Review

2019 In Review: Day 7 – Dance And Electronic

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2019 In Review

1. Introduction + Best Album Art
2. Song of the Year
3. Album of the Year
4. R&B and Soul
5. Rock and Alternative
6. Rap and Hip-hop
7. Dance and Electronic
8. Pop and Ballad
9. Folk and Country
10. Jazz and Blues
11. Crossover and World
12. Best Collaborative Work
13. Rookie Artist of the Year
14. Artist of the Year
15. Other Recognition
16. Concluding Remarks

The idol scene continued to make strong impressions with quality productions in 2019, and this year’s Dance and Electronic list is more heavily represented by that scene than ever before. Taken together with ambitious and socially important works from established producers like Rainbow99 and Love X Stereo as well as works of striking boldness from the likes of Lim Kim and Nosea, they made for a satisfying crop of electronica.

Notes:

  • Cacophony – 夢 (Dream) is not included below, as it was the runner-up for our Album of the Year as featured on Day 3.
  • The “next-best ten” and honorable mention lists are sorted by artist name.
  • The 2019 Dance and Electronic Spotify playlist is here and also embedded below:

Albums

Best Dance and Electronic Album 2019

Layer - no caption version

Room306 – 겹 (Layer)

Layer expanded the tender soundscape we glimpsed in 2018’s Visit, giving us more of the bubbling, popping, glistening synths and pads that painted that EP onto a backdrop of piano-driven melodies. Hong Hyo-jin’s dry, matter-of-fact vocals again placed these tracks at a dreamy distance from us, guardedly, as if to give voice to the various “gaps” the album sings of: the silence that hangs between heated conversations (“Silence”), the air between hands that are about to clap together (“Air Five”), the tension in the gaze between lovers (“We Sat Softly”). The album’s vignettes stemmed from these everyday spaces in between, and Room306’s keen writing and gorgeous arrangements shaped them into an unforgettable concept album.

The Runner-up

Dongducheon - no caption version

Rainbow99 – 동두천 (Dongducheon)

Rainbow99 has been somewhat of a wandering musician for a few years now, regularly releasing singles and albums inspired by and recorded in the diverse lands of his travels. This full-length also revolves around a place, but just one: Dongducheon, a city with complex history as a major military center and a painful legacy of human rights violations committed by the Korean government in its centralized management of local sex workers in the 1960s.

The producer’s deliberate and spacious style of ambient electronica spoke with wordless gravity, as the album both retraced the past and navigated the present. The haunting synth scratches of “Sangpae-dong” walked us through unmarked graves of the women who died in the villages and holding facilities; the internationally inspired beats of “Bosan Station” captured the bustle of the titular neighborhood’s diverse citizenry. At the end of this absorbing journey, the glitchy big-beat noise of the city’s economic desolation is penetrated by the mystic, hopeful exuberance of “Do Dream” (also the city’s official slogan). That’s the heart of the album. Here lies a people not to be forgotten, with their stories of injustice and vitality; also here today is an unbroken will of a small town, living on through stigma and building for a better tomorrow.

The Next-Best Ten (Alphabetical)

Ab6ix – 6ixense

Chimmi – Cinema

Exo – Obsession

Hwi – Extraplex

Jang Myung-sun – 이르고 무의미한 고백 (A Premature and Meaningless Confession)

Loona – [X X] [read our review]

Love X Stereo – 37C

Ohheejung – 욥 (Yop) [read our review]

UMT (Ultramodernista) – Ultramodernista

Xin Seha – 1000


Songs

Best Dance and Electronic Song 2019

Loona – Butterfly [read our review]
Written by G-High (MonoTree) and Jaden Jeong; composed and arranged by G-High

There is a deep and earnest longing at the heart of “Butterfly”, a yearning for freedom that only flight can fulfill. The cavernous sound stage (the piano and snares seem to positively ring out across space) plays a gentle backdrop, as Loona whispers to a companion to do this escape with; and before long, the words fade out entirely as the track collapses into a bold, visceral chorus drop. The song’s austerity is its beauty, and as glistening pads and airy vocal synths find soaring heights, it beckons you to follow – whatever your yearning, wherever your flight. Few songs this year invested so wholly into embodying a message musically. None, perhaps, invited the listener as convincingly as “Butterfly” did.

The Runner-up

Saay – ZGZG
Written by Saay; composed by Deez and Saay; arranged by Deez

At some point during “ZGZG”’s boisterous first verse and chorus, you think you have the song figured out: a lush and brassy uptempo anthem, oozing the confidence and style that made Saay’s solo debut such a tour de force single and album. And to be sure, this already makes for a fantastic track. The bravado in that massive chorus melody and the choice diction throughout makes for a uniquely satisfying package. But then the chorus clears out, and channeling a traditional jingle, Saay begins chanting the titular refrain. It’s a brilliant moment that infuses a touch of uniquely Korean sensibility, and as the song returns to that dry chant again and again, it acts as both an unlikely release valve and an earworm so addictive that you’ve already memorized it.

