs a lot of songs that fans can bop to with friends or alone!
Beans's Pick: Rhythm Power - 'Project A'
This album came at me at just the right time when I was looking for a bit more laid-back, easy-listening music. In the first half of the year, I don't know if it was just me, but the Korean hip-hop scene seemed stuck in a bit of a stalemate or something. And then Rhythm Power up and decided to drop 'Project A'! I appreciated this album because it wasn't flashy, it had simple elements of a classic Korean hip-hop album with good, articulate rapping and lyrics that the Rhythm Power members wrote about their own feelings and experiences, nothing extravagant and show-off-y. Plus it fit my go-to meter for what defines a really good album: the title song is my 'least favorite' on the album. My fave, is a tie between "Reservist" and "BB Hill", because "BB Hill" is more quiet and soothing and "Reservist" is loud and fun (especially when YDG comes in).
Jenny's Pick: SF9 - 'RPM'
SF9 is an incredibly underrated group, which saddens me a little because they deserve the world. 'RPM', their latest mini-album, is packed with amazing songs like "Round and Round" (a fan favorite), "Echo", and "Liar". 'RPM' really shows that SF9 can do it all, starting from the EDM-y dance title song "RPM" to the vocal-heavy "Liar" and Zuho-composed "Echo". SF9 has really grown as a group since they debuted 3 years ago, and it's time they're recognized for it.
Julia's Pick: Kim Chung Ha - 'Flourishing'
I can listen to all the songs on this album every day. "Chica" never fails to motivate me!
Lorraine's Pick: TXT - 'The Dream Chapter: Star'
TXT had huge shoes to fill as the newest group debuting from Big Hit Entertainment, but their unique album release this year quickly took many by surprise. Debuting under Big Hit is a blessing and a curse, as many feel that in order for TXT to be successful, they must distinctly separate themselves from their predecessors, BTS. The rookies of TXT rose to the challenge with a debut stage that established their distinction and their subsequent album debut release was phenomenal. 'The Dream Chapter: Star' has created a niche for the group within the industry and I am highly anticipating their next follow up in 2020!
Hiju's Pick: LOONA '[XX]'
Almost after two years of pre-debut/debut promotions, LOONA finally released their long-awaited studio album in 2019. It seems that the wait was worth it because this fully packed album contains twelve tracks that fans and regular listeners can enjoy all around. And with the title song and MV for “Butterfly” promoting self-empowerment and multicultural female solidarity, it would almost be a sin for the album not to go global. The B-side tracks also suggest thought-provoking themes of curiosity, sensitivity, passion, and dreams that showcase a dreamy array of genres, from house and bubble gum pop to R&B and trap.
Dani's Pick: AB6IX - '6IXENSE'
It was difficult to choose between AB6IX's debut mini-album 'B:COMPLETE' and their comeback album '6IXENSE,' but while 'B:COMPLETE' introduced us to AB6IX now that they were ready to debut together, '6IXENSE' showed us various genres and, ultimately, the range of their potential as both artists and songwriters. One of my favorite things about AB6IX is how the members participate in every aspect of the creation of their music, which makes each track on their full-length '6IXENSE' album feel that much more special.
Paul's Pick: PALOALTO - 'Love, Money, & Dreams'
From dope beats to thought-provoking lyrics, this album is real Hip Hop. If you never heard of PALOALTO, just take a listen to this album and you'll quickly become a fan.
KG's Pick: EPIK HIGH - 'Sleepless in _________'
After a couple of albums released under YG Entertainment, the trio go back to their independent label roots with 'Sleepless in _______'. From the dope beats to Tablo and Mithra Jin's complex lyrics, this album gives me the same vibes from when I first heard them in 2003 with 'Map of the Human Soul'. The only issue I had is that the album is too short at 21 minutes with only 7 tracks. At first listen, I said, "It's over already?" Hopefully, Epik High comes out with more music to bless our ears within the near future.