Monthly Must-Listen: May 2020 Staff Picks From K-Pop’s Latest Hits
May 2020 was jam-packed with so many amazing hits—from captivating comebacks, bewitching b-sides, outstanding OSTs, to charming covers.
Yet another month filled with mesmerizing music has passed, and we can’t thank May 2020 more for the astounding number of stellar comebacks and special releases that it had delivered. May it be a lead single, a b-side track, or a special cover, recent songs from K-Pop stars have left us in a daze with its back-to-back releases for the past 31 days.
With this, the playlists of K-Pop fans, including us, remained to be filled with great bops throughout the entire month.
Check out our Monthly Must-Listen staff picks (in no particular order) from May 2020:
- MONSTA X – “Stand Up”
I’m so sorry, queen “Fantasia”, but “Stand Up” takes the throne as my favourite song from FANTASIA X so far. The bright energy from its exciting guitar riff and clear tropical sound never fails to make me smile, and its message warms my heart every time I listen to it as well. “Stand Up” is definitely a song that you need to listen when you’re in need of a pick-me-upper, and you can even add MONSTA X’s stage performances of it to the mix for a captivatingly cheerful atmosphere.
May is an amazing month for those who love band music like me, and among the treats that we were blessed this year was DAY6’s latest mini-album. Among all its tracks, “Love Me or Leave Me” was the one that stood out the most for me thanks to its upbeat yet forlorn sound.
Fun fact: if you close your eyes while listening to this song, you’d think it’s an actual K-Drama soundtrack—and yes, I call that a “fact”. Another fact is that it wasn’t obvious at all that veteran singer Baek Z. Young and the rising idol-actor Ong Seong Wu hailed from different generations of music, because their vocal chemistry was impeccable in “didn’t say anything”. In fact, their high notes and smooth and emotional delivery of the song would make you think that they have acquired the same years of experiences in the music industry. That’s how powerful the vocal showcase in “didn’t say anything” was.
I was looking forward to the release of “Amnesia” a lot because it marks the band’s first official music release with their new bassist Dong Sung—and oh my God, it did not disappoint. I love how the bass sounds complimented N.Flying’s musical colours really well—and you can’t deny how it amplified Seung Hyub and Hwe Seung’s powerful voices even more.
- ASTRO – “When You Call My Name”
As much as I love the fierce and intense type of music, I’m also a huge sucker for cute concepts when done right—and “When You Call My Name” is definitely one of the most excellent examples. The song’s free-spirited vibe makes it easy for ASTRO to show off their zest. In a world full of powerful songs, the refreshing and cheerful sound of “When You Call My Name” definitely makes it stand out and leave a long-lasting, heart-fluttering impression.
- IU Feat. Suga – “Eight”
Narrating a story of finding happiness once again, IU and Suga’s newest collaborative track “eight” is a wonderful masterpiece that listeners will surely enjoy for a long time. Moreover, IU’s sweet vocals impressively blended with the emotional rap verses of Suga. The lines “Are you happy now? Finally happy now?” are really stuck in my head as these are the questions that I, and maybe others as well, tries to answer.
NU’EST takes on a bolder concept in their latest comeback and they are truly causing trouble with their alluring charms! Captivating our hearts once again, the K-Pop quintet’s newest title track “I’m in Trouble” also appeals with its straightforward and heart-fluttering lyrics.
Playing around the old school sound and the trendy modern pop, Taeyeon’s new R&B genre “Happy” is a healing piece for listeners. Showing her brave heart, the beautiful idol reminds us of a warm and happy feeling of being with someone we dearly love.
Baekhyun brings fans to a sweet and delightful era through his new title track “Candy”. The charming and multi-talented EXO member was able to show more of his colors through his latest music and we are totally falling for it!
- DAY6 – “Zombie”
Realistic and relatable—these may be the perfect words to describe DAY6’s latest title track “Zombie”. Most of us are understandably experiencing a challenging time, especially with the pandemic, and the song tackles the unfortunate realities of life as we continuously find the will to live. Acknowledging the struggles that we face is an essential step for us to eventually rise and cope up at our own pace.
- Minzy – “Lovely”
When I heard that Minzy was releasing new music, I got really excited: mainly because she was my 2NE1 bias and I wanted to see how she’d take on the music scene as an independent artist. “Lovely” did just that by showing the world a softer, more toned down side of Minzy. The song also has an ephemeral vibe that makes you want to come back to it whenever you need a little comfort, and I love how it highlights Minzy’s strong vocals.
While we’re on the topic of songs that are made to get you fired up, let’s talk about BVNDIT’s latest comeback. “Jungle” really highlights the group’s images as the confident and fiery “queens of the jungle,“ which is honestly an important message that listeners like me need to internalize a little more.
“Can’t You See Me?” shows TXT venturing into darker themes, and the song’s vibe reflects that. Although the guitar riffs and trap beats might not sound like anything new, what really gives their instrumental an almost ethereal dimension is their vocals, which sounds light and really sails over falsettos.
Another release that took me by surprise this month was the collaboration between Lady Gaga and BLACKPINK—mainly because I didn’t know what to expect. It’s definitely nice to hear the quintet explore pop genres that they won’t feature in their usual releases, and this team up is surely one that people won’t forget anytime soon.
