Arts and Entertainment

April in Review: K-pop

Among numerous successful K-pop comebacks last April, these two albums stand out above the rest.

Reading Time: 3 minutes

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By Alexis Eber

Seventeen – 17 Is Right Here

Despite their name, Seventeen is a boy band composed of 13 members divided into three units: hip-hop, vocal, and performance. Since its debut in 2015, Seventeen has perfected its sound. On top of comprising talented performers, Seventeen self-produces its albums, and the originality of its music sets it apart from other artists. Co-produced by member Woozi, 17 Is Right Here (2024) is its most recent compilation album, focusing on themes of self-love and pride. It celebrates the extent of their discography and career from the past eight years by compiling all of their singles alongside four new tracks.

Throughout the years, Seventeen has distinctly changed its style as its members have developed their identities as artists. In 2015, the band debuted with the single “Adore U,” an innocent love song about a crush. Its more recent singles, “Super” and “Hot,” reflected a different, more mature side of the group. “Maestro,” the first track of its newest album, is impactful and complex. It opens with the playful sound of a piano followed by a masterful, emotional production that elicits a sense of confidence, matching the lyrics’ narrative of a “maestro” or conductor. The pre-chorus builds up to a simple drop chorus, repeating “La-la, la-la, la-la-la-la-la / Following the maestro’s lead,” before transitioning into a fast bridge. The members sing of a master who can grant any wish. One notable attribute of “Maestro” is that it’s a collection of songs in itself. Several elements from previous tracks are incorporated into the epitome of a Seventeen single. For instance, “Adore U”’s guitar and “Rock with You”’s synth are clearly and intentionally sampled.

“Lalali,” performed by hip-hop subunit members Wonwoo, Mingyu, Vernon, and S.Coups is the album’s second track—and one of its most memorable besides the first. In “Lalali,” the members passionately rap verses over an energetic and quirky beat. The lyrics reiterate “Maestro”’s confident nature, expressing self-acceptance against all odds. The rest of the album is a compilation of every Seventeen single and special Korean versions of its Japanese releases.

17 Is Right Here successfully encompasses Seventeen’s career as artists who take pride in their work, with each song showcasing the band’s impressive range.

Ive – Ive Switch

Ive is a six-member Korean pop girl group under Starship Entertainment that has swept over the K-pop scene since their viral debut single “ELEVEN” (2021). The band, composed of members Yujin, Gaeul, Rei, Wonyoung, Liz, and Leeseo, is the epitome of “girl crush,” a term used to describe girl groups with a fierce, cool image. Ive combines this trope with an aura of elegance in both their discography and performances. Ive Switch (2024), released in April, is its second extended play. It maintains its iconic pop groove while offering a fresh lyrical perspective.

Ive’s newest EP is addictive and sonically unique compared to a typical K-pop girl group release. The first track, “Heya (해야),” is melodious yet powerful, enhanced by Rei and Leeseo’s powerful and harmonizing vocals. Ive’s vocal prowess stands out, well-utilizing the member’s rapping ability at the start of the track. Despite its typical upbeat pop sound, “Heya (해야)” has layers in its production and lyrics. The rhythmic switch-up to a slower, quieter bridge before the final chorus is well-executed and effective. The title translates into “sun,” which repeats throughout the chorus, referencing the traditional Korean myth on the origin of the sun and moon. In the original myth, a tiger chases after a young girl, who becomes the sun to avoid capture. The lyrics further this narrative by putting Ive in the position of the intimidating tiger, eager to catch the sun. “Accendio,” the second lead single, is mystical and fast, accentuated by trap beats and a dreamy synth. This track also heavily utilizes rap over a darker, wistful production that matches the lyrics. The lyrics describe a piercing and merciless attitude towards an inept lover. Although the song is captivating, the pacing feels off at times and aimlessly progresses from verse to chorus in a choppy manner.

“Ice Queen” and “Reset” stand out as the most experimental tracks of the album. The fourth track, “Ice Queen,” starts bubbly and upbeat, with the lyrics narrating an isolated, feared queen who wants to know more about a potential lover. The chorus drops unexpectedly, transforming haunting and cold—a radical divergence from Ive’s signature bright sound. “Reset” is mellow and has an afrobeats sound. It features a rhythmic and groovy bass sound, making it one of the most unique songs in the band’s discography.

Ive Switch is primarily a solid dance-pop album, but it is successful because it perfectly mixes experimentation with Ive’s signature “girl crush” sound. The album is cohesive, energetic, and enjoyable to listen to, making it another top-tier addition to Ive’s discography.