Updated: Jul 15, 2019
Hey guys! I'll be starting a new series where I recommend between five songs from a variety of genres each month. In addition to being unable to stop listening to these songs, I might also recommend them for the quality of their accompanying music videos. Especially in K-pop, the the artistic cinematography and detailed choreography are just as worthy of appreciation as the music itself.
This month is quite BTS heavy as they're preparing to release their mobile game BTS World, and have released many tracks that will make up the soundtrack for the game. As an unexpected treat, all of the tracks they have released so far are collaborations with popular Western artists such as Charli XCX, Zara Larsson, and Juice WRLD. These collaborations come not long after their record-breaking title track "Boy With Luv" with Halsey, and I can't wait to see who they collaborate with next! Each collaboration had its own unique genre and style, and the seven members of BTS were split among the three tracks so that each person's voice would complement that of the Western artist and the instrumentals perfectly. Overall, the song recommendations for this month are both quirky and chill, perfect for the start of a fun and relaxing summer.
The Chainsmokers, Bebe Rexha - "Call You Mine"
The Chainsmokers, a.k.a the kings of summer EDM bops, have released yet another amazing collaboration with a talented female artist, Bebe Rexha. Rexha's soulful voice fits beautifully with the electronic sounds, and fills out the immensely satisfying drop of the song with smooth vocals. Like "Closer", "Call You Mine" is a yet another song perfect for listening to on nighttime drives through the city while thinking of that special someone.
BTS ft. Charli XCX - "Dream Glow"
"Dream Glow" is the first soundtrack released for the BTS World game, and unlike BTS's previous collaborations with other artists, this is their first track in which the other artist starts off the song. I think the decision to have Charli XCX start off the song was a great one, as her voice and the English lyrics instantly made me feel, as an international fan, immersed in the song's ethereal, hopeful mood. Immediately following Charli XCX's verse was Jungkook's, and I was pleasantly surprised to discover that he sang entirely in incredible English. I could tell he had worked hard on studying the pronunciation and meaning of his lyrics, and his verse flowed seamlessly with Charli XCX's and Jimin's Korean verse that followed. "Dream Glow" was supposedly Jimin's solo track, and when he started singing in Korean I could tell that this song was made for his unique voice. Jin's voice also suited the song very well, and as the melody stayed relatively constant throughout, having four different voices on the track alternating and harmonizing made it even more impactful.
Dan + Shay - "Speechless"
When you ask almost anybody in America what music they like, many will say, "anything but country music." While I used to classify country as the only genre of music that I didn't actively listen to, there have always been a few, less traditional country songs released every year that I actually really enjoyed listening to. Dan and Shay got on my radar when I heard "Tequila" on the radio one day and fell in love with it. The songs I love tend to have soulful instrumentals, especially guitar and piano, and Dan and Shay made perfect use of both to complement their country-style vocals. It wasn't until watching the 2019 Grammy Awards, however, and I saw their performance with Tori Kelly, that I heard "Speechless" for the first time. The song itself, especially with the harmonization between Tori and Shay seemed to be the essence of true love, and I could clearly picture it being played at a wedding. With most of the radio being saturated with hip hop and EDM in recent years, Dan and Shay are a refreshing, talented duo that I very much look forward to hearing more music from.
Red Velvet - "Zimzalabim"
Red Velvet, a five-member girl K-pop girl group from SM Entertainment, has always been known for quirky title tracks such as "Dumb Dumb" and "Rookie" that seem pretty weird at first, but magically become more addictive and pleasant to the ears the more you listen to them. Their name represents their two concepts, "Red", the cuter, light-hearted side, and "Velvet", the darker, more serious side. Having released bright, poppy tracks such as "Red Flavor" and "Power Up" for the last two summers, Red Velvet has subverted our expectations once again by releasing "Zimzalabim," a song that takes us on an adventure through an amusement park, but with a seemingly darker twist. The amusement park that the girls play around in in the music video is unexpectedly dark, with no sunlight and only walking shoes to keep them company. The song itself is much like a rollercoaster ride, with unexpected changes in beat, melody, and mood. When they chant "zimzalabim" repeatedly in the chorus, its almost as if Red Velvet wants to hypnotize us, and they've definitely achieved their goal by proving their musical and artistic versatility once again.
BTS ft. Juice WRLD - "All Night"
Two of BTS' rappers, Suga and RM, have teamed up with American rapper Juice WRLD, the man behind "Lucid Dreams," a song that I also love, for the track "All Night," a chic R&B track that highlights all three rappers incredible flows. BTS, especially the rap line, have released amazing R&B tracks in the past, and this track definitely didn't disappoint. RM and Juice WRLD's voices actually sounded quite similar to me, and like "Dream Glow," the transitions from verse to verse were seamless. I appreciated how Juice WRLD and the other Western artists that BTS collaborated with were given longer verses compared to their title tracks, and how the Korean and English lyrics complemented each other in meaning.