The Next-Best Ten (Alphabetical)

Dreamcatcher – 피리 (Piri)

(G)I-DLE – Lion

Got7 – Eclipse

Lim Kim – Yellow

Nosea – A World of Minds

Nu’est – Bet Bet

ONF – 사랑하게 될 거야 (We Must Love)

Park Soyu – Oskar

Rainbow99 – 두드림 (Do Dream)

Uza – Guilty Pleasure


Honorable Mentions

Albums

Ailee – Butterfly
APink – Percent
Arran – Puzzle 9 Pieces
Ashmute – Night & Night
Ateez – Treasure Ep. Fin: All to Action
Bear on the Mars – Her
BTS – Map of the Soul: Persona [read our review]
CIX – Hello, Stranger
Dreamcatcher – The End of Nightmare
FFRD – 현대음악 (Contemporary)
Got7 – Spinning Top: Between Security & Insecurity
Kirara – cts6
Lim Kim – Generasian
Monsta X – Follow – Find You
Monsta X – We Are Here.
Moonsun – 미지 (Nadja)
My Q – Freckle
Nosea – A Sea of Marbles
Nu’est – Happily Ever After
Nwit – Home
OnlyOneOf – Dot Point Jump
Park Soyu – Night Greetings
Rainbow99 – Come Back Home
Ryu Soo-hwan – Glow
Suzanne – Underwater
Taemin – Want [read our review]
Trickyneko – 수면 아래 (Undersurface)
Uju – Sunday Seoul Ep.2 [read our review]
Uza – Neutral
WJSN – WJ Stay?
X1 – 비상: Quantum Leap

Songs

Ab6ix – Blind for Love
Advanced – 내탓 (My Bad) (Feat. Shaun)
Ailee – Midnight
AOA – Sorry
Aseul – Fade Away
Bada – Off the Record
Brown Eyed Girls – 원더우먼 (Wonder Woman)
Cacophony – 귀환 (Return)
Cacophony – 침묵의 노래 (Song of Silence)
Casker – Youth
Chungha – Chica
City Alone – Mirror
City Alone – Our Star (Feat. Sunjin)
CLC – Me
CLC – Show
Cokejazz – Are You Experienced?
Dalsoobin – 케첩 (Katchup)
Dreamcatcher – 데자부 (Deja Vu)
Everglow – 봉봉쇼콜라 (Bon Bon Chocolat)
Exo – Obsession
Eyedi – Caffeine
Favorite – Fancy
Flash Flood Darlings – We’ll Dance On
GFriend – Memoria (Korean ver.)
Golden Child – Wannabe
GWSN – Growing ~ for Groo [read our review]
HA:TFELT – Happy Now (Feat. Moonbyul)
Hwasa – 멍청이 (Twit)
Imlay – Without U (Feat. Danyka Nadeau)
IZ✱ONE – Violeta [read our review]
Kang Daniel – 뭐해 (What Are You Up To)
Kim Bo-hyung – 아름다워 (Beautiful)
Laboum – 불꽃놀이 (Firework)
Ladies Code – 너의 대답은 (Feedback)
Lena Park – Seventeen
Leo – Romanticism
Loona – Curiosity [read our review]
Lulileela – 환상 (Fantasy)
Mamamoo – Hip
Monsta X – Alligator
My Q – Donna
NCT 127 – Highway to Heaven
Nuun – 가끔 이야기를 한다는 게 (When I Talk to You)
Nwit – Light
Ohheejung – 보석 (Diamond) [read our review]
Oh My Girl – 다섯 번째 계절 (SSFWL) [read our review]
ONF – Why
OnlyOneOf – Fragile
OnlyOneOf – OnlyOneOf Me
Oohyo – Camera [read our review]
Park Soyu – Take You High
Rainbow99 – Home
Rainbow99 – 상패동 (Sangpae-dong)
Room306 – 잘 기억나지 않는 어느 날 (The Day Everything Was Blurry)
Ryu Soo-hwan – 미로의 방 (Maze Room)
Ryu Soo-hwan – 숨바꼭질 (Hide and Seek)
S2ren – Sadream
SF9 – 예뻐지지 마 (Enough) [read our review]
Smthblue – 말해 (Say It) (Feat. Hyojung of Chimmi)
Solbi – Violet
Somi – Birthday
Stray Kids – Double Knot
Taemin – Want [read our review]
Teen Top – Swag
TXT – 어느날 머리에서 뿔이 자랐다 (Crown)
Uju – 서울의 밤 (Night in Seoul) [read our review]
UMT (Ultramodernista) – Instant Love
Universe Mongae – Loveistheonlyanswer
Up10tion – Your Gravity
Uza – Neutralize
VAV – 119
X1 – Flash
WJSN – You Got
Yeseo – Take Flight!
Yesung & Chungha – 지금 어디야? (Whatcha Doin’)


Lyric translations by author. Artist profile and album cover images from Bugs Music.

Read our past series:

2018 In Review

2017 In Review

2016 In Review

2015 In Review

2014 In Review

2013 In Review

2012 In Review

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