K-pop’s Month in Review: January 2018


Rise of the Rookies: January witnessed a number of young rookies coming into their own, with several impressive debuts, first comebacks, and predebut releases.

TRCNG found their concept with the cheekily dark “Wolf Baby.”

Predebut group Stray Kids struck gold with “Mixtape,” the studio release of songs they performed on their reality show.

MXM hit their stride with the lively “Diamond Girl.”

Chungha advanced her dance sound with “Roller Coaster.”

The East Light put a mature spin on their youthful sound with “Real Man.”

fromis_9 made a bright and promising debut with “To Heart.”

Golden Child stuck with their upbeat concept in “It’s U.”

LOONA’s newly revealed member Gowon put out her predebut solo “One & Only.”

First Comebacks After Members’ Departures: Even without members who played important roles in these groups’ music, all three made strong comebacks in January.

Last year, Hoya decided to leave INFINITE, but the group returned with “Tell Me” this month.

Oh My Girl announced that JinE’s long hiatus would be a permanent departure shortly before their most successful comeback yet with “Secret Garden,” which soared on the charts and finally put the girl group deservedly on the map.

Golden Child recently faced the departure of Jaeseok, but made a solid first comeback with “It’s U.”

Surprise, YG Still Exists! After several months of inactivity by groups under YG Entertainment, iKON finally made a long-awaited comeback with “Love Scenario,” giving YG stans a breath of hope for 2018.

Girl Power: This month was pretty much made by some of the most powerful women in the industry.

Sunmi made a triumphant comeback with “Heroine.”

Suzy stunned with “Holiday (feat. DPR Live).”

Red Velvet topped charts with “Bad Boy.”

Poetry and Art: SM Entertainment released the late Jonghyun’s album, “Poet | Artist,” a vibrant testament to the singer and composer’s boundless talents.



I don’t usually cover Japanese comebacks, but do give a listen to TWICE’s “Candy Pop,” which I prefer to most of their recent Korean releases.

VAV’s “Spotlight,” one of the little-known boy group’s best songs yet, is definitely worth checking out.

Make sure to show some love to “Neverland,” the debut of Korea’s first openly gay idol, soloist Holland.

And if you still haven’t heard “Holiday” by Suzy, then for goodness’ sake, please go listen to it right now.



Stray Kids, “Grrr”

Sunmi, “Heroine”

Junho, “Winter Sleep”

Jonghyun, “Shinin’”

★ Suzy, “Holiday (feat. DPR Live)” (KAYBOP FAVORITE)

Red Velvet, “Bad Boy”



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