- Agust D – “Daechwita”
The release of SUGA’s D-2 really took me by surprise, and it feels timely somehow—as someone looking for music that just gets me going. What I like about “Daechwita” is that it shows us all the ways that SUGA has grown as a performer, while retaining the attitude and fire that made Agust D so appealing to people in the first place. If you want to feel fired up, just give this song a listen.
- ATEEZ’s Hongjoong – “Black or White”
ATEEZ’s leader, Kim Hongjoong, released a cover of Michael Jackson’s beloved “Black or White” as part of his special YouTube content series. I have always admired Hongjoong’s talent, and this cover really allowed his abilities to shine. He wrote his own Korean rap verse for the song and helped produce the cover track, sharing that he intentionally blended Eastern instruments with Western hip hop to bridge East and West. Hongjoong also provided an in-depth look at the process of creating the cover–from the studio recording to filming the music video, he shared his thoughts and decision-making throughout the journey. Most importantly, Hongjoong encouraged his fans to embrace racial equality and stand against discrimination, expressing his desire to create positive social change through his music endeavours.
“Mayday”, Crush’s collaboration with Red Velvet’s Joy, is a great mix of hip hop and trap with a softer melody. Their voices complimented one another’s incredibly well. Notably, Crush describes the exhaustion of monotonous routine and boredom in the song, a feeling many people experience but rarely discuss.
“My Friend” highlights Chungha’s more angelic, airy vocals in a chill R&B track. Produced by iconic Zion T and featuring rapper pH-1, the collaboration is a relaxing and soothing addition to the releases this month.
Rookie girl group SECRET NUMBER made their debut with the punchy track “Who Dis?” this month. The catchy tune illustrated the group’s strong vocal abilities while its music video portrayed the group’s unique charisma. For their first release, “Who Dis?” was a memorable way to enter the K-pop scene, and I’m looking forward to hearing their future releases.
- ASTRO – “Knock”
ASTRO blew me away with their recent comeback, with “Knock” as their title song. Boasting stunning vocals and powerful choreography, the ethereal track was definitely a standout for me personally amongst the many comebacks this month. The song’s endearing lyrics pleaded its listeners to open up and allow ASTRO to take them to a brighter world, matching the group’s worldly traveller comeback concept perfectly. Moreover, the track’s galactic music video was a beautiful accompaniment to the song and showcased the group’s talents wonderfully.
- Park Ji Hoon – “Wing”
“Wing” is an extremely catchy track Park Ji Hoon’s sweet sounding vocals and the track’s dynamic beats add this vibrancy to the song which makes for a wholesome listening experience.
TXT definitely turn on their beast mode in “Puma” and the heavy trap beats with their smooth vocals are sure to get you grooving to this track.
”Fantasia” is a hype track that no one should miss out on! The heart thumping beats and the power packed lyrics that bring you face to face with your own magnificent selves in the most majestic way, are enough to get you hooked on to this one.
The pop synth melody stirs up a romantic nostalgia. “Yours” is a song that feels personal in an unexpected way; it is that track that will warm your hearts like a cup of warm tea on a cold night.
- NCT 127 – “Punch”
The fierce rush of energy that comes with this track is undeniable. Truly, the breathy rap verses, sublime vocals and the addictive chorus pack quite the ‘punch’!
- ASTRO – “Somebody Like”
ASTRO graced the music scene once again with a sparkling comeback last month with their album, “Gateway”. Although all of the tracks are unforgettable anthems, “Somebody Like” stands out with its refreshing message of love and happiness. If you read between the lines, it conveys a simple yet profound meaning of finding happiness in another person. To top it off, the lyrics are accompanied by an imaginative beat that can send you off to the beach under the summer sun. Its optimistic rhythm is comparable to a midsummer’s roadtrip with the wind in your hair. Just try to not snap your fingers along to the beat. I’m telling you, it isn’t possible.
When I hear this charming song, all I see is an elaborate dance number of people dolled up in retro ensembles as they hop around in a pastel park. Jung Yonghwa’s mellow vocals are perfect for the song’s cheerful concept and promise of happy-ever-after. This is officially the sweetest proposal song ever.
Sole’s soulful voice is the ideal complement to this melodious Sunday afternoon anthem. The artist’s textured voice has the power to take people on far reaching journeys as she croons about finding happiness. Her vintage music video is a treasure chest of nostalgic items that will make you sway along, as she crawls from her kitchen, through a vent, and ultimately reaches happiness in a symbolic playground.
Straying from the usual, Gray renders a song that celebrates the atypical kind of beautiful girl. His eloquent words that describe the girl as the blue moonlight that shines on his life is poetic prose that deserves an applause of epic proportions.
- D-Crunch – “Pierrot”
The 9-member idol group collectively known as D-Crunch never fails to deliver music that resonates like a thunderbolt. “Pierrot” acts as a personification of change. The boy group sings about going crazy in a world that has been doused in lies and covered up with metaphorical makeup. They bravely convey a powerful message of escaping from the shadows, moving into the light, and making a positive change. The lyrics, “They tell me to smile then I smile. There is no me in the mirror”, pierce straight to the truth that if you only listen to what others have to say, you run the risk of losing yourself. D-Crunch’s comeback single is an artistic take on positive lyrics synthesized with a striking beat that will definitely open your eyes.
Photos from Fantagio, SM Entertainment, JYP Entertainment, Starship Entertainment, KQ Entertainment, and Maroo Entertainment